Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Cake: Part Two 'Wreath Design'

So here it is, Part Two of this years Christmas Cake creation. The presents have been bought, wrapped and placed under the tree, the larder has been stocked and the first Guylian seashell of the season has been scoffed. It was time for one of my last, and most favourite Christmas traditions of the year, decorating the cake. Scan down to the next post and you will see that with the help of Dad (and Delia) I made my first Christmas cake from scratch, so spent a long time deciding on the best way to decorate it, to truly do it justice.

Past decorations have included Santa’s and Trees, Presents and Carol Singers, a classy Candle creation and a slightly less classy Christmas dinner spread. This year I opted for the traditional Christmas Wreath, and went all out buying edible powders, glitters and stars to make it dazzle.

I started by putting a layer of marzipan and icing on to the cake, before creating the holly and ivy leaves by hand, which I painted in situ on the cake.

I created sparkly paint by mixing the gel colours with golden powder, which created a beautiful metallic effect. I then added berries for the holly before rolling out strips of marzipan to create ribbons that appear wound around the wreath and a big bow to finish the whole thing off. 

I finally sprinkled some edible gold stars over the wreath, and VOILA, my Christmas Cake of 2012 was complete.

Wishing all my lovely readers an Exceedingly Happy Christmas!!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Christmas Cake: Part One

Chopped candied peel and raisins, sultanas, currants, cherries and Brandy

I write this whilst watching Home Alone, my first Christmas movie of the year. I don’t know about you but I am fully in the Christmas mood already, my christmas list is written, I’ve loved seeing the lights go up around town, and have thoroughly enjoyed bookmarking recipes in the extra special sparkly December issue of Good Food. Making the all important Christmas Cake was quite literally the icing on the cake. 

Ready to be mixed then covered and left overnight

Last weekend my grandmother celebrated her 80th Birthday, and all the family descended on Bath for the festivities. This was a brilliant excuse for my dad and I to make the Christmas Cake, the first one I’ve ever made. 

Fruit being mixed into flour, butter, egg and spices mix

We opted for Delia Smiths classic Christmas Cake recipe, and I thought I would share with you some snaps of the cake thus far. I must say the baking seemed to go without a hitch, except for the minor panic when we realised we were pretty short on large mixing bowls. 


The recipe was easy to follow, and although I had to get the train back to Brighton before it came out of the oven, my dad assures me it looked and smelt great. 

Ready for the oven

Now its been wrapped up, except for the occasional brandy feeding, until its time to decorate. Stay tuned for Part Two, coming your way in a month or so!! 

All wrapped up for its 4 and a half hours in the oven

Ta Da!!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Chorizo and Chickpea Soup

I am fast becoming a big fan of soup. It’s strange really as I’ve never been big on mushed indistinct food stuffs in the past, but since I’ve been back at university and the weather has turned so cold it’s the first thing I turn to when I’m wanting something warming and packed with lots of good things. I think the fact that I always add a home baked roll with wedges of goat butter into the mix makes the whole thing even more appealing.

That this soup came out so well is a bit of a fluke really. I always like to have a chorizo on the go, it perks up even the most boring of dishes, and the other ingredients were knocking about at the back of the cupboard. The result is a hearty meaty soup with a slight kick, and enough chickpeas to make a filling supper. 

Being a DIY job I’m not ashamed to say that this soup is a work in progress. On its own it’s great, but I don’t think it would hurt too much to throw in some more veg, a little chopped celery or some peppers perhaps.

Serves 2
1 cured chorizo sausage, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
a pinch of paprika
a heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
200g tinned chopped tomatoes
200g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper
small handful basil leaves, sliced into strips
  1. In a large saucepan that has a lid, fry the chorizo on a medium heat until it begins to release its oil and starts to crisp.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, paprika and onion and cook on a low heat until the onion has turned translucent. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the stock and chickpeas and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Season and add the basil, then simmer with the lid on for a further 10 minutes or so.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sweet and Spicy Beef Stir-Fry with Ginger

This summer hasn’t been great. I’m not going to bore you with the details, as this is a cooking blog not a diary. But things are on the up. I started an MA and diploma in Multimedia Journalism this week, and can’t wait to get back into writing again after a 2 month long hiatus. 

I created this recipe forever ago, ready to share with you, but then life got too much and I completely forgot about. Quite how I forgot about it I don’t know, because it’s the most quickest, easiest and tastiest supper. I for one am a great fan of sweet flavours in savoury food, I always order a fruity Chicken Kashmiri from my local Indian takeaway, and scatter extra pineapple over my pizzas. The fresh pineapple used here adds just the right amount of sweetness, complimenting the beef well. 

Serves 2
300g rump steak, thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp rice mirin wine
thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into thin matchsticks
handful of mange tout
4 spring onions, thickly sliced
100g pineapple, cut into small pieces
large handful of beansprouts
coriander leaves, to garnish
rice, to serve
splash of olive oil
  1. Put the beef in a bowl with the soy sauce, sugar, tabasco, vinegar and wine, and marinate for 10 minutes or so.
  2. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan, lift the beef from the marinade and add to pan, searing quickly on all sides, before removing to a plate.
  3. Add the ginger to the pan and fry for a minute, then add the mange tout, before adding the onion, pineapple, beansprouts and any remaining marinade.
  4. Fry on a high heat, stirring constantly. After a minute add the beef and give everything a good stir. 
  5. Serve over rice, and garnish with the coriander leaves. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Healthy Turkey Burgers with Pita, Tzatziki and Salad Leaves

About three years ago I went to university, drank beer and ordered too much takeaway. I started a food blog and became addicted to recipe books and cooking. It was only a matter of time before I needed the intervention of a personal trainer. 

Last week I began a four week programme of exercising with Emily, and a healthy eating plan. Note that this is not a diet, it’s a nutrition plan, which sounds so much more inviting. Well, I’m loving it so far, slightly because I went home this weekend and broke all the rules, but mostly because it tells me to eat more then I usually do. Salads, seeds and oat cakes loom large, but so do lovely fresh vegetables, fruits and protein rich meat and fish. My shopping trolley was looking so good this morning I nearly took a photo of it. I’m not THAT cool though. 

One supper suggestion on the plan is grilled turkey burgers with pita and salad, and the recipe below is my interpretation of the brief. I used extra lean turkey breast mince which contains only two grams of fat, regular lean contains about six, which just don’t cut it I’m afraid. The tzatziki uses low fat Greek yoghurt, and the pita bread is of the extra groovy, crammed with seeds, wholegrain variety. The whole lot’s either grilled or raw. And most importantly, it was delicious and I don’t feel like I’m starving myself. Ben’s even requested it again, the ultimate seal of approval!! 
Serves 2 greedy people, or 4 calorie counters
- For the Burgers -
500g extra lean turkey breast mince
1 onion, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
- For Everything Else - 
salad leaves, I’ve used spinach
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tomato, sliced
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
2 small wholemeal pitas, halved
Tzatziki (my recipe can be found here, use low fat Greek yoghurt)
  1. Preheat the grill. Mix all the burger ingredients together in a bowl, and shape into four burgers. Grill for approximately 8 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through. 
  2. Put together all the other ingredients on the serving plate, and serve the burgers on top, with plenty of tzatziki on the side.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Grilled Halloumi with Fresh Tomato and Mint, served on Pita

There are a few things in life that I really can’t stand, late buses, spitting in the street, exams, that sort of thing. The flavour of raw tomato is another... or so I thought. Ben will tell anyone who’ll listen that I’m one of the most pickiest girls in the world, but really I’m not that bad. I do, however, have very particular requirements on a number of things, coffee for example, and now, it would appear, raw tomatoes. Because, for the first time in forever I ate a raw tomato and didn’t screw my face up at it. Brilliant. Well not quite, the special requirement is that it’s a firm, bright red Greek tomato, preferably eaten next to a pool or by the beach. I had hoped that any old tomato would do, but like good coffee, the alternative really doesn’t come close. 

The tomato in this recipe, I’m sad to say, didn’t quite meet my exacting standards, but I’m pretty sure anyone normal would like it just fine, and placed alongside all the other ingredients this dish is a real treat, simple to make and gorgeously vibrant in colour. 

Serves One as a lunch, or Two as a starter
8 thick slices of Halloumi
half a firm tasty tomato, cut into 8 slices
2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 Pita breads
small handful of fresh mint leaves
a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  1. Place the halloumi slices onto a baking tray or griddle pan (depending on which you have) and sprinkle with oregano and a little olive oil. Grill, or griddle, until golden brown. 
  2. To assemble, place a heated pita in the centre of the plate, and alternate the tomato and halloumi, creating a fan effect around the bread. 
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter with mint leaves. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Courgette Balls with Feta Dip

A couple of weeks ago Mum and I visited the Greek island of Mykonos, for some long overdue rest and sun. I’ve been to plenty of the islands in the past, but I must say Mykonos is probably one of the most beautiful of the lot. It also boasts some excellent restaurants with innovative Greek style menus. Avli Tou Theodori on the beach of Platis Gialos is one such example, and is well worth a visit if you are lucky enough to find yourself in the area. We visited twice, Mum opting for the same starter and main course on both occasions, it was just that good.

Avli Tou Theodori

This recipe is my take on the Zucchini and Tomato Balls served with Fresh Oregano and Feta Cheese Dip, and although I may not have the heat, the beach and the Greek hospitality, the flavours of this dish go a small way to lightening up my little Brighton flat on this most dingy July day. 

Serves One as a light lunch, or two as a starter
-for the courgette balls-
half a courgette, grated, deseeded and strained of excess water
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 spring onion, sliced
thumb sized chunk of feta, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
small handful of fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste
oil, to fry
-for the dip-
a good wedge of feta, crumbled
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
  1. Combine the courgette, garlic, spring onion, feta, mint, salt and pepper, and flour in a large bowl, then add the egg and mix.
  2. Form into three or four flattish balls, and sprinkle with a little extra flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the balls for about 3 minutes in each side until golden brown.
  3. Meanwhile, make the feta dip by mixing the dip ingredients in a bowl and mashing everything together using a fork to create a smooth consistency. 
  4. Serve the balls alongside the dip.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Awards, Awards, Awards

Over the last month or so I have managed to accumulate a few blog awards. I love receiving feedback from my lovely fellow bloggers, so a big thank you to Miss Cakeaholic and The View From the Table for passing on the following awards.

All three (or is it two?!) awards have different rules, but I’m going to accumulate them here in one go... (I hope I’m not breaking any unspoken blogging laws doing this!!)

  1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award and link back to them.
  2. Include the award image to your post. 
  3. Share five random facts about yourself.
  4. Spread the joy by nominating other bloggers.
  1. If you’ve been reading the blog from the beginning you’ll know that I only really started cooking when I was 21. I survived the first year of University on Old El Paso Fajita kits, pasta, and smoked salmon, cream cheese and avocado bagels. 
  2. Winning 800 metres gold at Sports Day when I was 8 years old is my biggest sporting achievement. 
  3. I’m a dog person. Up until recently we had two French Bulldogs at home called Flo and Spike. When I have my own house I would love to have another. 
  4. There are too many countries I want to visit in the world, but the top three would have to be Vietnam, the USA, and Russia. 
  5. I know every word of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem Jabberwocky.

Rebecca at Chow and Chatter

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Oven Cooked Pork and Fennel Risotto

This week I bought a coat... in June... JUNE. So excuse me while I share with you a recipe that isn’t particularly seasonal. I’ve been resorting back to my more wintery repertoire of warm and comforting suppers, as when the rain is driving against the window and wind is fluttering the roof tiles, I can think of nothing better then standing over a simmering pan for an hour or so. Of course, I’d love to be marinating copious amounts of meat in preparation for an upcoming barbecue, but this evening an oven cooked risotto seemed more appropriate. 

The first risotto I ever made was cooked in the oven rather then through the traditional method of adding stock slowly to the pan and stirring. I will admit that the traditional method does allow for little more control over the level of bite that you’re after, but when you want something that you can throw in the oven and forget about, then this is the risotto for you. 

Fennel and pork is a classic combination, and here I have coupled thin slices of fennel with both crumbled sausage meat, which adds texture and meatiness, and chunks of chorizo, which brings a punch of spice along with the Tabasco. Overall, the risotto is sweet and satisfying, with hints of aniseed, spice and porky-ness. If it’s not too naughty, or if you’re splitting the recipe to serve four rather then two, a wedge of crusty bread to mop up the sauce would be lovely. 

Serves 2 greedy people 
a splash of olive oil
4 sausages
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
a few drops of Tabasco
an inch or so of spicy chorizo sausage, chopped
150g arborio rice
large glass of white wine
roughly 200g of passata
250ml chicken stock 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large pan that can go in the oven, and that has a lid. Remove the sausages from their skins and crumble the meat into the pan. Be sure not to allow the meat to burn. 
  2. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, two thirds of the rosemary, Tabasco and chorizo, stir and fry for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the rice, then add the wine, passata and stock. Stir and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Put the lid on the pan, put it in the oven and cook for 20 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
  5. Serve with a sprinkling of the remaining rosemary. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Garlic Prawn Salad with Feta and Parsley

No blog silence apologies from me, suffice to say I finished my degree. Enough said. 

As Summer supposedly draws closer (I missed the mini heatwave due to aforementioned finished degree) thoughts inevitably turn to lighter dishes, fish, salads and picnics, that sort of thing. This dish ticks all the boxes, being light (but bready too to keep Ben full) and reminiscent of the smells and flavours you might expect to encounter outside a Spanish cafe. It’s really simple to make too, so would be a good option for feeding a crowd. 

My best cooking buddy Rose and I originally made a variation of this after trawling through my ever growing collection of cook books for something ‘light and prawny’. We were very pleased with the results, but felt it could do with some tweaking, namely the addition of  the wine, which I think adds a depth of flavour, and slightly less feta, which was a little overpowering to the delicate flavours of the rest of the dish first time round, although the more you add, the more deliciously creamy the sauce will be..

Serves 2
Pack of cooked and peeled King Prawns
Good wedge of butter
half a red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2/3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
large handful fresh parsley, chopped
75g Feta, crumbled
juice of a lemon
a small glass of white wine
Salad leaves
some crusty bread
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the prawns, chili, garlic and parsley, before sprinkling over a little salt. Stir to coat the prawns.
  2. Add the lemon juice, wine and about half the feta, and leave to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Just before serving crumble in the remaining feta. 
  4. Serve on the salad leaves, pouring over all the delicious sauce, which can then be mopped up by the crusty bread.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Gnocchi Bake, with Loads of Veg

I may have been off the blogging radar for a while, but I do have a pretty good excuse; I handed in my two dissertations on Monday. The culmination of a good two months of work, I can’t say I wasn’t happy to see them go, but now I have no excuse not to do revision for the exams I have in the coming weeks, which to me is a far less appealing prospect. Not to worry, it’ll all be over on the 1st of June, when regular blogging will resume. In the meantime, I’m not cooking that much, let alone blogging about new recipes, so you’ll have to make do with this delicious Gnocchi Bake, which has been my go to supper following a long day in the library. 

The origin of this recipe comes in the form of the Good Food website, but from these beginnings it has slowly evolved to include whatever I might have in the fridge, extra mozzarella, and as many different vegetables as is humanly possible to cram in a pyrex dish. 

And the results? Really tasty comfort food, with plenty of vegetables to make it healthy, and the same again of delicious pools of mozzarella to cancel all that out. 

Serves 2/4 (depending on greediness)
1 tbsp olive oil
500g pack of Gnocchi, cooked according to packet instructions
1 leek, sliced
a good handful of mushrooms, chopped small
1 onion, chopped small
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 courgette, chopped small
1 carrot, chopped small
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped small
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano
handful of basil leaves, torn, plus more to garnish
1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan, then soften the onion, mushrooms, leeks and courgette. After around 5 minutes, add the carrot and pepper, and then the chopped tomatoes. Add the gnocchi and stir.
  2. Season, add the oregano, stir through the basil, and pour into an ovenproof dish. Push half the goats cheese into the mixture, and then scatter the rest on top. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, until the mozzarella is bubbling and golden.
  3. Serve with a scattering of basil leaves. 

Monday, 30 April 2012

Raspberry Layer Cake with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

It was one of my best friend Maddy’s 22nd Birthday on Saturday, and I knew I just had to make her a cake to celebrate. I opted for a Raspberry Layer Cake with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I had made Swiss Meringue buttercream before, for Ben’s Rainbow Cake, and knew I had to try it again; it's honestly like eating a cloud. 

I weighed out the cake batter, splitting it three ways to make a slightly taller cake, and then sandwiched each layer with a little raspberry jam, the buttercream and a sprinkle of fresh raspberries. On top I plonked a good layer of buttercream, and then covered it entirely with fresh raspberries - mostly because it looked pretty, but also because my buttercream didn’t go exactly to plan. Last time I made swiss meringue buttercream with Rose it went perfectly, but this time it just didn’t really do its thing. First, it went a little soupy, so I popped it in the fridge, but then it went a little lumpy, so I whacked the KitchenAid up to high speed and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come together, so I gave up, added a little seedless raspberry jam, and went with it. It tasted perfect, and that’s the most important thing, and once I’d added the fresh raspberries it looked pretty good. And so the Rustic Raspberry Layer Cake with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream was born. 

So much cake.
Fast forward to the party, and Maddy got to blow out the candles on not one but two Birthday cakes, her lovely boyfriend Tony bought a deliciously decadent brownie cheesecake from the Hummingbird Bakery. It was a fabulous night, filled with far too much cake and wine, so Thank You Maddy, and Happy Birthday once again!!

Adapted from Good Food
-For the Cake-
4 eggs
225g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
225g butter, at room temperature
Loads of fresh raspberries
1 tbsp raspberry jam 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the bottom of 3 20cm cake tine (if you only have two like me, you might have to do this in stages).
  2. Mix all the ingredients together until combined, but not over-mixed. It should drop off the spoon easily. 
  3. Divide the mixture between the tins. I did this by weighing the mixing bowl empty and then with the mixture. I minus-ed the bowl weight from the other weight and then divided by three. 
  4. Place the tins on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for about 25 minutes until the cakes are golden brown and coming away from the edge of the tin. Press gently to check they spring back.
  5. Leave in the tins for 5 minutes, then ease the cakes out with a palette knife. Cool on a wire rack, and make the buttercream (see below).
  6. Place one of the cooled cake on to a plate, spread over some jam, then buttercream, and sprinkle over some fresh raspberries. Repeat this process once more, and then on the top layer, just smooth over the buttercream, and cover with more fresh raspberries. 
Adapted from Whisk Kid 
-For the Buttercream-
300g caster sugar
7 egg whites
381g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small cubes
1 tbsp seedless raspberry jam
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the egg whites and sugar, whisking constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. To check this, rub some of the mixture between your fingers, it should be completely smooth.
  2. Pour into a bowl, a stand mixer works best, and whip on high speed. Then, on a low speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is combined with the mixture before adding the next one. 
  3. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, then add the jam and beat to combine. 
If you have issues with your buttercream like I did on this occasion, check out Whisk Kids excellent guide to Swiss Meringue Buttercream HERE

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Mini Greek Style Spinach and Feta Pies

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you may have noticed that I have a pretty serious love for the Greek Islands. I love the landscape, the weather, the people and of course the food!! Deliciously simple and fresh, Greek cuisine echoes all the things I Iove about the country, and although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to recreate the feeling of sitting in a sun drenched taverna by the sea, I’ve done my best here. 

The day before I left to go home for the Easter holidays I had an epic cooking session, making the Marathon bars from a few posts back, a healthy seed filled brown loaf, as well as a huge Greek themed feast. This consisted of a starter of homemade tapenade and tzatziki with Mini Spinach and Feta Pies, followed by a main of Chicken Souvlaki and Herby Lemony fries, and finally a dessert of Baklava. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the dessert, the first two courses were too filling for me that day!!
Chicken Souvlaki with Lemony Herby Fries

For the Spinach and Feta Pies I scouted around the internet searching for the general components of this Greek classic. Generally made into one big round pie, I decided to adapt the recipe to make more manageable mini pies, that wouldn’t look out of place at a dinner party. These pies are hugely simple to make and although the filling is made up of only three ingredients, they are fabulously tasty. Sometimes simple really is best!! 

Makes 4 mini pies
150g spinach leaves
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
approx. 1/2 250g pack filo pastry
  1. First prepare the spinach by wilting in a large pan with a couple tablespoons of water. Leave to cool in a sieve before roughly chopping. Place in bowl with the cheese and beaten egg, and mix well.
  2. Unroll the pastry carefully, and cut length ways down the middle, and then into squares (approximately six per sheet, they should be about 15cm square). Brush each square liberally with olive oil. Drape oil side down into the muffin tin compartments (I used four compartments spaced away from one another to ensure there wasn’t overlap), push the pastry down carefully so that they line each compartment, and then repeat the process until you have 3 or 4 layers of pastry in each compartment. Spoon over the filling, and then place one further square of pastry on top. Pull the pastry up around the filling, and scrunch together to make a pie. Brush the tops with a little more oil.
  3. Heat oven to 180C. Cook the pies for around 30 mins until the pastry is crispy and golden. Serve with salad and tzatziki. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Whole Sea Bass with Roasted Fennel and Salsa Verde

Yesterday, Ben ran 26.2 miles for Hope and Homes for Children. So far he has raised £351.20, much more then expected, and he is a very happy, if a little sore, boy. I am a very proud girlfriend too!! As a big well done I decided to cook one of Ben’s favourites, Sea Bass. 

The inspiration for this dish comes from the Circus Cafe and Restaurant in Bath, where I have worked as a waitress off and on for around 4 years now. They serve a fish special each day, and over Easter one such special was fillets of Sea Bass served with Salsa Verde and Roasted Fennel. I decided to recreate this deliciously fresh and tasty flavour combination, baking the fish with fennel, black olives and lemon, before drizzling over my take on the herby and slightly acidic Salsa Verde.

-For the Fish and Roasted Fennel-
2 small sea bass, descaled and gutted by the fish monger, and rinsed and dried
1 fennel bulb, sliced
a handful of black pitted olives 
1 lemon, sliced
a handful of fresh basil leaves 
Olive oil, to drizzle
-For the Salsa Verde-
large handful of flat leaf parsley
large handful of basil
tbsp capers
6 anchovy fillets
clove garlic, peeled and chopped
tbsp lemon juice
dessert spoonful of white wine vinegar
large glug of olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Stuff the sea bass with half the sliced fennel, lemon, and some of the basil. Scatter the rest of the ingredients in a roasting tin, then place the fish on top. Season the fish with salt and pepper and drizzle over some olive oil. 
  2. Bake for around 30 minutes, until the fish are cooked through and starting to brown. 
  3. Whilst the fish is cooking, make the Salsa Verde. Chop large handfuls of parsley and basil, add the capers, anchovy fillets, lemon juice, garlic and white wine vinegar. Add a large glug of olive oil, and blitz to make a sauce (alternatively, if you do not have a mixer you can chop everything up finely and mix by hand to make a coarser salsa verde).
  4. Serve the fish, fennel, olives and lemon on a plate, and drizzle over the salsa verde. 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Marathon Bars

So, firstly for a little blog upkeep. I have been a terrible blogger over the Easter holidays, but I hope that you all had a most wonderful time over the the last few weeks. This year I partook in not a single bit of Easter cooking, and I blame my blogging silence entirely on being home and waitressing. 

However, before I left for home I did manage to leave Ben some carb ridden treats to keep him going in my absence. The Brighton marathon is very nearly upon us, tomorrow in fact, and Ben has been consuming an insane amount of calories (this evening he ate a steak the size of my face, a copious amount of potato, and still has porridge to go before bed time). I decided to make him some nutty oaty bars, or as I like to call them Marathon Bars, to help keep his energy up during long training sessions. These bars are crammed full of tasty nuts, seeds and dried fruit, providing all the right vitamins and nutrients for those with the most active of lifestyles, and they taste very tasty too. 

Seems like I might be making a lot more of these bars in the future, as I too have caught the exercising bug, I now go to the gym (Shock Horror). Any excuse to eat more baked goods!!

175g honey
100g soft brown sugar
100g crunchy peanut butter
125ml sunflower oil
150g porridge oats
75g dries blueberries
60g mixed seeds
50g peanuts
  1. Line a square tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 160C.
  2. Warm the sugar, honey, peanut butter and oil in a pan, stirring constantly until combined.
  3. Mix all the remaining ingredients together in a bowl, and pour over the honey mixture, stirring well.
  4. Press into the tin and bake for around 25 minutes until the top is turning golden. 
  5. Cut into bars whilst still in the tin, leave to cool completely, and then turn out and slice.
Thought it might be worth adding the link of Ben’s JustGiving page to the end of this very much marathon related post. Ben is raising as much as he can for the brilliant UK based charity Hope and Homes for Children, which moves children out of orphanages and institutions in Central and Eastern Europe and into the loving support of a family. If you could make any donation at all it would be most appreciated. Visit Ben’s page here. THANK YOU!!

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Simplest Salad

Spring has officially sprung in Brighton!! And with this glorious change in weather comes the inevitable healthy eating plan, in the vague hope that I may become ‘beach ready’ for Summer. Not only that, Ben is training to run the Brighton Marathon on the 15th April, and cramming in as much carbohydrates into each meal as is humanly possible. Not so great when I’m cutting down on carbs, but I have been managing to create healthy oven baked fish or chicken and steamed vegetable themed meals, with added carbs for Ben on the side. Delicious yes, but pretty boring blog material. 

Up until relatively recently I was not a fan of salad. This was until I holidayed on the Greek island of Alonissos. Up in the chora of the island are some fantastic restaurants including one that made just about the best spinach salad ever. Consisting of lardons, egg, crisp spinach and a deliciously acidic dressing, that salad was just.. amazing, and I am so thankful to have found it and realised that salad actually isn’t that bad. 

Here is my salad of the moment, all the ingredients can be swapped for whatever you have in the fridge, the dressing is fabulously versatile. I would, however, always include the egg and avocado, as I think they are delicious in salads. 

Serves One
Salad leaves (I use Sainsbury’s Bistro Salad)
3 Falafels (I use Cauldron Falafels)
1/2 avocado, peeled and sliced
a handful of thinly sliced chorizo sausage
1 boiled egg, peeled
1. Put all the ingredients together in a bowl.

- For the Dressing - 
3 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard 
a shake of dried oregano
a few splashes of Maggi seasoning
1. In a clean old jam jar, shake up all the ingredients to make a thick dressing. Check the flavour and drizzle over the salad.

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