Smokin’ Super-bean, Egg and Tuna Salad

Saturday 13th was the eighth leg of our Year and Day Monopoly Board Pub Crawl challenge.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, before you get married there is a tradition of a Stag and a Hen event; where the men all go and do something for their last day of freedom and the women all do the same. Over the years these two events have tended to get merged into one and everyone just goes out together prior to the wedding and has a good old party – usually very much geared towards the consumption of large amounts of alcohol.

If you live in London, are very much inclined to more than just few drinks in the evening, and love a challenge, then Monopoly Board Pub Crawl is the thing to try. Many try. Many fail.

We decided to put our own spin on this event by having a drink (often more) in every pub in every street on the Monopoly Board – instead of the traditional one drink in one pub on each street. We also decided to do one colour of the board per weekend and spread these out over the year – instead of the traditional all 26 streets in one day rule.

Anyway, yesterday we were round to the Yellow part of the board and we had a great time. We also had a fly over from the Red Arrows – although they were perhaps celebrating Trooping the Colour rather than our wedding jolly!

With Browns, Light Blues, Light Purples, Oranges, Reds, Two Stations and now the Yellows complete all that is left is the Greens, the Dark Purples and Two stations and we’ve completed the whole thing!

When we are done we plan to choose our favourite pub from each street and attempt the event in the traditional style – 26 pubs in 12 hours.

Anyway, nothing to do with food !

We had this salad on Friday and it is packed with fibre and protein. There’s nothing to it really. It’s just very tasty and far better and cheaper than anything you’ll get from the pick and mix salad bar in a supermarket.

Simple mix tinned, flageolet, kidney and black eyed beans in a bowl with tinned tuna, tinned sweetcorn, a red onion, a tomato, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, basil, garlic, a green chilli, smoked paprika, and sugar in a bowl and leave for a while to let the flavours develop.

Serve with some sliced spring onions scattered on top and a quartered hard boiled egg on the side.

Personally I think the egg is unnecessary in this dish. You could easily leave it out. It was very filling as it was.

This was really simple and really yummy. And ready in no time at all. All you need is a knife and a tin opener. I didn’t even need that as all my tins were ring pulls!

Very Low Calorie Chicken Caesar 

Last night was dancing night. Rock n Roll at Hedsor Social Club with a live band – Greggie G and his Crazy Gang. It was great to catch up with all our friends that we usually see on a Tuesday when we have a dance lesson with Jumping Jim and V.

If you fancy giving it a go, come along. It’s great.

Before we went out I just had time to knock up two very easy and very tasty salads – this was one.

Most Caesar’s are pretty high in calories and fat but this one from The Superfood Diet was very healthy indeed.

It only has one cooked element; the chicken breast. I just roasted it in the oven for 29 minutes and let it cool down before slicing it

While you’re waiting for the chicken you make a dressing of Greek yoghurt, a small amount of full fat mayonnaise, honey, curry powder, coriander, mint and dill.

All those fresh herbs and a but of curry powder really wake up low fat dishes – which can otherwise really taste dull.

When the chicken is done simply combine some mixed leaves, the chicken, some pitted green olives and half a bell pepper with the dressing and mix well. Finally serve with pistachios.

This comes out at about 150 calories a serving compared to a regular Caesar which tends to push 900 calories. Granted there was no bacon but I didn’t think the dish needed it. And pistachios are far cooler than croutons any day!

This salad was amazing. It was too big in fact. Really tasty and bags of flavour. I loved it.

It’s always nice to be complimented on your weight loss too. Our friends at Hedsor all said we’d lost tonnes of weight. So good like this really works!

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

Every other weekend we don’t really get to eat very well. My daughter comes to stay on Friday thru’ Saturday and then on the Sunday we go to Freya’s parents. Killing two birds with one stone as it were!

My daughter lives a fair old way away and by the time I’ve picked her up and brought her back to the boat it is usually way too late to eat. So we tend to have a big lunch on the Friday and power through to Saturday morning – or we grab something on the way to picking her up.

After spending the day in the British Museum on Saturday and safely dispatching my daughter back to her mother, I got home and threw this together. Very little effort – just time  roasting the vegetables. But it is very tasty.

The plan was for Freya to cook while I took Olivia home but there was a mix up with the boat keys so Freya ended up sat in a pub knitting for two hours while I was gone. On the plus side I now know that the Magpie and Crown has two new Craft Ales on tap – and both were excellent!

This recipe is also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. I’d highlighted it as one of the dishes I was going to make when I skimmed the book and it was well worth it. I love asparagus and it goes very well with eggs too.

It’s not much of a recipe more than bake stuff in the oven. You bake the potatoes, then add the asparagus, then right at the end make four wells and crack an egg into each well. Bake until the eggs are done and serve. Very simple indeed.

On Sunday I remade the Shallot and Mushroom risotto and the Brussels Sprouts, Puy Lentils and Walnuts for the six of us. It seemed to go down well although it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. The only thing I changed was the stock and the quantities – their oven was just more feisty than mine and the onions were overdone in my opinion!

Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf

Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf

Artichokes twice in a week. And why not!

This is another great recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More.

Now I’ve made everything I set out to make from the first 100 pages of the book. Today I looked at the next 75 pages and have already earmarked another 15 dishes. This is one seriously good book.

Since buying this book I’ve bought many more but it doesn’t look like I’ll be getting to them anytime soon as this book is so so good. Even pouring loads of vinagrette over the book by accident hasn’t reduced by excitement. If only I had PDF’d it sooner – then it would have just been an iPad that needed to be wiped clean!

Ottolenghi says in his book that this isn’t as exciting in appearance as most of his dishes. I disagree. It looks great. More importantly it tastes fantastic and is pretty easy to make providing you have all the ingredients.

Fregola isn’t something you just find on the shelves of every supermarket. I ended up ordering mine from Amazon as Ocado were out of stock.

Fregola is essentially Giant Couscous. It comes in many guises:

– Iranian Couscous
– Moghrabieh
– Giant Couscous

They are all essentially the same although moghrabieh is quite a bit larger than fregola and does take more time to cook.

Anyway, back to the recipe.

This dish is made all the better with the garnish of a green chilli pesto which you drizzle over the top when you’re ready to eat.

The pesto is simply some green chilli, olive oil, preserved lemon, parsley and garlic all blitzed together until almost smooth. My trusty Nutribullet came into action again and did a great job.

The Pilaf is very easy to make too – and doesn’t take that long.

Caramelise some onions and then add some butter, the fregola, artichokes and stock and cook until the fregola has absorbed all the liquid.

Stir in some torn Kalamata olives, toasted flaked almonds, red wine vinegar and chopped parsley and you’re done.

I can’t praise this dish enough. I could eat this everyday. It is very tasty and really hits the spot – and is very filling.

It keeps well too – in fact it tasted better the next day when we reheated it for lunch at work. I guess all those flavours just infused even more into the fregola!

Denis Cotter – For the Love of Food

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I wasn’t really successful getting through all the recipes of ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ – mainly due to some very long days at the boat, and lots of packing distractions for Freya’s parents. I was also a bit of a muppet and got excessively enthusiastic about packing – and packed all the food in the larder into a box and took it to the boat – rendering a lot of the recipes impossible to make!

That said, I’ve made most of the stuff I said I would – I just haven’t blogged it yet! I will – soon – promise!

So this weeks book I’ve decided not to find myself 10 recipes but limit myself to say six! If I get them all done I’ll pick some more.

The book is Denis Cotter’s ‘For the Love of Food’. This is a totally vegetarian cookbook. The Guardian say he’s ‘the best vegetarian chef in the British Isles’. Fair praise!

I love this book. I’ve cooked from it before and lots of the recipes are nice and simple. Many of them are very similar – especially the salads – but the slight differences between them make them very unique.

There are some challenging recipes in this book – I just haven’t chosen any of them for the coming week. I’ve got way too much stuff to do. And it’s Fathers Day on Sunday – where I’ll be out most of the day at Paradise Park in Hertfordshire with my six year old daughter.

For the coming week I am making:

  • spiced sweet potato pancakes
  • spiced halloumi on a warm puy lentil, spinach and beetroot salad
  • couscous salad with fresh apricots, broccoli, feta and a minted tomato dressing
  • sugar snaps with garlic, cherry tomatoes, shallots and basil
  • salad of roasted courgette, green beans and puy lentils with coriander mint and yoghurt dressing
  • salad of leeks, hazelnuts, fennel and watercress with a blackcurrant balsamic dressing
  • celeriac soup with walnut and green pepper salsa and goats cheese cream

Don’t they all just roll off the tongue. Denis doesn’t come up with pretty names for his dishes – he just tells you what’s in the dish!

This was one of the books that really inspired me to get into cooking again. Check it out – I think you’ll find the same.

 

Freekeh Pilaf – and the meaning of a Dutch Oven

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I shortlisted this recipe as I finally found a Freekeh supplier. I think I had watched Yotam Ottolenghi on TV during the Jerusalem series – can’t be sure – and finally found it on souschef.co.uk. I’ve been meaning to make something with it ever since.

Freekeh is made from green wheat that goes through a roasting process in its production. It’s used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. Freekeh has four times as much fibre as most other grains – which might explain something that happened the day after ! I put it down to the garlic soup – but now ‘my dear Watson – I deduce that it was the Freekeh’.

Changing the subject slightly (well not at all slightly), while we were working on the boat last weekend there was a repeat broadcast of the Radio 4 show ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. During the episode one of the contestants burst into laughter when Miles Jupp mentioned that the Dutch Oven is the State Cooking pot in Utah.

We both looked at each other and wondered why this was funny. Turns out ‘A Dutch Oven’ is urban slang for ‘breaking wind and then holding your spouse’s head under a duvet for her enjoyment’. After the Freekeh it was tempting!

When I read through the recipe I thought this would be a #FAIL. It is very basic. Caramelise some onions, add the freekeh, add stock and serve.  Sounds dull, but the addition of lots of herbs (mint and coriander) at the end, and the use of a very good stock made this an incredibly tasty meal. It’s got a very earth, molasses’y flavour.

The pine nuts on top, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt also complimented the dish.

You should really give Freekeh a try – if you can find it!