Quicker Than Toast Courgette Salad

Courgette Salad

This really is the quickest thing you will every make. And it is so moorish you’ll just keep making it.

Freya said she was hungry and wanted to eat quickly – this was quick. Quicker than Toast quick.

Heat a pan. Get it hot – add a handful of pumpkin seeds until they pop. While that is happening grate a courgette. Tip the hot pumpkin seeds over the courgette and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Done.

It’s so easy – and it’s so good. I just wish I’d thought of it! You could eat this on its own – or it would make an awesome side for a BBQ or picnic. All I would say is make it as you need it. I can’t imagine a grated courgette maintaining its integrity for long after you’ve covered it with hot seeds. Not that I found that out – it was gone in less time than it took to make it!

It would probably also be awesome with tamari pumpkin seeds – but this will take longer (than toasting bread!). But not much I don’t imagine.

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad - Tray View

Every other Thursday we have ‘Quick Drinks’ after work. It generally ends up being long drinks and we don’t get home until very late – and usually eat some sub-standard pub food.

This week however Freya wasn’t feeling great so we only had the one drink – albeit a jug of Pimms!

I scanned the Hemsley and Hemsley book for something quick and came up with this (and another recipe which I’ll blog separately). I darted over to the supermarket – bought the ingredients and had it made in 20 mins (maybe even less).

This – like every recipe I’ve made so far from the book – is very quick and very easy. It’s even quicker if your Kale is already prepared like mine was.

Make a dressing of lemon zest and juice, finely grated parmesan, olive oil, an egg yolk, garlic, Dijon mustard and anchovies. Just chuck all the ingredients in a blender until it emulsifies. You’re supposed to add the oil last (bit by bit) but I forgot and just blitzed it in one. It didn’t seem to matter.

Kale Caesar Salad in a Bowl

Obviously if you’re a vegetarian you should leave out the anchovies – and maybe just season with some more salt – or maybe even capers.

Pour your dressing over the kale and squidge it about a bit with your hands. The recipe suggests that you let the dressing break down the kale (and it really does) by leaving it for an hour but we were in a rush so the squidging just sped up the process a bit.

Then dice some multiseed bread and toast in some Ghee. When that’s done, put the kale mix, the bread, and then some parmesan shavings on top and serve. Super easy!

This really is yummy – and is really quick. I really enjoyed it. It smells amazing too with all that parmesan!

This may have been quick – but the next dish was done in less time than it takes to make toast!

Pea, Peach and Goats Cheese Salad

Peach, Courgette and Goats Cheese Salad

After remembering to take my cookbook home with me yesterday, I chose to make this very simple but incredibly tasty salad from Hemsley & Hemsley’s cookbook ‘The Art of Eating Well’. Not sure why the courgettes don’t get a mention in the recipe title – there are more of them than any other ingredient.

We took our daily walk to the supermarket, bought all the ingredients (of which there are very few) and I knocked this up in maybe 15 minutes.

Good quality ingredients are essential in dishes like this and – although the peaches weren’t as amazing as the ones we bought at Borough Market at the weekend – a slightly more juicy and sweet peach would have really lifted this dish. I guess the trick would be to go to a greengrocer and try them until you find the ones you want. I doubt the grocer would approve however!

The only cooking in this is to lightly caramelise some courgettes with a little ghee. The rest is all raw and simple construction.

While your courgettes are caramelising tear some lettuce into a bowl, add podded peas, cut peaches, sliced red onion and some soft goats cheese. Add the courgettes when they are done. Finally dress with some olive oil and balsamic – and season.

Very simple dish. And very adaptable. You could add shaved parmesan instead of goats cheese, add different fruits – the skies the limit.

Peach, Courgette and Goats Cheese Salad

I must admit I didn’t think I’d be fulfilled when it was ready. But two bowls of salad later and I was certainly satisfied. Another very quick and easy dish that you can add to your repertoire.

Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

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First rule of cooking things from a recipe book is to remember not to leave the cookery book on your desk at work! Oh well. Hemsley Hemsley will have to wait until tomorrow.

Another impromptu dish then is this Chickpea and Sweet Potato stew which I’ve grabbed from the ladies at Honestly Healthy. This is from their first book and I chose it because I already had all the ingredients in the cupboard (apart from the aubergine which I popped out and bought).

This is a pretty basic stew. And it kind of looks after itself once you’ve done all the prep.

Quite simply this is sliced red onion and garlic softened, with some diced sweet potato, quartered vine tomatoes and a little water which you cook for a while until it starts to break down and the sauce starts to thicken. Oh – during this stage you also add some cumin, cayenne, a red chilli and some bay leaves.

You then add a couple of tins of chick peas, some diced aubergine, some more water and let it cook for around 30 minutes.

At the recipe’s suggestion – and because I quite fancied having enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, I cooked some brown rice to accompany the stew.

Once your stew is ready, stir in some chopped coriander and serve with the rice.

We quite liked this although it did feel like it was missing something. That something was something unhealthy (obviously) because when you look at the ingredients this couldn’t be any lower in fat. I tasted like a low fat meal.

Also, don’t eat low fat food when you are watching 22 contestants making desserts on Australian Masterchef. You’re just going to feel like you’re missing out on something!.

Papaya, Halloumi and Watercress Salad

Papaya, Halloumi and Watercress Salad

One of the many lifestyle changes we’ve adopted since moving to the boat is not doing our online shopping with Ocado. Now there’s nothing wrong with online shopping at all – in fact I am a very strong advocate of shopping with Ocado – you can’t beat the quality or the service they offer. That said – boats are smaller than houses and you don’t tend to see many boats with fridge freezers, or a larder. Baisically there’s nowhere to put a week’s worth of shopping!.

Our new approach is to decide daily what we are going to eat, and then go to the local shops and buy our ingredients. We have a fridge – and we can store maybe 2 days worth of fresh ingredients – but there’s no freezer. And it’s been very hot so you can’t just leave stuff out to rot.

In Brentford (where our boat is) there are many local shops – we like Al Shaam – they are a Cypriot shop (I think) and have so many different types of Halloumi, Goats Cheese, fresh Papaya, fresh everything. We really like the guys that run it and they are super helpful – and always have big bunches of the fresh herbs we want. They don’t have everything – so occasionally we have to venture elsewhere – but not very often.

Anyway enough of my life! – this recipe is incredibly easy. Apart from frying off the halloumi it’s all just preparation. I found it made every such a lot but maybe everything just looks so much bigger on a boat!

The recipe is the first one I’ve taken from The Art of Eating Well by Hemsley Hemsley. I chose it because it was very quick to prepare and I knew the shop up the road had all the ingredients. If this is anything to go by I’ll be making a lot more dishes from this book.

All you do with this is wash some watercress and lay it on a big plate or bowl, top it with halved cherry tomatoes and sliced red onion, sliced avocado and slivers of papaya.
Then you toast some pine nuts (I also added some pumpkin seeds) and then fry the halloumi until it is golden.

Add both the halloumi and the pine nuts to the salad, and dress with a some olive oil, runny hunny and apple cider vinegar.

This is really easy. I think I made it in 20 minutes tops. It’s incredibly tasty and because there is so much you can go back for seconds (and thirds in my case).

One thing this dish does highlight is the need for really good ingredients. If I’m honest my avocados were a little bland and the watercress wasn’t the best I’d seen – that said it was still very good indeed.

The Art of Eating Well – Hemsley Hemsley

The Art of Eating Well - Hemsley Hemsley

Wow I haven’t cooked properly for a long time – and I certainly haven’t blogged for even longer.

It’s been way to hot to eat of late – and we’ve been snacking on very little more than wraps containing salad and either grilled halloumi, feta or paneer.

It’s also been really tricky to cook on the boat as the kitchen area hasn’t really been functional. But now it is so it’s full steam ahead (well no steam – it’s too hot!)

I stumbled upon this book by accident – one of my team also has the surname Hemsley and by chance I pasted his name into Amazon by accident and up came this book. It reminded me of the Honestly Healthy books (which I’ve reviewed here before) so I bought it on impulse. After all most of my cooks are now in store – so I need something to cook from! (that’s my excuse anyway).

This book follows a similar ethic to Honestly Healthy – cut down on gluten, reduce acid forming foods etc – but it uses a lot less of those specialised ingredients that almost all the Honestly Healthy recipes demand. Also there are some meat dishes in this book – which are absent from HH.

I’ve not scoured the book from front to back yet but three dishes that already have caught my eye are:

  • Papaya, Halloumi and Watercress Salad
  • Summer Lime Coleslaw
  • Pea, Peach and Goats Cheese Salad

All look very simple to make and I know I can get the ingredients now as they are all in season.

So watch this space for the recipes I make from this book – it looks like it’s going to be a good one!

The Incredible Spice Men

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Where have you been I hear you ask! Sorry I’ve been gone some time – but unlike Captain Oates I have returned.

Moving onto a boat, moving house, and just trying to settle back to some semblance of normality takes time! It feels like I haven’t cooked properly for 2 weeks. Surviving purely on take out and nibbles couldn’t last forever – and now I have a kitchen – a kitchen on a boat – and can get back into the swing of cooking every day.

I’ve decided to make dishes from Cyrus Todiwala and Tony Singh’s The Incredible Spice Men. I first saw Tony Singh on the Great British Menu and I found him very entertaining. Very enthusiastic, very passionate, very funny – I must go to his restaurant one day!

We watched the TV show that supported the book – and found the guys pretty entertaining and I figured some moderately spicy food might be nice for a change. It has to be moderately spicy as Freya really can’t do spicy. It has to be mild all the way! The chutney for the Chilli Cheese Toast for example contains 10 dried red hot chillis! I had to eat all of that!

We place an Ocado order and had it delivered to the Marina where our boat is moored – and it arrived – on time – no issues. The driver even offered to help us take it to the boat. We spared him the pain of climbing down a 3 metre ladder!

Lots of the recipes in this book are pretty simple – and are just subtle revisions of traditional British food. Two of the dishes I’ve chosen are essentially Baked Beans with stuff added.

My boat kitchen – with proper galley layout – and an iMac on the side to show me my recipes is pretty makeshift for now. We have no running water – the oven is balanced on top of an untiled work surface – and everything else is all over the place – definitely not in the right place. So I’m not making anything complicated for now!

Recipes this week include:

  • Chilli Cheese Toast with Spicy Chutney (almost Welsh Rarebit)
  • Duck Egg with Cumin and Asparagus
  • Todiwala and Singh’s Banging British Breakfast
  • Kati Kebab and Parsley Pesto
  • Korma Pudding
  • Green Mango and Chilli Salad
  • Mushy Peas and Tamarind
  • Spiced Red Cabbage
  • Peanut and Mint Slaw
  • Coriander Coalishslaw
  • Ferdinando’s Roasted Potatoes

To name but a few!

I’ve already made half of these so I’ll get back into the blogging cycle once I find a good place for Internet reception! You don’t get all the usual toys with a boat. I’ve even had to downsize to a 32 inch TV! There’s a very good pub up the road called ‘The Magpie and Crown’. It has Delirium Red on tap – one of my favourites even if it is about £6 a pint! They also have Fruli on tap – which Freya loves!

This is a good book – not a great book. The recipes are very simple – I reckon anyone could make any of them. It’s certainly a good book to get me back into cooking in a makeshift kitchen with no running water!

The next book will be more exciting – promise!