Sunday, 22 July 2018

Summer Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

A lovely Summer side salad that's perfect for the warmer weather. The flavour combination of watermelon , feta & mint is very popular in the Mediterranean and The Middle East. The salad is perfect with a piece of fish or meat or if you fancy a light lunch, on its own.

Prep: 15 minutes
Serves : 4


300g watermelon flesh cut into 2cm inch cubes
175g feta cheese cut into 2cm cubes
55g fresh mint leaves

4 tbsp shredded fresh mint
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Mix the watermelon, cucumber and feta together in a large bowl. Add the whole mint leaves.
For the dressing, whisk the shredded mint , lemon juice and oil together in a small jug and season with the salt and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss, being careful the feta doesn't break up. Serve immediately.

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Summer is here. Summer to me is synonymous with barbecues, picnics, Summer fruit, outdoor eating and long evenings. I'm not the biggest fan of salads, but during the Summer months, I love nothing more than having a hearty salad served either on it's own with crispy bread and olives, or served with meat and fish. I really enjoy all the flavours in a traditional Greek salad: salty feta, cooling cucumber and moreish olives. Most people who enjoy food would have several Greek salad recipes. This recipe comes from the queen of cooking, Nigella Lawson. Her recipe for Ultimate Greek Salad is from the very appropriately titled "Forever Summer". The recipe, although great, omits cucumber, but I had to add this as for me it's not really an ultimate Greek Salad without  cucumber.

Recipe for Ultimate Greek Salad
1 red onion
1 tablespoon dried oregano
black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 good tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 bulb fennel
4 ounces pitted black olives
14 ounces feta cheese
juice of half a lemon
(I used 1/2 cucumber, sliced and quartered)

Peel and finely slice the red onion then sprinkle over the oregano and grind over  some pepper. Pour in the vinegar and oil and toss well, cover with plastic wrap and leave to steep for a good 2 hours; longer's fine. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then cut each quarter into quarters (always lengthwise), again so that you have a collection of very fine segments. Sprinkle the sugar and pinch of salt over them and leave whiles you get on with the rest. Wash the lettuce, tear into big pieces and put into a large, wide salad bowl. Slice the fennel, and add that, then, the olives and the feta, cut or crumbled into rough chunks, and toss well. Now add the tomatoes, the red onion and cucumber.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Orange, Date & Chili Salad

I was in my local Poundland tossing in bits and bobs in my basket, when I discovered a healthy collection of cookery books. I was spoilt for choice, a cook book on Tuscan cuisine, Spanish cuisine, utilising your own vegetables in your garden and a Chocolate baking book. Having become easily distracted by a cookery book focusing on one of my favourite cuisines: Middle Eastern Food, I decided on purchasing entitled "200 easy tanginess & more". Rich hearty tagines, light refreshing fish dishes and sweet and savoury salad combinations. I strongly recommend that you take a trip to Poundland and treat yourself to an absolute bargain and a gem of a cookery book. 

This cookery book focused on 200-Moroccan-style recipes including tanginess, salads and snacks. The first recipe I tried was incredibly simple: Orange, Date & Chili Salad. Sweet, yet the chili adds a quick and I served this as part of a Middle Eastern Feast which included a hearty tagine and Middle Eastern spiced vegetables and pitta bread. If you can manage to get your hands on a pomegranate, sprinkle the seeds of half a pomegranate over salad, it adds a crunch. 

Orange, Date & Chili Salad
Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
3-4 ripe sweet oranges
150g ready to eat soft pitted dates, finely sliced
2-3 tbsp orange blossom water
1 red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
finely sliced rind of 1/2 preserved lemon. 
handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)

Remove the peel and pith from the oranges with a sharp knife. Place the oranges on a plate to catch the juice and thinly slice into circles or half moons, removing any seeds. Place the oranges and juice in a shallow bowl. 
Scatter over the dates, then pour over the orange blossom water. Cover and leave to stand for 15 minutes to let the flavours mingle and date soften. 
Sprinkle over the chili and preserved lemon and toss together. If you are using pomegranate seeds scatter over. 


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Persian Salad of Tomato, Pomegranate and Cucumber

Not exactly seasonal, but my local food market sells all sorts of fruits and vegetables even during the Winter months. This salad screams Summer to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it a couple weeks back. So much so, that I've eaten it a couple of times this month alone. The juicy and plump tomatoes combined with the sweet pomegranate and the refreshing cucumber. The recipe hails from my favourite Salad cookbook (yes, I have a few), A Salad For A Seasons by Harry Eastwood. 

Serves 2
300g ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine, cut in quarters
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut length ways
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
a small bunch parsley, leaves
a small bunch of coriander
3 spring onions, very finely sliced
1tsp sumac

For the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
plenty of salt and pepper.

Rinse the tomatoes thoroughly under the tap and let them stand in a colander to drip off the excess water.
Next, core the cucumber by running a teaspoon down the middle and removing all the seeds. Chop into smallish dice of roughly the same size.
In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, parsley, coriander, spring onions and sumac. Mix the dressing ingredients together and season generously.
Toss the salad in the dressing and serve right away.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016


On my most recent trip to Italy, I did not get to sample the rustic Italian salad of Panzanella. I would have loved nothing more to sample panzanella, cooked lovingly by Italian nonna's and overlooking a beautiful scenic view. I first made this rustic salad way back in 2011 when I was just starting out my  cookery book collection and sampling new cuisines and flavours. Gosh, I feel old. Tomatoes are in season and if you head to your local market you can pick up some good fresh and succulent tomatoes.  One of my favourite salad cookbooks (yes I have a small collection of salad cookery books) is a Salad For All Seasons by Harry Eastwood. Whilst this panzanella is not unique (loads of Italians would have their own version and this is a salad covered by many well known chefs), I really like this version. Easy to make, lots of flavour and nothing too complicated. If you want to make this veggie, omit the capers, but keep them in, if you do like me which is to serve with a piece of chicken. Perfect for Summer nights.

Serves 6
1.5 kg ripe tomatoes on the vine, rinsed under the tap
1/2 tsp soft brown sugar
sea salt
300g stale sourdough bread, torn into roughly equal chunks
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
120ml extra virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, smashed and minced into a paste
2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed under the tap (optional)
1 large red onion, very thinly slice
1 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and cut into rough chunks
a large handful basil, roughly torn

Roughly chop the tomatoes. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with the sugar as well as a good pinch of salt. Let the tomatoes stand for 20 minutes then add the bread. Stand for a further 10 minutes, so that all the tomato liquid at the bottom of bowl I absorbed by the bread.
Mix the vinegar with the lemon juice and olive oil. Toss the tomatoes and bread with this dressing, then add the remaining ingredients before serving.
Making this salad slightly ahead when you eat it means that the flavours will have extra time to infuse and mingle, which will only improve the flavour.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Breakfast Salad of Bacon, Eggs Fried Bread and Frisse

Now that Spring is upon us, my palette is more open to having salads. It's not that I dislike salad, but salad for me, is similar to soup in that I associate both with seasons. This salad, inspired by the classic breakfast dish bacon and eggs, is taken from the Spring chapter in Harry Eastwood's wonderful book "A Salad For All Seasons". I enjoyed this during a mid-week lunch and whilst I enjoy bacon and eggs in a bap or sandwiched between toast, this salad, is a brilliant and healthier spin on a classic.

Serves 2 

120g lardons
100g stale bread, broken into chunks
a little salt and black pepper
2 large free-range eggs
a small head frisse lettuce
1 small banana shall, cut into tiny dice

For the dressing
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
1 tsp white wine vinegar

Set a full kettle on to boil. Heat the lardons in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until golden and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the stale bread to the pan with the lardon juices and season with a little salt and pepper. Once the bread is crunch and coloured, turn off the heat and set aside. Do not wash the pan,
Meanwhile, lower the eggs into boiling water and cook for exactly 6 minutes. This will ensure you have a cooked egg with a runny middle.
Next, whisk the mustard, mayonnaise, olive oil and creme fraiche in the now empty frying pan until combined. Thin down the dressing with the vinegar then taste and season.
Toss the salad leaves into the pan and coat them with the dressing before dividing between two plates. Scatter the lardons, fried bread and dices shallot over the top.
Peel the eggs and cut in half. Set on top of the finished salad with a crunch of black pepper. Serve warm.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Caribbean Modern Book Review and Interview with Shivi Ramoutar

Caribbean Modern: Recipes From The Rum Islands, by supper club host and chef Shivi Ramoutar was released last month, to rave reviews by newspapers, magazines and food professionals. I eat a lot of Caribbean food at home, being of Jamaican heritage, however I am always surprised with the new recipes from the Caribbean islands. Shivi's heritage is from Trindiad, Trinidad born, Leicester and London raised I believe and that certainly shows with the number of Trinidad recipes that feature in this book. I have been almost desperate to find authentic recipes on "Shark and Bakes" and "Pelau" so pleased these dishes were featured in her cookbook. What I love about Caribbean Modern, is that all the dishes are so vibrant, colourful and exotic, exactly what Carbbean food is. There were so many recipes which I have bookmarked to try from this book, so far, I've made three dishes: Bag Bakes Sea Bass with Black Bean Salsa, Geera Pork Chops with Citrus Garlic Germolata and Ginger-Dressed Tomato, Orange and Ginger Salad.

The cookbook is split into the following chapters:
  • Introduction
  • Notes On The Recipes
  • Cutters (Snacks For Sharing)
  • Soups and Salads
  • One Pot
  • Two Pots or Three
  • Something On The Side
  • Sweet Things
  • Sticky-Fingered Good
  • Drink UP
  • For the Larder
By far one of my favourite dishes from Caribbean Modern is this incredibly light, flavoursome, tropical and healthy Bag Baked Sea Bass with Black Bean Salsa. 

I've never heard of "Geera, it's cumin pork, but I loved it, instantly. The pork chops was juicy and succulent, flavoursome and lush. Served with roasted vegetables, this dish is certainly a healthier way to eat a chop.

I love salad, especially as it's the Summer months. But salad combing heat, with fruit and more fruit (tomatoes are a fruit), I wasn't sure whether it would work, but it does. Marvelously.

Congratulations on your debut book, Caribbean Modern, I love it's fresh and light take on Caribbean cuisine.

11) What has been your inspiration behind your book?
The inspiration behind my book has come from my family and my upbringing between Trinidad and Leicestershire (UK).  Both countries provided a wealth of different flavours, ideas and ingredients that have impacted my recipes and creations.  It is particularly apparent in some of my recipes where I combine ideas from both regions, or adapt recipes that my family would cook in Trinidad, to take into account ingredients that are more readily available in the UK.

12)  In the UK, Caribbean food tends to be overlooked compared to other cuisines, why do you think this is?
I think this is definitely changing.  Perhaps in the past, the most well-known Caribbean exports would have been Jerk and Goat Curry, dishes that are boldly flavoured, but not necessarily the most beautiful dishes to look at, particularly if you had no idea as to how wonderfully flavourful they are.  Otherwise, Caribbean cuisine wasn’t so easy to find in the mainstream, so it went a little un-noticed.  But the UK as a nation has progressively become more adventurous and excited to try new cuisines, it is so wonderful to see.  That and the fact that we are travelling more and also the internet making the World ‘smaller’.  Caribbean food joints are popping up on the High Street across the UK. And the beauty about Caribbean food is that, because if its wide-ranging influences (British, Dutch, French, Spanish to Chinese to West African to Indian) it is both exotic and yet so familiar.

13)   You’ve introduced us to Trinidadian cuisine, what is your favourite dish from Trinidad?
    This is a tricky one.  I love it all!  At a push, if I had to decide, I’d go with ‘Buljol Butties’ - a breakfast dish of shredded salt fish with fresh vegetables (peppers, chives, tomato, lime and avocado) served in an absolutely drool-inducing, but easy to make bread, called ‘Fried Bakes’.  It is the perfect combination of sweet, savoury and tangy.  It is also vibrantly colourful and fresh.

14)   What dish would you recommend for those who may not have cooked Caribbean cuisine?

You know, I would go with 'Buljol Butties’ - not only because it is one of my favourites dishes, but it is easy to make but the results are so moreish!

15)   Who is your biggest culinary inspiration?
My family – my Ma, Pa, Mama and Aunties and Uncles.  They are all so passionate about food – both cooking and eating and it is such a joy to watch all of them do this.  I think I have said so many times before, but the Caribbean ethos is all about spontaneous hospitality, food, its creation and the enjoyment of it.  And you can see this everytime I watch any of my family members cook.  It never comes across as boring or routine.

16)   Best way to “lime” in the UK?
     Everyway, anyway and anywhere is the best way.  Have some food in one hand and a drink in the other, take your shoes and socks of, put on a little ‘soca’ music and chill with a friend or a random.

Thank you Shivi for taking the time to answer my questions. 
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