Zesty Chicken & Pearl Barley Salad

Spring has sprung so it’s time for slightly lighter suppers with plenty of salad leaves. This zingy chicken salad recipe serves two people, and is full of flavour and colour. The chilli, lime, garlic & ginger combination works nicely with the slightly sweet salad dressing.
Continue reading “Zesty Chicken & Pearl Barley Salad”

Sticky Tuna with Rice Noodles, Stir Fry Vegetables & Avocado

This delicious recipe of Sticky Tuna with Rice Noodles, Stir Fry Vegetables & Avocado makes for a really quick and easy lunch. It’s so simple – you can make this healthy bowl of goodness in under 10 minutes. Prepare it the night before and enjoy it cold at your desk. No fuss, just an amazing lunch to keep you going.
Continue reading “Sticky Tuna with Rice Noodles, Stir Fry Vegetables & Avocado”

The Fluffiest American Pancakes

The hunt has been on going to find the fluffiest American pancakes out there. After many weekends, usually Sunday mornings, of trial and error, making stacks upon stacks of fat pancakes of varying success, I can finally put down the recipes books. I have found the recipe for the lightest, fluffiest most joyful pancakes out there. Continue reading “The Fluffiest American Pancakes”

Mexican Shrimp Pitta Pockets

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An easy Mexican feast you can make at home. We enjoyed ours with red wine but frozen margaritas or mojitos would work just as well!

For the shrimp pitta pockets you’ll need:

  • 6 white or wholemeal pitta breads
  • 1 1/2 – 2 avocados
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 red chilli – deseeded and chopped
  • juice of half a lime
  • 2 deseeded red tomatoes
  • handful of coriander
  • 1 packet of baby shrimps or cooked prawns
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • cucumber – thinly sliced
  • baby gem lettuce – thinly sliced
  • A sprinkling of cheese – your choice which kind!

To make:

First add the onion, garlic, chilli & tomato to a food processor with a glug of good quality olive oil. Whizz that up until it’s all quite well chopped. Add in your avocado, lime juice and chopped coriander and whizz again – not too much, make sure there are some avocado chunks left. Set aside.

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Put some olive oil in a non stick frying pan, add your mix of cumin, cayenne, paprika & chilli powder.

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Warm the spices up for 2-3 minutes in the pan then add your prawns (chopped into smaller pieces) or baby shrimp and make sure they are all completely covered in the spices. Fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

To assemble:

Cut your pitta breads in half and fill with a tablespoon of your guacamole mix, followed by some prawns, then the shredded lettuce and cucumber, then top with cheese.

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Pop your pitta pockets under the grill for about 5 minutes, careful not to burn the edges (oops!)

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As everything in your pocket is already cooked you are really just heating the pitta breads and letting the cheese go all gooey and delicious!

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Now pour yourself a well deserved glass of wine and enjoy! Served here with some tasty sweet potato wedges, sour cream and a side of corn on the cob.

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Soups & Salads

In my excitement of hosting dinner on Hogmanay, I got a little over enthusiastic when shopping for supplies ended up with lots of leftover salad leaves – two huge bags of rocket & spinach salad to be precise. I just hate the idea of people not having enough food, but then I also hate waste… a vicious circle! Until now, I had never used salad leaves in soup before, so was a little apprehensive. However, after consulting some friends and of course with twitter, the consensus was that it would work out ok.

And it did, quickly and easily I should mention too…

Add some peeled new potatoes and vegetable stock (ideally I would use some of Mr F&P’s homemade stock, but in the absence of that I use Knorr stock pots) to a large pot with the salad leaves and cook until the potatoes are soft. Throw in some frozen peas, a good three handfuls or so and cook for another five minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool, then liquidise.

What you end up with is a rather delicious green pea, potato, rocket & spinach soup, served with a dash of cream and some freshly chopped chives. wpid-img_20150105_160113.jpg

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If you like the look of the side dish, that’s super easy too, and is lovely and light for lunch. Just smash up half an avocado in a bowl, add some chopped cherry tomatoes, a dash of lime and some chilli flakes and serve on a couple slices of fresh, lightly toasted brown baguette bread. Drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and enjoy.

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Sweet potato, red pepper & coconut soup

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This super easy soup recipe can be whipped up in about 25 minutes and you can really add whichever vegetables take your fancy. The recipe was given to me by Ruth, who has featured before on the blog – check out her amazing salads here.

Ingredients (this makes four small bowls/mugs)
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet red pepper
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
Chilli flakes or one chilli, chopped and deseeded
1 cube of ginger
Fresh coriander leaves
Vegetable stock
Coconut milk
Salt & pepper to season

Fry up your onion for a couple of minutes in some good quality olive oil, once soft add garlic, chilli, ginger and coriander, along with any other vegetable like the red pepper, and fry for another minute or two. Add the chopped sweet potato to the pan and pour in enough vegetable stock to cover the ingredients in the pan. Pop the lid on and simmer for 20mins or so, until the sweet potato is soft. Take your pot off the heat and blend, I used a kendwood soup liquidiser. Taste, add in some salt and pepper as required and splash of coconut milk, or however much you like really! If your soup is really think you can loose with a dash of water or add more coconut milk.

To finish I garnished with some roughly chopped spring onions, but you could also add some freshly chopped coriander or chilli. But really all you need is your favourite winter soup bowl or mug and a some fresh out the oven crusty bread! Enjoy!
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Commuter blogging

Since changing jobs my 30 minute walk to work has been swapped with 30 minutes sitting on the bus. Not ideal as I would prefer to walk, but I’m now working in the food and drink sector which I adore, so it’s a change I am quite happily adapting to.

It’s not exactly a huge commute, however I’ve got a whole hour of extra time in my day which, as it turns out, is perfect for blogging. These posts will probably be much shorter than usual, but still full of lots of yummy food and drink ideas!

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So, on to today’s topic… delicious smoked trout (yes that’s right, trout, not salmon!) with creamy, scrambled eggs on a toasted bagel. It couldn’t be quicker or easier, but it really hits the spot on a Saturday morning.

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Smoked trout is a brilliant alternative to smoked salmon. The smoked fish flavour is not quite as intense as that of smoked salmon, so for breakfast it’s perfect. It carries all the health benefits of smoked salmon – high in Omega-3, a great source of protein and it’s low fat.

For this breakfast bagel I used RR. Spink & Sons Loch Etive smoked trout. If you are drawn in by the lovely package, you’ll be pleased to hear the contents don’t disappoint. But first things first, how to make the perfect scrambled eggs.

For two people:

Whisk 4 medium sized eggs in a bowl, add some salt and pepper and a dash of milk. If you want real luxurious eggs add a dash of cream instead of milk.

Melt a reasonable sized knob of butter in your non stick frying pan. Just as the butter has all melted add the eggs to the pan. Leave for a minute to let the bottom start to cook, then using a wooden pan or plastic spatula, move the eggs around every 20 seconds or so, allowing the eggs to cook through. I like mine a little runny so I take them off the heat just as the last bits are starting to cook.

Slice your bagel and pop it in the toaster. Lightly toast and then assemble your eggs and then your smoked trout on top. You might like to squeeze over a little bit of fresh lemon or crack some more pepper.

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Now all that’s left is to get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and tuck in.

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

Summer is getting roasty toasty

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There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a good Sunday roast throughout the summer months. You just need to swap your Yorkshire puddings and bread sauce for some crunchy salad leaves and a light gravy and you’re good to go.

Last weekend Mr F&P whipped up an awesome summer roast – it was just what I felt like after a busy weekend in Glasgow, and it fed us for a few days to follow too.

roast chicken side view

Just look at that incredible crispy skin!

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He cooked up this impressive chicken with lots of butter, garlic, fresh rosemary & lemon. Mix a good dollop of butter, some crushed garlic, chopped rosemary and lemon juice together in a bowl, and brush over your bird. Don’t be stingy either, get it all on there, you don’t want your chicken to dry out in the oven. I like the skin to go really, really crispy and rubbing a good amount of salt on the chicken skin first will help you get there.

Look out a decent roasting dish and place your chicken on top of a bed of onions, chopped into quarters, and whatever else you’d like to roast – we had some carrots on the go with ours, but sweet peppers would be equally delicious. Remember to brush your veggies with a tiny bit of olive oil first.

How long you cook the chicken depends on the weight. This roast timer on the BBC website will give you all the timings and temperatures you need.

Next up, my favourite part, the roast potatoes. These are so easy to do. Just cover the potatoes in a good glug of quality olive oil and sprinkle plenty of rock salt over them, then pop them in the oven for 40-50mins. A little side note on oil – I can always find this olive oil in my nearest supermarket, and it’s great on salads or to cook with.  It’s worth remembering there are so many great, independent producers around these days, like Summer Harvest Oils, from Perthshire, who do a variety of rapeseed oils and dressings.

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Let’s get a close up of a few of those little pots…

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When your chicken is done and the potatoes are ready, simply serve with some fresh salad leaves and whatever else you fancy. I’m a bit obsessed with avocado at the moment, so that features in a lot of my salads dishes these days, but some ripe tomatoes, lettuce and cucumber did a fine job last weekend.  Fingers crossed it’s sunny and set up camp outside, sip on a chilled glass of vino blanco and tuck in! The juices in the bottom of the roasting dish make a lovely light gravy to go over the chicken, and don’t forget to get plenty of that yummy, crispy skin…

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Oohhh look at those delicious roasted onions and that crispy, garlicky, crunchy skin…

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The big bonus? Make this on a Sunday and you can enjoy some amazing chicken salads and for the next few days at work, making all your colleagues super envious and looking totally together and healthy at work. It’s rare for me, but being that organised on a Monday feels amazing, try it for yourselves!

 

Cooking with beets

Beetroot and lemon

Beetroot isn’t something I’ve cooked with before, fresh or otherwise, but I LOVE when you get a bright pink beetroot flavoured plate of food in a restaurant, just like I did last weekend at the Ox and Finch. The other inspiration for cooking with beetroot has come from Mr F&P purchasing Runner’s World “The New Complete Guide to Nutrition”. Running to the beet and all that.

With this new found love of beetroot, so far we’ve just chucked it in stir-frys and this evening I decided to try beetroot pearl barley risotto. I also made some chicken strips with a lemon and parmesan crumb, some roasted baby tomatoes, kale and green beans.

I didn’t follow any particular recipe as such, so I am sure there are tastier combinations about there. However, here’s what I decide to whizz up…

To make the risotto:

Chop half an onion and 2 -3 garlic gloves, pop in a pan with some good olive oil and cook until soft. Measure out your pearl barley – I used half a cup per person, this turned out to be faaar too much, so I’d say a quarter of a cup per person (sorry, I don’t do grams when cooking!)

Pearl Barley and cup

Pop the barley in with your onions and garlic and cook on a low heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile boil the kettle and mix up a vegetable stock cube, I use Knorr stock pots. Add the stock to the risotto, turn down the heat and allow to simmer away for about 30-40minutes, topping the barley up with water when needed.

And now for the beetroot. I was using pre-cooked beetroot, and I just chopped one up, popped it in the blender along with some lemon juice and salt…

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blended beetroot with lemon and salt

I wanted the risotto to have a really intense, bright pinky/purple colour, but I’ve realised I added the beetroot too early, and as it cooked in the risotto the colour really faded. So, I’d advising adding your beetroot with about 5 or 10 mins left to go – when I first put it in the pan the colour was awesome!

Finally, when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are soft, stir in some lovely parmesan.

Parmesan

Now, on to the chicken strips – these were so, SO, easy, yet really tasty and I think they went quite well with the risotto. The crumb is simple – just whizz up some breadcrumbs and parmesan in your blender. (I should have mentioned at the start, clearly you’ve got to be on board with parmesan cheese try this recipe!) For 6 or 7 small strips of chicken I used one slice of bread and a small handful of grated parmesan. Transfer the crumbs into a bowl and mix in the juice of half a lemon and some olive oil.

Lay your chicken strips out on your oven dish or baking tray, and just pat some of the crumb into the top of each strip – it’s easiest just to use your fingers, and don’t stress about being neat!

chicken strips

I also added some cherry tomatoes that needed using up to the tray. The chicken then goes in the oven at about 180-200 degrees C for about 25 minutes – just make sure the chicken is cooked through and you want the crumb to be turning nice and brown, but not burning.

Finally, I steamed some kale and served with a green salad we had in the fridge, but that was a bit of an after thought. Once it’s all ready, plate up and enjoy!

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