Hopefully you will soon be heading off on your long-awaited and well-earned Summer holidays. If your journey involves a flight and is more than 2 hours long you will be feeling a little peckish en route (or is it just me that needs food every 2 hours?!) This is where you can get your trip off to a great start by giving it a little thought beforehand. If not, you may well end up eating some of the awful, highly processed, fatty and stodgy food on offer on many flights. This is the worst possible start to any holiday and will only leave you feeling bloated, sluggish and tired.
So here are a few of my tips to get your holiday off to the perfect start. Continue reading
Beat the cold weather by cozying up to a bowl of this hearty beef stew. Rich, warm, delicious and simple to make. With a horrible cold spell forecast this week I will be making this using the slow cooker – prepare in the evening, leave in the fridge overnight, take out first thing the next morning(to take the chill out of it) and after half an hour or so put it in the slow cooker on Medium for 6-8 hours. Job done, dinner made, the feeling of freedom is wonderful and you can pat yourself on the back for being totally ahead of the game! No matter what time anyone comes in that evening they can have a piping hot dinner – sometimes I add in a few boiled potatoes at the end of the cooking time to make a complete meal of it plus they soak up some of the juices and go all soft and yummy!
PS: The instructions below are for a slow cooker however to cook in a conventional oven, just increase the amount of stock to 800ml and cook at 160°C / 350°F for 2½ to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
This lamb tagine is full of delicious rich flavours from the combination of succulent, sweet lamb, spices and fruit. It is so simple and is a great dish if you are having friends over as it has a richer, more exotic flavour than your normal beef stew. The dish originates from Morocco where it would be cooked slowly in a traditional ceramic or clay dish called a tagine. I am currently bonding big-time with my Slow Cooker – it buys me so much time and freedom and I cannot recommend it enough. This dish is one of my favourites done in the Slow Cooker (Crockpot) – the recipe is the same whether it is cooked in the oven or in the Slow Cooker so instructions for both are below. The only hassle can be dicing the lamb but it is so worth it!
(recipe is adapted from one in the Avoca Cookbook No.2) Continue reading
This is what you and your family need right now on these cold, wintery days. Warm, nutritious and comforting and really easy to make. Adding spinach to the soup has two purposes – it adds nutrients and it also gives the soup a lovely green colour. The fried chorizo cubes lift this ordinary soup into something special – I adore chorizo but you could also use fried bacon pieces or if you want to make it fully vegetarian or vegan just leave these out and use water or vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.
Preparation: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 30/40 minutes
4 large leeks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped small
850ml chicken stock (or water for vegetarian / vegan option)
Couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves (washed and trimmed of any tough stalks)
Chorizo – cut into cubes (or bacon pieces if you prefer – leave out for vegetarian / vegan option)
How to make it:
- Trim off the tops and roots of the leeks, discarding the tough outer layer
- Prepare the leeks by splitting them in half lengthways and slice them up quite finely, then rinse and drain them
- In a large thick-based saucepan melt the butter on a low heat then add the leeks, potatoes and onion, stirring them with a wooden spoon so they get a nice coating of butter
- Season with salt & pepper
- Cover and let the vegetables sweat over a very low heat for about 10/15 minutes – key a very close eye on them so they don’t burn or stick to the bottom (this has happened to me in the past I have to admit!)
- Add the stock and bring to a simmer, put the lid back on and simmer gently for approx. 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
- Add the milk and the spinach leaves and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
- Liquidise the soup using a blender.
Heat the chorizo in a dry non-stick pan for 2/3 minutes (it won’t need any oil as it will release it’s own) until it is nice and crispy to serve. Enjoy!
Roast chicken with roast potatoes, stuffing and gravy is without doubt one of the most popular dinners in our house. Cooking roast chicken used to freak me out a bit, I don’t know why but I always thought of it as a complicated dinner. Then I came across this simple and foolproof one-pot method which absolutely rocks. I discovered it when I was in Ballymaloe House (on a 2-day course which I was so lucky to win as a prize!) a few years ago. So no roasting tray, racks, cooking bags etc – it just cooks in the one pot in which all the juices collect and from which you can make your gravy. So no need to fear cooking roast chicken any more – if you haven’t done it before give this a try and you won’t look back. Continue reading
This isn’t technically a recipe as it really just a matter of combining the ingredients. No cooking skills required and no need to stick rigidly to the quantities specified as any combination of these ingredients will result in a delicious end result. How good is that! And, as if that wasn’t enough, it’s made in minutes, i.e. real ‘fast food’. Halloumi is unlike any other cheese as it holds its shape and doesn’t melt when heated. It has a delicious salty flavour and it makes for a very quick, healthy and filling snack or lunch – it has a reasonable shelf life so it is great to have it on standby in the fridge for those days when you are starving or short of time or both (happens regularly to me). It goes very well also with fresh beetroot which you can get in vacuum packs and which is another great standby to have in the fridge as it lasts for weeks in the fridge.
Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter
Time to prepare: approx. 10/15 mins.
1 ripe avocado
1 fresh lime
Fresh coriander leaves chopped
Halloumi Cheese (1 packet)
To serve: Salad leaves & dressing
How to make it:
- Cut the tomatoes* into halves and then into quarters. Remove the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces. *If you have time remove the skin by placing the tomatoes into boiling water for approx. 30 secs at which stage the skin will just peel off.
- Cut the avocado in half, remove the skin and the stone and cut the flesh into cubes.
- Place the tomato, avocado and coriander in a small bowl, add a good squeeze of lime and toss gently.
- Cut the halloumi into slices and heat a non-stick pan (no oil needed).
- Place the cheese slices onto the hot pan and fry until a nice golden colour on each side.
- Put the salad together by placing some dressed salad leaves on a plate.
- Place the avocado salsa in the centre and arrange the warm cheese slices around it.
- Bon appétit!
Ok guys, no excuses not to make this easy-peasy dessert with just 3 ingredients – chocolate, cream and eggs and a measly 207 calories per portion! Not only is it simple but it makes it into my ‘healthy eating’ category because there is no added sugar. If the fact that it is super delicious, easy to make and low in calories isn’t enough to convince you to make it then the fact that dark chocolate is also good for your heart, circulation and brain should be the deal clincher! The other bonus is that this is ready after just 2 hours in the fridge.
The only sugar in this recipe is whatever is contained in the dark chocolate itself. I used chocolate with 74% cocoa solids (from Lidl).
The recipe is adapted from a recipe contained in Rachel Allen’s book Rachel’s Favourite Foods.
Makes 6 small (50ml) glasses
120g (4½ oz) dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
120ml (4fl oz) cream
2 eggs, separated
How to make it
- Break up the chocolate into small pieces.
- In a saucepan, bring the cream up to the boil then turn off the heat.
- Add the chocolate to the cream and stir until the chocolate is melted.
- In a separate large clean & dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff
- Stir a quarter of the egg white into the chocolate mixture
- Gently fold in the rest of the egg white, being careful not to knock all the air out.
- Spoon into little glasses or cups
- Leave for an hour or two in the fridge to set
- Decorate / serve as you like, with a raspberry on the top, blob of whipped cream or a little gold dust.
My advice then is to hide and keep it all for yourself!