Posts by Jess

Passionfruit Crème Brûlée

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ith Valentines Day heavy on the February agenda and a strong committed desire to stay at home and cook up a feast, this dessert made a perfect and suggestively named addition. Personally, the thought of going out for dinner on Valentines Day fills me with dread! The busy restaurants, the ‘special menus’, the overpriced deals and the crowds of daters and lovers. Understandably, showing your love with your cooking is not for everyone. And I’ll admit, for someone who loves nothing but spending a month menu planning and an entire evening in the kitchen, creating a 3 course feast was selfishly high on my priorities. This also being the way to a/my man’s heart, it seemed like a win-win…

When thinking of a menu, creme brûlée and passion fruit were the first things on the list being two of my beloved guests favourites. A decadent, creamy and light end to a meal that finished off a French themed super perfectly. Call me cliche with the theme but I didn’t hear any complaints…

I always fail to remember how easy creme brûlée is to make. And this year I finally, FINALLY invested in a cooks blowtorch. And an investment I wish I’d done long ago. A cheap and tremendously useful kitchen addition. Gone are the days of burnt creme brûlées shamefully neglected under the grill. Sweet creme brûlée, a mans gadget and the involvement of flames…again…a win-win dessert. And who doesn’t love the first crack of the sugary top!?

Serving suggestion: I failed to make these on the night but I’d serve these with mini coconut shortbreads. See here and instead of adding the rosemary, replace with 2 tbsp of lightly toasted desiccated coconut.

Serves 5 (I reused the infamous ‘Gu’ ramekins and this made 5)

  • 500ml double cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 6 passion fruit
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Find a deep roasting tin and get your ramekins ready in the tray.
  2. Add the double cream to a saucepan and scarp in the seeds of the vanilla pod using a teaspoon and add in the pod too. Scald the cream. I.e. Heat until just below the boiling point. It should be just ready to bubble but not simmer. Remove from the what and let the vanilla infuse for a few moment while you whisk the eggs.
  3. In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar and the pulp from all the passion fruits. Whisk well to combine.
  4. Place a tea towel underneath the bowl to prevent it moving and then, whilst whisking continuously, pour in the hot cream in a slow stream. Continue whisking until well combined.
  5. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a good pouring jug or saucepan. Discard the vanilla pod husk and the passion fruit seeds.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly among the ramekins in the roasting tray filling to the top.
  7. Fill the tray with hot water, pouring until the liquid comes about halfway up the ramekins.
  8. Carefully so as not to spill, place the tray in the centre of the oven and cook for 30-35 minutes until just set and with a very slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool completely before chilling in the fridge.
  9. When ready to eat, remove from the fridge and scatter a thin, even layer of caster sugar over the top. Using your blow torch, glaze the surface and the sugar will begin to caramelise. Rotate the ramekin as it melts to ensure it evenly caramelises being careful not to burn. Sit for about 1 minute and then enjoy! With shortbreads if you wish.

If you’re keen for a French showstopper then I also made this pork cassoulet for main.

Creamed Spinach & Goats Cheese Crumble

 

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appy New Year! This was quite rightly a while ago now. January has come and gone and I’ve yet to even blog a shortbread biscuit or mince pie. But I’ve been sunning myself on South Africa’s beaches, drinking from their vineyards and eating…biltong. I don’t regret my absence. However, it has been a shameful while since I’ve given FITP some loving attention. Importantly I must confirm it is NOT because I’ve stopped cooking or experimenting. My pans continue to earn their keep and my fellow friends kept fed and watered. Its been quite an adventure over the past months and that combined with the lack of natural light, I’ve had limited time to take pictures worthy of my perfectionism and blogging standards. Recent stressful distractions at the later end of 2017 have sucked my what would have been ”recipe daydreaming time” for my blogging creations. More so I have sadly (?) opted for either comfort eats or trusty go-tos. That said there have been some blog worthy comfort eats that will have to grace these pages before the summer…

But this Monday evening in early February once again faded into another dark quiet Monday with nothing to excite me except the idea of coming home for dinner and a round of ‘Silent Witness’ (Judge as you will). That coupled with the tight budgets I’ve restricted myself to in order to fund my tenacious sun worshiping this year means that experimenting is also not such an attractive prospect for the bank balance. This dish therefore fits quite nicely. Its amazing what a £1.20 bag of frozen spinach can make and just how far it’ll go. You’re skeptical about spinach going a long way…I can tell. But this could feed a vegetarian army if such a thing exists.

Tip – opt for a larger more shallow baking dish for a better eat. Mine was a little deep and small.

Serves 4-6 (Adapted from Jamie O’s classic here)

Ingredients

  • 1kg frozen spinach ‘blocks’
  • 1 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Nutmeg
  • 150g soft goats cheese
  • 100g breadcrumbs OR bread
  • 100g oats
  • 100g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g flaked almonds
  • 250ml creme fraiche
  • 1 lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Start by sweating the onion in a little oil in a large frying pan until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the spinach ‘blocks’ and turn up the heat to a medium setting. You want to cook out the spinach for a out 10 minutes until the blocks have melted down and you have evaporated the majority of the water.
  4. Meanwhile, blitz the bread in a processor into breadcrumbs. Season well.
  5. Add the oats and pulse lightly just to combine.
  6. Add the cubed butter and blend until you have a crumb like texture.
  7. Stir in the almonds and reserve this topping for later.
  8. Once the spinach has reduced in moisture, grate in a good few gratings of nutmeg. Add the mixture to the food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and season well.
  9. Add the creme friache and the zest of the lemon and pulse to combine. (These steps are optional. If you don’t have a processor you can simply stir the creme friache and spinach together to achieve a more textured mix).
  10. Tip a third of the mixture into a shallow baking dish (In hindsight, the one I used was a little deep). Crumble over a third of the goats cheese.
  11. Repeat with the next layer alternating with goats cheese and spinach. (Alternatively, you could add the goats cheese to the spinach mixture and pulse lightly. I preferred having nuggets of goats cheese rather than an overall flavour throughout).
  12. Once you’ve used up all the mixture, top the spinach evenly with the crumble.
  13. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the crumble turns a golden brown and the juices from the spinach are starting to bubble up around the edges.
  14. Dive in!

 

 

Orange Polenta Cake (free-from)

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ollowing on from chapter 1 – “Hoisin, Soy and Ginger Meatballs” (previous post) you’ll know that a heavy weekend of exercise required some calorie replacement. Cue dessert. I’m not a big cake eater but any cake that’s doused in syrup is one that I can get on board with.

I’ve made a few drizzle cakes and polenta loaves in the past but the use of whole oranges in this recipe really makes a difference and bumps this one up the leader board! It doesn’t require a huge amount more effort but means this cake is moist and packed with orange flavour. It also make an excellent dessert unlike a Victoria sponge style cake as you can serve it warm with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

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nintentionally this recipe is also dairy and gluten free! Which I think leads smoothly onto the news that I have now officially left the wine industry which has served me well for the past 4 years in London! But I’m more than excited to be entering a fresher, more creative and healthier career with Deliciously Ella. So next week starts the second chapter of my London life. Who knows what it has to hold and what recipes these blog posts might contain in the near future.

Adapated from a recipe by ‘John Torode’

Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 150g polenta
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 10g baking powder

Sticky Syrup

  • 3 oranges, juice (150ml juice)
  • 75g caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm cake tin (springform recommended or loose bottomed)
  2. Place 1 orange and 1 lemon in a saucepan of water so they are completely submerged and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove the fruit from the pan and cut in half. Remove any unwanted seeds.
  4. Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the juice only of the other orange and lemon. Blend into a thick smooth paste.
  5. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until foaming. Add the sugar and beat again.
  6. Next add the orange paste, almonds, oil and combine well.
  7. Add the polenta to the baking powder then fold these dry ingredients into the wet.
  8. Pour into your lined baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes.
  9. While cooking, make the syrup. Heat the sugar and juice on a medium heat until beginning to bubble and turn glossy. Keep warm.
  10. When the cake is ready pour over the syrup liberally whilst still in the tin. I like to pierce the whole cake with a cocktail stick (especially at the edges and middle) to allow the syrup to seep into the cake better. This prevents it running off the top and collecting round the edges.
  11. Once the syrup has soaked in thoroughly, remove from the tin and turn out onto a serving plate

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature. The cake will keep well for about a week if stored well and become more moist!

 

Hoisin, Soy and Ginger Meatballs

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ntil this recipe, I’d really underestimated minced pork. I like pork. I appreciate a good sausage (…ahem..) and I would fight you greedily for the crackling on a hog roast but I rarely cook with it. However my love of Asian-fusion recipes, the need for a warming Autumnal meal and some timely inspiration resulted in this tasty, moreish and speedy meatball dish.

It was an intense weekend. In training for 15km run round Lake Garda in October, it was decided that a smaller practice run was on the Saturday morning agenda. Two hours of enthusiastic and competitive running later, we’d clocked up 13 miles, some sore joints and a feisty appetite. So Sunday welcomed warm showers, relaxation and calorie replacement. And this recipe did a fine job.

Warming, comforting, firey, hoisin-sweet and punching in flavour, it was like an Asian hug in a bowl after a hectic weekend. It also makes a super speedy mid week meal and fantastic leftovers. I’m eating them as I write and they are just as good the second time round on a bowl of vegetable stir fry or raw courgette.

Rice – serve on your rice of choice. I’d recommend a jasmine or a sticky rice to avoid too many flavours. I do however like to squeeze a generous lime into the rice once cooked to add some contrast to the sweet hoisin here.

Serve 4

Meatballs

  • 600g minced pork
  • 30 self raising flour
  • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic gloves, grated
  • 1 small red chilli (as hot as you like)

Sauce

  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 125ml chicken stock

To serve

  • Steamed pak choy, broccoli,/any green vege
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Steamed coconut/jasmine/brown/sticky rice (of choice)
  • 1 lime
  1. Start by combining all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your (clean) hands, combine the mixture together so that everything is mixed well. Don’t overwork and pound the meat or it’ll give you rubbery meatballs. Chill for about 15 minutes.
  2. Once a little chilled, heat your oven to 240°C.
  3. Start cooking your rice now.
  4. Roll your pork into meatballs – golf balls size (about 16)
  5. Get a large frying pan on a high heat and add a splash of sunflower oil. (I like to fry mine to give a crispy outside then finish them off in the oven. Alternatively you can avoid this step and jump straight to the oven). Flash fry your meatballs for a few minutes until they form a dark golden crust on the outside. Place into a lined baking dish and add to the oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking.
  6. Meanwhile make your sauce. Add a splash more oil to your frying pan and fry the spring onions on a medium heat to soften slightly. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for another minute.
  7. Add the hoisin and the soy and stir well. Finally add the stock and simmer gently until the sauce thickens slightly.
  8. Remove your meatballs from the oven and add them to the frying pan and coat them liberally in the sauce.
  9. Add a good squeeze of lime to the cooked rice if appropriate and serve about 4 meatballs per person on top of this. Spoon over some of the excess sauce.
  10. Scatter with coriander and a squeeze of lime if needed.
  11. Serve alongside your fresh greens.

 

Duck & Watermelon Salad

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‘ve a list of recipes that just catch my eye for one reason or another that I immediately add to my ‘to cook’ list. Those reasons could be the choice of ingredients, the vibrant colours or just a mood and craving but all contribute to the creation of this list. Shamefully the list has been growing faster than it has even had a chance to be depleted this summer! However an easy Tuesday this week called for this vibrant and fuss free salad. Not much cooking here – just a lot of chopping and fancy scattering. Studded with pomegranate gems, hidden with crispy morsels of duck supported by a solid foundation of juicy watermelon bricks.

Having just this week returned from a bootcamp-esque paradise holiday in Greece filled with wake boarding, yoga, volleyball (I could go on), this recipe offered the perfect balance to continue the health kick while fantasising about being back in the turquoise oceans and white sands of my much beloved Greece.

It has been adapted by a recipe from ‘The Londoner’. Adapted with an alternate dressing more heavy on the lime and some extra hidden gems – roasted peanuts in any dish are rarely a bad thing. But what we do share is our appreciation for the hot duck – cold melon combo that is just so refreshing and de-wicious.

*[Alex and Alice – if you’re reading (which I hope you are), put this on your ‘to cook’ list too before summer is completely over!]

Serves 2

  • 1/2 large watermelon, chopped into chunks
  • 2 duck legs
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • Bunch of mint, leaves picked and chopped
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Handful of salted, roasted peanuts
  • Handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Season the duck and roast in a tray for an hour.
  2. While the duck is cooking, chop your watermelon into big chunks and add to a large salad bowl big enough to contain the whole salad.
  3. Add the chopped spring onions, red chilli and chopped herbs.
  4. Add the peanuts and pomegranate seeds (as many as you wish to balance the rest of the salad) and combine well.
  5. Combine the juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are!) and the zest in a jam jar. Add almost the same measure of extra virgin olive oil, but a touch under so its more ‘limey’.
  6. Add the soy, sesame and some seasoning. Place the lid on the jam jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust to your liking. The last thing you want to do is add a bad dressing to your wonderful salad!
  7. When the duck is ready, quickly shred the meat and crispy skin. It cools quickly so in order to maintain the hot/cold vibe you’re trying to create here, pop it back in the oven for a final blast of heat to warm.
  8. Once hot, add the shredded duck quickly to the salad bowl and coat the salad and duck liberally in the dressing and combine well.
  9. Serve immediately!

I served mine with a nice fresh rocket and cucumber salad and some homemade coconut flatbreads. But this is still a good and healthy meal in itself. A few chunky roasted croutons would not go a miss here however. Just sayin.

Speedy (Health Conscious) Millionaire Shortbread

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‘ll start by warning (yes warning) you that this recipe should not be compared to the decadence of the traditional millionaires shortbread. Firstly is the reduciton in indulgence ingredients, mainly butter and sugar, that I love so very much and praise. However, if you have a craving for this dangerous treat, but also want to balance this guilty indulgence with some form – even if tiny – of health awareness then its a good one. That said, it really is a speedy way to make your own version! The traditional version takes time – baking the shortbread base, making the caramel and then applying the chocolate. This, can be done in an hour!

If you do want to make a recommended amendment if time isn’t your’e enemy here, I think this recipe could be equally as good as the real thing just by changing the base for a traditional baked shortbread. Use 50g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter and 150g plain flour – example recipe here. I personally think the date caramel is far tastier than the normal boiled sugar version! Firstly, its less rich so you can eat more of it…and secondly its natural sugar. Yes, still sugar but its far healthier.

(Based on a recipe by ‘The Plant-Based Londoner’)

Base

  • 90g oats
  • 130g nut of choice (cashew, brazil, almond)
  • 1 tbsp lacuma powder (optional)
  • 6 tbsp of nut butter of choice (try substituting in some coconut oil. Note, it will dominate the flavours)

Caramel & Topping

  • 300g pitted dates
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Start on the base. Pulse the flour, lacuna powder, nuts and nut butter in a food processor until you have a soft dough that holds together. If it needs to be more moist add a little more nut butter. Tip out into a lined baking tray (line with parchment, foil or cling film) big enough so that the mixture is about 1 cm deep. It doesn’t matter what dish you use, just use one that is a suitable size.(20cm x 20xm recommended) Cover and chill in the fridge.
  2. Next, pulse the dates, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla in the food processor. Add a splash of water and keep adding until you get a smooth but thick date caramel.
  3. Spread this caramel evenly over the chilled base and then cover and chill again.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until fully melted.
  5. Tip the chocolate over the chilling date layer and smooth out until even and completely covering the caramel.
  6. Cover again and chill until the chocolate has set hard.
  7. Once hard, tip the bar out onto a chopping board and cut into the desired square/rectangle. Please note – the top layer WILL crack where unwanted and not every piece will look perfect, if any. The 3 in the image I have are the only ones that did not misbehave. But the look isn’t everything so cut randomly into chunky morsels. Its more tasty that way.

 

Chilli Avocado & Sumac Poached Eggs

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his post is hardly a ‘recipe’ and at the risk of sounding pretentious, it’s hardly cooking. Pouch an egg, toast some bread and mash an avocado. If you’ve not nailed that one yet then this is the blog post for you (and guaranteed to woo any dates the morning after!). You can’t go anywhere for brunch these days, particularly in London, without the avocado on toast making a headlining appearance. And I’m one of the many who craves this in an cafe at the weekend whilst also being one that knows very well it can be eaten and thrown together quicker and significantly cheaper in the comforts of your own home. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a promising ‘smashed avo on toast’ (usually with a £3 side of ‘seeds’…yes seeds) only to find it bland, under seasoned and in need of a hearty splash of lemon.

So…make it at home! Here are my tips for my personal perfect recipe. Interchangable depending on taste but the basics are here. Excuse my ugly poached egg but as my mother always told me, its what on the inside that counts. And as long as its molten orange yolk then it can look as ugly as a…..*use imagination*.

With my conscious risk of again sounding pretentious, I’ve used some common ingredients here. I’ll admit its nothing original. But there’s a reason it on those brunch menus. Its yummy!

Ingredients – Serves 2

  • 2 slices of bread, toasted (Your choice. Rye and sourdough being my favourite – must be smeared with smashed avo to the very edges – cafe pet hate)
  • 4 eggs, fresh, room temperature
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch coriander, chopped
  • Approx 2 heaped tbsp mixed seeds (e.g. pumpkin, sesame, sunflower) – toasted lightly for a few minutes in a hot pan until beginning to pop.
  • 1 tsp sumac
  1. Cut your avocado in half and scoop out the flesh. Smash with a fork into a bowl.
  2. Add the juice of 1 lime, the chilli flakes, spring onions and coriander. Season well with salt and pepper and smash all together. Taste, adding more lime/seasoning if needed.
  3. Bring a pan of water to the simmer. Poach your eggs (suggested 2 at a time depending on pan size) for a few minutes until the whites have set and the yolks are still runny.
  4. While poaching, toast your bread.
  5. Slather the smashed avocado between the 2 toast slices. Scatter over the toasted seeds.
  6. When the eggs are ready, pat dry any excess water on some kitchen towel then immediately sit on top of the toast and avo.
  7. Scatter the eggs with a grinding of pepper and a spindle of sumac
  8. Serve immediately while still warm and yolks runny.

 

 

Pecan, Cinnamon & PB Energy Balls

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alling all sports fanatics, runners, lycra glad cyclists and yogis. Energy balls. In the fast paced and immediate society we now live in (London specifically), time is something that we so regularly abuse…’I’m just so busy I didn’t have time’. Which has carved the way for the new found energy ball to eat on the go before that lunch time pilates class or to fill a void between your next avocado. The happy balance being convenience and keeping a healthy lifestyle.

The energy ball currently populates the nation from supermarket to sport shop and will in the oh so near future be a much bigger part of my life (cliff hanger). Many health bars/snacks on the market are unhealthily and sneakily filled with naughty ingredients and additives. But homemade energy balls really are pure and clean. And full of….energy!? And I’m more than pleased to add that these really are as quick to make as they are to gobble down before that spinning class.

Provided you have a food processor (I’m being presumptuous) then all you need to do is pulse it all together! I mean…if you want to squat at the same time then be my guest. And hey…who said they had to be balls? Make them triangles if you have the time.

Adapted from ‘Deliciously Ella’

Ingredients (makes about 20)

  • 400g dates (pitted). I also threw in a handful of prunes for good measure
  • 100g oats
  • 100g pecans
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter (feel free to use any other nut butter)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Blend the oats and pecans until a fine mixture in a food processor.
  2. Add the other ingredients and pulse until you have a sticky mixture.
  3. Roll into balls (golf ball sized) and chill in the fridge (covered) until needed

Chicken Satay

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 usually feel that people fall into a love or hate category when it comes to peanut butter, the later being of rarity these days what with all the dreamy varieties and versions available. I embrace all that can be combined with it favouring the blackcurrant jam toast. However if you’ve not tried celery sticks dipped in peanut butter yet then you can thank me later for the introduction. Having mentioned the vast choice we now have for this delicious American spread, sadly I hate to admit that a cheap jar works wonders here. Save your fancy and expensive cashew, pecan and peanut blend for your sourdough toast at brunch y’all.

With no need to continue my expressive love of peanut butter, chicken satay is like a warm hug when wrapped comfortingly in the soft hand of a loveable flatbread with a crunchy, fresh salad. And this recipe really can be served in many ways as mentioned below. I prefer whole thighs rather than diced breast as they have far more flavour and texture. Served with a spoonful of the rich, spicy sauce, a zesty salad and some pillowey flatbreads. Alternatively, chop, coat and wrap the chicken and salad in the mits of a floury flatbread or flat wrap and dive in hands or face only. Use any combination of salad you like but whatever you do, coat liberally with lemon! It cuts through the rich and creamy peanut sauce welcomingly and essentially.

NOTE: If you haven’t tried making peanut butter before its really really simple provided you have a food processor! See here 

Adapted from Nigel Slater.

Serves 4

Chicken Satay

  • 4-8 chicken thighs, de-bonded (allow for 1-2 each depending on starter/main serving size)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Thumb ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1-2 limes
  • 125ml crunchy peanut butter
  • 250ml water
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Sunflower or light, flavourless oil.

Salad & Sides

  • 1 cucumber, chopped into batons
  • 4 little gems lettuce, leaves picked
  • Handful radishes, sliced finely
  • Bunch spring onions, sliced as preferred
  • 1 lemon
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • Flatbreads (homemade, see here)
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and begin with the chicken. Heat a hot frying pan with a tbsp of sunflower oil on a high heat. Fry the chicken skin side down until crispy and golden. Turn the thighs over and seal on the other side. Remove from the pan and place in a baking tray. Finish cooking in the oven for about 15-20 minutes while you make the sauce.
  2. Using the same pan, reduce the heat and soften the chopped onion for about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and lemongrass and fry for just a few minutes being careful not to burn it – the garlic in particular.
  3. Next add the peanut butter and stir well and continuously to combine with the aromats. Reduce the heat to a low and add half the water. Stir to combine.
  4. The sauce will bubble and thicken as you do this so add the rest of the water when needed, a whisk is useful here.
  5. Keep on a very low heat to warm through, adding a splash more water if you require a thinner consistency.
  6. Add the salad ingredients to a large bowl and squeeze over a generous squeeze of lemon and seasoning.
  7. By now the chicken should have finished cooking, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for a moment while you put the final touches to the sauce.
  8. Add the juice of 1 large lime. Taste – if it needs more to cut through the richness then add another squeeze. Add a handful of the coriander and stir to combine saving the remaining herbs for serving.
  9. Serving is up to you – I prefer to place the thighs gently in the sauce to ensure the skin you worked hard to crisp up remains crispy and then serve the whole dish on the table for people to help themselves from – thighs and sauce scattered with the leftover coriander. Alternatively, you can chop the chicken pieces into bite sized chucks and stir thoughout the sauce to coat entirely and serve in your flatbreads/lettuce leaves like a wrap.

Raw Citrus Salad

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f you’ve been (un)lucky enough to experience the heat wave that swept the UK last week then you’ll probably agree that appetites change from being food dominant to a welcome craving for frosty, cold and delicious beers. Iced rose if thats more your thing, or perhaps just a freshly made lemonade in the sunshine. However, food still has its place but freshness, lightness and nothing too heavy takes the culinary crown. This salad was perfect after what was probably the hottest day of the year so far. After trawling over London for a meeting – which at the time felt dramatically reminiscent of a desert voyage – I was in no fit state for cooking anything too warm later that evening….

This therefore seemed the perfect opportunity to make a fresh salad but one to replenish the nutrients. And time to crack out an ingredient that’s been waiting patiently in my pantry for the past few months. A little gift from overseas from the Norwegian’s.  I’ve not seen a oil like this before but have been delighting in it since. Whilst I’ve tried flavoured oils in the past which I’ve found to be either bland or synthetic, this little oil/balsamic combo – mandarin oil with an epic peach and apricot balsamic – served neat and combined in equal measures with some crusty bread for dipping was amazing! I instantly thought seafood, fennel, and raw salads….after thoughts of frosty beers and rose. I did mention it was very hot…

With a lack of garden space or even a balcony in London (sympathy welcomed) there was sadly no place for a BBQ here. But if you do then this would be an amazing salad served with charred barbecued squid or octopus. Or keep it simple and griddle your asparagus or sea bass. The smoky bbq flavour is perfect for anything citrus here.

Like I said, its a meal for a hot day…minimal effort, more an assembly of flavours. Feel free to add in any other ingredients of choice or fish and seafood.

*NOTE – if you’ve no time to pop to Norway for these delights, a really good extra virgin olive oil with either a generous squeeze of lemon/lime/orange would work a treat. Try adding a few very thin slices of orange segments or grated zest too. Blood orange if you’re feeling extravagant.

Serve 2

  • 2 celery sticks, finely sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced wafer thin (using a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1 handful walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Small bunch fresh basil and mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon/orange/lime
  • Extra virgin olive oil and 1 orange OR flavoured citrus oil or equivalent to above
  • 2 sea bass fillets (or as above, squid, octopus etc)
  1. Hest a frying pan/griddle pan to medium high and add a splash of light olive oil. Griddle the asparagus spears to just take off the rawness for a few minutes until beginning to char. Season and remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the celery, shaved fennel, toasted walnuts and finely chopped herbs.
  3. When the asparagus spears have cooled a little, add them to bowl.
  4. Season and grate in the zest of half the lemon.
  5. The next bit if up to you. Add the citrus oil, and the juice of half a lemon or add the juice of an orange/lime and some plain, extra virgin olive oil. Its all about taste. You need a fresh citrus flavour but it needs to be balanced.
  6. Set aside once done. Fry your fish and serve atop your fresh salad.

I served mine alongside some roasted carrots …I’ll admit this isn’t supporting the cooling and ‘non hassle’ trend I championed above. What can I say, the frosty beer worked a treat…

  • Slice 2-3 large carrot into chunky diagonal chunks
  • Season and drizzle with olive oil
  • Scatter with 1 tbsp of cumin seeds
  • Roast for about 25 minutes until starting to caramelise and soften. Check after this time and leave in longer if needed.
  • 5 minutes before they look ready, add 1 btsp running honey and combine. roast for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and served, slightly cooled, with your citrus salad (also lovely to add chopped parsley and crumbled feta/goats cheese)