Samphire with garlic and lemon butter

Buttery Samphire with Garlic and Lemon

Samphire cooked with garlic and lemon

A few years ago I hadn’t even heard of samphire.  Then it started popping up on various food programmes.   Slowly but surely I started to want to try it.  Every time it was mentioned I told myself I needed to look out for some.  Then promptly forgot.

A few weeks ago I was just doing my online shop not intending to buy samphire at all when suddenly it appeared next to something else I was searching for.  Click.   Into the basket it went.

I hadn’t planned to buy it and certainly hadn’t planned how to cook it.   But lemons, garlic and butter are pretty standard kitchen staples.   It wasn’t long before I had managed to put together a very tasty lemon and garlic samphire side dish.   In even less time we had eaten it all up.

I surprised myself.  It had just been a rather tasty kitchen experiment.  The strong flavours of the salty samphire came together with the garlic and lemon to create a vegetable side dish that I definitely wanted to make again.   I really hadn’t expected it to be quite so tasty and so there were no pictures.   The only evidence of my delicious garlic and lemon samphire was a small dirty pile of washing up.  And possibly some slightly pungent breath.

A couple of weeks later the experiment was repeated, although slightly less experimentally this time.   I could be experimental.   I could vary it.  But I just don’t want to. Not for now anyway.

Lemon and garlic samphire

Ingredients – Serves 2

100g samphire

50g butter

A little olive oil

3 cloves of garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

How to Make Buttery Samphire with Lemon and Garlic

  1. Boil the samphire for 1 minute then drain.

  2. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan or wok then add the garlic.   Cook it gently for a couple of minute to brown slightly.

  3. Add the samphire and heat through.   Stir in the lemon juice at the end.

I am linking this to Cook Blog Share run by Hijacked by Twins and hosted this week by Snap Happy Bakes and also to Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Loretta@Safari of the Mind and Jess@Cooking Is My Sport.  Finally I am linking to Saucy Saturdays hosted by La Petit Chef.

CookBlogShare

 

 

 

 

 

Coleslaw with char siu sauce - chinese bbq Sauce

Lee Kum Kee Char Siu Coleslaw

Coleslaw with char siu sauce

I have to admit I’m ambivalent about coleslaw.   Offer me a spoonful of ready-made bought coleslaw swimming in a gloopy white dressing and I’ll almost certainly refuse.  On the other hand, if it’s homemade and the vegetables are lightly coated in mayonnaise but still clearly visible and identifiable, then it’ll be a different story altogether.

Coleslaw is a perfect side dish for a barbecue and so when I was asked if I would like to take part in the Lee Kum Kee Summer Carnival and create a perfect dish for a barbecue using some of their sauces I was happy to take part.    I was sent samples of Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chilli Oil, Premium Oyster Sauce and Oriental Sesame Dressing as well as Char Siu Sauce.

Lee Kum Kee sauces

For me, when I think of barbecues the first thing I always think of is burgers and I was quite tempted to just go down that old familiar route.   After all,  the Char Siu Sauce mixed with beef mince made a tasty juicy burger.   Fortunately I decided to play around with the sauces a little more.

My lovely husband is always telling me that barbecue sauce goes well with coleslaw.   Although he isn’t talking about Chinese barbecue sauce, I thought why not try a traditional coleslaw but with Asian bbq flavours instead?  I added just enough of the Char sui Chinese bbq sauce to the coleslaw to give it that lovely Chinese bbq flavour and even added some to a burger too!   A double dose of Char Siu flavour.

Char siu coleslaw

Even though I don’t eat a lot of creamy dressings on salads I loved the flavours and from now on, it may not only be my husband who reaches for the bbq sauce whenever we have coleslaw.

If you’d like to take part in the Lee Kum Kee Summer carnival and barbecue your way to Asia then head over to LKKCarnival.com and play a short matching game to win.   There are prizes every week including cooking classes, supermarket vouchers and cookbooks plus one lucky winner really will bbq their way to Asia by winning return tickets for 2 to Hong Kong.

Homemade burger with char siu coleslaw

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish

120g grated carrot

100g finely sliced white cabbage

80g finely sliced red cabbage

1 red onion, finely sliced

80g mayonnaise

2tsp char sui sauce

How to Make Char Siu Coleslaw

  1. Mix all the vegetables together with the mayonnaise.

  2. Add the char sui sauce. Add 1.5 tsp then taste and add an extra half teaspoon if required.

Coleslaw with char siu Chinese bbq sauce

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too.

Tasty TuesdaysRecipe of the wEek

Disclosure: I was sent the sauces for free to try but the opinions and recipe are my own.

 

Gooseberry Cobbler

Recipe Redux: Gooseberry Cobbler

Gooseberry Cobbler

I grew up on a farm and each year in summer my dad would pick lots of the gooseberries that grew in the hedgerows.   My mum would then turn these sour little fruits into delicious pies, crumbles and sponge puddings.

After I moved away from home I didn’t eat gooseberries for a long time but last year I picked some at our local pick your own farm, Garsons.  It was lovely to taste the flavours of my childhood again, but the gooseberry season doesn’t last long and since then I’ve had to wait all year to pick gooseberries again.  But now I have and it’s been worth the wait.

Gooseberry season has also very conveniently coincided with this month’s Recipe Redux.  The theme for July is Fresh from the Garden and we have been challenged to create a recipe using seasonal fruits or vegetables.

Gooseberries

I considered making a light gooseberry yoghurt fool but the warm desserts of my childhood were what I was really wanting to eat.   Hot desserts can be quite heavy but I’ve managed to create this relatively light gooseberry cobbler that still feels like comfort food.

The gooseberries at the bottom of the cobbler are still sharp but just sweet enough to enjoy.   The topping of the cobbler is moist and scone-like.   It’s not the prettiest dessert but it’s easy to make, even while looking after 2 demanding young children and managing to entertain them at the same time.

Gooseberries can vary a lot in sweetness so be careful when adding the sugar.   You’ll need a little sugar but you don’t want the gooseberries to loose their lovely sharp edge. Of course, if you can’t get hold of gooseberries then you can make a delicious cobbler with any other stewed fruit.   Rhubarb is one of my favourites but apples and plums are great too.

gooseberry cobbler 2

Ingredients – serves 9

500g gooseberries

50g sugar

Topping

150g self-raising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp sugar

50g butter, cubed

80ml milk (I used semi-skimmed)

1 egg

How to Make Gooseberry Cobbler

  1. Wash the gooseberries and snip off the ends.   I just used my nails but you could use a small pair of scissors.

  2. Put the gooseberries in a saucepan with a dash of water and a little sugar.    Be careful not to add too much as you can always add a little more after stewing them for a short time.  Bring the pan to the boil and let it cook for a couple of minutes.  Taste the gooseberries and add a little more sugar if necessary.

  3. Transfer the gooseberries to a greased ovenproof dish.

  4. Put the flour, baking powder and sugar in a bowl.  Rub the butter in with your fingers.

  5. In another smaller bowl or jug, beat the egg and add the milk.   Then pour this mixture into the bowl with the flour. Stir until it is just combined and then drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the top of the gooseberries.

  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C.   Let it cool slightly and then serve warm.

gooseberry cobbler

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crispy green bean fries

Green Bean Fries

Green bean fries - deep fried green beans in a spicy batter

Vegetables are supposed to be healthy right?  Green beans are definitely healthy.   So how about green bean fries?   Well, it may not be the healthiest way to eat green beans, possibly even one of the least healthy, but I promise you it is one the tastiest ways to eat your greens.

These green bean fries are actually my Secret Recipe Club pick for July.  My assignment was to pick a recipe to make from the Pintertest Kitchen.  The Pintertest Kitchen is a blog written by Allison, her sister Jessica and mother Sharon.  The idea is that they test out recipes found online, mainly through Pinterest and then let us know if they really are worth making. This recipe was one of Allison’s and actually resulted from a mistake when following another recipe.   The result was so good that that’s the way it’s stayed.  Well, almost.

I had to make a few changes as I couldn’t find any cornmeal so decided to use chickpea flour instead.  After all, it goes well in onion bhajis.   Of course, I could have chosen another recipe but there was something about green bean fries that meant I just had to make them.

The cayenne pepper in the batter makes the fries really delicious and although they didn’t turn out to be quite as crispy as I wanted (maybe I put too many in the pan at once or the oil wasn’t quite hot enough), they were really tasty and my husband and I both ate twice as many green beans as we normally would – there were none leftover!

So, if you’re looking for another blog to read and like the sound of these green beans as well as some of the other tempting recipes such as pizza pinwheels and crisp and creamy fillo chicken  packets then do take a look at the Pintertest Kitchen.

crispy green bean fries

Ingredients – serves 2 (but could stretch to 3)

Oil for deep frying

220g green beans

100ml buttermilk

70g chickpea (gram) flour

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

How to Make Green Bean Fries

  1. Heat the oil as it needs to be really hot before you start cooking.

  2. Mix together the buttermilk, chickpea flour and cayenne pepper to make a paste.  Drop a little into the oil to check the oil is hot enough.  It should rise to the top and sizzle.

  3. Dip the green beans into the batter and then drop them in the hot oil.  Cook them in batches.

  4. Take the beans out once they have browned.  Put them on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil before eating them while they are still hot.

chimichurri peas

Chimichurri Peas

Chimichurri Peas

We were having steak for dinner and I made a quick chimichurri sauce to serve with the steaks.   I wasn’t intending to blog about it.    After all, I’ve made a chimichurri sauce before, although quite a different one using coriander.

This time it was a more traditional chimichurri sauce using parsley and oregano.    As usual I made a little too much and surprisingly it didn’t all get eaten up, despite how good it was, even just eaten by itself off the spoon.

The next day I had some peas leftover as well and I stirred the chimichurri sauce into the peas.   It went together perfectly.   The sharpness of the vinegar with the freshness of the parsley really complements the sweetness of the peas.

Of course, you could serve the sauce with steak as I did the first night we had it.    You could also bulk it out and make it into a main meal salad by adding some halloumi and maybe some salad leaves too.   Some crusty bread to mop up all the sauce would also go well.   I have to admit,  I didn’t have any bread and was forced to lick the plate.

Ingredients 

Cooked peas

30g parsley

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp dried oregano

How to Make Chimichurri Peas 

1.Put all the ingredients except the peas into a food processor.   Blend until you get a sauce.   Add a little extra oil or vinegar to get the right consistency.

2.Mix the chimichurri sauce into the peas.   Add as much or as little as you like.

I am linking this to Eat Your Greens hosted by Allotment 2 Kitchen, Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum and #RecipeoftheWeek at A Mummy Too.

Eat Your GreensTasty TuesdaysRecipe of the wEek

 

Buttermilk, banana and blueberry soup or smoothie

Banana and Blueberry Soup

Banana and Blueberry Soup or smoothie with buttermilk

This banana and blueberry soup must be one of the quickest recipes I’ve ever made.   Quick in 2 senses: As long as the banana has been frozen in advance, it only takes a minute to prepare.  I also had no plans to make this at the beginning of the day.   I had ripe bananas and buttermilk that needed to be used up so I was thinking of making a banana bread.

However, even an easy banana bread takes a little effort so when I came across the ‘Summer’ theme for this month’s Super Soup hosted by Jo’s Kitchen I was immediately inspired by her rhubarb and strawberry soup and decided to have a go at my own fruit soup.

In went the ripe bananas and the buttermilk and as I also had a lot of blueberries at home, I decided they would go well too.   And they did.

But I couldn’t help wonder why call it a soup and not a smoothie?   Well, I tried to search for the answer wondering if a fruit soup needed the fruit, or at least some of it, to be cooked in some way first but it actually seems that the difference is as simple as how it is served.   Basically, a smoothie comes in a glass and a soup is served in a bowl.    There may also be a few pieces of unblended fruit in a soup that would be difficult to drink.

Well, after looking into the differences I decided that Master Spice could drink some as a smoothie and so I put some in a Nom Nom Kids Reusable Food Pouch and it was clearly a hit.   I may be forced to make more soups/smoothies over the next few weeks!

Banana and blueberry soup or smoothie

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

2 bananas

100g blueberries

200ml buttermilk

How to Make Banana and Blueberry Soup

  1. Slice the banana and freeze for a couple of hours.
  2. Put the banana, blueberries and buttermilk in a blender and blend to make a thick liquid.
  3. Serve in bowls with a few extra blueberries to garnish.   If you’re not serving it immediately, keep it chilled in the fridge.

Super Soup

 

 

 

 

 

cauliflower leaf stir fry (2)

Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

cauliflower leaf and chicken stir fry

Are you guilty of buying a cauliflower and then throwing away half of it when you take off the outside leaves?  Have you even thought to eat the cauliflower leaves?

Well, until now I’d just thrown them away without thinking.   I don’t even know why I suddenly wondered about whether they would be tasty too. But for some reason I did and that’s how I ended up with this quick and easy meal.

Cabbage is quite a common stir fry ingredient and the cauliflower leaves are very similar when cooked in this way.   Cooking mellows the strong flavour a little and adding a strong sauce complements it well.    It may look like I haven’t added much black bean sauce but the brand I used is very strong and salty and after adding too much when I last used it, I am using it frugally now.   You may well need to add more if using a different brand.

If you’re wondering about other ways to eat cauliflower leaves, they have quite a strong cabbagy flavour and I liked them in a salad too.  However, my husband wasn’t keen and claimed I had cauliflower breath afterwards so although they are tasty, you may not want to eat them on a date night.

Ingredients – Serves 2

200g chicken, sliced into strips

Small piece of ginger, diced

1 tsp black bean sauce (I used a very strong sauce but you may need a little more depending on the brand you use)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

About 4 large cauliflower leaves, sliced into thin strips

1 bok choi

5 mushrooms, sliced

How to Make Cauliflower Leaf and Chicken Stir Fry

  1. Put a little oil in a wok and when it is hot, add the chicken.   Stir fry until it is almost cooked and then add the ginger, vinegar and black bean sauce.

  2. Stir well and then add the vegetables plus a dash of water if the pan is too dry.    Cook for another couple of minutes until everything is cooked through.  Serve with rice.

I am linking this to Extra Veg, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and on alternate months by Utterly Scrummy.  I am also linking to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted this month by Jen’s Food and run by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All.

Extra Veg

Credit Crunch Munch

 

 

 

 

 

Chimasu snack box

Review: Chimasu Snack Box

chimasu box

Recently I was sent a Chimasu Snack box to review.  Chimasu provides monthly boxes filled with 12-15 different sweet and savoury snacks from Asian countries.  Most of the contents are things many people would struggle to buy unless they lived near enough to an oriental supermarket.   Another great thing is that once you have subscribed and given your preferences, your box is personally picked for you so you don’t end up with things you don’t like.

I really enjoyed trying the contents of the box and amazingly there was nothing I tried that I didn’t like.   The only thing I didn’t try was the tea as I’m just not a tea drinker.  I love nuts and many of the snacks were nutty so if you’re like me, you’ll be happy.  However, it may not be suitable for anyone with allergies or a special diet.

Prices start at £14 per month and you can also get £5 off your first subscription.   Below you can see all the snacks I received in my sample box.

Instant Noodle King Wonton Soup Flavoured 

IMG_6748These Wonton Soup flavoured noodles were really tasty and surprisingly filling.   I loved the amount of dehydrated vegetable bits in them and they had a lovely shrimpy taste.

 

 

 

Japanese Rice Cracker Mix

IMG_6749

I found all the snacks in this little Japanese Rice Cracker Mix bag really tasty.  They’re quite fishy and peanuty and probably not for the slightly squeemish as they do contain little dried fish which might put some people off.

 

 

Hokkaido Rice Cracker Mix
IMG_6752

These Hokkaido rice crackers had the same flavours as the Japanese rice cracker mix.  Very nutty and fishy but without the actual dried fish.

 

 

 

 Boy Bawang Cornick Adobo Flavour

IMG_6754I loved the picture on the front of these Boy Bawang Cornick adobo flavour corn nuts from the Philipines. It made them look like they’d be full of flavour and they were.  A lovely crunchy alternative to a packet of crisps.

 

 

 

 White Rabbit Candy

IMG_6757These chewy White Rabbit sweets have a creamy vanilla flavour and are very morish.

 

 

 

 

 

Meiji Yan Yan 

IMG_6758These Yan Yan snack pots come with a creamy chocolate dipping sauce in one side of the pot and long thin biscuits at the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edo Gummy Candy

IMG_6762If you like sweets to taste of real fruit then you’ll like these Edo apple and peach gummy candies.   They’re a bit less sweet than a lot of jelly-like sweets and although I don’t eat a lot of these type of sweets. I really liked them.

 

 

Mama Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum Flavour

IMG_6765
I love noodles and the problem with some instant noodles is they just don’t have enough flavour.   That could not be said of these Mama Tom Yum instant noodles.  They’re a little creamy, slightly sour and full of oriental flavour.

 

 

Pu-Erh Tea
IMG_6766
If you like tea then there was also a sample of this Pu-Erh tea.  As I’m more of a coffee drinker, I’m afraid I can’t give a personal opinion.

 

 

 

 

Lotte Pepero Almond and Chocolate Biscuit Sticks

IMG_6771
These thin biscuit sticks are covered in a crunchy milk chocolate and almond coating.  Delicious if you like chocolate and nuts.

 

 

 

 

 

Cho Fu Peanut Cake
IMG_6774
This Cho Fu Peanut Cake was one of my favourite items in the box.  A sweet peanut brittle that was packed full of peanuts held together by a crunchy caramel.

 

Meiji Hello Panda Strawberry  Biscuits
IMG_6776
These cute Japanese Hello Panda Biscuits were also one of our top snacks in the box.  Each light bite-sized biscuit is filled with a sweet creamy strawberry filling.

 

 

 

 

 

Chun Guang Coconut Candy

IMG_6780

l really liked these little Chun Guang Coconut Candy sweets.   They are a hard creamy coconut flavoured toffee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about Chimasu then take a look at their website here.

Disclosure: I was sent a free Chimasu box to review.   However, the opinions here are my own.

apple pie

Recipe Redux: Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

This month the theme for Recipe Redux is Pie Love i.e. to give a healthy twist to a sweet or savoury pie.   Well, to me pies are real comfort food and remind me of growing up as my mum used to make lots of pies both sweet and savoury.  We would have meat pies and chicken pies followed by apple, rhubarb or plum pies.   My mum makes very good pies and luckily for her, my dad loves his pies.  Or should I say her pies.

Unfortunately my husband is not a big fan of pastry so I rarely actually make a pie myself. I’m more likely to get my pie fix when I’m out and about, and of course bought pies are never as good as homemade ones.    And rarely even remotely healthy.

So, starved of homemade pies for a long long time, I was pleased to have a real reason to actually make one for this challenge.   Because I so rarely make pies, what could be more appropriate than  having a go at recreating my mum’s apple pie?   You see, although pies have a reputation for being unhealthy, as far as pies go, my mum’s is on the healthier side. She always makes pastry out of wholemeal flour and I love the crumbliness that that gives the pie.   It may not look so attractive and is difficult to work with but it just melts in your mouth, as well as giving the pastry a slight nutty flavour, which is helped here by the mixed spice as well.   The mixed spice is optional and is very subtle.  You could just add it to the apple instead for a more spiced pie.

I can’t claim a pie is healthy, but this pie is slightly healthier than some pies in that the fruit isn’t encased in pastry. There’s a layer of fruit and then a layer of pastry.   So much easier and also no need to worry about a soggy bottom!

Finally the fruit.  I used eating apples so didn’t need to add any sugar to sweeten them, although I did add a squeeze of agave nectar for just a little extra sweetness and taste.

As you can see, I ate this pie with ice cream.   I could have had it with natural yoghurt but that would have defeated the purpose a little.   Why recreate your mum’s pie and then not serve it the way she would have done?   It had to be served warm with vanilla ice cream.   Nothing else would have done.  I’m hope you understand.

apple pie with spiced wholemeal pastry

Ingredients – Serves 4

4 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 tbsp agave nectar

200g wholemeal flour

100g butter

1/2 tsp ground mixed spice

A little icy water

How to Make Apple Pie with Spiced Wholemeal Pastry

  1. Put the apples in a saucepan with a little water and simmer until the apples are soft but still hold their shape.   Don’t let them boil dry.   Add a splash of water if it looks like the pan might get too dry.

  2. Put the apples in the bottom of a greased pie dish.

  3. Make the pastry by putting the flour and butter in a food processor and blending until it looks like breadcrumbs.

  4. Turn the mixture out onto a work surface and add a couple of tablespoons of cold water from the fridge.    Bring the mixture together with your hands to form a ball of pastry.

  5. Wrap the pastry in cling film and put in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.

  6. Put a little flour on the work surface and roll the pastry out until it’s the right size and shape to cover the pie.   The pastry will be very crumbly and difficult to work with without it breaking up but this is also what gives it its light crumbly texture after it’s cooked.

  7. Make a couple of cuts on top of the pie so the steam can escape and then bake the pie in the oven at 180C for about 20-25 minutes.

  8. Let the pie cool for about 15 minutes before serving with ice cream.  Or yoghurt.

To see what other #RecipeRedux participants have made, click on the link below:

This is also my #BakeoftheWeek at Casa Costello.

Bake of the Week

 

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

Mexican Salad in a Kilner Jar

Mexican kilner jar saladI don’t consider making food look good to be one of my strengths.   Making tasty food is more (I hope) where my talents lie.   However, when I was asked if I would like to take part in a competition to present something tasty in a Kilner jar, I was tempted.  Kilner jars have become incredibly popular recently, not just for canning and preserving food, but for presenting sweets, soups, drinks, desserts, salads and probably many more things.

Initially I was considering making a trifle.  I thought I could make it look good in the jar, but I very much doubted I’d be able to get it out of the jar and still make it look good.  I soon moved on from that idea.   At least for now.

I then started thinking about salads and decided on this colourful Mexican bean salad.  It may not be the most original thing to fill the jar with, but it was very very tasty.

You can make this Mexican salad in advance and then turn it out of the jar to serve.  I used a 1 litre jar and it was big enough to serve 2 people generously but could serve up to 4 as a side salad.   It’s important to add the dressing to the jar first and then put crunchy vegetables in first that won’t go soggy in the dressing.    The lettuce and herbs should go at the top so they don’t get crushed.  Before serving you can turn the jar upside down for 5 minutes so the dressing runs down and coats all the vegetables.

If you’d like a more fiery salad, add a little sliced chilli pepper or some jalapenos to the jar as well as the hot sauce.   Or if you’d like a non-vegetarian salad, a little roasted chicken would go well too.

If you’d like more ideas, foodie or otherwise, for what to do with a Kilner jar, then have a look at Think Money’s Jam J-Art site.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar

Ingredients – Serves 2-4

Juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp hot sauce

1/2 red pepper, diced

1/4 cucumber, diced

2 tbsp sweetcorn

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1/2 avocado, cut into large chunks

1 large tomato, diced

2 tbsp red kidney beans

2 tbsp  coriander (cilantro), chopped

2 tbsp iceberg lettuce, sliced

How to Make Mexican Kilner Jar Salad

  1. Layer all the ingredients into the jar in the order given above.

  2. Before serving, turn the jar upside down so the dressing covers all the ingredients.

  3. Turn the salad out onto a plate.

vegetarian Mexican bean salad in a kilner jar