Here comes the sun…

Sunshine!

What does this call for? Sunburn? No, not that. Barbeque!

I love my food, as you probably know by now, but the sun just makes things so much more exciting. Eating al fresco even when the sun’s gone over the rooftops is a lovely summer experience here in England. You have to make the most of it when you can.

I make quiches and salsas, my Mam’s famous potato salad with a tiwst, we get the coals going and then we throw on what ever meat we can scrounge up. That’s our flaw, it’s only meat OH deams fit for the BBQ. We need to start on the veg. There always has to be the staple of BBQ ribs, a burger or two, some flavoured sausages and I would very much like to try fish on the coals.

So I’ve found a few recipes here that we’ll try in the coming weeks…

Ribs,

Easy peasy bit of greenery here… Asparagus (heaven)

I make a mean cold salsa and it’s the easiest, tastiest side for chicken or fish. Here’s the recipe. I’ll just let you know, I make a BIG batch.

Garlicky Salsa.

1 packet vine ripe tomatoes (8-10 chicken-egg sized tomatoes on average),

1-2 small red onions,

1 nice big clove of garlic (or 2 if you really want to knock your socks off, remember the flavour will mellow the longer the salsa marinades)

2-3 table spoons of good quality olive oil (or, as it goes on last, enough to make your mix wet and a little sloppy)

1 level teaspoon sea salt,

1 level teaspoon rosemary,

First, very finely dice the red onion. Do the same to the tomatoes. The smaller the pieces are the further the mix goes and if the salsa is chopped smaller it’ll fit better in burgers!

So, with the veg diced add the garlic. I like to slice this into seriously thin slices rather than chopping up into teeny tiny gritty little pieces. I dunno, I genuinely believe it tastes better. I NEVER press/crush garlic. I think to crush garlic this way is extremely disrespectful.

The Sea Salt and Rosemary need to be ground together in a pestle and mortar to combine the flavours and let the salt pick up the residual oils from the rosemary. Sprinkle this onto tomato, onion and garlic mix.

Lastly, pour over your olive oil and mix.

Leave over night or make the day before for best results. The flavours combine into a much more harmonious taste when left to marinate in the fridge.

So, now we need some veg skewers. Simples again. Get any of your favourite what I like to call ‘soft’ veg- Aubergines, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, small onions/shallots, mushrooms, even par-boiled salad potatoes and shove them on a pre-soaked wooden or metal skewer. Brush lightly with oil throughout the BBQ’ing and hey presto, another accompaniment!

I also like to do my Mam’s version of potato salad. You know by now I don’t really do ‘proper’ measurements and we ALWAYS make BIG portions! Here’s her recipe…

Mam’s Potato Salad

1 small bag salad or new potatoes,

3 medium chicken eggs/8 quail eggs or 2 duck eggs (depending on what you have available)

1 medium german or other soft sausage (anything fairly mild or even smoked but it must be soft not dried like salami or churizo)

1 small red onion,

3-4 generous tablespoons of Mayo,

2-3 teaspoons of mustard (either normal English or milder wholegrain)

So, boil the potatoes until they are just going soft. There is a huge cooking time difference between cooked and overcooked and there are many points in between.

In our house ‘Bite’ is an only-just cooked potato (stab with a sharp knife and try to feel how easy the knife goes in, this helps you to know at what point your veg is at) and ‘Soft’ is the point a couple of minutes before the potato falls to bits in the boiling water. For this recipe, we want them Soft.

You can also boil the eggs in the potato pan and pull them out at th soft-boiled stage. Run under cold water or immerse in a bowl of ice cubes to stop the cooking process.

Chop up potatoes and eggs and throw in a bowl together. Slice or cube the soft sausage and throw that in too. I mix everything in the serving bowl so I don’t have a million pots to wash at the end of the night.

Finely dice your red onion and hoy that in the bowl too and then pop your mayo and mustard measurements on top and mix the heck out of it. Don’t worry if your potatoes smoosh a little, they’ll soak up all the flavours better that way.

Eat while the potatoes are still warm (our preferred method) or chill in the fridge.

So, enjoy my recipes and enjoy trying out some I haven’t even tried yet. Most importantly, have fun in the sun and stay safe ๐Ÿ™‚

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Valentines Day Food.

Unfortunately for me, OH is away this year for V-day. Again. In the 5 Valentines Days we’ve been together the poor thing has only actually seen me on one. I know, he’s lost out on so much…

But, despite this, he ALWAYS sends a gift home and a bunch of flowers. I’ve always had that. So really, I get the gifts and don’t have to make conversation all day. There’s always an up side ๐Ÿ˜‰

So this is for those of you who have someone to actually make an effort for this Valentines!

The V-Day meal.

Hmm, depends when you are able to see your loved one through the day but here’s some ideas for Valentines food!

Breakfast.

A full English never goes amiss in this house but you could mix things up a bit by making up a lovely big bowl of porridge (to share of course) with chocolate chips/a drizzle of maple syrup/fresh red berries…

Check out the recipefor more info on this one!

Or how about a breakfast muffin? Blueberry is a great all-rounder, if you don’t want to make your own then go ahead and BUY them! Don’t feel you have to hand over flat, tasteless, berry-ridden failures for V-Day breakfast if baking isn’t your strong suit.

The recipe for these lovely looking creations can be found here.

Enough about breakfast. How about…

Brunch.

I’m not sure where the idea of brunch came from but I LIKE IT! HAve a look at these ideas for a late morning to early afternoon meal.

This is a Baked Italian Frittata which includes a combination of hardwood-smoked bacon, ricotta cheese, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, roasted red bell peppers, caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and spinach. Heaven.

Find thid recipe by Holly Hanks here. To be honest I’m a fan just from the fact it’s savoury. I love savoury…

Another classic idea is Smoked Salmon and cream cheese bagels. You can buy cream cheese with added flavours now- Garlic, Herbs… or mix up your own. Chive or dill work particularly well with good quality Salmon. You could make up tiny blinis with this idea, savoury pancakes, toasts, add grilled or blanched asparagus to warm it up, the choice is yours and this is such an easy combo as long as you stick to the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) idea you just have to make up a delicious looking and easy brunch.

Lunch.

Now I like the idea of romantic red food… Beetroot soup anyone?

The Veg Box Diaries has a wonderful recipe here for a spiced beetroot soup. You must make sure your beets are small and fresh, they’ll be sweeter and less woody meaning a nicer soup at the end. Supermarkets are catching up with new and unusual recipes so you may find a great ready-made alternative in the shops too.

And who doesn’t love Nachos? You can add anything you like to a topping, don’t just stick to the rules! Chopped grilled smoked bacon, roast shallots, feta cheese… Anything really. Although I do love a good jalepeno pepper or two.

And my FAVOURITE Chicken Club Sandwich. Here’s a great marinated version from femail.com.au.

So after all that eating and if you have space for dinner, what should you prepare for a really romantic night in? Firstly, BAN the tv. NO TV for romantic nights. It’s just a zombie-maker…

Dinner.

I think you can go one of two ways here, small foods you can pick and choose and eat at your leisure perched on the coffee table or a full sit-down dinner, three courses and everything.

Personally, I like little dishes, hot and cold, premade and quickly cooked and served. Half the fun in our house is the cooking and preparing, it always takes longer than the eating…

You can’t go wrong with Tapas and sheknows.com has the most fantastic tips and recipes for trying out. The thing with Tapas is to go with your gut, try flavours out that you know have chemistry. I made a tapas dinner for my Parents, Brother and OH with a few measly bits from the fridge- Chicken, Chorizo and Apple fried with a shallot. Simple. Cold cuts of european meat, chunks of delicious cheeses and bowls of hot paprika dusted onion rings, the choice is yours. Add in a Frittata or large chiken, mushroom and chedder Quesadilla and you’re on a roll!

Finish the day’s eating fest with an expensive box of truffles and a large glass of wine and you’re done. You couldn’t not be loved for all of that effort! ๐Ÿ˜‰