I’ve always loved the Crispy Seaweed that you get at the Chinese. I think it’s the combination of sweet and salty along with that satisfying crunch – plus hey, it’s one of your five a day right? So when I recently discovered that, for the most part, it isn’t actually seaweed at all, but rather, cabbage or kale, I’ve got to say I felt a bit let down.
Once I got over my initial indignation, I realised that this could actually be a good thing! It meant I could recreate one of my favourite takeaway treats in my very own kitchen (without having to take a trip to the beach first…)
Now the good thing about this dish (other than the whole ‘no need for waders’ thing above and aside from the fact that it’s bloomin’ tasty) is that it’s unbelievably easy to make. You are no more than 10 minutes away from tucking into a mound of sweet and salty, crispy seaweed stylee kale and succulent, pink, salmon with just a hint of the orient. A Chinese whisper if you will…
For the fish, I use my George Foreman grill, thanks to my lovely Mother-in-Law who recently served us some perfectly cooked salmon using her’s and so inspired me to dig mine out of a cupboard and dust it off after months (ok, years…) of neglect. If you don’t have one, then a frying or griddle pan will do just fine.
You know that feeling when you’ve been out in the sunshine all day and you feel all glowing and full of life? It can be hard to recreate that at this time of year. The combination of grey skies, dark mornings and rainy days can leave you feeling pretty lack lustre and, if things get really bad, downright depressed.
That’s when I turn to food for a spot of comfort. I’m not talking cakes and chocolate here (although I certainly wouldn’t discount them!) No, instead, why not try to replace what’s missing in sunshine and vitamin D with food that fills you with goodness and warmth on the inside?
This Chicken and Vegetable Broth is full to the brim with wholesome comfort and goodness. A steaming bowlful slurped with a hunk of crusty bread, a good book and if possible, some sort of roaring fire, cannot fail to give you that glow of satisfaction that’s so often missing around this time of year.
For more words of wisdom regarding comfort food try this…
PS – I’m currently lucky enough to be on hols in the very lovely village of Ringstead in Norfolk and can confirm that a brisk walk along the beach is another great way to get a healthy, happy glow. Said walk, followed by this Broth is pretty close to perfect.
This isn’t a recipe to attempt after work when the evening is rushed and full of chores to complete. Make this instead on those luxuriously relaxed weekends where you can afford to spend some equally luxuriously relaxed time in the kitchen.
I recommend some music (Michael Bublé is my personal favourite for this sort of activity), a mug of tea or coffee (to be substituted with a glass of wine if it’s past midday) and a couple of hours of blissfully free time to spend happily slicing, rolling and whisking…
The result? This golden, autumnal beauty! A flaky, buttery crust packed with creamy smoked haddock, cubes of potato, caramelised onion and a fresh, clean hit of parsley. The recipe is for 6-8 people because if you’re going to put all that effort in, then you may as well make something which will serve a crowd or last for a couple of sittings!
If you love smoked haddock, then why not try my Smoked Haddock & Prawn Chowder too?
It could be argued that October is really the month of the pumpkin but if, like me, you can’t really be bothered with all the carving and general icky preparation, then the Butternut Squash is an excellent alternative.
What other month could this beautiful vegetable belong to with its pale gold skin revealing a brilliant orange core when cut? How welcome, the warmth of those colours as the crisp chill of Autumn creeps in, frosting our breath and reddening our noses?
In need of more meals to make you feel better? Try some of these!
With this soup, the butternut squash (with the help of a fiery kick of chilli) delivers on those colours’ warming promise.
Now, I don’t want to be bossy but the best way to enjoy this soup is curled up on the sofa with a blanket, a steaming bowl clutched greedily in your hands and an old film on the television.
It’s for those days when you think you may feel the onset of the sniffles and frankly the rest of the world can wait. All you need is a comfy little nest, something (or someone) to snuggle up with and a bowl of Chilli & Butternut Squash Soup.
When life gets tough, it’s all too tempting to turn to comfort food to see you through. The problem is, comfort food doesn’t tend to be particularly healthy food, so although it feels pretty amazing while you’re sitting stuffing your face with pepperoni pizza, topped with macaroni cheese with a side of mashed potato and finished off with crumble and custard, about five minutes later, the sluggishness sets in, closely followed by the sleepiness…
Too many days of this and you just feel constantly tired, your waistband feels tighter, your skin feels pallid and all in all, you feel in need of something fresh and nutritious.
Fan of meatless curries? Why not try my Chickpea Curry?
So you tuck into salads, smoothies and skimmed everything. Then, after a few days of eating nothing but virtuous wholemeal this and superfood that, you start to crave something a little richer and more satisfying.
Well, before you reach for the donuts in despair (reach for them by all means – just not in despair!), I have the answer to this seemingly unsolvable riddle. I’m not going to leave you in suspense – in fact, I rather suspect you’ve already guessed the solution…my post title was hardly subtle…
Not convinced that a humble bowl of veggie curry could be the answer to all your prayers? Let me explain…
For me maximum flavour equals maximum satisfaction and this curry is so full of flavour it’s had to rent out a loft to make room for it all… Onions spiced with mellow turmeric, earthy cumin and fiery chilli. Trusty tinned tomatoes add depth and coconut milk takes it to another level. You could eat this sauce as a soup without even adding more ingredients.
We’re not doing that though – we’re going for full on comfort and for that, we need our old chum the butternut squash. It ticks so many comfort food boxes – sweetness, starchiness, gooiness… Now imagine that, swimming in the curry sauce and soaking up all of its flavours…
Supremely satisfying! Also, pretty virtuous – a few of your five a day in there already. How about we chuck in a few more? This is the other winning element of the recipe, because you really can add any other veggies you like. I particularly love to add cauliflower and broccoli and I’m afraid I must insist that you add peas, but other than that, the world is your oyster.. ahem…carrot..green bean….spinach
This is one of those wonderful recipes that is pure simplicity to prepare (with just 6 ingredients, how could it be anything else?), but absolutely full of flavour. It’s also a little bit different, which delights something in me which strives to be unpredictable.
‘Yes, Colette. It’s different and I don’t know when I’d ever really eat it…’
Aha! I thought I sensed you were a little unsure… let me put your mind at rest. There are loads of great ways to eat this gorgeous little pâté. You’ll soon wonder where it’s been all your life. 🙂
Once prepared, the smoked mackerel pâté can be popped into a jar and taken on a picnic to be served with crusty bread and a glass of crisp, cool white wine.
More for your picnic…. My Pesto, Chicken, Sweet Pepper & Mozarella Picnic Loaf
Why not use a pastry cutter to shape some little toast circles, then pop a teaspoonful of the pâté on top with a slice of cucumber or radish, for a delicious little nibble to serve with drinks?
The great thing is, that this is so easy to make, that you needn’t feel like you should only make it for a special occasion. Whip (pardon the pun) up a batch at the start of the week and keep it in the fridge. This makes a gorgeous lunch on the run, just slathered on a couple of slices of toast!
Alternative light lunch… Quick Quesadillas
Always on the lookout for healthy ways to snack? Something to swap for the bars of chocolate and the packets of crisps? Well, a little bit of smoked mackerel pâté with some chopped carrots and celery for dippin’ are just what you need!
You know those days when it’s oppressively hot and you just don’t feel like eating much? To be honest, living in the UK, I’m not that familiar with them, but if there’s a nation who totally gets it, it’s the Spanish. Their solution is both simple and delicious…
Gazpacho is a chilled soup which is both light and fresh and can be whizzed up in flash – because let’s face it, the last thing you want to be doing is slaving in the kitchen when you could be relaxing and sipping something cool under the shade of a tree.
Here are a couple more for you to try…
If you’re a fan of shows like Masterchef, then you’ll know that one of the latest foodie trends is to ‘de-construct’ classic dishes. You know the kind of thing I mean – Apple crumble becomes a pile of biscuit crumbs, a smear of apple purée and a vanilla ice cream foam. To de-construct Gazpacho, would be to serve a simple, dressed salad, so you see what a truly virtuous little soup it is!
So get out your blender and your fresh, seasonal veg and enjoy this beautiful, soup. It’s so full of goodness that you just can’t help feel better for it.
We’re going a little bit retro today – but (as all the cool kids say), with a modern twist…
Do you have a go-to meal that you ALWAYS chose when you went out for a meal as a kid? For me, it was prawn cocktail starter, followed by scampi and chips and then some form of ice cream.
(PS. If anyone can name the 1980’s frozen ice cream loaf thing that people bought for special occasions then I will love you for ever – I’ve been trying to think of it for ages and am having a mental block..)
Anyhoo, this recipe is a little bit inspired by ye olde prawn cocktail, but using crayfish because, well, it’s in season now y’all! Plus I’ve switched out the Marie Rose (much as I love a good Marie Rose), for something a little lighter and fresher.
(PS. When I was little, I wrote a poem about the Mary Rose which began:
‘The Mary Rose was a fine, fine ship,
the heart of Henry’s navy,
if you had told him she was going to sink,
he would have said you were crazy!’
As you can see, I was destined to write…)
This little beaut works as a starter or a light lunch and if you don’t have any crayfish to hand, then it will work just as well with prawns, crab or even chicken.
It is super summery and light. The crayfish are all sweet and perfect at this time of year. The lettuce adds crunch and bite, the avocado adds mellow creaminess and the dressing is fresh, zingy and finishes it off perfectly. Go on – give it a go – you’re gonna want that dressing on everything!
Oh – and I’ve put the crayfish cocktails in jars – that way you can pack them up and take them for lunch to work. Ingenious, no?
Serves 2 as a light lunch (or 4 as a starter – using smaller jars!)
You will need:
2 x 500 ml jars (optional!)
Approx. 1/4 Cos lettuce (or any other crisp lettuce – eg. iceberg or little gem)
140 g prepared crayfish
For the dressing:
200 ml Greek yoghurt
1 handful of basil leaves
1 handful of mint leaves
1 anchovy fillet (from a jar)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbs cider vinegar
I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to come up with variety when feeding my children. I know what they like and sometimes it’s just easier to stick with that! These quesadillas were a wonderful discovery when I realised that my eldest was on his third day in a row of ham sandwiches for lunch and that maybe I ought to mix it up a bit!
I love these because they really taste like a treat. Jacob is always super excited when I serve them (and I mean super excited – on the same par as takeaway pizza excited!) The absolute bonus is that they take just minutes to put together. They don’t even create washing up (unless you’re a stickler). I use a dry frying pan to heat them through and I usually find that with a quick wipe with some kitchen roll, it’s fine to go straight back in the cupboard – no muss, no fuss.
My recipe shows a couple of options for fillings but obviously there are abundant variations you can try. Here are just a few equally quick and easy ones…
sliced tomato, basil leaves & mozzarella
cooked, shredded chicken, sweetcorn & Cheddar
A layer of chilli con carne, a layer of greek yoghurt and grated Cheddar
So, without further ado, I introduce to you a revolution in lunchtime yummies…
You will need:
1 tortilla wrap
1 handful of grated Cheddar
1 handful grated Mozzarella*
3 slices of Chorizo OR 2 tsb tinned tuna
*feel free to just use one of these cheeses if you don’t have both to hand – it’s still super tasty 🙂
Please do get in touch in the comment section below to let me know what your favourite fillings are!
Don’t you hate it when you’ve just snuggled down for the evening in your comfy clothes (or more often than not in may case, my pj’s) and the doorbell goes? It’s not so much being caught in my scruffs that I object to, it’s that I haven’t had the chance to make sure we have anything to offer in terms of libations and snacks.
This little 5 minute wonder is an absolute lifesaver! Just THREE ingredients stand between you and a fabulous little canapé to offer your grateful chums. By the time they’ve had the chance to shed their coats, nip to the loo and make themselves comfortable you will be standing triumphant with G&T’s in hand and a plate of delicious Sweet Chilli Prawns just begging to be skewered and scoffed.
I always keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer. They can be defrosted so quickly, by running under warm water, that they’re absolutely perfect for those times when you find yourself caught short with nothing left in the fridge. If you happen to have fresh prawns, then even better!
Sweet chilli sauce is another staple ingredient that I always try to keep in the cupboard. It serves as a great dip and also adds pep to those meals which turn out a little bland.
I keep a jar of sesame seeds in my spice cupboard – although I must confess, I don’t use them that often. They just add a little contrast in texture to this dish which is very pleasing – not to mention the toasty, nutty taste which compliments the prawns so well (let’s face it, we all love a bit of sesame prawn toast don’t we?)
The nigella seeds are an optional extra (which is why I didn’t formally include them as a fourth ingredient!). I love the peppery earthiness which they add, as well as the contrast in colour.
You will need:
(Serves 6 as a snack with drinks)
1 tbs sesame seeds
1/2 tbs nigella seeds
(if you don’t have these just use sesame)
100 ml sweet chilli dipping sauce
250 g king prawns (shelled)
(Serves 2 hungry people)
To turn the above canapé into a satisfying meal for 2 people (and more like 4 if you’re looking for a light lunch), just serve it with some sticky, dressed sushi rice. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions, and once it has cooled, fold in a mix of:
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs maldon salt