Busy Dinners

A new #askmim request appeared in my inbox the other day, this one is from Veena. Ahoy there Veena!

Veena said:

“I’m a fish eating veggie and am going back to a really full on job after having a baby. I want to be able to cook something delicious and healthy when I get home, that isn’t pasta, and doesn’t mean that I spend ages in the kitchen away from my daughter when I should be spending time with her. Any ideas?”

Good challenge. Righteo, I’ve spent some time cooking up a few  ideas this week and come up with 3 tasty new mid-week suggestions for you.

Mackerel Rice Bowl

Easy Mezze

The first was inspired by some of my favourite sushi ingredients. You can vary it too though, tofu would be ace instead of mackerel and any green veg like spinach or green beans could take the place of the seaweed as it can be a bit tricky to get hold of.

Smoked Mackerel Sushi Bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients

75g brown rice (dried or a sachet of microwave brown rice)

chunk of cucumber (I used about 50g)

1/2 teaspoon of finely grated fresh root ginger

2 teaspoons of rice vinegar

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds

1 or 2 smoked mackerel fillets

To serve

1 tablespoon of pickled red cabbage

a handful of dried seaweed (which has been rehydrated in some boiling water – check pack for guidance) or some wilted spinach

Method

1. If you’re using uncooked rice pop that on to boil for 20-25 mins (check the pack for proper timings). If you’re using the microwave kind (nowt wrong with that – check the pack but all they usually add is a dash of veg oil to stop it sticking together) heat that up at the last minute.

2. Next mix the cucumber, grated ginger and rice vinegar together in a nice bowl or soup dish then nudge it to one side to make space for everything else. Pile the cooked rice in down one side, tuck in the mackerel fillets, add the seaweed or spinach then the pickled cabbage and finally sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over the rice. Add a spritz of soy sauce if you like but I’m not sure it’s necessary. Dig in!

Mackerel sushi bowl

Sometimes all I want for dinner is a big sandwich and this one is great as it’s so quick, filling and probably jolly healthy too as the fish is poached gently in water.

Poached Salmon Pittas 

Serves 2

Ingredients
2 salmon fillets
5 black peppercorns

1 tablespoon of Greek yogurt or sour cream

handful of soft fresh herbs (I used a mix of dill and basil but parsley, chives or tarragon would also be fine)

2 wholemeal pitta bread

handful of salad leaves

1/2 punnet of salad cress

Method

1. Half fill a deep sided sauté pan or medium sized saucepan with water and add the peppercorns. Bring to the boil then add the salmon fillets. Turn the heat right down and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through and when you break a piece off the flesh is opaque pink.

2. Take the salmon out of the water with a slotted spoon, discard the peppercorns and leave the fish to rest just while you pop the pitta bread in the toaster.

3. Chop the herbs with scissors and stir into the sour cream or yoghurt. When the pitta is ready, cut a slit in each one along one of the long sides and divide the herby mixture between them.

4. Peel the skin away from the salmon (if it had it on) then gently break the fish into pieces and put them inside the pittas. Stuff with salad leaves, sprinkle in the cress and serve.

Poached Salmon Pitta

And finally a bit of a treat, even midweek…perhaps especially midweek! Pretty much everything on this platter keeps really well in the fridge, so can be hurled together whenever you need a little lift, like your own mini party!

Storecupboard Mezze

Ingredients

1 espresso cupful of couscous

1 tablespoon of light tahini

pinch of smoked paprika

3 mini crisp breads or 1 flatbread of your choice

few olives

few sundried tomatoes

1-2 tablespoons of feta cheese

1 teaspoon of pomegranate molasses

1/2 an avocado

Method

1. Pour the couscous into a heatproof bowl then add 1 1/2 espresso cupfuls of boiling water. Leave to stand whilst you prepare the rest.

2. In a small bowl mix the tahini with enough cold water to make a houmous-like consistency. Keep mixing until it’s nice and smooth then sprinkle the smoked paprika on the top and if you like a little drizzle of the oil from the sundried tomatoes.

3. Once the couscous has absorbed the water, fluff it up a bit using a fork to break up the grains then add the feta and the pomegranate molasses.

4. Pop everything else on a platter and dig in, cold glass of something lovely (alcoholic or otherwise) is a jolly nice addition.

Storecupboard Mezze

Hope you like the recipes, do let me know what you think x

If you would like me to write a recipe for you too or answer a burning kitchen conundrum please get in touch via facebook, instagram or twitter using the hashtag #askmim.

Homemade Pasta

The latest #AskMim request comes from Elaine, hello Elaine! She wanted to know how to make fresh pasta and a good recipe for goat’s cheese & watercress tortellini…no problemo!

fresh pasta

Some of my favourite recipes are so neat, and once they’re in your head they stick there forever, always ready when you need them.

tagliatelle

Fresh pasta is just such a recipe, once you know the formula – it’s with you forever and you can play around with it all you like.

1 large egg + 100g pasta flour = 1 portion of fresh pasta.

(Use grade ‘00’ / pasta flour if you can get it, if you can’t try strong white bread flour or ordinary plain flour.)

Method

1. Tip the flour into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg. Using fork beat the egg into the flour then pop the fork down and get stuck in with your hands. Knead it really well for about 5 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.

2. Wrap the ball of dough up in cling film and leave it in the fridge. It will keep happily in there for about half a day, any more than that and the dough tends to oxidise and you get a grey tinge to the outside which looks a bit dodge.

3. If you want to serve the pasta with something slow cooked like a rich tomato sauce or a ragu, now is the time to get cracking on that.

4. To shape the pasta, press it gently with your hands so it’s like a pitta bread and rub it with a dusting of flour. Set your pasta rollers to the thickest setting on the machine. Run the pasta through twice, rub again with a little flour then switch it to the next setting down. Again run the dough through twice. Keep going, rolling and dusting with flour until you’ve been through all the settings, or until it’s the thickness you want. If you have one, add the cutting attachment for spaghetti or tagliatelle and run it through to cut it up. Alternatively, fold it into a concertina and slice it to get long ribbons of pappardelle or cut into squares with a knife, or circles with a cookie cutter, for tortellini and ravioli. If you don’t have a pasta machine, don’t fret. You can roll it out with a rolling pin (I usually do, I borrowed the pasta machine especially). Rolling it out by hand works fine, but it can be a bit heavy going, especially when you want to get it really thin. 

Homemade pasta

5. Pop some flour (or fine semolina) onto a work surface and toss the pasta ribbons in the flour so that they don’t clump together.

fresh tagliatelle

6. Bop it into a large pan of boiling water, (salted or fling in a glug of olive oil in there if you like) and cook for 4-5 mins or to your liking. Scoop the pasta out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon/pasta spoon, straight into a serving dish or into the pan with the sauce in. A splash of pasta water is good for thinning down a thick sauce that needs a little more movement. Serve straight away.

tortellini making

For the goat’s cheese tortellini

Ingredients

2 portions worth of fresh pasta, as above (rolled out into sheets and cut into squares approx. 7 – 8cm square)
100g soft goat’s cheese
1 clove of garlic, crushed
50g watercress, finely chopped
1 egg
1 tablespoon of pine nuts, crushed
3 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan
pinch ground nutmeg
salt & black pepper

Method

1. In a small saucepan mix all the ingredients together, then cook gently over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring all the time as if you were making scrambled eggs. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, then it’s ready to pop into the pasta.

cheese and watercress filling

2. Place 1/2 teaspoonfuls of the mixture into one corner of each pasta square. Fold the oposite corner over it to seal it in. You might want to use a little water or egg wash to seal it. Push the air out carefully then roll the triangle up twice (like when you roll a neckerchief in the scouts/guides). Turn the parcel over and fold the ends to the middle then to the back, pressing gently but firmly to make sure it’s sealed well.

Folding tortellini

3. When you’ve repeated the process with all of the pasta and the filling, drop them carefully into boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until they’re starting to bob merrily on the surface. Scoop out with a slotted spoon. I like to serve mine very simply with a little more finely grated parmesan and some salt and pepper.

Buon appetito!

x

Goat's cheese and watercress tortellini

If you would like me to write a recipe for you too or answer a burning kitchen conundrum please get in touch via facebook, instagram or twitter using the hashtag #askmim.

Happy Cooking and thanks Elaine for getting in touch. Hope you have fun making pasta. xx

Lazy Carrot & Potato Tartiflette

Tartiflette

It snowed…in London! I’m convinced this never happens, but on Monday night it blooming well did!
I’d been complaining about a headache in the office on Monday afternoon, and threw out a comment that I only ever get headaches like that when there’s going to be a storm…so now my colleague is totally convinced I’m psychic. Before I get taken away for scientific analysis, here’s my recipe for a tartiflette inspired bake that’s going to bring a bit of a ski lodge vibe to your weeknight supper.
It’s so easy (I’ve called it lazy) because there’s no par boiling of the potatoes, or even slicing them, and the bacon goes in raw so there’s no frying either!

Serve with a glass of chilled white wine…I like Gewürztraminer because it cuts through the richness of the cheese and because I really like saying Gewürztraminer x

Carrot and potato tartiflette

Lazy Carrot & Potato Tartiflette

Serves 3

Ingredients

500g of baby new potatoes (I used a mixture of red and white ones but any are fine)
250g baby carrots
6 baby onions or small round shallots
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
25g butter
200g smoked bacon lardons
2 tablespoons of white wine, plus more for drinking if you like, and if you’re old enough of course!
150g – 200g reblochon cheese, sliced
2 tablespoons of crème fraîche

Small bunch of tarragon, chopped
1 little gem lettuce
Baguette (optional)

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 200°c. Peel the baby onions and trim off any roots. Pop them in a large oven proof dish with the potatoes, carrots, garlic cloves, and butter then scatter over the bacon lardons.

2. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally during cooking (oh and if the potatoes start to whistle prick them with a sharp knife, I was a bit worried mine were going to explode so keep an ear out)

3.  When the bacon is cooked and starting to crisp up and the potatoes are tender and it’s all looking generally ace, take the dish out of the oven and with the back of a fork gently crush some of the potatoes. You just want to flatten them a little bit, don’t totally mash them. Now pour over the white wine and season well with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Next lay the sliced reblochon cheese on top and return it to the oven for another 5 or 6 minutes to allow the cheese to melt, and that’s pretty much it.

4. When the tartiflette is ready, add a dollop of crème fraîche and the chopped tarragon. Serve with chunks of warm baguette, put on your slipper socks and relax.

Happy cooking!

What do you eat when it snows? Gimme a shout on twitter or facebook  #askmim

xx

Easy tartiflette

Lazy carrot and potato tartiflette

Pineapple & Coconut Trifle

Vegan Christmas Dessert

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/697/34179854/files/2014/12/img_3330.jpg
The next #askmim request out of the hat was via instagram and from @scratch_london who asked for a “vegan dessert that doesn’t taste like cardboard”.
Well, as it’s Christmas I thought, what’s the least vegan friendly dessert?… I decided it was probably trifle…so I made it vegan! Love a challenge! So after many, many hours of testing the finished trifle is pretty jazzy  – I hope scratch_london approves. It’s got all the traditional layers of jelly, custard, fruit, sponge and booze – just the vegan friendly versions!

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/697/34179854/files/2014/12/img_3334.png

For the base:
50g coconut oil
50ml warm water
100ml vegetable oil
125g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 mashed bananas
125g self raising flour
1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped into chunks
3 tablespoons of dark rum

For the coconut panna cotta:
400ml coconut milk
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon of dark rum
1 tablespoon of agar flakes (if you can’t get these try another vegan gelling agent such as a carrageenan based powder. Make sure you read the instructions on the pack though as the quantities could be very different)

For the pineapple jelly:
500ml pressed pineapple juice
Juice of 1 lime
100g caster sugar
1.5 tablespoons of agar flakes

Decoration:
50g coconut oil
100g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
1-2 tablespoons of coconut milk or grated creamed coconut mixed with water
2 tablespoons of toasted coconut flakes or desiccated coconut

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/697/34179854/files/2014/12/img_3331.jpg
Method
1. Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking parchment and grease with coconut oil. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Whisk the coconut oil in a large bowl with 25ml of vegetable oil and slowly pour in the warm water. The mixture should thicken and emulsify like a mayonnaise.

2. Now add the caster sugar, vanilla extract and the mashed banana and keep whisking until well combined. Then add the flour and remaining vegetable oil. Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in to the middle comes out clean.

3. While the cake is cooking put the pineapple pieces on a baking tray and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes or so or until the pineapple is tender and starting to scorch at the edges.

4. When the cake is ready, turn it out and leave it to cool completely on a wire rack. Then, cut into squares and use to line the base of a large glass bowl. Pour over 3 (or more) tablespoons of dark rum then top with the roasted pineapple pieces- reserving a few pieces for decorating. Set the whole thing aside while you make the coconut panna cotta layer.

5. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan along with the caster sugar and the rum. Stir well to combine then sprinkle over the agar flakes. Bring the mixture to the boil without stirring, then start to stir the mixture until the agar has completely dissolved. Now turn off the heat and pour over the pineapple and sponge base in the bowl. Leave to cool, then place in the fridge to set.

6. When the coconut layer has set make the pineapple jelly. Mix the pineapple juice, sugar and lime juice in a saucepan. Then, as with the last layer, sprinkle over the agar flakes. Heat until boiling, stir and then take off the heat. Make sure the coconut layer is completely cold and set before pouring all the pineapple jelly on top. Let this set and cool, then return it to the fridge one more time.

7. To finish the trifle place 50g of coconut oil in a bowl and gradually whisk in the icing sugar (ideally with an electric whisk). When the mixture is well combined but looks crumbly add a splash of either coconut milk or some finely grated creamed coconut which has been mixed with water. Just add a teaspoon at a time and keep whisking until it comes together to something of a similar consistency to whipped cream.
Either pipe or spoon this at regular points around the edge of the trifle interspersed with the reserved pieces of pineapple. Sprinkle over the toasted coconut flakes or desiccated coconut then dust the decoration with a little more icing sugar. Serve or chill until serving – should keep for a day or so.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/697/34179854/files/2014/12/img_3333.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/697/34179854/files/2014/12/img_3329-0.jpg
Wishing you fabulous festive funtimes!

Big love Mim xx

NEWS
I’ll be taking new #askmim requests in early January so get thinking about what you would like to see and I might end up writing a recipe just for you too! All you have to do is use the hashtag #askmim on Instagram or Twitter. Your request will go into a hat with the others and one will be pulled out at random for me to make. Ask away! x

Red Cabbage Cobbler

Red cabbage cobbler

Hi gang! I’m back writing recipes, did you miss me? :-)

To make up for my extended absence I asked you lovely lot on instagram, twitter and facebook to send me your recipe requests. I picked one at random, out of a bobble hat no less…and the request was for me to “make something veery interesting with Red Cabbage – lots of it!

tweet askmim

 

So, here goes, I hope it’s exciting enough for you N’ham Youth Theatre x

Thanks so much to all of you who submitted ideas – I will be picking a recipe at random again soon so if you would like to put an idea forward please get in touch via facebook, instagram or twitter using the hashtag #askmim – you can also use it for any foodie questions or conundrums you need help with.

Happy cooking xxx

red cabbage cobbler

Red cabbage cobbler

Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients 

1 tablespoon olive oil
20g butter
150g – 200g shallots, peeled and quartered
1 sweet potato or around 200g of diced sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut squash (or a combination)
1 tablespoon of plain flour
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1 red cabbage, about 1 kg, finely shredded
300ml red wine
couple of sprigs of thyme and rosemary (if they’re kicking about in the garden/on the window ledge/at the back of the fridge)
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 heaped teaspoons of cranberry sauce
2 heaped teaspoons of Dijon mustard

For the cobbles

50g butter
200g plain flour
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50g pecan nuts, chopped
100ml milk
lemon juice

Optional extras

100g feta cheese or 6 chipolata sausages
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Chopped parsley

Method

1. Heat the oil and butter in a really large saucepan over a medium heat. Throw in the shallots and fry for 5 minutes so they’re starting to soften. Next chuck in the sweet potato or squash, keep frying for another 5 minutes, then add the tablespoon of flour. Stir in the red cabbage, garlic, juniper berries, red wine and 300ml of water. Mix really well scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure the liquid lifts off all the flavour that’s caught there.

2. Turn the heat down to low and tuck the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and herbs into the cabbage, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 1 hour.

3. Shortly before the hour is up, make your cobbles: Rub the flour and butter together with your finger tips – you know, till it looks all lumpy like fresh breadcrumbs. Add the chopped pecans, bicarbonate of soda, tiny squeeze of lemon juice and season with salt and black pepper. Pour in the milk, stir then knead just enough to bring the dough together into a ball. On a floured surface press the dough flat (about 3cm thick) with your hands. Cut it into squares or triangles or if you’re feeling super fancy use  a cookie cutter to make circles, stars, anything you like.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.

4. When the cabbage is ready either leave it in the pan (if your pan is oven safe) or transfer it to an oven proof dish. Pick out and discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick then stir in the dijon mustard and cranberry sauce, taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly. Top the cabbage with the cobbles, brush them with milk or beaten egg and pop the whole thing in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cobbles are starting to brown on the top and are cooked through.

5. Serve! I had this just with some chopped parsley over the top but have also tried it with some feta cheese crumbled over in the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking then scattered over some toasted seeds before dishing up, which was ace, but would also be smashing with a pile of cooked chipolatas. A green salad with a sharp vinaigrette goes really well with this too.

red cabbage cobbler served red cabbage with pecan cobbles

red cabbage cobbler with feta

Food Safety Week

Summer Roast ChickenIt’s Food Safety Week (16th-22nd of June) and this year the Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants us to stop washing raw chicken. I was invited to a special FSA event to find out why.

My initial reaction to the invitation was highly enthusiastic (I love a good cookery demo) and I was keen to find out more and share my findings here on my blog. But the more I thought about it the more I wrestled with the idea. I have professional experience in two fields; Cooking and Facilities Management (specifically cleaning), which I fear may make me a rather unpopular dinner party guest. Most people both cook and clean to some degree and have learned these skills over a number of years…so probably don’t like to hear that something they are doing is wrong. The difficulty I have is that I need to know the safest way of working and once I know it…well I can’t un-know it.
If you’re cooking in my kitchen I will probably have one eye on what I’m doing and the other on making sure you’ve washed your hands, are using the correct colour coded chopping board/cleaning cloth/utensil for the task and if you so much as think about double dipping you’re out on your ear! Unfortunately for my friends and family I can be a little too eager to share gross food hygiene horror stories.

But this particular campaign isn’t aimed at professional chefs but to anyone and everyone who cooks chicken, especially at home, and the FSA are keen to reach as many people as possible with the message “Don’t Wash Raw Chicken”.

Food Standards Agency Campaign 2014 Campylobacter

The FSA have found that washing raw chicken in your kitchen sink before cooking it increases the risk of contracting campylobacter which is a form of food poisoning. They issued a press release on why they want to increase awareness now:

“The call comes as new figures released today show that 44% of people always wash chicken before cooking it – a practice that can spread campylobacter bacteria onto hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking equipment through the splashing of water droplets.

Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the UK, affecting an estimated 280,000 people a year. Around four in five of these cases come from contaminated poultry. The resulting illness can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea and vomiting. In certain cases, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious condition of the nervous system. At its worst, it can kill. Those most at risk are children under five and older people.”
Food Standards Agency 16/06/14

At the press event the speakers were Bob Martin from the FSA, Professor Sarah O’Brien from the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool and Home Economist Sue Ashworth who demonstrated how to prepare a raw chicken for roasting and whipped up a quick Caesar Salad. Even though we’d spent the morning talking about food poisoning I still managed to scoff a load of Sue’s chicken salad.

Sue Ashworth Home Economist Sue Ashworth Home Economist Sue Ashworth's Chicken Caesar Salad Sue Ashworth's Roast Chicken for FSA Event

I knew that raw chicken was something to be dealt with carefully but I thought that was due to the risk of salmonella. I was shocked to then discover the number of campylobacter cases far outweighs the instances of salmonella, e.coli and listeria put together! The facts kept getting scarier – the amount of organisms you need to consume to become infected is tiny and if you’re unlucky the effects can be horrendous. BUT this isn’t a public health scare. This isn’t like when BSE hit the headlines or Edwina Curie started flapping about eggs. From what I could understand from the data presented; cases of camplyobacter have been steadily high for many years. The FSA seem genuinely committed to bringing these figures down and, as well as this campaign, they are talking to farmers, suppliers and major supermarkets to reduce the contamination at all stages.

FSA Campylobacter Campaign 2014

So, now you know! There’s loads more information, if you want to hear even more grizzly details on the FSA website. All you need to do is tip the raw chicken straight into the roasting tray or frying pan directly from the packet then wash your hands. The bacteria is mostly on the surface and the high heat of the oven or the pan will destroy the bacteria for you…no go tell your friends, preferably at a dinner party so that I’m not the only one!

Summer Roast Dinner

Now for the tasty bit.  If all this talk of bacteria hasn’t put you off your dinner (and I really hope that it hasn’t) I’ve come up with a super simple alternative to a traditional Sunday Roast, perfect for a hot Sunday evening. Everything cooks together in one tray at the same time and there’s no sweating over a hot pan of gravy.

 

Summer Roast Chicken with Watercress

Serves 4

Ingredients
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 baking potato
5 sticks of celery
1 medium sized fennel bulb
1 head of chicory
5 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 eating apples
Salt & Pepper
1 medium sized free-range chicken
1 bag of watercress

For the dressing
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 dessertspoonfuls of olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C then drizzle the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over a large baking/roasting tray.

2. Pick the leaves off the celery stalks (if there are any) and the fronds from the fennel and set aside for using in the dressing.

3. Wash and chop into large chunks the apple (discard the core and seeds), potato (no need to peel it), fennel, celery and chicory. Pile all these chopped ingredients and the garlic cloves into the roasting tray and toss in the oil. Season well with salt and black pepper then make a space in the centre of the tray for the chicken.
Roasting tray ready for the chicken to be added

4. Remove and dispose of all the packaging from the chicken and place it in the centre of the roasting tray, no need to wash the chicken first. Wash your hands in hot soapy water.
Chicken with Potatoes, Fennel, Apple, Chicory, Celery and Garlic ready to be roasted

5. Cover the whole tray in tin foil and roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

6. After an hour remove the foil and use a spoon to baste the chicken in the juices. Put the tray back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

7. Check the chicken is cooked through by inserting a sharp knife or a skewer into the thickest part of the bird. If the juices run clear and the meat inside is opaque white all the way through then it’s ready. If not pop it back in the oven until completely done.
One-tray Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Fennel, Apple, Chicory, Celery and Garlic

8. To make the dressing, finely chop the fennel fronds and celery leaves (reserved from earlier) and add to the zest and juice from one lemon. Whisk the mixture whilst you gradually add 2 dessertspoons of olive oil until well combined, it should also thicken slightly. Season with salt and pepper.

9. To serve, scatter some watercress leaves on each plate, pile the roasted fruit and vegetables on top then add pieces of roasted chicken. Drizzle everything with the lemon dressing and enjoy, preferably outside with a cold glass of white wine.
Summer Roast Chicken

Summer Alternative to Roast Dinner

What are your favourite chicken dishes? Did you wash raw chicken before the campaign started? Do you have any questions on cooking or ideas you want to share? Do get in touch I’d love to hear from you. I’m on twitter as @miriamjsnice and you can throw all your kitchen queries at me using the hashtag #askmim. Alternatively say hi on Facebook or drop me a message via the Ask Mim! contact page.

Happy cooking xxx

Lamb and Vegetable Meatballs

DSC08969

I really fancied making meatballs this week. Mostly because my Dad called me to tell me about some of the delicious meatballs he’s been making from one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks. I was also inspired by the lamb patties we made at Tonia Buxton’s Total Greek Yoghurt masterclass. Normally when I make burgers or meatballs I’m a bit of a purist and like to make them from nothing but meat. However Tonia’s recipe contained egg and breadcrumbs as well as spices and it gave a really nice texture and kept the meat juicy. I used all my breadcrumbs last week for those fish fingers plus I wanted to try something a bit different. So, instead of bread I decided to throw a load of grated vegetables into the mix. This really works because it makes the mixture go a heck of a lot further and I love the little flecks of green and orange running through the meatballs from the courgette and carrot – they look really quite snazzy!

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:
250g lamb mince
1 clove crushed garlic
1 large free-range egg
1 carrot (grated)
1 courgette (grated)
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
Pinch salt

Plus 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil (for greasing the tray)

For the Sauce:
3 spring onions
2 teaspoons of vegetable or Olive oil
1 dessertspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 Clove of Garlic (crushed)
Approx 200g passata
Tea-cupful of water
Handful of sultanas
Salt and pepper to taste

150g of rice
Cold water

Optional: fresh basil, parsley or Parmesan cheese

Method
1) Preheat oven to 190°c and drizzle the vegetable oil on a baking sheet.

2) Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Really get stuck in squashing it all together so all the spices are properly mingled in with the meat and grated veg.

3) Once all the ingredients are really well combined divide the mixture into 10 and roll into meat balls.

DSC089474) Pop the meatballs onto the greased baking sheet and cook in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes or until turning brown on the outside and cooked all the way through.

DSC08948 5) While the meatballs are cooking away stick the rice on to boil. I rinse my rice before I boil it and cook it in a pan with about 2-3cm of cold water on top. I bring it to the boil and then let it stay boiling for about 10 minutes. Then I put the lid on and turn the heat off and let it sit in its own steam for another 10 minutes…but everyone has their own tricks for rice – if in doubt follow the instructions on the pack.

6) So, rice is on, meatballs are in, all that's left now is the tomato sauce:
Chop the spring onions and fry them gently in the oil until they're starting to soften.

7) Stir in the crushed garlic for just a couple of seconds then add the balsamic vinegar, passata and water.

8) Throw in the sultanas and leave to simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 10 – 15 minutes or until it has reduced a little, you want it about as thick as the passata was before you added the water, if not just slightly thicker. Season to taste.

9) When the meatballs are done take them out of the oven and when you're happy with the sauce pop the meatballs into it and give them a stir round to give them a good tomatoey coating.
DSC08956
10) Serve your meatballs and tomato sauce on a bed of rice with a few fresh herbs scattered around or a cheeky grating of Parmesan cheese.

DSC08962

If you make this recipe or any others on my blog do let me know and don’t forget to get in touch too if you have any recipe requests or cooking queries. Love hearing from you all. Have a fab weekend and Happy Cooking xx

Fish Fingers

I must warn you, my reason behind making fish fingers this week isn’t particularly thrilling. I wish I could recount some whimsical, nostalgic tale… or discuss Doctor Who serving them with custard …even explain that I needed comfort food for some sob story or another. The truth is much less exciting. Basically I found the end of a loaf of rather nice black olive bread (which I had left in it’s bag on the kitchen table for a couple of days) and although still perfectly edible, it had become so stale that if thrown, it could probably smash through a brick wall! I hate chucking things away so I thought I’ll make breadcrumbs and that led to FISH FINGERS and here we are. I have decided to share it because it actually turned out to be a lovely, healthy meal made from mostly store-cupboard regulars. The salty capers and gherkins in the sauce plus the lemon juice on the pea salad mean’t that the whole dish is packed with so much flavour I don’t think the dish needs extra salt or butter in the mash – give it a whirl let me know what you think.
DSC08934

Fish Finger Dinner

Serves 2
Ingredients

For the Fish Fingers
2 Fillets of fish (I used salmon)
Approx 50g of stale bread
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

2 sweet potatoes, peeled
2 handfuls of frozen peas
few sprigs of fresh mint
juice of half a lemon
Olive oil

Sauce
5-6 small radishes
2-3 mini gherkins
1 teaspoon of capers
1/2 teaspoon of djion mustard
1 tablespoon of Greek Yoghurt

Method

Start by making the sauce. I must add that I was tempted to call this Tartare Sauce but with so few ingredients in common with the traditional I was worried about getting slammed with the trades descriptions act. It is a bit like tartare sauce…but not really…it does go bloomin’ well with the fish fingers though, honest!
1) Finely dice the radishes, gherkins and capers.
DSC08918
2) Add the mustard and yoghurt to the chopped ingredients and stir well.
3) Pop into the fridge until needed.
4) Next, chop the sweet potatoes into chunks and put into a pan of boiling water. Let boil for 20 minutes whilst you prepare the fish.
5) Cut each fish fillet into thick strips – for the fillets I used I just had to snip them in half with scissors but you could cut them into three if yours are bigger.
6) Put the stale bread into a food processor and blitz to make breadcrumbs. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a grater but it will take ages if the bread is as stale as mine was.
7) Dip the pieces of fish into the flour, then into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. If there are still breadcrumbs left in the bowl after the first dip, pop the fish back into the egg and then in the breadcrumbs again to get them all used up.
8) Place the fish fingers on a baking tray greased with a teaspoon of vegetable oil and put into an oven preheated to 180°C for 15 – 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. 
9) When the fish is nearly ready put the frozen peas into a large heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water, leave to stand until defrosted (around 5 minutes).
10) Drain the peas and add the lemon juice, chopped mint and a splash of olive oil, mix well.
11) To serve, drain and mash the sweet potato and serve alongside the fish, pea salad and the sauce.
DSC08927
What leftovers inspired you this week? Or are you feeling uninspired by your store-cupboard ingredients? Send me a message and I could write a recipe just for you xx

Try Total

On Thursday I was invited to La Cucina Caldesi to attend a cookery class hosted by TV chef and food writer Tonia Buxton and my chums at Total Greek Yoghurt.
I was pretty sure the day was going to be a giggle even before I stepped inside the Italian Cookery School as someone had already mischeviously replaced the word “Italian” with “Greek” on the door.
20140420-124420.jpg
Once in and name badges on everyone started chatting and quickly sharing twitter handles, blog stories and cookery tips. Tonia came round with some fantastic slices of a traditional Easter Breads. I went for a slab of Flaounes which was full of spices, sesame seeds, cheese and dried fruits. It was delicious but turns out quite difficult to eat whilst making foodie small talk. I did manage to have a good chat to someone about barbeques…I don’t think I spat sesame seeds on to him, but if I did, Jonathan, I apologise :-)

Tonia put us all into small groups. I was with Selina from Taste Mauritius, Lucia from Lulabella’s Kitchen, Janey from Slice of Slim and Bailee from The Model Foodie joined us later. These girls are all hilarious and all fantastic cooks so we finished prepping our main course of Tonia’s Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake before everyone else (such swots!).
photo by Satureyes Photography
20140420-124547.jpg
We were so efficient that there was plenty of time for a Team PILE IN pic!
20140420-124600.jpg
Tray bakes safely in the oven Tonia gave us all a glass of rosé and got us to play a round of tsougrisma. Basically everyone gets a boiled egg which has been dyed red and you have to go round the room hitting your egg on the egg of each of the other players in an attempt to crack it and they all do the same to you.  It’s a bit like conkers because the winner is the person with the most intact egg at the end. Tonia won, but she had some clever technique going on so we weren’t surprised.Photo by Satureyes Photography

Eggs smashed and wine dispatched we started prepping our desserts of Anarocrema which is a layered dessert of crumbled filo pastry, a mixture of Total Greek Yoghurt, flavourings like cinnamon or rosewater and a type of cream cheese called Anari (made from the whey from halloumi) then topped with fruits, nuts and more filo. 20140420-124655.jpg

We got into a bit of trouble making our desserts as we kept adding sugar and rosewater to everything…I blame that jolly nice rosé.Photo by Satureyes Photography

Photo by Satureyes Photography

Selina had to leave the workshop early but had the forethought to bring tupperware with her…urm..GENIUS!

20140420-124716.jpg

20140420-124707.jpg

And finally we made our starter of Sea Bream Fillets with capers, garlic, corriander and olives with a Tahini sauce. I loved this dish, it’s full of flavour and I really liked how we all ate it standing up straight out of the pan. 20140420-124729.jpg I had a fantastic day with Tonia, Total Greek Yoghurt and all the bloggers. Tonia is an absolute hoot – as well as enthusiastically jumping into the last pile-in photo she gave me a big chunk of the leftover Flaounes to take home for breakfast the next day! Check out her website for all her foodie happenings! All of her recipes from the day are below but head over to Total’s website for more yoghurty ideas! 20140420-124807.jpg
Hope you all had a fab Easter break xx


20140420-124821.jpg

Φλαούνες
Flaounes 

Makes around 40
Ingredients
For the Flaouna Mixture:

1 kg flaouna cheese
2 pkts hallomi
400g pkt cheddar cheese
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves
1 bottle of mastiki
12 eggs, plus 1 egg to crack and smear over the top of the mixture
1 pkt semolina (small)
2 ½ glasses (500g) plain flour
½ cup sugar (optional, I don’t put in much sugar as I put so many raisins)
20g dried yeast
5 tsp ground cinnamon
1-2 pkts raisins, or to taste
 
For the dough                                                    

1kg plain flour
1 tsp salt            
1 tsp mehlepi
1 tsp ground mastic      
¾ glass (100ml) olive oil          
500g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
3 tsp baking powder  
 
Method
 

  1. First make the Flauona mix. Grate the three cheeses – we usually do this the day before to dry them out.
  2. Chop the mint leaves. Grind the mastic with a pestle and mortar, adding a little sugar to prevent it from sticking.
  3. Crack all but 1 egg into a large bowl and beat, then add the semolina, flour, sugar, mint, yeast, cheese, cinnamon and last but not least the raisins. Mix well with your hands and flatten out in the bowl. Crack on the last egg, smearing over the top of the mixture, leaving to soak in.
  4. Now for the dough. To the flour, add the salt, mehlepi and ground mastic.
  5. Mix using the palms of your hands and add olive oil and the yoghurt.
  6. Slowly add water to make a dough consistency and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Separate into 4 balls, cover and leave to stand for 20 minutes in a warm place.

 
Assembling

  1. Roll out the dough into a square, add a heaped amount of the flaouna mixture, fold into a square around the mixture and press the corners down with a fork
  1. Place the flaouna on a lightly greased baking tray. Glaze with a beaten egg that has had a little sugar added to make it a more golden colour. Make sure the egg yolk does not run as this will make the flaouna stick to the backing tray.
  2. Leave the flaounes to stand for 10 minutes before placing in the oven.
  3. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180°C / Gas Mark 4 for the first 25 minutes or until well risen
  4. Do not open the oven door at all for the first 25 minutes as this will make the flaouna sink.
  5. Reduce the oven to 160°C / Gas Mark 2 for a further 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

 


20140420-124744.jpg 
Greek Sea Bream Fillets with Olives, Capers, Lemon & Yoghurt Tahini Sauce
Serves: 2 or 4 as a starter/meze

Ingredients

4 sea bream fillets (or seabass)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
25g pine nuts
12 Greek green olives (takistès if possible)
1 tablespoon of capers
Juice of 1 lemon
½ x 15g pack fresh coriander, chopped
 
For the Tahini Yoghurt Sauce

1 large tbsp Total Greek Yoghurt
1 heaped tablespoon of wholemeal Tahini paste,
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 large pinch sea salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Cold water to slacken, if needed
 
Method
 

  1. Lightly season the sea bream fillets.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, then add the fillets skin-side down. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the skin is crisp and golden brown.
  3. Turn over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the flesh is opaque and just cooked through. Remove from the pan and place on warmed serving plates.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the garlic and pine nuts for 1 minute, until they start to lightly brown. Add the olives and capers and sauté for a further minute.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Let it bubble for a minute then sprinkle in the coriander.
  6. Mix the yoghurt sauce ingredients together.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the fish and serve immediately.

Lamb Tray Bake 
Greek Lamb Pattie Tray Bake

Serves: 4


Ingredients

100g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
400g lamb mince
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp ground cumin
4 red onions (2 finely chopped, 2 cut into wedges)
Large handful mint, chopped
4 waxy new potatoes, ie charlottes cut into wedges
4 courgettes, halved & quartered lengthways
250g pack midi tomatoes on the vine
2 unwaxed lemons cut into 6 wedges each
4 tbsp olive oil
100g feta cheese, crumbled

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs, the lamb mince, egg, plenty of seasoning and cumin in a bowl.
  3. Add the chopped onion and sprinkle in half the chopped mint. Give everything a good mix and shape into 8 patties.
  4. Lightly oil a large, shallow roasting tray and add the patties.
  5. Place the onion wedges on the tray around the lamb patties with the potatoes, courgettes and tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for around 40 minutes, turning & basting everything once halfway, until the lamb is cooked though and the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the feta and remaining mint.
  6. Serve with a yoghurt and tahini sauce.

Greek Salad

Tray Bake with Tahini and Salad


 
AnarocremaAnarocrema

Serves: 8
 
Ingredients

5 sheets of filo pastry
Olive oil to brush
1 kg unsalted Anari Cheese (or ricotta cheese)
750g Total Greek Yoghurt
 
Toppings

½ glass (125g) caster sugar
1 small Greek coffee cup (50ml) of rosewater
OR
3 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp honey
OR
3 tbsp honey
½ glass of orange blossom water
PLUS
1 glass halved walnuts
OR
1 glass chopped pistachio nuts
1 glass of fresh raspberries
OR
Chopped strawberries
 
Method

 

  1. Cut the 5 sheets of filo pastry in half to make 10 sheets. Place each stack side by side on a baking tray brushing between each sheet with some oil. Bake in a preheated oven (150°C / Fan 130°C / Gas Mark 2) for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool then crush into flakes.
  2. Place the Anari cheese in a bowl, breaking down with a fork. Add the Greek yoghurt & your preferred flavouring.
  3. Cover the bowl and pop in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to firm up.
  4. You need a pretty glass bowl to assemble the dessert, or single sundae glasses.
  5. First, scatter half the filo pastry into the base of the dish, then dollop in some of the cream mixture, layer some nuts & fruit & repeat.

Photo by Satureyes Photography

Recipes by Tonia Buxton and additional photos by Satureyes Photography.

Low Carb Diet

In response to my last blog post (where I offered to come up with dishes to help those on specific diets) I received the following email from a reader: (love the title she’s given me!)

Dear foodie agony aunt, 

I’m attempting a low carb diet and a few days in I’m already running out of meal ideas and I’m starting to lose steam… :(
Criteria:
– I can have meat of any kind, but the leaner the better.
– Eggs
– Dairy (ideally low fat)
– Vegetables
– On the occasions when I eat carbs they should be low GI and very small portions
– Minimal use of oils/fats

Once a week I’ll be having no carbs during the day at all, so those days will be the hardest to vary. What I want to avoid is meals like spag bol but without the spag (where the carb is so clearly missing it’s depressing!).

Help!


Ahoy there Reader!

Thank you so much for writing in :-) Firstly, however I should say that cutting out a food group entirely is not always the best idea, so I’m glad you are permitted to have some carbohydrates in your diet. But more importantly, everyone is different and if you know this plan works for you I admire your determination to stick to it.

Right, now first let’s address the spag situation. Grab yourself a good vegetable peeler – mine is one of those ‘Y’ shaped speed peelers and it was from Morrison’s and cost 80p! It’s one of the best peelers I’ve ever had (and no this post is not sponsored by a supermarket).

1. Using a vegetable peeler create long ribbons – here I’ve used courgettes but carrots work really well too, or a mixture of both is even better!

DSC08589

2. Drop the vegetable ribbons into a pan of boiling water and cook for no more than about 3 minutes.

3. Drain and serve your vegetable mock-spaghetti with your bolognese sauce.

Alternatively make your own pesto.

DSC08605

This is a great way to use up store cupboard bits and you can vary it how you like or to suit your dietary plan.
Here I used a mixture of almonds and cashews, blended with rocket leaves and a little olive oil. I would normally have added garlic but I had to go out that afternoon so I flung a few capers in instead. Olives work well too and a little grated hard cheese…

Basically you need:

– a leaf (basil, spinach, rocket, mint or watercress)
– a nut (pinenuts, brazils, cashews, almonds or walnuts)
– a dash of olive oil
– salt & pepper to taste

Optional extras:
– grated hard cheese like Parmesan, Gruyere, Comté
– crushed garlic
– olives, capers and anchovies
– lemon juice

Blend all of your chosen ingredients together in a blender or smash them up in a pestle and mortor. Taste and adjust the ratio or seasoning as you like, have fun experimenting!

DSC08607

DSC08615

My second suggestion is an alternative to rice. It’s so simple it’s barely a recipe, but it’s super delicious!
All you do is coarsely grate some peeled butternut squash. Then pop it in a non-stick frying pan without adding any oil. Dry toast the grated butternut squash turning it frequently with a spatula so that it can all cook evenly. After about 5 minutes it should be tender but with slightly scorched edges, serve immediately with your main dish. I think this would be delicious with grilled fish and a green salad or with a good spoonful of chilli con carne!

DSC08628

DSC08630
Healthy eating and getting fit can be really difficult. I hope these recipes are helpful and what’s great is they actually take less time to cook than traditional rice or pasta!
I’ve started trying to get fit by doing some yoga and jogging. I’m not fit enough yet to brave the jogging route down regents canal – at busy times it can get quite hairy with Cyclists, Dog Walkers, Joggers and Canada Geese all getting tangled up under a footbridge.
Instead of joining them I’ve cleared a small area of floor space in my bedroom and use an app which shouts out various exercise or yoga instructions! So currently, my idea of a work out is to jog basically on the spot whilst a disembodied voice shouts “almost there” and “you know what to do!”. I normally find this really boring but I discovered that the jogging routine is approx 30 minutes long so there’s no reason why I can’t watch TV or a film to keep me entertained. So last night I jogged to an episode of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle on iplayer! Yay for cardio workout + satire! I felt much better about eating some more broccoli and pepperoni pizza… and a glass of my housemate’s red wine ;-)
x

If you’re stuck for recipe ideas too, please do send me a message via the contact form or head over to my Facebook page.