Spice it up

Start a saucy affair

How do you fancy something hot this summer? We all like a bit of spice in our lives now and again. Well, this week I’m going to give you all the ingredients you will need to “start a saucy affair”!

Some like it hot

There are any number of sauces and marinades on the market, all winking at you from the Supermarket shelves, with their bright labelling and clever marketing slogans all begging you to “EAT ME”. Do you ever pick up one of these products and read the ingredients? In most cases you will find the second one is usually sugar! Below you will find two recipes for sultry summer days, which are quick and easy to make and do not contain huge amounts of sugar, salt and other additives. Both recipes can be made in advance and stored in the fridge:

chicken, juices, roasting, sauce, healthy eating
Reserved roasting juices

Spicy Barbequed Chicken

You will need one large fresh free range chicken, or you can use, chicken pieces, thighs, drumsticks etc. If using a whole chicken, turn the chicken onto its breast on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife. cut through the chickens back bone from one end to the other. Turn the chicken over, place in a roasting tin, flattening the chicken and make slashes into the breast and legs of the chicken, to help absorb the sauce into the meat. The chicken will cook through quicker, with this method.

Set the oven

  • 1tbspn Mustard Powder
  • 1tbspn Curry Powder
  • 2tspns Chilli powder or to taste.
  • 1tbspn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1tbspn Maple syrup
  • 1tspn Cider Vinegar
  • 4tbspns Tomato Ketchup
  • 2tbspns Olive oil

Place all ingredients in a bowl, whisk together to emulsify.

Spread all over the chicken, rubbing well into the slashes you have made. Roast at 200c, Gas Mk6, 400f, for about 1 hour, ( or barbecue ) still thoroughly cooked through. (If you use the Barbeque for this dish, you will not have the juices for the salad).

Drain the juices from the roasted chicken into a bowl. Whisk in 1 crushed clove of garlic. (Reserve for pasta salad)

Remove chicken to a serving dish.

salad, leftovers, sun dried, olives, pasta,
Pasta & Veg Salad

Pasta and Veg Salad

Cook 1 packet of wholemeal pasta, in salted boiling water, with a drop of oil, until al dente. Meanwhile, in a large wok or frying pan gently fry for 10 mins:

  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 chilli’s chopped (or to taste)
  • 2 large courgettes. halved lengthwise & sliced
  • 2 large red peppers, deseeded and sliced

Drain the pasta, Pour the reserved juices from the chicken over the veg, allow to bubble for 5 mins. Remove from heat. Add the drained pasta to the veg and mix to blend. Add:

  • 4 chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tspns Capers, drained
  • 2 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
  • 3 tbspns Olives, drained.
  • 2 tbsns Fresh basil and parsley chopped
  • Seasoning to taste

Mix together well, season to taste, serve with the chicken and salad leaves.

Any left over pasta salad and chicken can be stored in the fridge and mixed together to serve for tomorrows supper.

Enjoy your home made food and say NO to convenience foods. Its better for you and your pocket.

Fresh and Healthy

Say No to convenience foods

Following on from last weeks blog: https://truffleicious.blog/2019/07/06/summer-salads/ This week we continue with the fresh and healthy eating theme. Firmly saying NO to pe-packed, sugar and salt laden convenience foods.

Convenience foods, are notoriously bad for you as well as being considerably more expensive than fresh foods cooked from scratch. The salt and sugars added to these products are there to enhance the flavour and texture of otherwise, tasteless, over processed ingredients.

salads, olive oil, healthy eating, gluten free, pulses
Super Summer Salads

This week, I have for you a few quick recipes and tips, which I hope will inspire you to change both your eating and shopping habits for good.

Make your own dressings

Its really easy and much more cost effective to whisk up you own dressings. If you make a large amount in one go – I make 1ltr – and divide it equally into four different screw top jars. Empty gin or wine bottles are excellent or storing dressings, you are also doing your bit to save the planet at the same time. Special equipment, is not needed to make dressings. A simple balloon whisk will do, failing that a fork will combine the ingredients. After decanting into the storage bottles or jars, give them a good shake before serving, the ingredients will then emulsify – make sure the top is securely screwed on -.

recycling, dressings, salads, herbs, homemade
Gin bottle dressings
  • For the basic recipe you will need:
  • 180ml extra virgin Olive oil or Rapeseed oil
  • 60ml white, red or cider vinegar
  • 5ml Dijon on coarse grain mustard
  • Freshly ground salt and black pepper

Makes 240ml. Place all the ingredients into a large jug or bowl and whisk together, taste and adjust seasoning to taste.

You can experiment by using different flavoured oils, mustards & vinegars to your liking. If you find olive oil to strong a taste, replace half or all with rapeseed oil.

If making double the above recipe, divide into four. Add to each of the four portions of oil, add one of the recipes below:

herbs, basil, mint, dill, rosemary, lemon balm
Garden fresh herbs
  • Fresh Herb Vinaigrette 4 tabs Chopped herbs. eg: Basil, Mint, Thyme, Lemon Balm, Dill etc. A simple dressing for any salad.
  • Garlic and Chilli Dressing Add as many fresh crushed garlic cloves & chopped chillies to your taste. Drizzle over you home made pizza or mixed with sweetcorn & pulses for a ziggy bean salad.
  • Blue Cheese and Chive Dressing Mash 100g Blue Cheese with 2 tabs Milk. Add 2 tabs, freshly chopped chives. Whisk into the oil dressing. Gorgeous with wedges of Iceberg Lettuce.
  • Feta and Dill Dressing Mash 100g Feta Cheese with 2 Tabs Lemon Juice, Stir in 2 tabs freshly chopped dill. Whisk in the oil dressing. Lovely served with a traditional Greek Salad, or a simple cucumber salad.

You can experiment with the different ingredients, to make your favourite dressing, to use with your BBQ goodies.

Instead of buying tubs of Coleslaw or Potato Salads try making your own, by combining, grated or shredded veg (carrots, courgettes, red onions & fennel), or cooked potatoes with one of the dressing above. Your options are endless. Go on. Have a go, you know you want too.

For more recipes you can make from scratch, click the link below:

Summer Salads

Healthy Eating

We all love eating al fresco, whether it be a formal meal, in the garden or seated on the sun drenched terrace of that little Greek Taverna. Out door eating, brings out the best – or worst – in us all. It takes just a few golden rays pushing through the grey English gloom and POW! we go into lunatic mode and out comes the Barbeque. Of course, that means a frenzied rush to the Supermarket to gather the lurid red, synthetic coated, chicken wings, pork chops and gristly burgers, made from more animal derivatives than you would find in your average tin of dog food. In the bread aisle we grab a couple of packs of cotton wool textured baps – I can’t even call them bread. – Next you head for the chiller cabinets to pick up some salads? Why? OK, I can hear you crying “I don’t have the time”. Of course you do, with a little bit of organisation and less time on Social Media, you can make the time.

Freshly prepared, homemade salads, grains, beans, fruits, veg, dressings
Home made and healthy

Recently, through the media, we have been made aware of the dangers of obesity and various medical conditions, emanating from our consumption of unhealthy foods. Processed, fast food is all about flavour enhancing sugar, salt, fats, chemical additives and preservatives. The craving for these foods, have little to do with the food itself, but more to the added synthetic textures & flavours, giving you a sensory overload, to get you hooked. – Think nicotine. – Why do we want to eat these and feed them to our children, encouraging them to develop a taste for over sweet, salty, synthetic foods. Give them a taste of real homemade food & they won’t like it. You, have fed them these unnatural foodstuffs and denied them the fresh natural taste of homemade, unadulterated food. Processed foods and ready prepared, chopped fruits and veg, apart from being more expensive, have less nutritional value than their home made, freshly prepared counterparts. Pre-packed fruits and veg, once chopped quickly leak their Vitamin content and many have sugar, salt & preservatives added to them to preserve there colour. How long does it take to chop carrots or shred a lettuce?

Next time you visit the Supermarket, take a look at the labels on the foods you are purchasing. Out of interest, I looked at a pack of pre-cooked chicken breasts. You will be aware that foods have to be labeled with the ingredients in decreasing order. These chicken breasts contained, chicken, sugar, salt and various preservatives! Why do cooked chicken breasts need sugar?? I will leave it for you to work out.

chillis, chutneys, harissa paste, home cooking, peppers
Chop yourself some chillis

Prepacked, processed, convenience foods are not in the shops to provide you with healthy options, despite what the labeling might say. They are convenience foods which have been designed by marketing agencies. With their smart packaging and snappy slogans they fool you into believing you are providing yourself and family with fresh, healthy, natural food. In reality they are convenience foods, placed on the shelves to play on your insecurities. Forget it. These products are there to make money for the Supermarket and food manufacturing companies, they have no thought for your health.

Don’t give in, make the time, to prepare your own food from scratch. What have you got to loose? you will save money, eat healthier and once you become aware of the taste of real food, probably lose weight and certainly not expose yourself to the plethora of illness associated with unhealthy eating. Go on, you owe it to yourself and your family.

In my blog next week, I will be giving you some simple recipes, for salad dressings and salads. All will take you under 30 mins to prepare. If you make up a large amount of the basic dressing recipe, you can use you imagination to add different ingredients to create other dressings and salads of your choice. You can find some of my previous recipes by following the links below: https://truffleicious.blog/2018/02/10/warm-butternut-squash-black-kale-salad/ https://truffleicious.blog/2019/03/22/harissa-chutney/

Until next week. Happy healthy eating.

Freshly prepared fruits & veg salads & dressings

Merry Christmas

Christmas Countdown 22 Recipes for a Merry Christmas

If you have been. Thank you for reading. This concludes the 22 recipe Christmas Countdown. All thats left for me to say is “I hope you have found these recipes useful & you have enjoyed, reading these blogs.

Click the photos below to take you to the individual recipes. OR the blue link below will take you to all the recipes, mentioned below in the drop down menu of Christmas Countdown.

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR

Christmas Get Aheads

Time saving Christmas Tips.

Christmas Countdown. The big day is nearly here. Could you be interested in any time saving tips, on the run up to that festive feast. No. Of course not, you are not worried, or panicked, no doubt you are sitting down, with your feet up watching your favourite Christmas movie. Or, maybe you are tearing your hair out, bitting those finger nails & wondering how you are going to cope? Have a read, you might find something to assist you.

Lots of things can be prepared, ahead of the big day, saving you time & allowing you to demonstrate just how good a hostess you are:

  1. Laying the festive table, the day before is alway a good idea. Delegate the task to someone else and check that all is in order, with nothing forgotten. Make sure you have enough glasses for all those festive drinks. Don’t stress if they are mis-matched. No one will notice, as long as they have a drink.
  2. Peel the spuds & par boil them. place in a bowl, & toss in whichever hot oil you are using, on the day.
  3. If you are serving mash, invest in a potato ricer. No only can you have your own, cheap, cauliflower, brocolli or carrot rice. It saves time trying to mash those lumps out. Start a new trend, to impress your guests. Place the rice potato in a serving dish, & hand butter or oil seperately. (will satisfy all dietry requirements!)
  1. Of course, if you have chosen a cold starter, this can be prepared the day before. Was salad veg ready & wrap in kitchen towels & store in the fridge.
  2. Slice carrots & celery sticks into chunky strips. Plave in a casserole or roasting tin. Sprinle with chopped parsley & pop in the oven to cook. Drain, reserving the stock for the gravy. & serve. (Any root veg can be cooked in the same way)
  3. Make your gravy the day before, thicker than usual. when the Turkey is cooked pour some of the juices from the roasting tin, into the made gravy to add more flavour & thin it down. If lumpy, pass it through a sieve.
  4. If you need a quick extra pud. Keep a shop bought pastry case to hand. Spread mincemeat over the base & arrange apple slices on top. Grate over some marzipan & bake. Sprinkle with icing sugar & serve.

Hope you find some of this useful. Just remember, delegation is the key. This is after all, just another roast dinner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Above all. ENJOY. It is your Christmas too.

Glace fruits, nuts, vegan Christmas Cake

Veg & Leftovers

Vegetarian Recipes

Afternoon foodies from a gloomy, wet, Wiltshire. Veg & leftovers are the topic for day 16 of Christmas Countdown. From a warming Cauliflower dish with a twist, to what to do with those leftovers.

We are all familiar with cauliflower cheese, but have you thought about using different cheeses & turning it into a soup? Below you will find my, lighter,  adaptation of that classic french soup Creme Dubarry. (Creme of Cauliflower Soup). Experiment away with different cheeses, use up those leftover bits of mousetrap from the Christmas Cheese board & if cauliflower is not your thing, substitue it for broccoli.

Cauliflower & Blue Cheese Soup.

Serves 4. Time taken 45mins.         G/F. Vegetarian.  Allergens: Milk. Nuts.

Ingredients:

Large Cauliflower, broken into florets.

Large potato, peeled & chopped into chunks.

2 Bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled & crushed

600ml Vegetable or Chicken Stock

175g Blue Cheese, crumbled

150ml Milk

White pepper & a little grated nutmeg 

200g Walnuts, Toasted & chopped.

METHOD:

In a large saucepan, place the cauliflower, potato, stock, bayleaves & garlic. Bring to the boil & simmer for 30mins, until tender.

Take off the heat, remove the bay leaves & using a stick blender, blend until smooth.

Add the crumbled cheese & stir over a low heat, until the cheese has melted.

Season with pepper & grated nutmeg

If you prefer a thinner, soup add the milk.

Serve, sprinkled with the toasted, chopped walnuts.

Thats the left over cheese & some nuts dealt with.

You will find another vegetarian recipe using cauliflower in a previous blog:  Cauliflower & Canellonni Burgers

Veg, burgers, beans, cheese, healthy eating,
Veggie Burgers

Left overs

If you have left over roast potatoes & bacon wrapped sausages, make yourself a breakfast fritatta.

Slice the left over potatoes & fry over a medium heat until golden, add the bacon & sausages & fry for a few minutes longer.  Turn up the heat.

Preheat the grill on high.

Beat together, 6 large eggs with seasoning & quickly pour over the potatoes, bacon & sausages in the pan. Lifting the edges, to let the egg run under the veg & set.   While the top is still slightly runny. Sprinke with some more of that leftover cheese & place under the grill, until the cheese is melted. Serve with those soft leftover tomatoes.

leftovers, fritatta, roast potatoes, cheese, pigs in blankets
Left overs. Breakfast Frittata

Thats all for today foodies.  Any comments or requests will be answered tomorrow. Enjoy your evening.

A little knowledge

Cookery Tips & recipes

Day 14 of the Christmas Countdown. Do hope you are all enjoying the daily recipes & hopefully trying them out. All have been tried & tested in various households, during my 40 years as a cook.

Today I am going to give you a recipe & a few food tips, which you may find useful. Also a couple of excellent suppliers which I can highly recommend.

The little cheese biscuits in the photo are so easy to make, they really melt in the mouth & are great for those Christmas drinks parties. You can sandwich them with cream cheese, either on its own, or with the addition of chopped herbs, garlic or some chopped ham & mustard. They can also be used as the base for a canape. Pipe pate, creamed cheese etc  on top & decorate with smoked salmon, caviar, chopped sundried tomatoes. The choice is yours.

To make the biscuits, mix together, equal amounts of butter (real, not a spread) grated cheese, & plain flour together. Season & chill in the fridge for 30mins. When ready to use, roll out & bake at 200c 400f Gas 6 for 7-10mins. DO WATCH THEM AS THEY BURN QUITE EASILY.  Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes, before removing to a cooling rack.

The raw dough will keep in the fridge for 1 week. Store cooked biscuits in an air tight container for 1 week.

Whilst on the subject of cheese, you will be needing some Chutneys or pickles to go with it. You can do no better that POT OF WHAT 

Delicious home made tracklements from the Cotswolds

This lovely company, home makes the most delicious, Jams, Marmalades, Chutneys & Pickles, with many of their fruits & veg, being grown by themselves. Their Hot Chilli Jam is to die for. Add a couple of tablespoons to a casserole to give it some extra Omph! or spice up a salad by using it as a base for a chilli dressing. Its usefulness has no limits.

Gin, pink gin, botanic, tipples, party time,

To go with the Canapes (Alcohol) GIN 

Wicked Wolf Gin is a small batch, handcrafted Gin, made in Devon on Exmoor. It’s light pepper notes, layers of citrus with juniper & corriander, make it, to me, a Queen of Gins. Try it with a slice of orange & a sprig of fresh Rosemary.  The perfect libation, at any time of the year.

sharon fruit, recipes, persimmon, healthy eating

Persimmon a delicious, versitile fruit

Also know a Sharon Fruit, these fruits originate from Japan & are pentiful at this time of the year. The fruit is high in antioxidants & is brimful of fibre & nutrients. There is no need to peel, as like all fruit, most of the nutrients lurk, just under the skin, which also provides more fibre. If you like a baked apple, try baking this filled with dried cranberries & pistachio nuts, for a low calorie, winter dessert. Served with yoghurt, of course. It is also delicious gated into a salad with chopped celery & walnuts. Serve with a blue cheese dressing. YUM.

Have a browse of the websites I have given you the links for & give them a try.  

Thats all for today. Be with you all again tomorrow, for day 15 of Christmas Countdown.