Posts tagged chilli

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.

 

 

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.

Lahmacun Meatballs

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ahmacun is like a Turkish meat pizza which I’ve sampled in my many escapades to my favourite middle eastern restaurants and holiday destinations. Pizza you say? In a very loose sense. A thin dough topped with a layer of spiced minced meat and a scattering of tasty salad. However, I’ve been experimenting with textures and I decided to turn mine into meatballs – maintaining the spices and flavours of a traditional Lahmacun serving them on a warm pillowy nigella seed flecked flatbread and topped with a fresh crunchy raw salad.

This would make an excellent dinner party starter in a mini version or a light meal or lunch.

Serves 4 (Makes approx. 16 meatballs)

Meatballs

  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 small red chilli, diced
  • 1tsp (heaped) ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika
  • 50g toasted pine nuts (dry fry in a hot pan until beginning to turn golden and release a nutty aroma!)
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped

Nigella Seed Flatbreads

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 1/2tbsp nigella seeds
  • Salt and pepper

Salad

  • 1 bag radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, cubed into 1cm dice
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • Small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 little gem lettuces, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Tahini

You’ll need 3 large bowl, one for each component to get yourself started. A large frying pan and preheat the oven to 180°C.

  1. Start by making the meatballs. Mix all the ingredients in your first large bowl and combine with your hands, squeezing the mixture together to ensure all the flavours are dispersed. Don’t overwork or pound the meat however. Season well. Taking golf ball sized chunks, roll into meatballs and place on a plate. Continue until you’ve used up all the meat and you have around 16 meatballs. Cover the plate and chill in the fridge until needed.
  2. Next, make the flatbread dough. Combine the flours, salt and pepper and seeds in your second bowl. Pour in the water and mix with a fork. As it comes together, get your hands in and combine into a dough. It shouldn’t be dry but nor should it be sticky. Depending on the texture, add a tough more water/flour to enable you to roll into a smooth ball. Knead for 2-3 minutes on a clean floured worktop. Set aside in a floured bowl and cover with cling film and leave to rest for  about 20 minutes or so.
  3. Assemble the salad. Combine all ingredients in your final bowl except the tahini and lemon. Season and then set aside until ready to serve.
  4. Begin the cooking – remove the meatballs from the fridge! Heat a splash of vegetable or light olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat and fry the meatballs on all sides until they are golden and a nice crust has formed on the outside. Line a baking tray with foil and add the meatballs (the rest of the cooking can be done in the oven). Scrunch up the foil around them to keep them sealed ask they cook and stay moist. Place int he oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, fry your flatbreads. Heat a dry frying pan over a high heat (you will likely need your extractor fan on here)  Take your dough, divide into 4 balls. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out into a small saucer size about the thickness of a 10p piece. When the pan is hot, add one flatbread at a time and fry on both sides, turning when beginning to brown and char in places. The dough will ideally bubble up and create air pockets but it doesn’t matter if not.
  6. As you fry and complete each one, wrap them in a pile in a clean tea towel to keep them warm and soft until needed.
  7. Once the flatbreads are toasted and the meatballs are ready, remove them from the oven.
  8. Dress the salad with the lemon juice and toss to combine.
  9. To serve, top each flatbread with 3-4 meatballs. Add a large handful or salad over the top and drizzle with the tahini if you like.

(A lime and mint yoghurt would also go down well here instead of tahini if wanted)

Enjoy!

 

Sticky Asian Brisket (Coriander, Peanuts, Lime and Chilli)

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nly a true occasion calls for the level of commitment that cooking a dinner requiring 5-6 hours plus additional prep time and a huge amount of will power and patience. And that occasion was, you guessed it, a Birthday. My sister’s birthday to be precise. Its a running joke (which is also true…and very much not a joke) that her Birthday is an (on average) 2 week occasion spanning the initial pre-brithday drinks followed by the Birthday eve event, the actual Birthday, the post Birthday dinner, the family occasion and finally a get together for those unfortunate enough to miss all the above.

So it was the family occasion when this recipe was summoned for a Sunday dinner with a twist. Sticky, slow cooked spiced beef marinated in soy and lime and scattered with fresh coriander and crunchy peanuts. As a fan of beef, brisket is a deep and meaty flavour that adapts perfectly to the slow cook. That and the Asian influence that my family adore, this recipe was a hit! The reduced soy based sauce at the end is particularly punchy, salty, deep and sticky so it would suit a refreshing simple crunchy salad or lightly flavoured rice to accompany.

Followed by a ginger cake (see here) with candles, singing, some more cake, and some ice cream for good measure it was a culinary Birthday I’ll have to try and top next year…

Serves 6 (Adapted from Delicious Magazine recipe see here)

Ingredients

  • 400g shallots, quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 200ml runny honey
  • 2kg beef brisket
  • 250ml shaoxing rice wine (from the world food section of large supermarkets)
  • 70ml light soy sauce
  • 70ml dark soy sauce
  • 100g fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 large red chillies, halved

For serve

  • 150g unsalted peanuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 red chillies, sliced finely
  • Large bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 limes
  • Rice
  • Crunchy salad (Little gems, chicory, cucumber, spring onion, celery lemon juice etc)
  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C and get a deep roasting tray ready.
  2. Heat a splash of oil in a deep frying pan and add the quartered shallots and fry for about 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the beef stock and half the runny honey and stir and heat to combine.
  3. Add the rice wine, soy sauce, fresh ginger, five spice and red chills in a big jug.
  4. Lay the brisket in your deep roasting tin and pour over both the stock and shallot mixture and the sauce from the jug. Cover with a piece of parchment and then with a few layers of foil enough to cover the tray tightly folding the edges down. Place in the oven for 3 hours undisturbed.
  5. After this time, remove the foil and parchment and turn over the brisket and baste. Cover again and return to the oven for another 2 1/2 hours.
  6. After this time, remove from the oven and increase the heat to 220°C.
  7. Pour all the juices from the tray into a frying pan and set the brisket aside. Bubble the juices on a high heat on the hob for about 15 minutes to reduce the heat by about half. However check the seasoning as you do so. The soy is quite a salty mixture so if you reduce it too much it will be overpowering. Add a splash of boiling water if you do so. Season with pepper and salt if needed at the same time.
  8. Cover the brisket with just a few ladles of the sauce and then drizzle over the rest of the runny honey. Return to the hot oven for another 15 minutes to caramelise the brisket and crispy the outside.
  9. Once done, remove the brisket from the oven and serve on a large pre-warmed platter with any of the juices and shallots remaining from the tray. Scatter over the herbs, peanuts, chilli and squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
  10. Serve with the reduced sauce in a warmed jug on the side and a good juicy lime half for all your guests!
  11. Serve alongside rice, flatbreads, salad or any accompaniment you like.

 

Ultimate Cornbread

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his recipe comes directly from Brad McDonald’s book ‘Deep South‘. After being lucky enough to dine in his awesome restaurant ‘The Lockhart’ before he packed up to open ‘Shotgun BBQ‘ I experienced the jaw dropping sights and tastes of his signature cornbread. Basted in thick honeyed butter bubbling at the sides in its case iron dish it was brought to the table disguised as a lemon drizzle!? And boy did it taste good. Its a bit simpler in flavour (and perhaps authenticity?) than my own signature version which you can find here which is full of sweetcorn for texture, chilli for spice and a bit of cheeky cheddar for tang. Whilst both have their own style, the winner here is the buttery honeyed topping. Slatered warm with salted butter this makes the perfect accompaniment to a hot bowl of soured cream drizzled chilli or simply a bucket of homemade fresh guacamole as I did here.

Having not yet tried Shotgun BBQ it will be my next fit spot…

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I used a mini retro loaf tin to create these cute mini loaves perfect for individual portions. However I would also recommend using small loaf tin, one large one, or failing that a muffin tin! This recipe would make about 8 small muffins I think. But feel free to use any tin available – the depth will just mean the cooking tin will vary but if you stick to 25 minutes or so first starters and a knife inserted into the centre is clean then voila!

Ingredients

  • 150g plain flour
  • 150g polenta/cornmeal
  • 25g soft light brown sugar
  • 4g baking powder
  • Large pinch salt
  • 225ml milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 20g butter, melted
  • 30g lard
  • 50g unsalted butter & 50g runny honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place a small knob of lard in each tin
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl
  3. Add the wet and mix well to combine
  4. Spoon into the muffin tins/loaf tin (allowing room for rise)
  5. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. A knife inserted into the middle should come out clean
  6. While they are baking, combine the honey and butter for the topping in a saucepan and melt to combine
  7. When the loaves are ready baste in the hot honey butter and then return to the oven for a few minutes
  8. After this time, remove from the oven and serve immediately, hot and buttery!

I served mine with guacamole  – see here but a chilli would also go down a treat.

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Dahl, Roasted Curried Cauliflower, Shredded Duck in Lime

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower duck

Jess - Dahl and Cauliflower

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ou won’t be surprised to hear it was another week of stressful and busy work so the long weekend glowed like a beacon on Friday evening with promises of yoga, long runs in the sun and some experimental time in the kitchen to blog and relax the mind. I woke to a beautiful sunny day and after a long run to clear the working cobwebs I was already on my way to some downtime. All that was required was some time in the kitchen.

With a stressful period at work keeping 90% of my mind on the task it was time to start planning my second supper club to focus and begin that excitement again! With the date confirmed and inked in the diary I was more than eager to start developing the menu! With just over 2 month before the (second) big day it might seem premature but to get the invites and advert out as soon as possible and the ticket confirmations rolling in the menu was vital. Starter done. Dessert done and obviously featuring ice cream the main needed some attention. With the somewhat limited kitchen facilities and equipment of my cosy, niche and atmospheric chosen venue the dish needed some attention. Ambition needs to be carefully managed and focussed int he right direction.

While flavour is key here using wholesome ingredients cooked from scratch I wanted a menu that would make my potential guests salivate on reading and be booking tickets on autopilot before they could say ‘Deliveroo’! Flavour vital but practicality is also a contender here when cooking solo for 30 paying guests. And in addition economics, aesthetics and style are also important. Factoring all these competing aspects and a love of all things spice this punchy dish was created. I won’t give anything away but the next supper club main with feature something along these lines…

Serves 4

  • 4 duck legs
  • 1 x speedy dahl recipe (see here) with juice of 1/2 lime added at the end.
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp of black mustard seeds and cumin seeds
  • 3 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal
  • Handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 large lime
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the duck legs and roast for about 40 minutes in the oven.
  2. Scatter the cauliflower florets in a large baking tray and drizzle with a good glut of olive oil.
  3. Toss in the curry powder, turmeric cumin and mustard seeds and stir to coat. Add some seasoning.Jess - Curried Cauliflower2Jess - Curried Cauliflower
  4. After the duck has had 20 minutes of roasting add the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile make the dahl and set aside to keep warm.
  6. Once the duck and cauliflower are ready remove from the oven. leave the duck to rest for a few minutes before shredding the meat into a warm bowl with two forks and quickly squeezing over the juice of the fresh lime.
  7. Toss the warm cauliflower in the spring onions and herbs.
  8. To plate up, ensure you have warm shallow serving bowls or plates and spoon a generous spoonful of dahl onto the bottom and let it ooz out onto the plate. Top with a handful of the cauliflower before finally topping with a quarter of the shredded duck
  9. Serve immediately while still warm and devour! Serve with warm homemade flatbreads or roti if needed.

WINE: This would be great with an aromatic white such as a Riesling or a Gervertz to balance the spice.

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Harissa Chicken With Orange Herb Barley Salad

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ts safe to say I’m a fan of Greece. The food, the weather, the glassy wakeboard inviting waters and the calming pace of life. I’ve even been partial to the odd Greek wine! I visit every year for my dose of Vitamin D and halloumi and to brush up on my water sports. But I’ll focus on the food for the time being. After experimenting with a unassuming pack of Odysea’s deliciously authentic Saganaki cheese last year it was time to venture into their range a bit more with my appreciation of Greece and the Med. Being the good natured Greek loving company that they are I arrived home one Friday evening after work to a box of delightful goodies to sample and experiment with!

And sample I did.

This recipe is adapted from a Bill Granger combination I once saw and with all the right flavours from Odysea (with the odd ‘forage in the pantry’ twist) it was the perfect foundation for my med inspired dish to help prolong the recent spring sun. The roasted oranges add a really unusual touch here along with the gentle spicing which are a perfect match with Odysea’s punchy, creamy and crumbly feta cheese. Heaps of mint, dill and lemon juice bring it all to life and sooth the post harissa spice! One to give a go on a sunny but still brisk Spring evening.

Serves 4

  • 2 small oranges
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ‘Odysea Wild Thyme & Fragrant Honey’
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g pearl barely or spelt
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 200g ‘Odysea Greek Feta‘, crumbled in large chunks
  • Large handful mint leaves
  • Small handful dill, finely chopped
  • 2 small poussin (or 4 joints of chicken e.g. chicken legs, thighs etc)
  • 4-6 tbsp of ‘Odysea Harissa spread‘ or 2 tbsp harissa paste
  •  2 large garlic cloves
  • Salad to serve – I used a crisp mix of chicory, little gems and watercress dressed in some lemon and extra virgin olive oil (Odysea of course)
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Marinade the poussin in the harissa, seasoning well and then add 1 pealed, gently crushed garlic clove to each cavity and set aside.Jess - Harissa Chicken5
  3. Slice the oranges thinly and place on a lined baking tray evenly spread. Grind the fennel, cumin and chilli flakes in a pestle and mortar and then add the honey and olive oil and mix well. Coat the oranges slices in the mixture.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, keeping an eye on them until they begin to caramelise and char. This time with vary depending on how juicy the oranges are. Leave to cool slightly.
  5. Cook the barely or spelt according to the packet instructions until tender then drain well and leave to cool to room temperature.
  6. Meanwhile, turn the oven down to 190°C and place the poussin on a lined baking tray. Bake for around 40 minutes until tender and the juices run clear. Set aside to rest while you finish the salad.
  7. Add the warm oranges slices to the drained grains.
  8. Stir in the juice of the lemon, plenty of salt and pepper and the chopped dill.
  9. Scatter in the crumbled feta, the grated carrot and stir to combine.
  10. Finally, roughly chop the mint at the last minute and add to the grains and stir.
  11. Loosen with a little more lemon or a splash of extra virgin olive oil if needed
  12. Carve your rested poussin in half and serve half each alongside the grain and green salad, scattered with extra mint if you like

NOTES: This would also be lovely with a side of warm pillowy flatbreads, dipped into a cleansing and fresh lime and coriander yoghurt or tzatziki.

For a wine match I would suggest a fresh Chenin Blanc or the slightly aromatic taste of  Viognier.

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Urfa Chilli Salmon, Polenta Chips, Smashed Avocado

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ts been a long and draining week at work and with Saturday looming and the pressure to make the most of it I could think of nothing better than a casual blogging session in the kitchen to calm the stresses from the week and allow my mind to wonder onto the creative and less challenging. The biggest decision in this recipe was how big to cut the chips!? I went for big naturally.

On reflection, this dish is essentially Mexican fish and chips!? And its for the chilli lovers as its a spicy one so make sure you have a nice cooling beer to hand or at least some soured cream. My inspiration for this one was the cheeky jar of Ottolenghi’s ‘Urfa chilli flakes’ (see here) I received as a gift. What the ‘urfa’ are those you might ask!? Well they are a Turkish medium heat chilli with a smoky flavour. A lovely deep and purposeful taste great for barbecued meats, oily fish, roasted vegetables or chilli con carne. I used them here to coat some moist and succulent salmon fillets. Accompanied with some spicy crisp polenta chips and some smashed green avocado I felt like I bought a bit of Mexico to London. Hopefully one day I can bring a bit of London to Mexico!?

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 tsp urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 large avocado
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Large bunch coriander, chopped
  • Large bunch basil, chopped
  • 1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
  • Juice 1/2 – 1 lime
  • 100g fast cook polenta
  • 500ml chicken stock or water
  • 1 heaped tsp chilli flakes
  • Knob butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sunflower oil

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  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Oil a bowl/small baking tray or something appropriate to hold your polenta in and allow it to set before cutting into chips.
  2. Start with the polenta. Bring the stock or water to the boil in a saucepan. Mix the polenta, chilli flakes and some salt and pepper in a bowl. In a gentle stream add this polenta to the stock in the saucepan, whisking all the time and turn the heat down to a medium low instantly. Whisk continuously for about 5-7 minutes until the polenta thickens and bubbles. Add the butter and mix in well.
  3. Pour the mixture into the oil lined tray spreading it out into an even layer of about 2inch thickness. Quickly chill by placing in the freezer for 5-10 minutes and then in the fridge and cooling completely until set.
  4. Meanwhile mix the urfa chilli flakes and some salt and pepper with a tablespoon of oil. Rub this on the salmon fillets and leave to marinade at room temperature.
  5. Next, cut the avocado into chunks and use a fork to mash into a chunky paste. Season and then add the spring onion, herbs, lime juice and combine into a chunky paste. Check the taste and add more lime if needed.
  6. When the polenta has set, turn it out onto a chopping board dusted with lots of excess polenta. Chop the set polenta (which should be the texture of halloumi!?) into chip sized chunks and roll in the excess polenta.
  7. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat and fry the chips in a few tablespoons of sunflower oil until golden brown all over making sure they don’t stick to the pan or catch. Once crispy remove from the pan, scatter with flaky sea salt and set aside to keep warm.
  8. In the same pan cook the salmon on a high heat skin side down for about 1 minutes to crisp the skin. Turn to char the flesh side for about another minute or so before placing in the oven skin side down to finish cooking for no more than 5 minutes to ensure it remains succulent and just pink.
  9. To serve, top the chips with the salmon and spoon on a generous quenelle of avocado. Scatter with extra coriander and chilli flakes if you like

Have some beer or soured cream to hand…

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Crispy Asian Beef

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f you’re intending on sticking to or continuing to stick to a healthy diet this month after the indulgences of Christmas then I recommend Asian food as a good go to. It packs a reliant punch on flavour without compromising on health and nutrition. Not to mention that this is a really quick recipe and can be served out in about 20 minutes.

As a passionate cook and appreciator of food I have always been the type to savour my meals either for flavour or appreciation for the time and effort spent creating it – either by myself or more importantly a fellow cook. However, I can’t help but notice that many of us eat too fast. Not only does this encourage us to be unappreciative of the food, time and effort that has gone into making it but you cannot appreciate and savour the flavours. Sticking to the topic of nutrition and health this month, on a nutritional side the faster you eat the more chance you have of overeating. Eating slowly allows your stomach to register satiety at the right time. It also helps improve your digestion. Hand in hand with this I also recommend chewing your mouthfuls more to aid speed and digestion. Just putting down your fork (or chopsticks) after eat mouthful to enjoy, talk to your dinner friends and take your time is such a great habit to get into.

That said, a great way to get into this habit if using chopsticks! Not only is it fun and authentic but if you’re anything like me and still learning you can’t help but eat slowly…if at all. So obviously have a fork ready to hand to prevent starvation.

NOTE: Quite without meaning to I’ve created a gluten free meal using my stash of ‘Clearspring Gluten Free Brown Rice Noodles’. Asain food is a great go-to is your are gluten free. As I say, it packs a punch on flavour without compromising nutritional requirements.

Serves 2

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 thumb size knob ginger, finely shredded
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli (hotter the better here)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1tsp fish sauce
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 100g ‘Clear Spring’ ‘Gluten free brown rice noodles’
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Juice 1 lime
  • Serve: I recommend a nice lime juice covered fresh crispy salad e.g. Cos lettuce, grated carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber etc
  1. Submerge and soak the noodles in boiling water for at least 10 minutes. Set aside kept warm until ready to serve.
  2. Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan or wok on a high heat. Add the beef mince and use a spatula to break up the pieces into chunks. then add the star anise. Fry on a high heat for about 5 minutes until the mixture begins to brown well and crisp up. Keep an eye on it moving the mince around continuously.
  3. After about 5 minutes when well browned add in the ginger, garlic and red chilli and continue to fry on a high heat until the meat is really browned and crispy as below.
  4. After about 5-10 minutes add the soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce and stir to combine. Cook until really dark and crispy to your liking.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped spring onions, coriander and basil
  6. Drain the noodles and squeeze over the lime juice and add the sesame oil
  7. Serve the noodles in warm bowls and top with your crispy beef piece and a lovely crunchy fresh salad.
  8. Jess - Crispy Asaian Beef 2

 

Cajuan Salmon and Sweetcorn Puree

Jess - cajuansalmon2

O

k. I’ll admit this isn’t very festive…or wintery…or seasonal. Apologies. But frankly the unprecedented warm weather recently has sent us all into a state of confusion!? And following a few too many glasses of mulled wine after the annual village Christmas carol concert and a need for something fresh, filling and quick, Cajuan salmon seemed like the obvious choice…? Obvious right?

Serves 2

  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can sweetcorn
  • 1/2 lime, zest and juice
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 30g butter
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Mix of broccoli – purple sprouting and normal (enough for 2), chopped into florets
  • 1 banana shallot, halved and finely sliced into half moons
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Natural yoghurt to serve
  1. Marinade the salmon in the dried spices, some seasoning and the olive oil and put in the fridge for about 20 minutes
  2. Heat a good layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan until hot. Mix the flour and the chopped shallots in a bowl and season.
  3. When the oil is hot add the shallots and fry, moving around with a fork, until deep golden and crisp. Tip into a bowl lined with kitchen roll and season. Set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add another drop of oil and stir fry the broccoli gently until charred. Set aside to keep warm in a low oven.
  5. Simmer the sweetcorn in the canned juices and enough water to cover for 3-4 minutes. Drain
  6. Add to the bowl of a food processor while hot and add the butter, chilli, coriander, juice and zest of the lime and some seasoning. Puree until smooth and taste. Set aside to keep warm in a pan.
  7. Finally, heat a splash of oil in your frying pan until hot. Fry the salmon, skin side down for about 5 minutes, turning halfway, depending on the thickness. Equally this would be excellent grilled on a grilled but mine was out of action!Jess - salmon
  8. When ready to serve, spoon a generous helping of sweetcorn puree onto a warmed plate. Top with the salmon. Mix the crispy onions with the warm broccoli and serve on the side and sprinkle with any extra coriander leaves.

Add some natural yoghurt if the what gets too much!

Jess - broccoli