Archive for ‘Lunch’

June 10, 2011

A New Favourite: BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Apples and Crushed Potatoes


How lucky we’ve been to have had lots of sunshine over the last months … and we’re only technically 10 days into summer … though technically it is raining and the big cloud looming over London is looking angry. I’m doggedly optimistic that it will blow away by tomorrow because, being the weekend it’s time to BBQ!

Max and I have already been busy barbecuing away on our tiny little terrace so I have a few upcoming entries. But first would you mind if I revisit one of my  favourite BBQ dishes? We originally made this BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Grilled Apples on a bed of Crushed Potatoes back in December when we were in Australia. Seeing it was then British Winter, I reckon it deserves a repost now it’s British Summer. It’s a very simple dish to make and can all be done on the BBQ or grill … even the crushed potato.

So follow the link for the recipe and give it a try … Max and I will certainly be having it again soon.

Sarah x.


February 16, 2011

Picnicing in Oxford: Sausage Rolls by the River Thames


On Saturday night we had a party to go to in Oxford and seeing the weather was unusually sunny we decided to make a bit more of an adventure out of it. So early Saturday morning we headed out of London for Oxford and for a 10 mile walk along the Thames Path. The Thames Path actually runs the whole length of the River Thames, 184 miles in total. If you fancy walking a bit of it yourself, details can be found here. We started in Oxford City Centre and headed north.

The Thames Path ... headed North from Oxford

The walk was beautiful. Though being that it was the first day of sunshine after a lot of rain we got very muddy! Luckily we had a picnic to make us forget our muddiness…

Time for a break

Delicious Sausage Rolls, but the quick and easy kind made with sausages rolled up in home-made salt and pepper shortcrust pastry. They were certainly very hearty and good fuel for the return mileage back to Oxford.

Past Sail Boats, Ruins and a rather old houseboat

The party that night was great fun and was actually the real reason I’d made the sausage rolls. We’d all been asked to bring some nibbles along so I’d cut a whole bunch of the sausage rolls up into much smaller bite size sausage rolls (before baking) … I forgot to take a photo of those though, oops!

On the Sunday, after a hearty breakfast in Oxford we headed back to London. Lucky me, I got a pre-Valentines surprise from M on the way home!

sarahx.

A surprise on the way home!


Recipe: Quick Sausage Rolls with Salt and Pepper Pastry Recipe

Ingredients

Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry (see below for recipe or else you could always buy plain shortcrust ready made)

Sausages

Egg, beaten

Sesame Seeds

Method

– Roll out shortcrust pastry and trim to long rectangle shape.

– Lay sausages end to end along the middle of your pastry rectangle (lengthwise). Gently bring one side of pastry around and over the sausages so they are completely covered, and tuck under.

– Brush remaining pastry ‘flap’ with the egg. and then roll the sausage roll towards it.

– With the join sitting on the bottom, squeeze together to allow it to be closed.

– Using a sharp knife, slice into desired size.

– Place on greased tray and brush tops with egg. Sprinkly with sesame seeds.

– Bake 180 degrees Celsius, about 40minutes, though the time will depend on the size you’ve cut your sausage rolls to.

– Can be eaten cold or hot.

Note: You can use Puff Pastry for these if you like but I like using Shortcrust as it makes them a bit more sturdy and they also stay nice a bit longer without going soggy like puff.

Very simple to make

Perfect Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry Recipe (1 kg)

Ingredients

500g Plain Flour (and some extra for rolling out)

200g butter cut into cubes

Sea Salt

Pepper

2 Eggs

Dash of Milk

A couple of tablespoons of cheese, I used cream cheese but only because I didn’t have any cheddar.

Method

– Before you start, remember that pastry works best when kept cold so all stages should be done with minimum amount of handling.

– In a food processor place flour, butter, salt and pepper. If you are using a hard cheese, grate it and add it now. Blitz on the pulse setting until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

– Add eggs and the soft cheese if that’s what you’re using. Add a small dash of milk and pulse for a few secconds until the mixture starts to form a dough.

– Check the consistency. If it’s too dry and crumbly add a little more milk, but you want to do this gradually as the worst thing is a claggy pastry. If you add too much, just add a little flour.

– When you’re happy with the texture bring it into two separate balls. Flatten them a little and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let them rest in fridge for at least an hour.When it comes to rolling it out just dust your surface lightly with flour, but if you’ve got the right texture it shouldn’t really stick. Remember it’s best to work with pastry while it’s cold, so if youre going to be a while you can always just take small amounts of pastry out of the fridge at a time. It’ll stick less when it’s cold too.

Note: You can make the pastry the day before if you like. It also freezes well. I often separate it into several smaller balls and wrap them all separately and freeze them. That way they are easily to hand when I need some pastry and you’re not making them from scratch each time.

January 27, 2011

Good Bite In My Lunchbox: Cannellini Bean Salad with Spring Onion and Sun-dried Tomato


We’ve got a rather indulgent weekend ahead with the Australia Day Barbie so today we wanted something simple and healthy in our lunchboxes. This Cannellini Bean salad is just the trick.

Apologies for the blurred photo … taken in a bit of a dash this morning before M raced out the door.

Sx.

 

Cannellini Bean Salad with Spring Onion and Sun-dried Tomato

Ingredients

400g tin of Cannellini Beans,  rinsed and drained

Punnet of Cherry Tomatoes

4 spring onions, chopped (or just cut them with scissors over the bowl)

2 tablespoons Sun-dried Tomato Paste (or finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes with a little of the oil they’re kept in)

Lemon Juice

Salt and Pepper

Instructions

Place all ingredients in the bowl and add a good splash of lemon juice. Stir to combine and coat salad ingredients in the paste and lemon juice. Season to taste.

Something Extra

I think this might be extra nice with the addition of some rocket. Another idea would be to add some feta cheese.

November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pizza with Crispy Sage … Where’s the beer?


Piping hot, puffed up round the sides, nice and crispy base … homemade pizza joy in our flat last night! As it’s still round Halloween time I thought a Pumpkin Pizza was in order .. only I actually used butternut squash as there seemed to be a pumpkin shortage in South London … I guess that’s me being late for Halloween.

Pumpkin, Chicken, Feta and Crispy Sage ... mmmm

It might seem like a faff but pizza is such a great last minute dinner … it’s so simple yet it feels like such a treat. The brilliant thing about making your own pizza dough is that once you’ve made it you can freeze the dough in individual portions and then just pull them out of the freezer whenever you fancy.  The recipe below makes up to 8 pizzas. That’s a lot of last minute dinners!  Once it’s defrosted all you need to do is roll it out and choose your toppings. That’s what I did last night … ten minutes in the oven, some creepy Halloween tunes on the stereo, all we needed to go with it was a beer! I reckon the best thing about this topping combo was the sage which went all crispy and was like heaven next to the creamy feta.

Pumpkin Pizza ... where's the beer?

So what do you need to top it like this?

Use the dough and cooking instructions below and top with the following ingredients. Top in the order they are listed.

Tomato Sauce (Leftover homemade sauce or else a ready made tomato paste)

Roasted Pumpkin / Butternut Squash Chunks (or steamed for a healthier version)

Grilled Breast of Chicken cut into strips

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Fresh Sage leaves cut in half lengthwise

A drizzling of olive oil

Ten minutes in your oven  … drizzle with a little chilli oil and Bobs your uncle! If you haven’t tried making your own pizza before, it’s seriously worthwhile giving it a go.

Autumn Days ... last of the blue skies .. a little distraction midway through the recipe!

Basic Pizza Recipe:

So what do you need for the dough?

1kg strong white bread flour (or type 00 if you can get it – it’s much finer so gives you a good texture)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x sachets dried yeast (14g total)
1 tblspn caster sugar
4 tblspns olive oil
650ml jug of lukewarm water (make sure it’s not too hot or you’ll kill yeast)

(If you have it, it’s also nice to replace maybe 200g of the flour with semolina flour – not necessary, but nice)

Put it all together like this:.

A lot of people make pizza dough straight onto the worktop. This is great if you have a vast kitchen but mine is tiny. When I tried this I ended up with a pizza avalanche running down the side of my worktop. So the method I now use is to make it using a large round low edged, flat bottomed ceramic dish. It allows a large enough work area but has the advantage of having sides so it isn’t messy!

So … into your dish / work surface sift your flour. Bring it all together and make a deep well in the centre.

In your jug of water place your yeast, sugar and oil. Mix and then leave to settle for a few minutes. Pour the mix carefully into the well.

Using a fork, gradually bring the flour from the outside into the liquid. You should be gently drawing it in and swirling each little bit into the liquid as you go.  Keep doing this until you have drawn all the flour in and the mix has come together.

Now, get your hands dirty. You need to knead the dough with flour dusted hands but there’s a knack to it. My grandmother used to always tell me off as a child when I got it wrong … I can almost hear her now, telling me I’ve got to be more gentle with the dough, to feel it, to sense it! It’s true though you do need to sense it. You should be kneading it and stretching it at the same time. With each knead gently pulling the dough away from itself, stretching it, working it into a smooth elasticey springy ball of dough. Be careful not to be too rough or hard with it or you’ll knock the life out of it.

Place the dough into a large flour dusted bowl and sprinkle a little more flour over the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size. The time it needs will vary greatly according to the temperature of the room.

Now to knock back the dough. Place the dough on a flour dusted surface and knead around a bit to push the air out and you’ll see it deflate a little.

That’s the dough made. Using a sharp knife divide it into balls according to how many pizza you want to make. It will make 8 standard size pizzas or else you could make a whole load of mini ones – up to you. You can either make your pizzas straight away or wrap the individual balls in cling film and place in the freezer, ready to defrost when you fancy a pizza!

Making the Pizza:

(Note: If you can roll out the dough ten minutes or so before you’re going to top and cook – not to worry if you can’t)

Place your tray, pizza stone or a unglazed terracotta tile (this is a cheap but perfectly good pizza stone alternative!) in the oven.

Preheat your oven as hot as it goes – mine goes to 300 Celsius.

Now, lightly dust your workspace with flour and roll the dough out – flipping and turning every so often so you get a nice even pizza. You want it as thin as you can get it. Once I’ve done the basic rolling I sometimes just get it in my hands and kind of stretch and turn it between my hands. The weight of it dropping between your hands stretches it and helps you to get that nice thin base.

Once you’re ready, top the pizzas – either using the suggestion above or else whatever you fancy (be careful not to overload on topping or else you’ll have trouble transferring it to oven in a moment)

Slide the pizza onto your tray of choice that has been heating up in the oven.

All it needs is ten minutes in the oven and you’ve got yourself a pizza!

S.

October 30, 2010

Heaven on Toast: Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Capers on Sourdough


Heaven on Toast this certainly must be …

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Capers on Sourdough

… and when I’m in the mood for decadence at the breakfast table this is what does it for me. A thick slice of Gail’s Potato and Rosemary Sourdough (after a tip off from friend O), lightly toasted and topped with a thick smear of cream cheese. A couple of lightly placed layers of Smoked Salmon, a sprinkling of salt packed capers and a squeeze of lemon.

Just a squeeze of lemon

It was my birthday breakfast after all …

S.

October 29, 2010

Good Bite In My Lunchbox: Red Rice Salad with Orange & Apricot


Ever since spotting this California inspired red rice salad on Eat.Live.Travel.Write I’ve had a hankering for a wild rice salad. Maybe it’s because it looked so fresh and summery and I’m feeling the need for an antidote to autumn. It came to mind this morning when I was making lunchboxes for M and me but the only ingredient I had was the red rice. I ended up creating my own version … a Red Rice Salad with Orange & Apricot. I’ll  have to go back to Eat.Live.Travel.Write’s version another time.

So here’s what went in our lunchboxes today.

Red Rice Salad with Apricot and Orange

So what do you need?

125g sachet Camargue Rice (Red Rice), boiled but so it retains a little bite

1 Orange (you’ll use juice and rind)

3 Spring Onions, finely chopped

6 Dried Apricots, sliced in strips

Rocket (2 cups or so – up to you)

Lemon Juice (Just a splash)

Handful Shelled Pistachios (Toasted lightly in oven with a little salt)

Salt

So how do you put it together?

In a bowl combine drained and cooled rice, spring onions, apricots, rocket and pistachios.

You have two options for the orange  rind in this salad – you can either grate the rind or else … using a peeler take 4 or 5 strips of rind from the orange. Tidy the strip up into a rectangle with knife and then cut in very thin strips. Add these to your salad.

Now you can cut the orange in half and squeeze all the juice out. Use this and the splash of lemon juice to dress the salad. Season well.

Nutty and Zesty!

Hope you enjoy this good bite in our lunchbox from today … it was delicious!

S.

October 14, 2010

Good Bite in my Lunchbox: Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios


M and I both take a packed lunch to work whenever we can and generally take turns to prepare them. But day in day out packed lunches can easily slip into being monotonous. So a couple of times a week we try to mix it up a little. Not with anything that takes a ridiculous amount of time to prepare,  just something different from normal. So today I’m starting recording these with what I’m calling Good Bite in my Lunchbox. First up is today’s lunch, a salad of Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios.

 

Salad of Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios

 

So what do you need:

Trimmed green beans, lightly steamed so they retain their colour and crunch, then rinsed under water until cold. (I love them raw too – but that’s up to you)

Cooked and peeled beetroot (use pre-cooked packaged beetroot if you like, just not the vinegar kind … or if you have any left over roast beetroot use this)

Greek Feta

Pistachio nuts, shelled and toasted lightly in a 170 degree Celsius oven with a little sea salt (You can buy them pre-shelled and most Asian supermarkets)

Handful fresh mint leaves

Splash lemon juice

Splash Olive Oil (Optional)

Honey – about half tspn per person

Salt and Pepper (nuts and feta are both salty so you won’t need much)

Note on quantities: Now I am loath to dictate exactly how much you should put of this or that as I believe you should make it according to how you like it balanced – and also how much you want to make. If you have a glut of beans, put loads in … likewise with beetroot. Just be careful not to go overboard on the feta and pistachios – both are very salty and you don’t want to make the salad too rich.

So how do you do it:

In a cup, whisk together the lemon juice, honey and oil. Place beans in the bowl / lunchbox and give a light with dressing. Add a touch of salt and pepper. Lightly toss to mix through. You do this now as once you start adding the beetroot it will transfer colour to everything. Layer on quartered segments of beetroot, crumbled greek feta,  pistachio nuts and mint leaves. Lid on – ready to go.

 


Good Bite in my Lunchbox Number 1

 

Looking forward to lunch now!

S.

NB: If a salad isn’t quite enough for your lunchbox, this would go well with some ryebread / ryecrackers or sourdough on the side … or even a piece of grilled chicken. Also if you don’t have pistachios then walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds would all make good substitutes.

October 12, 2010

Good Bite In 15 Minutes: Haddock and Minty Pea Salad


I mentioned before that things have been a bit hectic and sparing time to cook hasn’t been easy.  It’s periods like this that I usually resort to those easy to whip up dishes … the kind I think we all have to fall back on when need be. This is one of mine that I usually make summertime but yesterday when London decided to have a last ditch effort at pre-winter sunshine it seemed the perfect thing to whip up.

 

Haddock and Minty Pea Salad

 

It really is dead simple:

You need:

1 tray and 1 bowl

A couple of fillets of white fish eg. Haddock (I usually use a fillet per person)

1 red onion

2 cups peas (feel free to use fresh or frozen)

A handful of mint to taste

A few splashes of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of lemon grass minced (Optional but give it a bit of something extra)

Salt and Pepper

Then:

– Place fish on a tray lined with foil for easy cleaning. Drizzle with a little lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper. Place under a medium grill. Depending on your grill it should take about 10 minutes to cook, while it cooks you can prepare the salad.

– Steam your peas but only so much as they soften but still remain their colour.

– Meanwhile, slice the onion into as fine rings as you can.

– Place peas and onions in bowl. Tear up mint into pieces and add them in. Add lemongrass and lemon juice. Toss together.

– Fish should be ready by now. If you’re not sure if it’s done check that the flesh lightly flakes off when prodded with a fork.

– Either serve fish whole with salad on the side or else flake the fish up and stir through the salad. It’s nice both ways.

S.

October 8, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Mustard Tart and the Quest for the Perfect Julienne


French Friday with Dorie has come around again quickly.  But this week setting aside the time to make Gerard’s Mustard Tart wasn’t easy. It’s not that the recipe was complicated but it involved a lot of waiting around for pastry to chill as well as cutting my vegetables julienne style. In a week of crazy work hours it would need a bit more time than the soups and salads I’ve been hurriedly preparing of late. Never the less the picture of Dorie’s Tart peering out at me from the pages of Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours proved too tempting.

So that’s how I found myself close to midnight all flour haired, pastry chilling in the fridge and bent over my chopping board cutting my carrots and leeks up julienne style. I have to admit I have never had the patience to cut my veg this way before but the tart looked so pretty in the book I thought I’d have to give it a go. It actually isn’t too hard, I just found I had to take my time with it. Being a bit of a perfectionist I found myself with two piles – the ones that were a tad messy that I figure I’ll use in a soup, and the ones that were pretty enough to make the Mustard Tart grade.

 

Pastry and Julienne by the stroke of midnight

 

My julienne veges steamed, a mighty mustard egg base whipped together and homemade pastry rolled into its case and popped in the freezer , I had all the elements ready for baking … sleep. Aah sleep ….

Come morning I put the tart together and popped it in the oven whilst I got ready for work. Filling and baking the pastry case from frozen isn’t something I’d tried before but it worked well. The house filled with that magic smell of pastry baking and M. came sniffing around the kitchen hunting for what treat he might be getting for lunch.

 

Mustard Tart ... heavy on the mustard

 

Sliced up it was perfect for our work lunchboxes today. And it was delicious. Having spent the time meticulously cutting the leek and carrots I think it was worthwhile as the light layers of leek and carrot worked well with the creaminess of the tart. The Mustard and egg combo worked surprisingly well too … if you’re trying this though be sure to give it a hefty whack of it … it really is all the better for it.

I will definitely be making this again … good for a summer picnic I think!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Vietnamese Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup …  Feel like joining in or making these for yourself check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

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