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So whilst N eats his homemade beef burger with melted cheese AND bacon, I made myself a meat-free version.
I tossed thick slices of halloumi cheese in polenta before pan frying it in a little oil until it goes crisp and golden.
One side of the bun was spread with homemade olive tapenade (black olives, a garlic clove and some olive oil all blitzed up), the other with mayonnaise with sundried tomato paste mixed through.
Add some lettuce and roasted red peppers (mine came from a jar), pop in the hot crispy halloumi and take a BIG bite.
This is simply divine – if you love fish and chips this is a beautiful alternative. Get cooking!
Hot ‘fish and chip’ salad
Serves 2 hungry mouths
For the ‘fish and chips’
100g white fish (Coley was my choice)
Fine bread crumbs
200g waxy new potatoes
For the dressing
Couple of teaspoons of capers
Big bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 generous tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Slice the new potatoes in half lengthways and parboil for 5 minutes. Allow to steam dry for a couple of minutes.
In a large frying pan, heat enough olive oil to cover the base of the pan. Add the parboiled new potatoes, cut-side down and fry gently – turn when are golden underneath – this should take about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut your fish into fingers. I chose Coley from my local fishmongers – this piece of 100g cost less than £1.50 – what a bargain! As the fish monger said, “Cheaper than Mr Birdseye!”
Blitz up your breadcrumbs so they are fine and delicate – I used up some focaccia from last week. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Toss the fingers of fish in the breadcrumbs to coat.
Before frying your fish – prepare the dressing. Blitz up all the dressing ingredients adding enough oil to make a loose dressing and enough lemon juice to give it a nice acidic tang.
In a non-stick frying pan heat enough groundnut oil to cover the fish fingers. When hot, carefully add the fish fingers – they should bubble and crackle as they enter the oil. The oil might spit so watch out!
The fish fingers should take a couple of minutes to cook through and start to turn golden. Drain on paper towel when cooked.
Add a good handful of watercress to your plates. Add the fried potatoes and the fish fingers. Finely drizzle with generous amounts of the dressing. Serve additional dressing in a bowl for people to add as they like. Eat straight away!
This recipe is inspired and slightly adapted from Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Food’.
Last weekend I planted my first vegetable seeds of the year…peas…broad beans…little gem lettuce…and Angelica (a first for me).
As you can see the first signs of life are poking through – how exciting!
Last weekend N and I did some baking. We baked two loaves of white bread and a focaccia, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt crystals and chopped rosemary from the garden.
The dog tried to take a bite from each at different moments throughout the afternoon and evening. We only lost of tiny bit of crust – thankfully!
We used a white bread recipe from Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills of Cooking and a focaccia recipe from River Cottage Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
On Sunday, we enjoyed the sunshine, walked the dog, and pottered in the garden. I did a bit of weeding, and helped N make a run for Lovage and Daisy’s hutch – it’s so smart and they now have much more room. Happy bunnies.
Late afternoon we sat and watched the rugby and ate hunks of homebaked bread spread thickly with goat’s butter and raspberry jam.
Image: thegreenorchard photography
Since going to University and moving in with a meat loving man, I have changed my diet and given in to cravings for crispy bacon and salami (my meat weaknesses).
I would, however, like to eat less meat. I think it is important to value meat in our diets, and not just take it for granted or see it as an integral element to every dish. It is so lovely to read an article like this so I just had to share it.
Somehow I think a dish like this for dinner won’t fill us up – certainly not a hungry man. But it does. And it’s incredibly satisfying and you’re not left wanting more.
Here’s how to make it…
Warm salad of winter leaves, crispy pancetta and a poached egg
Serves 2 for a scrumptious dinner or a light lunch
Couple of handfuls of winter leaves
6-8 thin slices of pancetta
Half a ciabatta loaf
1 clove of garlic
Squeeze of lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Tear up the ciabatta into bite-sized pieces and spread out on a baking sheet. Thinly slice the garlic and sprinkle over the ciabatta, along with a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper. Bung in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the ciabatta starts to go golden.
Whilst the ciabatta is crisping up, put a pan of boiling water on ready to poach your eggs.
Place your salad leaves in a bowl and squeeze over some lemon juice, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil and toss well. Sprinkle over a pinch of salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Once the 5 minutes is up, quickly remove the baking tray from the oven and lay the slices of pancetta on top of the ciabatta. Pop back in the oven for about another 5 minutes or until the pancetta is crispy.
Meanwhile, poach the eggs. This is how I poach eggs:
1) bring a pan of water to a simmer
2) I add a dash of white wine vinegar to help the eggs as I’m never confident without it!
3) carefully crack your egg into a small ramekin so the yolk doesn’t burst
4) using a spoon, I start to rapidly mix the water to create a whirlpool effect in the middle
5) carefully pour the egg into the centre of the pan where the whirlpool is and pray that it holds together!
Usually I just judge by eye when the egg is how I like it – with a runny golden yolk. I do one egg at a time. For a more accurate way to poach eggs I’d suggest Delia.
Whilst your eggs are poaching, start to plate everything else up.
Pop a good handful of dressed winter leaves onto your plate. Follow this with a scattering of the crunchy, garlicky ciabatta croutons. Next I lay over the crispy pancetta.
Finally, as the eggs are ready carefully remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and let them drain for a moment. Gently rest the poached egg in the nest of leaves, croutons and pancetta and dust with a little sea salt and black pepper.
Now cut open that beautiful orb encased in its fluffy white cloud to let that silky golden yolk dribble down over the croutons and pancetta. Yum-ee.
Hopefully I’m going to start getting back into posting. I’ve been a bit useless really. And I miss it.
Here are some snaps of our French antipasto style dinner – we were celebrating 6 years together! We are trying to save for our wedding at the moment, so decided to stay at home and eat well rather than going out for dinner.
We had a selection of French saucisson sec (some encrusted with herbs)…
…tiny fragrant olives, gooey Reblochon, silky St Agur blue cheese…
…sun-dried tomatoes, organic chicken liver pate (a much tastier homemade version here), a bowl of delicate salad leaves topped with shavings of Parmesan…
…and all brought together with a bowl of crusty baguette. Eaten in front of a roaring log fire…
It seems our family continues to grow. Meet Buddy.
For the past month or more N and I have been going to a local dog rescue centre looking out for a dog. We weren’t expecting to find one we fell in love with so soon, but decided that if we were serious about looking for a dog we wouldn’t find one without at least visiting.
Buddy came into the centre as a stray, and is still very skinny (beneath his thick curly black coat). He must have had a home once upon a time because he’s house trained and sits when told to. Most people we’ve spoken to think he’s a Labradoodle – he’s got a Labrador-ish face but a very Poodle-ish bottom with a little tail that sticks up in the air.
He came with the name ‘Buddy’ – initially we wanted to change it, but having gone through numerous baby name website and dog name lists nothing seemed to fit better. So it looks like he will stay as Buddy.
This is a new adventure for us, and nearly a week after getting him both of us are quite tired. Tired but excited, and really loving the new addition to our family.
I feel like I have fallen off the planet for the past few weeks. Last week I was delivering a week long conference, then I caught a terrible bug that was going round – I lost a lot of weight, didn’t eat anything for two days, slept for days. I am now only beginning to get my appetite back, one small mouthful at a time.
Food hasn’t been my best friend for the past week so I haven’t got anything lovely to post, however, I do have some pictures of the first signs of new life on the allotment.
Here’s what the allotment looks like at the moment…
And the first signs of life…
No matter how weird-looking rhubarb is when it’s emerging, there’s something comforting about these first signs of life amongst the dreary greys and soggy browns of the allotment.