Passion fruit & lime marinated tuna

The days are finally getting a little bit longer and brighter, and I’m loving it. It’s not that I don’t like autumn or winter (I love them!), but after December and if there’s a decided lack of snow, my interest tends to wane a little…it’s not even that I long for warmer temperatures, I just prefer to come home and not have it be so pitch black my brain thinks it may as well be the middle of the night!

This dish was created when we were having an abundance of gorgeous tuna — whether we went to the farm shop halls or the local supermarket’s fish counter, slabs of tuna steaks were waiting for us, and often at a much cheaper price than usual. So I mean, we had to buy it then, right…?

And as much as I love a grilled piece of tuna steak, there’s something so amazingly fresh about tuna that it sometimes seems a shame to do anything to it. It’s probably why my family and I love sashimi so much — when you have a piece of fish this good, why try and change anything about it?

So here we have it; a dish that’s a bit of a ceviche and a bit of sashimi combined together. The passion fruit part is a little fussy, but goes wonderfully with the tuna to cut through its richness. It’s pretty handy for serving at a party or gathering, since you can pre-slice the fish and arrange on a plate, and make the dressing, and keep both in the fridge before plating up just before serving.

Feeds 4 as a starter. Read More

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Harissa & rose water chicken wings with spicy mint yoghurt dip

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My family just loves wings. Partly because they’re usually pretty quick and easy, unless you’re going down the fried route (and even that doesn’t necessarily take too long), but mostly because they’re delicious of course. If you’re a person who hates eating meat on the bone, then there might be a problem. But in my opinion, you should try and change that hatred, cause so far you’re actually doing yourself a disfavour and missing out big time.

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These wings are an awesome combo of spicy, sweet and sticky. The rose water is mild, like a slight afternote, so there’s no soapy flavour here at all. If it really messes with your mind to have rose water in this dish, leave it out, I guess…though I do recommend you give it a go, just the once.

Serves 2-3, as a light lunch
Adapted from hereRead More

Balsamic roasted carrots with carrot top gremolata

This is a very simple side dish for today’s recipe, but isn’t it pretty? And it tastes pretty great, which always helps, I guess! I’m always trying to think of new ways to make vegetables more exciting (aren’t we all?), particularly since in our family, I try to downplay any meat quantities on our plates (fish, on the other hand, is allowed to be let loose in any shape or size). Therefore, I usually attempt to make two side dishes alongside to not only make us less aware of the lessened meat quantity, but to make things a more rounded out meal all the same.

Oh, and unless it’s sweet potatoes, potato-y things like mash do not count. Particularly not with the way we make mash — just because you could make something like mash a lot healthier, doesn’t mean you always would 😛

But in all seriousness, it’s pretty simple. Balsamic and roast veg pretty much always guarantee great things. Add a garlicky gremolata, and we’re just adding a bit more greatness. Who doesn’t want that? Not to mention, we’re being all eco-friendly and all what with using the carrot tops for our gremolata, therefore cutting down on waste. Basically…just give this recipe a gold star already.

You’ll probably get a lot more gremolata than you need/want for your carrots, but treat it a little like pesto and slather it on chicken, toasted bread, fried eggs, and the whole excess gremolata thing isn’t precisely a problem…

Serves 4 as a side.  Read More

Parmesan & garlic stuffed swordfish rolls

I have never been all that crazy about pasta. Sorry, but it’s probably just not gonna happen. It hasn’t happened yet for twenty years, and I’m still not nuts about it. Like it’s good, but I will probably pass on it if I have the chance. Sometimes, this means people stare at me like I’m from outer space and ask “so that means you don’t like Italian food, then?”, which is totally false. But I guess for some people, Italian food begins and ends with pasta and pizza (which is probably why I have so many friends who have been rather whiney about the food when they’ve returned from a holiday in Italy).

And that just shouldn’t be the case. Yes, the Italians win at pizza and pasta (sorry Chicago, but your deep-dish style is just too much bread for my liking, and I love bread), but their cuisine goes beyond that. Which is why, we come to this recipe. I find it just as comforting and slightly-naughty like a bowl of pasta, but betterYeah, sorry, I went there. It’s the perfect way to keep the meatiness of swordfish still succulent, but keeping all the great flavours from the slightly burnt, crusty bits that sear on the pan, and when those crispy bits get soaked up by the white wine sauce? Oh, man. This one’s a goody. I hope you love it just as much as my family do, because it’s become a real favourite treat when set on the dinner table at our house.

Serves 4 with sides.  Read More

Pork meatballs in lemongrass coconut curry sauce

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I cannot believe there’s finally some nice summery weather, and I have a cold. Really? Why, body, why? I guess it’s because I’m finally relaxed after leaving university for the summer and returning to home home, but I can’t say I’m a fan.

And as a pick-me-up, we have these meatballs. There’s something comforting about them, with the quietly warm spiced coconut curry sauce that combines ginger and lemongrass and cardamom to name just a few, and the gentle heat of the chilli in the meatballs. Here’s to hoping they help to kick this stupid cold.

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I chose to bulk it up just a little with some sliced shiitake mushrooms, though other meaty mushrooms, like oyster mushrooms, would do a fine job too. To make it a full meal, I added my father’s favourite; rice cakes. I don’t know what it is about rice cakes, but he absolutely adores them. So he was happy.

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And there’s my new little addition to my bowls for photography and styling, as I mentioned in my instagram post. Ain’t it cute? It came pretty cheap too, so I’m pretty pleased. It looks nice against the warm yellows of this dish.

Serves 3-4, as a light meal.  Read More

Crispy pork belly brioche buns with caramelised balsamic red onion and yellow bean dip

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I cannot tell you how many pork belly recipes I have tried, but it’s been many. Almost too many, considering the success of some of them. Some have taken one hour, others have taken five hours of constant vigilance, others have been steamed first, or had hot water poured over the skin, the skin has been scored and salted, the skin hasn’t been scored and salted, the meat’s been marinated or the meat has definitely not been marinated because otherwise you don’t get crackling, the crackling is made first, or its made last. There’s been so many variations, and I’m sure there’s plenty more variations and techniques I’ve tried.

I wouldn’t even say I’m a massive fan of pork belly! But I suppose I am a fan of proper, well done, buttery-layers-of-fat-and-crispy-crackling pork belly. And this recipe? This is close, so close. Not quite perfect, since I’d need to do the proper version with a full piece of pork belly, but these pork belly slices are better than quite a few of the slippery, almost rubbery recipes I’ve tried out before, despite their various promises for perfect crackling and whatnot.

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There’s little more satisfying food-wise, in my humble opinion, than the crunch of real good crackling. Not the kind where you’re scared for the condition of your teeth of course, but still a good sound when you bite in. Add buttery, rich brioche and the sweetness of red onions quickly caramelised in brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, and we’re onto a winner. The spinach is basically there to be good for you! But in all seriousness, I prefer using a few raw small leaves of spinach than some kind of plain lettuce-y leaf, but gem lettuce or similar would probably work I guess.

And as a last step to good food, we add a yellow bean-based sauce. The pork’s texture is pretty much perfect, but bar a little saltiness, it helps to have a really good sauce to add to the mix. I love crushed yellow bean sauce so much, and I don’t really recommend substituting it for anything else. There’s nothing that I know of that quite matches that salty, tangy flavour of yellow bean. But if you really can’t get a hold of it at all (it’s mostly available in asian food stores, mostly in cans in the UK at least! The non-crushed kind often comes in glass jars, but you want the smooth, silky stuff here), then skip making the sauce and go with some hoi sin. It’ll do the job.

The reason this recipe works is because we cover the top of the pork belly slices with salt, onto the skin. In the oven, that quickly forms a salt crust, which we then pull off, turn up the heat and let the skin bubble and crack into perfect crispiness. Or we could say it’s magic?

Serves 2-3 people, for lunch or dinner.

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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