Once You Go Wrap, You’ll Never Go Back: A Recipe

I can’t call this a recipe, I just can’t. But it will change your life. Maybe. I got the idea when I was at work and the canteen were serving fish finger wraps with sweet chilli sauce. It’s not exactly groundbreaking to entomb some fish fingers in a tortilla wrap but it’s just so much better than a fish finger sandwich. Trust me on this, once you go wrap you will never go back.

All you need to do is cook four fish fingers according to the packet instructions. For reference, I like Youngs more than Birds Eye. Cook them a little bit longer than the box says for some extra satisfying crunch. Get yourself a large tortilla wrap and squirt some mayonnaise down the centre. Pile on a handful of rocket leaves and a few slices of ripe avocado then top with the fish fingers followed by a generous drizzle of sweet chilli sauce. Wrap and roll and thank me later.

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For the simple fact that this has avocado in it, you can totally class it as a health food and eat as many as you like. I’ll take this opportunity to admit getting through a whole box of fish fingers making these for myself one night as I just kept wanting more. That, my friends, is the sign of a good meal.

Stay tuned for more recipes!

Tania x

 

 

Some Dolly Parton Musings and a Broccoli and Stilton Soup Recipe

Does anyone else struggle to spell broccoli? No? Just me then…

It’s mid March and in the UK that means it’s still effing freezing but we pretend it’s not. I popped to Asda in the week and saw some bloke loitering around the ready meal section wearing a pair of shorts. Shorts! A couple of days after the snow had cleared. We spend so long hibernating away in chunky knits and fur coats (that one’s for you Jess) that as soon as the temperature goes into double digits we want to show a bit of skin and get the limbs out. I get it. But really, it’s not shorts weather. I’m just about managing to ditch the wooly coat and swap it in for a Spring like trench but the thermal vest is going no-where fast. Welcome to 30 kids!

This in-between weather means you don’t quite want to eat the heavy stews and casseroles of winter but shudder at the thought of a salad. What am I saying? I always shudder at the thought of a salad. The beauty of this broccoli and stilton soup is that it’s warming and nourishing but vibrant and, well, it’s green. Which means spring, right? It’s also easy, cheap and a sneaky way to get some veg in.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 750ml vegetable stock (from a cube)
  • 100g stilton
  • double cream, optional

What you do:

  1. Sautee the finely chopped (or as finely chopped as I can possibly manage) onion in the oil and butter with a pinch of salt over a low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure the onion doesn’t colour too much. Pale gold is your limit here.
  2. Separate the florets from the stalks on your head of broccoli and finely chop the stalks. Add these to the onion and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, before adding the florets and cooking for 5 minutes more.
  3. Add in the vegetable stock, pop on a lid and cook for around 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Remove from the heat and blend until very smooth. This is not the time for chunky soup. I use a stick blender which makes it super easy but you could transfer to a normal blender if that’s all you have. Season with pepper, you shouldn’t need salt, then crumble in about 75g of stilton and stir to melt. Taste just to make sure I’m right on the salt, I think you’ll find I am.
  5. Serve the soup in bowls with the rest of the stilton crumbled on top and a little retro swirl of cream if that’s a bit of you. Lovely for lunch with some crusty bread or as a relaxed starter.

I had a bit of a random thought today. I had Smooth FM on and they played Dolly Parton’s Jolene. I realise I am really late to the party here, like decades, but I don’t know why she was so obsessed with Jolene. I mean, yeah Jolene should know better but come on Dolly, its your waste of space man you should be singing about. Don’t be begging Jolene not to take your man, it sounds to me like he’s already gone and you’re better off without him girl.

On the point of randomness, Dominos now have a GPS tracker on their delivery service. As if the pizza tracker wasn’t already up there with the world’s best inventions, you can now literally track your pizza from store to door. Love it.

Have a wonderful week all!

Tania x

The Week My Sister Came For Lunch

Hello internet!

I am back in the blogiverse!

It’s been a long time since I last blogged, my last post was December 2016! In the 14 months since then I’ve just been working hard, had a couple of holidays, turned 30, got a new cat, had cancer, beat cancer, all the normal stuff one does. I’m sure you’ll hear more about cancer gate as we go on. It was a really fun time! Disclaimer: it wasn’t.

Anyway, I’ve decided to treat you all to a little glimpse inside my life for the past week. I re-discovered a love for Pink Lady apple wedges dipped in almond butter and learnt how to use Instagram stories. I also had an oncology check up which involved a gloved finger and a speculum. The cancer was in my vagina, just so we’re clear.

I made myself a very lovely, very healthy (yes, this does sometimes happen) dinner in the week. I peeled and chopped two sweet potatoes and zapped them in the microwave for a few minutes to soften before shoving them on a baking tray along with a chopped red onion, whole garlic cloves, olive oil and some Spanish seasoning for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes I added some par-cooked broccoli and halved cherry tomatoes and cooked for 10 minutes more. I put some cooked cous cous in a bowl (I used the lazy packet type with Moroccan spices) topped it with the roasted veg and then drizzled over some natural yogurt that I had mixed with harissa, lemon juice and a bit of extra virgin olive oil. This made enough for dinner for me and lunch the next day.

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I really wanted to add some pine nuts for a bit of crunch but they were in the back of my cupboard and I had to move a jar of honey to get to them. The honey was literally stuck to the shelf by it’s own oozing stickiness and quite frankly, I couldn’t be arsed to get my hands dirty. That is a problem for another day.

The Spanish seasoning I used was this one from Schwartz. Always want to say Schwarzkopf then remember that’s hair stuff. Yes, I did just Google how to spell that. This has peppers, onion, garlic, paprika and all that jazz in. You might spot a little something in the background. That’s Bear. He’s my 10 week old kitten and is in the photo because he literally doesn’t leave my side. Ever. Cute thought isn’t he. (lots more kitty photos on my instagram @taniaadrianne if you happen to be that kind of person)

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On Saturday my sister came to visit and we made tapas. That’s a joke. She sat drinking tea whilst I made tapas. The Spanish seasoning came out to play again, this time to make patatas bravas, which I think is one of my most favourite things in the world. I peeled and cubed a few potatoes and par cooked them in the microwave. This was a revelation to dear sister who has vowed to never par-boil a spud again. You’re welcome. I then coated the potatoes in some olive oil and a little sprinkling of the Spanish seasoning before roasting them until crisp and golden on the outside and full of fluffy, starchy promise on the inside. Meanwhile, I cooked some chopped garlic, chilli and mixed herbs in a pan with some olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding in a carton of passata then seasoning with salt, pepper, sugar and, yep you guessed it, some more of the Spanish seasoning. I allowed that to cook down so it was rich, sweet and spicy then spooned it liberally on top of the cooked potatoes and dolloped on a bit of aoili. I bought that as I have more money than time. And voila, patatas bravas a la The Gammon Kitchen.

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We wolfed those down along with crispy prawns (quite simply king prawns coated in flour and fried in olive oil), garlic mushrooms (mini portabella mushrooms roasted in the oven with garlic, mixed herbs, salt and pepper and olive oil), potato croquettes (lovingly made by Sainsbury’s), chorizo slices pan fried with garlic and butter beans, garlic stuffed olives and tomatoes marinated in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar which we spooned on top of grilled ciabatta. La Tasca can do one mate.

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I saw in the supermarket last week that you can now buy bigger share size bags of Cadbury buttons. Proof, if I ever needed it, that the normal share size bags are, in fact, single servings. I’m going into the next week safe in the knowledge that I haven’t been overeating chocolate buttons at all.

Have a lovely week everyone!

Tania x

 

 

 

Recipe: Chorizo and Roasted Vegetable Lasagne

How does one improve on a lovely vegetable lasagne? You add chorizo of course. There is nothing in life that isn’t improved by that spicy little sausage. I love it in all it’s paprika spiked glory. Of course you can just leave it out if you are a vegetarian, it’s still delicious. (you are missing out though)

Serves 4-6

What you need:

(for the roasted vegetables)

  • 1 aubergine
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

(for the chorizo and tomato sauce)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g soft cooking chorizo, finely chopped
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp herbes de provence
  • 700g tomato passata
  • A pinch of sugar

(for the white sauce)

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 200ml warm milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated

(for the lasagne)

  • One packet of fresh egg lasagne sheets
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • A few tablespoons of grated parmesan
  • Some extra grated cheddar cheese

What you do:

  1. Slice the aubergine, courgettes and pepper into rounds or strips and toss in a bowl with the oil, herbs and some salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway.
  2. Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Heat the oil in a pan and add in the onion, garlic and chopped chorizo, stirring regularly until the veg is soft and the chorizo is cooked. Next, add the chilli flakes, herbs and tomatoes then season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then until it is thick and richly flavoured.
  3. To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the milk until you have a thick, creamy, smooth sauce. Season well and add the nutmeg. Off the heat, add the grated cheddar cheese and stir well to melt.
  4. To assemble, put a tablespoon of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the lasagne dish then top with lasagne sheets. Next, add a layer of roasted vegetables and top with some nuggets of mozzarella and a grating of parmesan before adding a generous layer of the tomato and chorizo sauce. Continue with some more pasta sheets then repeat the vegetables, cheese and sauce layers. Once all is used up, add a final layer of pasta then top with the cheese sauce. Finish with some more grated parmesan, some torn up mozzarella and an extra grating of cheddar cheese.
  5. Cook at 180°c for around 35-40 minutes, until bubbling and golden.

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You only need a lightly dressed green salad alongside this rich, tasty lasagne dish. It’s also lovely cold for lunch the next day!

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A Week In France

What is with French toilets? I couldn’t believe when I pulled over into a service station that the ‘facilities’ were just a hole in the ground. Some had actual toilets but not once did I encounter a toilet seat and I felt like a kid at Christmas if there was toilet paper available. Anyway, enough about toilets.

I stayed in a gorgeous villa overlooking the French Pyrenees, which provided some lovely views for the duration of my holiday. I must say though, the Lake District on our own green and pleasant land is much more beautiful, at least in my opinion. We were blessed with amazing weather though which meant plenty of time sunbathing and splashing about in the pool.

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All the local restaurants were advertising their own version of cassoulet, a meat and bean stew rich with duck fat. I was desperate to try some authentic French food so ordered it one evening. This one had a duck leg, some pork belly, a local sausage and a garlic crouton. It was absolutely delicious, though completely inappropriate for the 30° heat.

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Of course I also just had to sample a crepe whilst in the land of the creperie. I was really boring and went for Nutella but it was yummy. I had this with an amazing hot chocolate.

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On the drive home we stopped at a restaurant called Poivre Rouge, which was a bit like an upmarket Harvester. The menu had lots of grill options but there was also a salad bar that you could pay once for then take as many trips as you like. I didn’t go for it, but saw the locals tucking into escargot and massive prawns from it. I had fillet steak which was amazing and the chips were these strange little curved tube type things.

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What I did like about French service stations, toilets aside, was the food options. They’re much better than the English counterparts. On one stop I had a really really good burger, and another had this hot dog with mustard, bacon and cheese which they served hot, with an apple tart which was very nice.

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Other than that, I ate a lot of pizza! The French seem to really love their pizza!

My 100th Post!!!

Bonjour!

I am back in The Gammon Kitchen. I took a few weeks off blogging to enjoy a holiday to France (more on that to follow!) and to give myself a break. Blogging can be hard work! I’m not ever going to be one of those people who make a living from blogging and whatnot, I just don’t have the time to commit to posting that regularly, but I’m glad to be back and am looking forward to sharing some more recipes and stories with you.

This back to blogging post also just so happens to be my 100th blog post! Milestone alert! As I sit here in my jumper (like, when did it get so cold?) I’m reminiscing about some of the previous posts I have shared with you and thought this would be a great opportunity to recap on some of my favourites before I share some new content with you, starting with what I did on my holiday.

My Favourite Ever Post

My Thoughts On Dieting from January 2016

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I remember writing this post in the early hours of the morning as I couldn’t sleep and needed to vent about my feelings towards diets and the current craze of clean eating. I got some really great feedback on this post and still very much stand by my thoughts!

My Favourite Recipes

Fully Loaded Sweet Potato Fries from February 2016

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Even just looking at the picture makes me dribble. Yum!

Chocolate and Pecan Banana Bread from March 2016

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This is one of my most used recipes from my blog and one I always turn to when I want to bake, or have some manky bananas in the fruit bowl, which is every single week.

Chickpea, Spinach and Potato Curry from June 2016

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I developed this recipe during my vegan trial week and even though my time as a vegan didn’t last, this is still one of the nicest curries I have ever made and is a favourite in my house.

Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock from July 2016

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I was so proud of this recipe, I even considered applying for Masterchef!

My Most Viewed Post

Recipe Review: Nigella Lawson’s Lemon Pavlova from January 2016

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Thanks to a Twitter comment from the Queen herself, I have enjoyed many views on this post, many now coming from Google searches. I love this photo too, I could dive into that pav face first right now.

It’s been nice to look back on some of my favourite posts from this year and I’m feeling ready and inspired to go on and create another 100 posts. See you all soon! PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Recipe Review: Rick Stein’s Lamb Kleftiko

I love Greece and I love Greek food. As I can’t afford a holiday to Greece this year I thought I would bring a little Greek sunshine into my own dreary kitchen. Rick Stein’s ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ is a bible of recipes from, as the name would suggest, Venice to Istanbul. There are Italian pasta dishes, Turkish kebabs and lots of wonderful dishes inspired by his travels around Greece. With each turn of the page my mouth waters even more. Even the simplest of dishes from these regions look and sound delicious and lamb kleftiko is no exception. With only a few ingredients and minimal preparation it’s great for feeding dinner guests and tastes sublime.

Here’s my take on Rick’s recipe, which is actually exactly the same apart from the alterations for it to feed four. It was perfect.

Start the recipe by peeling 750g of waxy potatoes and cutting them into wedges. Slice a red pepper into strips and roughly chop 3 large tomatoes. Tip all of the veggies into a casserole dish and season well with salt and pepper.

Take half a leg of lamb and sit this on top of the vegetable base, then pour over the juice of 1 lemon and 60ml of extra virgin olive oil. Halve a bulb of garlic and chuck that in too. Sprinkle over 1 tbsp of dried oregano and then add 150ml of water. Put on a tight fitting lid and whack it in the oven for 2.5-3 hours at 190°c.

When the lamb is falling off the bone it’s done. Check the juices, adding a bit more water if too dry or reducing them down in a pan if too watery. Crumble over 100g of feta cheese and pop the dish back in the oven for a further 10 minutes. I left the lid off to get a little bit of colour going on.

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The finished dish looks beautifully rustic and filled the whole house with the aroma of garlic, lemon and tomatoes. I served it alongside a Greek salad and some homemade tzatziki. Yum!