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

Ingredients

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

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

Method
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.
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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

May 2018 Monthly Eatings

After a few computer problems, I'm back with my monthly eats. I've sampled lovely food from Birmingham and Bicester last month.

Chaophraya Birmingham 
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My Cookie Dough - Birmingham

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Gymmys Healthy Grill - Birmingham

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Le Pain QuotidienImage may contain: food

The Kings Head, Birmingham
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xxx
 
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Sunday, 27 May 2018

Caramelised Red Onion, Cream and Stilton Quiche

I love quiche, the famous French tart is a regular favourite at home. I love making quiche and trying the different variations that this robust tart can offer. This quiche is a rather grown up quiche, the caramelised red onion offers a sweet flavour, the cream a creamy texture (as expected) and the Stilton offers a further depth to this. This is perfect quiche to make over a lazy Sunday or over the Bank Holiday. Any leftovers also make a fabulous lunch. 




Serves 4-6
Takes 15 minutes to make (plus cooling), 1 hour 5 minutes to cook.

Ingredients
50g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 large red onions, thinly sliced
couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 deep 25 cm blind-baked shortcrust pastry tart case
4 eggs
300ml single cream
200g Stilton, crumbled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful of rocket leaves

Method 
Melt the butter with the oil in a large, deep saucepan. Stir through the onions and thyme sprigs, then cook, uncovered, over a very low heat for at least 30 minutes or until they are really soft, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the thyme stalks.
Pour in the balsamic vinegar, increase the heat a little and continue to cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until you are left with a dark rich mass of caramelised onions. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool - the onions will be very hot indeed so let them cool down until they are cool enough to touch.
Once the onions are cool, preheat the oven to 200C/180Cfan/Gas mark 6.
Spoon the onion mixture into the pastry tart case and spread evenly. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and cream and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Slowly pour into the pastry tart case, allowing it to settle and find its own level gradually around the filling, then sprinkle over the Stilton.
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the filling is just set and the cheese is melted. Carefully remove the quiche from the tin and transfer it to a serving plate or wooden board. Serve hot or warm, scattered with a generous handful of rocket. This is a very rich quiche, so a simple salad dressed with a sharp dressing with work nicely as an accompaniment.

xxx
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Friday, 4 May 2018

Vegetarian 101 Recipes Celebrating Fresh Seasonal Ingredients Review

This classic vegetarian book by Alice Hart has recently been reissued. The first edition published in 2011 was a classic and critically acclaimed cookery book specialising in Vegetarian cuisine. There are many vegetarian and vegan cookery books being released at the moment, but this book in my opinion will be a classic. There are a number of fresh and delicious recipes which challenges people to change the way they think about vegetarian cooking. I like the flavour combinations and innovative recipes used throughout and although the recipes are innovative, the recipes are accessible. The cookery book has a sleek design with illustrations on the cover and there are a number of accompanying recipes. Vegetarian is currently retailing at £9.99  and is a welcome addition for any discerning cook. 


The cookery book is split into the following chapters:
  • Breakfast and Brunch, recipes to try include: Pear and Walnut Bircher Muesli and Blackberry Milkshake.
  • Small Bites: stand out recipes include Cumin Potato Skins and Guacamole Salsa, Spring Vegetable Pakoras and Pressed Leek Terrine with Dijon Rice.
  • Big Salads: recipes to try include Warm Salad of Slow-Roast Tomatoes and Labne on Murjadhara, Blood Orange, Mozzarella, Toasted Sourdough and Radicchio Salad.
  • Soups: Stand out recipes include: Summer Minestrone , Beetroot and Porcini Broth.
  • Breads: Recipes to try include: Quick Soda Bread and Pizza Bianca.
  • Fast: Stand out recipes include: Chilli and Crushed Walnut Rigatoni, Potato Cakes with Olives and Poached Eggs and Cashew Fried Rice.
  • One Pots and Bakes: Stand out recipes include: Malaysian Egg Curry and Mushroom Basil Lasagne.
  • Special: Recipes to try include: Pan-Fried Mushrooms and Sour Cherries and Rich Almond Tart. 
There's also handy bits in this cookery book such as sharing a variety of tomato recipes, salad toppings and flavoured water. So far, I've made the Camembert, Watercress and Marinated Figs with Walnut Dressing. Not only was this salad incredibly fresh and light. 


Recipe for Camembert, Watercress and Marinated Figs with Walnut Dressing.
Serves 4
Ingredients
200ml balsamic vinegar
100g caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, brushed
6 thyme sprigs
6 plump figs, halved length ways
4 tablespoon walnut oil
a large handful of watercress, thick stalks trimmed
150g ripe Camembert or brie, sliced
75g walnuts

Method
Place the vinegar, sugar, garlic and 4 of the thyme sprigs in a saucepan and add 100ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar and cook out some of the vinegary flavour. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then pour the halved figs and leave to marinate for an hour or two.
Discard the thyme sprigs and garlic from the marinade and spoon 5 tablespoons into a small lidded jar. Strip the leaves from the remaining 2 thyme sprigs and add to the jar with the walnut oil, a little salt and plenty of pepper. Screw on the lid and shake well until combined to make a dressing.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and sear the drained figs, cut sides down for a minute or so until they caramelise. Remove the pan from the heat, turn the figs over and set aside.
Put the watercress in a large bowl and drizzle with a little of the dressing , tossing to coat the leaves. Add the Camembert or brie, walnuts and divide among serving plates. Spoon the remaining dressing over each plate of salad.

Disclaimer: I received a copy from the publishers.

xxx
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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Fabulous Falafel

I've been trying to eat more vegetarian dishes in my weekly diet, trying to up my usual once a week meat free meal to twice a week. With so many bloggers having a meat free January or participating in veganuary there has been a number of inspiring recipes on social media which I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. 
After flicking through my new cookbooks that I brought in the January sale, I found this incredibly easy recipe for falafels from The Greedy Girl Diet. Falafels, a popular middle Eastern dish are perfect for a light lunch or dinner. What's better, this recipe is low in calories and fat, so you can treat yourself to an extra falafel. This recipe is lightly spice, full of flavour and easy to make. I served the falafel with a beetroot dip as I had beetroot use and of course, pitta bread.




245 calories, 4g fat per serving
Serves 4
1x 400g can chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon very finely chopped fresh coriander 
vegetable oil spray
4 warmed wholemeal pitta breads

For the dressing 
150g low-fat Greek yogurt
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
100g chopped rocket.

Method 
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Put the chick peas, salt, spiced, garlic, lemon zest, bicarbonate of soda and chopped coriander into a food processor and lightly blend to a coarse puree. 
Wet your hands to stop the mixture sticking to them and shape the mixture into 16 patties. Spray a baking tray with oil, arrange your falafels on top and lightly spray them all over a find midst of oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once.

While the falafels are cooking, make the dressing by beating together the yogurt with the crushed garlic and rocket in a bowl. If necessary, you may need to thin the mixture with a couple of tablespoons warm water to a coating consistency. Serve the falafels inside the warmed pitta breads and top with yogurt dressing. 

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Sunday, 7 January 2018

Feeling Green Hangover Helper

I wasn't hungover when I made this juice, I can assure you. But what I wanted was a green juice which had a caffeine kick and one which would make me feel a little more alive first thing on a cold money. What I found was this refreshing and nutritious green juice from my much loved 1000 juices book. A great way to start the week. 





Ingredients
1 white tea bag
175ml very hot boiling water
2 green apples, quartered
75g piece cucumber
50g fresh spinach
15g fresh mint leaves
1/4 lemon
2tbsp honey
2 sprigs of mint

Method
Put the tea bag in a teapot or heatproof jug. Steep in the hot water for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag; leave to cool.
Process all the ingredients except the honey and mint sprigs through the juice extractor. Pour into 2 glasses, sweeten with the honey and serve immediately garnished with a sprig of mint.

Makes 2 glasses.
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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Pumpkin, Black-Eyed Bean and Coconut Curry

I'm trying to include more vegetables in my diet this January by replacing my animal rich diet with vegetables and attempting to eat more vegetarian based meals. One of my favourite vegetarian dishes is making a vegetarian curry following a fridge raid of vegetables that had a better life but need to be cooked quickly. This recipe hails from my latest addition to my cookbook collection, Fresh India by Meera Sodha. I opted to use butternut squash rather than pumpkin as this features weekly on my shopping list. The rest of the ingredients for this curry, I had knocking about in the fridge/cupboards. What I found really interesting is the use of roasting butternut squash. It made the curry more earthy and as the butternut squash is naturally sweet, there was a slight sweet tang. The curry was moderately spiced, there was certainly a kick to the curry with the use of chilli. I served with coconut flavoured curry with corn (cornmeal based) roti, the recipe is also included in this book.




Ingredients

Serves 4 as a main course
1.2kg pumpkin or squash
1 tablespoon garam masala
salt and black pepper
coconut or rapessed oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 green chillies, slit lengthways
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 x 400g tin of black-eyed beans, drained
150g ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 x 400ml coconut milk.

Method
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6 and line two baking trays with foil. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out and discard the seeds, then cut it into crescents around 2cm at widest part. Transfer to a big bowl, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with garam masala, 1 teaspoon of sale and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss to coat evenly, ten arrange in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes, or until soft and tender.
Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of oil into a large lidded frying pan over a medium heat and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the slit green chilies and the onion. Cook for 12 minutes, or until the onion is soft and golden then add the garlic. Cook for another couple of minutes, then add the drained beans and stir to mix together. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes until soft and jammy around the edges.

Next, add the turmeric, 1/3 teaspoon of black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the coconut milk. Tip the roasted pumpkin into the pan and stir to mix. Cover with the lid and leave to heat through for 5 minutes. Check the salt and chilli, adjusting if you wish, then transfer to a serving dish.

xxx


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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

December 2017 Monthly Eatings

 December was another foodtastic month, I visited restaurants in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury and thoroughly enjoyed the culinary delights.

Bella Italia - Wolverhampton




Westacres - Wolverhampton



House of The Rising Sun - Shrewsbury



Natural Healthy Food - I wrote a review earlier in December 

D'arcys - Ironbridge





Thank you everyone who viewed my blog in 2017, I hope to share more foodlicious treats with you over 2018.

xxx
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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Benefits of Vegetarianism

This is a guest post by Pure Healthy Living.

Discover Why Vegetarianism Is the Way to Go and How You Can Do It. 

Vegetarianism is on the rise, and it's no surprise, considering the health risks that face people in the developed world. Diets that are rich in fat, sugar and highly processed foods are contributing to a number of health issues. Vegetarianism is a winning diet for many because it helps to reduce cholesterol and vegetables are an excellent source of cancer-fighting properties. Vegetarians also receive another benefit from their diets. Vegetables are healthy, calorically dense foods. Eating them a few times a week instead of an animal rich diet, could mean that you eat fewer calories and lose fat. 

With a growing interest for a plant based diet, more and more meatless alternatives come to market, expect the number of first-time vegetarians to grow in 2018. Food choices and access to easy to make recipes are helping more people to make the switch. Another winning idea is using a vegetarian prepared meal service like the one offered by Nutrisystem. That eliminates all guesswork by having meals come directly to you, already made! For people who are looking for the benefits of vegetarianism but aren't committed to learning all the details, nothing could be more natural than a program like this.

There are roughly 400 million vegetarians in the world, and as more people adopt the practice, more choices for food will become available. Check out the supermarket and you'll find numerous plant-based options with only a small bit of searching. Nutrisystem has been offering diet plans to the public since 1972 and has had a vegetarian menu for many years. The program is incredibly simple and involves customers ordering a month's worth of food at a time. There are a few small staple items that people need, but all meals come with the plan. The cost is relatively inexpensive, and the program works for most people because it caps calories and encourages the dieters to count them. Counting Calories Is a Proven Weight Loss Tactic Counting calories and eating prepared meals is one of the easiest possible ways anyone can experience a vegetarian diet. The program eliminates all of the guesswork, and all that remains is to stay consistent. The primary drawback to the plan is that some people may crave more diversity on the menu, but for short-term weight loss, this will rarely become an issue.

Despite all the information and alternative ideas about weight loss, one truth remains. People who cap their calories at a specific intake level lose weight. Nutrisystem diets aim for around 1,200 for a woman and 1,500 for men. That amount of calories is enough for an average overweight person to lose 1 to 2 pounds weekly. If they add exercise, they can reduce their bodyweight even quicker. It's a simple mathematical reality, and Nutrisystem meals are ideal for losing weight. Learn to Love Plant-Based Food Choices Vegetarianism will only catch on with people who enjoy eating the meals. Although people are used to eating meat at many of their meals, substituting the meat for a plant-based alternative is very easy. Once you lose weight using a prepared meal plan like vegetarian Nutrisystem, you will have the knowledge required to eat that way permanently. Nutrisystem works best when you drink large amounts of water and exercise regularly. Hydrating helps flush your body of toxins and eliminates fat faster. Training is the only way to burn excess calories to reduce body fat. Combining diet, hydration, and exercise along with journaling your efforts is a "can't miss" way to drop pounds forever. Plus, Nutrisystem is not a cost deterrent like you might think:  Vegetarianism is practiced all over the world, so there are as many variations to vegetable dishes as there are cultures. People have no problem learning about new recipes and substitutions, primarily if their motivation is the substantial health benefits that the movement offers. Prepared meals are an excellent way to dip one's toes into the water, to see if this way of eating is attractive. Not only will a dieter experience weight loss, but they will also try some meals that could become staples in their diet. There are few reasons to avoid vegetarianism and many strong ones to try it. Whether you're going with a prepared meal program or go it alone doesn't matter. Just stick with the diet long enough to see results and chances are likely you'll continue indefinitely.

xxx
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Monday, 18 December 2017

Review Naturally Healthy Food Birmingham

I'm a self-proclaimed carnivore, I absolutely adore meat: the variety, the different tastes and textures. But for the last couple of years I have tried to eat more vegetarian meals, averaging one vegetarian meal a week. But what about a vegan meal? In all honesty, I don't think I've eaten a vegan meal in my life until I checked out Naturally Healthy Food. I mean a meal without any animal products, no milk, eggs, butter or cheese, what would it consist of. I also thought, how would this taste, would the food be bland and boring or luscious like my favourite meals. 
When the lovely people at Naturally Healthy Foods invited me to check out the brunch menu at the first vegan restaurant in Birmingham, I was intrigued and sceptical. I'm the girl that travelled to Harlem for fried chicken and waffles so how could a vegan brunch compare to that. It's not until I saw a breakfast picture from fellow blogger Nutella Tasha of The Naturally Healthy Breakfast that I was gaining momentum for my visit.


My cousin and I visited and started off our vegan feast with plant based lattes I ordered the beetroot latte £3.95 (beetroot powder, vanilla, stevia, plant milk) and my cousin ordered the chocolate latte £3.95 (peruvian cacao, banana powder, lucama, plant milk). My beetroot latte was luscious, vibrant in colour and rich in flavour, my cousin said she thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate latte.



For our main event, my cousin and I ordered The Naturally Healthy Breakfast £9.95 (scrambled tofu, aubergine bacon, tomato, mushroom, greens, beans, organic gluten free toast, hash browns). I was incredibly impressed by the aesthetic presentation of the brunch. I've tried tofu on one occasion and was disappointed, but the scrambled tofu was surprisingly good, the tofu was lightly seasoned and flavoursome. The hash browns were more like sautéed potatoes, but equally delicious. The whole breakfast was a plate of deliciousness and I'm convinced I ate 5 out of my 5 a day. After a gorgeous vegan, organic, and gluten free breakfast, my cousin checked out the ferro rocher cheesecake which was rich, dark and nutty.






I would definitely visit Naturally Healthy Foods again, it's centrally located and a dining here is a fab way of eating great tasting nutritious and vegan meals.

Disclaimer: I was invited to review Naturally Healthy Food, all opinions are my own.
xxx
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Thursday, 21 September 2017

Green Shakshuka

Cook Love Share is the debut cookery book by the Instagram phenomenon Michael Zee. Although released last August, this blog post is the first recipe that I have shared on my blog from this fantastic book dedicated to breakfasts from around the world. I have actually made many recipes from this cookery book such as the Baghdad Eggs, M'smmen, Dutch Puff and Magic Grits. As an avid breakfast lover, there are so many great breakfast ideas from the UK, to the Far East and South America. This recipe is a twist of the classic Middle Eastern classic Shakshuka. However, instead of using the traditional tomato, this is replaced with green goodness: spinach, kale, mint and leek. If you are familiar with Shakshuka the rich tomato base is replaced with a vibrant, refreshing base of goodness.


Ingredients
200g frozen peas
100g trimmed beans
salt
50ml oil
1 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp cayenne or hot chilli powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 leek, finely sliced
200g kale or spinach
juice of 1 lemon
40g fresh mint
100g hummus
4 eggs
100g feta.

To serve
Olive oil
Za'atar
Toast
Chilli flakes
Avocado

Method
Add the peas and green peas to a bowl of boiling water with some salt. You don't want to cook them too much, just defrost them.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, put in the oil and caraway seed, cayenne, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, then cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced leek and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or until salt.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Add the kale or spinach and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes so that it wilts. Drain the peas and beans and add them to the blender. Add the lemon juice and fresh mint. Blitz until smooth. Put this back in the pan with the rest of the mix and stir well. It needs to be almost like a thick soup. Adjust with water if it's too thick.
Smear the humus on the bottom of your ovenproof serving dish in a thin layer. Spoon in the green mix - it should like a swamp or lagoon. Crack in the eggs, cover with a piece of aluminium foil and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the eggs are set.
Crumble feta and chilli flakes over the eggs and serve with a small side dish of olive oil with za-atar and toasted bread.

xxx
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Sunday, 27 August 2017

Easy Pea Soup

I've been making this soup for a good few months now and am fully converted to the fabulous use of the humble frozen pea. I love the convineance of soup: cheap, frugal and easy to make. I can assure you once you've made your own homemade soup, you will not resort to purchasing the shop brought kind. Fresh peas are in season at the moment, but as I want to eat this soup all year round, irrespective of the weather, frozen peas are my go to key ingredient. This soup is a variant on the classic Pea and Mint soup, but being always hungry and ask frugal, I also added a potato (extra carbs) and the courgette (always in the fridge) to add additional vitamins. If you don't have courgette, swap with green peppers or a handful of spinach/kale - whatever green vegetables you have at home.


Serves 4-6
Ingredients
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves
500g frozen peas
1 large courgette ends removed and sliced 
1 large potato, skin removed and diced
750ml hot vegetable stock
1tbsp lemon juice
3tbsp fresh mint

Method
Pour the oil in a saucepan and cook the onions until they begin to start to brown, this should take 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, frozen peas,  courgette, potato and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potato is soft. Add the lemon juice and mint to the soup mixture and pour into a blender, blitz until smooth. Pour the soup in bowls and serve.

*The soup can also be frozen. 
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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Calaloo and Cheddar Tart

I love calalloo a leafy green leaf, similar to spinach, originating in West Africa and eaten throughout the Caribbean, it has such a robust flavour.  This tart is perfect for the Spring and Summer months and is incredibly light. I love serving this for picnics and al fresco dining alike. Serve with a leafy garden salad.



You will need: mixing bowl, dried beans and  9 inch flan tin
Preparation Time: 10 minutes plus cooling time.
Cooking Time: 45 minutes.

Ingredients
Fry light for greasing
1 quantity of shortcrust pastry or (1 shop brought ready rolled shortcrust pastry)
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 green birdseye chilli, thinly sliced
3 eggs
125 ml semi-skimmed milk
100g mature cheddar cheese
280 g tinned calaloo or (200g fresh spinach,  washed and finely chopped)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Method
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. Lightly grease the flan tin with a couple of sprays of fry light. Lay the shortcrust pastry over a flan dish place a baking sheet with dried beans and blind bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the orange pepper, spring onions and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the 3 eggs, milk and 50g of cheese, until everything is well mixed. Open the tin of calaloo (or spinach if using), place in a colander and rinse.

Remove the flan tin from the oven and remove the baking paper. Add the peppers, spring onions and calaloo in the tart case, try to smooth evenly. Add the egg-milk mixture over the flan tin and top with the remaining 50g cheese. Bake for around 30 minutes on the top shelf, or until golden brown. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

xxx
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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
Ingredients
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)

Method
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. 


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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Spinach and Coconut Dal

I only discovered the diversity of lentils Spring last year. Having only tried lentils once before, in a soup dish, around 15 years ago which I dismissed as bland and dull, I promptly vowed never to try this again. This was until I began to make a number of recipes from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree which I quite enjoyed. I then made Meera Sodha's Daily Dal which was heavenly: soupy, thick and comforting, I was hooked. I've been making my own version of daily dal in now my regular use of lentils, but as with everything in life, fancied a change. That change came way of  the critically acclaimed, Simon Hopkinson Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, which I picked up for the barginous £1 from Poundland. The spinach and coconut dal instantly appealed to me, an aromatic change to my usual dal. The dal is thick and works perfectly with naan bread to mop up it all up.




Serves 4
250g onions peeled and finely chopped 
75g butter
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed, roasted
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds, roasted
4 cloves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp ground turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200g split red lentils
400ml water
400ml coconut milk
3-4 thick slices of fresh ginger, unpeeled
450g fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
250g fresh eat spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped 
plenty of freshly ground black pepper 
juice of 1 large lime 
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 tsp salt

Serve with naan or pitta bread

Method
Fry the onions in 50g of the butter until pale golden. Add the whole spices and half the garlic and continue to cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder until well blended and cook for a couple of minutes Tip in the lentils and add the water, coconut milk, ginger, tomatoes and spinach. Bring up to a summer, add the pepper and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have all but dissolved into the liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat. Melt the remaining butter. When it starts to froth, throw in the rest of the garlic and stir vigorously until it states to take on a little colour, and the butter starts to smell nutty. Immediately tip in the lentils and stir in (there will be spluttering so watch out). Add the lime juice, the coriander, mint and salt to taste. Cover with a lid  and leave to mellow for 10 minutes before serving, remembering to remove the slices of ginger before you do so. Eat with hot and fresh flat bread, such as naan or failing that, pitta bread. 
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