Smoked salmon, new potato and shallot salad

I’m not the biggest fan of smoked salmon in the world. It’s too much like raw salmon (in my mind) and I can usually enjoy one or two bites and then that’s me done.

Same with sushi, maki and sashimi. I can’t say I’m the bravest eater.

But in this salad? Mamma mia, it’s simply delicious. I’ll eat all the salmon you want in this salad. Especially during the summer, with a cool glass of rosé wine with grapefruit.

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Smoked salmon, new potato and shallot salad

Serves 1

25g smoked salmon

2-3 new potatoes

1/4 to 1/2 avocado

1/2 shallot

1 egg

A few handfuls of the salad of your choosing (I went for lamb’s lettuce, frisée lettuce and radicchio)

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. When boiling, add new potatoes and boil for  about ten minutes.

2. While these cook, prepare the remaining ingredients. Finely chop the shallot, cube the avocado, and toss them in a salad bowl with the salad leaves. Cut the smoked salmon into smaller pieces and add to the mix.

3. Take your potatoes out of the boiling water with a slotted spoon and place on chopping board. Place your egg in the boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile,  chop the potatoes into cubes and add to the salad.

4. In a smaller bowl on the side, make a balsamic vinaigrette – 3/5 olive oil to 2/5 balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix vinaigrette in with the rest of the salad mix.

5. When your egg is done, peel off the shell and place into your salad.

6. Enjoy!

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Finished in minutes 😉


Note: instead of using balsamic vinaigrette, you can also use crème fraiche, dill, salt and pepper to make a dressing.

Roasted red pepper butterbean salad

The English weather, true to itself, keeps going from amazingly warm, sunny and AWESOME days to raining, pouring, old man snoring-type of days.

Hence, I’ve decided to will the sun out by eating delicious, summer salads all day, every day.

Well, for lunch.

And dinner.

Not breakfast.

Don’t think I could manage breakfast.

Attempt n°1

(It seems to have worked as the rain has temporarily stopped here in the Midlands):

Roasted red pepper butter bean salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 red pepper

80g pancetta cubes

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed

Apple cider vinegar (or red wine if you have it)

Two handfuls of rocket

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 200°. On a baking tray, place your red pepper, deseeded and sliced into four sides. Place in oven until the skin is burnt. Then, put the pepper into a sealed plastic bag and leave to cool. Once it is cool to the touch, peel off the skin, slice into strips and set aside.

2. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Once hot, fry the pancetta cubes (no need to add any oil or fats) until golden. Then, add chopped shallots until soft.

3. Tip in strips of roasted pepper and butterbeans, as well as a dash a vinegar and stir until heated through. Season to taste.

4. Plate with the rocket and serve with warm, crusty bread.

5. Enjoy!

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Ps. I bought some bread in store today because I didn’t have time to make my own. It was delicious spicy corn bread and I LOVED it. Definitely going to try making some at home ^^

Spinach and ricotta lasagna

Since I tried this dish out for the first time a few years ago, it’s become one of my go-to healthy dishes, and a bit of a comfort food: I mean, seriously, it’s full of spinach (my absolute favourite), ricotta cheese and nutmeg – how could I not love it? Spinach and ricotta are such a beautiful pairing, I love to use them in basically anything: I’ve already posted about quesadillas, a quick and easy dinner solution, but this is my ultimate favourite and a great dinner dish – lasagna.

Plus, this recipe can easily be tweaked using filo pastry to make spinach and ricotta samosas or filo pie, if and when the mood strikes you. Don’t you love two-in-one recipes? 😉

Serves 6

Ingredients:

250g spinach

1 onion, chopped

250g ricotta cheese

100g feta cheese

1/2 tsp nutmeg

6-9 lasagna sheets

Parmesan

Salt

Pepper

Coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 200° C.

2. Heat some coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat, and fry the chopped onion until translucent and soft. Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Tip into a sieve and press to remove excess liquid, then put into a bowl and let cool.

3. Mix nutmeg, crumbled feta and ricotta, then stir in with the spinach and onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. In an ovenproof dish, layer the spinach and ricotta mixture with lasagna sheets, finishing with a ricotta layer. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the top.

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5. Put some aluminium over the dish and put in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove aluminium and bake for a further  10 minutes.

6. Take out of the oven and let cool before serving.

7. Enjoy!

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Roasted sweet potato fajitas

It’s been such a busy weekend with my family visiting me from France so this recipe is a little bit late, but I simply couldn’t deprive you of it.

I LOVE sweet potatoes and this is one of my favorite to-go lunch recipes ever: roasted sweet potato, red onion and red pepper wedges with Mexican spice, crème fraiche, feta cheese and crunchy iceberg lettuce.

It’s perfect, delicious hot or cold, morning or night.

Every time I have it, that’s all I wanted to eat for the next week.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, but this baby will most definitely be featuring on my Instagram feed regularly over the next few weeks.

Although I adore this fajita recipe as a vegetarian one, it’s also delicious with some spicy and crispy fried chorizo on top for a meaty twist.Your choice, really.

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, washed and cut into wedges

1 red onion, chopped into wedges

1 onion, chopped into wedges

1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into strips

1 tbsp olive oil

15g fajita or Mexican seasoning

Fresh coriander

Iceberg lettuce, shredded

50g feta cheese

Crème fraiche or sour cream, to serve

4 tortilla wraps

Optional: chorizo

1. Heat oven to 200° C. In a mixing bowl, toss sweet potato, onion, red onion and red pepper wedges with olive oil and spices. Place on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.

2. Warm the wraps as indicated on the packet (or 8-10 minutes, wrapped in tinfoil in the oven).

3. Make fajitas once the vegetables are cooked by placing them in the wraps with a dollop of cream, some chopped coriander, iceberg lettuce and crumbled feta cheese.

IMG_3953For a meatier option, fry some chorizo slices in a pan until crisp while vegetables are baking then add to the fajitas.

4. Enjoy!

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Fancy Croque-madames

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve had a comfort food kind of weekend, and lunch was no exception: croque-madames have been the lunchtime staple these past few days. These fancy cheese and ham toasties are simply delicious and even better than the original with an egg on top.

Eggs make my day every time.

Now, you may not have heard the term “croque-madame” before, but I’m sure you’re familiar with “croque-monsieur”, which is the French equivalent of fried or grilled cheese and ham sandwiches, often topped with béchamel sauce.

Do you know why we call these Madame (Mrs) instead of Monsieur (Mr)?

Because they have hats.

Egg hats.

I am being dead serious.

And I’m fairly certain this is reason enough to eat these bad boys. I mean, girls. Hmph. You know what I mean.

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Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 slices of wholemeal or sourdough bread

Dijon mustard

Salted butter

50g comté or gruyère cheese, grated

20ml crème fraiche

One or two slices of thinly sliced ham

1 egg

1. Spread a little Dijon mustard on each slice of bread, to taste. Make a sandwich with half the cheese and the ham.

2. Spread the outside of the sandwich with butter.

3. In a pan over medium heat, fry the sandwich on both sides until both of these are crisp and brown. Meanwhile, mix in creme fraiche with the rest of the grated cheese.

4. Turn on the grill. Spread the cheese and cream mixture on the top of your sandwich then place under the grill until the cheese bubbles. Place sandwich on a plate.

5. In the same pan you used to fry the croque-monsieur (or separate pan, as you wish), fry the egg. When it’s cooked, season and place on top of sandwich to finish your croque-madame.

6. Serve with a fresh salad.

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7. Enjoy!

Mushroom and tarragon lasagna

This weekend has been such a chilled-out couple of days.

I woke up late both days and studied Spanish and German at home in my pjs with a pot of tea and some music in the background. Worked on some lesson plans.

Did a little exercise.

Took a long walk in the sun.

IMG_3834Held an owl (literally, my friends). Say hello to Gandalf, isn’t he a beaut?

Ate some comfort food.

It was just that kind of weekend. 

I had dinner with my housemate Saturday evening. She cooked my sweet potato dauphinoise for us, which was, as always, a delight, especially with a light salad on the side and a small glass of Bordeaux wine.

IMG_3824Lunch was Croque-madames – if you’re not aware, these are simply the most delicious and elegant French alternative to a cheese and ham toastie, and a definite childhood favorite of mine. I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow.

Dinner  yesterday was another Olive magazine recipe: mushroom and tarragon lasagna. When I saw the recipe in the magazine, I knew I had to try it. I’m always looking for healthy and delicious vegetable lasagna recipes, and tarragon is by far one of my favorite herbs, although I don’t often get the opportunity to cook with it.

The recipe is fairly easy to do, apart from the béchamel sauce, which I’d advise being careful with: I’m always tentative with these types of sauces, as they can easily split. The trick here is to incorporate the milk very slowly, little by little. My first attempt was completely botched! However, the lasagna is well worth the effort. Thanks for another delicious recipe, Olive!

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

250g chestnut mushrooms

2 shallots, finely chopped

25g tarragon, stems removed and finely chopped

Butter, unsalted

1tbsp flour

250ml milk

100g mascarpone

6 lasagna sheets

Parmesan (1 to 2 tbsp)

Salt

Pepper

1. Heat a pan over medium heat and melt some butter or coconut oil. Fry the finely chopped shallots until soft. Add the chopped mushrooms with a knob of butter and turn the gently so as to coat them all.

2. When the mushrooms are cooked, turn up the heat a little and let the liquid they’ve given out bubble out before adding the chopped tarragon. Set aside.

3. In a small pot, melt 1 tbsp of butter, being careful not to let it brown. Add 1 tbsp of flour and stir until well incorporated. Add the milk little by little, stirring continuously and letting the mixture thicken. When all the milk has been incorporated, season before stirring in the mascarpone (use a whisk if necessary to avoid any lumps). Fold sauce into the mushrooms.

4. Pre-heat your oven to 180° Celsius. In an oven-proof dish, layer the mushrooms mixture and lasagna sheets so as to form about three layers, finishing with a layer of white sauce. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top.

5. Cover the dish with a tent of foil and bake for 45 minutes in the oven. Remove the tinfoil and bake for a further ten minutes to brown the top.

6. Serve with a fresh salad.

7. Enjoy!

Chipotle Quinoa Chilli with Lime Sour Cream

I cooked this recipe for the first time last year, after ordering my first Gousto box. If you’re from the U.K., you may have heard of this company: you sign up and pick three recipes out of a set list (a new one every week), for two to four people, and Gousto sends you a box full of all the ingredients you’ll need to cook those meals, measured out in exact proportions. The recipes are meant to be filling, healthy and delicious and the ingredients of good quality, some of them organic.

My experience with Gousto was, overall, very pleasant: I liked discovering the recipes they offered and it was, if a bit gimmicky and expensive when you’ve eating alone, a fun experiment. I ordered a Gousto box three times, and every single time, out of the three recipes I chose, one of them really stood out and bowled me over – this Chipotle Quinoa Chilli was one of them.

What really got me is that this is a really different way of preparing quinoa to those I usually encounter –  it’s mostly used like you would rice or couscous, but this recipe really uses quinoa as a central ingredient and, as a bonus, packs a whole lot of flavour! I love the spicy chipotle, the crispy kidney beans and the zesty sour cream…and I also absolutely adore using cumin and cinnamon together – seriously, if you’ve never tried it, they are so complimentary you’ll never turn back!

Oh, and if you make a little bit too much? This chilli is perfect for leftovers or tupperware lunch for the next day!

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Writing about this reminds me how fun it was ordering a Gousto box last time around, and I’ve heard of an alternative company called Hello Fresh which offers a similar type of deal: you choose your type of box (Classic, Veggie or Family box) and they deliver ingredients and recipes. Main difference? You don’t get to choose your recipes, although you can see which one’s you’re likely to get on their website. I’m actually kind of intrigued by this element of surprise and I think I’ll be ordering one of these in the upcoming weeks to test it out.

Have any of you readers out there tested any of these companies out? What did you think about your experience?


Serves 2

Ingredients:

100g quinoa

1 tin kidney beans or 150g dried kidney beans

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp tomato purée

1 tsp chipotle paste

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

10g fresh coriander

1 lime

150g sour cream

Salt

Pepper

Coconut oil

1. Wash the quinoa in cold water then soak it in 250ml of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar for 8 hours or overnight before you prepare this meal.

NOTE: If using dried kidney beans, soak them in 750ml of water for 8 hours or overnight then cook before you prepare the meal: put the soaked beans in cold water, bring to the boil for ten minutes, then lower the heat and simmer for a further hour.

2. Heat some coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. When hot, add the finely chopped onion, cumin and cinnamon and fry for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft.

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3. Add soaked and rinsed quinoa to the pot and cook for three minutes, until quinoa is dry and gives off a nutty aroma.

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4. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée and chipotle paste as well as 200ml of water (measure them out then pour into the empty tomato tin before adding to the pot to rinse out the tin).

5. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer. Stir every few minutes.

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6. While the chilli simmers, grate the zest of the lime then cut into quarters. Mix the zest with the sour cream, the juice of two quarters of limes, salt and pepper, then set aside.

7. Remove the leaves off the coriander then dice the stems finely and stir them through the quinoa chilli.

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8. Drain and rinse the kidney beans.

9. Add coconut oil to a pan over high heat. When oil is hot, add kidney beans, lower heat and cook for about 5 minutes, until the kidney beans are bursting open and starting to crisp.

10. Stir half the kidney beans through the chilli, set the other half aside.

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11. Serve the quinoa chilli, sprinkle with coriander leaves and the remaining kidney beans. Eat with quarters of limes and lime sour cream.

12. Enjoy!

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Baked sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fries have definitely overtaken classic potato fries for me, and I warn you, if you make these, they’ll probably do the same to you. They are sweet and salty and go with just about any main dish, from meat to fish, especially considering the fact that you can literally use just about any herb or spice you choose to make these and in all probability, they’ll turn out great. I’ve made these with cumin and cinnamon (delicious sweet and spicy), earthy rosemary and thyme, and here, with my favourite: paprika.

As for the cooking method, I’ve had sweet potato fries deep-fried before, which tastes lovely, but have to admit I prefer them baked. For one thing, I don’t like the idea of eating to many deep-fried foods, which I can’t say I think is good for you overall. Secondly, baking is definitely a quicker and easier way to prepare fries. However, even if I ignored all that, I feel that baking brings out just the right flavours and textures in these fries.

This dish is a real crowd-pleaser: it can be served as a main vegetable dish, with a salad, as a side dish or even as an appetiser, with a tasty dip! And the clincher? These are amazingly easy to make. No downsides to these babies!

So, when are you having them for dinner? 😉

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My latest SPF dinner, keeping it simple with a little raw veg and a piece of battered cod. Delicious.

Serves 1 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, washed

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Spice – any you choose! Sweet potato goes with a surprising number of spices (and herbs, for that matter), including cumin, cinnamon, curry powder, cayenne pepper, or, my favourite, paprika.

1. Preheat oven to 200° celsius.

2. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into three pieces vertically, then proceed to cut each third into similar sized, fry-shaped pieces.

3. In a bowl, toss the sweet potato fries with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and any spice or your choosing. Make sure the fries are evenly coated.

4. Arrange your fries on a baking tray, making sure they are all in a single layer. If they aren’t, no problem, but you will have to turn them more often to make sure they get evenly cooked.

5. Put baking tray in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Turn the sweet potato fries halfway through baking. When ready, take out of the oven, let rest for a minute before serving.

6. Enjoy!

Butternut squash and kale quinoa bowl

Serves 1

Ingredients:

100g cooked quinoa

1/4 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes

Pine nuts

Mixed herbs

Olive oil

30g curly kale, roughly chopped and stems removed

Paprika

Coconut oil

3 radishes, sliced

1/4 green bell pepper, sliced

Pomegranate seeds

1 egg

Salt

Pepper

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1. Preheat oven to 200. Place butternut squash cubes on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Put into the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. A few minutes before the butternut is done, add some pine nuts.

2. In a heated pan, melt some coconut oil. Add curly kale and sprinkle with paprika, salt and pepper.

3. Heat up some water in a pot. When it’s boiling, add the egg and cook for 5 minutes. Take out of the boiling water, run under cold water then peel.

4. In a bowl, place the cooked quinoa. Place radish, green pepper, roasted squash and pine nuts, kale and soft-boiled egg. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

5. Mix ingredients together and enjoy!