King prawn, chick pea and tomato salad

 

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This salad is a pretty decent all rounder in my opinion. It has a wonderful combination of flavours and textures, is high in protein and is really filling. Plus the chick peas and bulgar wheat are both cheap ingredients that bulk the salad up meaning that is can be shared among a larger crowd. Perfect for lazy Saturday lunches or a weeknight dinner with your friends.

To make this salad you will need:

About 10 large uncooked  king prawns (or 1 pack of fresh or 1/2 pack frozen)

200g bulgar wheat

Chicken stock

2 large handfuls cherry tomatoes

1 can chick peas (drained)

Sea salt

Lemon juice

Olive oil

Garlic

1 large handful fresh coriander (cilantro)

1 red chilli

 

Cook the bulgar wheat following the instructions on the pack (but using your chicken stock). Butterfly your prawns for even cooking. Slice your chilli and peel and rush your garlic and fry or grill alongside the prawns. Slice your tomatoes or if they are smaller halve them. Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl with your drained can of chick peas. Add your salt, olive oil and lemon juice to taste. Chop our fresh coriander and use this to top your salad.

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I took a leftover portion of this to work for m lunch and Miss S looked at it with much interest as she loves seafood in general.

Craft corner – customising your own trainers part 1

I thought I would start a little section on here where I share crafts (usually simple ones) that I have attempted at home. Basically I love clothes and making things but I am all for a bargain so I thought I would stretch my creating muscles in a new direction. Or you can all laugh at how bad the things I make are and you can imagine me shuffling around town in things I have made.

Anyway, I decided to start simple with some wonderful customised white pumps. Partly because my current favourites are dropping to bits, mostly because I keep buying the crazy patterned ones and decided to see if I could make some.

To customise your own customised shoes you will need:

Light coloured canvas shoes – the sort you would get in Primark and H&M

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Fabric pens (or permanent markers; I have stained enough lab coats in my time with these to know they are very water and soap resistant)

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Basically start decorating these in whatever way you fancy. Initially devoid of any creative impulses I wrote my name on these….

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Then I quickly got into it.

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Even though I am not the most artistic girl on the planet these turned out pretty well.

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Keep a lookout for the pair I will soon be making for my boyfriend which he wants decorating with his favourite song lyrics (well he does write about music!)

 

Challah loaf

When I was a child, like a lot of children born in the 70s and 80s, I was a big fan of books by Judy Blume. I recall reading her semi-autobiography “Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself” with vivid interest. The book document the life of a Jewish family in Post War America and as such they mention various foods that as a 10 year old I had seldom heard of. For instance upon reading the quote:

Have some challah, fresh from the oven

I recall asking one of my parents what on earth challah was. Anyway myself, Miss M and Miss B made challah load as part of our baking club some months ago. However, being short of time meant that it didn’t really have time to rise or prove properly resulting in quite a close texture in the loaf. I made this again on one of my days off from work a few weeks ago and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a loaf of bread so fast. Half a loaf was gone in 2 days! This bread is delicious with just butter (simple pleasures!) but it also works well with a variety of sweet and savoury toppings. My particular favourites during what is fondly remembered as “bread gorging week” were good quality raspberry jam and (very much not kosher) ham.

To make your own challah you will need:

500g strong white bread flour

1 sachet instant yeast (or 1 teaspoon if you’re using a container of the stuff)

25g caster sugar

10g salt

30g butter warmed to room temperature

3 medium eggs (2 to make the dough, one as glaze)

50ml whole milk (I actually used Hazelnut milk though and it was fine)

180ml cool water (approx, you may need more or less depending on your flour)

 

In a large mixing bowl add your flour with your salt and sugar at one end and your yeast at the other. Cut your butter into small cubes and add to the mixing bowl along with your milk and two of your eggs. Turn this around with your fingers – or use your food processor with the dough hook attachment. Gradually add your water until the mixture comes away from the bowl and you have a rough dough which is nice and soft.

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Knead for about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until your dough is smooth and elastic.

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Allow to rise for 2-3 hours until the dough has more or less doubled in size.

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Knock your dough back and divide into three equal pieces (don’t spend ages getting them exactly the same, life is far too short). Roll into long thin sausages of equal length (at least 20cm). Join together the 3 dough sausages at one end and plait like you would plait somebody’s hair. Men, do not be afraid of plaiting! My own father plaited my hair when I was a child! At least your plaiting will result in tasty bread and not me telling you your sandwiches aren’t as nice as when my mum makes them.

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Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper or silicone sheets. Beat your third egg and brush onto your dough as a glaze. Leave your bread to prove for another hour.

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Preheat your oven to 200°C during the whole proving process.  Bake your loaf for 20-25 minutes until it sounds hollow when you tap it.

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Try not to eat too much bread at once or you will end up with a bread gut like I did! (Mind you a few spinning classes and I was more or less back to normal).

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This bread is a particular crowd pleaser so please share this gem with your friends.

Date and apple flapjacks

Flapjacks are one of the easiest and most versatile things you can bake. They are also delicious, the addition of the dates and apples was almost a stroke of genius on my part (check out my modesty). While I wouldn’t exactly say adding a bit of fruit to the mix makes this a healthy recipe, you could argue that it makes it healthier which is definitely a good thing. These have the added advantage of being really filling and giving you a nice hit of sugar so they keep you going for ages. A perfect snack an hour before you go out for a run or do some other form of exercise.

Also, the pack of dates were labelled “Date Me” which is a pun I could not resist.

To make these you will need:

250g Porridge Oats

125g Butter

125g Soft Brown Sugar

3 tbsps Golden Syrup

1 large apple

1 of those packs of dates you get from fruit shops in polystyrene tubs with a stick in it, or 1/3 bag of the ones you get in a packet it the dried fruit section of the supermarket

1 cup tea (I used Earl Grey)

 

Stone your dates and cut into small pieces. Put these into a bowl with the tea to soak for a few minutes. Grate the apple and add it to the mix and put to one side. At this point grease your baking tray and preheat your oven to 180°C.

In a larger bowl mix together your oats and sugar. Drain the apple and dates of tea and add to your dry ingredients.

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Melt your butter and golden syrup by heating gently in a small saucepan. Add this to the rest of the ingredients and make sure everything is well mixed.

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Put this into your greased baking tray in an even layer and make sure the mixture reaches the edges of the tray.Bake until golden brown (about 20 minutes).

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Cut into approximately 16 squares. Share amongst the people that you live with who have congregated in the kitchen attracted by the sweet sweet smell of your flapjacks. So easy you could probably train a monkey to do it (he might start eating any bananas you happen to have in your fruit bowl though!)

Fig and goats cheese salad with honey and mustard dressing

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As you know I do blog a lot of naughty treats on here but in actual fact I eat salad or soup for my lunch every day. I find it fills me up better than most things and the health benefits in getting all different fruits and vegetables are enormous. Your skin and digestive system will especially thank you for all the vitamins, minerals and fibre.

In addition, about this time last year I blogged a fig and parma ham salad that was very well received so I thought it was high time a fig recipe reappeared on here.

To make this you will need:

4 figs cut into quarters or sixths depending on size

2 spring onions, sliced

2 big handfuls curly or living lettuce

1/2 pack soft goats cheese

6 radishes, sliced

1/3 cucumber cut into chunks

For the honey and mustard dressing

1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard

1 teaspoon runny honey

1 teaspoon cider vinegar (you can use white wine vinegar but I had cider vinegar in)

Just less than a tablespoon olive oil

 

Now salad making isn’t too strenuous at all. Arrange your salad ingredients over your lettuce and top with your figs and crumble over the goats cheese. To make your dressing whisk together the honey, mustard and olive oil. Once this has formed a nice emulsion whisk in the cider vinegar. Taste the dressing. If it is too harsh tasting add a little more olive oil. Drizzle over your salad and toss so that your ingredients are more or less mixed evenly through.

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Serve as an accompaniment to grilled meat or fish or with bread as a vegetarian salad.

 

Two tarts perfect for the Summer – Lemon Tart and Easy Fruit Tart

I seem to gone on a bit of a pastry bender over the last few weeks. Forgive me – but tarts of all kind are perfect summer foods. The Company Sophie Conran who make some exquisite stuff very kindly sent me some products to review.

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The most adorable mini chopping board and oven glove. Having used cheap plastic chopping boards for so long it is wonderful to finally have something so beautiful and tactile. It also works well to serve things on in what my Aunt calls a “bit of everything” meal. I will definitely be buying more from this range in the future. The oven glove is such a sunny colour; I thought it would look put me in an instantly sunny mood while I was making my first tart (the lemon one).

Anyway, as the pastry recipe makes 2 things I froze half of the pastry and made a red fruit tart exactly a fortnight later.

To make your tarts you will need:

For the pastry

500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

140g icing sugar

250g unsalted butter, frozen and grated

4 egg yolks

1 – 2 tbsp cold water

(Makes 2 tarts, at least)

For 1 lemon tart filling

5 eggs

140g caster sugar

150ml double cream

The juice and zest of 2 big lemons

For the fruit tart filling

Your favourite soft fruits

1/4 of a pomegranate

250g marscapone (I used lighter marscapone)

Runny honey

Vanilla paste or a vanilla pod

 

Grate your butter and add to your icing sugar and flour. Either use your hands to rub together or whizz up in your food processor.

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Add your egg yolks and whizz up again. If the mixture isn’t binding very well add the water.

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Separate your pastry into two. Chill one in cling film for an hour and freeze the other for another day (or chill it and make 2 tarts at once!)

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Roll out your pastry and put it in your tart tin without trimming and chill again for half an hour. Press the pastry into the sides and trim it to size. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Prick your pastry with a fork.

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Bake the pastry for 10 minutes with baking beans and 20 minutes without. While this is baking make your lemon mixture by whisking together all the ingredients but the lemon zest. Sieve this and then add the zest. Add the lemon mixture to your tart and bake for a further 30 minutes.

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The oven glove in action

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Allow to cool and serve chilled. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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To make the fruit tart roll out your pastry following the instructions above. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Bake the pastry for 20 minutes when lined with baking beans and 15 minutes without the beans.

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While your pastry base is cooling make your creamy base by mixing together the marscarpone with your vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste. Add your runny honey to taste (I used approx 1 tbsp). Spread this generously across the pastry.

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Oh honey, you’re so fine

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What cheese should you use to hide a horse? Mascarpone

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Prepare your fruits and arrange them across your tart in a charming yet casual way (ha!)

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Serve with whatever you choose – I like it on its own but cream, sorbet or ice cream are all delicious with it.

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There’s still time to enter my giveaway below if you like. But mostly I hope you attempt your own tarts if you fancy.

 

Also a massive thank you to Sophie Conran for sending me these product to review (which actually arrived on my birthday!). I loved them both and I found the single oven glove especially useful when I was trying to do several things at once in the kitchen. Also both have really brightened up my kitchen! I am a fan.

To purchase the exact oven glove and chopping board I was sent click on the links provided. The rest of the chopping boards in the set are definitely on my wishlist.