May 22, 2013
The weather may be acting otherwise, but it is summer salad season in our house at the moment with some new favourites on heavy rotation. Last week’s amazing Caesar, and this delicious Asian slaw style salad with chicken.
I spotted it in Bon Appétit magazine and was drawn to the colours, crunch and quickness of using a rotisserie chicken. It is great for those evenings when even the most enthusiastic of cooks cannot be bothered to turn on the oven or hob.
I couldn’t find red cabbage so substituted two bags of this ruby coleslaw mix from Waitrose, which worked really well and saves even more time. I added some sliced mange tout and cocount as well, and used Sriracha sauce for extra punch. Sriracha hot sauce is my new best friend in the kitchen. Have you tried it? I put it on absolutely everything from poached eggs and avocado to soba noodles and fried rice. I’m actually feeling a little nervous now the bottle is almost empty. I get it from Amazon and the £6 bottle lasts for months, even for a chilli fiend like me.
We devoured this salad for dinner and packed in lunch boxes the next day. The recipe makes a fair amount and I imagine it would be great for picnics and BBQs. It feels healthy and light, but very filling and satisfying too. Give it a go! Find the full recipe from Bon Appétit here.
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May 20, 2013
I’ve always loved having plants and flowers at home but it has now become a need rather than want. I find it very calming to have nature around while I work and it really helps my mood and concentration. Do you find this? Of course it can get costly to replace fresh flowers every week, so I like to add different things like this lovely lilac snipped from my parents garden and this gorgeous butterfly lavender plant from Morrisons (popped in a terracotta pot painted with blackboard paint).
I’m on the look out for some new ideas and different vessels to display, so thought I’d share some of my Pin-spiration.
On the wall // Wall-mounted vessels are a great for saving space on surfaces and adding interest to otherwise plain walls. I particularly like this cute little glass bubble vases from Rowen and Wren.
Hanging pretty // Gypsophila seems to really divide opinion in the floristry world. It can make arrangements feel a little dated in my opinion, but can also provide a wonderful lightness of touch, as in these hanging Gyp pompoms. And how awesome are these hanging brass planters? I'm stalking some similar on eBay.
Branch out // Bringing branches inside is a great way to add an architectural element to your interior for next-to-nothing cost. If you haven’t got access to fallen branches or twigs, pick up something like willow or hazel from a florist or online at Decorative Branches.
If you fancy some simple DIY ideas for bringing the outside inside, check out my homes special in next Sunday’s Fabulous magazine (free with The Sun on Sunday).
May 17, 2013
Caesar salad with chicken is one of my all-time favourite salads. It reminds of the summer I lived on Martha’s Vineyard and I love to order it when eating out during the warmer months. I’m under no illusions that it is a healthy option, but it tends to be one of the few carb-light meals on pub menus.
I’ve recently started making it at home too and now both Gav and I are totally hooked. The secret is in a punchy homemade dressing. None of that goopy nonsense from a jar, oh no. A simple mix of finely chopped anchovies, minced garlic, lemon juice, zest and olive oil, and you’re good to go. I love this kale version (where my dressing is adapted from), but more often use romaine lettuce. A whole head provides plenty of crispy goodness for two people.
Croutons are made from sour dough, torn or cut into bite sized pieces, tossed with a little olive oil and baked in a 200°c pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Chicken tastes best griddled I think, with the smoky charred stripes contrasting nicely with the sharp and creamy dressing. I look forward to making this lots over the summer (if we get one!), enjoying it in the garden with a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Bliss. I hope you'll give it a go.
Amazing Caesar salad dressing
1 garlic clove
3 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
*Blitz all the ingredients except salt in a blender. Taste and season with salt if needed. If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little water. Toss with torn romaine lettuce, croutons and grated Parmesan. Serve griddled chicken on top or on the side.*
May 15, 2013
I’m not particularly green fingered with growing plants or vegetables but I’m really keen to get our outside area sorted this year. We don’t have much and it isn’t very pretty (at the moment!) – but there is space for a dining area and displaying interesting potted plants. I like the idea of creating a simple, urban-style space - a little like these images here:
I’m currently drawn to a colour scheme of green, black and buff shades of brown, with splashes of orange and blue. It’s funny – these aren’t colours I’m normally drawn to in nature or floral design (especially not together!) but I’m inspired by this tear from Red magazine and think it could work really well in the garden for a fresh and contemporary look.
Two things I'm really into at the moment are potted trees and succulents. We already have them inside and plan to introduce them in the garden too. I love these vertical planters as they're a great way to dress up a boring expanse of wall. I think I might paint the walls too - perhaps F&B Down Pipe - to really make the green plants pop and help create an atmosphere.
Have you got plans for your garden this summer? I'd love to hear!
May 10, 2013
I’m always looking for interesting artwork to adorn our walls, so I love to follow the findings of The Jealous Curator. I like pretty much everything she features, but one artist that particularly caught my eye recently is Beth Hoeckel. Her quirky and whimsical collages really draw me in – a modern take on the surrealist artists I loved and studied at school. She's cool right? Check out Beth's website, Etsy store and on Society 6.
All works by Beth Hoeckel
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May 1, 2013
I’ve never really been into meatballs. Growing up in a red meat-free household, our bolognaise was soya, burgers were quorn and our sausages contained the lovely Sos Mix (it is really lovely, honest. I still use it in sausage rolls now.) The idea of a ball of meat sounded quite gross and never really appealed, until I gave them a go at Leon a few years ago. De-lish.
Now completely converted to these tasty little morsels, I love to make meatballs at home, especially with turkey for a leaner option to beef. My favourite recipes include Ottolenghi’s turkey and sweetcorn meatballs (I’ll feature them soon) and these hoisin-glazed turkey beauts.
Super simple and tasty, they are great to whip up any day of the week. We had them on Saturday evening with basmati rice and steamed asparagus. Yum. Just don't let them overcook - the lean turkey mince can dry out.
Hoisin-glazed turkey meatballs
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
½ tsp crushed red chillies
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
2 spring onions, minced – plus extra for garnish
450g turkey mince
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment/grease-proof paper.
2. Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, crushed chillies and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in corn flour until smooth. Mix in spring onions and turkey until completely combined.
3. Wet hands, take rounded teaspoon of mix and roll into bite-size balls. Lightly coat with cooking spray and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is cooked through – about 15-17 minutes.
4. Stir hoisin sauce, coriander and lime juice in a large bowl. Add cooked meatballs and gently toss to coat with glaze. Sprinkle with spring onions and sesame seeds and serve hot.
April 22, 2013
Source: Lottie & Bloom
Being fickle must come with the nature of being a florist I think, with each season bringing a plethora of new blooms to swoon over and take top place in our affection. But one flower that I continue to lust after throughout the year is the hydrangea.
I love the delicate petals, blousy form and astonishing range of colours, from eye-popping pink to moody petrol blue, antique ivory to zesty lime green. I have to stop myself from stroking them against my cheek. Um… that’s a lie, I have no control and actually do that. Oh the power of flowers.
My favourites stems are those in the midst of changing colour with shades of fading blue, pink and green. I have just discovered that these varieties are called antique hydrangeas and plan to use some in the wedding flowers.
I have decided to do my own flowers for the wedding and although I’m still questioning my sanity at loading this additional stress on, I really want to do it.
So, it means getting super organised and having a little practice run or two with these blousy beauts. As the name suggests, hydrangeas like lots of water and do not do well in floral foam or with their stems out in a bouquet. So, it will be quite a challenge, but one I'm really looking forward to.
Source: Lottie & Bloom
April 17, 2013
Our hometown of Lichfield is lovely but it is definitely too quiet for me, with little in the way of independent shops, interesting restaurants or buzzing bars. However, the one thing it is not short of is great curry houses. We’ve sampled them all in our quest to find the best and agree that Indian Village takes the top spot. Bursting with fresh flavours, the perfect amount of heat and spices, and not in the slightest bit greasy, the food is really wonderful and great value for money.
Gav had an excellent butter chicken there last week so we decided to recreate something similar at home this weekend, as well as our first attempt at making naan bread.
We followed this recipe for butter chicken from one of my fave food blogs, Manger. It was absolutely delicious although quite different to the version at Indian Village, which had no tomato and was more yellow-green in colour. Next time, I plan to have a go at this recipe instead. It is a Punjabi recipe and includes more ginger and almonds, which seems more authentic and closer to what we had.
The Peshwari naan bread recipe from Manger wasn’t so good unfortunately, and the resulting very dry, dense dough ended up in the bin. We were determined not to give up though and tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for plain naan instead and filled it with the Peshwari stuffing. Thankfully, this was a huge success and something we’ll definitely be making again – perhaps with more ground almonds and coconut to enhance the flavor.
I’m definitely inspired to try more curries from scratch instead of relying on trusty Patak’s pastes. I’m interested to know – what’s your favourite Indian dish and have you tried making it at home?