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.

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Caesar Salad, Pancetta wrapped Cod, Jelly, Ice Cream and Chocolate

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents dearly. But for two immensely talented and successful people, they are absolutely hopeless at feeding themselves. People think I’m joking when they ask where I learnt to cook and I tell them it wasn’t so much where but why, it was a necessity if I didn’t want to live off fish cakes for the majority of my teenage years. Take this weekend when I came home. I had offered to cook dinner for the parents and the man upstairs, and in return my mum had bought in a shopping order. I had left basic items like stock and dried herbs off the list assuming anyone who isn’t a student, lives in a house full time and presumably eats would have these staples, I was wrong. My mothers response? ‘We had some at christmas’, yes we did, and I used it up, the last time I cooked in our house. My father is I’m afraid no better, while very good at selecting wines for our dinner, he took in the food order and left out most of the veg and salad because they wouldn’t fit in the fridge, the fridge was full of potatoes…. Anyway, for those of you who know how to store vegetables, here is a standard, albeit slightly middle class, quick dinner party menu.

Posh Caesar Salad (Serves 4) 

2 iceberg lettuces, 2 chicken breasts, 4 quails eggs, 10 anchovies, 1 small sourdough roll, 1 egg yolk, 1/3 tsp of English mustard, 1/2 tsp of garlic, finely chopped, 1 1/4 tsp of white wine vinegar, 1 1/4 tsp of lemon juice 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 10g of Parmesan, grated, 120ml of vegetable oil

1. Sprinkle chicken with sea salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil and top with 1/2 crushed garlic clove each. Roast for 12-15mins at 180*C, leave to rest. 

  1. Meanwhile boil the quails eggs for 2 1/2mins, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process. When cool, peel and set aside. Cut the roll into croutons and toast on both sides under a grill, seasoned with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.
  2. For the dressing, blend 2 anchovies, egg yolk, mustard, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Slowly add oil whilst blitzing. Add Worcester sauce, lemon juice and Parmesan, season to taste.

  3. Serve drizzled over Iceberg lettuce topped with chicken, anchovies, quails egg and Parmesan slivers.  

Pancetta wrapped cod, pearl barley risotto, garlic mushrooms, crispy kale, Early Grey jus

4 cod fillets, boneless and skinless, 12 rashes pancetta, 100g button mushrooms, 2 cloves garlic, 100g kale, dried rosemary, 320g pearl barley, 2 stock cubes, 1 onion, dried thyme, drizzle of truffle oil, 3tbsp Brandy. 2 earl grey tea bags.

  1. Soak the tea bags in 300ml hot water for at least 1hr. Wrap 3 pancetta rashes around each fish and set aside in a baking tray. Meanwhile place the kale in a baking dish, sprinkled with salt, pepper, rosemary and a small drizzle of oil. Place in the oven at 140*C for 25mins, stirring occasionally, until crispy.
  • .Meanwhile, slice the onions into small pieces. Sauté for 2-3mins in olive oil and salt. Add the pearl barley, thyme then brandy. Add 600ml stock and cook, stirring occasionally for 30mins, adding more water if needed. Season with lemon juice, pepper, salt and truffle oil and set aside.

  • Forthe mushrooms, finely chop garlic and cook in truffle oil for 1min. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5mins over a high heat, set aside. Put the fish on to cook in 140*C oven for 15mins.

  • Meanwhile, make jus. Combine earl grey stock with stock cube, salt, pepper and lemon juice, reduce by about half.

  • Just before serving, heat jus and risotto. Make a bed with the risotto, scatter around mushrooms, place fish on top, drizzle jus and scatter with kale chips.  

  • Grown-up Jelly, Ice cream and chocolate sauce

    A nostalgic nod to my primary school, The Rowans, where we indulgently were given those wonderful ice cream squares, strawberry jelly and chocolate custard, my favourite dessert. We used to mix them all up together in a wonderful synthtic, sugary mess we loved. This thankfully is more refined, very simple and quick and tasty, try adding ginger to the ice cream.

    1 tub vanilla ice cream, 200g shortbread biscuits, 4tbsp maple syrup, Silicone half sphere moulds, 300ml grapefruit juice, 4 gelatine leaves, 200g dark chocolate, 50g sugar, 50ml water, pinch of sea salt.

    1. Let the ice cream soften, until it can be squeezed out of its tub. Use a pastry brush to coat 4 silicone moulds. Crush shortbread in a plastic bag with a rolling pin to fine crumbs. Pour into moulds to coat and shake out so you have an even layer lining the moulds. Scoop ice cream into each mould, using a knife to level the base. Freeze.
  • For the jelly, heat grapefruit juice to boiling. Soak gelatine leaves in cold water, squeeze out and stir into grapefruit juice. Pour into a base lined square dish and refrigerate for at least 2hrs.

  • For the sauce, heat water and sugar to boiling. Stir in chocolate and salt until melted. Chop grapefruit jelly into squares. Serve beside ice cream and jelly in a little jug.

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