Thursday, 30 March 2017

Moroccan Beef Cous Cous

A very quick, delicious and healthy meal for the whole family. I used lean minced beef to keep the cost down but the meat can be substituted with lean cuts of beef, chicken or pork. Half an hour from start to finish, this is an absolute must for any busy family looking for something speedy and balanced to feed hungry mouths.

Moroccan Beef Cous Cous
Feeds 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 red pepper, diced
100g green beans cut into small pieces
1 tsp each of ground cumin, paprika, coriander
1 clove of garlic, chopped
A pinch of chilli powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 beef stock cube
1 tbsp honey
250ml water

200g cous cous
A couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
Cherry tomatoes, halved
A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 fresh lemon
Salt and pepper

1 - Put the cous cous into a bowl. Pour over boiling water until just covered. Cover with clingfilm and leave for 10 minutes.
2 - In a wok or large frying pan, heat up the oil. Add the onion, carrot, pepper and green beans. Cook for 10 minutes until beginning to soften.
2 - Add the spices and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring.
3 - Add the tomato puree, crumbled stock cube, honey and the water. Bring to the simmer, cover and cook gently for 15 minutes.
4 - Taste for seasoning. Fluff up the cous cous with a form then stir into the meat mixture with the spinach, cherry tomatoes and fresh coriander. Squeeze in half of the lemon and cut the other half into wedges.
5 - Serve with the lemon and some more fresh coriander scattered over.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Asian Beef, Savoy and Peanut Salad

Salads shouldn't be boring and this one is anything but. Asian flavours of sour, hot, sweet and salty combine with raw veg and beef in a 15 minute start to finish super meal.

Too healthy for you or lacking in carbs? Toss in some brown rice and/or quinoa to bulk it up. Lovely stuff.

Asian style Beef, Savoy and Peanut Salad
Serves 2-3

1 Savoy cabbage
4 carrots, grated
A handful of fresh coriander
Salt and pepper
2 sirloin steaks

For the dressing
1 crushed clove of garlic
Juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp honey

A handful of peanuts

1 - Thinly slice a whole Savoy cabbage and combine in a large mixing bowl with grated carrots and lots of coriander.
2 - Heat up a griddle pan. Season your steaks then sear on each side to your desired redness. Set aside to rest whilst you make the dressing.
3 - Mix together the dressing ingredients and then mix thoroughly in with the salad. Set aside for 5 minutes.
4 - In a hot pan, toast the peanuts then remove and either bash in a pestle and mortar or roughly chop.
5 - Thinly slice the beef, mix in with the salad and top with the peanuts. Serve with fresh pieces of lime.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Spring Lamb with Thyme, Lemon and Garlic


Last night it was back down to earth with the remnants of the week’s leftover vegetables and our favourite, 'bubble and squeak'. A few spring lamb chops left to soak in thyme, garlic and lemon are the perfect lip smacking accompaniment. It has everything that easy, no fuss cooking should have and the key to making the most of a simple yet special thing.

Spring Lamb with Thyme, Lemon and Garlic
Feeds 3

6 lamb loin chops

For the marinade
2 cloves of garlic
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the 'bubble and squeak'
Any leftover vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
Salt and pepper

1 - To make the marinade, crush the garlic and thyme in a pestle and mortar or a food processor with a good grinding of salt and pepper until you have a green sludge. Mix in the lemon juice and olive oil.
2 - Put the chops into a bowl and pour over the marinade. Rub in and leave to sit for at least 1 hour.
3 - Heat up a frying pan until smoking, or heat up a grill to its highest setting. Cook the lamb chops without moving for 2 minutes each side until char-grilled but still pink inside. Leave to rest for 2 minutes.
4 - To make the bubble and squeak, simply mash all of your leftovers together with seasoning and form into little 'cakes'. Pan fry until crisp and golden.
4 - Serve with bubble and squeak or boiled potatoes and a simple salad, ensuring that you drizzle over the pan juices.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Cod, Caper and Olive Potato Cakes


Fish cakes and tartare sauce have to be a favourite tea time food in our house. Tartare sauce - that sharp, acidic mayonnaise 'with bits in' (as my daughter says) - is the perfect accompaniment to a delicious crispy fish cake.

I've mentioned this in a previous post, but getting the little ones involved in something like a fish cake is an excellent way of experimenting with food and actually getting them to eat something different. It is also a great excuse to get out my favourite kitchen gadget, my £1 potato ricer.

Cod, Caper and Olive Potato Cakes
Makes 6 large cakes

Fillets of 1 large cod
Milk
Water
1 onion
1 lemon
2 bay leaves
4 large floury potatoes
1 handful of capers, rinsed and finely chopped
1 handful of black olives, preferably those salty Greek olives, stoned and finely chopped
4 small gherkins, finely chopped
50g butter
A handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Plain flour
Breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
Olive oil

1 - Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then cook until they are cooked through. Leave to cool slightly, then peel and either mash into a bowl or use a potato ricer adding the butter.
2 - Place the cod fillets into a large shallow pan. Cover with roughly half milk, half water, a slice of lemon, a slice of onion, the bay leaves and some seasoning. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Gently break the cod fillets into the potato, ensuring all bones and skin are removed.
3 - Stir in the capers, olives, gherkins, fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Be gentle on the salt as the olives have plenty.
4 - Put the beaten eggs in a bowl, some seasoned plain flour on one plate and the breadcrumbs on another. Add enough olive oil to a non-stick pan to allow shallow frying and heat up.
5 - Shape the mixture into 'cakes' using floured hands. Dip them first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs and fry gently for approximately 7 minutes each side until golden and crisp. Place onto kitchen towel to absorb some oil, then serve with a simple green salad, tartare sauce or simply fresh lemon wedges.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Griddled Pineapple with Coconut, Lime and Rum Syllabub

It may not quite be the perfect weather at the moment for wheeling out the BBQ but it won't be long before the smell of cheap burnt sausages are invading every garden up and down the UK.

A griddled or barbecued pineapple is amazing as a dessert after you've packed back a week's supply of meat cooked by a can wielding uncle or dad. The ridges of the BBQ give it a caramelised edge and the heat makes this beautiful fruit even more fresh and juicy.

I serve mine with a syllabub, an ancient English dessert of cream and alcohol, with rum, coconut and lime added to give it that Caribbean twist.

Make it in advance, put it in little glasses in the fridge, whack the slices of pineapple on the BBQ and it makes for a very impressive and stress-free dessert. Equally, the pineapple can be cooked on a non-stick griddle pan.

Griddled Pineapple with Coconut, Lime and Rum Syllabub
Feeds 4

1 whole pineapple, skinned
2 tbsp sugar
1 sprig of fresh mint

For the syllabub
300ml double cream
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp rum
2 tbsp grated coconut and the milk (if you are using fresh)

1 - To make the syllabub, mix the sugar, lime and rum in a bowl and set aside.
2 - In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Pour in the sugar, lime, rum, coconut and milk and quickly whisk in. Tip into small glasses and put into the fridge.
3 - Heat up a griddle pan or BBQ. Slice the flesh from the pineapple away from the core and then cut these into small segments. Place onto the griddle or BBQ and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until slightly charred.
4 - Whilst the pineapple is cooking, grind the mint up with the sugar in a pestle and mortar.
5 - To serve, place the glasses onto plates and grate on dark chocolate. Stack the pineapple up alongside, sprinkle on some mint sugar and serve.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Breakfast Rhubarb Cranachan

Scottish cranachan is one of those quick fix creamy desserts that are a doddle to knock up when time is short.

Traditionally made with whipped cream, honey, toasted oats and fresh raspberries, it's a bit like an Eton Mess which is neither here nor there but utterly delicious.

This is a healthier version which uses seasonal rhubarb stewed in a little honey and omits the whisky, meaning it can be eaten for breakfast. If you want to use it as a dessert, add a drop of decent single malt whisky if desired.

Toast the oats in advance, combine a pro-biotic yoghurt with Greek yoghurt, flavour with a little vanilla extract or if you are feeling posh, a whole vanilla pod and sweeten with honey. It's a great way to start the day even if you are going to upset the traditionalists.

Breakfast Rhubarb Cranachan
Feeds 2-3 people

150g rolled Scottish oats
6 sticks of rhubarb, cut into pieces and stewed in a little honey until soft, cooled
250g natural yoghurt
250g Greek yoghurt
50g honey
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds of 1 vanilla pod

1 - Put the oats into a dry frying pan. Heat up and cook until beginning to toast. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
2 - In a mixing bowl, combine the yoghurts, honey and vanilla. Mix in a couple of handfuls of rolled oats and stewed rhubarb.
3 - Place a tablespoon of stewed rhubarb into each of your serving glasses. Top with the yoghurt mixture then top with a little more rhubarb, toasted oats and honey.