Monday, 3 August 2020

BALSAMIC MARINATED STRAWBERRY PASTA SALAD WITH BURRATA



Pasta salads are usually that grim, mayo laden picnic dish that no one really touches until the al fresco wine hits and any carb will do.

That is certainly not the case with this wonderfully fragrant pasta salad that combines the sweetness of the strawberries with the tanginess of balsamic vinegar, black pepper, dijon mustard and honey, finished off with the irresistibly creaminess of some freshly torn burrata mixed through.

The addition of spinach, wilted by the cooked pasta, crunchy cucumber and freshly torn basil, makes this pasta salad pretty much summer in a bowl, rustled up incredibly quickly and not only looking like a real treat but tasting as good, at room temperature, once you have reached your chosen picnic patch!

Trust me, this concoction will make you re-think pasta salads and and will be a great centre piece for any summer outdoor dining occasion!

Serves 3-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 500g strawberries, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper plus more for topping
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 500g farfalle pasta
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 150g baby spinach
  • 1 seedless cucumber thinly sliced
  • 2 balls of burrata, roughly torn
  • Bunch of basil, roughly torn

METHOD
  • Place the strawberries in a large bowl and pour the balsamic vinegar over top. 
  • Sprinkle on the black pepper and toss the strawberries well. 
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the directions.
  • While the pasta is boiling, pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar into a smaller bowl from the big bowl of strawberries. 
  • Whisk in the honey, dijon mustard, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper. 
  • Stream in the olive oil while whisking until the dressing is combined.
  • Place the fresh spinach on top of the strawberries in the bowl. 
  • As soon as the pasta is finished, drain it and place it on top of the spinach. 
  • Drizzle on a few tablespoons of the dressing so the pasta doesn't stick together. 
  • Let the pasta sit, untossed, on top of the spinach so it wilts - about 5 minutes.
  • Toss the pasta with the spinach and the strawberries until it is combined. 
  • Add in the cucumber, burrata and basil.
  • Sprinkle on some extra black pepper and toss with more dressing.
  • ENJOY!

Sunday, 26 July 2020

SEAFOOD LASAGNA


This seafood lasagna is a bit of faff to make but worth every effort! A real dinner party centre piece and a total seafood lover's heaven.

Serves 5-6

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 480g seafood (crab, prawns and scallops)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup white wine 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic (chopped)
  • 4 tablespoons flour 
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1/4 cup dill (chopped)
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 300g frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • 1 cup mozzarella (grated)
  • 400g fresh lasagna sheets
  • 1/4 cup parmigiano reggiano (grated)
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella (grated)

METHOD
  • Heat the butter in a pan.
  • Add the seafood and saute until cooked, just a few minutes and set the seafood aside.
  • Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minutes.
  • Add the white wine and lemon juice, deglaze the pan, and simmer to reduce by half.
  • Add the seafood and toss to coat.

FOR THE BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
  • Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
  • Add the flour and stir while cooking for a few minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk and simmer until it thickens.
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the parmigiano reggiano, salt and pepper and dill.

FOR THE RICOTTA SPINACH FILLING
  • Mix the ricotta, spinach, egg, parmesan, mozzarella and a cup of the white sauce.

ASSEMBLING
  • Pour 1/4 cup of the white sauce over the bottom of a baking dish.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of half of the ricotta cheese mixture.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of all of the seafood and pour a cup of the white sauce over it.
  • Add a layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Add a layer of the remaining cheese mixture.
  • Add a final layer of lasagna sheets.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the white sauce over the lasagna sheets and top with the parmesan and mozzarella.
  • Bake in a preheated 180C oven until bubbling on the sides and golden brown on top, about 45-60 minutes.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

THAI DRUNKEN NOODLES


Thai drunken noodles or pad kee mao is one of those ultimately comforting dishes to make, offering the perfect combo of carby goodness from silky, wide rice noodles, and proper warming spice, delivered via a gloriously sticky homemade sauce made from plenty of chilli, garlic, soy and oyster sauce as well as ginger, all finished off with a generous helping of super fragrant Thai basil. 

There are many different stories as to why these noddles are coined "drunken", I personally like the version which claims the sheer chilli kick from the noodles will blow out even the worst hangover cobwebs out of ones body though it is also meant to awaken the kind of thirst that can only be quenched by a chilled alcoholic beverage.

Regardless the origins of it's name, these noodles are proper, proper warming comfort food, easily made at home and as good as your favourite go-to takeaway Thai option, able to fix even the worst after effects of a wine, or five too many the night before, trust me!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g wide rice noodles (about 1/2 a standard package)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch cube of ginger, minced
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or more if you like it really spicy)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls of Thai basil leaves (crucial ingredient in this that tastes very different to conventional basil and is available at Waitrose!)
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
Sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar (can sub maple syrup)
  • 1 tbsp water

METHOD
  • Cook the rice noodles in a pot of hot water for 5-6 minutes until al dente.
  • They should be a bit hard in the centre, and not cooked fully through.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan or wok on medium-high heat.
  • Add the garlic and chilli pepper and cook for 1 minute, then add the ginger, onion and pepper and let cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the noodles to the pan, tossing together and letting them cook for 2 minutes, until the noodles start to brown on the bottom slightly.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the sauce and Thai basil leaves, mixing everything together.
  • Serve immediately and top with sliced spring onion.
  • ENJOY!

Monday, 20 July 2020

GOLDEN OREO BLONDIES



I am no cake or brownie fan but these wonderfully cookie like blondies, bursting with white chocolate chunks and finished off with golden Oreo's for an extra wow factor, are real crowd pleasers, easy and quick enough to make even for the most reluctant baker. 

INGREDIENTS
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk discard the white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 packet of golden Oreos

METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius
  • Line baking tray with parchment paper leaving an overhang around the sides.
  • In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until the sugar is fully incorporated (about 1 minute).
  • Whisk in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  • Gently stir in the flour and salt.
  • Gently stir in the white chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the batter into the baking tray.
  • Place a layer of golden Oreos on top.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is set and the sides are starting to pull away from the sides of the pan and an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with a few damp crumbs.
  • Cool fully in the pan (about 4 hours). 
  • Then pull the bars out of the pan using the overhang of the parchment paper. 
  • Place on a cutting board and cut with a large, sharp knife.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

WHITE CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY FLAPJACKS


This golden syrup free twist on the humble and comforting flapjack is SO easy to make and super delicious with the unusual additions of white chocolate, condensed milk and raspberry. The perfect dessert for any picnic!

INGREDIENTS
  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 200 ml condensed milk
  • 80 g white chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 290 g rolled oats
  • 150 g raspberries
METHOD
  • Melt the butter, condensed milk and white chocolate in a large pan over low heat.
  • Mix in the vanilla bean paste or extract.
  • Stir in the oats and raspberries as carefully as you can until just combined.
  • Press into 20cm (8" or 9") lined tin.
  • Bake for 20 minutes at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4). 
  • Leave to cool then cut into rectangles.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

VEGETARIAN MUFFULETTA (STUFFED SOURDOUGH LOAF)



Talk about picnic centre piece! This stuffed loaf, inspired by the Italian muffuletta, a loaf traditionally stuffed with layers of cured meats, cheese and vegetables, is a total flavour bomb and also looks rather stunning once you cut through the many layers of this "sandwich cake".

My veggie version gets extra oomph from smoked mozzarella (scarmoza) which adds a wonderful smokiness, though normal mozzarella will also do, while the Dusty Knuckle Bakery's fantastic potato sourdough, once hollowed out, offers the perfect "shell" for layer upon layer of roast veg, cheese, fresh herbs and tapenade.

Even better, once assembled you simply add your bread lid, wrap the finished stuffed loaf in cling film and chill it in the fridge, ideally leaving it for about an our hour so, so that all the different flavours and layers really infuse and marry together.

The muffuletta travels without risk of spillage to any picnic or dinner party destination and once sliced up into rustic quarters not only looks rather impressive but tastes pretty out of this world. If you want to impress at a picnic with minimal actual cooking I cannot recommend this total gem enough.

One last tip get your bread right (aka your trusted bakery of choice and bought fresh on the day), invest in good quality cheese and hit your local deli for all the other bits and this muffuletta will never fail to impress!

INGREDIENTS
METHOD
  • Cut the aubergine into slices.
  • Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Heat a griddle pan over high heat.
  • Cook the aubergine until tender, about 4 minutes per side.
  • Remove from heat to cool.Carefully cut the top of the bread off using a serrated knife angled downward.
  • Scoop out the inside of the bread top and bottom to create a crusty bread shell.
  • Save the inside for breadcrumbs.
  • Spread the bottom and top of the bread with a layer of olive tapenade.
  • Layer the basil, vegetables, and mozzarella inside the bread, pressing them in firmly.
  • Pile the greens on top and cover with the top piece of bread.
  • Try to fill the sandwich with as much of the veggies as possible.
  • Wrap with plastic or parchment and refrigerate for one hour or until ready to eat.
  • Cut crosswise into sandwich slices to serve.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

BROWN SUGAR PECAN BUNS (NO DOUGH MAKING REQUIRED)



These incredibly tasty buns are made with readymade pizza dough (I know, what a life hack right?) so are rustled up with minimum fuss! The end result, eaten straight out of the oven, is pretty next level amazing - crunchy, cinnamon-y and gooey, making them the perfect indulgent dessert for any dinner party!

INGREDIENTS
  • All-purpose flour for the work surface
  • 1 store-bought pizza dough, thawed if frozen (my go-to is from the Northern Dough Co.)
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

METHOD
  • On a floured work surface, roll dough to a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. 
  • Dot upper two-thirds of dough with 1/2 cup butter and fold dough like a letter. 
  • Roll dough out to a rectangle again. 
  • Refrigerate on a baking sheet until firm, 1 hour (or up to 1 day).
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. 
  • In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, pecans, and salt. 
  • Leaving a 1/2-inch border, dot dough with 3 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture. Starting at a long end, roll up dough like a rolly polly. 
  • Cut crosswise into pieces. 
  • Place each piece, cut side down in a small baking tray.
  • Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Immediately invert buns onto a serving platter or baking sheet. 
  • Serve warm.

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

ROAST AUBERGINE, HALLOUMI & BABA GANOUSH TART WITH PRESERVED LEMON, CHILLI, MINT & HONEY DRIZZLE



This puff pastry tart with a Middle Eastern twist may sound a little odd but the final product was without a doubt one of the best things I have rustled up in lockdown times.

Yes, it takes a bit of time and effort to make, the aubergine after all is prepared and used in 3 different ways, as homemade baba ganoush, griddled and roasted, but I promise you is very much worth it.

This tart is a real centrepiece for any picnic, flavourful and filling enough with the addition of cubed halloumi, to please and wow even the most dedicated carnivore.

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 aubergines
  • 5tbsp olive oil
  • 50g tahini
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 x 320g rolled sheet of puff pastry
  • 250g halloumi cheese, cut into small cubes and tossed in a little olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the drizzle
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp runny honey
  • A handful of mint leaves, shredded
  • 1 red chilli, cut into tiny dice
  • ½ a preserved lemon, flesh discarded, skin cut into tiny dice (you cant it at Waitrose)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment. Cook one of the aubergines first. Cover your hob around the gas rings with foil to stop it getting filthy.

Ideally, you want to place the aubergine over the gas ring, using tongs, and char it with the open flame until it is completely burnt on the outside and collapsing. If you don’t have a gas hob, grill the aubergine instead.

When it is cool enough to handle, split the aubergine lengthways and scoop the flesh into a bowl, being careful not to get any of the burnt skin in with the flesh. Set aside.

Cut the second aubergine in half horizontally. Cut each chunk into eight vertical wedges (or six if your aubergines are on the skinny side). Toss them in 2tbsp of the olive oil, season well and arrange the wedges on one of the baking sheets, skin-side down.

Roast for 15 minutes, until golden and almost cooked. Heat a griddle pan on the hob. Take the third aubergine and cut it into thin, round slices. Toss them in 2tbsp of the olive oil, season and place the slices on the hot griddle pan, for 3 minutes on each side.

Take the flesh from the first aubergine and strain it through a sieve before placing it on a board and chopping to a rough purée. Place it in a bowl with the tahini, the remaining tbsp of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, and add ½tsp of salt. Mix well and taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary – it may need more salt.

Open the pastry roll and place it on the second baking sheet. Gently score a line around the pastry, about 2cm (¾in) from the edge, creating a border. Spread the aubergine purée – baba ganoush – over the inner section of the pastry. Lay the circles of griddled aubergine over the baba ganoush and arrange the wedges among the circles. Scatter with the halloumi. Season the tart with salt and pepper, and brush beaten egg over the pastry border. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the border is well risen and golden.

For the drizzle, mix the olive oil and date syrup or honey in a small bowl and add the mint leaves, chilli and preserved lemon. Using a teaspoon, drizzle all over the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

KIMCHI MAC N CHEESE


Ok, hear me out on this one. Kimchi mac n cheese might sound like fusion cooking taken a little too far but honestly this was one of the best things I have ever made.

Why? The tangy spice and crunch from the kimchi works in perfect symbiosis with the creaminess of the cheese, elevating the humble mac n cheese into something quite special here that you won't forget in a hurry. Give this a go, you won't regret it trust me!

PS: I used store bought kimchi on this occasion, but if you have a little time on your hands follow my homemade kimchi recipe which also works a treat and is a super fun little home fermentation project!

Serves 2-3

INGREDIENTS

  • 500g macaroni (or any short pasta)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter or oil
  • 560g kimchi, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean pepper paste which I adore)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 2 cups (480ml) milk
  • 1 cup cheddar
  • 1 cup brie
To garnish
  • Spring onion, chopped
  • Roasted sesame seeds

METHOD
  • In a large frying pan fry minced garlic in a little olive oil for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped kimchi and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently to stop the kimchi from burning at the bottom of the pot.
  • Add the flour and stir until you can no longer see any flour in the pot.
  • Slowly pour the milk into the pot, stirring all the while, until well-mixed.
  • Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes on low heat.
  • Add the shredded cheese. Melt the cheese, stirring quite frequently.
  • Keep on a low heat while you cook your pasta.
  • Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions, taking 2 minutes off the recommended cooking time. Drain and add to the kimchi cheese sauce, mixing thoroughly.
  • Add the gochugaru into the sauce.
  • Ladle the macaroni into heat-proof serving bowls (or a big tray).
  • Sprinkle with more.
  • Bake at 180°C or 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and bubbly.
  • Garnish with chopped spring onion and roasted sesame seeds and ENJOY!

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

FRESH FIG, DOLCE LATTE & CARAMALISED ONION PUFF PASTRY TART



Sweet, savoury, creamy and complex in it's flavours, this puff pastry tart is a rather impressive picnic centre piece 

It is also surprisingly easy to rustle up and transports really well so that even a little walk to the park and eating it at room (or more like socially distanced outside meet up) temperature won't take away from the wow factor here!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, more for garnish
  • Pinch sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • Flour for dusting
  • 1 puff pastry sheet
  • 4-5 figs, sliced
  • 120g dolce latte or gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Good-quality honey for drizzling
METHOD
  • In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt butter with oil.
  • Add onions, rosemary and sugar.
  • Cook, tossing occasionally, until onions are limp and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Stir in the vinegar, scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the milk and egg until smooth.
  • Stir in the onions.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  • Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to a 9 by 12-inch rectangle or if pre-rolled simply transfer to tray.
  • Use a fork to spread onion mixture evenly over pastry (let excess egg mixture drip back into bowl), leaving a 1-inch border.
  • Arrange figs, cut-side up, in even rows on onion mixture. 
  • Scatter cheese and pine nuts around the figs.
  • Use a pastry brush to dab edges of tart with egg mixture (if needed whisk another egg for brushing).
  • Gently fold over edges of tart to form a lip and brush with more egg mixture.Bake until pastry is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Serve, sprinkled with rosemary and drizzled with honey, if desired, warm or at room temperature.

Monday, 29 June 2020

CARAMELISED BALSAMIC LINGUINE WITH BEETROOT, MUSHROOMS & BURRATA



This unusual pasta dish is a real flavour bomb that only uses minimal butter and no cream.

So easy and quick to make, it not only looks pretty stunning when plated up, but is a real twist on more traditional pasta sauces which usually stick to a more conventional tomato or cream base, and works an absolute treat here.

A new favourite of eating pasta that for sure is added to my regular recipe repertoire.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • Olive oil
  • 6 cooked beetroots, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 400g linguine 
  • Butter
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup good balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 burrata ball (Waitrose does my favourite supermarket version)
  • Pomegranate seeds

METHOD
  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius
  • On a baking tray toss together olive oil, the beetroot, thyme, and a good pinch of salt + pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until the beets are tender and lightly charred.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. 
  • Boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions. 
  • Just before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. 
  • Drain.
  • Melt a generous knob of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. 
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until they just begin to caramelise on the edges, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute or until fragrant. 
  • Remove the mushrooms and garlic from the frying pan and place on a plate.
  • To the same pan add the balsamic vinegar, honey and crushed chilli flakes. 
  • Bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 5-8 minutes or until the balsamic reduces by about 1/3 and is sticky to touch. 
  • Reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta, mushrooms and beetroot. 
  • Toss to coat, if the sauce seems too thick, thin it with a little of the pasta cooking water. 
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the pasta immediately, topped with the torn burrata and pomegranate seeds and enjoy!

Sunday, 28 June 2020

NO GYMS, NO PROBLEMS - GET TO KNOW ACE 360 FITNESS


Unfortunately for the time being it doesn't look like gyms are going to be opening any time soon, Boris more preoccupied with pubs than keeping obesity at bay it appears, which means Zoom workouts will be part of our lives for the time being.

Since lockdown came into force 8 weeks ago I have tried my way across just about every online workout and the one that has really stuck with me is ACE 360 Fitness, the closest thing to a PT you will get, all at a super good price and with probably my favourite trainer out there.

Indeed Alex Castro, the mastermind behind this online workout programme, made up of 3 live hourlong workout sessions a week and two pre-recorded ones, has been my favourite Barry's UK trainer ever since I started going 2 years.

He is the antidote to the "full of himself' body builder type - though no doubt super toned, he is one of the nicest and most genuinely caring people I have come across and a fantastic trainer as well, in fact his classes at Barry's were consistently booked out by regulars who refused to be trained by anyone else but him.

A little sceptical of Instagram and the online world pre-Covid, Alex came up with ACE 360 Fitness when the world needed it the most, and the community he has created around  as well as the consistently high quality workouts him and his team have developed have been a total life saver to me during this very weird and unstructured time.

Indeed what makes this programme so great, is the bespoke approach to the workouts - for £48 a week you can be part of his 4 week long programme in a group with only 5 others, basically providing you with a PT experience without the huge price tag attached. You will need a pair of dumbbells and the willingness to commit to 5 times a week of super solid working out, all led by a coach that never fails to encourage you, even if you are having the most rubbish day worrying about what the future will hold and further support by a Whatsapp group that also becomes somewhat of social net to fall back on.

The gym and workout classes may never return to the "old normal" but that has turned out to not be as bad as I first thought. The fitness scene has changed forever and if you want a unique online workout experience that actually WORKS sign up for ACE 360 Fitness now, you won't regret it.


Tuesday, 23 June 2020

SALMON, AVOCADO & SESAME NOODLES WITH CRISPY SHALLOTS





This elevated noodle salad is just about perfect for higher temperatures and full of fresh flavours so couldn't be more ideal as a dinner choice during the heatwave we are facing this week!

The crispy shallots take a bit of time but are a total game changer and just so good to finish of this bowl of goodness and hundred percent worth the effort. 

Also as long as you have a good local fishmonger your standard fresh salmon should be fine to slice up into sashimi!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 thinly sliced banana shallots
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 350g rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnishing
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons hot chili oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 big skinless salmon filet
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Soy sauce
  • Chopped coriander 
METHOD
  • Make the shallots: add shallots to saucepan and submerge in the olive oil. Cook on a high heat, stirring occasionally for around 20 minutes or until nice and crispy.
  • Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain and rinse them in cold water.
  • Toss the noodles in a medium bowl with the sesame seeds, sesame oil, the fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the chili oil. 
  • Season with salt to taste and transfer to a serving plate or bowl.
  • Pat the salmon dry, then use your knife to slice off thin slices that resemble what you get in a sashimi salad at your favorite sushi joint. 
  • Then pit and peel the avocado and slice it up!
  • Arrange the salmon and avocado on top of the noodles, then drizzle with the remaining teaspoon of hot chili oil and as much soy sauce as you feel like. 
  • Garnish with the crispy shallots, toasted sesame seeds and coriander.

Monday, 22 June 2020

CRAB, CHILLI, CORIANDER & ASPARGUS TART


Let's be honest, summer 2020 will be all about upping your picnic game. Even with restaurants on track to re-open on 4th July, social distancing and a lack of al fresco dining options will mean that most social gatherings and eating out occasions will take place in parks, fields or any other sort of green spaces which means now is the time to perfect your picnic foods!

Hearty, easily transportable and delicious, picnic food doesn't have to be just your standard crisps, dips and M&S salads, no, with a little bit of imagination you can impress your friends, at a safe distance, with some great little dishes like this amazing tart, packed with punchy flavours and a real crowd pleaser!

I got the tart ready in the morning of the picnic and baked it while doing a zoom workout so it really couldn't be easier and I have to say it was a real hit with my fellow picnickers! Watch out for more dishes to make picnics a little sophisticated on here, after all we may as well make the new normal a culinary experience!


INGREDIENTS
  • 1x ready made shortcrust pastry sheet
  • For the filling
  • 200g white crab meat
  • 1 bunch of green asparagus 
  • 1 bunch coriander, picked and chopped
  • 1 medium-sized red chilli, sliced (pith and seeds removed, if you prefer less heat)
  • 1lime, zested and juiced

  • For the savoury custard
  • 300g double cream
  • 200g milk
  • 2 whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks
  • Salt and black pepper


METHOD
  • Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. 
  • Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick and use it to line a greased 25cm tart ring. 
  • Prick the base all over with a fork, line with greaseproof paper and baking beans (I didn't have any so used rice), then blind bake for 16 minutes.
  • Lift out the greaseproof paper and the baking beans, brush the base all over with beaten egg yolk and return to the oven for six minutes more. 
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven, trim the top of the tart and leave to cool. Turn the oven down to 140C (120C fan)/285F/gas 1.
  • Meanwhile, make the custard. 
  • Combine the cream, milk, eggs and egg yolks, and whisk smooth. Pass through a sieve, then season.
  • Spoon the crab, aspargus, coriander and sliced chilli into the tart case. 
  • Stir the lime juice and zest into the custard, pour on top, then return to the oven until the custard is set (I used quite a a high form so the custard took longer to cook but keep checking once 20 minutes have past). 
  • Remove, leave to cool until warm or at room temperature, and serve.