Mélange Salad

This recipe fills me with joy. Simple and rustic, yet so beautifully elegant, filling, nutritious and satisfying at the same time. It has its roots in France and brings out the best of ‘whatever you have available’. You could call it a spin on the classic Salade Niçoise or Provençal, or even a Mesclun.. it all depends what you have at your fingertips and how you’re feeling. I call it a Melange, a beautiful medley; an array of colours and a variety of shapes and textures.

Jamie brought us a simple green salad with lemon dressing, and this is my twist for the Food Revolution.

These are the basic ingredients that never fail to put a smile on my face:

  • Green beans, blanched
  • Egg, boiled and halved
  • Grated anything: carrot, turnip, beetroot, cheese
  • Leaves – I like baby gem, lambs lettuce or romaine
  • Finely sliced onion, red or white
  • Radish, sliced
  • Fresh herbs
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Why not pop a few croutons on – you can’t be perfect all the time..

It’s all about variety. Now plate up and dress just before serving.

Dressing

Three parts oil to one part acid is perfect. Try this one on for size:

(for 1 person)

  • 60ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 20ml White Wine Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

My preferred method is to pop it all in a jam jar and give it a good old shake.

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Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

So. How to politely describe this dish then? Let’s say that the name links this quick, tangy, salty and robust dish, to ladies of the night.. Whether it’s purely in name, or factually linked to the stories passed down over the decades, this dish certainly gets the blood pumping.

It’s my chosen twist on Jamie Oliver’s Classic Tomato Spaghetti – if you can master that one, this is merely a minor deviation that will boost your repertoire and get your taste buds dancing to a new tune.

Essentially, it’s a tomato spaghetti which is elevated to the next level with black olives, anchovies and capers. I also like to add a touch of chilli for good measure.

 

Ingredients:

(serves 4)

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 anchovies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 100g black olives, pitted & torn
  • 1 x 400g tin tomatoes or  large handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan
  • Olive Oil

For me, this is a dish I like to throw together when I come in late and the fridge is bare; it’s a classic ‘store-cupboard dinner’. To be terribly honest, I can’t say I’ve ever actually measured the ingredients out before now. Recipes are after all, merely guides.

ingredients for store cupboard puttanesca

Method:

Bring a large pan of water to the boil and season with salt. Cook the pasta as per the packet instructions.

About 5 minutes before the pasta is ready, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic, anchovies and chilli flakes. As the garlic begins to turn golden and the anchovies start to melt away, add the capers and olives, followed by the tomatoes. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, a dash of passata can help. Cook for a few minutes and then add the drained pasta together with a dash of the starchy cooking water to bring it all together.

Serve topped with fresh basil leaves and a little parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Whore's Pasta

Omelette Twist

As Jamie launches his ‘10 recipes to save your life’ for this year’s Food Revolution, here’s my twist on the basic omelette for you: Baked Mini Omelettes!

Super-simple fayre, these little treats are a fun take on the humble and nutritious egg, and can be served hot or cold.

The fillings are up to you – I like to have a bit of variation so here’s some ideas:

Fresh chives, chillies, bell peppers, ham, tomato, cheese, smoked salmon; perhaps some pre-cooked ingredients: bacon, mushrooms, black pudding, sausage, broccoli.. the list goes on, so feel free to experiment.

The most important factor is to use the freshest and highest quality eggs you can find – the hens deserve it, and it’ll make such a difference to your cooking.

You’ll need roughly 1 egg for each omelette.

 

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C degrees (160°C fan).

Grease a muffin/cupcake tray with butter or a drop of oil.

Beat the eggs and season them with salt and pepper.

Pour the egg mixture into the muffin tray and sprinkle in your choice of ingredients.

Bake for 12 minutes.

It’s as easy as that.

Enjoy!

mini omelettes

Countdown To Food Revolution Day 2016

On Friday May 20th, Jamie will be asking people across the world to join him, and sign up to the Food Revolution.

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This is our annual day of action that brings people together from around the world in thousands of events that celebrate good, fresh, real food. The ongoing global campaign provokes debate and aims to inspire meaningful change in the way our children access, consume and understand food.

This year is a step-change in our approach; it’s not just a day, it’s a revolution!

We’re in the middle of a global health crisis. Right now an astounding 41 million children under five are overweight, while another 159 million are too undernourished to grow properly. We’re failing both our children and future generations by not empowering them with the right food and skills they need to grow healthily and happily.

If you need any further inspiration, here’s Jamie’s 2010 TED talk.

Everyone should have the opportunity to lead happier, healthier lives by learning how to cook nutritious and delicious food from scratch.

The theme for 2016 revolves around not one, but ten basic recipes that act as a ‘Starter Pack of Cooking‘; ten recipes to save your life. These recipes are nutritionally balanced and each one covers a different skill and technique. We’re passionate about creating a movement that can deliver real change and help the world feed the future. These recipes can help to build confidence in the kitchen so that anyone can cook healthy, real food for themselves, and their families.

All the resources for planning local events are now available to download here.

Get involved, and help us to fight obesity and diet-related diseases.

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Elderberry Cordial

Yet another ‘Superfood’.  As long as you didn’t go too mad on picking the Elderflowers earlier in the year, the fruit of the Elder Tree can be foraged in Autumn and transformed into a number of delightful offerings. This year we decided on elderberry cordial for its lovely flavour, versatility in the kitchen, and medicinal properties (not only are they packed with antioxidants, but some studies have shown success in prevention and treatment of Influenza).

If you’re making cordial or syrup, you’ll simply require the addition of sugar, water and perhaps a few Cloves or Star Anise.

Raw Elderberries

 

Starting with your basket of Elderberry heads, the first thing you’ll need to do is separate the berries from the stalks.  This is important as Elder foliage is poisonous, but thankfully, it’s rather easy.  All you need is a regular fork.  Surprisingly satisfying it is too.

freshly harvested elderberries

Give them a good rinse to remove any creepy crawlies that may be lurking.

Pop them in a large pot or ideally a preserving pan, although not many people have these unlike in the good old days.  Top the pan up with just enough water to cover them, and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

Simmering Elderberries

Next is to strain the Elderberries through muslin cloth to remove the skins and all the little bits.  You’ll be left with a rather attractive looking liquid.

Making Elderberry Cordial

Nearly there.  Measure how much liquid you have, and then add about 450g of sugar for each pint (568ml). At this point you can add in some whole Cloves or Star Anise for a bit of background spice.  Boil for 10 minutes until thick and then remove any spices.

Bottle it up in sterilised bottles or jars and you’re done.  Keep it in your fridge once opened.

The children enjoy it diluted with water – particularly sparkling.  Now we’re looking forward to the colder months so we can drink it with hot water.

Bottle of Elderberry Cordial

 

Next year, Elderberry Liqueur…