Recipe: Blackberry & Apple Crumble

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of cooked fruit. Actually, I’m not really a huge fan of fruit in general, much preferring to get my five-a-day from vegetables. Despite my mum regularly making crumbles throughout my childhood, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve accepted anything other than a bowl of custard (yep, on it’s own). This year I was actively looking forward to Autumn and the hedges brimming with blackberries just waiting to be picked.

Now, this recipe is perhaps a bit more faff than a standard crumble recipe. I used to just chop the fruit, throw it into a dish with a spot of sugar (and perhaps a dash of slow gin). Rub together butter, sugar and flour, heap on top of the fruit mixture and bake. Simple, took about five minutes and the results were good. This, however, takes it one step further. The fruit is stewed beforehand, lightly so it doesn’t turn to mush, but enough so that all the flavours come together that little bit more. The topping is pre-baked, so there’s whilst there’s a bit of comforting stodge, it’s not leaning towards the glue-y raw flour end that I was always coasting before. It’s still super-easy, it still is pretty quick to put together. It’s our go-to Sunday evening treat right now. Served with a generous helping of fridge-cold cream, eaten wrapped in a blanket in front of a film. You can’t get more hygge than that!

Recipe – serves 2

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 90g unsalted butter at fridge temperature, cut into pieces
  • 300g cooking apple (usually one large Braeburn), peeled and cored
  • 30g brown sugar
  • a large handful of blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • cream, to serve

Tip the flour, caster sugar and ginger into a large bowl. Add 60g of the butter, then rub into the flour until the mix resembles. Sprinkle the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at roughly 200C, or until lightly golden and smelling gorgeous.

Meanwhile prep the fruit. Pop the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel. Chop the apples into roughly 2cm dice, then add to the caramel and cook for 3 minutes. Add the blackberries and cinnamon, and cook for a couple more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand.

When ready to serve, spoon the fruit into an ovenproof dish, top with the crumble mix, then bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serve with cream (or vanilla ice cream!).

And now here’s a disclaimer – I actually put W on crumble-duty the vast majority of the time. It’s just so much yummier when someone has cooked it for you – and he makes far less of a mess (hence why I finally managed to photograph these!).

Are you a fan of fruit crumbles? What’s your favourite fruit combo?

Lifestyle: A Foodie Bucket List (Home-Cooking Version)

It’s a running joke between myself and my better half that we have an ever-expanding list of things we want to cook, places we want to eat. It grows far, far faster than we can tick items off! Here’s just a snippet of our ‘home-cooking’ section of the list…

  • Experiment more with Jewish recipes. I’ve been thumbing through Fress* a lot recently and pretty much every dish sounds delicious.
  • Buy a proper pudding basin. Although I’ve wanted one for a while, it was the recent GBBO epsiode that reignited the passion. Steamed sponges, suet puddings filled with steak and kidney. Traditional cooking at it’s best!
  • Make a lasagne completely from scratch. Obviously we use my Ultimate No-Tomato Bolognese, and W’s awesome cheese sauce recipes, but I really want to combine them with homemade pasta. In fact, just make more homemade pasta!
  • Oh, and a decent completely white lasagne I want to make too. This Jamie Oliver recipe looks insanely rich and comforting!
  • Replicate a decent barbecue sauce sans tomato. It’s the one thing I miss – messy, sticky, saucy ribs!
  • Cook up this Lentil Stew. It looks perfect for a winter lunchbox to reheat at work!
  • Play around more with our Pressure Cooker. I was gifted one last Autumn and whilst we made a couple of dishes in it (it was great for Beef Cheeks!) it’s sat largely unused for a while. Any recipe recommendations?
  • Make our own Faggots. I know a lot of people are squeamish about these, but I LOVE them. I grew up eating local versions but they’ve become harder and harder to find (I’ve not seen them in any butchers in London). We have a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid so this Winter I’m definitely setting aside an afternoon for making my perfect comfort food.
  • Host a supper club. I’d love to host some fundraising supper parties, in support of Alzheimer’s UK in memory of my maternal granddad. Now we have a dining table I really need to get the ball rolling!
  • Make a proper pie. We make pies quite a lot with the leftovers from our Sunday roast, but really it’s a cheat – topping a stew mix with a sheet of pastry. I’d love to try making a proper pie with pastry all the way round.
  • Cook more curries from scratch. We’ve got a few simple recipes (read: throw various spices in with onion, garlic and ginger, add yoghurt/coconut milk) but I’d love to try something a tad more authentic. I’ve had this for Massaman and this Vindaloo recipe bookmarked for what feels like forever!
  • Bake these. Because Peanut Butter is life.

What’s on your ‘to cook’ list?

Recipe: Asian Quinoa Salad

Healthy and exciting lunchboxes. It’s one of the things I really struggle with; finding things to eat at work that are filling, nourishing, cheap, last a couple of days in the fridge and are genuinely yummy. I don’t particularly enjoy sandwiches (all too often they are soggy and squashed after a few hours in my bag) and I *refuse* to spend £6+ on eating out every day, no matter how good my Instagram feed would look.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad_zpsq1lyns43.jpgThere’s nothing worse than a disappointing lunch, and I guarantee than a poor midday meal with leave me in a grump alllllll afternoon. A box full of this, however, is pretty sure to put a smile on my face. It’s basically a more colourful and substantial version of my Asian Satay Salad, which makes it perfect for the cooler weather. The quinoa bulks it out without making me feel heavy, bloated and ready for a nap, whilst the red cabbage just looks so pretty. Raw sugarsnap peas are a revelation for me too – soooo much tastier than cooked.

This is super-easy to adapt too. Toss through leftover roast chicken, serve as part of a picnic. I quite like cooked and cooled soy beans stirred through too, and I imagine a fresh pepper would make an awesome addition (I’d be wary about adding it if you’re picking at this throughout the week, I find the pepper-y taste can transfer a bit). No spring onions? Use a normal onion (pop it into a sieve and pour over boiling water to take away the harsh raw-onion taste). No red cabbage? Just slice up whatever cabbage you have – it just won’t look as colourful. And of course you could switch out quinoa for whichever grain you fancy. I’m also planning on trying a version made with noodles sometime soon!

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad5_zpskz4hqj3p.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad3_zpsnczfccrz.jpgRecipe (makes 5-6 servings, baked on a Cookie & Kate recipe)

  • Quinoa, I followed the measurement on the packet to make 4 portions
  • ½ purple cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • ½ packet sugar snap peas
  • 1 small packet of coriander
  • 4-5 spring onions
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded if you don’t fancy it too hot)
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • 1 small handful of nuts, to serve

Cook the quinoa, following the packet instructions, and leave it to cool. I like to fluff it up with a fork a few times whilst cooling. Meanwhile prep the salad – finely slice the red cabbage, spiralise (or slice) the carrots, slice the sugarsnap peas lengthways, slice the spring onions and roughly chop the coriander. Pop into a large Tupperware box and mix through the cooled quinoa.

Then make the dressing: finely chop the ginger and chilli. Mix together with the soy, honey and sesame oil, then slowly add the soy and fish sauce until smooth. Add in the lime zest and juice, mix well and pop into a jar. I’d advise not refrigerating (just keep in a cool place) as otherwise the peanut butter makes it a bit solid!

In the morning, pop a portion of the quinoa/veg mix into your lunchbox and stir through a few spoonfuls of the dressing. I’d keep it out of the fridge until lunchtime, no-one wants fridge-cold quinoa… When just about to eat top with a handful of nuts, if you like.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad4_zpsgijjuqz7.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad7_zpsiyerfhuz.jpgWhilst I don’t typically count calories (an obsessive personality means I tend to become focussed on continually reducing my intake), eating a big portion of this makes me feel healthy. I feel satisfied without being full, nourished without feeling deprived. And an added bonus? It can be eaten one-handed at my desk on really busy days. I can see myself eating a lot of this salad!

What’s your favourite take-to-work lunch?

Recipe: Simple Fennel Pasta

Like many households, I’m sure, pasta is our go-to meal. When we don’t know what to cook, you can bet it will end up involving pasta. Whether it’s my tomato-free bolognese, a decadent carbonara or gut-lining mac’n’cheese, we love the carby-comfort food hit.

 photo Fennel Pasta_zps5mdlg1mw.jpgRecently, though, we’ve been trying to experiment a bit more. When we say “oh, we’ll have pasta” we try to pick out a new recipe, try a new combination. Even, as in this recipe, to try something new with an ingredient we rarely use.

Fennel is something I’m a bit scared of, to tell the truth. I have never liked aniseed, going as far as retching when the Liquorice Alsorts were bought out on family car journeys. It was a Dynamo Pizza (now sadly removed from the menu) that first got me eating fennel – the combination of just al-dente fennel with ham, mozzarella and pomegranate seeds was a delight. And so I agreed to try out this pasta dish. And a few additions later, we have a firm favourite…

 photo Fennel Pasta 2_zpsep5blspt.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 4_zpsbcftekk8.jpgRecipe (to serve 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra virgin olive oil to drizzle before serving
  • 1&1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves,crushed
  • 1 lemon, both the zest and the juice – if we have half a lemon hanging around in the fridge we’ll sometimes add extra too
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds (the green flowery bits) reserved
  • 175g linguine
  • 1/3 pack parsley, chopped (I’m not a fan of parsley but it does work here)
  • Parmesan, or other similar hard cheese

Heat the oil in a frying pan cook the fennel seeds until they pop (about 90 seconds over a not-too-high heat). Add in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so, but don’t let it colour. Throw in the lemon zest and half the fennel, lower the heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until the fennel has softened – cook the pasta whilst you’re waiting.

Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water (reserve a bit more, just in case). Toss together, along with the remaining raw fennel, parsley and lemon juice. Season well, then pile into bowls, topping with the fennel fronds, a drizzle of oil and a generous serving of parmesan. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine!

 photo Fennel Pasta 1_zpskq3zsmbc.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 3_zpsdqxh2yaw.jpgWe found this was a gorgeously light pasta dish, yet still full of flavour. The contrasting textures of the pasta alongside the cooked and raw fennel added extra interest. All in all a rather yummy dish!

What’s your favourite pasta dish?

Food: 10 Things to Eat in Switzerland

Typically this is going live before any of my other Switzerland posts, which clearly shows how important food is to me. Weirdly, I didn’t do a huge amount of research before heading out to Switzerland – other than “all the cheese” there wasn’t anything on my must-eat list. In the end, I didn’t really eat a bad meal.

 photo Swiss Food_zpsan9qrron.jpgSticking to traditional foods, we definitely ticked off the “all the cheese” aim, though by the end of the week we were craving vegetables (seriously, we tried and couldn’t even order them as a side!) and the local Indian takeaways smelt more and more appealing. The first meal we ate when we arrived home (well, after Five Guys to sustain us during move-day!) was my Satay Veggie Slaw which says a lot about how rich and heavy the food was!

Sidenote: we were walking in excess of 20,000 steps most days so we definitely earned it!

So, what’s the 10 dishes you really need to try when you’re in Switzerland…?

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 3_zps3qej7dn0.jpgZüri-Gschätzlets (Veal in Mushroom Sauce) served with Rösti

This meal was perhaps our most expensive when we were away, at 35CHF each (although admittedly in quite a flashy hotel – where we witnessed a proposal). Very tender sliced veal in a rich mushroom sauce, served on top of a crisp but tender rösti, it was also one of the only meals I ate that didn’t contain cheese. You can find my recipe here.

Hot Chocolate

The mountain-cafe staple! Swiss Hot Chocolate is usually more milky than it’s Italian or French versions, good for me as I’m not a fan of the thick rich stuff. The best powdered brand is Caotina (we instruct a Swiss friend to bring us some every now and then) and comes served separate to a mug of frothed warm milk for you to stir yourself.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 7_zpsheez6s9b.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 8_zpswp0jeuee.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 10_zpsa4b0gfau.jpgCordon Bleu

I’d go as far as saying this meal was my absolute favourite of all our meals in Switzerland, it’s certainly the dish I’m still thinking about! The more traditional Cordon-bleu is made with veal, cheese and ham, before being breadcrumbed and fried. My version (at Barry’s in Grindelwald, full review coming soon) was a pork escalope filled with bacon, garlic, leek and Raclette cheese. I ordered the ‘mini’ (25CHF) which I bitterly regret. Sure, I had room for dessert, but it wasn’t as good as this…

Oh, and if you visit Barry’s their Whisky list is crazy. We tried a couple of the Swiss distilled tipples, including a verrryyyy pricey (and strong!) one which is aged in the Jungfrau.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 11_zpscrjjp8t5.jpgCheese Fondue

Now, we didn’t actually eat this in Switzerland – it’s actually more of a tourist thing than anything. That said, if it hadn’t been over 30 degrees every single day I’d have been right in there. If you can, I’d recommend getting one that served the molten cheese with both bread and potatoes (just bread is too heavy) and drink a warm drink alongside it and continue sipping for a while after your meal. Trust me, you don’t want all that cheese to set in your tummy. In London, pop to St Moritz in Soho for your cheese fix!

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 6_zpst3x55ghs.jpgVeal Sausage

A good veal sausage, served with more of that delicious rösti and plenty of onion sauce is comfort food at it’s best. I avoided this due to the disturbing redness of some sauces and the difficultly in getting my allergy understood (surprisingly I only had to send one meal back, though a couple of others came close!).

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 13_zpsn66khohj.jpg

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Rösti

Now, rösti can come one of two ways. It is often a side, rather like our ‘mash’ or ‘roasts’, or it can be served in it’s own right. The later is usually covered in cheese, then with a choice of additions. This was our first Swiss meal, sat with the gorgeous view above, and it was glorious. I went for the version with ham and a fried egg, W went for the bacon offering. Both came with obscene amounts of cheese. I had two thick slices of ham, more cheese and a perfectly gooey fried egg (melty cheese plus yolk is perfection). W’s came with 10 rashers of bacon. Yep, TEN. We counted. Not surprsingly we slept well that night!

Älplermagrone

Just like our well-loved Mac’n’Cheese, but with added carbs. Pasta AND potatoes are boiled in milk (a little like my one-pan-mac), mixed with a LOT of cheese, topped with fried onions, bacon, more cheese. Yep, it’s good. Yes, it’s ridiculously bad for you.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 19_zpso5ruhpsb.jpg

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Elsässer Flammkuchen

Dough is rolled out very thinly and covered with crème fraîche. Traditionally it’s topped with thinly sliced onions and lardons, which was my favourite. Though I did try a summery version of parma ham and rocket which was nearly as delicious.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 20_zpscizw0zwz.jpgCoupe Denmark

Ah, this dessert is the thing of dreams. Plain milk ice-cream, topped with cream and a wafer. Served with a jug of rich chocolate sauce (made with very dark chocolate and plenty of milk, so it doesn’t set on contact with the ice-cream). It’s delicious. Oh so simple. Oh so good.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 14_zpssxgwkija.jpg

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Meringue

Meiringen is the birthplace of the meringue, so when we made an unscheduled hangry stop there (we missed a bus that only ran every 2 hours, so ended up doubling our walk) we quickly googled the best stop. Frutal Versandbäckerei (Tearoom Frutal) came out top so we sat in their delightful courtyard (dodging the rather agressive wasps) sipping some of the most delicious homemade iced-tea I’ve eaten drank.

“Oh look” said W. “There’s one for two, shall we share?”

I was only too willing to get along. He nipped out to get cash, I ordered and relaxed. Then saw a standard portion come out (the single portions come in a choice of mini or standard). I began to regret our choice. And then it came out.

It was the size of one of our heads. Two massive meringues, sandwiched with SIX scoops of ice-cream, a lot of whipped cream and fresh fruit. The meringue was amazing. Slightly chewy but not at all sticky, and surprisingly not over-sweet. We admitted defeat about 3/4 of the way in…

Have you been to Switzerland? Is food the best bit about travel for you?

Food: Design Your Own “YouGurt” with Onken (AD)

Yogurt is a pretty staple breakfast in our house – W likes it with fresh fruit, and if I’ve not made overnight oats (recipe here) then I’ll take a jar of yogurt and granola to eat at my desk. I tend to favour a plainer variety sweetened with a spot of honey, W is a bit more adventurous and will pick up all sort of fruity concoctions. But recently I’ve tried something very adventurous, and here’s why…

 photo Onken Yougurt16_zpshcn1crwq.jpg photo Onken Yougurt8_zpsl5dlfvol.jpgThis month Onken is inviting the public to customise their very own flavour of yogurt – or YouGurt if you like a good pun! By combining three flavours, ranging from the downright delicious to the downright bizarre. You could go tropical with a combo of coconut, mango and pineapple, add in some veggies with carrot (told you some of them were bizarre!), or even do something with one of my favourite English fruits, rhubarb. Altogether there are 220 flavour combinations – and yes, the maths geek in me did check that on a calculator.

 photo Onken Yougurt12_zps4vftbney.jpgI went for two slightly safer flavours, adding in a twist with my third. Mango, Coconut and Chilli YouGurt was certainly different! The sweetness of the mango and subtle creamy coconut-tiness paired really well, with the sweet heat of chilli peppers coming through the end. Admittedly not quite the breakfast yogurt I was hoping for, but we’re churning it in our ice-cream maker tonight for a bit of fro-yo.

Now, here’s the exciting bit…

 photo Onken Yougurt10_zpsrrgckmux.jpg photo Onken Yougurt18_zpsacuqvq1b.jpgYou can get involved too! Every day this September the Onken YouGurt Factory will be open for business and accessible via their Facebook page, where 50 pots can be won each and every day. All you do is pick your three flavours and watch the unique pot be created via a personalised video, complete with your name and illustration of your flavour combo. And you might just get to taste it too. At the end of the video you’ll see whether you’re a winner. And if so, your YouGurt will turn up on your doorstep the very next day. And if not, the videos are pretty cool anyway…

You’ve got these flavours to choose from: rhubarb, pumpkin, mint, chilli, cherry, strawberry, agave, pineapple, coconut, mango, peach and carrot. I was seriously tempted by a combo of rhubarb, cherry and mint – doesn’t that sound dreamy…?!

 photo Onken Yougurt17_zpskc3it9zv.jpg*This post has been sponsored by Onken, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Are you a yogurt fan? What flavour combination would you choose?

 

Recipe: Summery Orange & Red Onion Salad

Sweet and savoury combos are something I have always been suspicious of until fairly recently. I’d go as far as sweet chilli sauce, but apple butter on my Pork & Co cob was one step too far. That’s pretty much all changed now (though you can keep your apple butter to yourself!). Be it watermelon and feta, pear and blue cheese, or even the slightly-intimidating cod and pineapple combo at Skosh (full review) I’m on board these days.

 photo Watercress Orange Salad_zpsp6u3ozgt.jpgThis is one of the combos I really, really enjoyed. It’s not even a recipe, more a preparation and assembly of ingredients, but it’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts. Red onions, chilli, watercress, orange – it all comes together to form a really delicious salad that I just couldn’t get enough of.

This made the perfect side to our grilled whole mackerel. We’re trying to get more oily dish into our diets, however salmon is a tad pricey to add into our menu every week. Mackerel on the other hand is a total bargain – two whole ones from Waitrose is under £2, with an extra 20% off on a Friday for cardholders (totally recommend getting one, if purely for the free monthly magazine). If you’re squeamish (*ahem* like W!) then just get the guy/gal at the fish counter to chop the head of for you, and obviously gut it – because no-ones got time or inclination to play with fish innards *shudders*. Simply whack under the grill, flip after around 8-10 minutes and you’ve got great fish. Whilst we did press some spices onto it here, it’s not a fish that absorbs flavour easily so next time I’d just squeeze with lemon/orange and season well.

 photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 3_zps9k6cbn3l.jpg photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 6_zpssjnte96m.jpgSalad ‘Recipe’ – made enough for two (this one won’t keep well so make right before serving!)

  • 1 bag of watercress (I also like a mix of watercress and spinach)
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 red chill
  • 1 large-ish red onion

Segment the oranges (we followed this guide – it’s messy!), finely dice the chilli and finely slice the red onion. Toss the onion with the watercress, then scatter with the chilli and top with the orange. Serve with fish, though I imagine it would be great with some grilled chicken too.
 photo Orange Chilli Watercress Salad 5_zpshqbuvcp0.jpg

Are you a fan of sweet/savoury combos? What’s your favourite fish dish?

Recipe: Green-Eggs-and-No Ham (aka Green Veggie Shakshuka)

We’re trying to be a bit more adventurous with our eating at the moment, with at least one new recipe a week. And ideally adding an exciting weekend breakfast into the mix too. This Sunday brunch ticked off the two boxes in one go – and bloody yummy it was too!

 photo Green Shakshuka_zpsugz8fyf9.jpgWith my tomato allergy I’m often looking over enviously at people tucking into their shakshukas – and in all honest the usual tomato-y ones do look delicious. Spicy sauce, gooey yolks, it’s basically my idea of perfection. This is a take on the classic. It’s still nicely spiced, with heat coming from cumin and fennel seeds. There’s a good combination of green veg in there, all adding vitamins as well as bulk and a great texture. The best thing about this dish though is it’s freshness. It feels so incredibly good for you, despite being really rather filling and scattered with a frankly obscene amount of feta.

 photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 2_zpsnvd3na0k.jpg photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 4_zpsbeggr6dp.jpgRecipe (generously serves 2, recipe adapted from Sunday Brunch)

  • ½ tsp each of cumin and fennel seeds (don’t use ground cumin), and ½ tsp of dried thyme
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 green peppers finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 small courgettes, grated (if using 1 large courgette I’d recommend removing the ‘fluffy’ watery centre before grating)
  • 1 fresh green chilli, finely chopped (and deseeded if you don’t want it too spicy)
  • 100ml stock – veg is best here
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 100g feta cheese

Toast the cumin and fennel seeds in a dry pan (we used a 25cm frying pan which worked well) until they become fragrant (about 1 minute) whilst shaking constantly. Add the oil, thyme and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes until golden.

Put the green peppers, fennel, bay leaf, thyme, parsley and half the coriander into the pan, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until starting to soften. Then add the courgette, chilli and stock – turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t burn! By this point everything should be soft but still with a slightly bite. Taste and season if necessary.

Make 4 ‘dents’ in the mixture and crack in the eggs. Cover the pan (foil or greaseproof will do) and continue cooking on a low heat for amount 5 minutes – or until the egg whites are set. If you want your yolks set (and if so I question your sanity!) then cook for a little longer. Crumble over plenty of feta (I subscribe to the more-is-better when it comes to feta!) and sprinkle on the rest of the coriander, before serving with plenty of good toast.

 photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 5_zpspanjej8u.jpg photo Green Shakshuka Recipe 1_zpsdmltbfgu.jpgNot only was this super Instagrammable, it was also super-tasty. Full of veggies too, it was worth the wait on a slightly worse-for-wear Saturday morning. Now to decide what to cook for our next weekend brunch!

Do you have any favourite breakfast recipes? What’s your go-to brunch dish?

Recipe: Satay Veggie Salad

I’ve become a real lover of salads this summer. Don’t get me wrong, serve me up a bowl of the classic leaves, cucumber, onion combo and I won’t exactly be toooo impressed, but a bowl of this? I’ll be one happy girl! A substantial bowl of crisp veggies, dressed in some kind of yummy sauce, can make the tastiest of dinners. It needs a mixture of tastes, textures and colours, a dressing that will make it sing.

 photo Radish Salad_zpshtzieibl.jpgI tend to prefer Asian flavours to my salads – chilli heat, lime zing, saltiness from soy or fish sauce. Here I’ve added peanut butter to the mix – because peanut butter. Pretty much anything is made better with peanut butter. Based on this recipe from Waitrose, it’s crunchy, spicy, creamy, salty, zingy and totally fresh and flavourful. Delicious!

It’s also super simple to whip up – and I’ve made it even easier using Very Lazy pastes. These are perfect for stress and hassle-free cooking. I’ve previously only really used them in curries and stir-fries, but they actually work perfectly in salad dressings too. A win in my book, there’s little I hate more than peeling and chopping ginger!

NB: this does work out well as a lunchbox dish, but I’d leave out the cucumber and keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to serve.

 photo Satay Veggie Salad 15_zpspwl1xu1e.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 13_zps3xcs4eoo.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 8_zpszhg4k9lk.jpg photo Satay Veggie Salad 6_zpsbyk3rnbk.jpgIngredients (Serves 3 generously as a main, or 2 dinner & 2 lunch portions)

  • 3-4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • fresh ginger (about the size of your thumb), grated or finely chopped (or use the everso useful Very Lazy paste – you could even do the same for the chilli too!)
  • 1 fresh red chilli (remove the seeds if you’re a little scared of heat!)
  • 1 tbsp runny honey (I’d get some cheaper stuff, anything ‘nice’ tastes too much of honey in this)
  • 1 pack of radishes
  • 1 chinese leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch salad onions (around 5-6)
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1/2 cucumber (I didn’t include this in the one I photographed, but it adds a nice freshness!)
  • 1 pack coriander

Prep the veggies – finely slice the radishes and onions, then shred the lettuce. Use a julienne peeler to cut ribbons of the carrot (peel first), then use a veg peeler to gain fine slices of cucumber (discard the watery middle). Chop the coriander.

Then make the dressing. Pop the peanut butter into a small bowl with the lime zest and the finely chopped chilli, then gradually beat in the soy sauce – I find using a fork best for this. Add in the rest of the ingredients, mixing well. Toss together with the veggies, then serve immediately.

 photo Satay Veggie Salad 3_zpsurchabcb.jpgIt makes an amazing side to grilled satay chicken (I have a recipe I need to photograph and blog), but I also love it with cold prawns, or even some baked salmon. Or if I’m having it on it’s own, I like to add some extra nuts for a little additional protein, possibly some blanched and cooled soy beans too.

Yum yum!

*Some products were received from Very Lazy in exchange for a recipe, though all opinions are (as ever!) my own.

Are you a salad fan? What’s your favourite combo?

Recipe: Vegan Chickpea & Coconut Curry

Now, I’m not a vegan, I’m not a vegetarian. I love meat, and I also find I need it in my diet. When I was in my poorest years of university I rarely ate meat and it showed – I was tired, grumpy and I just didn’t function as well. That said, over the last year or so I’ve been pushing myself to cut out meat more. At least one meal a week is veggie, and I try my hardest not to eat meat for weekday breakfast and lunches (unless I’m taking leftovers in a lunchbox).

 photo Vegan Curry_zpsvpescgd7.jpgAnd do you know what? I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve made some absolutely delicious recipes that have become firm favourites – and this is one of them. I’ve had it sitting in my drafts for a while (hence the slightly over-edited photos, shooting at 8pm in February wasn’t easy!) and yet I’m not sure why. It’s delicious! Creamy and hearty, whilst still being light and healthy.

If you want to up the vitamins even more, you could make with a tin a chopped tomatoes (or add some fresh ones) but for obvious reasons I don’t! It’s also good with sweet potatoes or butternut squash – in the photos here I added a small potato that needed using up. Of course, if you aren’t a vegetarian or vegan it would be delicious with meat. I’ve added some leftover roast chicken with great results! Non-vegans could also replace the coconut milk with a few spoons of natural yoghurt.

 photo Vegan Chickpea Curry 5_zpslc5mxyxl.jpgIngredients (makes 4-5 good-sized servings – enough for a dinner and a few days lunches for the two of us, it freezes well too)

  • 3 white onions
  • 2 sticks celery
  • Ginger (around the size of your thumb, peeled)
  • 1 red/yellow/orange pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic (reduce if you’re not a huge fan!)
  • 1 chilli (taste it to test how hot it is!)
  • Spices – I used 1 large tsp each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, tumeric, garam masala, ground coriander, and ground fenugreek, but even a few spoons of curry powder will do!
  • 2 tins of chickpeas
  • 50g dried lentils
  • Any veg needing using up – sweet potatoes, squash etc.
  • 500ml vegan-friendly stock
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 1 small bag of spinach, chopped, or 5-6 cubes of frozen spinach (if using frozen spinach, be wary about freezing leftover portions!)
  • 1 pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Roughly chop 2 of the onions, the celery, ginger, pepper, garlic and chilli. Fry in a little oil for 5 or so minutes until softened, then tip into a blender and blitz until smooth. Meanwhile finely slice the remaining onion and fry until starting to soften. Add the spices and fry for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic and toasted. Add the puree, along with the chickpeas, lentils, veg and stock before simmering for around 30 minutes. At this point, most of the stock should have evaporated, though if it’s starting to catch add a little more.

Stir through the coconut milk gradually (so it doesn’t split) and warm on a low heat for around 5 minutes. Add the spinach and most of the coriander. Continue cooking until the spinach is wilted, check seasoning, and then served garnish with the remaining coriander and some almonds, if liked.

 photo Vegan Chickpea Curry 1_zpsrxlcuknv.jpgHere I’ve served with cauliflower rice (simply whizz up some raw cauli in a mini-chopped, then fry with a little garlic for around 5 minutes or until cooked), but my favourite is to toss florets of cauliflower with a little oil and some tumeric, then roast for 20 minutes. Yum! If course, you could use normal rice too – and I can never say no to a good naan bread…

What’s your favourite curry recipe? What veggie meals do you recommend?