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January. A new year and a time for fresh starts. A time when half the population are partaking in Dry January, Veganuary or have made it their NYE resolution that this will be the year they’ll become a fitter version of themselves. 

To kick a new series on the blog called ‘Cooking The Books’, I’ll be taking a closer look at James Haskell & Omar Meziane’s latest book Cooking For Fitness and attempting to re-create one of their dishes that stood out for me.

British & Irish Lion Rugby superstar James Haskell’s, brand new cookbook, Cooking For Fitness. James has teamed up with the UK’s top performance chef Omar Meziane to create this unique recipe book designed specifically to boost training performance and achieve your body goals. The book includes 79 quick and easy recipes with clear instructions and uses honest uncomplicated ingredients, most of which will already be in your kitchen cupboard. The recipes have been carefully designed with both male and female fitness enthusiasts in mind – whether your aim is to build muscle, strip fat, increase resistance, improve performance time, aid recovery or simply fuel your training, the recipes will help you do just that.

I’m a huge supporter for recipes that are simple. Ones that you can prepare rather quickly, without much effort and most importantly, are flavoursome. A combination that I had yet to try was fruit in a salad. Okay so tomatoes are technically a fruit, but in this instance, I’m referring to the king of berries- strawberries. Yes, I’m adding them into a salad. In collaboration with M&S, I’m recreating their Strawberry and Manchego Salad. It can go one of two ways; be a flavour revelation or be awful. A true Marmite moment.

For the ingredients, I popped along to my local M&S Simply Food that I honestly don’t think I’m ever away from. Ross and I pop in for a few things then leave with a trolley load constantly. Recent favourites of mine are the ‘Best Ever Burger’ that they started doing. These are by far the best burgers you could buy in a supermarket and contain bone marrow to make them extra decadent. Delicious chargrilled or even better barbecued with crispy onions and gooey Manchego cheese in a brioche bun. Drool.

Back to the Strawberry and Manchego Salad though, you know, healthy balance and all that jazz.

I picked up the 8 ingredients required to recreate this recipe, including the all important Strawberries and headed home very proud of myself that I managed to restrain myself from buying extra goodies. This time.

We are currently in the midst of the British tomato season and what better way to celebrate than creating some healthy, easy and delicious meals using some fresh Piccolo tomatoes. Dishes so easy and with minimal effort  even the novice amongst us can prepare them.

With tomato varieties such as heirloom to beefsteak, my absolute favourite has to be the cherry tomato and in particular Piccolo tomatoes. Intensely juicy and sweet, they are full of flavour on or off the vine, whether cooked hot or eaten cold.

Growing up, I always remember my grandfather having a whole salad tomato with his lunchtime sandwich. He’d eat it whole like an apple, stopping to sprinkle some salt after every bite. I never understood how he could eat a tomato that way. My mom inherited his love of eating tomatoes like an apple, right down to enjoying a glass of ice cold tomato juice. Not for me.

I teamed up with the British Tomato Association to create some mouthwatering dishes for you all. Matt from family run business Glinwell kindly sent me a box of fresh Piccolo tomatoes direct from their farm in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

While I could never envision consuming tomatoes the same way my grandfather did, the following 5 easy & delicious recipes with Piccolo tomatoes are right up my street, allowing the tomatoes to take centre stage and shine. 

Halloumi Couscous Salad

A bright salad full of flavour and even better served alongside some grilled halloumi or chicken. Create a batch of it to use throughout the week for work lunches saving you even more time. This is my go-to salad when I’m bored of rocket leaves and balsamic glaze.

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Halloumi Couscous Salad

Pan con Tomate

A traditional Catalonian tapa, with only 5 ingredients it requires no cooking. A staple amongst the Catalans its easy to see why after a bite. Enjoy on its own or with some Iberico ham.

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Pan con Tomate

Red Lentil and Roasted Piccolo Tomato Soup

A hearty soup, perfect to enjoy as a meal in itself or as a starter. With the addition of some crusty bread, its a firm favourite of mine. I had it for dinner last night and for lunch today its that good.

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Piccolo Tomato Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses

A simple salad bursting with flavour, taking me back to my Middle Eastern days. Serve it alongside some grilled chicken, flatbread and hommous. 

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Piccolo Tomato Salad with Sumac and Pomegranate Molasses

King Prawn Spaghetti with a Tomato, Chorizo and Chilli Sauce

A decadent dish cooked and served in under 30 minutes. A great mid-week comforting dinner or one to savour with friends at the weekend. So irresistible I had it two days in a row recently.

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What is your favourite way to eat tomatoes? Do you have a go to recipe? Interested in trying any of these recipes? Let me know your thoughts.

A Glasgow institution since 1996, Mother India is the go-to destination for authentic Indian food in the city. From dishes such as Garlic Chilli Chicken to Lamb Raan, I’ve yet to find a dish that I dislike. In this post, I recreate one of my favourite dishes, Mother India’s Butter Chicken. 

With the flagship restaurant Mother India in Westminster Terrace, Monir Mohammed created a gem. With commitment to cooking quality authentic Indian food with local produce, fresh herbs and the best whole spices, it is no wonder that the restaurant became a roaring success. Now with five outlets, including takeaways and a cafe in Edinburgh, there is no slowing down for the brand. 

My parents and I have been known to drive 30 minutes to Dining In With Mother India (The Den) on Argyle Street to grab takeaway then drive all the way home. Is it worth the hour round trip? Without a doubt. Nowhere else in the area compares for me. 

Who says Sunday lunch has to be traditional? I recreated one of my favourite dishes from Mother India in Glasgow, Raan Mussalam. A centrepiece to wow your guests, this can be prepared 24hrs in advance and is perfect served simply with rice and a tomato, cucumber and red onion salad.

When the weekend comes around in my house, its finally time that I spend time trying new recipes, developing and re-creating. Frankly, I’ve been bored lately with the “standard” Sunday lunch offerings and when my boyfriend, Ross, bought a reduced whole leg of lamb from the supermarket, I was adamant I wasn’t going to eat just any old roast lamb. 

When I decided that I wanted to make Raan Mussalam, I wanted to do it justice and contacted Mother India for some tips. Be patient, cook nice and slow. Simple, right? Time is your friend. If you want more sauce, double the ingredients. Don’t want rice? Chapati would be a great substitution.

And now I’m drooling all over again!

So if you’re looking for something different to cook this weekend, why don’t you try this? The beauty of it is that you can prep the day before and leave it to cook in the oven when you’re having a well deserved Sunday snooze before dinner. Weekend perfection.

Raan Mussalam- Marinade

Raan Mussalam- Foil

Raan Mussalam- Shiraz Salad

Raan Mussalam
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2.6kg whole leg of lamb
  2. 250ml natural yoghurt
  3. 100g almonds, grounded
  4. 500g shallots
  5. 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  6. 1 tsp black peppercorns
  7. 6 cardamom pod seeds
  8. 4 bay leaves
  9. 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  10. 2 tsp cumin seeds
  11. 2 tsp chilli powder
  12. 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  13. 2 inches ginger, grated
  14. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Toast the peppercorns, cardamom seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds in a small frying pan for just under a minute, ensuring they do not stick to the pan. Once toasted, grind the spices finely, either in a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Roughly chop ginger and garlic and then add ground almonds, chilli powder, yoghurt and into the bowl with the spices, mixing throughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Transfer to a roasting tray, slice slots into the leg of lamb, before covering the entire leg in the marinade and bay leaves. Cover with cling film and pop into the fridge overnight.
  4. On the day of cooking, pre-heat your oven to 160c, remove cling film and leave lamb to rest in room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking. Cover the roasting tray in foil, transferring to the middle of the oven and roast for 3 hours.
  5. After 3 hours, remove foil and baste lamb with juices in the bottom of the pan. Increase the oven temperature to 200c and roast the oven for an extra 20-30 minutes until brown.
  6. Once ready, leave to rest for 20 minutes, covering with foil, while you fry shallots in oil until crispy brown.
  7. Pour curry sauce from the roasting tray on top of the lamb, along with crispy onion and almond flakes. Serve alongside some Basmati rice and a simple tomato, cucumber and red onion salad.
  8. You are guaranteed to have leftovers which help make superb shawarma, but I’ll save that recipe for another day!
Ananyah https://ananyah.com/

Can you even call yourself Scottish if you’ve never been to a Burns Supper in your whole adult life? I’m one of those people. So if you can’t join one, do it yourself! That is what I did this weekend. I hosted my own early Burns Supper, as I’m traveling with work next week, with my mom and boyfriend.

In conjunction with Expedia, to support their 2017 UK food map, The map shows top picks for food festivals and events throughout the year, and I’m kicking it off with Burns Night in January. If you aren’t aware of this Scottish holiday, the day commemorates the life of the poet, Robert Burns. Us Scots are rather sentimental.  

I wanted to create a Burns Supper that moved away from the traditional and incorporated a more modern touch. I set myself the hard task of then figuring out what on earth I was going to cook and more importantly, how I wanted it to look on the plate, for the photographs. Can’t take the food blogger out of me! After a few days of deliberation, I decided on my menu, with the focus on my main course. Taking inspiration from some amazing dishes I’ve had the pleasure of eating- I’m looking at you, The Gannet.

Below are recipes for my Ultimate Burns Supper, easy enough for the novice cook to prepare and you’re guaranteed to impress your guests. I picked up the lamb used in the main course from my local butcher who my family have used for over 30 years. They trimmed the fat off the meat and de-boned it for me which meant less faffing around- win win!

I have to admit something. I detest smoked salmon, in the traditional sense. The texture. How it feels when I hold it. It’s just not for me. So here I am talking about smoked salmon from Inverawe Smokehouses. Alarms bells ringing yet? Not quite. 

Situated in Argyll, on the West Coast of Scotland, Inverawe Smokehouses is a family run business since 1974 who prefer the traditional slow smoking method. This time-honoured method allows the fish to gently take up the gorgeous smoky aroma in its own unhurried time, giving the most delicious full-bodied oak-smoked flavour that is distinctively Inverawe. Committed to reducing its environment impact and sustainable production, the farms are located in areas with strong tidal flows in either the coastal waters off Argyll or the Shetland Isles.

Whilst I may not be a complete lover of the Scottish delicacy, every one around me adores it. Whether it be mixed within scrambled eggs, on sushi or in a salad, my family and boyfriend lap it up. It is a staple in my house during the holiday season and I predict, most throughout the UK!

The strange thing is, while I run as far away from traditional smoked salmon as possible, I adore smoked salmon pâté. My love for it started when my great aunt’s Swiss-Italian husband Joseph used to pop over from Geneva and whipped some up for us all to eat at family gatherings on toast. It was delicious and I’ve yet to taste anything like it since.

I was sent a parcel of Inverawe Classic Smoked Salmon, along with Trout P̢t̩ & a Mini Triple Salmon TerrineРsmoked salmon, roast smoked salmon flakes and smoked salmon mousse to sample and from that, create a recipe.

The latest season of that BBC One Baking Show has ended and Selasi wasn’t crowned the winner, much to the dismay of half the UK population. The show as we know it will be no more as it up sticks to Channel 4 from next year. Goodbye Mary and the comedic duo Mel and Sue. Hello to a plethora of adverts right at the crucial moment we found out who is going home. Boo. 

Alas, cake always makes things better and what better way to commiserate by getting your bake on.

I’m not the biggest chocolate cake fan, however, I have all the time in the world for Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat. I first came across it in a little pâtisserie near my dad’s apartment in Paris. It was love at first bite and is a cake I can never resist. 

It is a dense gooey cake in the middle with a crispy top, perfect warm with some ice cream on top. Even better, with limited ingredients and effort, you don’t need to be Mary Berry in the kitchen.

I’ve made this cake at home numerous times and now you can too, just save me a slice!

I remember the first time I ever cooked meat on a hot stone, it was at Jimmy’s Bulgogi Barbecue in Singapore, circa 1992. You picked what meat and vegetables you wanted, paid, then went back to your table to start cooking your picks. So much fun! 

More recently and closer to home, you can enjoy a Dolsot Bibimbap at Kimchi Cult in the West End of Glasgow. What is this you say? A dolsot is a stone bowl which is heated until extremely hot and then your bibimbap (mixed rice) ingredients are popped in alongside a raw egg which is then cooked against the sides of the bowl. Not as fun as cooking a big bowl of meat on your own little individual barbecue, but equally as delicious. On the subject of Kimchi Cult, the Ox Cheek Bulgogi is literally one of the best things in the city at the moment. 

When Thomas Cook Airlines contacted me to ask if I wanted to take part in a #LanzaroteCookOff cooking competition (alongside other bloggers) whereby I have to cook a traditional dish from Lanzarote using a lava stone, I was naturally up for the challenge (and not just because I’m rather competitive!). Little did I realise, it would being back all those childhood memories from back in the day. The prize? An all-inclusive holiday for two to Lanzarote. A place that has always been on my “must visit” list but have yet had the chance to visit. 

LanzaroteCookOff- Lava Rock

Food in this jewel of an island within the Mediterranean is taken rather seriously and it is no wonder with the rich fresh ingredients at their door. From fresh seafood to vegetables grown in black volcanic soil, the natural larder is full of goodness. Grilling seafood as well as steak on hot lava rocks not only makes the food taste great, but is much healthier than frying too due to the lack of oil. 

& I was about to put it to the test.

I cooked Italian food at the weekend, something that I rarely do. I don’t know why I don’t cook Italian cuisine more but I think it’s because I haven’t educated myself more on the regional variations of dishes that Italy provides. Instead, I stick to cooking the standard dishes that quite frankly, I’m bored of. 

In comes Tuscany Now, who challenged me discover Italy through their food and wine pairing tool. Always up for trying something new, I set upon my mission to browse recipes from twenty different regions in Italy. Italian cuisine is known for its simplicity, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Less is definitely more.

After much deliberation, I decided to make Orecchiette alla Potentina which is a traditional Sunday dish from Potenza, the regional capital of Basilicata. Now what on earth is Orecchiette alla Potentina? It’s pasta with a spicy meatball sauce and heaps of cheese. Since my dad was over from Paris and my boyfriend was at my house, it was the ideal time to whip the recipe up to have at the dinner table (something we rarely do together).

When I feel like steak for dinner, I usually get a rib eye for its soft marble, succulence and flavour. It’s been my staple go-to cut for a number of years. However, when Donald Russell contacted me to ask if I’d give their Pave Rump Steaks a try, I welcomed the change. 

Royal Warrant holders, Donald Russell, opened its doors to trade customers in 1974. They supply gourmet meats to high-end restaurants and hotels in the UK and worldwide, and over the years has become one of the UK’s best-known places to buy meat online. A huge selection includes beef, lamb, pork and mutton as well as veal, poultry, venison and game. They also have a rather impressive seafood selection. A place after my own heart.

Donald Russell- Pave Rump Steak

I’m personally not a fan of a lot of fat in red meat due to an accident with Roast Beef when I was a child. Some fat wrapped around my uvula (or dangly bit!) and I was fighting to breathe while choking. Luckily my parents performed the hymek manoeuvre on me and all was well again. It still haunts me. 

Summer is upon us. Well, the odd day or two if you live in Scotland like I do. There’s no better way to celebrate a sunny day than packing a picnic, head out to your local park (or back garden!) and stuff your faces in the sunshine. I was recently tasked with a mission to create a food concoction using a 1L Kilner jar as part of thinkmoney’s Jam J-art campaign, so I decided upon a colourful summer salad that you can easily transport to your favourite picnic destination.

The salad includes several elements which are layered in a certain way to ensure the contents do not get soggy. No one likes a soggy bottom, am I right? The way I go about it is….

  • Add Sauce
  • Add Hard Vegetables
  • Add Protein
  • Add Salad Leaves
  • Add Pasta/Noodles
  • Add Basil
  • Add Nuts

You can really choose what you want to go into your salad but below is the recipe to my tried and tested favourite. This time around, I’ve been trying to get my head around a spiralizer, so I exchanged my usual fusilli pasta with a mix of carrot, courgette and cucumber noodles. I have to admit that it was a great change, added a perfect crunch to the salad and was refreshing. Definitely going to be sustituting my pasta for vegetable noodles in salads for this summer. My fussy little nephew even loved his “oodles”.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Tri-Color Noodles- Cucumber Noodles

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Tri-Color Noodles- Tomato Sauce

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Tri-Color Noodles
Serves 2
Print
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
For the chunky tomato sauce
  1. 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  2. 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  3. 1 tsp tomato puree
  4. Handful vine tomatoes
  5. 1 tsp sugar
  6. 1 tsp salt
  7. 1 tsp paprika
  8. 1 red chilli, chopped
  9. 1 tsp mixed herbs
  10. 2 bay leaves
For the noodles
  1. 1 carrot
  2. 1/2 cucumber
  3. 2 courgettes
Salad ingredients
  1. Handful of mangetout
  2. Handful of rocket leaves
  3. Handful of fresh basil
  4. Leftover roast chicken (marinated in lemon juice, black pepper, oregano and olive oil)
  5. 1/2 ball of mozzarella, diced
  6. 1 tsp mixed nuts (pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds)
For the chunky tomato sauce
  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add garlic and cook until garlic is browned, being careful not to burn.
  3. Add in chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, bring to a boil. add some vine tomatoes.
  4. Reduce heat to low, stir in bay leaves, red chilli, paprika, mixed herbs, sugar, salt and black pepper. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the noodles
  1. Create noodles using a spiralizer
  2. Squeeze noodles to get rid of any excess liquid
To layer the salad
  1. Add Sauce, which has been cooled
  2. Add Mangetout
  3. Add Chicken and Mozzarella
  4. Add Rocket
  5. Add Noodles
  6. Add Basil
  7. Add Nuts
Ananyah https://ananyah.com/
 

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Tri-Color Noodles- Jar closeup