Saturday, 22 March 2014

Warm Kale & Artichoke Salad with toasted almonds

Kale salad
Kale, artichoke salad tossed in anchovies and toasted almonds

Green leafy kale salad bursting with flavour and crunch...

It is early spring and the days have just started to get warmer, but there is still a noticeable chill in the air.  Today, I feel like a salad that is full of leafy green goodness that is warm, comforting and full of flavour and texture.  And I have just the thing, for kale, pan-fried, is seriously tasty, and even more so, when combined with the bold saltiness of anchovies, flavourful artichokes and crunchy toasted flaked almonds.  

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Swiss Chard growing in the garden!

The colourful and vibrant "Five colour Silverbeet" Swiss Chard growing in our garden.  It's surprising what you can find in the kitchen garden at this time of the year...

Seeds by: Thompson & Morgan (Heritage collection)

See also this earlier post:
Growing tasty and vibrant Swiss Chard 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Stir-fried Spicy courgettes recipe

Stir-fried spicy courgettes with ginger

Stir-fried courgettes - mildly spicy and lots of flavour...

I've recently been learning about the Sze Chuan (Si Chuan, 四川 ) style of cooking from Terry Tan's "The Food and Cooking of Si Chuan and West China".  Sze Chuan cuisine is well known for being spicy, fiery sometimes leaving your tongue with a tingling sensation (think Sze Chuan peppers!).

This Sze Chuan inspired recipe (adapted from Terry's book) does not have chillies in it, but rather it is the heat from ginger root combined with flavoursome sauces that bring this very ordinary vegetable to life.  The stir-fried courgettes are then served with rice, as a vegetable side.

It won't be long now before we will grow our own courgettes in the garden, but for now, we used Sainsbury's basics courgettes and garlic.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Giveaway : The Nākd Celebration Box!

Our GIVEAWAY this month is a Nākd Celebration Box worth £13!

We've made it through January!  To celebrate, I am hosting a giveaway for Natural Balance Foods, better known as the people behind those delicious Nākd bars and TREK protein bars.

Haven't tried them yet?  Well, here's your chance!

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chinese Noodles in mushroom & pork gravy

 Chinese noodles in Soy Mushroom Sauce using Leftover Roast Pork

Chinese noodles in a mushroom gravy...
There is a kind of noodle dish where the noodles are neither immersed in broth nor stir-fried in a sizzling hot wok.  Instead, the cooked noodles are tossed in a deliciously rich, usually soy flavoured sauce, with each strand of noodle glistening with mouth watering gravy.

I find this style of noodle the most comforting mid-week, when in the dark of the evening you arrive home, the mechanical hum from the long train journey still ringing in your ears and the ideas from an earlier brainstorming session still buzzing in your head.    

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Chicken, Sweet Potato & Mixed Vegetable Lettuce wraps ("Sang Choy Bau")

Sang Choi Bau
Chicken Sang Choy Bau with Sweet Potato

HEALTHY SANG CHOY BAU with chicken and sweet potato...
Sang Choy Bau is a Chinese classic commonly served as a starter all around Australia, where I grew up.  It literally translates to "lettuce wrap" and in its traditional form, is simply a lettuce cup filled with minced pork and vegetables.  These days, you will find many variations of the original recipe, from minced beef or chicken to duck or even quail meat.

In creating this recipe, I was keen to fill my Sang Choy Bau with lots of different coloured vegetables, rather than simply with meat.  So, this healthy recipe brings together lean chicken breast and everyday vegetables like carrots, celery and peppers with soy and oyster sauce to create a quick and tasty modern twist to a Chinese classic.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Japanese-style soba noodles in ginger miso soup recipe

Japanese-style soba noodles in ginger miso soup with shiitake mushrooms, pak choi and leftover roast chicken

Leftover roast chicken and noodles in ginger miso soup
When I was growing up, my mother would make noodle soups all the time.  With four kids in the house, it was the perfect way for her to prepare a quick, easy meal and to use up whatever was available in the fridge.  Small quantities of a variety of vegetables like pak choi or choy sum would be thrown into steaming hot broth, along with any leftover meat that was available at the time. When I eventually left home and had to fend for myself, this was a dish that featured prominently in my weekly meal plan.  With my limited cooking skills, it was a fast, healthy hot meal that well and truly satisfied.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Edamame bean, seaweed & glass noodle salad with wasabi dressing

Edamame Bean, Wakame seaweed and mung bean vermicelli salad

Green food salad with edamame beans, seaweed & bean vermicelli
After all the indulgence over Christmas and New Year, it is time to detox by going veggie and loading up on green super foods.  So I have put together a salad combining some of my favourite foods: edamame beans, Wakame seaweed and avocado.  The beans are frozen ones which come straight out of the freezer and the dried wakame seaweed and glass noodles are store cupboard ingredients.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms on toast

Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms on toast

Wild mushrooms on toast on Sunday mornings...

As winter approaches, and the days are shorter, there is little that thrives in the garden. The large beech tree out the front has long shed all its leaves, and the Japanese maples, normally bursting with life with their delicate red orange leaves, are now twiggy and bare.

With the low temperatures, the loose compost in the vegetable patch is looking compacted and frosty, but a hint of green peeking out from the dark soil catches my eye. It's the parsley we put in months ago which has now grown long spindly stems and leaves. It could almost be described as lush, almost.  Hardy herbs like thyme and rosemary soldier on braving the cold winds, although now they appear sparser and a few forlorn leaves have begun to yellow.

I’m always grateful to have any garden produce during the winter months.  But never more than now, for picking herbs from the garden is peaceful and the tranquillity seems at odds with the chaos of Christmas shopping that is inevitable.  I snip a few sprigs of thyme and stems of parsley and hurry back into the warmth of the kitchen, where fresh shiitake and oyster mushrooms are waiting.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Best Hand Creams for Gardeners (or Last Minute Gifts!)

Hand Creams for gardeners that make great gifts for Christmas

Whether you are still looking for a last minute gift for Christmas, or simply looking for a cream to soothe and soften your roughened hands from all that gardening this year, here are some of my favourite hand creams that will leave your hands feeling silky soft and brand new.  

Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardeners Hand Therapy
Price: £20 for 250ml

This top selling hand cream by Crabtree & Evelyn has been a long standing favourite with gardeners.  It is rich but easily absorbed into the skin and really helps to soothe and nourish dry, roughened hands.  It has a strong scent of the garden with fresh green clover, lavender, sage, rosemary and thyme and the handy pump dispenser bottle can be placed in the kitchen or utility room.  I flit between different hand creams during the year, but this is the one I always come back to.

Source: Crabtree & Evelyn