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

 

 

 

Dear Santa…

I have been a very naughty food blogger. Very, very naughty. I last posted in October and since then I have been pretty much living off takeaways and oven chips. It’s pretty hard to write posts for a food blog when you spend absolutely no time in the kitchen and have a diet consisting solely of fat laden carbs. The good news is that we are now on first name terms with the local Chinese delivery driver and sometimes get free prawn crackers.

I’ve moved house since my last post too. I lost my gorgeous Smeg fridge (came with the last property and had to stay behind) but am now living in such a lovely home. The kitchen isn’t quite as nice which may explain why I have spent less time in it. Actually, that’s just a feeble excuse for my downright laziness.

See, adulting is hard. I wish I was one of those super women who have all their shit together tied up in a bow. But I’m not. You know the women I’m talking about. They manage to spend a whole working day in a pair of heels when I can barely balance myself in a pair of trainers. Their hair and make up is immaculate whilst my friends use my shiny forehead as a mirror and I consider it fortunate for my colleagues if I’ve had a spray of the old dry shampoo in the morning. Super women finish work then spend an hour in the gym, still with immaculate hair and make up I may add, before going home to their perfect house and knocking up a quick quinoa salad to enjoy with a glass of merlot whilst watching Planet Earth and getting ideas for their weekend dinner party on Pinterest. I finish work, sit in traffic for an hour, get home, put my curry stained pyjamas on, order pizza and try to get through the evening without my cat scratching me. It’s a different world and I don’t know how people can be so held together all the time. This is basically a really long winded explanation of why I haven’t blogged. As Paddy McGuinness might say: no cooky, no bloggy.

However, it is now the 12th of December and that can mean only one thing. CHRISTMAS! I absolutely love everything about Christmas. I love the tree with its twinkling lights, I love the sense of excitement and anticipation everywhere you go and most of all I love the food. All the food. What better time to get out of my kitchen-phobic slump and get cooking up some festive treats. So Santa, can you forgive me for being a terrible food blogger, cut a girl some slack and maybe even deliver a little present or two if I promise to be better?

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Anyone that thinks this is a home made mince pie has just skipped the whole post. It’s from Aldi.

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!

 

 

 

How To Be A Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

Want to impress your mates next time they come over to eat? Have a desire to prove to your family that you are indeed the best cook of them all? Well, look no further friends for here is how to become a better cook in just 5 easy peasy steps.

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1. Get to know the lingo. Don’t know your al dente from your al forno? Well, get to know. Talking the talk is everything in this game and even if your food sucks, you can convince people that it doesn’t by explaining it in the right way. Try saying things like ‘for dinner today we have goujons of cod in a spiced panko crumb on a bed of whipped pea puree served with crispy potatoes’ instead of ‘here’s your fish fingers, chips and mushy peas’. By the time they’ve worked out what they’re eating you will be telling them what’s for pudding and they’ll have no time to process how dreadful it was.

2. Similar to the above, you can fool people into thinking they are eating good food if you make it look nice. The key here is to arm yourself with some seriously oversized plates and bowls. Drizzle some kind of sauce on the plate then put everything in neat little piles and always work in threes or fives. Odd numbers of things just look more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Convince yourself. When creating your masterpieces in the kitchen, channel your inner alter ego. If you want to be Nigella you be Nigella. Go squeeze yourself into a tight little dress, put on a pair of killer heels and a slick of lipstick and make sure you turn everything you say into a slutty innuendo. Lick the spoon playfully whilst winking at the non existent camera and own it. Your chocolate mousse may very well taste like crap but you looked good making it and anyone that sees how much effort you put in will surely pretend it tastes good too.

4. Practice. Good cooks don’t just turn great over night. They have to work at it. So even if you just pick one dish to perfect that’s fine. Yes, everyone that comes into your home will have to try your brownies, but hey, by their fifth visit they may actually get something good and surely that’s progress. Keep going!

5. Lastly, and this is an important one, don’t let anyone criticise you. Maybe your dad will say that his chicken was raw in the middle or the mashed potato was lumpy, but just brush it off. You don’t work this hard just to get negative feedback so don’t let it affect you. It’s perfectly fine to argue with dinner guests should they challenge your cooking skills (though really they shouldn’t if you have correctly followed steps 1-4) but if they do just give them a firm warning that they won’t be invited back.

I really hope this helps turn you from a mediocre cook into a great cook, like me!*

*this is a joke. Kind of.

What I Ate In A Day #11

Otherwise known as what I ate in a day whilst feeling sorry for myself because I have a cold. It really is only a cold, a cough here, a sneeze there, one of those annoying little niggles of an illness where you’re not too sick to be off work but really want to do nothing more than watch trashy tv and eat cake. No room for self pity here though, I had a full day at work followed by a two course dinner when I got home all made from scratch. One could argue that I’m mad, but I’ve had this most evil craving for bread and butter pudding and it simply had to be fulfilled so that was had for pudding.

Anyway, I should probably start with breakfast. I’m almost bored of saying it now such is the regularity of it, but I started my day with granola, yogurt, coconut flakes and fresh fruit. I then had a banana shortly after.

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Lunch was one of my favourites. There’s a sandwich place near me called Francombs who do really lovely pasta salads made to order. This is my take on their New Yorker boxed salad. It contains a base of pasta and Romaine lettuce then has pastrami, stilton, cucumber, gherkins, jalapeños, crushed tortilla chips and a dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, wholegrain mustard, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and salt. It involves a bit of prep work but I make enough for a few days, leave the prepared ingredients sitting in individual boxes in the fridge then toss them together with the dressing the night before and take the tortilla chips separately to add just before eating. It’s really good.

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I had a homemade peanut butter brownie with my lunch. Recipe coming soon!

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To tide me over until dinner I snacked on a satsuma and a fake Penguin biscuit from Sainsbury’s. These are hilariously called Polar bars but don’t have the terrible jokes you find on a proper Penguin. Sort it out Sainsbury’s! I did eat a nectarine too but I forgot to take a picture.

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Dinner was one of my favourite things to eat at the moment, my king prawn linguine. The recipe can be found here. The two slices of garlic bread on the side were there for aesthetic value. I actually ate 4 slices. I get really hungry when I’m ill.

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And now, what I’ve been waiting for all day. Nay, all week. Bread and Butter Pudding with double cream. *insert excited squealing here*

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I’ll tease you with this for now and treat you to the recipe soon! One thing’s for sure, I’m totally having some of this for breakfast tomorrow.