Friday, 26 May 2017

My favourite barbecue recipes

I love a barbecue and as long as you follow barbecue food safety tips, there is no reason why it can't be a delicious and lovely way to eat.  I have been known to even fire up a barbecue just for me because I love them so much.

I am often disappointed though when a barbecue means a burned sausage or a dry as a hockey puck burger.  Barbecues can be so much more delicious and innovative than that!

So here are some of my top tips for barbecue deliciousness!

Tips for a safe and brilliant barbecue

I remember when I was learning about food safety early in my career being taught there were peaks in food poisoning incidents which correlated with barbecue season and Christmas.  If you think about it, some of the reasons are the same.  We are sadly a nation of people who don't cook as much as we used to and let's face it, the person manning the barbecue is not always the most experienced chef.

That said, some of the advice on cooking safely on barbecues does take the joy out of them (I'm not going to suggest cooking all the food in an oven first, I'm going to assume some common sense!)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Edible Flower Salad

This light savoury salad was inspired by the beautiful flowers responding to the sunshine in my garden.  I combined three different types of edible flowers into a really light early summer salad.  This was great as a really light meal or starter / appetizer on its own but would also be great as an impressive looking side dish.

The cucumber gives a lovely texture and removing the skin helps the flavour of the herb flowers sing out.

I wouldn't use commercially sold flowers for this as you don't know if they're ok to eat or if they've been sprayed with pesticides, only use ones you've grown yourself and know haven't been sprayed.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Slow Cooked Chunky Beef Chilli

I love chilli made with minced beef but I love this recipe even more with meltingly soft and tender chunks of beef in a rich, spicy sauce.  You get far more texture and variety making chilli this way and the slow cooking makes the flavour awesome.  Smoked paprika may sound like an odd ingredient but it gives a sweet smoky depth to the stew.  Just make sure you use sweet smoked paprika or test the flavour first as you can get spicy versions.

Chilli flakes and powders vary (mine was a pretty new jar and the more recently the jar or pack is opened, the spicier it will be) so you may find this less spicy than you like.  My top tip though is to use some tabasco or other hot sauce to bring up the spice at the end if you feel that it needs it.  The problem with slow cooking is it tends to intensify the flavours of chilli so it's easy to end up with a chilli at the end which is more "blow your head off" than "gently warming" so I'd err on the side of cautious then correct the flavour at the end.  The other benefit being you then have a more multidimensional flavour.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Lamb Kebabs

A recipe which is ideal for the barbecue or the grill (broiler) if the weather is disappointing.  Lamb is great for grilling; it has natural fat which keeps the meat tender but also, like steak it benefits from being served slightly pink.

This is a very simple recipe for some simple lamb skewers.  If the weather ever improves I'll be nibbling on this delicious lamb and hummus for the rest of the summer.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Roasted Vegetables with Feta Cheese

This past week I've been full of cold and generally off my food.  All I've been eating is anything with loads of spices to try and shift the bunged feeling.  Today, at last, I'm starting to feel better but the weather for the year is still cold and miserable so I put together this dish of lovely summery roasted vegetables.

My herbs are looking fabulous right now with all the wet weather this week and it helped cut through the lingering dullness from my snotty nose.

I mean, look at that?  How you can still feel anything but summery and healthy when that was your lunch?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Social Media Detox

Social media.  Love it or loathe it, it's become a huge part of our lives, some would say too big a part.  So how does it feel to wind back the clock and be without it for a while?  Believe it or not, Facebook is only 13 years old and Twitter only 11.  How quickly these things have become something which seemed essential yet, to my 21 year old self would never have occurred to me as necessary.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Chorizo Rice

I've been making this recipe for years.  Traditional paella does not contain chorizo but after trying an inauthentic recipe with it in, I realised that if I just made a rice dish with the chorizo, it would be a pretty tasty.  Also as you miss out the saffron, this makes this recipe pretty cheap.  The extra smoked paprika flavour means you don't need much chorizo for this dish either.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

King Prawn and Fish stew with Couscous

This is like an ode to the summer to come.  There is a hint of spring and summer in this dish while being comforting enough to take you through a cooler spring day.

This was also inspired by a trip to my local fish counter.  They had some beautiful looking large raw prawns and I decided to treat myself.  They were pretty expensive though so one way to have something which is a big treat like these prawns is to cook them in a dish with much cheaper fish, here I used mackerel and squid.

What's in season in May?

May is one of the seasons I love the most.  British produce is starting to creep back into the shops and although we still have the occasional cold day, summer feels like it really could be just around the corner.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Harissa Lamb Chops with Cous Cous

I had a sudden lusting for lamb while in the supermarket today.  Lamb isn't something I eat a lot of but there is something delicious about lamb with Middle Eastern and North African ingredients.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Roast Pepper Sandwich

I love a "different" sandwich.  My son, sadly, gravitates towards ham whenever he's given a choice but sandwiches can be as boring as white bread with wafer thin ham or as interesting as this little beauty.

This is a delicious but messy sandwich; have napkins nearby.  If you'd like to eat this with more decorum and less goats cheese on your chin, use cold bread and allow the peppers to cool before assembling.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Food Myths

A quiet Easter weekend got me thinking about some food myths which seem to persist however many times they are debunked.  I've discussed some here but please add your own or comment and take part in the debate!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Fruit Kebabs

An unashamedly childish recipe here.  I used to have a blog Mamacook all about food for kids and this was one recipe I made loads but never got round to blogging.  There are loads of ideas out there for healthy and fun foods for kids and one of them is fruit kebabs.  The downside though is the stick.  What is the fun in the boring stick and if you use a skewer it's a bit risky for younger kids too, you don't want sharp wooden sticks going in their mouths...

Well I have an answer I came up with a few years ago and it is so simple!

Monday, 3 April 2017

"Lack of exercise kills as many as smoking"

This was a quote someone said to me recently when she was talking about a mutual friend she'd been trying to encourage to exercise.

It's a shocking statement.  We all know that smoking kills you and while, hey, we all have to die of something, smoking kills you earlier than you would have died from perhaps something completely unrelated.