Tag Archives: Starter

10 of my favourite online recipes

I have recipes everywhere. In cookbooks, scribbled on pieces of paper, cut out from magazines and bookmarked online and then there’s the ones that just exist in my head. I subscribe to a ton of food blogs through Google Reader which I look over while I down my morning coffee. My favourite food blogs currently have to be:

Joy The Baker – the mother of all baking food blogs
The Pioneer Woman Cooks – delicious cowgirl food
The Pink Whisk – previous runner-up of Great British Bake Off, step my step recipes and techniques
Food Stories – makes food you really want to eat. Also has a separate sandwich rating blog
Domestic Diva M.D – super entertaining with recipes too
A Cozy Kitchen – awesome food photography and recipes

I’ve just been dribbling over the home pages of these whilst retrieving the links for you. Anyway, I find that subscribing to blogs is a great way of coming across yummy new recipes which you won’t find on websites like BBC food although they are great go to’s for recipes as well. Thanks to satellite television, I can also watch recipes being made at almost any hour of the day. And with the invention of Pinterest I can also be constantly looking at pictures of food. Frankly, it’s enough to make you fat.

Another great online tool is Delicious which is where I keep all my bookmarked recipes. You can tag links as you like and since they’re all stored on the web, you can access your bookmarks anywhere from any device. I have almost 500 recipe links saved and unlike a chef’s cookbook, all of the recipes are things I know I’ve seen and liked. Here are 10 of my favourite recipes which are available online and that I’ve previously bookmarked, cooked, eaten and LOVED then cooked, eaten and LOVED again!

1. Nigella’s Mexican Lasagne

A recent addition that’s already been made and enjoyed a few times! Absolutely scrumptious and innovative recipe which uses flour tortillas to create a Mexican lasagne. I adapt the recipe my adding beef mince before the canned tomatoes but the unadulterated recipe is great for vegetarians.

2. Joy The Baker’s Polenta

I’d never ever heard of adding milk to polenta until I’d seen this and now I always make it this way. Plus I love using American cup measures – so much easier.

3. Heston’s Ultimate Mashed Potato

There aren’t many Heston Blumenthal recipes you can make on a regular basis but here is one! I think I’ve mentioned this recipe at least twice on my blog already but it… is… goooooood! I don’t have a thermometer or a potato ricer (family take note, Christmas is coming :-)) but I can still make this easily. The amount of butter required is a little alarming, but one taste and you know it’s worth it.

4. Ottolenghi’s Vegetable Paella

Another vegetarian recipe which I’ve made meaty by adding fried chorizo in at the end! Great served with some olive bread and a platter of Manchego and Serrano ham.

5. BBC Good Food Chicken Cacciatore

A really quick and inexpensive midweek recipe of chicken in a tomato and mascarpone sauce. The simple sauce is tasty over pasta too.

6. Delia’s Dhal Curry

Super cheap, healthy and vegetarian (I haven’t added meat to this one!) recipe for a dhal curry. Mr B. even liked it despite the lack of meat which means it must be a good recipe. You can add a Nann bread on the side if you want to.

7. Antony Worrall-Thomspon Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Terrine 

Unlike Antony I don’t thieve the cheese from my local Tesco to make this! A really nice make-ahead recipe which works well as a dinner-party starter. Looks pretty impressive when served as well.

8. Nigella’s Mustard Pork Chops 

Really easy and cheap midweek meal. I use honey mustard instead of wholegrain as I found that a bit too strong in taste. Goes really well with the gnocchi that Nigella recommends as well as some buttery spinach… which I recommend!

9. Joy The Baker’s Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread

I mean, just look at it! You’re in trouble of eating your laptop screen aren’t you? I’ve made it. It was amazing. When I went to bookmark it on a social media site, I saw that 2 million others had done so before me!

10. Lorraine Pascale’s Honeycomb

Simples. Tasty. Versatile. The recipe works every time.

Happy bookmarking and cooking.



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Seven Salads

I love salads. But substantial salads. Not a few iceberg leaves and a sad-looking tomato. A colourful, crunchy and fresh plate full of goodness! We’re talking hunks of cheese and chunks of meat covered in a blanket of sumptuous dressing! Something that is going to fill you up but is super-healthy at the same time.

And so here are seven salads that I like to make often. It’s a whole week’s worth of healthiness! You’ll just have to find another way to be bad!

1. Tuna Niçoise Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket

The rest – tomato quarters, trimmed beans, anchovies

The substantial stuff – rare tuna steak, Parmesan shavings, hard-boiled eggs

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, lemon juice

Not a traditional Niçoise, but a tasty one! Lay your base on a plate and top with your tomato quarters and some anchovy slithers.

Heat a saucepan of water on a high heat until boiling. Add a couple of eggs and boil for 8 minutes.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle pan until smoking. Season the tuna well with salt and pepper and lay not he griddle pan. For pink tuna, like this, 3-4 minutes on each side is good. At the sides of the pan, cook the trimmed beans so that they’re nicely charred.

Serve your tuna on top of the other salad ingredients and scatter over the trimmed beans. Peel the boiled eggs, chop and serve next to the tuna. Using a potato peeler, peel shavings of Parmesan onto your salad plate.

For a delicious dressing combine a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, half a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a little less than a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle over your salad before munching.

2. Chicken, bacon and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket

The rest – tomato quarters, sliced mushrooms

The substantial stuff – grilled chicken, smokey bacon, buffalo mozzarella slices

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice

Meaty chicken, smokey bacon and gooey mozzarella nom nom nom. Again, lay your base onto the plate and top with the tomato quarters and mushroom slices.

Season and put your chicken under the grill or use your George Foreman as I did. Grill your bacon as well until it’s nice and crispy.

When your chicken is cooked, cut on the diagonal and arrange onto your salad plate. Cut the cooked bacon into strips and then tear your buffalo mozzarella onto the salad.

For the dressing just combine a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the same of extra virgin olive oil. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, season with salt and pepper and then drizzle over the scrummy salad.

3. Chilli and Garlic Prawns and Mango Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (of course!)

The rest – cucumber ribbons and fresh mango

The substantial stuff – chilli and garlic Prawns, grated Parmesan

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice

You must be getting the hang of this now… lay your base onto your plate. To that add some fresh diced mango and ribbons of cucumber which you can make by taking your potato peeler to it.

For the Prawns, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. When hot add a crushed glove of garlic and a finely chopped red chilli. When they are covered in the oil, add 250g of cooked King Prawns. After 4 minutes or so, the Prawns will be warmed through. Turn out onto the salad plate and cover with a good grating of Parmesan.

For the dressing, just mix the extra virgin olive oil with the juice of half a lemon and drizzle over.

4. Curry Spiced Salmon and Yogurt Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (you guessed it, I love this stuff)

The rest – tomato halves and diced cucumber

The substantial stuff – salmon fillet and fat-free yogurt

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar and lemon juice

A super-healthy and tasty salad! Lay out your base and top with the cucumber and tomato.

Heat your oven to 180°/Gas Mark 4. Cover the salmon in a teaspoon of curry powder – hot or mild depending on your preference. Place your salmon on a foiled baking tray and cook for 20 minutes. Serve on top of the salad and add a dollop of yogurt onto the fish. Sprinkle some chilli flakes on the yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil. Then just cover the salad in a dressing of 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and the same of white wine vinegar and the juice of half a lemon. Serve with a lemon wedge as well.

5. Scallops, Smokey Bacon and Butternut Squash Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (in case you were unsure)

The rest – tomato quarters

The substantial stuff – roast butternut squash, scallops and smokey bacon

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice

A warm salad of fab flavour combos. Set your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Lightly coat a diced butternut squash in olive oil and season. Spread across a foiled baking tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until tender and golden.

Lay the salad base on the plate and add the tomatoes. Grill the smokey bacon on both sides until crispy and then cut into strips and arrange onto the plate.

When the butternut squash is ready, take out of the oven and place half of the cubes onto your salad plate. Finally, put a frying pan containing a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium to high heat. Season 180g of scallops and cook according to the pack instructions. Scatter onto the plate before finishing with a dressing made of 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and the juice of half a lemon.

6. Roast Duck, Beetroot and Pomegranate Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (was there ever any doubt?)

The rest – tomato quarters and pomegranate

The substantial stuff – roast duck and beetroot

The dressing – extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice

Season the duck well and cook according to the pack instructions. While it is cooking, lay your base out an top with quartered tomatoes. Dice some beetroot and add that too.

When the duck is cooked, slice on the diagonal and arrange on the plate. Tap the pomegranate seeds all over the top. Then just drizzle over the sticky balsamic dressing.

7. Sausage, Roasted Red Onion and Sautéed Potato Salad

The base – Spinach, Watercress and Rocket (it would be weird to use another base now)

The rest – roasted pomodorino or cherry tomatoes, roasted red onion

The substantial stuff – sausages and sautéed potatoes

The dressing – not much is needed, a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Sausages in a salad? Why not! Heat your oven to  200°/Gas Mark 6. Quarter the red onion and then cut each quarter in two. Put the onion into a bowl, lightly season and cover with a drizzle of olive oil and stir so that the onion is coated. Then place it on a baking tray and roast it for 30 minutes in the oven, turning occasionally. Half way through the cooking time, season and oil a handful of tomatoes and roast them for 15 minutes too.

Take a handful of new potatoes and boil for 10 minutes until soft but retaining their shape. Slice them up into small discs and set aside.

Put the onion and tomato on a lower shelf in the oven to keep them warm. Then put your grill on to cook the sausages. If you have a separate grill to your oven then lucky you are!! Cook the sausages according to the pack instructions – cook as many as you want in whatever flavour you like!

Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and splash some olive oil in there. Season the potatoes and then fry them on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes, turning every couple of minutes.

Lay out your salad base, scatter the tomato and red onion through it. Take your sausages out from under the grill, slice on the diagonal and dot them over your plate. Turn the potatoes out onto some kitchen paper to give them a quick drain and then put them through your salad as well. Finally since all of the components have already seen some oil, you won’t need much in way of a dressing, just a drizzle of some extra virgin olive oil and its ready to eat!

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I’ve seen Tabouleh on a lot of menus, but I’ve never made it. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. I felt like I had to do something about this. I’m weird like that. So here is how I went about making it.

Tabouleh is a Middle Eastern grain salad and making it is really an assembly job. Anyone can do it. Apart from Mr B who can’t chop/use a knife. But besides him, anyone!

I served it as a starter (the main was a Middle Eastern lamb burger. Recipe online here if interested) but Tabouleh also works well as a buffet or lunch dish.

Making Tabouleh also seems to be a serious stuff. There’s a World Record for the largest that weighed in at 4,324 kg (9,532 lb 12 oz). Before that the previous record was held for a 2,559 kg (5,641 lb 6 oz) dish. My recipe here will feed just 6. I’m hoping that will be sufficient for most people!

Serves 6

– 200g bulgur wheat
– 6 spring onions, finely chopped
– 6 tomatoes, diced
– ½ cucumber peeled, deseeded and diced
– 2 bunches of flat leaf parsley, chopped very finely
– 2 bunches of mint, chopped very finely
– 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
– Juice of a lemon
– Salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
– Mini pitta breads, warmed through

1. Put the bulgur wheat in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 30 minutes.

2. Chop all of the vegetables and herbs and place in a bowl. When the bulgur wheat is ready drain it and squeeze it a little to get rid of any excess water. Add it to the vegetables.

3. Give everything a good mix before adding the olive oil and lemon juice. Taste the Tabouleh and add more oil or lemon juice depending on your preference. All that’s left to do now is to give everything a really good season and a final taste.

4. Tabouleh is served cold so just pop this in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Simples!


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Stuffed Mushrooms

Love mushrooms, love cheese, love this! These little stuffed mushrooms go well with steak or chicken and are equally delicious just on their own as a starter.

Dolcelatte cheese is used to stuff these mushrooms; it’s lovely and creamy and packs just the right amount of punch. Dolcelatte was actually made up for the British market as a sweeter tasting and milder smelling alternative to Gorgonzola. There you go, a cheesy fact for the day!

Mushrooms stuffed with Dolcelatte
Serves 2

– 4 Portabella mushrooms
– Olive oil
– 75g Dolcelatte
– 25g breadcrumbs
– Small handful of spinach, chopped very finely
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 20g Parmesan

To serve:
– Handful of rocket
– Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Destalk the mushrooms and brush them lightly all over with olive oil.

2. In a bowl combine the Dolcelatte, breadcrumbs and spinach. Use a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to make a paste.

3. Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture before topping with a fine grating of Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and they’re done! Serve with some rocket and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


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