An Autumnal Salad

I had a wonderful gig this summer, touring the country promoting Campingaz  BBQ’s. I toured pretty much every weekend showcasing my recipes and feeding the general public. The only downside from such a great job is that now I cannot even look at a steak, let alone eat it. I am cowed out!

Hence the last few weeks I have been trying to come up with no meat options for myself and the kids. The kids are not quite as enthusiastic about this phase as I am but I shall persevere.

After many a pasta, potato and couscous dish, even I was looking for something a bit different. Squashes and Beets are in season and on my last visit to Lidl (I bloody love that place) I grabbed some beetroots and made up this salad. It is soo good I have eaten it pretty much everyday for a week.  I hope you like it too.

Beetroot and Halloumi Salad

As long as you have the two main elements, beets and halloumi, the rest is up to you. There is something really addictive about the sweetness of the beetroot and the saltiness of the cheese.

(Serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 4 small or 2 large fresh beetroots
  • pack of Halloumi
  • Rocket
  • Half a red chilli (finely diced)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Splash of olive oil

Method

Turn on the oven to about 180C, prick the beets and put them on a roasting dish, roast for about 40mins until they have a bit of give in them. Set them aside to cool enough for you to peel them.

Heat up a frying pan and slice up the Halloumi. Splash a little olive oil on the cheese pieces then fry them in a pan until each side has a golden tinge. Set aside and then peel and slice the beets.

Place the beet slices on a plate and lightly season with salt and pepper. Scatter the rocket leaves over the top then the Halloumi slices and chilli. Dress with the lime juice and olive oil.


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Greece Is The Word

I took a week off this summer to regroup with a couple of girlfriends.  We decided to fly to Greece and do as little as humanely possible. Four days into our peaceful break the UK imploded with the outcome of Brexit. We ran to a cashpoint to take out Euros before the pound dropped to unrecognisable levels. So needless to say the relaxing holiday wasn’t quite as chilled as we wished for.

It was my first visit to Greece. What a beautiful place with such lovely, kind and helpful people. Kefalonia  is a stunning island about 20km long and half that width. The sea was warm and the sun was hot. I ate tons of fish, mostly grilled sardines served with tomatoes and cucumber and a lovely creamy tsatziki. I also discovered the greek dish Horta. Its simple blanched spinach like greens, dressed simply with olive oil and lemon juice. Its so fresh and delicious that you can almost feel the vitamin boost

My one regret is that I did not eat an authentic moussaka. I did my research though and decided I would make on as soon as I came home. The secret is to fry off your vegetables in olive oil before you assemble the dish. This is time consuming but a process that must happen for the best tasting pie.

I leave you with the recipe and a few photos.

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Mousakka

My daily diet in Greece pretty much consisted of grilled sardines and greek salad. I wanted to try a mousakka but it just seemed too hot to contemplate such a warm filling meal.

However on my return it was one of the first things I made for my family and hungry neighbours eager to cash in on my enthusiasm for all things Greek.

After a little bit of research, I took the best bits of many recipes and created the recipe below. This recipe is time consuming as frying all the veg in batches takes a while. Believe me it is worth the effort.

Ingredients

  • 150-175ml  olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 900g lean minced lamb
  • 50ml white wine or water
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 cinammon stick
  • handful fresh oragano leaves, chopped. Or a big dash of dried oragano
  • 3 large aubergines
  • 3 courgettes
  • 4 or 5 maris piper potatoes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

For the cheese sauce

  • 75g butter
  • 75g plain flour
  • 600ml milk
  • 50g kefalotiri cheese, finely grated. If you can’t find this cheese use pecorino or parmasen cheese.
  • 2 medium free-range eggs beaten

 Method

  1. Preheat the oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  2. For the lamb sauce, heat two teaspoons of the oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced lamb and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes and oregano and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes while you make everything else.

  3. Now begin your mini marathon of frying. Take your courgette, aubergine and potatoes and without peeling them, slice them lengthwise into 3/4mm slices. Season them both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan until it is jumping hot, add a large dash of the oil and fry the veg in batches, making sure they are well cooked and brown on each side. Place the cooked layers on a plate covered in kitchen roll to soak up the extra oil.

  4. Take a large deep oven proof dish and begin by adding a layer of aubergine, then courgette, then potato and repeat until all of the veg are happy in the dish, make sure you give a little dust of salt a pepper to each layer.

  5. For the topping, melt the butter in a non-stick pan, add the flour and cinnamon stick and cook over a medium heat for one minute to cook out the flour. Gradually beat in the milk, bring to the boil, stirring, and leave to simmer very gently for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. Remove the cinnamon stick and stir in the cheese and some salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly and then beat in the eggs.

  6. Now to assemble the final elements. Pour the cooked lamb sauce over the layered veg and then add the cheese sauce on top bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.

    Serve with a greek salad of fresh tomatoes and cucumber with the best feta you can find.


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I Still Dream of Organon

I’m not sure why but in the last couple of weeks I have been on a bit of a vegan tip. I guess it was a perfect storm of friends over for dinner who are thus inclined and me rising to a challenge. The challenge for me isn’t the non meat bit. If I really think about it, I am mostly veggie inclined. Almost everyday I consume a bag of rocket and snack on raw tomatoes or seeds. Although I do love to throw a bit of goats cheese in with my rocket much to my children’s disgust.

Of all of the things I have prepared over the 9 years my kids have been with me, for some reason goats cheese seems to send them into utter panic.  The smallest hint of something that might look like said cheese either in, on or near a plate of their food, they all look suspiciously at me. “Is that goats cheese?” “Did you see that? It looks like goats cheese!” “Its goats cheese, it is I swear it is..No I’m not eating that!”. It has its upside though. I tell them we are moving to France to raise goats and make cheese when the most severe of threats is needed. Works every time.

Anyway I digress…I was saying that not eating meat is not a problem for me. But dairy, cheese and butter! Thats where I start to trip. How do you bake with no eggs or butter? Ok so you can substitute butter with oils but eggs? I would love to know what to use instead?

Also I just couldn’t live without cheese. Its one of the few food stuffs that literally makes me happy. I could walk away from cakes and biscuits and chocolate and all things sweet but a piece of Manchego or Brie or Cheddar or Roquefort……

Right so I think we are all clear. I am a rubbish vegan. I did however manage to create a vegan pie this week. I was pretty pleased with myself because the pastry was an inspiration that just came to me. It worked really well. The proper vegan approved and thats all that counts really.

Have a great week and I leave you with some pics of said pie and also some photos of very non vegan scones that the kids from Somerfield Playground in Tottenham made with me. More to come from those fab kids next week!

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Mushroom and Aubergine Pie (v)

(Serves 4)

This is delicious and filling and creamy and the pastry is something that I will use now even if I am making a non vegan pie.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 100g white flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • Handful of mixed seeds
  • Generous pinch of maldon sea salt
  • 50g coconut oil
  • Cold water to mix

For the Filling

  • 1 large aubergine (cut into chunks)
  • 450g mushrooms (chopped roughly)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Handful of crushed walnuts
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 250mil soy cream
  • 2-4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Few sprigs of thyme

Method

Turn the oven to 180c. Make the pastry first. Mix your flours seeds and salt and then add the coconut oil. Rub with your fingertips until the coconut oil is mixed thoroughly and you get the usual breadcrumb texture. Then add a little cold water (about 3 tblsp) and mix with a knife,  You want the pastry to come together add a little cold water at a time to make this happen. Pat into a ball cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

In a large frying pan add the olive oil. Fry off the aubergine in batches if need be until soft and browning. It will take take about 10mins. Decant onto kitchen paper and then add a little more oil and add the mushrooms. The trick with mushrooms is to leave them alone, let them cook gently and release their water. Add a little salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time (about 5 mins) and then turn and cook for a further 5 minutes until they are soft. Then add the aubergine and the garlic and thyme. Stir gently and add the soy cream and the chili flakes then squeeze on the lemon juice. One last stir and take off the heat.

I used a ceramic pie dish (one I think traditionally used for crumbles). It needs to be deep and around 6 inches wide. Really it doesn’t matter. You could use a large pudding bowl if you wanted. Decant the pie mixture into the dish of your choice.

Roll out the pastry to around 3mil thick and wide enough to cover the dish. Place on top of the filling and either cut or roll the edges to seal the pie filling in.

I used a little of the soy cream which was in the pot mixed with a bit of water to wash the top of the pastry.

Place in the oven for 25 to 30mins until the pie mixture is bubbling and the pastry is turning a golden brown. Serve with greens or a lovely autumn salad.


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I Can Read You Like A Magazine

My favourite time of year has arrived. Autumn rocks! Squash, Chard, Game, Pumpkins, Mushrooms, so many fab ingredients available and when you are feeding a bunch of hungry kids on a shoestring. All cheap and filling and versatile. Well ok all game isn’t that cheap, but rabbit is. I often chuck a bunny in a pot with red wine and baby onions and carrots. Served with mash and some kale sautéed with a few fennel seeds and some crushed garlic.

Halloween arrived and I spent the weekend at The Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston. It’s a 3 minute walk from my apartment and the kids love it there. Lola often takes herself up there when her brother and sister are driving her mad and she “needs some space away from these kids”. She is nine!

The Garden organised a pumpkin carving extravaganza. The kids carved their own pumpkin, I drank a couple of glasses of wine and chatted to my friend Chloe about her new venture next summer that I am totally excited to be part of. She is organising a midsummer Scandi Feast check out her website and come and join us for a weekend of wonderful food and cooking demos hosted by some fabulous chefs. Perfect. We then returned for the grand lighting of the pumpkins the next night. Unfortunately Rufus dropped his pumpkin which resulted in him having a total meltdown. He refused to adopt another one and we all had to leave before they lit them all up.

Rufus recovered from the trauma in time for us to bake some enormous muffin sized cupcakes for our lovely friend and manager at The Pub on The Park. It was his birthday party and leaving do. We made double chocolate cupcakes with salt caramel icing. They turned out perfect. I was happy too because my last bake for TPOTP was a disaster. Less said about that the better.

I leave you today with my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. It’s an American Italian dish which takes a bit of time to prepare but it is worth the work. I made it this weekend at my lovely friend Sam’s house with her brood. We walked the kids for a couple of hours and assembled this delicious combination of breadcrumbed eggplant and freshly made baked tomato passata and a nutmeggy roux. It takes about an hour to prepare, half an hour in the oven and 7 minutes to be consumed by the plague of locusts that are our children. I leave you with a few pics including my neighbour Will’s fabulous game stew. Apologies for lack of photos of the Eggplant dish.  I had to get it in the oven before one of the kids started chewing on my leg.

Have a wonderful week.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 6

This recipe takes some time to assemble, yet it is worth it. A great alternative to the usual Sunday roast. You don’t have to make your own passata, we just had lots of tomatoes hanging around.

Ingredients

For the eggplant bit

  • 6 aubergines – sliced lengthwise around 3mm thick
  • 500g breadcrumbs
  • 150g parmesan cheese
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Big slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the passata

A shop brought one is totally fine too.

  • 12 medium tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic, split into separate cloves unpeeled
  • Large slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Roux

  • Big nob of butter – about 2 tablespoons
  • Plain flour – same quantity as the butter
  • 300 mils whole milk – give or take more or less
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg

Method

It’s a bit of a factory line to begin with but the repetitiveness is somehow comforting. I had to stop Sam from eating the breadcrumbed aubergine as they were disappearing faster then I was frying them.

If you are making the passata, then first throw all the ingredients into a roasting dish and cook for half an hour at 180C until the garlic is soft and the tomatoes are bursting at the seams. While that is roasting you can get on with frying off the slices of aubergine.

In 3 separate dishes place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Grate a little parmesan into the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Season the flour too.  Throw some olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Using one hand only (or you will gloop up both hands and it all turns into a mess) take a slice of aubergine, dip in the flour shaking off the excess, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the aubergine and fry a batch at a time turning when each side is golden.  Then set the slices aside on a large plate covered with kitchen towel. You may have to wipe out the pan half way through with kitchen towel and add a bit more olive oil as the aubergines tend to suck up the oil.

Next take your roasted tomatoes and place in a food processor with the blade.  Squeeze out the garlic from its paper. Add those too the processor as well and whizz. Then check for seasoning and place in a saucepan and heat gently. If you feel you need a bit more quantity then add a tin or half a tin of tomatoes but make sure you cook the passata for 15mins or so to cook out he rawness of the added tomatoes.

Finally make the roux. Add the flour and butter to a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir thoroughly until it all comes together in a lump. Then slowly pour in a little milk. Stir until absorbed then repeat until all the milk has been incorporated  and you get a mixture the thickness of custard, stir over the heat for a further 5 mins to cook the rawness of the  flour. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Right now you have all your elements ready you can assemble the dish. This is much like assembling a lasagne, just using the aubergine slices instead of pasta sheets.

In a large deep roasting dish. Add a ladleful of passata, then a layer of aubergine, then a ladleful of passata and a ladleful of roux, then grate some parmesan on the roux and add a layer of aubergine and repeat the process. Make sure the top layer finishes with the roux on top. Then give a really generous grating of parmesan. Place in the oven for half an hour at 180C until the top is golden and bubbly. Serve with a big salad. Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Fault In Our Stars

I think this is the longest I have left it between posts! Its not my fault honestly. I have just been running around like a loon juggling loads of work stuff and I just landed the most brilliant job ever! Yet I can’t talk about it having signed a confidentiality agreement which is sooooo frustrating. I will be writing about it and tweeting and all that stuff once things are up and running. I can’t wait to share the new recipes I have been developing. Anyway I should stop talking about it or I will give the game away.

Other then my current new thingy, I have been busy with work and all things kids. I have been cooking up a storm for work, did a TV promo with a new up and coming TV chef called Alex Head. She runs a cafe and a catering business. Lovely lady. Look out for her on TV soon. I also spent a wonderful afternoon with my lovely friend Graziella who was back from Brazil for a week or so. Fifty or so friends with 3 BBQs took up a corner of London Fields. The kids tried lots of fab food and there favourite were chicken hearts skewered like a kebab and barbecued. They loved them so much I brought some the following weekend and pan fried them with butter, garlic, cayenne pepper and served them on toasted ciabatta. Yum.

I also took another trip to Brussels and landed a job (the one I can’t talk about). I love Brussels, It is a beautiful city. The beer is divine. I have decided its the only beer I will drink now. What is the point of that watery other stuff you get here. I tried a peach beer, wonderful on a hot summers day and also a black cherry beer, lovely but the peach was my favourite. So started the afternoon with summery fruity beer and ended the day with a beer that was so drinkable I had um well I think 3 but I can’t actually remember the exact number probably because it is 9.5% proof. Westmalle a trappitst beer one only a handful of abbeys that still brew and sell their own beer. I want to stay in their guest house and drink their beer. Oh and also eat their cheese.

Talking about cheese, I made while I was there, with my pasta machine. Ok yes I brought a pasta machine, but thats only because I brought 6 Clonakilty  black puddings with me. Look don’t ask its perfectly normal. Although as usual alarm bells go off as I go through security. Its a pasta machine for gods sake! As all of my bag is emptied and scanned for IUDs the nice security lady says. “thats a lot of black pudding you have there….

Anyway I met my lovely bloke. Have I mentioned him before, probably not but anyway he is Irish and its nigh on impossible to get his favourite black pudding in Brussels so I came armed with enough to keep him going for a couple of days. I made for lunch a ravioli stuffed with black pudding and blue cheese. It was bloody delicious. I also pan fried some with blue cheese and prawns. It sounds odd I know but the sweetness of the prawns goes so well with the pudding.

I leave you with a few photos. My favourite of which is Tilda who did a deliberate face plant into an entire chocolate cake at the Brazilian Barbecue!

Recipe next week promise!

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Coming Up Easy

The summer holidays have begun. Pav, the kids nanny left for her vacation. I resisted the urge to cling to her legs screaming don’t go don’t leave me pleaaseeee. I am actually surprised that my children didn’t do exactly that. After the five stages of grief passed, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. I decided to pull myself together and plan the next few weeks around the kids and summer and work and all that stuff. Luckily for me my dance card is getting quite full with invitations to fun things to do with the kids. My lovely friend Uju Mother and Shaker was hosting a bloggers network event at  The National Portrait Gallery. It was a wonderful evening getting to meet fellow bloggers and have a chilled glass of wine in the Late Shift Bar a cool relief from the temperatures outside. I had a glass of wine and chatted to Claire our NPG host while the kids never ceased to find travelling up to the first floor on the imposing escalator and then running down the stairs to have another go, entertaining. Claire filled me in on the summer family friendly activities which sound fab. The kids and I did a family trail finding paintings and then the kids decided that they needed a second dinner! They would not be convinced otherwise.

I am going back, I want to see the Virginia Woolf Exhibition and take a bit more time to see the wonderful BP Portrait Award exhibit.

We left and jumped on the 38 Bus, the kids were demanding Lahmacun. Its a cross between a flatbread and a pizza. Ok its a flatbread pizza, but without the tomato sauce. Right just Imagine a giant fluffy flatbread smothered in minced lamb and spices and then topped with shredded lettuce and saladness then rolled up.  The kids love it, you can buy it in Hackney for less then £2 and its a full meal in itself. Me being me, said ok but I’m not buying it. I want to make it. Big giant protests ensued. Rufus said my lahmacun would be “rubbish” Lola and Tilda tried to make some money from my “challenge” I told them if its not better then Tad’s I will give them donuts for breakfast for a week. Then realised maybe I have shot myself in the foot with that statement!

So I leave you with a few pics and a recipe for Lahmacun. Enjoy!

Visit National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery is at St Martin’s Place, off Trafalgar Square, WC2H 0NE (Charing Cross tube)

BP Portrait Award runs until September 21, 2014, admission FREE

Virginia Woolf exhibition  runs until October 24, 2014

Late Shift Events  run every Thursday and Friday until 9pm

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Lahmacun

This is not a traditional recipe at all. I totally made this recipe up. It’s somewhere in the ball park I am sure and it’s delicious and thats what really counts. I am lucky to live 5 minutes away from a fabulous Turkish supermarket, so I buy packs of 3 freshly made fluffy flatbreads for 99p. If you can’t find authentic turkish bread then just us flour tortillas, no big deal.

Serves 4 

Ingredients

  • 4 flatbreads (or flour tortillas)
  • 300g mince lamb
  • Half red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • Stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (or more if you like heat) of chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • A squirt of tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper

Garnish with shredded lettuce, or any green you would like, coriander, mint, basil, spring onions…etc

Method

Take you flat breads and if you wish you can warm them up in a very low oven while you make the lamb mixture. In a glug of olive oil, fry your onions over a medium heat until soft. Add the salt and pepper while you are frying the onions. Then add the garlic, stir and add the cinnamon, sumac, coriander, cumin, chilli  and the lamb. Cook and stir until the lamb is no longer raw. Add the tomatoes and ketchup then turn down the heat and cover for 10 mins.  Taste for seasoning and then turn off the heat. Leave it for 10 mins to cool a little. Then spread the lamb mixture equally over the tortillas and sprinkle the garnish of your choice. Roll up and apply to face.

 

 


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When The World Has Dealt It’s Cards

Where to start? Its been a busy few weeks, no excuse really for not writing but a girl can only do so much. I have eaten some amazing food, styled some amazing food, made some amazing food, and fed some amazing people.

So I may be exaggerating a tad about all the food I ate being amazing. My kids harangued me to feed them some KFC during the half term break. It was late, I was tired and I caved. I ate a piece. You see fried chicken to me is a real treat, KFC well hmm. Sorry its pretty horrid. I am not even being a food snob. It just tasted of well soggy saltiness.  I guess it was a good thing though because it inspired me to make a batch for Lola’s birthday.

I use free range chicken thigh and drumsticks, with the thighs trim the excess fat. The key is to poach them first in butter milk, well 1 pot of butter milk topped up with milk. Or I sometimes just use milk and squeeze some lemon juice in. Cover the chicken pieces with the milk and gently simmer for about 20mins or until the chicken is cooked through.  It looks pretty gross. Pasty chicken with lumps of boiled milk stuck to them.  Just pat off as much of the milk as you can and leave the pieces to dry.  I then season plain flour with lots of spices. I make up different combinations of spices and seasonings. garlic salt, salt, pepper, chilli powder, dried thyme. Remember to be quite liberal as the process of frying can dull the flavour a tad. Beat a couple of eggs in another bowl and then using one hand. Flour, egg, flour. Fry in a couple of inches of oil until golden brown, season with salt as soon as they come out of the pan. Now that is fried chicken!

No fried chicken to be found at Layla Restaurant in Wimbledon, but I am not complaining. Lisa Barber and I grabbed lunch there last week. A Lebanese restaurant and a lovely space, Lisa and I sat in a cozy alcove and then proceeded to order what felt like the entire left side of the menu! Baba Gannuge, Hummus with diced lamb, wonderful little filo parcels filled with cheese and served with a spicy dip. We had the most tender lamb dish, Castaleta Ghanam. The lamb was cooked and seasoned perfectly and served with roasted veg and soft dauphinoise potatoes.  Lisa and I rolled out of the restaurant! Lovely.

We also shot at The Avenue Restaurant in the West End. Crazy mad hectic shoot but again Lisa and I pulled it out the bag! The Restaurant was originally designed by American architect Rick Mather and has recently had a revamp and it looks spectacular. The food looked and tasted bloody good too.

I leave you with some photos of the lovely Layla Restaurant yumminess and also of course the fried chicken.

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Don’t You Worry Child

Gosh well its been a crazy few weeks. I can’t believe how busy I have been with work and kids and divorce rubbish and Christmas and New Year and well you know..

November flew by and I think my son spent half of it wearing his Halloween costume! We finally  extracted Rufus from his Giraffe Costume after nearly 2 weeks of solid back to back wearing.  He finally allowed it to go into the washing machine when assured Giraffe would not get dizzy. Tilda did the honours holding the offending piece of material away from her muttering “this is sooo going in the wash”.

Halloween done and dusted and then we were hurtling towards Christmas. My ultimate favrouite time of year. I know I have said it before but my god I just love it. Its not just the food and the best excuse ever to spend 3 days cooking, baking and prepping for the best roast dinner ever. Its the fairy lights and the tree and children’s excitement. It is palpable..Plus the best threat ever for bedtime best behaviour…”Father Christmas is watching you”…Admitedly I do kind of start using that threat around the end of October. I took a ton of photos of the Christmas festivities and will upload them very soon.

Recently I was invited to meet an Atomic Kitten whip up some fabulous Florida Grapefruit inspired dishes. Liz McClarnon was really lovely and funny and what a great afternoon. We had a little segment the grapefruit competition and then Liz demoed 3 recipes, A Florida Grapefruit Fajita Platter with a fresh and sunny salsa, Honeyed Florida grapefruit with pancetta, goats cheese and pine nuts and also a fresh Florida grapefruit, lime and mint sorbet. All delicious and different.

All really simple to make and delicious. I learn’t loads about this delicious fruit. I know everyone thinks Grapefruit is bitter and needs to be slathered in sugar. I remember my mother religiously slicing hers in half every morning and shaking spoonfuls of sugar over it then placing it under the grill.

Florida Grapefruit however is sweet and juicy and easy to peel and delicious. Its in season from November to March/April.  Don’t get the ones from Cyprus or Turkey or wherever. It was a lovely afternoon and brought a bit of summer to a dreary winters day.

I leave you with a few photos of the event and also Liz’s recipes.

Have a wonderful Weekend.

Rachelle x

Liz chopping 2 copy Grapefruit segments copy Florida grapefruit salad copy Florida grapefruit fajitas copy Eating sorbets copy Liz and florida grapefruit fajitas copy

Liz McClarnon’s Florida grapefruit recipe

Honeyed Florida grapefruit with pancetta, goats cheese and pine nuts

Serves 4

Ingredients

6 slices pancetta
2tbsp olive oil
2 small knobs butter
4-5tsp honey
1 Florida grapefruit, peeled and segmented by hand (not a knife)
3tbsp balsamic vinegar
2tsp Dijon mustard
Handful of pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Bag of salad leaves
150g goat’s cheese, sliced
Method

1. Fry the pancetta in 1tbsp of the oil in a pan until nice and crispy, then place onto kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

2. Wipe out the same pan with more kitchen paper to get rid of the excess oil. Add the remaining oil, 1 small knob of the butter and about 2-3tsp honey. Mix it up a little, then add the Florida grapefruit segments to the pan (they need to be in their original segments and not cut to prevent them falling apart when cooking). Stir and make sure they are coated and caramelised (that should take about 4 min), then add 1tbsp of the balsamic vinegar. Put the segments to one side so you can use the pan again.
4. To the pan, add the remaining knob of butter, the remaining balsamic vinegar, the Dijon mustard, the remaining 2tsp honey, the pine nuts and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix everything together and heat through for about 2 min.
5. Make up the salad: cut the pancetta into bite-sized pieces. Place the salad leaves onto four plates, then add the caramelised Florida grapefruit, the goat’s cheese, the pancetta and pour over the dressing to serve.

Per serving

341kcal

12g protein

26.4g fat

10.6g saturates

14.5g carbs

14.2g sugar

1.5g fibre

1.4g salt

22mg vitamin C

0.2mcg vitamin D

 

Florida grapefruit fajitas platter with sunny salsa

Serves 4

Ingredients

4tbsp squeezed Florida grapefruit juice

4tbsp fresh lime juice

Pinch of salt and pepper

1tsp all-purpose seasoning
2tbsp olive oil

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed and cut into strips
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
450g lean beef, cut into strips
8 tortillas
1 avocado, peeled and stone removed

120ml reduced-fat sour cream
75g cheddar cheese, grated

For the sunny salsa:

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 mild chillies, seeds removed and finely diced

Fresh chopped coriander

½ Florida grapefruit, peeled and finely chopped

Pinch of salt

1tsp lime juice and water

1. In a large food bag, combine the Florida grapefruit and lime juices, salt and pepper, all-purpose seasoning and 1tbsp of the olive oil. Add the beef, seal the bag, and squeeze the marinade together so that it covers the meat. Put in the fridge for a few hours to marinate.

2. Add all the Florida salsa ingredients to a bowl, mix and set aside.

3. Heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet pan. Cook the peppers and onion until soft and brown, then add the beef strips and cook until browned. Place in a serving dish together.

4. Heat the tortillas according to the pack instructions.

5. Slice the avocado lengthways and place in a serving dish and put the sour cream grated cheese in dishes

6. Place everything on the table so everyone can dig in.

Per serving

721kcal

42.2g protein

27.5g fat

9.8g saturates

79.9g carbs

18.2g sugar

9.8g fibre

2g salt

158mg vitamin C

0.6mcg vitamin D

 

Florida grapefruit, lime and mint sorbet

 

Serves 6

Ingredients

200g sugar

Juice of 5 Florida grapefruit plus zest of 2

Juice and zest of 5 limes

1 bunch finely chopped mint, plus sprigs to decorate

Method

1. Put the sugar in a pan with 275ml water and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and simmer for about 5 min. Leave to cool.

2. In a bowl, mix the cooled sugared water with the Florida grapefruit and lime juices and zest, and the chopped mint.

3. Transfer to a freezer-proof dish, cover and pop into the freezer for 2 hours, stirring it about 3-4 times during this time.

4. Serve in glasses, decorated with fresh mint sprigs

 

Per serving

156kcal

0.4g protein

0.1g fat

0g saturates

40.8g carbs

40.7g sugar

0g fibre

0g salt

25mg vitamin C

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And Your Story Began………

Even the boy jumped up and down when I told them we were invited to a Barbie extravaganza at Westfield. The girls mouths dropped and then they all ran around like  loons screaming…Ok I guess they were a little excited.  Supper was bolted down. Off we set to Westfield Stratford City.

The Barbie Experience, well it was a Barbie Experience Extravaganza. The kids were totally immersed in every kind of Barbie doll and Barbie house and Barbie accoutrement. I literally didn’t see the girls for an hour. Which was totally ok because I was happy to be sitting and drinking champagne and chatting to fellow parents. I love the fact that my boy is completely happy to be surrounded by pinkness and was happily playing with horse riding Barbie and his face when the ‘real Barbie’ turned up! Priceless.

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In between dates with Barbie last week I also put together some ideas for food shoots with Lisa Barber and made all the necessary pumpkin carving trick or treating preparations. I always buy a load of squash to turn into various creatures. Then after the event turn them into soup. I don’t even bother peeling them. Just de-seed and if you are feeling particularly virtuous. You can roast the seeds with olive oil and salt and pepper, a little ginger.

If you have carrots and the odd parsnip lying around in the bottom of the fridge throw that in as well. Although go easy on the parsnips. They tend to take over with their sweetness. I roast them till black around the edges and they are soft and sweet. Let them cool and then peel the more robust of the squash, squeeze out the garlic cloves. Set aside.

Heat up some olive oil add a chopped onion, crushed garlic, sauté till translucent then throw in the squash some chill flakes, black pepper and veg or chicken stock. This soup can be a little sweet so add a dash or two of vinegar to cut through the sweetness. Divine!

I had a little gathering this weekend too. I made Sushi and Gyoza. I give you my Gyoza recipe. Have a wonderful week.

Rachelle x

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 Gyoza with Spicy Dipping Sauce

This is my version. I know you are supposed to use minced pork. But I had a couple of friends coming to my party that don’t do pig. I brought a pack of chicken thighs, de-bonned and skinned them and chopped them up roughly. I also chopped up a a handful of raw large prawns too. You do not have to do that at all. Buy chicken breast or just use pork. I just prefer chicken thigh meat to the breast thats all.

Ingredients

20g Cabbage (finely shredded)

2 Garlic Cloves (crushed)

1 Spring Onion (finely chopped)

30 Gyoza Skins

6 chicken thighs (boned and skinned and chopped roughly)

8 large raw tiger prawns (chopped roughly)

1 large red chilli (finely chopped)

6 thai basil leaves (finely chopped)

1 tablespoon of soy sauce

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

1 pinch of Maldon sea salt

 

Directions

Take all the above and throw into a bowl, use your hands and mix well. Fill up a cup with water.

Now make the dumplings.  With a gyoza skin in the palm of one hand, spoon a small amount of the mix into the centre of the skin. Add an amount approximate to a teaspoons worth. Dip your finger in some water and moisten the edge of the skin to make it easy to seal.

Fold the filled gyoza skin in half and pinch at the top to seal it. Now start folding over the skin on the side facing you and pleating it together to achieve an effect like a folding fan when it is open. The goal is to achieve a sealed wrap which has the pleated texture on one side, but is flat on the reverse side. To be honest as long as the gyoza has a flat bottom and the pasty is well sealed you are good to go. As you can see from the picture. I will not win any awards in Gyoza making!

When you have made as many as you need, heat up a little cooking oil in a pan and gently place the gyoza in it with the flat side facing down. Cook on a high heat until the bottom of the gyoza become crispy and golden.

To finish cooking the gyoza, add a small cup of water to the pan so that the gyoza are a third or less submerged. Place a lid on top of the pan and leave the heat on medium-high.

Allow the gyoza to steam until the water has evaporated, then leave them cooking on the bottom a little longer to make sure that they become crispy and delicious.

Spicy Dipping Sauce

Ok this is actually a Vietnamese recipe but what the hell. It is good and it works really well with the Gyoza. As usual with these kind of things measurements are superfluous. It is all about taste. I make a jar and keep it in the fridge, then use it when I am making noodles or stir fry rice. I would probably put it over my cornflakes (if I ate cornflakes).

No measurements just do this to taste. Take a jar and add.

Soy sauce

Water

Sugar

Garlic very finely chopped ( I use about 6 cloves)

Thai small red chillies finely chopped (I use about 6 with seeds in)

Freshly squeezed lime juice.

Taste. Then taste again, adjusting for sweetness, sourness, chilli heat.


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Friendly Pressure

My kids are being supremely wonderful this week. I know, I know, what the hell is going on? Tilda the “spanky one” keeps telling me that I look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, and she told me that I was the prettiest mommy in the whole world. Ok you, what the hell are you after? Lola has decided that she is in charge of all the tidying of the bedroom. It is spotless, she even took all the clothes out of the drawers and refolded them and put them back, oh and sorted out the winter, summer clothes and put the summer clothes away! Ok that sounds a bit OCD. Should I be worried?

Its become a little easier in the last few months having all of them, The Ru has definitely turned into a little boy. Wants to be self sufficient, won’t allow me to help him out, unless under dire circumstances. When my children are getting on so well, I tend to want to spend more time with them. I know its stating the obvious and I know I am their sole carer (well I have Pav their nanny of course) but it just makes me want to treat them for being so bloody bearable. How do I do that?

Well they choose all the meals at the weekends and I make it so. Oh and my new, not very expensive at all and totally wonderful treat. Tad Restaurant which is literally in our front garden. My god how did I not go there before now? The food is really really good, fresh, healthy, beautifully grilled meats, the salads are divine. They do this roast onion salad, its big chunks of roast onion, in a pomegranate and a turkish sauce thing called Shaldam. Its a bitter, sweet, vegetable based sauce, or drink. I am not sure really, but after harrasing one of the waiters to get the recipe. I tried to remake it. It wasn’t right. I need to talk to the chef. I am so going there and refusing to leave until I get the right recipe. It is so good, If you are ever in Hackney. Go there, The Calimari is sublime. All the food is really really good. The staff are wonderful and the best bit. It is so bloody cheap. My kids eat the entire left side of the menu, 2 portions of calamari, a giant pizza, greek salad, a grilled meat dish, rice and then lots of side salads. I have one (really I do) glass of wine, the kids have a round of lemonades. £35 tops! Brilliant. So good.

As well as loitering with intent at our local restaurant, I have actually managed to do some cooking this week. Last weekend was a bit of a bake off. I made enough pizza dough to feed an army. I sent pizzas down the road to our neighbours. I turned some of the dough into an olive focaccia. One of my favourite breads to make. I turn the dough into an oval shape and dimple it with my fingers then pour a ton of olive oil on. More then you think is necessary. Keep pouring so the dimples are filled with oil. then dot olives all over the top, add some shards of rosemary and a good generous sprinkle of sea salt.  Turn the oven onto 170C and place the bread on top of the oven loosely covered to prove again. A second rise will make it light and the crumb will be perfect. Place in the oven for 35 minutes or until the bread is lightly golden around the edges and cooked.

Oh and PS I did harass the chef at Tad Restaurant. I have the correct recipe now. I shall practice this week and share next week.

Have a great week

Rachelle x

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