Recipe: Greek Salad

So you don’t really need a recipe for a Greek salad. The ingredients, if the recipe remains true to it’s heritage, should always be the same. That is tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion and feta cheese, along with a dressing rich in olive oil. In my opinion it’s best served at room temperature or just under rather than straight from the fridge and makes a wonderful side dish to grilled or roast lamb. This is the way I make mine.

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 350g good tomatoes, chopped into chunky pieces
  • A chunk of cucumber about 6 inches long, halved lengthways and cut into strips
  • 1/2 a red onion, finely sliced
  • a handful of pitted black olives
  • 200g feta cheese, broken into chunks
  • a sprinkling of dried oregano
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

What you do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine all of your prepared vegetables.
  2. Add in the feta cheese and sprinkle over the oregano.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, the vinegar and the salt and pepper until combined. When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad, give it a good toss and take it proudly to the table.

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Perfect for an alfresco summer lunch!

Recipe: Naughty Watermelon Slushie

‘Why is it naughty?’ I hear you ask. Well, this isn’t your everyday slushie, oh no, for this one has booze in it. It’s time to deny the kids and have some fun yourselves. Pull out a deck chair, relax in the garden as the sun sets and wind down your weekend in style.

Serves 1

What you need:

  • About 8 cubes of frozen watermelon
  • 1 tbsp sugar syrup
  • 1 shot of Malibu or other alcohol of choice

What you do:

  1. Sling the ingredients into a blender and whizz up until you have a thick, icy slush. Pour into a cocktail glass, chuck in a straw and enjoy.

How easy was that?

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July Roundup

July. The month that felt like the early 2000s with everyone talking about Pokemon and Blink 182. Not me though. I’ve been harping on about Celebrity Masterchef, the lack of decent strawberries in the supermarkets and how summer just doesn’t feel like summer when you don’t have a 6 week holiday.

Oh the good old days of school when life’s biggest worries were getting a ladder in your tights or not having a boyfriend like all the cool kids. I thought my teenage years were such a struggle. I knew nothing. I used to come home every day to my bed made, a home made dinner on the table and my washing done and ironed for me. Now, I come home to a messy house at whatever time the traffic allows and have to engage the brain enough not to mix my dinner up with the cat’s. I tried a cat treat once. It was a terrible, terrible mistake.

I’ve made some damn good food in July, though I do say so myself. I’ve recapped all of this month’s posts below in case you missed any or want to have a re-read.

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Recipe: King Prawn Linguine / Recipe: Steak’n’Stuff / Recipe: American Pancakes with Bacon / What I Ate In A Day #11 / Recipe: Masterchef Style Smoked Haddock / Top 5 Must Have Cook Books For Eating Well / Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies / Recipe Review: Gordon Ramsay’s Bread and Butter Pudding / Recipe: Chicken Tikka Salad / How to be a Better Cook in 5 Easy Steps

See you in August!

Recipe: Chicken Tikka Salad

Sometimes you just want something light for dinner, especially when the weather is so warm, but the thought of a salad can be depressing. This is where you need to up your game and inject some funky flavours and textures into your salad to make it exciting and exotic. This is a great weeknight recipe as it can be ready in around 15 minutes and is easy to eat in front of the TV should you want to.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bitesized pieces
  • 3 tbsp natural yogurt
  • 1 tbsp tikka seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp mint sauce
  • 1 pepper, cut into bitesized pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • a few slices of cucumber
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 ready to eat poppadoms

What you do:

  1. Put your chicken breasts into a bowl along with one tablespoon of yogurt, a good squeeze of lemon, the garlic, the tikka seasoning and some salt. Stir well and leave this to marinate for as long as you have. 10 minutes is better than nothing but overnight is best.
  2. Mix together the remaining two tablespoons of yogurt with another squeeze of lemon, the mint sauce and some salt and leave this to one side to drizzle on the salad later.
  3. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add in the pepper and onions, tossing regularly and cooking until they start to char. Remove these from the pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, cook the chicken pieces, turning regularly and scraping any marinade from the pan to coat the chicken. Let the chicken catch slightly to give a lovely flavour.
  5. To assemble, put 2 handfuls of salad leaves into each waiting bowl then top with some cucumber. Sprinkle over the warm peppers and onions then add the chicken slices. Drizzle over some of the mint yogurt sauce then top with a crushed poppadom each and a sprinkling of spring onion before finishing with a little more sauce if you like.

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Enjoy!

Summer Is Coming

Summer

Subtle little Game of Thrones reference in the title there. Anyone else as obsessed as I am? I was a late starter and binge watched seasons 1-5 before catching up on the latest season but am now completely gripped. How is it the season finale tomorrow and what am I going to do when it’s all over. Suggestions on a postcard please.

I’m totally team stark. Do you like my spoon?

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Anyhoo, we’re not here to talk about Game of Thrones.

June 20th saw the official start of The Great British Summer. Not that you would know it. I’ve been wearing jumpers and slippers at home and having to revert back to wearing a coat when I go out. My poor kitty got stuck out in a thunderstorm last week and came back looking like a drowned rat. A very grumpy drowned rat.

Despite the soggy start to the summer season I am looking forward to the coming months. As always, my thoughts turn to food. Strawberries eaten outside, the warmth of the sun making the fruit even sweeter, served with cool cream and a sprinkling of sugar. Marinated meats seared on a hot BBQ, the smell of the smoky wood getting into your hair and stinging your eyes. Rushing out of the house with your purse as you hear the sweet sound of the ice cream van, pushing in front of the snotty nosed kids to get your 99 cone. Picnics enjoyed in the park with wasps buzzing around you and ants taking over your blanket. Nothing makes me think of summer more than eating outside whilst feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin. Or at least the prickle of slightly warm rain.

Summer isn’t all fun and games though. Us women have to get our game on and tackle the effects of a winter hibernation. It can take hours to carve through the forests that have taken root on our legs and don’t even think about looking at our toenails until we’ve had a pedicure. Hey, they’ve been stuck in winter boots and fluffy pink slippers for months, there’s been no need for nail art here. The thought of ditching the tights and going bare legged fills me with the same level of fear as a human sized spider crawling across my face.  Likewise, getting into a swimsuit for a summer holiday proves to be the most anxious event of the year. Would I have it any other way though? I love the change of the seasons, each one bringing with it new challenges and new things to look forward to.

Here’s a little summer recipe to get us all in the mood for summer fun and frolics.

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Strawberry and Lime Cooler

Make a sugar syrup by boiling 150ml of water with 100g of caster sugar and stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Leave this to cool and store in the fridge for use in cocktails and the like.

In a blender, combine 5 chopped strawberries with 2-3 tablespoons of the sugar syrup, the juice of half a lime and a large handful of ice cubes. Add a generous splash of water and whizz up to make a lovely cold, frothy summer drink to enjoy in the garden. Or do like I did and sit next to a vase of flowers for the ultimate summer setting whilst the rain trickles down your window.

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Hello Summer!

Recipe: Courgetti with Pesto Chicken, Mushrooms and Goat’s Cheese

Don’t hate me for owning a spiralizer, I’ve not completely lost my mind and travelled over to the dark side of the clean eating brigade. I just don’t like to be left out of any trend so obviously had to purchase this weird little device that makes noodles out of vegetables. I’ve had it since last year and have only used it a few times, but I can honestly say that I do rather like courgetti, or in other words courgette that’s been made to look like spaghetti pasta. If you don’t have a spiralizer fear not for you can now buy courgetti in large supermarkets, such is now the trend. Alternatively, you can use a vegetable peeler to create ribbons from your courgette, which is just as lovely. Whatever magic you create with your courgette, this recipe is a delicious way to increase your veg intake with lovely summery flavours.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 3 courgettes
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp green pesto
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 slices of soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

What you do:

  1. Start by fashioning your courgettes into ribbons or noodles using whatever tools you have. I have the handheld type of spiralizer that leads to an injury every single time I use it, but makes nice long strands of courgetti. Leave these to one side but have a pan of boiling water ready.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and once hot, add the diced chicken and mushrooms. Fry off for a few minutes until they are cooked through and starting to brown, then add in the pesto and zest and juice from the lemon. Stir and cook gently to create a nice sauce for the chicken and mushrooms.
  3. Just before the chicken and mushrooms are ready, plonk your courgetti into the pan of boiling water and cook just for a minute or two to warm through. Drain very well and place in to two waiting serving bowls. Top with the pesto coated chicken and mushrooms then immediately add a slice of goats cheese and a scattering of toasted pine nuts over the top. Drizzle any pesto juices from the pan artistically around the plate to make it look a bit spesh.

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The goat’s cheese will melt into the chicken and mushrooms and provide a welcome tang against the earthiness of the herby pesto. The crunch from the pine nuts works great with the soft courgette. This is a lovely, well balanced dinner perfect for a warm summer evening.

Injury count: 1 – I got my thumb caught in the spiralizer which led to screaming, crying and a bloody mess in the kitchen. But I got lots of attention afterwards which always makes an injury worth it.

What I Ate In A Day #8

Today started like any other day with my cat jumping on me far too early in the morning. It’s a good job I love her as I don’t tolerate anything else waking me up before my alarm. Unless it’s to bring me breakfast then I can occasionally allow it.

Unlike other days in England though, today was filled with glorious sunshine and soaring temperatures. I started my day with a glass of orange juice and a nice summery breakfast. I toasted a bagel (this is actually a new ‘bagel thin’ from Warburtons) and spread it with some cream cheese then topped it with a diced peach and a drizzle of honey. It was nice.

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Despite suffering with an annoying head cold and sore throat, I made the most of the sunshine and went to Sevenoaks for a browse around the food festival and a walk around Knole Park, one of my favourite places to visit. It has wild deer wandering around and they will come and sit with you! I was treated to a few little tasters from the food stalls then enjoyed a Twister lolly in the sun.

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Back home and time for lunch. We’ve been feeling very Mediterranean lately so we laid out a bit of a spread. I had a huge mound of salad (lettuce, cucumber, radish, red onion, yellow pepper, tomatoes and crispy onions) with ranch dressing plus Jersey Royals dressed in extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and wholegrain mustard, some roast chicken, homemade tzatziki, a few olives, marinated garlic and pickled ginger that I picked up at the food festival and crusty bread with oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s not summer unless you start eating salad.

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After lunch I knocked up a few cinnamon swirls (recipe coming soon!) and enjoyed a couple with a cup of tea. Honestly they’re only little!

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That, remarkably, is the end of my post. I did have a couple of sweets during a Game of Thrones marathon in the evening but I didn’t fancy anything else to eat. It could have been the blood and gore of Joffrey’s death (yes I really am that far behind) or the irritating flu that is plaguing me. Either way, a good food day.