I really like the flavour of satay: nutty, salty and with a hint of ginger and garlic. Quite a lot of the recipes I have tried involve marinating before cooking and frankly, on a weekday when I want dinner in a flash, mixing up a marinade is not what I want to be doing. My satay pork fried rice has all the flavours you’d want from satay, is super simple to make and contains three different vegetables. As it’s a versatile recipe I’ve popped a couple of variations to the original at the end of the post.
Most people would take one look at our barbecue and wonder what on Earth we were thinking when we bought it. As non-seasoned barbecuers we didn’t want to splash the cash and bought pretty much the cheapest barbecue we could find. It’s cast iron, uses coal or wood and has just enough space for food for two or three people and it’s brilliant. Of course, the first ever barbecue was too hot, the second was too cold but we are pros now and not even a bit of rain will stop us.
I love mixing up my own marinades, sauces and spice mixtures to use and my latest invention are these BBQ lamb kebabs. We served them with halloumi and made a sort of Greek inspired pitta. I should point out that I am aware these are not really kebab shaped, they are most certainly burger shaped; but that makes it easier to move them on the grill!
You know when you see a recipe and you can’t get it out of your head? It all started when I saw a recipe for buffalo cauliflower, it sounded so good. Then I saw an idea for some seriously loaded nachos. The combination of the two sounded like a dream. These pulled buffalo chicken nachos are everything I wanted them to be: spicy, slightly sweet, covered with cheese and full of texture. Perfect for sharing on the sofa.
You will need (for two greedy people):
- Two chicken breasts
- 3-4 tbsp buffalo sauce
- 1 bag plain nachos
- 1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
- 4 spring onions, sliced
- 1 green jalapeño chilli, sliced
- 150g mild cheddar cheese, grated
- Ranch dressing
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a little salt. Drop the chicken breasts into the water, bring the pan back to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through.
When you get your hands on some truly spectacular ingredients they don’t need much interfering with. I picked up some sublimely sweet tomatoes and a small burrata at a market recently and I wanted these simple ingredients to shine. My balsamic roasted tomatoes and burrata were served with a warm olive studded focaccia which we enjoyed eating outside for the first time this year. When you’re serving up tomatoes, cheese and warm bread can you really go wrong?
You will need (for two):
- Large handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Small handful fresh basil
- 1 burrata (you could use a good buffalo mozzarella if you can’t get burrata)
- Focaccia (you could use ciabatta instead)
Arrange the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish cut side up. Drizzle over the oil and vinegar and add a little salt and pepper.
There’s a certain time of year where the contents of the veg box are suddenly more vibrant. There’s something red or orange which isn’t a carrot and something green which isn’t cabbage. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a good brassica but when the first spring vegetables come through you know that it’s not long until the spring and summer veg are in full swing. To mark this occasion I made a spring vegetable tray bake; to celebrate all that is delicious at this time of year.
At this time of year I get all the spices out of the cupboard and start to use those that I forgot about over the summer months. I found a tub of my homemade keema spice mix and although I know it’s delicious with lamb I wanted to try and make a veggie version. After trying out a few different vegetables and quantities I decided that I like this version of my vegetable keema rice the best. Not only is it easy and filling, it’s also got four different veg in and loads of texture from that crispy paneer.
You will need (for two):
- Rapeseed oil for cooking
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 dsp keema spice mix
- 125g basmati rice
- 300ml water
- 2 nuggets frozen spinach (about the same as 4-6 tbsp blanched and chopped fresh spinach)
- 1/2 mug frozen peas
For the crispy paneer:
- Rapeseed oil for cooking
- 1 heaped tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Handful mushrooms, sliced
- 225g paneer cheese
Heat a little oil in a lidded saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for around 10 minutes or so until it’s starting to turn golden brown.
Add the garlic and the keema spices to the pan and cook for another minute or two.
Stir the rice into the pan so it gets all coated with the spices then pour in the water with a little salt. Pop a lid on the pan and leave for 12-15 minutes.
After this add the peas and spinach to the rice, stir the pan and then pop the lid back on and leave for another 8-10 minutes.
Test the rice to ensure it is cooked, all the water should have been absorbed by the rice, and add a little more salt if needed.
While the rice cooks you can get on with the crispy paneer. Start by heating a little oil in a non-stick frying pan on a medium/high heat. Add the turmeric and cumin and cook for a few minutes until smelling fragrant.
Tip the mushrooms and paneer into the spices and fry for 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mushrooms are soft and turning golden and the paneer is crispy on the edges. Add a little salt and check the seasoning.
Serve up the vegetable keema rice with the crispy paneer and mushrooms on top.
I really like the combination of veg in this meal. You’ve got sweetness from the onion and peas, a slight earthiness from the spinach and a rich mushroom flavour. By using a spice mix that you’ve already made (and which you can alter to suit your taste) means most of the hard work is already done and you can just sprinkle in those flavours! The crispy paneer is a fantastic way to add texture and it would be delicious to use some marinated paneer if you fancied.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a sandwich. It could be a properly crusty, thickly sliced loaf filled with simple cheese and chutney, a bagel filled with pastrami, gherkins and mustard or some thin rye bread topped with smoked fish and herbs. I don’t think I could ever tire of something that you can just grab and eat with your hands. My salami and mozzarella open ciabatta is just the thing for a simple, no fuss, full of flavour dinner. Don’t tell anyone but I could have eaten all four pieces to myself.
You will need (for two big sandwiches or four smaller ones):
- 1 ciabatta loaf
- Handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil for cooking and extra virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half
- 1 ball mozzarella, torn into small pieces
- 8 slices salami
Start by baking the ciabatta according to packet instructions. Leave to cool before slicing in half lengthways and opening the ciabatta up, then slice it in half again so you end up with four equal sized pieces.
Turn the oven to 220C and put the tomatoes in a single layer in a baking dish. Drizzle over the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add the vinegar to suit your taste, and then season.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes are starting to brown at the edges.
Preheat a grill to medium.
Rub the garlic clove, cut side down, over each open face of the ciabatta. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the ciabatta and then place under the grill for a few minutes until lightly toasted.
Remove the ciabatta and then load each slice up with the tomatoes, salami and mozzarella. Put back under the grill until the salami has crisped up a little but be careful not to let the ciabatta catch.
Unintentionally this reminded me of a pizza and actually, considering how easy it is to make I would definitely try it again instead of a pizza! I love this combination of flavours; sharp and sweet tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and punchy salami. There are so many variations of this that you could make. One I would really like to try would be some leftover griddled aubergine, goat’s cheese and pesto. Or maybe one with figs, blue cheese and honey. Or maybe…
Sometimes I end up with an awful lot of veg in my fridge. I use bits and bobs throughout the week but despite my best brassica consuming efforts I still get left with some of it. These leftovers often end up in a soup (my autumn minestrone is a great way to use kale) but recently I wanted to make something different. I really like green veg with pasta so I grabbed my veggies, some gnocchi and cheese and set about making a gnocchi, kale and spinach gratin.
You will need (for two big portions):
- 1 small broccoli, cut into florets
- Handful kale, stems removed and shredded
- 2 nuggets frozen spinach (you can use cooked, squeezed and chopped fresh spinach instead)
- 500g fresh gnocchi
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- 25g grated Parmesan plus extra for the top
Start by making the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then add the flour. Cook for a minute or two and then gradually whisk in the milk ensuring there are no lumps.
Continue whisking the sauce until it bubbles and becomes nice and thick. Remove from the heat, add a little salt and plenty of pepper and stir through the cheese and mustard.
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add the gnocchi and frozen spinach. Place the broccoli and kale in a steamer over the top of the gnocchi, bring the pan back to the boil and cook for two minutes.
Drain everything well.
Add the broccoli, gnocchi, kale and spinach to a roasting dish. Pour the cheese sauce over the top; it will dribble down and mix into everything.
Sprinkle some extra cheese over the sauce and then place under a medium grill until the top is golden and bubbling.
Some parts of the broccoli and kale get stuck at the top of the dish meaning they catch ever so slightly under the grill and have that deliciously toasted flavour. The crispy cheese topping is so rich in savoury flavour from the Parmesan and the smooth cheese sauce coats everything nicely. And thanks to the short gnocchi cooking time and grilling rather than baking this dish it’s ready in under half an hour. I think a few cherry tomatoes dotted over the top would add a lovely pop and freshness and using a blue cheese or a strong cheddar would be delicious if you happen to have those in the fridge too.
Beetroot has to be one of my favourite root vegetables. I love all the different colours you can get and a recent addition to my veg box was a bunch of golden beetroot. At first I thought about boiling it and mixing it with white wine vinegar and some spices. Then I got to thinking about proper comfort food and a golden beetroot remoulade would be the perfect finishing touch to a rather traditional dinner. A fantastically earthy alternative to using celeriac.
You will need (for a good bowlful of remoulade, enough for dinner and leftovers for the next day):
- 2-3 medium golden beetroot, peeled and grated
- 3 heaped tbsp good quality mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- Small handful parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
Squeeze any excess moisture from the beetroot. Luckily with golden beetroot there are no purple stains to clean off of your hands and the rest of the kitchen when you’re done!
In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise, yoghurt, mustard, lemon juice, parsley and seasoning. Stir everything together well and then add the grated beetroot.
It is important to use a good quality mayonnaise for this for two reasons: firstly, it’s the base of the remoulade so you want it to taste excellent and secondly, you want it to be good and thick otherwise your finished remoulade might be a bit runny. No one wants runny remoulade.
I served my remoulade with some steamed new potatoes which had been covered in butter and fresh herbs, a little rocket salad and some delicious honey roast ham from the local butcher. A little update, or my version of, something that I know my grandparents would enjoy immensely. Simple flavours with a little pepperiness from the rocket, punch from the mustard, sweetness from the beetroot and freshness from the herbs. I can also confirm that beetroot remoulade makes a fantastic addition to a cheese sandwich; preferably one with very strong, crumbly cheddar.
Beetroot is one of my favourite vegetables; it’s sweet, earthy flavour is like nothing else. I like to roast it with other root veg, boil it and add a little rich balsamic vinegar for a simple side or salad and I have tried smoking it on the barbecue in the past too. This latest batch of beetroot however I decided should be turned into a beetroot and feta dip. Firstly because the colour would be glorious and secondly because I wanted something punchy and full of flavour to serve with some delicious sourdough.