Posts by Jess

Peach, balsamic & heirloom tomato salad

M

y sister and I enjoyed a version of this salad on our holidays in Greece and it’s been with us nostalgically since. I’ve sadly forgotten whether it had little cubes of salty pancetta or crumbled feta cheese in it but what I do know is that peaches and balsamic were a hit. A very valid excuse to return and I hope that little Greek taverna is still tucked away in the port of Sivota awaiting our us…

Promise me you won’t dare think about making this salad with out of season tomatoes or peaches in Winter. Its a summer salad where only juicy fresh tomatoes will do – preferably from your bounteous allotment if you are so lucky to have one! I hold no accountability for anyone making this in November and complaining about the lack of flavour…

Serves 2 (as a main / large side)

  • 2-3 large tomatoes (gorgeous ripe heritage / heirloom tomatoes look prettier here, taste amazing and make the salad interesting. Try some yellow or green ones as well as your usual red)
  • 200g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 ripe peaches / nectarines
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Handful of salad leaves e.g. rocket, watercress, lambs lettuce
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Flaky salt and black pepper
  • *Optional cheeses – a salty element works fantastically in this salad and a cheese is ideal.  I actually made this with fried halloumi the night before. Think about adding cubed fried halloumi pieces, crumbled feta, goats cheese, shaved parmesan or a big bulging burrata!
  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place in a bowl. Chop the shallot in half and then into fine half moon slices and add to the tomatoes. Sprinkle over a generous pinch of flaky salt and cracked black pepper (the salt will draw out the juices so don’t be shy here with the seasoning). Add the red wine vinegar, stir and leave to sit for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Slice your large tomatoes into rounds or big chunks – however you like. Mix up the shapes for added texture and interest!
  3. Next, slice the peaches/nectarines into chunky slices.
  4. Get a large serving plate or bowl and add your leaves. Scatter over your sliced tomatoes and peaches/nectarines and season well. Toss in your cherry tomato-shallot mixture with the juices.
  5. Give everything a good and gentle toss together and then rip over the basil leaves.
  6. If using cheese, add this now.
  7. Drizzle over your balsamic glaze and serve!

Spiced Chicken Kebabs, Nutty Pilau Rice & Coriander Chutney

S

unny July summers in London are dreamy. Spontaneous midweek BBQs are my favourite. We needed something fresh and light but without compromising on flavour. Stylish rice with golden spiced nuts aside creamy marinaded chicken kebabs dressed with a punchy coriander chutney hit the spot.

Courtesy of Delia Smith and her eve r incredible Summer Cookbook.

Serves 2

Chicken Kebabs

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 small tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 140ml plain yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 gloves garlic, crushed
  1. Heat a frying pan on a high heat and toast the cumin & coriander seeds and cardamon pods. Grind in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Add to a large bowl with the turmeric, ginger, salt and pepper, garlic and yoghurt and mix well.
  3. Chop the chicken breast into large bite sized pieces and mix with the marinade.
  4. Leave in the fridge overnight if you can for maximum flavour.
  5. When ready to cook, pre-soak some kebab sticks in water before threading on your chicken pieces. You can add other ingredients between pieces e.g. onion, peppers etc.
  6. Once ready to cook, preheat your grill or BBQ and cook for about 8 minutes on each side or until just cooked.

Pilau Rice

  • 4 oz brown basmati rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50g nuts – mix of pine, cashew and pistachio
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3-5 cardamon pods
  • 1 large (or 2 small) shallots, finely chopped
  1. Heat a frying pan on a high heat and toast the cumin & coriander seeds and cardamon pods. Grind in a pestle and mortar.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and gently fry the shallots until soft and translucent. Add the ground spices and the nuts and toast until the nuts get a slight browning on the sides.
  3. Add the cinnamon stick, rice and enough water just to cover.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer, and simmer gently until just cooked.
  5. Drain, remove the cinnamon stick and serve!

Coriander Chutney

  • 30g coriander
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch sugar
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin oil to taste
  1. Blend all together in a good nutri-bullet or blitzed. Adjust with oil / cold water to thin and salt and pepper for taste.

Mexican Tasting Menu

M

exican inspiration promised and delivered. I’ll take any excuse to create a menu so a family birthday was next in line. Fresh guacamole with pico de gallo christened every evening meal for us in Mexico. We used it as a barometer for each restaurant. Each eatery had their own style but each one we tried was incredible so there was no question about it being on this tasting menu with some mezcalitas to kick things off.

My stand out food memory from the holiday was our first taste of fish tacos on day 2 in Holbox. Blue corn tortilla’s topped with perfectly soft but crunchy green tempura fish and creamy avocado as we dumped the bags and collapsed in front of our idyllic ocean view. And the tacos didn’t stop there, from prawn to chicken but always back to fish. I was skeptical about recreating these at home but relieved to say, these were delicious and offered us a mini escape back to Holbox. I’d encourage you to invest in a taco holder and some proper corn tortilla’s to make these worth their while. Whilst you can use wheat tortilla’s, the corn version (blue or white) take these to their authentic level.

My Mexican menu was created sharing and I’ve shared a few of the recipes here which I hope you enjoy.

A few staples you’ll need for this menu if you’re serious about your Mexican feasting:

  • Taco holder 
  • Corn tortilla – blue or white
  • Hand lime squeezer
  • Mezcal – we bought back 2 bottles from Mexico. Buy the best quality you can afford or use Tequila if you prefer.
  • Every bar in Mexico uses ‘Tajin’ for the chilli-salt rim on their margaritas/mezcalitas. We bought this back in our luggage but you can buy it online.
  • Plain corn tortilla chips for dipping (salted but not flavoured) – don’t even think about buying Doritos. Artisanal are the best if you can shop around. Again, blue or white corn work well. I used these blue corn chips

Mezcalitas

Guacamole with pico de gallo & black corn tortilla chips

Prawns & Mango

Black Bean & Chipotle Empanadas

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Coconut & Lime Ice Cream

Guacamole with pico de gallo & black corn tortilla chips (Serves 4 as a starter and for your fish tacos)

  • 4 large ripe avocados
  • 1-2 large limes
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • 4 ripe large tomatoes
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1-2 chillis, finely chopped
  • Tortilla chips to serve (plain)

I used a blender here but you can mash the avocados by hand with a fork also for a more rustic texture. I usually love making avocado this way but I prefer the creamier texture for serving this as a sharing starter with chips.

  1. Blend the avocado flesh, juice of 1 lime, chopped chilli to taste and all but a handful of the coriander in a blender with a generous pinch of flaky salt and freshly ground pepper until smooth. Taste and add more lime & salt if needed.
  2. De-seed and finely dice the tomatoes and add to a bowl. Season well with flaky salt.
  3. Add the chopped shallot, the rest of the coriander and the juice of half a lime and stir well.
  4. Leave to sit for about 30 minutes to let the salt draw out the lovely tomato juices.
  5. When ready to serve, make sure everything is at room temperature. Don’t serve straight from the fridge. Spoon half the guacamole into a serving bowl or dish and spoon over half of the pico de gallo and tuck in!

Black Bean & Chipotle Empanadas (recipe here)

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa (Serve 4 – makes about 8)

  • 500g white meaty fish – I used cod
  • 85g flour
  • 200ml sparking water, chilled
  • 1 litre sunflower oil
  • 8 white/black corn tortillas (If you can’t find corn, use wheat tortillas but you’ll benefit from the authenticity of corn!)
  • 1/2 guacamole recipe above
  • 1/2 pico de gallo recipe above
  • Roughly 1/4 of a mango, diced (leftover from your prawn and mango skewers)
  1. Cut the fish into large bitesize chunks  a few inches each and heat the sunflower oil in a large saucepan until around 180℃. (If you have a deep fryer then prepare this)
  2. Make the batter by sifting the flour into a large bowl and seasoning. Whisk in the cold sparkling water, whisking until smooth.
  3. When the oil is hot enough, dip each piece of fish into the bater to very lightly coat and then quickly into the hot oil being careful not to splash yourself with the oil. You can add 3-4 pieces if they will fit at once but don’t crowd the oil. Fry for about 3 minutes until just golden, turning with a slotted spoon to ensure even colouring.
  4. Remove the fish pieces with a slotted spoon onto a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb the excess and repeat with the rest of the fish until all fried. If there are any crispy bits of batter left in the pan, remove these as they are great to top off the tacos.
  5. Mix the mango with the remaining pico de gallo and set aside.
  6. To assemble the tacos, lightly warm the tortilla’s in a pan or low oven and spread the corn tortilla with 1 tbsp of guacamole. Pop in 2-3 pieces of your tempura fish and place each in your taco holder.
  7. Top each with the mango/tomato salsa and any remaining crispy bater pieces and serve with lots of napkins!

Coconut Ice Cream (recipe here) – Serve with rum roasted pineapple for an extra treat!

Chicken & Black Bean Empanadas

I

promised I’d be inspired from our recent adventures in Mexico. The food and country stole our hearts and we are incredibly lucky to have had such an amazing immersive honeymoon. Whilst I’ve only managed to find one good Mezcal bar in London (Hacha, Brixton/Dalston), I have been creating smoothie bowls, tacos and now, empanadas in the kitchen.

I think empandas are pretty forgiving and adaptable (don’t tell the Mexicans?). Being a very loose cousin to the Cornish pasty in my view, as long as the pastry is fresh and flaky and the filling tasty and moist –  you can’t go wrong. We didn’t eat too many of these in Mexico to know the ‘traditional’ size but I like that you can make these larger or smaller to fit into your menu. Here I opted for the slightly larger than canapé size as part of a Mexican tasting menu.

Makes about 15 (depending on their size)

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150g cold butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4-5 chicken thighs, skin off, deboned
  • 2 large shallots, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes (or as hot as you like)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • Handful coriander, chopped

You can use shortcrust pasty or puff if you don’t want to make it yourself. I used a tea saucer size to cut out the pastry circles for size.

Filling

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃ and get yourself a large casserole dish.
  2. Heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat in your dish and add the shallots. Gently cook for about 8 minutes until soft and translucent making sure they don’t catch. Season well, add the garlic and cook for a further few minutes to soften.
  3. Add the chicken thighs and turn up the heat to brown them slightly on the outside (don’t worry too much, it’ll all go in the oven shortly!)
  4. Add the ground spices and mix everything well to coat for a few minutes.
  5. Add in the tinned tomatoes and mix well. Add half a can of water from the kettle if its looking a bit thick, basically enough to submerge the chicken but not too watery!
  6. Add the black beans and mix well.
  7. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, lid on. Remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes or so. By this time the mixture should have reduced nicely and the chicken tender.
  8. Remove the dish from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  9. Before it gets cold, take two forks and shred the chicken into bitesize pieces and mix everything to combine before leaving to cool completely before stirring in the chopped coriander.

Pastry

  1. To make the pastry, mix the cold cubed butter and flour and baking powder in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Season. (You can rub this in by hand but make sure the butter is cold).
  2. Add in a few tbsp of cold water bit by bit with the processor running until the dough just starts to come together in a ball.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and combine into a nice soft ball. Wrap in cling film and refredigate for 1 hour.

Assembly

  1. Remove the pastry from the fridge and leave to warm up for about 15 minutes. Cut into quarters to make it easier to handle. Roll each quarter out on a floured work surface to the ticket of a coin. Use a cutter or an upturned saucer to cut out circles of pastry. Size is totally up to you – you can go large pasty style or small canapé size.
  2. Spoon a small amount of mixture into the centre of the pastry – the amount will depend on the size but be cautious and don’t overfill, its easily done.
  3. Brush beaten egg around the outside of the whole pastry disc.
  4. Turn over the pastry to make a half moon and seal the edges with a fork by pressing the pastry edges together.
  5. Brush the empanada with egg and bake at 200℃ for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

Roasted Tomatoes & Cold yoghurt

I

‘ve been absent for some time I know. In fact, this has been my biggest hiatus from blogging since I started “forage in the pantry” back in 2012! I haven’t stopped cooking and creating you’ll be pleased to know! On the contrary, I’ve been taking inspiration from our recent travels “honeymooning” in Mexico where I fell head over heels in love with the tacos, avocados, burritos. An oh the mezcal. I’ve been greedily recreating since…and a Mexico post is due.

I have however been back at school. Wine School. Studying for my WSET Diploma. And with studying commitment has come a compromise. I’ve swapped camera spittoon and evenings learning the maximum yields in Champagne to the advantages of hand harvesting…

I am loving it and whilst the end if not near, I am hoping to have some time in the summer to dedicate for  recipe inspiration. So dear followers, I am simply on a blogging sabbatical, not retiring yet.

A sunny summer lunch with the family inspired me to pop up a quick and easy side dish that seemed to get a lot of attention. This one is from ‘Ottolenghi’s’ SIMPLE, but with some modifications, obviously. But its a real winner for ease and flavour. A monkey could make it, I promise. Its fantastic as a side dish for some roasted or barbecued meats or as a starter scooped up with warm pitta or crusty sour dough. The hot/cold contrast is an added bonus.

Serves 6 (as a side dish)

  • 600-800g cherry tomatoes, best you can afford.
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 4 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme/rosemary
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful basil
  • Handful pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 400g thick Greek yoghurt (I always use Skyr)
  • To serve – toasted pitta/crusty sour dough OR as a side dish.
  1. Preheat the over to 200 degrees and get yourself a large roasting tin/dish.
  2. Add all your cherry tomatoes in an even layer.
  3. Scatter over the sliced shallots, crushed garlic and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
  4. Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the sumac, chilli and thyme leaves. Grate over the zest of half a lemon.
  5. Drizzle with some olive oil (or use the oil from the sun dried tomatoes jar) and toss well to combine.
  6. Roast for about 20 minutes keeping an eye on them until the tomatoes have broken down and rebased their lovely juices. 
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before tearing over all but a handful of basil leaves.
  8. Get yourself a nice serving plate and spoon the yoghurt on top. Spread out and create a slight well in the centre.
  9. Spoon over your lovely roasted tomatoes and their juices.
  10. Scatter with the pine nuts and any left over basil and serve.

Bonus recipe – Roasted new potatoes with oregano & feta

  1. Preheat the oven to 220. Cut your potatoes in half and place on a baking tray
  2. Scatter with flaky salt and dried oregano.
  3. Drizzle with oil and roast for 30 minutes until crispy and golden.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before crumbling over some feta.

Mushroom & Ricotta Galette

S

avoury galettes are so satisfying and hearty especially when you combine the meaty taste of mushrooms. An eggless quiche you could compare it to but much more forgiving with its rough pastry cracks and artisan edges. It can also be filled with whatever you like, just make sure there isn’t anything too wet inside. Roasted kale or peppers as a suggestion or experiment with a multitude of cheeses.

I made a ‘quick flaky pastry’ which I just love as its so short and crumbly but if you don’t want the hassle feel free to swap in a puff pastry here and save some time.

Galette can also slyly and traditionally be made sweet filled with almond frangipane. See here for a traditional French “galette des rois” with cinnamon ice cream.

Serves 4  –  serve with a lovely crisp salad dressed with a Dijon and lemon dressing!

Pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cold butter, cubed
  • Cold water

You can also use ready made puff pastry if you like, a 500g block.

Filling

  • 500g mixed mushrooms (I used about 300 chestnut and 200g mixed wild) chopped roughly
  • 2 small leeks, finely chopped
  • 25g butter
  • 180g ricotta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 100g blue cheese (or cheddar, goats cheese, brie, use whatever you like)
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 handful thyme, leaves picked
  • Sprig rosemary, leaves picked
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Start by making the pastry. Combine the flour, salt and pepper and the cubed cold butter in a food processor and process until you get a fine breadcrumb like texture (you can also rub it by hand). With the motor running, add a tablespoon of cold water adding enough very carefully until the dough just comes together but isn’t sticky (about 2-3 tbsp). Tip it out onto a floured surface and combine the last bit with your hands to form a nice dough ball. Wrap and chill for 30 minutes at least in the fridge.
  2. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and add a tbsp of olive oil. When just hot and starting to sizzle, add the chopped mushrooms and cook gently until they begin to brown and they loose their water. This can take about 8 minutes. Don’t be tempted to crowd the pan with mushrooms, do it in 2 batches if needed. If using wild and more delicate mushrooms, add these at the end as they take less time.
  3. Once starting to turn golden, add the crushed garlic cloves and the chopped thyme and rosemary and stir to combine for a few minutes to cook the garlic. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add the rest of the butter and sweat the leek gently on a low heat until soft, silky and just beginning to caramelise. Season and remove from the heat and stir in all but a handful of the parsley.
  5. Heat the oven to 190 and pop in a baking tray to preheat. Remove your chosen pastry from the fridge.
  6. Roll the pastry into a rough circle (about 14 inches) – don’t worry too much at getting it perfectly round but good enough. It should be about the thickness of a pound coin. Place it onto a sheet of baking parchment while you fill.
  7. Spread your ricotta cheese nicely on the base of the pastry, leaving a good 2 inch rim clear, like a pizza. Season and grate the zest of the lemon on top of the ricotta.
  8. Top with the leeks spreading evenly.
  9. Top with the garlic mushrooms. Finally, crumble or grate over your cheese of choice as liberally as you like.
  10. Brush the 2 inch rim of the pastry with beaten egg and then gently fold over the edges to partly cover the filling. Press down any pastry that overlaps. Coat the rest of the pastry in the beaten egg.
  11. Remove the hot baking tray from the oven carefully. Next very carefully slide your parchment with you galette on top. You can do this easiest from the edge of your counter. The hot tray should help the base cook evenly so its nice and crisp. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden and smelling wonderful checking after 20 if needed.
  12. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes or so before scattering over the rest of the parsley and serve.

Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie (with quinoa & feta)

I

am back on the blogging train this week it seems! My head space is opening up again to creative mid week recipes as wedding planning is a thing of the past! I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for some time and it was worth the effort to try something new. Credit to ‘delicious.’ magazine where this inspiration is from however I have, as usual, altered it to my instincts but a winner none the less.

More importantly I’ve renamed it. “Spiced lamb crumble” didn’t summon great thoughts for me (sorry Delicious). It sort of reminded me of the Friends episode where Rachel makes an English Triple. Peas, lamb and cream…! So “Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie” it became with an added sprinkle of Ras el Hanout. A must have in your spice rack if you want to be transported to the Middle East or northern Africa.

Serves 4-6

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Knob ginger, grated
  • 1-2 chillis (as hot as you like), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
  • Small glass red wine (optional)
  • 250g tomato passata
  • 300-400ml hot chicken/vege stock
  • 1 pomegranate

Topping

  • 190g quinoa, rinsed
  • 200g feta, crumbled
  • Zest 1 lemon
  • Chopped parsley & mint
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Take a heavy based casserole dish and heat a tbsp of olive oil on the hob over a medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and sweat gently for about 10 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the lamb mince and plenty of seasoning and break it up with a wooden spoon, frying gently with the onion until brown. Once brown add the chopped chilli, garlic and ginger, stir to combine and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add the flour, and all the dried spices and mix well so they coat the lamb and onion mix. They will absorb the juices quickly. Once coated add the glass of wine and stir well, followed by the passata. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add about 300ml of stock and stir to combine. Add enough stock to achieve a thick sauce but it will reduce in the oven so don’t make it thick! This bit is really up to you for your desired consistency. Season to taste.
  5. Pop into the oven for about 25-30 minutes (or simmer on the hob) to help reduce the sauce and concentrate all the lovely flavours.
  6. Meanwhile make the topping. Cook 150g of the quinoa for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  7. Once cooled, season well and add the rest of the uncooked quinoa, lemon zest, crumbled feta and the chopped herbs. Add about 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and mix well. Check the seasoning.
  8. Once the lamb comes out the oven stir well and transfer to a casserole dish.
  9. Top with the quinoa crumble spreading up to the edges and bake for 30 minutes until just golden on top and the sauce is bubbling round the edges.
  10. Serve with a scattering of pomegranate seeds and fresh chopped herbs is any spare!

I served mine with green beans.

Pearl Barley Salad & Pea Puree

I

haven’t blogged anything new in some time. Don’t worry I haven’t stopped cooking, our meals have just rotated between old favourites, cheap quick fixes and emergency lentils. I’ve been somewhat preoccupied with…a wedding. My wedding! My first blog post as a married woman. He was a happy man he said as he cheerfully devoured this dinner. Little does he know the menus to come…just wait for anniversary one!

The promise of a proper summer streamed through our balcony windows today and the forecast for our precious weekends begins to look brighter, dressy and filled with cold crisp pints. It is also a pinnacle time for the world opening up again. I very much look forward to stopping for an unplanned, non-booked drink at a random pub and even ordering it myself at a bar. Heck I might even pay in cash (perhaps one step too far?).

Back to this recipe. The dish is so fresh and vibrant in flavour yet it is deceivingly satiating. The barely salad is filled with summery, flavours all coated in the gorgeously sweet velvety pea that I always wish I’d made more of.

Serves 2

  • 2 fillets of fish – seabass, bream, cod – pick your favourite.
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 stock cube
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 1 handful mint & parsley, leave picked
  • Handful of pine nuts
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 knob butter
  1. Prepare your pearl barely salad ingredients. Cut your courgette into dice, bite sized pieces and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the herbs and grate the zest of the lemon juice on top. Set aside with the courgette.
  3. Toast you pine nuts in a dry hot frying pan until golden, set aside.
  4. Simmer the pearl barley in boiling water for about 20-30 minutes until just soft and the bite has gone. Drain and return to the pan and keep warm with a lid on. You’ll finish this at the last minute.
  5. Make you pea puree just before serving, right before you cook you fish. Prepare a pan of stock and add the garlic clove and the peas. Boil for about 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Add the peas & garlic clove only (keep the stock) to a blender/nutribullet with some seasoning and a knob of butter. Add a small splash of the hot stock to the mix but best to add little to start so you can thin it down to the desired consistency, its harder to make thicker again! Blend and add more stock to achieve a smooth creamy texture but you really don’t need a lot. You’re not looking for soup but you’re not looking for mash! Season well to taste. Set aside and keep as hot as you can while you cook the fish.
  6. Heat a frying pan until piping hot and add a tiny bit of oil. Season you fish and cook, skin side down for about 2-3 minutes, finishing for 30 seconds on the flesh side (timings for a seabass/bream fillet)
  7. Combine herbs, lemon zest, juice of the lemon, courgette and the pine nuts and mix well into the barely you set aside.
  8. Spoon a lovely ladleful of pea puree onto a plate. Top with your pearl barley salad and finally your fish fillet. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil if you like, extra pine nuts or another squeeze of lemon

Eat ideally in a sunny garden while the birds chirping in the background. I will have to settle for a balcony, London sirens but a handsome husband to gaze into the eyes of. Who knows, perhaps a garden and bird song is on our list for the next adventure.

Raw Noodle Salad & Peanut Dressing

S

uch a delicious rainbow salad, you can just feel your body thanking you for the amazing vitamins. The dressing is amazing (courtesy of Bill Granger) and can be used over hot noodles, salad leaves or some simply grilled salmon. It’s got fantastic peanut depth and sweetness. I served mine with some sesame crusted seared tuna steaks. 

I’ve mentioned this before but if you don’t have one of these julienne peelers then get on Amazon Prime and have one delivered tomorrow! They make such light work of this salad, and are great for raw vegetable noodle dishes. If you don’t have one, you can hand cut or use a grater but you won’t end up with the same texture. 

Serves 4 (as a side)

  • 1 carrot
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper, thinly slices
  • 1/4 red cabbage, finely sliced
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • Around 80g fresh grated coconut (you can use a few handfuls of toasted desiccated coconut f not)
  • A few handfuls of roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted to preference)

Dressing

  • 1 1/2 tbsp runny honey
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter (I use Pip & Nut. Not added BS and runny for dressings)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp unflavoured oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  1. Thinly chop or julienne the carrot and courgette into a large bowl. Add the finely sliced red pepper and red cabbage and the chopped coriander.
  2. Add your coconut if using and stir to combine
  3. In a jam jar, add the honey, peanut butter and lemon juice and shake with the lid on. Or whisk well in a bowl.
  4. Add the oils, soy and vinegar and mix well to combine. 
  5. Only when you are ready to serve, dress your salad with the dressing and scatter over the peanuts. Serve immediately! If you let it sit around it will get soggy.

 

Roasted Gnocchi, Pea Puree & Seabream

M

eals like this take me no time but I appreciate that isn’t always the case for everyone but if you’re comfortable with boiling, roasting and turning on a blender then you’ll do just fine. I highly recommend a good blender such as a Nutribullet/Ninja for that heavenly silky smooth pea puree but a rustic chunky version would not distract from this creation.

I love my gnocchi boiled and roasted – if you haven’t tried this before, they are essentially your ‘lazy mans’ mini roast potatoes. Crispy gnocchi on sweet and creamy peas with some fresh lemony fish. This could almost be my last supper. This recipe served 2 hungry people but would easily serve 3. Just add more peas and gnocchi to scale up.

Serves 2-3

  • 2-3 seabream fillets
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 2 tsp pesto
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 large garlic glove, peeled
  • 500g pack of fresh gnocchi
  • 1 lemon, to serve.
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add a really generous pinch salt – as salty as the sea.
  2. Add the fresh gnocchi and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain well and then spread on a lined baking tray – don’t crowd them, they need space. Season well and drizzle lightly but evenly with some olive oil.
  3. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they are turning golden like roast potatoes.
  4. To make the pea puree, add the peas to a pan and top with enough boiling water to cover. Crumble in the stock cube and stir to dissolve. Smash the peeled garlic clove with the back of a knife and add to the pan. Simmer the peas in the stock for about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat, drain the peas but reserve the stock! Put the peas and garlic into a blender. Add generous salt and pepper, the pesto and a small splash of the cooking stock (you can always add more but you can’t take away!) Reserve the rest of the stock in case you need it again.
  6. Blitz the peas in your blender until silky smooth and the texture of a thick soup – add a bit more stock if needed. Taste, adjust the seasoning and set aside.
  7. Season & oil your fish fillets and either pan fry (3 minutes skin side down) or roast (about 5 minutes) with the gnocchi until just cooked.
  8. To serve, spoon a lovely smooth spoonful of pea puree into a pasta bowl. Top with your crunchy roasted gnocchi and top with your fish. Squeeze over some lovely lemon juice or zest and devour.