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After a breakfast of croissants, stocking opening and snacking on multiple treats, we don’t normally need much more for Christmas day lunch than a big plate of smoked salmon to share.

Father Christmas (thanks Mr Rigg’s mommy) sent us a gorgeous side of smoked salmon, and what couple be easier than thinly sliced seeded rye bread, thinly smeared with salty butter and spritzed with lemon juice.

Sometimes I like to grate a little lemon zest over the top, but this time I took some inspiration from my new Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals book and sprinkled over some crisp green cress. 

That little bit of greenery helped lift my feelings after so much rich and sugary food.

All helped down with a nice glass of special fizz, bought all the way back from a holiday in the Loire Valley.

13/01/11 – somehow this post was published as January 2010…rather than January 2011 – I just found it in the wrong place!

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What to eat for lunch when the fridge is almost bare?  My solution is homemade hummous and toasted pitta bread – all which can be made from what’s in my cupboards and freezer.

My homemade hummous is inspired by some my friend Jane made – it’s a simple matter of whizzing together a tin of chickpeas and olive oil, with lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Today I’ve used 1 medium garlic clove, juice of about 1 small lemon (I find getting the amount of lemon juice right is what makes or breaks this hummous), and about a teaspoon of ground cumin.

Today I’m eating my hummous with toasted pitta breads from the freezer.  Pitta breads freeze fantastically and I always try to have a packet in the freezer ready to toast whenever I’m out of fresh bread. 

They can be easily popped in a toaster or if, like me, you are toaster-less, simply bung them under a hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side.  Beware of hot steam escaping from the pittas once toasted!

Here’s me eating my lunch in my not-so-romantic working space…

As promised, my basic dressing recipe.  I’m not quite sure what makes a ‘French’ dressing, but this recipe include Dijon mustard, which is French.  A tip I picked up from Jamie Oliver is to use two types of ‘acid’ in a salad dressing – I can’t really remember the reason, but I do it, and I like it.

This salad dressing is easy to whip up – all you need is a jam jar and the ingredients – and is great simple tossed into salad leaves, or equally lovely with my recent Salad of Lettuce, Peas and Ham.

Homemade salad dressing

Dijon mustard
White wine vinegar
Lemon juice
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
Olive oil

In a jam jar (with lid) put a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard.  Sprinkle in some salt (I used Maldon Sea Salt) and some black pepper. 

Add equal amounts of white wine vinegar and lemon juice.  Put the lid on the jar and shake well.

Add twice to four times as much olive oil as there is vinegar and lemon juice.  I do this all by eye, just looking to see where the liquid comes up to in the jar.  I also tend to use olive oil rather than extra virgin olive oil, as I find the extra virgin stuff can be too overpowering.

Screw on the lid and shake it vigorously.  Depending on the thickness of the dressing you want, add more oil to make it thinner. 

Taste it, adjust any of the seasonings as you wish.  Not punchy enough?  Add more mustard to give it a kick.  Needs more sharpness?  Add a dash more vinegar or lemon juice.  If you want more sweetness, you can always add runny honey, sugar, or Agave syrup, but too much can make it sickly.  I always make it a bit stronger as once you add it to a salad the flavour is diluted.

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A beautifully delicate and fragrant dish for a Friday night.  Last night we made this yummy fish dish, which is so so quick and so so easy.  I realised it would be a great meal to make for friends, as it doesn’t involve slaving away for hours and doesn’t require you to spend time when your guests are with you beavering away in the kitchen.

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The mint and spring onions for the dressing came from our garden, and the mackerel from Out of the Blue fishmongers in Chorlton.

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Grilled mackerel with a lemon and mint dressing

Feeds 2 hungry people

4 mackerel fillets (ask your fishmonger to fillet two whole mackerel for you)
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp capers (drained and rinsed if salted)
small clove of garlic
handful of mint
1 lemon (zest and juice from half)
Lots of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Turn your grill on high.  Cover a baking tray or grill pan with foil and pop on the mackerel fillets skin-side up.  Season with salt and pepper and bung under the grill for about 3 minutes on each side.

Whilst the mackerel is cooking, prepare your dressing.  Bung into a food processor the spring onions, capers, garlic, mint, lemon zest and lemon juice.  Blitz until finely chopped.  Taste and season with little salt.  Pour in enough extra virgin olive oil to make it a thick dressing consistency and stir well.

Serve the grilled mackerel drizzled with the lemon and mint dressing, and a pile of buttery crushed potatoes.

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Eat the Earth

I love food, especially locally grown and seasonal food. This is my place to share my food finds and the food I like to eat.

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