Friday, 29 June 2012

Super smoked salmon salad

Ha! See what I did there? Alliteration (all these years studying English literature finally paying off). While going through my recent recipes I noticed that meat's been sorta in the spotlight, so here's some fish for ya. 
I have a confession to make. Here goes: I love fish, but don't cook it often enough. And there's only one reason: bones! I just don't have the patience to pick them out. Smoked salmon wins when it comes to easy dinners: no bones, no cooking, just open the packet and bam! Dinner is ready. Well, almost. But you know me - I refuse to slave away in the kitchen on a weekday night.
Incredibly light and fresh, this salad can be thrown together quickly and packs some great flavours.

To make enough for two you'll need:

150 g smoked salmon
500 g waxy potatoes (I used Charlotte potatoes)
2 handfuls of watercress
2 handfuls of lamb's lettuce
half a cucumber
handful of broad beans (I used frozen)
2 beetroots (I buy them cooked, peeled and vacuum packed)
1tsp of mixed herbs
salt, pepper to season
half a lemon
olive oil

Start off by heating up the oven to 190 C and start boiling water for potatoes and broad beans (in separate pots). We're multitasking here, but you're hungry, correct? Line a small tray with baking parchment.
Slice beetroot into 1cm thick slices and arrange on the baking tray. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and mixed herbs. Pop into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. 

Chop potatoes into smallish wedges and cube the cucumber.

Pop potatoes into a pot (seriously, what's with this alliteration today?) and boil them until soft. Use waxy potatoes because they hold their shape better and won't turn into mush (technical term). And while you're popping things into pots give your broad beans the same treatment and boil until soft (this should take about 20 minutes if they are frozen).

Right, while the vegetables are roasting and cooking, you have some time to cut salmon into smaller pieces (use kitchen scissors). Arrange watercress and lamb's lettuce on a plate and add a squeeze of lemon. 

Scatter cucumber cubes on top. Now drain your potatoes and take beetroot out of the oven (you almost forgot it was there, right?). Drain broad beans, give them a quick rinse with cold water and shell them. Arrange beetroot and potato slices on top of the greens, season with salt, pepper and a few squeezes of lemon, top with salmon, broad beans and parmesan shavings. A drizzle of olive oil and you can tuck in!

This post doesn't contain photos of particular stages of the process. Hungry husband breathing down my neck does not a good photo environment make ;) While he was munching away I was left in the kitchen to snap some more pics, so here goes one more (okay, two)!

Since it's been meat, fish and savoury things for the last few weeks expect a recipe for cake soon!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Wednesday wishes

Recipes I'm pinning this week:

Baked apple donuts! Baked = healthy, right?

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad

Tonnes of healthy lunch ideas

Watermelon feta mint salad
I'd love:

Steaming basket

This gorgeous bedding
I'm watching:

New show: Gordon behind bars

And finally, some blog love! I cannot believe I just stumbled upon this blog:

Not only does it have beautiful pictures, but it's chock a bloc full of fantastic ideas for, well, you guessed it: organising your house and your life. I love it!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mexican chicken wraps

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last two weeks or so you must have heard about Euro 2012. Yes, it's a food blog, yet I'm writing about football. Hey, it starts with an F as well! I was never a massive fan of football. No, scratch that, I was never a fan of football. I just found it incredibly boring: 20 men chasing after a ball? Gimme a break!
So imagine my surprise when I really got into watching nearly all the matches this year! Never say never I guess! Not only am I able to spot offside (not a word you usually see on food blogs, eh?) but I also shout at the TV screen and jump up and down on the sofa. Goodness me. Am I turning into a football maniac?

But back to the point. Cheering your chosen team (now that Poland are out of the picture I'm rooting for Spain - can't help it, one of the players is cute) requires energy, right? Of course you can settle for crisps, chips or other fast food, but here's where my recipe comes in. Tasty, easy, satisfying and quick to make. You can throw it together before the kick off. So let Gary Lineker analyse the team's history and plan of attack and make these delicious wraps.

To make enough for two people you'll need:

2 small chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise
1 small can of re-fried beans
4-5 flour tortillas
a handful of cherry tomatoes
bunch of coriander
salad leaf mix or lamb's lettuce
salt, pepper, chilli flakes/chilli powder, to season
sour cream

tortilla chips, to serve

Start off by placing chicken into a small pot filled with water. Add a bit of salt, bring up to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Once it's done, transfer onto a chopping board and shred with two forks.

While the chicken is cooking slice the avocado and tomatoes, chop coriander and get the re-fried beans ready.

While the shredded chicken is cooling, warm the tortillas (one by one) in a big frying pan. You can brush the pan with a tiny bit of oil - the tortillas take about 1 minute on each side - watch them closely so they don't burn!

Now, assemble your wraps.

Spread a tablespoon of refried beans on the tortilla and add a handful of shredded chicken.

Season with salt, pepper and chilli flakes, sprinkle some coriander on top and add a handful of lamb's lettuce, slices of avocado and a tablespoon of sour cream.

Admire a piece of beauty you created. Finish off with a squeeze of lime and wrap.

Serve with tortilla chips.

See, it's handy (pun intended, har har) - you've got one hand left to wave in the air or do a bit of a face palm if the ref fails to notice an obvious foul!


Sunday, 24 June 2012


Chorizo and chickpeas pasta

Prawn stir fry noodles

Comfy flats

Healthy lunch

A song to wake me up on Saturday

Bracelet overload!

Friday dinner - veggie burger and sweet potato fries

Ombre dress

Working on Saturday (bleurgh)

Sunday breakfast (semi healthy!)

Happy Sunday!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Hokey Pokey coffee cake

Two things happened last week: I got Mary Berry's book ' 100 Cakes and Bakes' and it was my friend Rachel's birthday. You know where this is going: I baked a cake.
After licking all pictures in the book perusing the book for what felt like ages (and drooling profusely) I chose to make a Hokey Pokey coffee cake. First of all, Mary's description was more than enticing: A special cake from New Zealand (hey! I used to live there! Ah, memories...). Coffee and walnuts have a natural affinity and make a delicious cake (well, if you say so, Mary). The addition of walnut praline makes this extra special (waaaait a minute - walnut praline? You mean: crunchy, sweet, caramel walnuts? Sold!)
Secondly, I knew Rachel was partial to coffee and walnuts. I gathered all ingredients and the baking commenced.

Recipe (adapted from '100 Cakes and Bakes' by Mary Berry)

For the cake:
225 g softened cubed butter
225 g caster sugar (next time I might try adding brown sugar to see if the cake turns out more caramelly (technical term!)
4 large eggs
225 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee mixed with 1 tbsp hot water
50 g walnuts, chopped

For the praline:
2 tbsp water
50 g caster sugar
50 g walnuts

For the icing:
90 g softened butter
250 g icing sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant coffee, dissolved in 1 1/2 tbsp hot water

You'll need two shallow sandwich tins - Mary recommends 20 cm in diameter and 4cm deep loose based tins. I used two 20cm tins without removable bottom and lined them up with baking parchment using a method I spotted at Miss Igs blog and I'm happy to report it worked a treat!

Start by preheating the oven to 160 C/140 C fan.
Grease the tins and line with baking parchment.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer for 5 minutes until pale.

Add eggs one by one beating the mix in between to make sure all eggs are incorporated.

Mary's method for the cake involves putting all the ingredients together and mixing them, but I was a bit scared to go for it, hence the step by step method.

Add your coffee flavouring. And yes, you guessed it. Beat some more.

Now let's take a tiny break from baking. Check out these 4 pictures.

That unidentified blurry object in the middle? Why yes, this is a teaspoon of baking powder. My lens had a mind of its own and decided that it's the background that should be in focus. Sigh.

After another 10 attempts: voila! A tsp of baking powder.

Mix it with self raising flour.

Chop some walnuts and add to the mix.

Once all ingredients are incorporated divide them evenly between two tins

 and bake until golden for 30-35 minutes. Once they are ready leave them to cool.

While the cake is baking make the praline. Get the walnut halves ready. Line a small baking tray with greased baking paper and set aside.

Gently heat sugar and water in a small pan. Once it starts bubbling watch the pan closely. Try not to stir the mixture too much.

Once it starts turning golden brown take off the heat, add walnuts, mix to coat and transfer to the greased parchment you prepare earlier.

Leave to cool completely, then break into smaller pieces. Leave the nicest ones to decorate the cake and chop the rest finely. Set aside.

Now make the buttercream icing. Place butter and icing sugar in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee mix. Now use a clean tea towel and place it over your bowl and mixer - unless of course you want half of your kitchen covered in sugar! Beat the icing until smooth.

Now assemble the cake: place one half on the serving plate, cover with some buttercream and sprinkle with chopped praline pieces you set aside earlier.

Place the second cake half on top, spread the remaining buttercream icing and decorate with walnut praline.


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