Busy Dinners

Cooking, Recipes

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


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


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

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


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


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


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.

Healthy Resolutions

Cooking, Recipes

Ahoy there team!
How are the New Year’s Resolutions going? I can’t even remember what mine were and it’s only just the end of February! If you’re still on a health kick, nice work! Whether you’re doing it to shed a few seasonal pounds, avoid foods which aggravate your system or alleviate an underlying health issue it’s always difficult to break old habits and stick to new ones.

In this blog post I wanted to write a recipe for some of my favourite people who are on a strict plant-based and whole-food diet. The recipe I’ve chosen is for bulgur wheat and salsa wraps which really super easy are great for sharing. They’re based on fajitas but instead of sour cream I’ve used tahini sauce and instead of cheese there are tasty toasted pumpkin seeds. Use shop bought whole wheat tortillas or make them yourself from whole grain spelt flour.

Spelt Flour Wraps

Bulgur Wheat and Fruit Salsa Wraps

The process of piling in as much of each of the fillings as you like is fun and I hope feels more like a treat and less like a diet food.


1 red chili
1 apple
2 tangerines or other small oranges
Small bunch of coriander
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

1) Finely chop the chili, apple, tangerines and coriander and put everything into a large bowl or serving dish.
2) Pour over the lemon juice and season well with salt and pepper.
3) Stir well and put into the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

Bulghur Wheat

Bulgur Wheat
4) Put 1 cup of bulgur in a heatproof bowl.
5) Add 1.5 cups of boiling water, cover and leave for 15-20mins or until all the water has been absorbed

Tahini Sauce

Tahini Sauce
3 teaspoons light tahini paste
6 teaspoons of water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

6) Mix the tahini and water together until the mixture is the consistency of thick cream. Add the cumin and stir well, add a splash more water if needed.

Lettuce, Pumpkin Seeds, Lemon and Avocado

To serve
1 little gem lettuce (shredded)
1-2 Ripe Avocados (sliced)
Lemon wedges
Pumpkin seeds (toasted)

7) Load up your own wraps and dig in!     Help Yourselves!

DinnerAdding Lettuce Ready to roll Finished Wraps More SalsaDesserts are often off the menu when you’re trying to stick to a healthy plan, but I’d find them super hard to give up entirely.
My favourite discovery is this banana ice cream, it’s made with blended, frozen bananas and that’s it! Genius! It really does end up like a premium ice cream but with the calorie count of, well…a banana!
And it doesn’t end there. Missing pastry? Try using ripe avocado instead of butter in your shortcrust recipes. Ok, so it doesn’t come out as crisp and rich but it’s not half bad. I made a sweet potato pie with avocado pastry recently and served it with banana ice cream and a cheeky drizzle of maple syrup! Yummers!

Sweet Potato Pie

I would absolutely love to hear from you about healthy eating and special diets. What foods are you currently avoiding? Send me a message in the comments box or via the contact page and I may be able to write a brand new recipe for you too.

Have a super weekend x

Say it with Cake


First, an apology. I promised a fellow Platter user that I would post my Avocado & hazelnut cakes recipe following this picture but I completely forgot! Sorry.

Chocolate, Avocado & Hazelnut

Chocolate, Avocado & Hazelnut Cakes

Follow Delia Smith’s all-in-on sponge recipe but replace butter for the same weight of avocado (which you blend to a smooth purée) and a heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder. Spoon into bun cases and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
The quenelle-like piles of icing are made from ground hazelnuts, a tablespoon of cocoa powder and it’s sweetened with a tablespoon of golden syrup and about 20g of butter….or you could just use nutella!

This week has seen much more cake than a few chocolate buns. Right now it appears to be everyone’s birthday! Ok, well not quite everyone but 3 very lovely ladies I know.

Cinnamon Buns

First it was Ruth’s turn (who I met through Richard when they performed together last year in Othello at the Rose on Bankside) and a surprise brunch birthday party. I knew there was going to be a birthday cake there but I still felt I should bring something to the table. In times of brunch, bread based products are always a winner and if a culinary question is ever bread related I expect Dan Lepard will have the right answer. So, I made his Cinnamon Buns and they turned out wonderfully- thanks Dan!!

Cinnamon Buns

Have a go at them too, I highly recommend it: Dan Lepard’s Cinnamon Buns Recipe

Set Design Cake

That same day, straight from the surprise brunch we hopped over the Thames to see Rhodora (my stylist!) and celebrate her birthday too. She’s all about the stage management right now, so it was obvious to us that she needed to have a set design cake!

Photo 25-11-2012 16 19 07

Photo 25-11-2012 16 15 04The base is chocolate fudge cake (recipe from Victoria Glass) and then the icing is Mary Berry’s Sacher Torte topping (including the apricot jam) . The flats were made from chocolate and chocolate fingers and the backdrop and proscenium arch are made from the ginger bread husbands recipe in this book from the Ritz Hotel.


Stained glass using boiled sweets
Photo 25-11-2012 16 57 39

Word of warning; if you want to make the cinnamon buns and the theatre cake one evening, just so you know, start early. We didn’t get to work until go 10pm so it was getting on for 2:30am when we finally hit the hay.

Colouring-in Party

No time to rest, the next day was Helen’s birthday! Helen is an animation director, so a slice of sponge cake and a DVD just wouldn’t do. So I made her a woodland colouring in party! First I decorated our living room using tissue paper and branches from the garden. I made some cardboard owls and then I painted trees onto disposable paper tablecloths with black poster paint and stuck them on the walls.


silver birch tree

Next I drew some woodland creatures onto white plates using these pens which become dishwasher safe if baked at 170C. Hurrah. For dinner I poached chicken, mashed potato and steamed some cauliflower so that the meal would be comprised of white food. I did this so that she could colour in her meal with a palette of sauces.

Photo 26-11-2012 20 33 23Photo 26-11-2012 20 01 41Photo 26-11-2012 19 24 45

It sort of worked and tasted pretty jolly, even if it looked a little bizarre! The sauces I made were (clockwise from top to bottom) Beetroot & Cream Cheese Purée, Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, Spiced Carrot Purée, Saffron Mayonnaise, Salsa Verde and Black Olive Tapenade.

I felt she hadn’t worked quite hard enough for her meal so she had to colour in the leaves on her birthday cake too!

Helen in icing mode

Finished Cake

Happy Birthday Everyone!

Me & Helen, and some Owls!

Yoghurt, Smoked Salmon, Prawn & Avocado Parcels

Events, Recipes

If you find yourself here chances are you’re on the Total Greek Yoghurt Treasure Hunt, welcome intrepid explorers! Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?! Bravely sailing the seven seas for your fortune in gold and jewels, with untold dangers over the crest of every wave! I can almost taste the excitement!

But online treasure hunts are good too…
This recipe is one of 30 being published across the blogosphere! The more you find the more chances you have of winning. The prize is for this is fantastic; ok so it’s not doubloons, but it certainly is the culinary equivalent; £800 worth of kitchen equipment chosen by chef Paul Merrett – I’ve met this guy, I’d totally trust him to pick me out 800 squids worth of cookery kit, I’ve seen him make couscous out of cauliflower; he’s alright.

When Total asked me to select a recipe from their 1000 strong list I picked this recipe, simply because I love smoked salmon, I think I could actually eat it all day everyday and not get sick of it.

My trusty recipe testers; my boyfriend Richard Kieß and the awesomeness that is my friend Helen Piercy were tasked with creating a set on which the finished dish could be photographed. They had about 10 minutes and could only use what they could find in our studio.
Here they are at work:

Yoghurt, Smoked Salmon, Prawn & Avocado Parcels


250g TOTAL Greek Yoghurt

1 avocado, skinned, destoned & mashed
100g cooked prawns, chopped
Squeeze lemon juice
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
4 slices smoked salmon


1. Mix half the avocado and half the yoghurt together and put to one side.
2. Mix the prawns, remaining avocado and yoghurt, lemon juice and parsley together.
3. Overlap two slices of salmon, and fill with half the prawn mix. Wrap into a parcel.
4. Repeat for the second parcel.
5. Serve with the avocado yoghurt dip on the side.

When I made mine I laid the salmon flat on a sheet of clingfilm, placed a spoonful of the prawn mixture in the centre, gathered the salmon over it and then twisted the cling film around it to form a sphere. I let them rest for a few minutes in the fridge before unwrapping them and flinging them on a plate with the avocado dip and some fresh watercress.

Top tips: only use the leaves of the parsley in this recipe; stalks can be a bit hard and woody.
Instead of prawns why not experiment with some poached trout or salmon.

These do taste brilliant, and so simple and quick! They definitely make an impressive, easy starter.
You would be forgiven for mistaking the filling for cream cheese but with a truck-load less calories, plus I think the avocado dip would be brilliant with other things too; spread on toast with some sliced radishes, served alongside some poached fish or used as a dip for fishcakes.


Total Greek yoghurt have pulled out all the stops to come up with 1000 recipes using their product. Total is the only authentic Greek yoghurt on sale in the UK. Because it is made in Greece in the traditional way it is much thicker and more robust than Greek-styled yoghurt, this makes it ridiculously versatile and can easily become a super substitute for many recipes calling for cream, cream cheese, crème fraîche, bechamel sauce, sour cream or natural yoghurt.

A few months ago I produced a dessert designed to celebrate their 1000 recipe collection and their corresponding Facebook app but I am very happy to be taking part in their treasure hunt and wish you loads of luck in finding the other recipes!

We have hidden away 30 TOTAL recipes on 30 different food blogs across the web. Can you find them? If so, you are in with the chance of winning Paul Merrett’s Ultimate Chef’s Kit, worth over £800. On the tab you’ll find clues leading to 10 of the hidden recipes and over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting additional clues on our timeline to help you find the final 20. The more recipes you find, the more times your name goes into the draw and the more chances you have to win! The recipes are part of our brand new recipe collection 1000 Ways to Love your TOTAL



I’ve been having some pretty loopy mood swings lately. This might all be fun on a good day but heaven help anyone who speaks to me on a bad one. Turns out, my whole body is in a spot of bother and it appears that if I don’t do something about it now my health could really suffer.

Sugar has been deemed the biggest villain here and has been banished from my usual diet until further notice. White flour, white pasta and rice have been shown the door. In their place come whole-meal and whole-wheat counterparts. This isn’t a diet. I have never properly been on a diet. (Although I did once spend a week eating special K for breakfast and lunch. This sounds like I was successful until you factor in that I was meant to do it for a fortnight! Oh, and another time I tried to cut out carbohydrates and fruit but that lasted as long as it took me to realise I’d just made a batch of soda bread).

This no-sugar-more-wholemeal-plan is a change in eating habits that I need to make permanent. I eat quite healthily most of the time but I am prone to having huge sugar cravings. I can easily bake a batch of fairy cakes and eat the lot. This doesn’t sound catastrophic but these sugar hankerings have been getting progressively worse.

If the only result of my heavy sugar intake was a little weight gain and furry teeth then I could live with that but in my case even a small increase around my waist throws my hormones into a right muddle. In a funny sort of way I hope I stay scared about this for a long time, or at least until I have settled in to an almost sugar free world and begin to feel a few benefits.

After glancing over a few books, doing an online search and chatting over coffee with sympathetic friends I gleaned a lot more information on this subject than I thought. It sounds naïve but I was genuinely surprised at the amount of differences even small changes in eating habits can make with so many health problems.

So far, so good, although let’s be realistic, I’m only 3 days in!

In order for this to be sustainable I have decided to face it with the following two-pronged attack:

1) Focus on the worse case scenario

If I don’t change then there are serious health problems ahead.

2) Be positive about what I can eat

I started listing the things I cannot regularly eat anymore (such as white flour, sugar, cakes, biscuits) and started to think of delicious alternatives or “swapsies”. This new healthy lifestyle actually encourages the consumption of some of my favourite things – a little red wine, dark chocolate, poached eggs and avocados; if I start to think of these things as medicinal then, well; happy days!


When Richard offered to make me porridge this morning I felt a little sad. I’m one of those people who take their porridge with a metric tonne of golden syrup but I know that’s definitely off the menu. Instead I went for chopped dates and a dash of cinnamon and (thankfully) it was surprisingly delicious. Yesterday I made risotto with bulgur wheat instead of white rice and this evening my spaghetti carbonara became spelt spaghetti with avocado and goats cheese.


Bulghur Wheat Risotto


Spelt Spaghetti with Avocado, Lemon, Goats Cheese and Spring Onion

With all this extra veg, fruit smoothies, dates and a dash of spirulina I might be farting for England for the next few days but at least I’m on the right track!

I shall open a window and look forward to loosing a few pounds and my sweet tooth!