Full on Feta Salad

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This can be a meal in itself – great for lunch or supper – but I had it last night with lamb chops pan fried with garlic, lemon and parsley.

INGREDIENTS

Salad leaves of your choice

6 baby plum tomatoes halved

1 block of feta rinsed and cut into cubes

12 black olives halved

Half a pointed red pepper thinly sliced

1 stick of celery thinly sliced

3 radishes thinly sliced

Handful of fresh coriander chopped- you could use mint instead

FOR THE DRESSING

6 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove crushed

Pinch of sugar

Dash of salt

Grind or two of black pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the dressing by whacking the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Toss all the there ingredients together in a large salad bowl.
  3. Just before serving , which the dressing once more and pour over the salad. 

Get a fork and tuck in!

 

 

Sea Bass and eat it!

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SPIGOLA AL FORNO CON LIMONI

IMG_5651Possibly one of my favourite fish – creamy, succulent sea bass  – so easy to cook and the flavours are immense. This dish brings out the best in the bass – easy to cook and a super light lunch or early summer supper. The fennel also just bursts into life in this dish. You could use other fish – and you could pimp the dish by adding king prawns – but this basic recipe hits the spot for me!

FOR 2

Olive oil

3 garlic cloves finely sliced

1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into slices

1 small lemon, cut into small chunks

1 red chilli, deseeded and cut into long strips

2 sea bass fillet

2 large potatoes, thinly sliced

Sea salt

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180c. Splash olive oil in a roasting tin snug enough to fit the fillets. Add the fennel, garlic, potato and lemon plus the chilli strips. Stir to coat everything.

Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes, stirring half way through. Meanwhile, make 3 cuts in the skin of the sea bass, and sprinkle with sea salt.

When the 30 minutes is up, remove dish from the oven and sprinkle a little sea salt over everything, then add the fillets, skin side down on the top of the mixture.

Drizzle the fish with a little more olive oil, then return to the oven for 20 minutes.

This has been one of my favourite lunch dishes so far this summer – I hope it becomes one of yours too!

Avocado crostini

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Simplicity itself…and soooo good for you…especially after the excesses of the Christmas season…at least I hope you excessed a little!

I adore avocados…so versatile…and, apart from being an excellent source of fibre and vitamins, research suggests that there may be a number of other benefits associated with the fruit, including: lowering cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of diabetes, promoting lower body weight, and… they contain a shedload of vitamins and other goodies. These green goddesses are an excellent source of potassium (containing more per weight than bananas). and they are rich in vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E.2. And one avocado accounts for almost half your fibre content for a day. So there.

If you want to cut back on things like mayo – mash an avocado and use in its place – creamy too and better for you.

This light lunch today was a thin slice of grilled panini topped with a chopped ripe avocado, which had been mixed with the juice of half  a lemon, a small handful of chopped coriander (cilantro), a little black pepper and a dash of sea salt. You could use any herb instead of the coriander – fresh basil or oregano would work well. It would also be a great starter.

I said it was easy – and it is so tasty… and all you will need to fill you for a light lunch.

Seared Scallop Spring Delight

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Seared Scallop Spring Delight

Radishes, as you may recall if you read my blog last June, are one of my very favourite salad veg. It is a relation of the turnip, and not surprisingly given its mild pepperiness – horseradish. It has been used since prehistoric times over a huge swathe of the Old World from Western Europe to China and Japan. There was a rumour reported by the Greek writer, Herodotus, that the slaves who built the pyramids ate them whilst they worked. He actually mentions an inscription on the Great Pyramid itself to that effect – sadly it has long since been worn away. Like the thought though of them having pocketfuls – did they have pockets? – of radishes whilst they shovelled sand and shifted rocks. Pliny in the 1st century mentions radishes up to 3kg in size (clearly not cut out for salads!) in his writing and there are records of European herbalists referring to – wait for it – 45 kg radishes! Radishes appeared on these shores in the mid 16th century not long before the Spaniards introduced the humble radish to the U.S., where Florida is now the centre of the radish universe over there. In 1633, there is reference to radishes being eaten in sauces to ‘procure appetite‘ and also eaten ‘raw with bread‘. This is such a good way to eat them still! The small young spring radish, with its slightly hot taste – due to a glucoside substance within, similar to that in the related mustard plant – is wonderful when held by the green stalk, rubbed in a little butter then dipped in a little salt and eaten with a slice of good buttered bread.

And of course Spring is also a happy time to indulge in scallops. These chaps are unusual in the mollusc world as they do not crawl or burrow – instead they have a highly developed adductor muscle which allows them to propel themselves along by opening and closing their shells. Indeed the Japanese name for them means ‘full-sail fish.’ Interesting eh? And of course , they are very tasty!

I wanted to bring you a recipe that includes all the ingredients hinted at in Bonnie Lalley’s new painting and what could be better than

Seared Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes!

I came across this dish a few years ago in an American cookbook I borrowed from a friend. I wrote it down and had forgotten all about it until I set eyes on this Lalley masterpiece!

It is simple and tasty and jam packed full of Spring.

For the salad:

3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1 small bunch rocket or watercress
1 good handful of small pea shoots
2 very small fresh beetroots, peeled and sliced very thinly

For the peas, radishes and scallops:

8oz sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 bunch radishes, trimmed
Unsalted butter
1 tbs water
80 gm scallops per person approx
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
Sea salt and black pepper

Ok – first make the salad: In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the rocket, pea shoots and beetroots slices but do not toss to coat. Patience! Set aside.

Prepare the peas and radishes: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas, and blanch for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and set aside. Blanch radishes for 2 minutes, and add to the sugar snap peas. Melt a good knob of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon water, the peas, and radishes. Cook until water evaporates and butter coats vegetables, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Next cook the scallops. Heat a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops with a little salt. Sear the scallops until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to keep warm and grind over some black pepper. To the hot pan, add another knob of butter and the orange zest and juice. Cook until butter is melted and flavours are combined, about 1 minute. Pour sauce over scallops.
Now toss the salad – you waited patiently hopefully! Arrange scallops, salad, and sautéed veg on plates and serve to warm applause!

Full sail for a trio of delights – radishes, peas and scallops!

Smoked Mackerel Makes a Magical Salad

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Smoked Mackerel Makes a Magical Salad

Lunch today was matching the mood of the day – a hint of sun, a waft of smoke from a spring bonfire and a spread of colours that exude April at its best. It is simple and it is filling for a light lunch. And its textures are a delight for fishy folk everywhere and possibly even for a few who are not! For me, the magic is in the pairing of the smoked mackerel from Cornwall with a vinaigrette. It works on all levels.

For 4

4 smoked mackerel fillets torn into several pieces
4 radishes thinly sliced
4 sweet mini peppers finely sliced
4 spring onions sliced
Salad leaves of your choice – I used rocket, lamb’s lettuce and mizuna – a good handful per person
8 baby plums quartered

For the vinaigrette

100 ml olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsps of Dijon mustard
A little sea salt and black pepper

All you need to do is make up 4 bowls – add enough salad leaves to each, plus the mackerel, tomatoes, radishes and spring onions. Toss gently.

Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together and swirl over each of the bowls.

Serve with a seriously good crusty bread.

You could, as ever in the best Alfredo’s tradition, twiddle with this recipe, adding other salad ingredients that you have in, or even for a bit of bite, a sliced, deseeded red chilli.

But this was a fine lunch as it was – try it. Let me know if you like it!

Salmonchanted Sunday…!

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Salmonchanted Sunday...!

I think I may have used that gag before but hey…I’m only human. This is nothing special as such – in so far as it is ridiculously easy to compile but, my wordy word, it is stomach-fillingly marvellous and toothsome in the extreme. I was cognisant of the fact that we had not consumed much fish of late, so, today was the day to put that right in a very easy way. I already have two ham hocks simmering away for tonight’s supper – more of which later – I can smell them from where I sit in front of my log burner and goodness me do they smell fabulous. Anyway, back to lunch, I chopped up 4 freshly cooked and cooled beetroot and added two or three splashes of a French shop bought vinaigrette as I was desperate to eat! The French ones are always so much better than anything one can buy here. (I love making my own but I was on a mission to eat asap)

In a dish I broke up three hot smoked fillets of salmon and added my own mesclun – mizuna, rocket (arugula), endive. Then a swirl of lemon balsamic creme to round off. A poppy seed baguette from our bakers and a few baby plum toms and hey billy whizz…lunch!

Food need not be complicated or expensive – just good quality ingredients and an eye to keep it simple.

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Keep soup in the loop….Devilled Pepper, Courgette and Ham Soup to be specific…

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Keep soup in the loop....Devilled Pepper, Courgette and Ham Soup to be specific...

Midweek and with odd jobs of all sorts to do and to drive away the thought of the grim reaper weather lurking outside – mind he did have an anorak with him – I decided to go for a soup with a kick and a sense of heart too. Something to make you feel toasty inside.

So give this a go – especially if you ever have some ham left over from a joint.

For 4

1 courgette, sliced and diced
1 pepper – mine was yellow – but a red or orange one would be dandy
2 red onions finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
Some dried chill flakes to taste – or a chopped deseeded red chilli
Black pepper
1 litre of chicken stock
Whatever ham you can muster – I used three slices chopped.
Olive oil

In a deep pan, fry the onion, courgette, garlic and onions until softening. Add the chilli. I used a teaspoon of dried red chilli flakes. Stir – then grind over a goodly grind of black pepper.
Then pour in the hot stock. Add 2/3rds of your ham. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down, pop a lid on and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Split the rest of the ham between your bowls and ladle over the soup. This was zingy and about as thrilling as soups get – Simple and effective as all the best soup recipes should be. So, keep soup in the loop this festive season!

p.s. maybe devilled was a bit over dramatic in the title but I wanted to give it a bit of drama and frankly it was worth it.

Anyway, it warmed the hell out of me!

A wrap roaring success!

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A wrap roaring success!

Busy busy time at work at the moment so will not be posting too much for a few days…but lunch today was a wrap-simple and delicious. Garlic and coriander wraps laid out flat – one half spread with a layer of serrano ham, then some finely chopped spring onions, sliced manzana tomatoes, slices of buffalo mozzarella , a few slices of red chilli, basil leaves and then another layer of serrano ham. Fold over the empty half – lightly dust a frying pan with olive oil – heat it up, then carefully slide in two of these babies. After a minute or so carefully turn them with a spatula or fish slice. They are hummingly yummy.

Play about with the fillings until I get back!