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Banana Berry Smoothie

Forgive my ignorance here, but what’s the deal with all these absurdly calorific recipe videos flying around at the moment? They appear to have taken over my newsfeed and it sparks a reaction in me I can’t quite comprehend. I’m not sure if it’s anger or disbelief. With conditions such a diabetes and obesity at an all time high I’m not convinced this is in anyone’s interest. Above all, most of them actually look disgusting. Who wants to eat Pizzagne? That I assume needs no further explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a bit of indulgence here and there, everything in moderation, but come on guys… let’s actually apply some common sense. Surely fueling your body with all that sugar and saturated fat isn’t a good thing. It’s gluttony in its purest form, is it not?

I’ve seen all sorts of ridiculously bazaar recipes floating about on social media being shared to high heaven. Has anyone ever attempted to make any of these gruesome looking dishes I wonder? Okay, I’ve seen some video recipes that look nice and dare I say healthy, but they are few and far between. I’ve seen meatballs stuffed with whole blocks of cheese, covered in sauce with added sugar and topped with more cheese. Fajita pasta, cooked in five cups of milk no less, and, you guessed it, smothered with cheese. To top things off, today I witnessed Pizzagne – made using three whole pizzas, and yes more cheese!

Peanut butter “protein” balls – pah, this one makes me laugh… butter, peanut butter, rice crispies and three cups of icing sugar. Oh and then, just because that’s not quite enough sugar and fat, they were then dipped in chocolate. Is it any wonder people have a problem keeping their weight down these days? What on earth happened to clean eating and treating your body to the raw, natural foods that it so desperately needs?

I’m cross with the idiocy of the creators of these gluttonous recipes… yes there is a time and a place for it, but i fear social media isn’t the place. Let’s get sharing some healthy recipes people!

I’ve been eating clean for the past couple of weeks and I’m feeling great for it. When I say clean, I mean cutting out all processed foods, fats and sugars. I’ve allowed myself some essential fats such as nuts and omega 3 rich salmon, but refined sugar is off the menu. For now at least.

I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast every morning. Now I appreciate that fruit has sugar in it, but it’s no comparison to refined sugars given that it’s packed with vitamins, antioxidants and is generally very high in fiber. I’m even sneaking in chia seeds and spinach for antioxidants, protein and more fiber. Don’t be put off by the spinach or the alarming look of a green smoothie, they can be surprising delicious. One of my Facebook friends commented “spinach and bananas, yuck!” – there was a time when I would have agreed that this sounds odd, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it Helen. ? I’ve found these smoothies very filling, so I’m less inclined to  snack before lunchtime.

I’ve lost 10lbs in 2 weeks and I’m feeling great. There seems to be a whole lot of truth in the fact that if you cut sugar from your diet the less you crave it. I’m actually realising that if I plan correctly, eat less carbs and sugar and have smoothies for breakfast I don’t need that packet of crisps or digestive biscuit at 11am. I can sail straight through to lunchtime without giving sugary snacks a thought. Honest!

I’ve also been drinking lots of water, which has inevitably meant more trips to the loo. But, that’s a small price to pay for the obvious benefits it has. My skin is looking great!

So next time you’re tempted to share that creamy, cheesy, indulgent recipe video. Stop. Hit up your Pinterest app and type in ‘clean eats’, ‘healthy snacks’ or ‘energy rich foods’ – you might surprise yourself at how “Tasty” some of these recipes look.

Here’s one of the delicious smoothies I’ve been having – banana, berries and spinach… yummy!

Berrynana Smoothie (1)

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Puttanesca Mussels Recipe – and why I don’t diet in January

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I sit for what can only be described as a rare moment in time. I am alone in the house. No boyfriend, no baby and no boyfriends children – and I don’t even feel guilty that I am utterly enjoying my own company. Something very strange has happened to me since becoming a mother. My camera roll on my phone is filled with baby pictures, rather than foodie ones. I’ve found it impossible to find time to blog lately – something any new mother will surely understand. But I’ve missed it. Once Jemima is asleep I begin the long task of washing and sterilising her bottles, tidying away her toys and bath things, washing her clothes, making my dinner, clearing and washing up – there is just no time. Giving up my blog isn’t an option. It’s my one hobby that’s wholly mine – something I can get lost in, and really it’s an excuse to eat just about anything that takes my fancy. That’s not something I’m prepared to give up just yet.

Speaking of eating anything you like. I am probably in the minority as I’ve decided that starting a healthy eating regime in January just doesn’t make any logical sense. You’re already feeling blue, given that the glistening lights of the festive season are a distant memory and the bank balance is looking somewhat dire. Not to mention the fact that the cupboards are stacked with indulgent unhealthy leftovers. What’s a girl to do? Struggle through the entire month trying to resist the last few Quality Street or that delicious cheese that calls my name every time I open the fridge? No!

Rich and I decided that we’d eat our way through what’s left of Christmas and start our health kick when I return to work (after five months of maternity leave) on the 1st of February. So, I have about two weeks left to enjoy being that smug person that isn’t having a ‘dry’ January and eating salad every night of the week.

Today I wanted to share with you a recipe that I happened upon because of leftovers. This week I made a huge batch of my favourite pasta dish – spaghetti puttanseca and used the left over sauce with mussels. It was utterly delicious. Puttanseca is a wonderfully pungent tomato based sauce – with ingredients like anchovies, chillies and capers it really packs a punch.

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Puttanesca Mussels
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main, Starter, Snack
Cuisine: Fish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe will serve two as a main meal with bread and butter, or four as a starter.
Ingredients
  • 1kg Mussels
  • 50ml dry white wine
  • 75ml Scrumpy cider
  • 2 shallots, finely shopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp of chilli flakes
  • 1 medium heat red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 5-6 canned anchovies in oil (reserve the oil)
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp of capers, drained
  • 10 black olives, roughly chopped
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Start by cleaning and de-bearding the mussels in cold water. Discard any mussels that don't fully close when tapped. Place the mussels aside in a bowl.
  2. For the puttanseca sauce:
  3. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, fresh and dried chilli and and anchovies (along with the oil from the anchovies). Allow to cook for a couple of minutes until the anchovies have melted away. Add the parsley, capers, olives and chopped tomatoes, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes allowing the flavours to infuse.
  4. Place a separate large saucepan (with a lid) over a medium heat, add a little oil and fry the shallots until translucent. Add the mussels, wine and cider. Spoon in about 150ml of the puttanseca sauce and pop the lid on. Cook until all of the mussels have fully opened.
  5. Serve straight from the steaming pot with a stack of buttered bread and a sprinkling of freshly chopped parsley.

If shellfish isn’t your thing, you could always use up your leftover puttanseca sauce with grilled chicken and salad – that’s also great. And perfect if you’re watching your weight.

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Fish Cakes with Poached Egg & Samphire

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So I’ve been utterly awful this week – I’ve eaten everything I’m not supposed to have, Slimming World has gone out of the window entirely and I’ve missed a session due to working late! When I say this week, my Slimming World week runs from Wednesday – Tuesday so I’m ending the week on an all time low. Damn you temptation!

As the autumn really sets in I just crave carbs and the stodgy foods I’m trying my hardest to avoid (until I’ve lost that 9 pounds at least!). But, having made myself feel like a right little greedy guts I decided that tonight only something healthy would do, but we had about a million left over spuds from our Sunday roast and that’s not exactly healthy! What could I do with them to make a healthy dinner? Mash them up, add some fish and serve them up with a poached egg and some vibrant salty samphire. Even the look of these fish cakes is enough to make you feel better about yourself.

I used kippers and plaice in this recipe (it’s what I found in the reduced section at the supermarket) but other fish works just as well, try smoked haddock or salmon, both will give a completely different flavour of course, it really depends on your taste. The kippers being such a strong flavour can overpower other ingredients so it needs punchy flavour that will stand up to it – such as dill (which happens to be the perfect partner for fish anyway).

If, like me, you are feeling the pinch this week and your body is crying out for something a little lighter and healthier then give this quick recipe a go. These fish cakes freeze really well so you can have some ready for another night when your not feeling much like cooking, but don’t want to opt for something unhealthy.

Serve them with some steamed samphire and a poached egg.

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Fish Cakes with Poached Egg & Samphire
 
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
I used left overs from my Sunday roast to make the fish cakes (so I had potatoes, carrots and cabbage). I then used a blender to wizz everything together and served the fish cakes with samphire and a poached egg. If you can't get hold of samphire then you can serve them with asparagus or green beans. The recipe makes about 6 fish cakes (but they freeze really well)
Ingredients
  • Left over roast or mashed potatoes
  • Left over carrots and cabbage (from your Sunday roast)
  • 3 kipper fillets (or other fish)
  • 1 plaice fillets (or other fish)
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp chopped dill
  • 1 egg
  • Fresh breadcrumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Start my placing the potatoes, carrots and cabbage in to a blender - pulse until broken into small dice, remove the mixture to a bowl.
  2. Now add the fish to the blender with the dill, chilli flakes, egg and seasoning, blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this to the potatoes and mix well to combine.
  3. Spoon out about 4 tablespoons of the mixture into your hand, roll into a ball and press flat, press the fish cake onto the breadcrumbs on both sides.
  4. Pop the fish cakes onto a baking sheet and place into the oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  5. Serve on a bed of steamed samphire and top with a poached egg.

 

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Why I’ve Joined Slimming World

I’ve decided that enough is enough, my poor waistline can no longer cope with all the indulgence I can’t seem to help myself from eating. I’ve always loved food, but since starting this blog that love of food has turned into an obsession, mostly an unhealthy one. It’s true, I love butter… but it’s time I had a break from cakes and creamy pasta dishes. I’ve gained a stone in weight since I moved in with my boyfriend a year ago – that’s contentment for you, but I’m not happy that my jeans are tight and I feel sluggish and lethargic sometimes.
I’d been thinking about joining Slimming World for a while, so I finally got round to making the plunge. I was very nervous walking into that village hall full of slimming ladies, who all seemed to know each other. The ‘newbie’ feeling, we’ve all had it at one point or another, but it doesn’t get any easier does it? That feeling that everyone is staring at you. But, honestly the group is so lovely, the ladies are so welcoming and two weeks in I already feel completely at ease.
I’d built up an idea in my head that slimming or dieting was going to be so difficult, but the SW plan makes it feel fuss free and like you are not depriving yourself of the foods you love, just cutting down and making healthier more informed choices. Never in my life have I felt the need to diet before, but at 10st 1.5lbs and only 5ft 2inches tall it’s quite necessary. My BMI suggests that I’m verging on being overweight, a scary thought! All in all, I have 1st 1.5lbs to loose, which is pretty much 10% of my body weight! 
I made the rather silly decision to start SW the week of my Birthday, so as anticipated I didn’t do so well the first week, I over indulged on fish and chips and far too much alcohol. I went to the group weigh in fearing the worst – but I’d actually lost 1lb. Harrah! Okay, so it’s only 1 measly pound, but a loss is a loss, and I’ll take that! This week I’ve been much better than last so I’m hoping I’ll have lost a bit more.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs, but essentially SW is about food optimising, having lots of healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean meats, potatoes, rice and pasta. Yes pasta! And cutting back on your wheat (bread) and dairy (milk and cheese), then there are your syns, the things like chocolate and wine, which you can have, but in moderation.
Being the avid cook that I am, I’ve purchased a few of the recipe books to ensure I stay on track and find it easy to make the right choices. So far I’ve cooked a whole host of dishes that have been very delicious. Trust me I was surprised, who knew curry without cream and spag bol without parmesan could taste so good. To show you just how delicious the SW meals are I wanted to share some snaps with you. For Slimming World recipes you can visit their website.
The recipe is from the SW A Taste of Asia book and it got huge thumbs up from the boyfriend, who was more than sceptical about a ‘healthy’ version of a special fried rice. “It’s better than take-away” he confessed!

Egg Fried Rice

Chinese Lemon Chicken
 
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Butternut Squash & Feta Quinoa Salad



When I’ve nothing scrumptious left over from dinner the night before, or simply don’t have time to make lunch I pop to the supermarket in search of a ready-made salad or sandwich. Let’s face it, from time to time most of us end up eating packaged flavourless and quite often disappointing lunches we’ve grabbed on the way into the office. However, a few weeks back I was pleasantly surprised by a Tesco packaged salad – it was utterly delicious, but at £3 a pop it’s a little over-priced.
I decided I’d have a go at making it myself – and it was just as good. I didn’t follow the ingredients list exactly; as you well know these supermarkets love an ingredients list that’s as long as your arm. But, I ensured all of the big flavours were captured and it really was great.
The best thing about this salad is that its part of the Tesco Healthy Living range, so we know it’s good for us. I made a big bowl as a side dish for our barbecue and everyone loved it. This salad is so easy to prepare, the only cooking involved is the roasted vegetables. I bought the bulgur wheat and quinoa already cooked, so it’s really just a case of assembling the ingredients. What could be easier than that?
Cooked Bulgur Wheat and Quinoa (I used a mixed bag)
500g butternut squash (about half a large squash), cubed
Pack of feta cheese, cubed
100g cooked soya beans
1 can chickpeas, drained
Half a red pepper, diced
Half a yellow pepper, diced
Two handfuls of raw spinach, finely sliced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
150g low fat natural yoghurt
Bunch of mint, finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Start by placing the peppers and butternut squash onto a baking tray. Drizzle with oil and season. Place in the centre of a pre-heated oven on 180⁰C for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile re-heat the bulgur wheat and quinoa and place in a large bowl. Add the soya beans, chickpeas, spinach, red onion and half of the mint – season well and mix to combine. Once the peppers and squash have cooled add them to the bowl too. Top with the feta and mix carefully to ensure you don’t break the feta up. The salad is now ready to serve.

To make the dressing, mix the yoghurt, lemon zest, juice and remaining mint in a smaller bowl. Serve this on the side. 
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Halloumi Salad

This vibrant salad is bursting with flavours; the peppery salad leaves and red onion are delicious with the cool herby yoghurt and salty halloumi. I’m going to be honest, I quite often find salads the most boring thing to eat, but a well thought out salad with balanced flavours is actually quite a delicious little dinner.
I’m trying my hardest to be good at the moment, and failing quite miserably for the most part. You may or may not have seen my previous post on indulgent chocolate buttons. I’m constantly torn between my love of food and not wanting to be fat, a battle I fear I’ll always face. But, when I am disciplined enough to be healthy, I feel quite chuffed with myself, especially when a healthy dinner turns out to be so tasty. So, if you are like me and practically turn your nose up at the thought of having a salad for dinner, just give this a go, it’s truly delicious.
It’s hard to beat grilled halloumi, but if you’re not a fan feta would work well too; essentially, it’s the salty element of this salad that I love the most. Even my meat eating carnivore of a boyfriend was happy to have a supper without meat, for once! This dish would make a wonderful side for a BBQ too now that we are coming into Spring.
  
* 250g Halloumi
* 100g Watercress, spinach and rocket salad
* 225g vine tomatoes
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
* 50g croutons (either bought or homemade)
* 150g low fat natural yoghurt
* Handful chopped basil
* Handful chopped dill
Preheat the oven to 160⁰C.
Mix the chopped basil and dill into the yoghurt and set aside.
Remove the tomatoes from the vine, cut in half and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes for about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, assemble the salad; place the salad leaves, red onion and croutons in a large salad bowl, top with the roasted tomatoes and yoghurt dressing.

Place a griddle over the heat and add the halloumi and fry for about 4-5 minutes on each side ensure both sides are lightly browned. Pop the halloumi on top of the salad and serve immediately. 
Fish-Stew

Tuscan Inspired Fish Stew with Cheesy Croutons



“That’s the best thing you’ve ever made for me” said the boyfriend to the girlfriend – WOW – what a statement! Obviously I’m more than happy with that. Hopefully you’ll love this recipe as much as Richard did. I must say I rather enjoyed it myself. It’s a tomato based fish stew with delicious cheesy garlic croutons. If you’re watching your weight (it is January after all), then you can have this stew without the croutons, but I’m sure one wouldn’t hurt.
I absolutely love seafood, especially mussels and prawns, but you really could make this with any fish, monkfish would work very well as it’s about as robust as fish comes, making it perfect for stew. This is a Tuscan recipe, inspired by a recipe I found in my Italian Cookery Course book and resembles many fish stews. I decided to make it using a cooked seafood selection, which makes it super quick and fuss free; no shelling and pre-cooking necessary.
There is something quite wonderful about a crispy, cheesy garlic crouton to mop up your deliciously fresh fish stew. I popped in a couple of finely chopped green finger chillies too, which isn’t typically Italian, but it really works. You get a devilishly spicy note which makes this dish perfect for a cold evening. If you don’t like very spicy food then you can omit the chillies, or take the seeds out – but I simply love spicy food.
Cooked seafood selection (mussels, prawns and squid)
3 tbsp olive oil
Red onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200ml white wine (preferably something Italian)
400g chopped tomatoes
750ml fish stock
2 green finger chillies, finely chopped
Parsley to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 garlic clove, chopped in half
A handful of grated cheese (such as parmesan or pecorino)
Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion until softened – around 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and pepper, fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let it reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the fish stock and leave to simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile lightly toast the Ciabatta slices on both sides, and then rub them with the sliced clove of garlic, pressing down firmly on the bread to flavour it with garlic. Top each slice with a little cheese and return to the grill to melt.

Meanwhile add the seafood and parsley leave for a few minutes then serve in warmed bowls with the cheesy garlic croutons. 
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Paprika Chicken – Hairy Biker’s Style

 
 
In keeping with my healthy theme for January, I thought I’d call upon the help of my old friends the Hairy Bikers and one of their recipes that’s become such a go-to in my kitchen. This recipe is great because it’s not only healthy, it’s cheap and super quick to prepare when you find yourself in the midweek rush. Grab yourself some chicken drumsticks and thighs (skin on) from the supermarket, or even a whole chicken that you can joint yourself if you are okay with that, this is usually an even cheaper way of cooking a recipe like this and is perfect for a family meal. I often buy a whole chicken and have Richard joint it when we have his children at weekends as we love making a delicious chicken tikka masala, it works out great value for money. The kids can’t get enough; I think it’s the sweet red onions and the fact that I purée the sauce until it’s smooth and thick.
Whatever I’m cooking I like to have leftovers for my lunches at work, so I often make more than I need, and this recipe is perfect for that, it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. The recipe suggests using a blend of sweet and hot paprika, but if you’ve only one kind, such as smoked that’s fine, you will still get that rich red, beautiful paprika hit that that is oh so good with the sweet vibrant red peppers. The bright sunny colours in this dish remind me of the Mediterranean, perfect for warming your heart and belly on a winter’s night. And, you’ll certainly not feel as if you’re having a healthy meal when cooking up this gorgeous stew, the sweetness and spice work wonderfully together and you can still have a small fluffy mound of mashed potato to mop up the rich tomato paprika sauce; just go easy on the butter!

Click here for the Hairy Bikers Paprika Chicken Recipe!


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Smoked Haddock Fishcake with Soft Poached Egg & Green Beans

With the festive season well and truly upon us, I am growing increasingly excited about my Christmas dinner and all the other delicious food I’ll undoubtedly consume over the next week or so. Indeed, there could be no better time for a foodie than Christmas and I can’t wait to get stuck into my festive menu. This year I’ll be making curried parsnip soup, turkey with all the trimmings and a panettone bread and butter pudding. That said, the week leading up to the big day has inspired me to try and be a little healthier, so I opted for a homemade fishcake, with my favourite yellow fish, dyed smoked haddock. If you are not ordinarily a fan of fish, I urge you to try it smoked; it boasts a whole different flavour.   

This recipe is certainly a gathering of some of my favourite ingredients, and there is nothing better than the wonderful liquid gold of a softly poached egg spilling out onto your crispy delicious fishcake with a generous pile of steamed green beans. This dish can be prepared ahead (the day before) and is certainly an attractive one, which I think makes it perfect for a dinner party.

Serves 4

8 large potatoes, such as desiree
2 dyed, smoked haddock fillets
400ml milk
3 tbsp freshly chopped chives
1 finely chopped green chilli
Pinch of nutmeg
200g fine green beans, trimmed
6 eggs
2 slices of slightly stale bread
1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the over to 180⁰C

Break two eggs into a flat dish and whisk. Place the bread in a blender and blend until you have crumbs, place the breadcrumbs into another flat dish and set the two dishes aside.

Boil and mash the potatoes, adding a splash of milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside while you poach the fish.

Pour the milk into a large pan; add the fish, nutmeg and half of the chives, season well. Allow the fish to poach gently in the milk for about 5-6 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and flake onto the mashed potatoes with the chilli and zest from the lemon, mix well to combine. At this point add two tablespoons of the hot milk from the pan and the rest of the chives.

Allow the mashed potato mix to cool enough to handle then shape into fishcakes, dip each fishcake into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs. Once you have completed all of the fishcakes heat a little oil in a frying pan and brown them on each side. Transfer the fishcakes to the oven and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the green beans and poach the eggs.

Serve each fishcake topped with a poached egg and sprinkled with chives. Add the green beans and a wedge of lemon for squeezing. 

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An Italian Dinner Party

I’m certain that a few people will loathe me for saying this, but it’s too bloody hot to eat at the minute. Maybe it’s the muggy weather, but food seems to be the last thing on my mind. There I said it. Truth be told, it’s been an awful week anyway, which may be another reason I’ve taken a side step from the kitchen. My good friend Richard decided to fall out of a window and break his back and his ankles. Ouch! So, with working and doing my Florence Nightingale bit I’ve not even had time to think about pulling out pots and pans, nor, quite frankly, could I be bothered to.
Anyway, enough about me and what I’ve been up to, I wanted to share this recipe/ menu plan with you in light of how busy I’ve been this week. This really is the simplest menu to put on for your friends. Everything can be served cold, which is perfect in this weather, and it also means you can prepare everything ahead of time – no last minute rushing around and working up a sweat which, lets face it, isn’t difficult in this weather.
You’ll notice the Italian theme with the menu, yes; I’m still stuck on Italian food. It’s so simple and tasty, what’s not to love? I decided to take the Jamie Oliver approach with this menu, by which I mean sticking everything on a big platter and letting people help themselves, it’s easier and a huge platter of steak looks great in the centre of the table, doesn’t it?

Italian Canapés

For the arrival of my friends I made some canapés. Perhaps the easiest thing to prepare, but they look really impressive and colourful, people comment on the effort you’ve made, when it actually takes you no longer than 2 minutes, great! Make the canapés by poking a little ball of mozzarella, a sun-dried tomato, a piece of Italian cured meat and a little basil leaf onto a cocktail stick. I’d make about a dozen for four people. Serve with some Italian olives.



Bruschetta Starter

You can’t get more Italian that bruschetta, it’s a simple, colourful and wonderfully rustic starter to serve for a crowd. And, you can be as creative as you like when it comes to the toppings. I’d recently seen a recipe for goat’s cheese and dill bruschetta in Olive magazine, so I knew that was a must, but with one of my friends being pregnant, I wasn’t entirely sure which cheeses were safe, so I thought I’d make few other variations.
Slice and toast the ciabatta bread, remove from the oven and rub with a raw garlic clove, drizzle with olive oil and top with any of the following combinations:
  • Chopped cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
  • Soft goat’s cheese, dill and semi-dried tomatoes
  • Mozzarella, salami and semi-dried tomatoes
  • Mozzarella and salsa verde

The variations of toppings are endless. Experiment and create different types to suit your guests. I had a pregnant friend, a friend who doesn’t eat goat’s cheese and a friend who’ll eat anything (you know who you are!). Serve your bruschetta as is, or with a bowl of king prawns and a quick homemade lemon, mustard and mayo dip.


Homemade Italian Salsa Verde (for the main)

2 garlic cloves
80g fresh basil, roughly chopped
80g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
60g fresh mint, roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp capers
1 tbsp good Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blend the garlic and herbs in a blender until very finely chopped (you may prefer to do this by hand). Add the other ingredients and blend to combine, pouring in the oil slowly whilst still blending. You should be left with a thick pesto like consistency; it may be a little thinner, which is fine.
The salsa verde will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days

Steak Salad with Salsa Verde and New Potatoes – Main Course

Take a large serving platter and scatter with rocket, watercress and baby spinach.

Using rump or sirloin, season and fry the steak for as long as necessary. I like mine rare so a couple of minutes each side is enough. Rest for 10 minutes and slice thinly. Arrange the stake on the bed of salad and drizzle with a little olive oil, parmesan shavings and toasted diced ciabatta bread. Serve with homemade salsa verde and buttered new potatoes.