Sticky pomegranate chicken thighs with quinoa mint & walnut salad

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I’ve still never quite got ‘with it’ in regards to quinoa. I absolutely fell in love with it in Malta, where I tried a little of mum’s dish in a restaurant in the centre of Valletta. Since then, it’s never quite been the same, and I tend to favour bulgur wheat as my grain of choice (I’ve never been a fan of rice, or even pasta, in the first place).

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But I’ve been giving it a go, and I think next on my hit list is some quinoa fritters. Any thoughts on those? I think they sound quite nice. I did like this salad, so perhaps I’m coming round to the quinoa way, and my parents loved it. I hope you do too! The chicken is wonderfully sticky from the pomegranate molasses, though I don’t think the flavour comes out very much, and thus the pomegranate seeds scattered on top are the true heroes! They make a lovely pop, like they did in my sea bass dish from last month.

This is a pretty great filling lunch or dinner, and makes enough for roughly 4 servings.  Read More

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Sea bass ceviche

sea bass ceviche

Ceviche, a dish originating and popular in the central and southern Americas, is one of those dishes I’ve always wanted to try. It’s typically fresh fish quickly cured in citrus juice, such as lemon, and seasoned. Somehow, I never got round to preparing it myself, but I took the chance now, with sea bass. More commonly you see tartares with fish such as tuna and salmon, but sea bass worked surprisingly well, better than I thought actually.

Naturally, if you’re not a fan of sushi and the like, this one’s probably not for you! But it’s a very clean, fresh dish that makes brilliant use of fresh fish, so obviously freshest is best. The lemon juice here quickly “cures” the fish, but not for long enough to actually cook it. You can prepare the ingredients in advance; just keep the lemon mixture separate from the fish until you’re just about to serve.

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Serves 4 people as a starter.
You could use other fish, such as lemon sole, if you prefer.  Read More

Beetroot Gravad Lax

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Gravad lax is one of those dishes people usually mention a part of Swedish cuisine–they’re not wrong of course, but it’s not exactly something that fills my childhood with memories. In fact, I think I’ve heard about it more from people outside Sweden than actually in Sweden. The name roughly translates to “buried salmon”, which is a pretty good way to describe how this salted, lightly fermented salmon dish is made. Realistically, the salmon is “cured” in a mixture of spirit and salt and makes a similar texture to smoked salmon, though they aren’t the same process at all.

It’s a bit of a fussy process because of the beetroot and its talent for staining absolutely everything, but the rest of the recipe pretty much just means sticking the salmon in the fridge for a few days to let the flavours develop, and et voila! Beetroot gravad lax. Yes, it’s really that easy.

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The salty flavour gets more concentrated along the pink-beetroot places, and the curing makes the salmon slippery and soft, rather like delicate pieces of sashimi salmon. Delicious.

Adapted from here.

Serves 4-6.

800g of salmon side, skin on
3 medium beetroot, rinsed and peeled
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
2 juniper berries, bashed
80g of rock salt
50ml of gin

bunch of dill
50ml of gin
80g of rock salt

Chop the beetroot, both zests and juniper berries in a blender until fine. Transfer to a bowl, and mix with the gin and the rock salt.

Lay clingfilm over a baking tray. Place the salmon skin side down. Pour over the beetroot mix, spreading it all over the salmon flesh. Wrap in the clingfilm, then a double layer of baking paper, and finally a few more layers of clingfilm if necessary, and refrigerate the salmon overnight for 24 hours.

After the 24 hours are up, carefully unwrap the salmon, and rinse off the cure–the salmon should have been tinted by the beetroot. Mix together the dill, gin and rock salt, and press over the skinless flesh once more. Wrap it up again in greaseproof paper and clingfilm. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

The salmon will now be ready–simply rinse off the salt mixture as best as you can (the herbs can stay), and serve as part of a mixed salad for something more sturdy. Below is a mixed bulgur wheat salad with butternut squash, red cabbage, aubergine, and mange tout. Or keep things simply, and serve with toast and some wedges of lemon.

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Beetroot-Yoghurt Chicken Kebabs with Mixed Vegetable Bulgur Wheat Salad

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I’ve not been all that well, and life being hectic hasn’t really helped. But oh well, I’ve got two holidays in the sun to look forward to; one with the family, the other with friends, so I’m trying not to complain too much. Once September rolls around, I’ll be living the easy life 😉

Until then, I’ve been pretty lazy, and this was kind of a clearing-out-the-fridge operation of a meal. I gotta say, I don’t think it looks all that bad considering the circumstances.

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We got yoghurt-marinated chicken (spiced with cumin and beetroot powder), bulgur wheat with lots of cracked pepper and a drizzle of yuzu juice (because I couldn’t find the lime juice…), caramelised red and white onions, BBQ-ed cherry tomatoes, and shredded mangetout, with a side of turkish yoghurt, dusted with cayenne pepper.

This was such a hit with the parents, and with the kids too (dinner evening at our house), though I think the girls mainly liked it because they saw the chicken was pink…

I mean I thought it kind of looked like tubby custard at first, though I have to say it did improve after cooking, and the colour deepened….

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Any set of veggies would work well; hence why I mentioned I was clearing out the fridge with this, but the tomatoes do go really well with the yoghurt, so I recommend keeping them at least! Sweet potato/squash that’s been roasted would be pretty good too, or some lightly fried kale..
It would be super easy to change this to a vegetarian dish–just swap the chicken for quorn, or for pressed tofu (for the latter, skip the yoghurt marinade, and season with cumin, coriander seeds…whatever you fancy!)
Serves 3-4 as a light meal, but feel free to double or more as necessary.
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Squash and Aubergine ‘Jewel’ Salad

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So I’m on my fourth day of my vegetarian week, but unfortunately, (or not unfortunately for me!), I made my way to London today to see my childhood best friend who I’ve not seen for about…3 years, I think (feels like too long anyway). My day was lovely, but food wise, lunch was a salad and dinner vegetarian sushi (neither of which I made myself of course!) and so I thought it wouldn’t make much of a post…so instead, here I have a recipe to still fulfil the requirements of my week, made a little while ago. I hope everyone has a good weekend when it comes round!

Bulgur wheat is a favourite in the household at the moment, and is the perfect substitute for rice in most occassions, and I’ve been switching it here and there where a recipe calls for quinoa. We only have the grainy red version left, so I prefer the more delicate texture of bulgur wheat once cooked and flavoured with lemon juice. It pairs perfectly with both cold salads and warm, roasted vegetables, and here, we have a bit of a mix. Ain’t it pretty?

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We have our base of bulgur wheat, mixed with cooked squash and sweet potato cubes, with some parsley sprinkled on top. Over that, are grilled slices of aubergine, tossed with handfuls of pomegranate seeds, and finally a few edible flowers picked from the garden. I planted a few types round about in March, and the Sweet Williams are just coming through, whilst the borage plants are slowly taking over the place…opps..

Feel free to add some edible flowers to this dish yourself–some Calendulas would be goooorgeous, I think, but unfortunately my mother does not want them in her garden! But please, don’t go picking just any old flower anywhere, and don’t buy to eat from supermarkets or florists–they are not for consumption! But if you plan on growing, or already grow some flowers in your garden, and you don’t use any nasty chemicals/sprays, then this list is handy to consult! I really like how they suggest what to use the flowers for.

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I think they look pretty cute though, even if they don’t add all that much but visual beauty to the dish! This is perfect for preparing beforehand and keeping in the fridge, before bringing out to adjust to room temperature for a cookout or a light dinner in the garden. We had it as a meal alongside some beautiful steaks of swordfish, but it was good enough to be eaten on its own, let alone as a measly side!

You could totally make any kinds of variation on this, keeping the bulgur wheat as your base (and the pomegranate seeds, because I think they’re too beautiful to get rid of — my friend’s little sister thought they looked like little gems, hence the name ‘jewel’ salad for this one! 😀 they sure do shine in pictures enough!) and already I’m thinking up another version but with leafy kale and sliced carrots as the main vegetables instead of the squash/sweet potato.

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I seriously cannot get over how pretty those colours look. So, without further ado, let’s get creating!

Serves around 4, as a side. Double (or triple!) as necessary.  Read More

Salad Towers

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Today was such a busy day. I feel like the second I go upstairs for bed, I’m gonna fall face first and start snoring immediately (not that I think even snore…) because I’ve been on my feet all day.

Thankfully, these weren’t all that hideous to prepare, at all. Just prepare a few different small bowls (or piles) of ingredients, press into a bowl, cover with a plate upside and down and tip over, et voila! A lovely little salad tower. I think it’s a pretty cool spin on your everyday salad (I know, I know, it’s only put in a tower, but somehow, I think it still makes a difference…particularly visually).

It’s pretty light on the flavour, with only lemon juice added to the bulgur wheat, goat’s cheese and pine nuts for extra flavour against the beetroot and texture, but the possibilities are endless…Any salad could basically go in here, just add up the ingredients layer by layer! I think I’ll be planning to do this again but in a new combo…

You could change up the bulgur wheat for another grain (maybe even rice? but quinoa would be just as yummy and nutritious as the bulgur wheat), and as for changing the vegetables, the world is yours!

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No fuss, either in prep or eating (though it can fall apart a little I guess!), and it’s perfect for hot summer days.  Read More

Turmeric-Spiced Chicken & Watermelon Balsamic Salad

chickensaallladWe’re changing the schedule a little bit week. I’ve been trying to switch to a weekly posting schedule, but as of tomorrow, begins my vegetarian/vegan week! So, I’ll be sharing my experience of the week as we go along. The rules are; no meat whatsoever, fish is allowed but only for lunch, and dairy is to be kept a minimum. So, as we say goodbye to meat for a week, let’s have one last look at something meaty from the BBQ; namely, this delicious salad…

We’ve returned from our yearly vacation in Sweden. It was sad to see our summerhouse go this year, but I’m glad to be back. Mainly because of the inescapable heat. Usually it’s about 20-25 degrees (Celsius, folks) out, and summer is ripe for thunderstorms and hailstorms–sometimes even weeks of incessant rain, it seems.

This year? 30-32 degrees, and high humidity. I was like a cat scratching at the heat. Simply put, I don’t do well in heat. People say you shouldn’t complain at nice weather, but I do!

It’s one thing to be at the beach, like we were when we spent down south, but the heat and humidity combo made for hell in the city centre. Air-con is one thing, being outside was like marinating in your own sweat (ew, sorry).

As much as I had a great time (I love love love Sweden, and would be overjoyed to move there at some point in my future), but it’s so nice to be home now, even if just counting the weather. A balmy 23 degrees and a nice light breeze. Much better.

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Another plus? This salad with grilled chicken that’s marinated in turmeric (giving that lovely golden yellow colour), chilli, garlic and olive oil, served with helda beans, watermelon cubes and mixed leaves, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic oil, is just the ticket. Light for hot weather, and grilling boneless and skinless chicken thigh, rather than breast, keeps the meat juicy and tender inside, with a nice charry outside from the BBQ.

I love watermelon in salad. I am, oddly enough, not such a fan of other types of melon, but watermelon? I just can’t get enough. It’s a pretty versatile fruit and works well for both sweet and savoury things, and of course, devouring a few slices on its own (though sometimes with a sprinkle of sea salt…!)

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Serves 4 Read More