Archive | Seasonal – Winter RSS feed for this section

The healthiest, most fulfilling salad ever eaten

16 Jan

It’s healthy January. I am going to the gym, eating lots of seasonal fruit and veg and lowering my carb intake (for a while anyway – baguettes and homemade chips just call out for me to eat them sometimes.) So, I came up with this salad to eat. I managed to find a butternut squash in an organic stall in the market (uncommon in France – they usually sell watery, tasteless spaghetti squash) so thought of some loveeeellyy meals to make with it. Genuinely never felt more satisfied after eating a salad. If you think they are only for light lunches or starters, think again. It’s also super healthy, full of avocado, spinach, lentils (protein-packed and cheaper than lean meat/fish), olive oil and a bit of feta cheese for flavour and protein.

Serves 2 for dinner (big plates!)
Ingredients:
½ butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes.
½ red pepper, cut into cubes.
400g tin of puy lentils, drained and rinsed.
A few handfuls of washed spinach.
Few handfuls of rocket and lambs lettuce.
Cherry tomatoes, halved (as many as you like)
Feta cheese, crumbled (again, as much as you like)
To make the dressing:
2 tbsp good olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard.IMG_20130115_014204

Method:
1. Prepare your squash and pepper, in a roasting tin, lug a few tbsp olive oil over and season. Place in a preheated oven (180C) for around 45minutes until nicely roasted.
2. In a large salad bowl, add your salad leaves, tomatoes and lentils. Make your dressing by shaking all the ingredients in an old jam jar (make sure it’s well sealed!) or stir vigorously in a bowl. Once combined, add to your salad and toss so everything is covered.
3. Once your squash is cooked, divide the dressed salad onto two plates, top with the squash and pepper, and sprinkle over the feta cheese and sliced avocado.

Pumpkin and Chestnut stuffing

3 Jan

Whilst back in Wales for Christmas, my contribution to our Christmas feast (with 13 for dinner – every kitchen appliance was on continuous full throttle!) The stuffing I made was actually to use up some leftover pumpkin and chestnuts from my mum’s ‘festive pie’ she makes ever year (it’s actually a Moroccan recipe from Good Food magazine years ago, but for some reason it has become one of the centrepieces for our dinner!)
As with any vegetables, roasting brings out the flavour and makes it lovely and soft to combine. We had ready to eat chestnuts so they didn’t need any preparation before constructing the stuffing balls. As we only had a small amount of pumpkin leftover, I made 13 mini stuffing balls, although this recipe could make around 6 large ones. A bit of a wintery twist from the standard sage and onion! stuffing

N.B Pictures are of the uncooked stuffing balls, I was so eager for Christmas dinner (basically, I’m just very greedy) that I completely forgot to take a picture of the finished product!

Makes 13 mini or around 6 large stuffing balls

85g peeled pumpkin cut into squares (needs to be roasted at around 180C in some olive oil and seasoned for around 1 hour before needed)
100g ready to eat chestnuts
40g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Method:
1. Smash the chestnuts up on a bowl so that they resemble dark brown wet-ish breadcrumbs (weird comparison I know). Combine with the roasted pumpkin, you will probably find the pumpkin breaks up into smaller pieces as you combine (you want it to do this by the way!)
2. In a blender, whizz the bread into fine breadcrumbs. Add to the bowl of pumpkin and chestnuts and combine with a good pinch of salt, pepper and nutmeg.
3. Mould into small balls. You can then refrigerate for a few days before using, or bake for 30 minutes at 180C (for mini stuffing balls) or around 45 for larger ones.

 

 

 

Salmon ‘Wellington’ with honey-roasted carrots and lemony fennel

3 Dec

salmon wellingtonThis is a dish that I believe is a typical wintry, wholesome meal you should have on a Sunday when you have come back from a brisk stroll along the beach. Idealistic, me? To be honest, the wellington would make a lovely summer meal, paired with a selection of different salads, or maybe some griddled courgettes.

It is an impressive-looking dish that only takes about 15 minutes to prepare. Ready-made puff pastry is one of the few that you cannot really easily make at home. As a result – ready-made pastry that doesn’t come with the guilty feeling of not having made the effort to make it yourself.
Unfortunately, the light was pretty bad in the apartment last night therefore pictures are not the best. Super tasty meal that can be accompanied with pretty much any vegetables that you have hanging around. Try to have a look out for reduced salmon in the supermarket or at the fishmongers for a cheap meal, I used good quality salmon that I had picked up reduced in the supermarket then frozen. I also use frozen spinach instead of fresh when cooking, much cheaper and perfectly adequate for cooking with!
Unfortunately the photos do not do it much justice – I do apologise!

Serves 2 –
Ingredients:
35g Spinach, defrosted is from frozen
45g Cream cheese
½ Lemon, zested
300g Salmon – I used two small fillets, skinned and pin boned
250g puff pastry

1 medium egg, beaten
For the carrots:
3 Medium carrots, cut lengthways
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 ½ tbsp honey
For the fennel:
½ Fennel bulb, sliced
Squeeze of lemon
Salt & pepper
Splash of olive oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C (fan). Mix the spinach, cream cheese, lemon zest together and season. If you are using fresh spinach, whizz in a food processor until shredded.
2. Pat the salmon dry and season. Divide your pastry into two rectangles; one should be slightly larger (around 1 extra inch border). Place on sheet of baking paper on a baking tray. Lay your salmon on the smaller rectangle. Equally spread your spinach mixture on top of the salmon. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg. Lay the second sheet of pastry on top of the salmon, ensuring there is no air gap. Press the sheets together and seal using a fork. Brush with the remaining egg. Place in the fridge for 20minutes to set together.
3. Meanwhile, wash and slice your carrots. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil and the honey. Season. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven.
4. Place a frying pan with a splash of oil on a medium heat. Wash and slice your fennel and add it to the pan. Season and

IMAG0885-1cook until soft. Add a splash of lemon juice just before it is fully cooked.

5. Bake your salmon for 30minutes. When cooked, take it out of the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes before serving with the vegetables.
Enjoy!

A bit more than just sausages and mash

28 Nov

In fact – it’s actually grilled sausages with sautéed leek comté cheese mash with a hint of whole grain mustard and sweetcorn, served with proper onion and red wine gravy. Proper British winter food – a perfect use of my precious vegetarian sausages I managed to stuff into my hand luggage on my way back from Exeter last week!

This dish calls for quite a few elements but it is really easy. It is a ‘sausage and mash’ dish that is even fancy enough for a dinner party. I always think that mashed potato sometimes need an extra few elements to make it a bit more exciting, this is the perfect comfort food combination (or hangover cure…) We had our mammoth plates after I had come home from work looking like a soggy drowned rat after one of Nice’s sudden storms.
These are big portions so if you haven’t got a huge appetite, make some fried potato cakes with any leftover mash the following day (for that reason I actually regret being a greedy pig and eating it all – 3 whole potatoes each plus half a leek…oh dear.)
DISCLAIMER: A food coma may occur, you have been warned.

Serves 2 adults with eyes bigger than their stomachs.
Ingredients:
4 sausages (vegetarian or good quality pork)
For the mash:
650g potatoes
1 medium leek
50g tinned sweetcorn
60g grated comté or mature cheddar cheese
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1tbsp milk
salt and pepper
For the gravy:
A good knob of butter
100ml red wine, cheapest quality will suffice – ours was just over 1euro, not really fit for consumption but perfect for cooking.
1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped.
2tsp whole grain mustard
1tsp tomato puree (we used ketchup!)
1.5tbsp plain flour
100ml vegetable or beef stock (we found vegetable stock to be plenty rich enough.)
Salt and pepper

Method:


 1. Cook onion in butter for 2-3min without colouring. Add flour and stir on the hat for 1 min. Add the tomato puree & mustard. Gradually stir in the wine then the stock, ensuring there are no lumps. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 30minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Season to taste.
2. Whilst the sauce is boiling, chop up your potatoes into quarters and add them to a salted pan of boiling water to boil for about 15 minutes, until soft but not crumbling. I prefer not to peel my potatoes as I like the texture of the potato skin in the mash.

3. When your potatoes are just starting to boil, in a separate frying pan, sauté your chopped leek in a good knob of butter on a medium heat. They should be soft and not burned within 10 minutes. Try to use all of a leek – including the majority of the green part.
4. Grill your sausages on a medium heat for around 15 minutes. Brush them with oil and place them on a shelf where they will not sit in their own fat. Remember to turn your sausages every 3/4 minutes. They will take around 12-15 minutes to cook. Grilling is always the healthiest/tastiest way to cook sausages.
5. Drain your potatoes and return them to the pan on a very low heat to dry out before mashing.
6. Add a good knob of butter to the potatoes and the milk. Mash in the saucepan until you have your desired ‘mashedness’. Season. Mix in the mustard and then add the leeks, sweetcorn and cheese and combine. The cheese should start to melt and you will want to just scoop it out of the pan then and there to eat.
7. On warmed plates, add a good few dollops of mash, your sausages and your gravy.

Eat, then have a good sleep.

Spicy butternut squash soup

22 Nov

This is the second recipe using the other half of the butternut squash I bought last week. Another wintery, comforting meal. Butternut squash gives a really thick, wholesome soup which makes it easily substantial enough with a lump of bread and cheese for a good dinner.
I took inspiration from Lorraine Pascal’s recipe and used a good sprinkle of chilli and ginger, along with a squeeze of lemon before serving.
This feeds 4 for a starter or 2 for a main course, it is a very good value meal, especially if using dried chilli powder or flakes and dried ginger.

Ingredients:
Half a butternut squash
1 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1 Whole chilli or a pinch of flakes/powder (or as much as you like – depending on how adventurous you are feeling!)
Half a vegetable stock cube diluted with 1 litre water
One thumb’s worth of grated fresh ginger or a pinch of dried ginger
A squeeze of lemon (or lime) juice
Salt and pepper

TIP: Add curry powder instead of chilli and ginger for another take on spicy butternut squash soup!

Method:
1.Heat your oven to 190celcius (fan)
2. Half your butternut squash lengthways, season with salt and pepper and place a peeled garlic clove into the hollow of the squash. Put in the oven for around 40minutes or until you squash is soft and easily scoopable.
3. While your squash is cooking, heat a tablespoon of olive oil large saucepan on a low heat and once heated, add your onion. It should soften and not sizzle and burn if the heat is correct. Fry your onion for 5 minutes then add your spices. Take off the heat if the onion is cooked. Prepare your stock.
4. Once the squash is soft, roughly cut your garlic clove and add it to the pan, then scoop out the flesh from the squash and add it to the pan.
5. Pour your stock over and with a hand held blender, blend the ingredients together.
6. Reduce on a simmering heat until you have your desired consistency. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to serve. You can also add a blob of crème fraiche!

Butternut squash and sage fried pasta

21 Nov

Fried pasta is one of my favourite things ever. I am always the one who likes the crunchy bit of pasta in the corner of the lasagna dish. There is something so satisfying about slightly crunchy cooked pasta; sauces always seem to intensify with frying too, especially with a spoonfuls of extra Parmesan!

I’m not going to lie, it’s not the healthiest. However a plate of fried pasta can easily be justified – fry in olive oil and use vegetables… there we go J
I recently went for a weekend in Exeter to visit a few friends. We made a big butternut squash risotto before a night out and my love for squash was rekindled. Due to Nice’s constant mild temperature (I am actually craving it to be a bit cold and rainy now and then – I want an excuse to get into bed and watch Downton Abbey on repeat whilst eating chocolate) I haven’t really cooked any seasonal winter dishes. Therefore, a squash was bought.

This is the first of two dishes we made; it’s an adaptation of www.thekitchn.com’s recipe!

Serves 2:
Half a butternut squash.
1 small onion
2 tablespoons fresh or dried sage (we used dried – economical students :D)
50g Parmesan
Large clove of garlic
150g farfelle or rigatoni pasta (we used a combination)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Method.
1. Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius (fan.) Half your butternut squash length-ways, scoop the seeds out and peel (it’s an effort but worth it!)
2. Chop your squash into 1 inch cubes.
3. Finely chop your onion and garlic.
4. In a large baking sheet, toss the squash, onion and garlic with a few glugs of olive oil, sprinkle with half the sage and season well. Leave for around 40 minutes until the squash is soft.
5. Cook your pasta to packet instructions. Drain well and set aside.
6. Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the rest of the sage on a medium-high heat for 2 minutes. If you have two frying pans, then heat them both up to save having to fry in two batches.
7. Add half the pasta and squash mixture to the frying pan (or half in each pan) and heat until the pasta is going brown around the edges (or until your pasta is as crispy as you like). Try and mix your pasta and squash together so it becomes a sort of sauce.
8. When cooked, add half the Parmesan to the frying pan and mix well.
9. Serve onto hot plates and sprinkle on the rest of Parmesan. Enjoy!

Porcini Mushroom ravioli with sage and lemon butter

10 Nov

After yesterday’s purchases in Ventimiglia market (fresh pasta heaveeeeeeeeen) we were itching to try the mushroom ravioli for lunch. With ravioli or any filled pasta, I always think it’s easy to mask any flavour inside the pasta with overpowering flavours and heavy sauces. I really wanted to taste the delicate mushroom flavour inside the pasta, so opted for an ever so simple yet complimenting sauce of butter, garlic, lemon and sage. 

With such good pasta, you really don’t need any more flavours. Butter makes for a more luxurious sauce if you are only cooking with a few flavours. It was a perfect easy Saturday lunch, definitely had a cheeky glass of rose to go with it too! 

Image

Serves 2:

2 portions mushroom ravioli (about 350g)
Rind of half a lemon.
Good squeeze lemon juice.1 clove of garlic (we had a monster of a clove, looked like a giant’s thumb – so only used half)
1 dessert spoon dried sage
50g butter
Salt & pepper to season
Handful of rocket to garnish

We served out pasta with an avocado, tomato and rocket side salad drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and ground pepper – get your 5 a day 😀

Method:

1.Cook your pasta in simmering water with a splash of olive oil (about 5-6 minutes for fresh ravioli, you don’t want to overcook them as the filling will start to leak out of the parcels.)

2. While your pasta is cooking, in a frying pan on a medium heat, melt the butter and add the garlic so it slowly fries, then add the sage, lemon zest and lemon juice. You may need to add some more butter if it reduces too much. It should smell lovely and rich when you are cooking it! (I got way too excited for lunch!). Season with salt and pepper.

3. Drain the pasta then add it to the frying pan. Gently coat the pasta with the sauce.

4. Divide onto plates and sprinkle with a handful of rocket.

5. Serve with a side salad and parmesan if you like!

Image