Wild Garlic Pizza

Pizza WG

Last weekend I fell in the river.  I was keen to clear a bit of it that had got rather clogged up with logs, twigs and sticks after the last flood and had set out, pole in hand, to sort it.  I was leaning right over the river against an old tree stump in order to get the pole into the middle of all this debris when there was an almighty creak followed by a splash.  It seems this particular stump had long ago relinquished its hold on life, was entirely hollow and both it and I fell right into the river.  It was very cold.  I had been accompanied on this mission by Tom who, uncharacteristically for a Springer, doesn’t like water and was now pacing the riverbank anxiously presumably wondering what I was doing.  So, I was soaking to the waist and my boots were full of water but as I couldn’t get any wetter I decided I might as well carry on clearing the river and in fact it was much easier now that I was well and truly in.   Climbing out I found myself on nose level with swathes of wild garlic which is abundant along the bank and decided that is  what we would have for supper.

Each year we are spoilt with this particular foragers’ treat and I have made all manner of things with it, Wild Garlic Pesto (May 2013) and Wild Garlic Focaccia (May 2014) to name two.   I add it to salads, cautiously though it is pretty potent, and chuck into pasta dishes letting it wilt in the residual heat.  This years leaves have been around for a couple of weeks but it is only in the last few days that the white flowers have emerged.

We often make pizzas on a Saturday evening so I decided to see how much wild garlic we could get onto those.  My dough is a simple version of my white bread but with a good slosh of olive oil.  It is a dream to work with and cooks to a suitably crisp crust.   I decided to make my Fresh Herb Sauce (July 2013) with half parsley and half wild garlic which resulted in a pungent fabulously green number to drizzle over some of the pizzas when they emerged from the oven but you could just as happily use the Wild Garlic Pesto.  We strewed the pizzas with torn wild garlic leaves rather as I often use rocket and in fact rocket came into play when the wild garlic I picked had all gone and I couldn’t persuade anyone into the pouring rain to get more.

Pizzas are a personal thing and us such my family put different ingredients on each one – we usually start with a tomato sauce, the same one as used in my Meatloaf recipe (November 2015).  My son keeps his simple with cheese and salami, my daughter will add olives, capers and garlic to hers and my husband and I tend to add a good amount of chilli, mozzarella and lots of greenery when the pizzas emerge blistered and bubbling from the oven.   A trickle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt bring the whole together and I can’t recommend these enough.  They are a world away from wodgy doughy shop bought pizzas and, I tell myself, must be better for us….

Wild Garlic Pizza

The following makes four pizzas which are just the right size for us, two adults and two children but you could happily double the recipe.  Remember you need to allow time for the proving but unlike normal bread, the doesn’t really need a second rise.

250g strong white flour

5g quick yeast

5g fine salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

100-150 ml luke warm water

Toppings of your choice, see above, but probably to include tomato sauce, mozzarella or cheddar, salami or pepperoni, olives, chilli flakes, capers etc

Mix the flour, yeast, salt, oil and 100 ml of water in a large bowl, you may need some more of the water but probably not all of it.  Once it comes together in a dough knead it for 10 minutes by hand or in a stand mixer.  When this is a smooth ball, put a little oil into the bowl to stop the dough sticking and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 220 and put in a couple of baking sheets to heat up.  Divide the dough into four and roll out thinly but not too thinly or you will struggle to get them from your work surface onto the baking tray.  If you are worried about his roll them out on baking parchment and they can cook on this.  Don’t use greaseproof paper as the pizzas will stick to this, you will never get them off and will have to eat the greaseproof paper along with the pizza, I found this out the hard way.  Add whatever toppings you have decided on but don’t go mad, if they are too heavy or wet you won’t get a crisp bottom.  Carefully take a hot baking sheet out of the oven, sprinkle with semolina if you have some or flour, put your pizza onto this and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cooked, bubbling and blistered.  When it is done I thoroughly recommend torn wild garlic if you can get some or rocket strewn on top or the wild garlic fresh herb sauce.  Each pizza serves 1.

 

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Easter weekend

Onion Tart_

My head is full of recipes.  As usual these ideas are jostling for space and waiting for me to choose them for a mornings experimentation and testing in the kitchen.  It is such fun and something I love to do.  The last few weeks however have been crazily full of other stuff and so a new recipe hasn’t made it to pole position ready for its launch from me to you.   So I thought I’d let you know which of my recipes I will be cooking this Easter weekend in case it helps you with any last minute decision making.

I’ve always followed tradition with a meat (and fish) free Good Friday so for supper this evening we will have my Onion Tart but without the anchovies on top.   A big green salad will be just the ticket with this and I had made some brownies for pudding but they appear to have disappeared…

For Saturday lunch we will have Paella (January 2013) – one of my brothers is a vegetarian so I’ll make a great big veggie version with peppers and leeks.  For the carnivorous amongst us I will serve a separate pan of sizzling chorizo and juicy pink prawns.  Pudding will be Crunchy Apple Puddings (January 2015) which I can make in the morning leaving me cool and calm (!) with just a salad to rustle up to serve alongside the paella.

Crunchy Apple Pudding 3-2

Easter lunch just wouldn’t be right without our paschal lamb and I won’t deviate too far from the traditional course.  Our leg of lamb will be served pink with my favourite, fabulous fresh herb sauce (July 2013) to which I will add a bunch of mint, the perfect accompaniment.   Spring greens and glazed carrots seem a good idea alongside the essential roast potatoes.  My daughter and I are still in dispute about pudding.  A chocolate pavlova is fairly high on the agenda but I’m not sure it won’t be toppled by a rhubarb version which will bring some freshness and zip to an otherwise chocolate laden day.

The Lemon Curd layer cake (May 2013) will be our Easter teatime treat as fruit cakes aren’t particularly welcome chez May and although I adore Simnel cake, my daughter’s nut allergy precludes marzipan from our table.   No loss though as this light and airy, zesty lemon confection is perfect for early Spring and seems eminently suitable for the Easter table.  Should anyone not have space for a slice of cake I’m sure they will fit in a small biscuit and I’m hoping to persuade my children to make these Ginger Biscuits (February 2015) which are beyond simple and beyond delicious.

Ginger Shortbread

Whatever you are doing and whatever you are eating, I wish you a very Happy Easter.

 

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Bread

Bread 1

Is there anything better than the smell of a newly baked loaf of bread?  Bacon is good, doughnuts certainly tempting, roast chicken cosy and reassuring but bread is out there on its own, top of the podium.   Following that first whiff of your freshly cooked loaf the challenge is to sit tight and wait a few minutes until it is ready to be cut.  You know that first slice spread with a generous amount of good butter is going to be just fabulous.  Sink your teeth into it and revel in the extraordinary alchemy of four humble ingredients which together make our daily bread.

Bread tends to get vilified but in fairness it has kept millions of people going for thousands of years in its various forms.  I’m not keen on writing off any food group and for children in particular I think bread forms an essential part of their diet.  It may be the antithesis of all the quinoa, spirulina and sweet potato brownies I see winking at me these days but  I adore bread and would never want to give it up, I just ensure I don’t eat a whole loaf in one sitting!

This is the loaf I make every few days to keep my family supplied with toast, sandwiches, soldiers and the like.  We ring the changes with the odd wholemeal seedy loaf, milk loaf (July 2014), rye, brioche or quick soda bread (April 2013) but generally this is the loaf you will find in our bread bin.  I think bread has a reputation for being a faff but honestly, it couldn’t be easier, a quick mix and then patience whilst the dough rises twice and then a brief spell in the oven and its done.  So, so much better than bought bread and hugely rewarding.  With a simple dough you can rustle up flat breads, rolls, pita, pizza bases – all sorts of easy, cheap treats.

A Saturday soup lunch wouldn’t be half as appealing without a generous, homely loaf sitting on the board at the end of the table and no picnic would be complete without bread in some or other shape.   For a change make focaccia (May 2014) or grissini/bread sticks (May 2015) – children love making any of the above and their delight in their creations easily makes up for the clouds of flour covering your kitchen.   Should there be any left over, make croutons or breadcrumbs for another day.  I find it reassuring that this bread goes stale rather than spookily lasting for weeks before developing a nasty mould as some shop bought breads can.

Make this loaf, I promise you will be so pleased you did.

White Bread

It you have a stand mixer then this will take literally minutes of your time to rustle up.  Before I got ours though I still made this and happily kneaded it for around 10 minutes.  It is a calming way to spend 10 minutes (come on, it is only 10 minutes!) and you will be rewarded tenfold!

500g strong white bread flour

10g salt

10g dried yeast

300ml lukewarm water

Put the flour into a large bowl (or the bowl for your mixer) with the salt on one side and the yeast on the other.  Add the water and bring it all together from a sticky mess into a dough.  Then using the dough hook put your mixer on for 6-7 minutes or knead by hand for 10.  Sprinkle the inside of the bowl with a little extra flour, put the dough into the bowl, cover with a cloth and leave somewhere warm and draught free for an hour.  After this time you will see your dough has risen so punch the air out of it by kneading a couple of times then form it into whatever shape you want your loaf to be and put on a flour dusted baking sheet.  Cover again and leave for a further hour.  Towards the end of this time preheat your oven to 200.  Sprinkle with a little flour and then bake in the middle of the oven for 25-30 minutes after which time it should be bronzed and hollow sounding when you tap (cautiously) the bottom.   The base should be beginning to colour, you can always return it directly onto the rack for a further five minutes if you think it needs it.  Let it cool on a wire rack and then dig in.

 

 

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Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 2

My children have exceptionally finely tuned radars when it comes to trying out new dishes and show particular suspicion if I ever respond “it’s a surprise!” when they are faced with something new.  They will fire questions about ingredients at me but I am used to this now and have a range of ripostes and distracting tactics at the ready.  I’ve perfected acting in a slightly deaf, vague fashion when being cross examined, sometimes I will deflect questions by posing a conundrum so complex, lengthy and bizarre back at them that they will have forgotten their original question or my absolute favourite when faced with a query I would rather not answer, I look intently at the window and ask “is that a badger out there?”.

These discussions and my slippery evasiveness usually come to the fore when a less than popular vegetable has been snuck into something under cover.  I do this in my never-ending efforts to find a way to make each and every vegetable delicious to my treasures.  Rather as it was with this Beetroot and Carrot cake.  Previously a regular kind of Carrot cake had been deemed acceptable so grabbing this particular baton, I decided to expand on the idea and add beetroot to the mix.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am under no false illusion that by adding any old veg to a cake it miraculously becomes healthy.  There is a sea of treats out there that contain ‘better for you’ ingredients – sweet potatoes, date syrup, wholemeal flour, quinoa or whatever but treats they are.  A cake is a cake is a cake, something to enjoy occasionally but not every day.  The reason I make this one is because I think it is absolutely delicious.  The fact that it contains grated raw carrot and beetroot is a happy coincidence.

My son ate one slice of the first of these cakes but has mysteriously been full whenever offered a slice at a later date.  My husband said he like it but could see why the children didn’t which, in itself, was fairly damning and my daughter simply eyed it as one would a snake.

So to everyone who has tried this cake and loved it (even those who were told the pink bits were raspberries….) I say thank you and to my family I say, never mind, all the more for me.

Beetroot and Carrot Cake 1

Beetroot and Carrot Cake

Grating the vegetables in a processor can make it a bit wet so I tend to do it by hand with a box grater, it only takes a few minutes.

300g carrots and beetroot (untrimmed or peeled weight), grated

250g self raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch of salt

150g soft brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

150ml sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a tiny bit extra for greasing the tin

2 eggs, beaten

125g icing sugar, sifted

50g soft butter

200g cream cheese, at room temperature

1 lime, zest and juice.

Preheat the oven to 170 and oil a 20cm tin with a little of the sunflower/vegetable oil and line the base.   Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add the salt and sugar followed by the grated carrot and beetroot and mix well.  Combine the oil and beaten egg and add this to the flour and vegetables and mix.  It will be a thick mixture!  Put into the tin, level the top and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cooling completely on a rack.   Meanwhile for the icing, beat the butter, sugar and lime really well before adding the cream cheese.  It is important that this is at room temperature so it mixes in easily, don’t over beat it as it will quickly become runny.  If it does however, don’t panic, just put it in the fridge until firmed up.  Spread over the cake.

Posted in Cakes, Food, Puddings, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

Rosemary Pannacotta

No secret that I love a pannacotta – all that silky wobbliness makes them irresistible to me. They are also on of the easiest puds to whip up and the fact they need to be made ahead of time only adds to their appeal.  I love knowing that pudding is already made and sitting patiently in the fridge, a tick on the to do list.

So far I’ve given you Vanilla Pannacotta with Blackcurrants (July 2014), a Summer regular for sure and possibly my children’s favourite incarnation.  Some good vanilla along with the slight tang of the yogurt is heaven and amazing with heady blackcurrants.  You can of course use which ever soft fruits are at the best or indeed the rhubarb that follows with this recipe.  The Cinnamon Pannacotta with Maple Syrup Apples (June 2015) makes me think of Autumn, crunchy leaves, mulled cider and bonfires.

Time for a new kid on the block and this is it.  For ages I have been tinkering with the idea of a rosemary scented pudding.  I couldn’t help but feel that the woody, herbaceous note would work well with a creamy base and in fact a rosemary ice cream is definitely on the agenda come the Summer.  More than that though, whilst I use piles of herbs in savoury dishes I thought I might be overlooking them in a sweet context.

Here we are then.  The rosemary adds a delicate flavour, one of those you can’t immediately place, and works a proper treat with the rhubarb.  I love rhubarb, am always looking for different ways to use it and this is my current favourite.  Heady with orange (actually tangerine) zest and juice it brings a wallop of flavour to the gently, soft pannacotta.

Rosemary Pannacotta with Rhubarb

200ml whole milk

100ml single cream

100ml Greek yogurt

60g caster sugar

A sprig of rosemary around the same size as the one in the photograph above

2 gelatine leaves

250g rhubarb, chopped into pieces

25-35g caster sugar

Zest and juice of an orange (or tangerine)

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.  Heat the milk, cream, sugar and rosemary until it just reaches boiling point.  Remove from the heat and add the squeezed out gelatine, whisk well and leave to cool and infuse, stirring occasionally.  Whisk in the yogurt and divide between 4 ramekins or small metal moulds.  Put into the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.   Meanwhile cook the rhubarb with the zest, juice and 25g sugar either in a pan or if the oven is on put it in there.  It doesn’t take very long but I wouldn’t put the oven on just for this.  When soft and juicy have a taste, you might need some or all of the extra 10g of sugar, then leave to cool.  To serve, dip each ramekin briefly into hot water before turning out onto a plate and serving with a spoonful of the rhubarb.  Serves 4.

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Celeriac Remoulade

Celeriac Remoulade 2

I have piles of recipes waiting to be tried.  Stacks of pages torn out of magazines or newspapers waiting in boxes until the right day.   I tried various indexing systems but in all honesty when it comes to finding a certain recipe the usual answer is to sit on the floor surrounded by open boxes leafing through endless pages.  Eight times out of ten I will find the recipe I am after and all will be well but sometimes, occasionally I have to give up on the search.  So it was with a particular recipe for Celeriac Remoulade that I got from a cooking demo last year.   Before Christmas I looked everywhere but it was nowhere to be found so I had to start from scratch.  Not a hardship, it is delicious and fun fiddling around until the right combination is found.

I have served this twice alongside my Slow Roast Pork (recipe coming soon) and Christmas Salad.  The pork and two salads are piled up into a warm bap along with a few dressed green leaves and a good blob of chilli spiked yogurt.  Soft falling apart pork with the tang and crunchiness of the salads is a heavenly combination which seems to please adults and children alike.   After she had eaten this with us at New Year a friend asked me for the pork recipe and has now made it three times which thrills me to bits.  I thoroughly recommend you try it and I will post the pork recipe next week.  In the meantime enjoy this fabulous, crunchy raw salad with some air dried ham and if you’re not on the wagon a glass of cold cider, sensational.

Celeriac Remoulade

If you have a food processor with grating attachment this takes literally minutes to make but if not just use a regular grater and mind your knuckles.  This combination of yogurt and mustard is how we like it, enough of a kick but still child friendly.

1/2 a celeriac, peeled (approx 450g)

1/2 a bunch parsley, finely chopped

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons dijon mustard (you can use seedy mustard if you prefer)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

A pinch of salt

A pinch of caster sugar

Grate the celeriac using a processor or grater (see introduction).  Mix the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, salt and sugar.  Mix together with the celeriac and parsley, I do this in a really large bowl so as to get it all properly incorporated.  Taste for seasoning.  This will serve 4 with a few slices of prosciutto or similar for lunch or 6-8 if you are having it with the pork and other salads in a bap.

Celeriac Remoulade

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Salads, Vegetables | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Eat your (real) greens soup

Green Soup

Everywhere I look right now I read about re-alkanising my probably too acid body, super powders, acai, cleansing (is that a euphemism?), optimum ph, powdered greens to add to my wheatgrass juice etc etc.  Now I am not knocking anyone who might want to add any of the above to their daily diet but in all honesty isn’t it easier, cheaper and just more real to eat vegetables.  Surely these are better in their fresh, honest and original state than any dried, powdered, vitamin added supplement?

As you see from these pages I try to cook seasonally and from scratch whilst still retaining a little fun and indulgence, balance being the spice of life and all that.  I know I should probably eat more fruit and I definitely could do with more fish in my diet but generally I reckon we do ok.  If I were to present my family with a glass each of coconut water or almond milk and ask them to add a sachet of revitalising, re-balancing green powder to it, well what do you think they would say?  I have a rough idea.

There are a million salads, juices, smoothies and soups doing the rounds but this soup is what I had for lunch today.  Broccoli, spring onions and spinach were languishing in the fridge, a plucky mint plant is soldiering on in the garden despite the rain and I was given a box of lemons yesterday.  I want to eat healthily but I also hate throwing away food.  This was the result.  I made a straightforward vegetable soup, the peas added a little sweetness to balance (!) the spinach, a spritz of lemon and fresh mint brought a hint of Spring to the party.  A dollop of Greek yogurt added a perfect richness whilst the seeds gave crunchy, tasty texture.

Clear your fridge and cleanse yourself at the same time.  Happy New Year!

Green Vegetable Soup

As I said, this is what I had in the fridge today.  Previous incarnations of this soup have included leeks, watercress, courgettes and chard.  All of these were probably looking a little past their best which is why they ended up in soup.  Use whatever you have. There is nothing to stop you buying the ingredients specifically for soup but isn’t it satisfying when these end up on your plate rather than the compost?

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 spring onions, finely chopped (use a regular onion if you don’t have any spring)

1 head of broccoli (approx 250g) chopped fairly small

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 large handful fresh spinach

1 cup of frozen peas (around 125g)

A few sprigs of mint

A few sprigs of parsley (if you have them)

750ml vegetable stock

Half a lemon

Greek yogurt to serve

Toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds

Heat the oil in a pan and gently soften the spring onion.  Add the broccoli (you want it chopped fairly small to you don’t have to simmer it for hours) and the stock and cook for around 5 minutes until the point of a knife goes into a piece easily.  Add the spinach and peas and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the mint and parsley if using.  Stir so these are wilted and then blend.  Serve with blob of yogurt, a good spritz of lemon and as many seeds as you like.  Enough for 4 with something else or 2 if that is all you are having.

 

 

 

 

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Oaty Mincemeat Squares

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread 3

I often make something we imaginatively call Jammy Oaty Slice – can you guess what is in it?  Of course you can and I highly recommend it as a delicious tea time offering.  The other day I was looking at a tray of it cooling ready for scoffing and it reminded me of the mincemeat slice that used to adorn the bakers’ shelf at Christmas in Yorkshire.  Heavily dredged with icing sugar, it was completely white from the top and the layers were crisp and even (really!) in the way only a practised hand can accomplish.

So of course I had to have a go at making it myself.  Whilst I love mince pies, my immediate family (i.e. the ones I actually live with) don’t like anything with cooked raisins or dried fruit.   This means that if I make mince pies then I am the only one who will eat them unless we have friends over and when it comes to a Christmas cake…. Well, suffice it to say I ate all of the the last one which graced a tin in our house.  All of it and I made another in January because I had enjoyed it so much…..

These little squares are much safer then.  Rather than a huge cake winking at me from the corner I can safely eat one of these treasures with a cup of tea on a daily basis without having to book into the gym afterwards.   Like two layers of shortbread with mincemeat in between, somehow better than a traditional mince pie if that is not too shocking a statement? The oats add an extra element which is just right and of course go a good way towards balancing out the sugar and butter.  Heading for health food is what I say….

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread

Oaty Mincemeat Squares

If you want to go for the original Jammy Oaty Slice then just replace the mincemeant with jam, I favour raspberry.  However, please do give them a go this Christmas, they are a million times easier than mince pies if you need to make a batch for a sale and are just delicious.

250g plain flour

125g oats

135g caster sugar

200g cold butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

450g mincemeat

Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180.  Line a tin of approximately 23cmx32cm  with baking parchment.  Whizz together the flour, oats, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Tip half of the mixture into the baking tin and press it to cover the base in an even layer.  Spread the mincemeat over this and then sprinkle the remainder of the mix evenly over the mincemeat and press it down gently.   Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden on top.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and cutting into squares.

Oaty Mincemeat Shortbread 2

 

 

Posted in Biscuits, Cakes, Food, Puddings | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Meatloaf, Sliders and Meatballs

Meatloaf

I may have mentioned that between them my children like most foods.  Between them that is.  Together there often seems very little common ground.  My daughter would like to live on Sausage Pasta, my son doesn’t like sausages or pasta.  My son would live on salad, hummus and broccoli whilst my daughter would recoil from all three.  Finding something to cook that we all like is therefore challenging.  I am not keen on making different things for everyone but equally the greedy child in me remembers mealtime excitement being dashed when presented with something I didn’t like and I want my two to love their food.

You can imagine my delight therefore when they both scoffed this meatloaf with unseemly haste, plates completely clean, seconds requested and announced not only was it delicious but required on a regular basis.  The joy, the relief.  My son even said “Mamma, your meatloaf is amazing!” now, I don’t know if he has tried any other meatloaf but I happily took the compliment.

These ingredients result in a big old batch but it makes sense this way because the mince comes in 500g packs.  You could happily make two meatloaves and freeze one but I tend to mix it up a bit.  I made the sliders the size of a snooker ball which I then flatten a bit.  Once cooked (in the same way as the meatballs) they have a tendency to crumble a little but for me this adds to their charm as they hit the mark somewhere between a mini hamburger and a sloppy Joe in a bun with salad and ketchup.  The meatballs I freeze in a single layer on a baking tray and then put into a tub once frozen.  These I fry or roast until cooked through, cover in tomato sauce and serve with rice or orzo, inexplicably this being a pasta my son likes.

Meatloaf, sliders and meatballs

This may seem a long list of ingredients but you probably have most of it to hand anyway.  I reckon on this amount making one meatloaf, four sliders and about 12 meatballs.  The tomato sauce below is also great with the meatballs.  If you have any meatloaf left over it makes an incredible sandwich….

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

Salt

500g pork mince

500g beef mince

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

100g breadcrumbs

2 eggs beaten

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

60ml milk

3 tablespoons Worcester sauce

2 tablespoons ketchup

Small bunch parsley, finely chopped

Tomato sauce -

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic finely chopped

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 tablespoons red wine or 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200.  Heat the first tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion, with a pinch of salt, until soft then allow to cool.  In a large bowl put the rest of the ingredients (apart from the sauce ones) and mix well together (hands are easiest for mixing this) along with the cooled onions, 1 teaspoon of salt and around 20 turns on the pepper grinder.  Split the mixture and form half into a loaf a similar shape but a little smaller than a housebrick and make the rest into sliders or meatballs (see introduction).  Put the meatloaf onto a baking tray and cook for half an hour but check after 20 minutes and if browning too much cover with foil.  Meanwhile put the second tablespoon of oil into a small pan with the garlic, heat gently and as soon as it sizzles add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, wine or vinegar and a good pinch of salt.  Let this simmer for twenty minutes.  When the meatloaf is cooked let it sit for five minutes and then transfer to a warm serving plate and pour over the sauce.  Enough for two adults and two children.

Meatloaf 2

 

 

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Thai-ish Salad

Thai salad 2

Right I must say from the off that this is a Thai salad in the loosest possible sense.  Yes there is coriander, lime juice, fish sauce etc but also apple and radish and I’m not sure quite how authentic they are.   That said, it is fabulous to eat and sometimes I am happy to throw authenticity out of the window.  I think I mentioned it with Paella (January 2013) – I am not trying to recreate an original dish, I simply want to make something good to eat.

This is crisp, crunchy and jam packed with flavours.  The ginger, garlic and (small amount) of chilli give this life and heat whilst the herbs and lime bring zip and zing to the party.  You can leave out the apple if you want but I love their tangy sweetness and likewise the radishes, if they are not your thing omit them but they add peppery crunch and a beautiful pink.

It is a bonus for me that my children like this.  My daughter is a bit of a salad phobe but she adores and this and happily ploughs her way through a bowlful, sometimes adding a little more chilli and then smacking her lips and puffing as a result.   Its good to see them enjoying a bit of healthy salad at this time of year when we are rather surrounded by root vegetables and a lot of hardy brassicas.

This is fab with pork chops or roast chicken (hot or cold) and also works very well with leftovers.  In particular I’m thinking leftover turkey here but then that would make it a challenger to my beloved Christmas Salad (December 2013).  Never mind, we’ll just have both.

Thai salad

Thai Salad

Make the dressing first so that the flavours can sit and meld for a bit.

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons light olive oil

1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other chilli sauce

Small thumb ginger, finely grated

1 small clove garlic, finely grated

1/4 white cabbage

1 apple

6 radishes

2 carrots, peeled

1/2 bunch coriander

1/2 bunch mint

Mix the first nine ingredients together to make the dressing.  Taste and adjust as you see fit, a little more chilli perhaps?  Finely chop the rest of the ingredients and mix in a large bowl, add most of the dressing and combine.  You may or may not need all the dressing, it rather depends on the size of your cabbage and carrots!   Enough for 4 as a side.

 

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