Monday, 30 July 2012

Comfort Food

What's your favourite comfort food dish? Mine does depend on the time of year (I really can't be doing with shepherd's pie or fish pie in July / August, it's winter food!). Anyhow, in lands Himself with a big bag of mince - 4 kilos of it! (I think I mentioned before, he's a chef, this was a surplus that wouldn't last the weekend... )

He thought he might make burgers - did he think we were feeding the Five Thousand?! But we'd actually had homemade burgers on Tuesday, I really didn't fancy them again. Anyhow, I was tired and wrecked after a couple of late nights (why didn't they light the Olympic torch earlier?! And who knew there were that many countries in the world?! Also, the youngest girl in the house has worked out how to get out of the cot - I get awoken now about 3am every morning to a plaintive wail of "Mama" and the rattle of the door handle, we have old fashioned brass door knobs and some of them are quite stiff). I went through all my "mince recipes" in my head - I was a bit non-plussed. I had no veg at home, so bolognaise wasn't really a runner, lasagne is too much faff, meatballs are lovely but quite fiddly.... and then I had a brainwave - CHILLI! I have a great recipe, it's pretty simple to prepare, you just need a bit of time as it slow-cooks for a couple of hours, but it's no trouble.

This recipe is one I pulled out of magazine years ago (they say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree - my own mother had a bulging scrapbook of recipes clipped from papers and magazines. I have a blitz every year or so, weeding out some recipes I know I'm no longer interested in, sticking in the clips that I've shoved in the back of the scrapbook throughout the year - if the girls have left me any PrittStick!). Anyhow, I got this recipe from the Sunday Times "Style" magazine, I think it dates back to about 2000 or 2001. The recipe writer at the time was a guy called Alastair Hendy, I actually have quite a few recipes of his in this book. He actually provided two chilli recipes that day - his "Comfort Chilli con Carne" is the recipe I use, it's great.
Some tips from the man himself that I think are worth sharing:-

"What Spices Should I Use?"

"Obviously chilli, more of which below. Also - and I know I'm running the risk of upsetting all you Tex-Mex purists - I like to put in a hefty pinch of cumin, a little dried oregano and a dash of Tabasco. I also throw in a few bay leaves."

"And how much chilli?"

"If there's not enough cayenne pepper (ground chilli) for your taste, then make it 4tsp to 5tsp, but don't be overzealous. Go gently, adding a smidge and then leaving it to murmur. The heat will intensify as it cooks, and you can always return to taste and add more later."

"And what about chocolate?"

"Er, chocolate? Yes, Mexicans use it, but both their chocolate and chillies are very different from ours. It's far too fancy for our home-grown hybrid, but I do add a few dark, bittersweet squares to my alternative version. It deepens and intensifies the sauce... But don't overdo it - main-meets-pud is not good."

Comfort Chilli con Carne

Reheated and eaten the next day, this will be at the peak of it's loveliness. Serves 6, with some second helpings

Spice Cupboard - including both hot and mild paprika
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1kg coarse-ground minced beef
  • 2 tbsp paprika (hot smoked, if possible - fiery! The kind that comes in a tin, the sweet or soft / mild is much less hot)
  • 3tsp-4tsp hot cayenne or chilli powder
  • 100ml white malt vinegar
  • 6 tbsps tomato purée
  • 3 x 400ml cans chopped plum tomatoes
  • 2 x 400ml cans red kidney beans
  • 300ml red wine
  • Dash of Tabasco, if needed
  1. Start by gently frying the onion and garlic in about 2 tbsp of oil in a big casserole dish or heavy saucepan, until the onion has turned soft but not browned. Then, stir in the cumin, some salt and pepper, the oregano and the bay leaves and cook for a minute more.
  2. Next, add the mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Stir through and brown all over - you may need to add a drop more oil.
  3. In a cup, mix the paprika with the chilli powder and the vinegar. Stir this in along with the tomato purée.
  4. After a further minute or so, tip in the canned tomatoes. the canned beans and the red wine. Mix everything together and season again, and bring to a bubble.
  5. Then, either put it in an oven pre-heated to 170ºC / 325ºF / gas mark 3 or very gently braise over a low heat on the hob for 1½-2 hours. If you do it on the hob, make sure it doesn't burn. Check up on it from time to time, giving it a stir and add a dash of water if it starts to look on the dry side. 
  6. For the best flavour, leave to cool once cooked and  reheat on the hob later. Be sure to taste each time you serve it, however, as you may need to perk it up with a dash or two of Tabasco.
Now, how to serve. Mr. Hendy suggests serving it spooned over boiled long-grain rice and sprinkled with grated cheese. However - and here's where the "comfort food" element comes into it for me - I like to serve it in a big bowl with tortilla chips on the side; sprinkled with chopped onion, grated cheese and a good dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche on top. This is how we used to serve the "chilli nachos" in Tacos, a TexMex restaurant in Cologne, where I was working in 1994 after I finished university and where I met Himself... So not only is this a great comfort dish for me, it is also my top "nostalgia" dish - what's not to love?! If only we could regularly get hold of some gorgeous Früh Kölsch beer to wash it down... Those were the days, folks!
A bowl of chilli

Anyhow, enjoy the chilli - I hadn't had it in ages, and I have to say - it rocked. I didn't have enough time to let it cool and reheat... but there is enough left over for tonight's dinner too, I hope it's going to be even more fabulicious tonight.

Sarah xx

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Veggie(ish) Delights

Do you ever just get fed up of too much meat? I am a very dedicated carnivore, but I really love to have a "meat free" day every now and again. Firstly, to explain the title - I am not actually a vegetarian, so therefore I often add in some bacon bits to my "veggie dinners", but for the dedicated veg eaters among you, of course just leave the bacon out (although I believe bacon is the one thing that turns more vegetarians back to meat than anything else - I read a very funny blog on this recently, check it out here, a stressed American Mom blogging about family life, with hand drawn illustrations).

Anyhow, I was initally very dubious about a meat free dinner, but I turned to it once several years ago when I had a bundle of asparagus at home in the cupboard that I was aware was very nearly ready for the bin and I was loathe to throw out, even in those heady Celtic Tiger days. So I turned to my old reliable Delia Smith - this, I think, was the time I discovered just how comprehensive her website is. It really is great. I found a recipe for an asparagus gratin that is truly delicious and even Himself doesn't "miss the meat". It's fiddly though, I wouldn't be making it for more than 2 or 3 people. And it's in season right now, try it.

As a result of that success, I got more adventurous. To start with, I discovered the vegetarian lasagne in Fallon & Byrne in Dublin (yes, we're back with the old Celtic Tiger again!) and it was great, especially as Himself used to work late shifts a lot back then (did I mention he's a chef?). Imagine my disappointment when I went a couple of weeks ago to get us some as a treat, to discover they don't do it anymore, BOO! I see Jamie Oliver has a recipe for one in his "30 Minute Meals" book, I might just try it out one of these days. It's also a "semi-veggie" recipe, as it includes anchovies, I have got as far as buying the tin of anchovies!

I do find that the vegetarian dinners I have though are often quite wintry dishes - there's a gorgeous veg crumble that I make that is truly scrummy, so hearty, but really is not for these (brief!) summer days, so I'll save that one for autumn for you all. Another one we like is a cauliflower cheese that is hearty enough to be a main meal - I saw it when I was pinned to the couch one evening with a sick, sleeping baby on my lap and the remote control on the other side of the room... Whatever show I was watching finished up and I got stuck watching a programme on BBC2 championing food that's fallen out of favour. This episode was on cauliflower and the Hairy Bikers had an interesting sounding cauliflower cheese... I googled the recipe the next day, and it's now on regular rotation in our house. Again, there's bacon in it, but you could easily leave it out. Follow this link to the recipe. I honestly hadn't eaten cauliflower in years, and would've said I didn't like it, if asked. I've changed my mind!

So, what to eat in this weather? Well, here's another one off the telly - remember "Doctor" Gillian McKeith, she of the tongue examinations to diagnose sick tummies, and the poo dissections?! Gross. Well, she was talking one night about chick pea burgers. God knows why, but I thought they sounded nice. Again, this was back about the time I discovered the asparagus gratin, so obviously I was open to the "veggie dinner" idea at the time. So I got Himself to concoct a recipe (it's handy having a chef in the house!) and we had them with some side salads. They were yum! Again, they are now a regular enough dinner in our house, and this time I can say the recipe is truly original. They are great for this time of year, and now that the Celtic Tiger is very much a thing of the past, a very cost effective meal too - a tin of chickpeas only costs just over a euro. I reckon this recipe might come in useful when the sweet babies (well, mostly sweet!) turn into stroppy teenagers and go through an inevitable veggie phase...

Anyhow, here's the recipe, give them a go and let me know what you think,  it certainly makes a change from my usual dessert / cake recipes!

Chickpea Burgers

makes 4 - 6 burgers

  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • ½ bunch coriander
  • ½ red onion, diced small
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch / ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp plain flour in the mix, plus a plate with seasoned flour to dip burgers in
  • Salt & pepper
    Quite a runny mix

    Pre-heat the oven 180°C
  1. Pulse all the ingredients in a mixer - the mix will be very wet and sloppy, but if it's too wet, add some more flour
  2. Use a medium cookie cutter to shape the mix into burger-shaped patties, if you like, or else roll in your hands
  3. Dip both sides of the patty in the seasoned flour (if you're unsure of the consistency and think they are still too sloppy, leave them stand for 2 or 3 minutes once dipped in the flour - you should be able to roll them gently in a clean dry hand without them disingetrating. If not, add a little more flour), then seal them by flash frying them / browning them in a HOT pan. The pan absolutely must be hot, or again they will break up. Be careful when turning not to let them break up. Don't worry too much, the egg in the mix will keep it together during cooking
  4. Do you like my plate for the flour dip?!
  5. Pop straight into the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes at 180°C - this is easiest if the pan you browned them in is ovenproof so the whole thing can go straight in the oven. When done, they should be dry on the outside but quite moist on the inside

To Serve

It's up to you - I like some some homemade coleslaw (I can't bear the commercially available types) with lots and lots of chopped white cabbage, a good grating of lots of carrot, a tiny bit of onion, maybe some chopped raw celery for crunch too, and a scant spoon of mayonnaise to bind it loosely.
Some potato wedges would be good too - homemade oven baked ones would continue the healthy theme, and pretty easy too... Chop up potatoes into wedges with the skin on (remember, even though it doesn't look like a huge amount, if you only eat one potato usually - then that is still the portion size!) and dry them thoroughly. Throw into a roasting tin and sprinkle on some salt and pepper, toss in a tablespoon of oil and bake at 230°C for about 25 minutes. 
A lightly toasted burger bun would be nice too - although personally I prefer a soft floury bap, untoasted; it is, of course, totally a matter of personal taste.
A nice crispy green salad with lots of herbs (some of that left over coriander would be nice, as would some chopped chives), plenty of cherry tomatoes and chopped cucumber (de-seed it, if - like me - it repeats on you) and a light vinaigrette ... see the post about simple suppers for a quick vinaigrette that would work nicely.

Ready to eat, with oven baked wedges
Consistency of cooked burger

Sorry for so many photos, but with the consistency thing being an issue here, I thought lots of photos would help. Wish I'd thought to take a nice "posh" photo of the burger cut open before I lowered the tone with ketchup and mayonnaise!

Anyhow, enjoy something new,

Sarah xx

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Totally Bananas!

So, what do you do with yours? Over-ripe bananas, that is. A lot of mothers suffer from "over-ripe bananas" ... even the less fussy kids tend to turn their nose up at bananas that are beginning to blacken, let alone that poor, sorry example that you occasionally discover hidden at the bottom of the bowl that you accidentally put the fresh bunch on top of off...
So, there you go. A banana that's beginning to blacken. Most mothers are looking at them saying, "it's only a black mark, it won't do you any harm, eat it up!" while secretly thinking, "it's really on the turn, it has that sweet-ish rotting smell, I really don't fancy it that much myself" and then turning to the poor long-suffering dustbin that is your children's father and going, "look, Daddy doesn't mind it!" and forcing the poor man to eat it. (Or is that just my house?!)

Luckily though, black, over-ripe bananas are the perfect think to cook with. The blacker the banana, the more banana-y the banana bread or muffins. I've often used ones that were far blacker than those in the picture.

As my Facebook friends know, I have a penchant for banana bread. I love it. There's even a long-running "joke" amongst a group of my Rollercoaster (Irish parenting website where "The DinnerLadies" met) and Facebook buddies, to do with a horse and the empty plot behind our house - it's long and really not that funny, unless you were part of it, in which case it's side-splittingly hilarious.
Actually, banana bread is the first thing I ever baked. I remember buying Nigella Lawson's book, "How to be a Domestic Goddess" way back in 2000, shortly after it was published. I was beginning to get interested in cakes and baking, but I had never tried to do any baking myself. I spend ages reading it, before I finally plucked up the courage to go for it. I picked the banana bread recipe, solely due to the introduction - 
"This is the first recipe anyone hesitant about baking should try; it's fabulously easy and fills the kitchen with that aromatic fug which is the natural atmospheric setting for the domestic goddess."
On a more serious note, she also adds; " if you're thinking about giving this cake to children, don't worry, the alcohol doesn't pervade; you just end up with stickily, aromatically swollen fruit."

So, here's Nigella's recipe. It's GORGEOUS, the nicest banana bread I've ever had, really, even if I do say so myself.
A quick word on butter - I used to be very precious about using unsalted butter, to the point that if I couldn't get it, I wouldn't bake. Then I copped myself on, and decided to stop denying myself just because I couldn't find unsalted butter! (It was quite hard to find, back then.) So I usually use regular butter, but if so, I leave the salt out of the recipe.

Banana Bread

Banana bread - and roses from the garden
  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml buorbon or dark rum (I've always used rum)
  • 175g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (breadsoda)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted 
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without the skin), mashed
  • 60g chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and floured or with a paper insert

  1. Put the sultanas and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170ºC / gas mark 3 and get started on the rest.
  3. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl ad, using your hands or a wodden spoon, combine well.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract.
  5. Now add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 - 1¼ hours. When it's ready, n inserted toothpick should come out cleanish. 
  6. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.
    Makes 8-10 slices
Just a note here, I've recently experimented with making a healthier version of this. You can subsitute the butter with "Benecol Buttery", as I've mentioned before (I think) this stuff is totally vile on your bread, but you really, really cannot taste the difference once baked, and believe me, I can tell fake butter at 50 paces! You can also exchange the sugar for 8 tablespoons of Splenda. However, Splenda is a little tricky to use, so when I do that I seperate the eggs, blend the Splenda and melted  butter (or benecol) and sugar, as normal. Then add the egg yolks and beat in, then the bananas, nuts, sultanas and vanilla extract and finally fold in the whipped egg whites. Now add the flour as per original recipe and pop into the tin and bake as normal. It's a fair bit of a palava, but not so much of a faff that it's not worth it, and when you're trying to watch the calories / pounds it's great to have a sweet treat for after dinner that you needn't feel too guilty about; the picture here shows the Splenda version. The only issue is that it doesn't last as well, so you need to make sure to keep in an airtight /  tupperware container, then you're fine.

As I've been baking this for 12 years now, I have actually (finally!) started to tire of it, so when looking after a friend's little chap and my own smallest girl one morning recently, I came across this recipe while flicking through her cookbooks (being somewhat less enthralled with "Dora the Explorer" than the children were!). It's from Rachel Allen's "Favourite Food at Home". These are AMAZE-BALLS! Don't be fooled by the fact that there is banana and porridge oats in the recipe, these are sinful. They smell so, so good when they come out of the oven that I scoffed two - the next day, the scales were SO mean, I was shocked! I guess, volume wise, they're just that much more than a slice of banana bread... So these are very much treat-time. But so worth it! Although I guess you could do these with Splenda and Benecol too, I haven't tried yet though. (PS, this recipe wasn't in metric, sorry about that.)

Banana and Peanut Butter Muffins

  • 10oz plain flour
  • 2oz rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • ½ cup (4oz, approx) crunchy peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz) milk
  • Preheat the oven to 190ºC, and line a muffin tin with muffin papers
  1. Mix the flour, oats and baking powder in a bowl and leave to one side
  2. Whisk the eggs and add the sugar, bananas, peanut butter and melted butter
  3. Stir to mix, then add the milk and stir to combine
  4. Add the dry ingredients and fold in gently; do not overmix (always important, with all muffin recipes)
  5. Spoon into the paper cases in the tin, then bake for 18 - 24 minutes, or until the tops spring back when gently touched (actually the best way to test most cakes, I find)
  6. Leave to cool in the tin for 1 minute, before turning onto a wire rack to cool fully
Raspberry & White Choc Muffins
Banana & Peanut Butter Muffins

And lastly, here's a totally different muffin recipe, but also very delicious. Raspberry and white chocolate - what's not to like? Personally, (and I can't believe I'm saying this, this is not typical for me!) I think the banana muffins above are far nicer, but it's certainly worth trying both, purely in the interest of comparison and research, of course! This recipe is via my good friends Genevieve Murphy and Kate Barry, who published this on their fantastic Trinkets website, which supplies natural cotton tampons via mail order  ... Still waiting for them to launch in Ireland!

Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 150g golden caster sugar (I tend to use regular, as never have golden in, and it's SO much more expensive)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 225ml milk
  • 50g butter
  • approx 100g raspberries
  • approx 110g white chocolate, chopped into reasonably large pieces (I find the white choc chips in the packet a bit small, so I tend to use my kitchen scissors to chop a bar up; tedious, but worth it)
  • Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6, and line a muffin tin with muffin papers
  1. Half the raspberries and chop the chocolate into large chunks
  2. Sift the flour (I never bother!) and baking powder into a large bowl, then stir in the sugar
  3. Melt the butter
  4. In a separate bowl, crack the egg and whisk in the vanilla extract, milk and melted butter
  5. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients
  6. Fold in the raspberries and white chocolate - it's best to use a metal spoon for this, to avoid most damage to the raspberries - being careful not to be too rough, as the fruit will be easily damaged
  7. Cook for approx 30 mins or until the muffins are risen and firm
  8. Eat warm (but beware of hot chocolate pieces!) or leave to cool on a wire rack
Sarah xx

PS - another idea for fruit that is about to turn is home made smoothies - we had some this morning and after a glass or two of vino too much last night, they were particularly gorgeous! I wouldn't use very black bananas, but certainly I'd have used the lesser spotted example from the photo above. Essentials - 2 bananas and the juice of an orange (or a good slug of OJ from the carton) and some ice (ice blocks, the mini-DinnerLadies call them!). Then add whatever you have, today we had a pear, 2 nectarines and a punnet of blueberries. Some strawberries or raspberries are great too, to make it a little tart - I didn't have any as I used them all up in lemon posset last night, so a squeeze of lemon juice had to suffice. Fantastic, and really offsets the guilt of that sausage sandwich! (Actually I virtuously had a poached egg, but that's because I know about the lemon posset event to come this evening!) S xx

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Quick and Easy Mid-week Dessert

A blackberry and apple crumble for 4
Namely - apple (or any other type of fruit) crumble.

A massive, massive, favourite in our house; crumble is super quick to make as well as being relatively low in calories (for a dessert!). Replace the sugar with fruit sugar (fructose) and really, it's not so bad. Okay, so there's butter, but not that much... I've also made it in the past using Benecol Buttery spread instead of butter. It tastes truly awful when spread on your bread, but you really don't notice the difference in cooking - and believe me, I can smell "fake" butter at 50 paces, it's my downfall (well, one of them!).

The really great, truly fantastic thing about crumble topping, is that you make a portion, use half and freeze the other half. Then, some mid-week day when you fancy treating Him Indoors or simply feel a little indulgent, simply stew some fruit til it softens (but is not in a complete mush), throw in a dish and whack on the topping, straight from the freezer, pop it in the oven and 40 minutes later - dessert! How fantastic is that? I often just use enough for a small crumble, for the two of us (the Smallies in the family still turn up their noses at all desserts that are not chocolate or pavlova!), so that means I have 3 portions of crumble topping in the freezer.

Anyhow, no time for chitty-chatting, transpires all my crumble topping is GONE! Shock, horror. So I need to make some up quickly and then I'll be back to post the master recipe for you.

Okay, crumble in the oven! Here's my recipe for crumble topping (PS, the measurements below make enough topping for a crumble for 4-6 people, depending how greedy you feel, so you should have plenty left over for at least one more crumble):


  • 75g cold butter, cubed
  • 125g plain flour
  • 75g caster sugar (or equivalent of fructose, which would be about 50g)
  • 50g porridge oats (not the jumbo variety)
  • 50-100g chopped hazelnuts (any nuts are good, I prefer hazelnuts as they are harder and crunchier, whereas walnuts are quite soft)
  1. Rub the chilled butter and flour together, to form a breadcrumb like consistency, then stir in the sugar first to combine, then add the oats and nuts and ensure all are well mixed (you can also do the butter, flour and sugar together by pulsing in a food processor)
That's it! Simply spread over slightly stewed fruit (push it down a little, but don't compact it) in an ovenproof dish, and bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 180ºC.

A note regarding the fruit:
What you choose is up to you. Apple is the most common, and when I'm using apples I do like to par-cook them first, otherwise I find they don't disintegrate into that lovely velvety texture I really like. Quantities of fruit are difficult to be precise. 
This evening, I've used 3 large bramley / cooking apples. Actually, I cooked off five (with a sprinkle of sugar to help them break down and a good dash of cinnamon), as I happen to have them - like the crumble topping, this also freezes beautifully... And left over apple sauce (let's call it "compote", to be fancy) is also delicious stirred into your morning bowl of porridge
In autumn, I like to add in a punnet of blackberries, when they are available in the supermarket. I tend to pop about half the berries in with the cooking apples, and then leave the other half whole, dotted around the crumble. Even better (and cheaper!) are those fresh from the hedgerow, if you have access - the taste is incomparably better.
Rhubarb in spring makes a fabulous crumble, as do gooseberries in summer. You can also use peaches or apricots or anything really you can get your hands on. Again, quantities will differ from from fruit to fruit, as will the amount of sugar you cook them with. But again, left over stewed fruit freezes beautifully, so leftovers can always be accounted for!

Lastly, and not to be forgotten... What to serve it with? Well, that's totally up to you, I went to the world of trouble making fresh, homemade custard for Him Indoors one night, only to be told that for a crumble, it should be Birds! Have bought a packet since, and saved myself loads of trouble. Creme fraiche and ice-cream are the other big favourites here, although lots of people also love pouring or whipping cream.
Of course, this does add to the the calorie load, so we usually stick to one of the lower fat creme fraiche's for a mid-week dessert.

Now, off to bag up my leftover crumble topping and freeze for the next day.

Sarah xx
PS - another terrible interview today, hence the need for dessert! Well, not so much terrible as just not what was expected - there was no mention of shifts in the job description, and the salary wouldn't cover childcare costs that the shifts would require - bring on the dessert.

EDIT - 21st July 2014: I made a peach and raspberry crumble last week, it was lovely. The peaches were a punnet a of those "ripen at home" ones from Lidl, I'd left them on a windowsill and promptly forgot all about them, by the time I remembered them they were extremely wrinkly.The raspberries were from the freezer - a bag of frozen raspberries from Lidl (again!) and stashed away for emergency desserts (they are great turned into a coulis and poured over buns filled with cream - yum!). I used about 6 peaches, peeled and pitted and sliced, and about a third of the bag of raspberries. I didn't use any extra sugar on the fruit as the peaches were so ripe, but you could if you have a sweeter tooth; I like it sharp. Peach melba flavours - classic, and delicious.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A midweek staple...

One thing we get asked on our FB page time and time again is for simple, tasty midweek suppers. This recipe below is one I kind of made up (nothing new there) and it covers all those bases in addition to being very healthy.
We cook stir fry at least twice a week in our house and its generally Mondays and Tuesdays that are allotted stir fry on the planner. This is mostly because I buy all the fresh fruit and veg in Swans-On-the-Green on Sundays but also because its nice to at least start the week on a good note. I used to laugh (and probably complain) to my mother for having certain dishes on certain nights but it works, at least you have a good idea of where you're at when getting home late on a busy Tuesday. To slightly alternate its usually Salmon Stirfry on Mondays and Chicken/pork on Tuesdays, sometimes with wholegrain basmati rice or sometimes noodles. Usually Wednesday its pasta (cooked by my good husband) and from there the week goes steadily downhill to the Saturday night steak treat!

So here goes with my recipe:

Two peppers (any color you wish but I usually go with red & yellow as there's other green veg used in recipe)
couple of cloves of garlic
I onion
Green beans/mangetout/sugar snap peas or combination of all three
bean sprouts if you're partial
I carrot sliced really finely
peanuts/cashews/pumpkin seeds/sesame seeds
(and whatever else you like in a stir fry)

2 salmon steaks
soy sauce
sweet chilli dip
Harissa paste (if you can get your hands on it)


chop up all your veg
combine about 1 tablesp sweet chilli sauce with a teasp of harissa paste in a ramekin
put your salmon steaks in an oven proof dish and paint with sweet chilli/harissa mix (note this totally gets rid of the 'fishy' taste that sometimes reminds you you've eaten salmon hours later)
pop in oven at 180 degrees

heat up your wok
add in a dash of sesame seed oil (or whatever oil you use for cooking)
when its really hot bung in your veg
when veg starts to soften chuck in a few dashes of soy sauce (it'll make a cool sizzle)
Throw in some peanuts if you have them (or cashews if you're really feeling flush) and I usually bung in a few sesame seeds/pumpkin seeds too for added nutrition
Meanwhile have your rice/noodles cooking away

*a note about rice here. Don't fool yourself with that cheapo white globby rubbish. Go and get yourself some good quality Basmati and slowly start introducing some wholegrain Basmati into the mix until your taste buds acclimatise to both the quality and nutty flavour. Its better for you and honestly, you'll never look back...

Lecture over, back to the recipe

Your salmon should be done at this stage so you just need to plate up.

It's that simple, enjoy!