Lemon and Garlic Cod, Truffled red pepper puree, pearl barley risotto and crispy pine nuts. Pimms Jelly, Avocado mousse and Vanilla and raspberry macaroons.

I’m sure it appears that my house is an endless stream of dinner parties at the moment. This is mostly because my parents have been storing up invitations to dinner until I came home, giving me an opportunity to practise my cooking before next year. This time it was the turn of some very good family friends of ours who I credit for helping further my career with advice and investment. They were the first people to listen to the ideas of a precocious 17 year old and trust me with catering 21st birthdays, engagement parties and even help me out with my brief hamper business. So no pressure with actually delivering something which lives up to their high opinion of me then… I was tasked with creating something not too heavy and of course given the dreariness of the British weather, something enticingly summery to counteract the rain. But then who in England isn’t extremely used to drinking Pimms outside whilst a faint mist of drizzle falls around them?

   

 

Lemon and Garlic Cod, truffled Red Pepper puree, pearly barley risotto and crispy pine nuts (serves 4)

Cod

4 skinless, boneless cod fillets, 4 garlic cloves, 1 sliced lemon, fresh coriander, black pepper, groundnut oil

Pepper Puree 

3 red peppers, drizzle truffle oil, 1tsp dried oregano, 1tsp dried basil, 1tsp chilli powder, 1tsp paprika, 1tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp white wine vinegar, 2tsp sea salt 

Pearl Barley Risotto 

2 onions, 4 garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, 3tbsp sherry, 2tsp each dried rosemary, parsley, thyme, 1tsp turmeric, 1tsp chilli powder, Fresh Coriander, 280g pearl barley, 1 stock cube 

75g pine nuts

  1. For the cod, place fillets on a piece of foil. Scatter with chopped garlic, slices of lemon coriander and black pepper (nb NO SALT) and drizzle with groundnut oil. Fold up into a parcel and crimp the top like a cornish pasty.
  2. Roast the Peppers whole in the oven on the highest setting for 20mins, turning halfway, or until skin is blackened slightly and blistered. Leave to cool.

  3. For the risotto, chop the onion and garlic and sauté in oil and a sprinkle of salt until translucent. Add the sherry and some lemon juice followed by the spices. Add pearl barley and cook for 2-3mins. Add 600ml water and stock cube. Leave to simmer stirring occasionally until water has mostly gone and barley is cooked. Add more water if needed. Stir through herbs. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. This can be heated up just before serving, if doing this, leave a little undercooked and add more water before heating.

  4. To finish the puree, remove the skin and seeds of the peppers. Using a blender liquidise all the ingredients, adjusting seasoning to taste.

  5. Bake the fish at 180 o C for 7-10mins. Meanwhile toast pine nuts on a medium heat in a frying pan for 3-5mins, then crush in a plastic bag with a rolling pin. To serve, spoon puree onto plates, top with risotto, then fish and finally crushed pine nuts.

  

Pimms jelly, Avocado Cream, Vanilla and Raspberry macaroon

Jelly 

125g sugar, 100ml water, 4 sheets gelatine, 125ml pimms, 100ml lemonade, selection of berries to serve, mint leaves

Avocado Cream 

1 avocado, 2tbsp greek yoghurt, pinch salt, 2tbsp icing sugar, 1tbsp lime juice

Vanilla and Raspberry Macaroons 

2 egg whites, 2tbsp caster sugar, 110g icing sugar, 175g ground almonds, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 75g frozen raspberries, 1tsp vanilla bean paste, 2tbsp caster sugar

  1. For the Jelly, Bring the sugar and water to the boil and boil for 2-3mins. Meanwhile soak gelatine leaves in cold water. Remove syrup from the heat and add gelatine leaves, squeezed out. Add pimms and lemonade and stir. Pour into 4 teacups. Leave to set at room temperature for 1 hour. Add fruit, leave to set in fridge for 2 or more hours.

  2. For the macaroons. Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Add caster sugar to form a meringue. Fold in icing sugar, almonds and vanilla bean paste. Scoop mix into a piping bag and pipe into circles on greaseproof paper. You may find it easier to draw templates on the paper first. Preheat oven to 210 o C. Drop trays onto a flat surface from a low heat to remove any air bubbles and peaks. Leave macaroons for 20mins to set the tops. Put in the oven for 5mins or until the macaroons start to brown. Immediately turn the oven off and leave for 30mins.

  3. For the filling, Heat raspberries, caster sugar and vanilla paste over a medium flame. Stir and mash the raspberries together as they defrost. Leave to simmer till dark and jammy Remove from the heat. When room temperature, sandwich to macaroons with the jam.

  4. For the Avocado cream, blend all ingredients together and adjust to taste.

  5. To serve, pipe cream onto the jellies, top with a mint leaf and serve macaroon on the saucer.

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Summer Salad: Pesto Salmon, Roasted Tomatoes and Green Bean Salad with a Yoghurt Basil dressing and Giant Garlic croutons.

I’ve been busy, as you might have guessed due to the lack of blog posts. Having returned from my travels as far afield as New Orleans, Sardinia and Kent (blog post to follow) I have made the move all the way back to the family home. Since officially returning to the nest I have spent many hours sorting out all the crap that builds up over 22 years. You know you’re a nineties baby when you find such treasures as the high tech palm pilot, a walkman boasting anti-bumping mechanism (so you can listen to CDs in the car without them skipping) and a Furbie which finally died from neglect. It was while sorting out another area of my life, which I had neglected almost as long as the Furbie, that I was given devastating news. After a trip to the Dentist I managed to dislocate my Jaw in a minor fashion, meaning I am currently on a liquid diet for the foreseeable future. You never know how much you take the ability to chew for granted, and how depressing it is only being able to drink your meals until you have no choice. Thoroughly annoyed at my situation, I have decided to live vicariously through my Parents at meal times. Tonight as I sat down to a large portion of Sweet Potato and Cumin soup, they dug into Pesto Salmon, Roasted Tomato and Watercress Salad, with a Yoghurt Basil Dressing and Giant Garlic Croutons.

  
2 Salmon Fillets

2tbsp pesto

5 cherry tomatoes

dried basil

green beans

2bsp Greek Yoghurt

2tbsp lemon juice

4 garlic cloves

knob of butter

2 slices brown bread

olive oil

Watercress

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Spread a tbsp of Pesto on each Salmon fillet and place in the oven with a drizzle of oil for 15mins. 

  2. Meanwhile halve the tomatoes and drizzle with olive oil and basil, place in the oven.

  3. For the croutons, chop the garlic finely. Heat the butter with 1tbsp oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2mins. Quarter the bread slices and fry in the pan for 2-3mins on each side. Scatter with parsley if you wish.

  4. To plate up, boil the green beans for 2-3mins then drain. Meanwhile mix the yoghurt, lemon juice and dried basil and season to taste. Dress the watercress and place in the middle of the plate. Top with green beans, then cherry tomatoes and drizzle over excess oil. Finally top with Salmon fillet and place croutons on the side.

Pan fried sea bream, ginger sweet potato mash, soy and mushroom dressing

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I am going to cookery school next year. Incidentalky, I know Cambridge to cookery school isn’t exactly the most conventional of routes but according to one recent tinder conversation it is hilarious.  

I’m sorry Dylan I don’t think we can be friends.  

Part of what I am especially excited about for next year is exploring a few cuisines I am nit so familiar with. Whilst I reckon I am pretty familiar with french (cream, butter, garlic, butter, snails, butter), Italian (basil, pasta, antipasti, tomatoes, pizza) and of course british (meat, two veg, custard, bread), I have yet to explore cuisines which fall slightly outside my radar. For example whilst I have had some amazing Indian meals, mostly my experience lies in bad Indian takeaway (rarely) and I would like to find out about the proper version of Indian food, which as I know can be fantastic. Likewise Asian cuisine is something I am interested in learning about. The flavours in Asian cuisine are so different from the European flavours that I am overwhelmed even when I attempt to teach myself due to lack of experience. However you have to start somewhere, so when the classicist came over to dinner I cooked her Pan fried sea bream, ginger sweet potato mash, soy and mushroom dressing. 

1. Heat 2 sweet potatoes for 10-12 mins in the microwave on high, until soft. Heat sesame oil, 1 clove garlic (chopped), 2 tsp ground ginger, 2tsp soy sauce and 1tsp sugar in a saucepan for 2-3mins. Scoop out the inside of the sweet potato into the saucepan and combine, mashing as you go.

2. For the mushroom dressing, chop 5 chestnut mushrooms in to thin slices. Sauté in 2 tsp seseme oil, pepper, 1tsp chilli powder, 3tbsp soy sauce, 2tsp fish sauce and 2tsp sugar. Cook for 2-3mins. Add 300ml water and 1/2 stock cube. Reduce by half. 

3. Finally pan fry the bream. Cook for 1min flesh side down in a searing hot pan, flip over and cook for 4mins on the skin side down, it should leave you a crispy skin. Serve. 

  

Easter Day with the Gullifers

Aren’t you lucky, today you get a double whammy of Gullifer Eats. Second part here. Partly because Easter weekend is all about food (and music and religion), or is that only in the Gullifer household? And partly because I am currently on a three and a half hour bus journey back to Oxford and am extremely bored. Most people are not put upon by relatives to host major festivals until they are at least settled with a mortgage, but for some reason the Gullifer clan descended on me this Easter holiday. Apparently it had something to do with the fact I mentioned I wouldn’t be able to come and cook the normal Easter feast at home, due to work….. But of course I relished in the planning, cooking, and of course the food shop that arrived to my door paid for by the parents, as I couldn’t afford to pay to feed everyone. It was a lovely weekend, peppered with Kings college concerts and services, the most amazing brunch at Cau (see below), cocktails with my sister and chocolate. For the main event I invited over Gluten-free-Dairy-free man and the Perpetual Poldark lover as they were in Cambridge for finals and I thought I’d add to their stress levels by inflicting my family on them.  

 

(Eggs Royale with grilled avocado and chimichurri sauce)

I am ashamed to say I didn’t cook any of the starter, I was a little strapped for time. But Waitrose came up trumps with their anti-pasti selection and the Sister arranged a Work of Art on the plate to make it that extra bit special.  We had giant Sicilian olives, gin and orange soaked olives, ricotta, baby mozzarella, fresh grilled anchovies, chargrilled artichokes (in some amazing dressing), smoked sundried tomatoes (wow) and some of the best pesto I’ve  tasted, with whole shreds of Parmesan.   

What I was pleased with was the wine selection, thank you Cambridge Wine Merchants. My sister had made an off hand comment earlier in the week about new world sparkling wines all tasting too sweet and sainsburys Cavaesque. I was determined to prove her wrong. I was recommended a Zuccardi Blanc de Blancs, an Argentinian sparkling wine aged on the lees (yeast) for 58 months. As the lady said to me, it tastes like liquid shortbread. Think a really intense champagne, reduced at the moment in the wine merchants to £16 it tastes like a much more pricey champagne, if you are in Cambridge I recommend. 

 

For main course, to mix things up from the traditional Lamb, we had whole baked salmon. Not only was it different and undoubtably healthier than lamb, it also only took 45mins (15mins on the highest temperature, 30 at 180*C). This was served with a lemon, dill and yoghurt dressing. Accompanied by smashed sweet potatoes – Simply cooked in a microwave for 15-20mins, smashed up with olive oil, a drizzle of truffle oil, thyme, salt, pepper and a little lemon juice. – We also had brussel sprouts with chorizo, which ‘convinced a fussy eater that sprouts were delicious’ according to the Perpetual Poldark lover. -Halved Brussel sprouts, drizzled with sesame oil, salt pepper, 1 onion, finely chopped, 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, and 200g cubed chorizo for 20-30mins at 180*C. -Finally we had asparagus with balsamic drenched tomatoes. – Blanched Asparagus, cherry tomatoes cooked in a little oil, salt and balsamic for 5mins and a scattering of basil.  

   

Finally for dessert, I couldn’t do anything but go down the chocolate route, it was Easter after all. (For the record Steve had coconut pannacotta, with sweet and salty almonds – literally coconut milk, sugar, lime juice, vanilla extract, gelatine, topped with toasted almonds tossed in sugar and salt-) I made orange and basil mousses, chocolate soil and white chocolate dipped strawberry. Any guesses as to what I was trying to recreate?  

 

We ended the meal in truly decadent (and bordering on bizarre) fashion. Vin Santo and Cantucci biscuits, Articulate – our favourite game, ridiculously competitive, and my father lighting amaretti papers on fire in the conservatory. Fun fact, did you know they rise like a pretty lantern when they burn? Next party trick. 

Pan-Fried Salmon, Lentil Dhal and Peanut-butter yoghurt with blueberries: Indulgent health food

The Daily Mail is particularly good at the odd health slogan. Some of my favourites include: ‘a mind is a terrible thing to waste and a waist is a terrible thing to mind!’, or ‘he who indulges, bulges’, and my personal favourite ‘If you let the cake control, you’ll look like a cinnamon roll’. While I’m not particularly motivated to avoid food based on either these slogans or the dismally contradictory “health” articles that follow the headlines, I do listen to my singing teacher. She has practically begged me to spend two weeks giving up alcohol, singing and talking in order to finally rest my voice after 3 years of singing almost every day. While I was being this quiet and anti-social, I thought I might as well use the opportunity to try and quell my addiction to chocolate and be a bit healthier for all of to weeks. While I’m never going to turn into a seed eating, yoga loving, alcohol abstainer, I have to admit that I do feel better and will hopefully keep the daily yoga up, [purely because I quite enjoy the satisfaction of finally being able to do a plank for 3 minutes without collapsing…) However I don’t think I would have ever been able to cope with these two weeks if I hadn’t still been able to eat tasty food, while still healthy. Finding partially smoked salmon fillets in sainsburys, I used some of the money I’d saved on booze from the fortnight and created the following dish. The peanut butter yoghurt was a no-brainer for me, I adore peanut butter (have you heard it’s healthy) and mixed with greek yoghurt, it tastes like an indulgent pudding.

Pan-Fried Salmon, Lentil Dhal, serves 2

  1. For the Dhal: Sweat 1 onion and 2 cloves garlic in 1tsp coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Add 1tsp each of; ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander and chilli powder. Add 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes, 1tsp sugar, 100g red lentils and vegetable stock to cover. Simmer for 15-20mins, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, take the salmon out of the fridge at least 1/2 hour before cooking. Heat a pan, add the salmon, flesh side down for 4-5mins. Flip and cook skin side down for 2-3mins, until skin is crispy. Place on top of the dhal, skin side up and scatter with coriander leaves.

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Peanut butter yoghurt, serves 1

  1. Heat 1tsp peanut butter in a bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mix in 170g greek yoghurt and (optional) 1tsp sugar. Top with blueberries.

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Home, Sweet Home

I have, unfortunately, got a back log of blogs, something I never thought I’d say. So during a period of self induced anti-social behaviour (by this I mean speaking as little as possible, no drinking, no noisy places etc in order to heal my vocal chords after years of singing on them sub-par) I am attempting to knock as many of these out as possible. Let’s start with my trip back home for the weekend, partly on the way back from an interview at Leiths cookery school (shameless name drop there) and partly to catch up with my grandma (and of course download the link to this site as part of her desktop so she never misses an article). I come home and suggest a nice dinner out, my parents enjoying my company, me exploiting free, nice food. My mother had other ideas. She had recently had a delivery from Sandy Lane Farm, the lovely oxfordshire farm that provided our Turkey for Christmas, of an assortment of random vegetables. In her own words, she was never going to get around to using them this week, as they were out almost every night, so could we maybe eat in? Well played mum, who’s exploiting who now…. On that note, Happy Mothers Day for yesterday So here is the vegetable inspired 3 course meal. (NB I think I may have found a way to convert even the most die-hard anti-sprouts veterans with this starter)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Wilted Cavolo Nero, Lemon-yoghurt dressing, Parmesan shavings, Poached Duck Eggs.

  1. For the brussels sprouts, wash, trim and cut brussels sprouts in half. Place in a dish and scatter with truffle oil, black pepper, salt and lemon juice. Roast for 20mins at 180°C.
  2. Meanwhile combine lemon juice, pepper, greek yoghurt and a pinch of sea salt and mix well. Wash the cavolo nero then pour over boiling water to wilt slightly, toss in dressing.

  3. Finally poach 4 duck eggs for 2-3mins so the centre is still soft. Top the cavolo nero with the brussel sprouts, parmesan shavings and finally the duck eggs.

Pan Fried Sea Bass, Swede and roasted garlic mash, walnut pesto, roasted lemons and maple roasted baby carrots.

1. Peel and chop swede, boil with salt, bay leaf, thyme and pepper until soft. Meanwhile roast the garlic (Whole) and slices of lemon for 20mins at 180°C.

2. For the pesto, blitz 200g walnuts, handful of parsley, 1tbsp walnut oil, 1tsp truffle oil, 2tsp lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor.

3. For the carrots, scrub, top and tail the baby carrots. Roast for 15-20mins in a drizzle of oil, maple syrup, salt, pepper and white wine vinegar.

4. For the sea bass, put 4 sea bass fillets in a pan of cold water with a bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and cumin. Bring slowly to the boil, as soon as you reach the boil turn of the heat and leave for 10mins. Pan fry in a drizzle of oil skin side down for 2mins, until skin is crispy.

5. To serve, mash the swede with 2-3tbsp olive oil, a pinch of cumin and the roasted garlic. Serve topped with the fish, walnut pesto, lemon slices and carrots.

 Maple and Sweetcorn Pannacotta, Maple Popcorn.

1. Bring 600ml milk and 200ml cream to the boil. Add 1tsp vanilla extract, 3tbsp maple syrup and 500g sweetcorn kernals, simmer for 2-3mins. Blend until smooth and pass through a sieve. Meanwhile soak 4 leaves of gelatine in cold water squeeze out and add to sweetcorn mix. Pour mix into ramekins.

2. For the popcorn, drizzle 1tsp oil in a pan. Add 2tbsp unpopped popping corn. Cook covered until the popcorn begins to pop, turn off heat and leave covered until the popping stops. Add 2tbsp maple syrup and shake well to coat, leave to one side.

3. Serve pannacotta topped with popcorn.

Eggs Royale: Slimline

It’s Mark Francis’ birthday so what else to do in the most pretentious graduate house there ever was but have a champagne breakfast. (Well sparkling wine) Despite the sore heads from celebrating MF’s birthday the night before we struggled through with hair of the dog. Cue the most unproductive day ever. Breakfast was swiftly followed by birthday cake then a nap, and finally a game of articulate to wind up the day early afternoon. Most importantly I wanted to make Eggs Royale because a) MF has a poached egg for breakfast everyday and b) I am obsessed with the combination of salmon and eggs for breakfast. The problem was the hollandaise sauce. Normally made with an enormous quantity of butter and taking around 20mins of attentive whisking, I wanted to make a version that was healthier and took half the time. Of course we did then cancel out the bid to be healthy with a slice of double chocolate cake but every little helps.

Serves 3
6 eggs
1 packet if smoked salmon
3 muffins
Sprigs of dill
3 egg yolks
4-5tbsp Greek yoghurt
1-2tsp lemon juice
1tsp Dijon mustard
Large pinch of salt
Pepper

  1. Poach eggs (nb I use an egg poacher, simple and effective tool, no faff necessary). Toast and butter muffins, top with salmon followed by eggs.
  2. For the sauce, whisk the egg yolks, yoghurt, lemon juice, mustard and salt together. Place bowl over a saucepan full of boiling water. Whisk for 4-5mins until thickened. Add pepper.
  3. Top eggs with sauce and garnish with dill. Serve with champagne.

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Salmon Risotto, Aldi’s finest

So Mark Francis and I are finally in the house together for the first time, me just back from Brazil (more on that later) him just back. The plan is to welcome him back from a long day at the office with a GandT and a home cooked meal of what Aldi has to offer. As I am technically unemployed at the moment I can’t really afford to splash the cash, so it is half a salmon fillet each (found in the freezer) and a pineapple I picked up for 59p from Aldi around which I create the menu. As we sit in the garden having a drink while dinner is cooking on the stove you’d almost think we were grown ups…..almost.

Salmon Risotto with peas and Swiss chard
(serves 2)

1 salmon fillet
100g risotto rice
1 bay leaf
Few sprigs of thyme
1tsp sesame oil
1 onion, chopped in to dice size pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Swig of white alcohol (white wine, vermouth, sherry – I used an ancient bottle of Becherovka (look it up) donated to me by my parents)
600ml stock
4-5tbsp lemon juice
Vanilla extract
Peppercorns
Juniper berries
Salt
Large handful of Swiss chard
Large handful of frozen peas

1. Sauté the onions and garlic in the sesame oil and a large pinch of salt over a medium heat, stirring till they become translucent. Add the wine and let bubble. Add the rice, thyme and peppercorns. Let sit for 1 min, then add a little stock. Stir till stock is combined and then add more, repeat till the rice is al dente. Keep stirring it, try not to leave unattended, it will stick to the pan otherwise.
2. Meanwhile put 250ml water, the bay leaf, a few peppercorns, juniper berries and a few sprigs of thyme in a pan. Add the salmon fillet and bring to the boil slowly over a medium heat. Boil for 2 min, remove from the heat and set aside. When ready to serve remove the salmon leaving it in the water for at least 5mins. Remove the skin and cut in half, the salmon should be on the cusp of turning light pink, the innermost centre still darkish pink.
3. Empty out all but 2cm of the water, add the chard and a pinch of salt, cook over a medium heat for 2mins until dark green.
4. Add the vanilla, lemon juice and peas to the risotto, cook for a further 3mins till the peas have defrosted.
5. Serve with the risotto as a base on the plate, topped with the Swiss chard and finally the salmon.

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London Calling

It was long ago decided my sister was going to be the rich sister, along the same time as she decided to go into Property and about the time I decided to go into food…. Unfortunately I can’t even claim to be the creative one in the family as she is both musical as well and way more fashionable than I am. What I can do however is cook for her friends when I am up. While my sister is not actually a bad cook, the fact that she was surprised that the list of ingredients included olive oil (which she didn’t have in the house) was possibly a good reason for me to intervene when cooking 3 courses for 8… London is still a little bit of a novelty for me. Having grown up in Oxford and barely ever leaving University in Cambridge during term time it’s still slightly exciting to use the tube, shop in Oxford street and go out in London (although the prices soon wear the novelty down). I was down in London to do a course in Wine course, 48 wines in 3 days (although of course you spit most of them away as you have to be pretty on it for the exam at the end of the 3 days). So now I should be able to tell you quite a lot about all the different grapes, where they come from, what they taste like and matching wines to food. (More on that later)

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So for the menu I cooked for my sister (aided I might add at this point by my sister’s lovely friend the business whizz, who came early to help. About 2 mins after I first met her she was chopping onions, absolutely brilliant) I made:

 

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Crunchy Butterbeans

1. Spread out 800g tinned Butterbeans or Garbanzo beans in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over sea salt, pepper, lime juice, paprika, pinch of cinnamon, pinch of cayenne pepper and a drizzle of oil.

2. Roast in the oven 190oC for 30mins, then turn down to 160oC and roast until crunchy, checking every 10mins to stir.

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White Gazpacho

1. Lay out 100g flaked almonds on a baking tray lined with foil. Toast at 200oC for 8-10mins until browned. Roast 2 heads of garlic at 200oC for30-40mins and then set aside to cool. Slice 100g white grapes in half and freeze with 100g quartered slices of cucumber.

2. Cut 375g white grapes in half and place in a bowl with 375g of chopped, skinless and seedless cucumber. Pour over 360ml natural yoghurt, a pinch of salt and pepper, 360ml water, 300g ground almonds, 360g sourdough bread, crust removed and torn into pieces and the roasted garlic cloves. (The best way to do this is using a serrated knife and slice of the bottom of the head of garlic and squeeze out the insides) Mix and leave overnight to marinade.

3. Blend the fridge mix together and season with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar to taste. Serve garnished with frozen grapes, frozen cucumber slices, flaked almonds and drizzle of oil.

Giant Couscous Paella, Roasted Cod, Crispy Ham, Pea Puree

1. Lay 140g Serrano ham (or Proscuitto) on a single layer on a lined baking tray nd roast for 6-8 mins at 200oC,, separate, cut into strips and leave to cool.

2. For the pea puree take 400g frozen peas, add 125ml vegetable stock, 3-4 garlic cloves, a bunch of mint, bunch of parsley and 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt. Blend together till smooth, season to taste. Refrigerate till ready to use.

3. For the Paella, soften 2-3 onions with 4-5 finely chopped garlic cloves and a pinch of salt in 2tsp olive oil. Add a splash of white wine, 4-5 strands of saffron, 1-2tsp paprika, 1-2tsp cayenne pepper and 2-3 red peppers cut into strips. Add 300g giant couscous and stir to coat for 2-3mins. Add 400ml stock and cook 8-10mins until the couscous is cooked.

4. For the cod, put 8 cod fillets skin up in a roasting tin, season and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 200oC for 8mins until just translucent and the skin is beginning to crisp.

5. Place pea puree on the plate, put a circle of paella in the centre and top with the fish and crispy ham.

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Lime Sponge, Lime, Tequila and Salted Caramel Syrup, Avocado mousse and White Chocolate Mint leaves

1. For the Syrup (1). Place 150g sugar in a pan. Add 50ml water, a large pinch of salt, 1 lime juice and zest. Bring to the boil and DO NOT STIR. Let bubble till it begins to turn very light orange, remove from the heat. Pour a little syrup into 8 greased, foil mini pudding basins. Leave to cool.

2. For the Sponge. Beat 170g sugar and 170g butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 eggs, vanilla essence, zest of 1 lime and 1tsp cinnamon for 2-3 mins. Fold in 170g self raising flour. The mix should be pale yellow and not too thick, if it is too thick add a little milk. Spoon batter into the 8 pudding basins, filling up to halfway. Bake in the oven for 12-15mins at 140oC or until golden brown and cooked in the middle (check using a metal skewer, if it comes out clean the cakes are done. Set aside till ready to use.

3. For the Mint Leaves, Melt 100g white chocolate in a microwave in 20sec bursts. Pick individual mint leaves and pat completely dry. Dip the leaves in the mint and place on a greased, foil lined tray, place in the fridge to set.

4. For the mousse, mash 2 avocados and blend with 300g Greek Yoghurt (blending creates a lighter texture than just mixing). Add a small bunch of mint, a pinch of salt, 2-3tbsp of icing sugar and lime juice (to taste).

5. For the syrup (2). This syrup needs to be clear so make the syrup as step 1 but take it off the heat before it gets any colour and it should be thinner. Add 50ml white tequila. (This should be used warm)

6. To serve, turn out the sponges and drizzle with the warm syrup. Serve with the Avocado mousse and white chocolate mint leaf.

 

Exam Fuel: The Foodie way

Exam Fuel: The Foodie way

I might be going slightly mental during finals. Not only have I used it as an excuse to blow the student budget on nutritionally balanced exam fuel, but I’m also believing any bullshit I read on the internet. For example, because I read that salmon boosts omega 3 I started exam day with smoked salmon and cream cheese on a toasted onion bagel and home pickled dill, juniper and peppercorn cucumber. (my new favourite quick and simple tasty recipe)

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I have been eating ship loads of bananas (apparently potassium boosts your brain), peppermint tea (an obscure website says it reduces stress and panic) and broccoli is becoming a staple of every meal since I became convinced by the rather obviously named super foods.com, that it is a superfood. (Although I’m not sure its skills at fighting birth defects will be that helpful right now). I’m addicted to Pret sea salt dark chocolate, it apparently reduces stress, using pistachios in several of my meals, protein brain boost, and eating mountains of cherries, they help you sleep? 3 down, 1 to go…

So here are a few brain boosting, superfood filled, fuller for longer meals…. when I finish I’m eating cheesecake.

Cucumber Pickle

1. Use a vegetable peeler to make thin strands of cucumber, discarding the centre (or eating it). Scatter over crushed peppercorns, 4 juniper berries, large pinch of salt, chopped dill, 2-3tsp sugar, a splash of lemon juice and 200ml white wine vinegar. Shake, leave overnight. Eat

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Salmon, pistachio basmati rice, lemon and dill sauce and steamed broccoli for 1

1. Take the salmon fillet out of the fridge. Put 50g basmati rice in a pan over a medium heat. Add 1tsp Garam Masala, leave for 1min. Add boiling water and 1 vegetable stock cube and whisk till dissolved. Leave for 10 mins or until a lot of liquid has evaporated but there is still a little left. Stir in 10-12 pistachio nuts, unsalted. Cover and set aside.

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2. Chop 2 garlic cloves into small pieces. Fry in 1/2tsp oil for 2-3mins. Add pepper and 3-4tbsp lemon juice. Add 1/2 stock cube and 250ml water. Bubble till reduced by about half. Whisk in 2 light mini Philadelphia tubs till combined. Reheat and add a large handful of chopped dill, season to taste.

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3. Meanwhile heat a frying pan over a medium heat NB DO NOT LET IT GET TOO HOT. When hot, add the salmon skin side down, unseasoned. Leave untouched for 5-7 mins till the skin is crispy. (NB mine was quite thick) Turn and cook for a further 2-3mins. The salmon should be a really vivid pink inside and tender, if it is too pale you have over cooked it, if it is still fleshy it is rare, better for a different recipe. Luckily mine was perfect 🙂 Finally steam the broccoli, serve.

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I’m not claiming this will get me a first but it certainly sent me into my exam smiling. Image

Smoked Salmon, Creamy scrambled eggs, Sweet roasted peppers, toasted onion bagel

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Usually I am a great advocate of butter, try as I might to be healthy – even I have to admit butter makes everything taste better. In the light of healthy exam fuel I made my eggs with half fat creme fraiche. I am a convert, the creamiest, fluffiest scrambled eggs ever.

1. Chop 1 pepper into strips. Scatter with a pinch of salt. Microwave on high for 5-8mins (I did this the night before).

2. Whisk 3 eggs, pinch of salt, pepper and 1 tbsp light creme fraiche. Microwave for 30secs at a time, whisking between each spurt. BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERCOOK, the eggs will keep cooking, so set them aside when they are still a bit runny.

3. Toast a bagel, top with the eggs (no butter), strips of smoked salmon, the pepper and a sprigs of dill.

Soy milk porridge, berry compote, salted pistachios

1. Put 50g oats, 250ml unsweetened soy milk and a pinch of salt in a pan. Simmer for 5-6mins, stirring. Pour into a bowl.

2. Put 1 snack pack of blueberries in a pan with 2tsp sugar and 3tbsp water. Simmer for 5mins. Place on porridge with a small handful of salted pistachio nuts. 

Lean Rump steak, light peppercorn sauce, paprika sweet potato chips, lemon and garlic broccoli, serves 1 – 15mins.

1. Chop 1 small sweet potato into thin strips. Scatter with sea salt and paprika. Roast on high in the microwave for 8-10mins.

2. Meanwhile heat a frying pan seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Trim the 200g steak of all visible fat. Chop 2 garlic cloves into thin slices and put in the bottom of a saucepan. Top with an in saucepan steamer and fill with chopped broccoli. Steam for 5mins.

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3. Fry the steak for 3-4mins on each side for rare – medium rare. Set aside. Add  2 chopped cloves garlic into the steak pan. Fry for a minute. Add a good glug of cooking brandy (I know I’m off booze for exams but this is medicinal, and the alcohol is burnt off). Sprinkle in 1 crushed stock cube, 1tsp slightly crushed peppercorns and 150ml water. 

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4. Meanwhile drain the broccoli and garlic. Return to the saucepan with a good dose of lemon juice. Cover off the heat, shake and leave aside. Add 1-2tbsp light creme fraiche to the sauce and stir. Return the steak to the pan with any juices that have seeped out. Leave for a minute. Serve. The steak should be on the cusp of turning pink.

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Rare Teriyaki Salmon, garlic, ginger and chilli chickpea mash, Coriander leaves, crispy chilli broccoli.

1. Heat a frying pan. Meanwhile pour the contents of a small can of chickpeas in water into a pan (including the water). Add 1/2 small chopped red chilli, seeds removed, 2 cloves garlic, chopped,1/2 a stock cube and 1tsp chopped ginger. 

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2. Place 1 fillet of salmon skin side down in the heated pan. Cook for 2-4 mins until the skin is crispy, remove from the pan and set aside. Add 1 large garlic clove, 1/2 small chopped chilli, seeds removed and fry for 2-3mins. Add 4tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp rice vinegar, and 2tbsp sugar. Leave to bubble.

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3. Take the chickpeas of the heat and mash with a fork. Place 1 chopped garlic clove and 1 small chopped chilli, seeds removed and some broccoli  to a pan, fry for 1-2 mins. Add a small amount of boiling water and leave to steam.

4. When the teriyaki sauce has reduced by a third, add the salmon flesh side down. Leave for 1-2mins (for medium cook for a further 2mins – I like my salmon rare in the middle in this dish but not raw. The colour of raw salmon but not the texture).

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5. The broccoli water should have totally evaporated and the broccoli should be soft. Serve the salmon on top of the chickpea mash, scattered with coriander.

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