Have your cake and eat it too…

If your Christmas and New Year were anything like mine, you’ve pushed your body to the max and now every inch of you is crying out for something beneficial. So, why not get to the kitchen and mix yourself up a nice, healthy, kale infused smoothie.

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Or? Why not have a
DELICIOUS CHEESECAKE!

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With a life-lengthening porridge base, creamy Greek yoghurt centre, and a surprisingly irresistible “super food” blueberry, raspberry and kale topping.

This is the recipe that caters more towards my own dietary needs, but you can tweak it to make it lower in fat if you wish, which I will included notes on!

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THE SPANISH HAVE INVADED!!

My TASTEBUDS, that is!!

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Recently, a Spanish influence has stepped into my life and introduced me to a whole new world of flavour.

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This weekend, Diana gave me the perfect gift of a book to record my favourite (and some more secret) recipes. I immediately knew what the first recipe in this book was going to be.

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Salmorejo!

There aren’t the words to express how much I love this dish. Even looking at that picture now makes me go crazy for not having it in front of me. The combination of tomato, garlic, oil and bread may seem simple enough, and frankly I don’t understand all the magic behind the deliciousness. I also know the concept of raw garlic in anything will be enough to make my fellow Brits VERY nervous, but please PLEASE I beg you to put what you think you know to one side and try this dish. When I eat this, I feel absolutely invincible and satisfied beyond belief. I’ve never actually made this myself, but the last time Diana whipped it up, I monitored her activity with a tediously close proximity. Here’s how to do it…

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What I smuggled back from Amsterdam…

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I recently had the pleasure of a mind-blowing long weekend in Amsterdam with friends. While I was there, my eyes were opened to many strange and shocking things, the most innocent of these being what I discovered in a coffee shop. No, not that coffee shop, but an actual Starbucks.

Alongside the sugar and sweetener offered for you to add to your coffee, there were also sachets of honey! Oh, how the Dutch live! Here in England, you’re lucky if that’s offered free in a hotel!! Naturally, I stuffed a fistful straight into my handbag with neither hesitation nor logic, and took it away with me.

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A few days after returning home, I discovered these delights were still floating around in the vortex of my handbag. By coincidence, I also had a couple of pork steaks to cook, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them. And so, Honey-baked Pork Steak was born!

I have also recently been inspired by some Spanish ways of cooking- namely the common use of raw tomato and garlic, particularly in a new favourite of mine called Salmorejo. This played some small inspiration on the salad that accompanied these tasty steaks. A fine combination indeed!

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Pork, chorizo and Couscous Tagine

IMG_3606Sometimes, the best meals are the ones filled with ingredients and elements that remind you of the people who make you smile. Now frankly, I don’t think I could make just one dish that reflects ALL the people in my life who make me happy, but this tagine is a good start!

First, tagines will always and forever remind me of my dear friend, Stephen Swinnerton. They are his signature, his territory. The first one he ever made for me was beef and the tenderness blew me away. The most recent one he made me was pork, at which point I sussed this tenderness was no fluke, but a delicious result of the patience and care that goes into tagine cooking! He bought me my own for Christmas and it’s been kicking around for a while. Finally, the time arrived for me to give it a go with a few special ingredients of my own!

Within the ingredients list are the other special elements that remind me of people who make me smile. There is the chorizo and oregano, given to me by the fabulously Spanish Diana Requena, and the chillis, carefully grown to an adorable size here in our home by my father! Finally, I experimented with a little chipotle paste… Chipotle will always remind me of Eric Cartman.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pork steaks
  • A friendly amount of chorizo- sliced or diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 chillis, chopped
  • 500g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • About 100g of couscous- plain or flavoured, the choice is yours!
  • 2 peppers- red and yellow- diced
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • Salt, pepper, oregano and paprika
  • Chipotle paste
  • 1 more carrot, shreddred

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Let’s get cooking!

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Love, Life, Food, Adventure

First and foremost, I would like to dedicate this particular post to my parents Dawn and Kevin Maitland, who are celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary today. They are currently dining in the same Italian restaurant we went for Hana’s pre-wedding dinner just a few months ago. What a special restaurant!

Second, and with no less enthusiasm, I would like to give a great HOLLA HOO to my wonderful best friend Ali Cluney who is celebrating his birthday today. I can’t quite recall how old he is. 80 maybe?

I wanted to ensure I posted today, as it’s a significant memory, not just for my Mother and Father and not just for Ali but for me personally. And what better post for what I wish to blab about than this unusual salad I made for me and my Mum just the other day- The Thai Som Tum. Aka, Papaya Salad!

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The cure for the common cold is closer than you think!

Well I have one doozy of a cold going on here, as (it seems) does most of the UK right now. The cure? Plenty of ginger, chilli and chicken, and whatever healthy veg you can get your hands on! This is the recipe for my cold-curing stir fry. It’s a vague recipe, but I feel terrible so unless you want me to keep moaning, I suggest you get on with it!

Mmmm-mm! It's enough to make you want the cold in the first place!
Mmmm-mm! It’s enough to make you want the cold in the first place!

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Tex Mex for a family trying (and not always succeeding) to be healthy…

As I have previously mentioned, my sister is to be wed to her long term partner of 11 years, Iain, on May 10th. They will be married in the church local to where she and I grew up, and therefore local to where I am now living. The weekend just gone was the 3rd Reading of The Banns, so they were home to witness that, which gave us the perfect excuse for a big family dinner- and who could knock a texmex!

My Mum whipped up barbeque ribs and a childhood favourite of mine- Chilli Lasagne!

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Just looking at the picture of it fills me with a hungry kind of joy! My Mum does this the best (but maybe that’s more to do with my inner child?) however I did cook a big batch of this myself for Josh and Stephen a few months back. But that’s another recipe for another time!

With the wedding round the corner, everyone is trying to get into their best shape possible right now. My contribution to the meal was not a healthy side-dish by any means, but while I whipped up the original version, I also stole the recipe for a healthier version from this nice lady. What Tex Mex would be complete without Jalapeño Poppers!

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Well, my Dad always says, every day’s a school day…

Last night, I decided to cook myself a healthy Whole Fish Salad for my dinner. I’m still in London for the next couple of weeks and I’m exhausted with all the packing! I decided I needed something both to pick me up and to reward me for the hard work so far.

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Now, if you’re going to make this, please first learn from my mistake. I forgot to say one essential thing to the fishmonger I bought this from, and when I got my lovely piece of fish from the fridge to cook later that evening I learned, to my horror, that it wasn’t already gutted for me!

Luckily, my lovely chum Stephen Swinnerton previously worked as a fishmonger at the supermarket Waitrose. With his teasing and guidance via telephone, I managed to achieve a thorough gutting.

FISH GUTTING- NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED

Swinnerton Instructs

If the fish is slimy, give it a quick rinse under the tap. Otherwise, you risk slipping and cutting yourself.
Find its butt-hole (I’m not kidding). Insert the knife, and cut all the way along to the head
Open it, and remove the… Well, the guts.
Along the spine, you will see a long dark vein. Cut all the way along it to break it, then remove the blood.
Finally, the gills. Hidden under the flaps at the back of the head. Lift the flap and slice the fleshy gill, then remove it using your fingers. Watch out! They will be spiky!

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MASSACRE

Yikes. Clean it up a bit.

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As gross as it was, I’m frankly please this happened. I learned a new skill, and as I’m planning on a trip to Thailand next year where catching you own fish for dinner is part of the package, I’m glad I learned this skill in good time, rather than exposing myself as a sissy mid-adventure. However, until then, I think I will definitely remember to ask the fishmonger to do the dirty work for me!

SO! Now we’re past that little massacre, on with the recipe!

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