Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Celery. Raw. Is Good For Your Jaw.

"Celery- raw, is good for your jaw" Ogden Nash.

We go through about 5 bunches of celery a week. FIVE.  It probably seems a little excessive. No-one is on a diet. No-one has a Bloody Mary habit, to my knowledge.
I think we may be crunch addicts though. Mostly it's for classic snacks with either peanut butter or cream cheese but it does go into a lot of my cooking too.

Apart from being a low calorie crunchy vegetable, celery is a hot bed of antioxidant goodness. Not only the usual vitamin C, manganese and beta-carotene, it also contains many phytonutrients from the phenol category that are proven to be anti-inflammatory and therefore can help to undo the damage caused by stress, exposure to toxins and acute and chronic illnesses. 

When I looked for some new recipes using celery as the main ingredient, interesting ones were few and far between. Lots for celeriac but not many for good ol' celery.
One of my favourites is a classic from Jane Grigson, adapted by Delia Smith for 
Poached Celery with Pheasant , a lovely softly flavoured, one pot dish, perfect for a Sunday 

Another classic, the Waldorf Salad.This simple apple salad got its name from the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Invented in 1896 not by a chef but by the maître d'hôtel Oscar Tschirky, the Waldorf salad was an instant success. As often happens, many variations evolved—some with raisins, some with chopped nuts. This one has green apples and red seedless grapes. This one from Epicurious serves 6 as a starter.

Waldorf Salad
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries*
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/3 cups very thinly sliced celery
  • 1 1/3 cups red seedless grapes, halved
  • Romaine/ Cos lettuce leaves
  • pecans
Soak cherries in 1 cup boiling water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain.Whisk mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Add apples, celery, grapes and cherries; toss. Season with salt and pepper.Arrange lettuce on platter. Spoon salad over. Top salad with pecans.*Sold at specialty foods stores, natural foods stores and some supermarkets.
You should definitely have a go at making your own celery salt, really easy and the method can be used with different herbs. Serve piles of the bright green salt with soft boiled quail eggs and icy glasses of Manzanilla, perfect  on a summer's evening.
From 101 Cooks Homemade Celery Salt

Love Food X

Friday, 11 July 2014

Venison, My Dear.


Okay. Venison is the Anna Wintour of meats. Rich, very lean and for some, very scary. The thought of eating deer, or any game, rabbit, pheasant, wild boar can bring on the instant heebie jeebies in even the most committed carnivores.

From Jane Grigson's English Food,
"Game animals and birds are man's oldest food as far as meat is concerned. The deer swimming across the river painted on the walls of Lascaux, the bones in in every Paleolithic excavation, are evidence of that. The surprising thing is that deer in particular who can become tame and biddable, have never been fully domesticated. Sheep, goats, cattle, dogs have all become part of human society over the best part of 9,000 years. Why were deer ignored by Neolithic farmers, when venison had been the most widely eaten meat in Paleolithic and Mesolithic times? The bones of red deer have been found in 95% of European sites: in southern parts this means a period of 50,000 years."

The thing to consider especially if you are concerned with where your food comes from ( and who isn't? ) - is how the animals that you eat are treated.
In the UK, we have an abundance of wild deer, the population in Scotland alone is estimated at close to a million, with no natural predators,hunting and preparing your own is an option. There are an increasing number of commercial deer farms that are engaged in ethical and sustainable meat production and that may be the easier way to go. The leanness of the venison is very appealing to many but much like kangaroo in Australia, the fashion for venison goes up and down like hemlines.

Using venison sausages, this dish is the perfect introduction for people that are not so familiar with eating game, as it is not too overpowering but has a very pleasing depth of flavour.
The redcurrant jelly adds a mellow sweetness to the dish but you could substitute that with a well sieved orange marmalade or fruit conserve if you don’t have any redcurrant jelly handy. Although this recipe is for four, it can be easily doubled for a crowd and would work well as a Sunday lunch, without too much stress. Serve with wilted spinach and lashings of buttery mashed potatoes.

Venison Sausages with Mushrooms and Red Wine
Serves 4
1 tablespoon dried mushrooms ( porcini, chanterelles or a wild mushroom mix)
1 tbsp olive oil
8 venison sausages
6 shallots or 1 medium sized onion, cut into quarters
200 grams  chestnut or baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
25 grams butter
½ tablespoon plain flour
1 heaped tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 large glass of good red wine
1 sprig rosemary or thyme
2 tablespoons redcurrant jelly

salt and pepper

Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and put aside to leave to soak.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole and brown the sausages and the shallots all over. Remove and set aside.
Pour off the excess fat from the pan so that you are left with about 1 tablespoon.  Turn down the heat, add the garlic and the fresh mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.
Gently stir in the flour, cook for about a minute, then add the wine and mustard.
Strain off the mushroom soaking liquid and add to the pan. Add all the dried mushrooms to the pan. Return the sausages and the shallots  to the pan add the rosemary, redcurrant jelly, then season. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer. Cook the sausages for a further 20 minutes. The cooking juices will reduce and thicken during this time, add a little water or a splash of wine if needed.. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Scatter with chopped parsley if you have some and serve straight away.

Love Food X

Monday, 19 May 2014

Menu Monday 19th May 2014

What a week. I had tears and tantrums and an embarrassing encounter concerning a pool table trick, an osteopath, and a retro ladygarden. All mine. How was yours? 
This week is National Vegetarian Week in the UK and my girls have asked if we can participate. Nightmare. Now don't get me wrong, I am a big vegetable fan and we usually have a couple of meatless meals every week, but I do think you have to have a good source of fresh produce and not everyone is lucky enough to be near a farmer's market or fabulous greengrocer. Maybe a veg box delivery service could be the answer for people that don't.

This one Kitty made yesterday and we are having it tonight Spicy Chickpea Stew, probably with some rice and pita bread.

Busy day for all of us and I will be dashing out to my new Tai Chi class before dinner, woohoo, so it will be Tomato and Red Pepper soup and Jalepeno Cornbread from the freezer.

One of my favourites,  Mushrooms on Toast and maybe a tomato and red onion salad on the side.

I'm not a big fan of vegetarian dishes that try to mimic meat dishes, you know the soy mince, fake bacon etc, I'd rather have a baked potato. But I think we might have a go at these,
Epic Crispy Quinoa Burgers, you eat them with the sweet potatoes fries INSIDE the burger! Epic indeed!

We would normally have fish, but tonight I think I'll just see what veg is looking good and treat it like fish, steamed or pan fried and served with lots of lemon juice and herb butter. Think asparagus, courgettes and char grilled peppers, maybe even add some shards of Parmesan and some good sourdough bread

Enjoy the week ahead and I hope you try some veggie dishes as main courses

For more inspiration, take a look at OrgJunkie

Love Food X

Monday, 12 May 2014

Menu Monday 12.05.14

I'm happy to be back to a normal week at last! Still waiting for some sunny weather to arrive but the gardens are looking glorious despite the constant drizzle we've been having in my part of the world. Really looking forward to getting the BBQ out one day soon... Have a great week and good cooking!


A little bit of effort , but worth it for this #MeatlessMonday, Quinoa, red rice, black lentil and spicy cauliflower salad.


A quick Chicken Caesar salad before an epic badminton re-match ( long story...)

I'm going to make double the quantity of this classic stew so that I have a meal to serve for Sunday lunch as well, a lovely Lancashire Hotpot .

Loads of good quality and good value asparagus around so a spaghetti, pea and asparagus dinner will be easy, fresh and tasty. Add some frizzled chorizo if you want some spice.

Fish this Friday is salmon as my fishmonger has a good deal going. This is Gordon Ramsay's version of Salmon en Croute . I must confess, several times I have used the ready made one from Aldi, it's good and a total bargain at around £5. Add a big green salad and you won't be disappointed.

Have a brilliant and peaceful week and for more inspiration check out OrgJunkie .

Love food x


Monday, 7 April 2014

Menu Monday 7th April

April Showers

Another busy week. I've done a course that made me really use my brain and a Manic Street Preachers gig that made me shake ma booty, all good. Glad I made some soup for the freezer last week as along with those April showers, comes a nip in the air so a bowl of soup still goes down a treat. Not long until Easter, can't wait for a break and some serious relaxation. Have a great week and here's the plan!

#MeatlessMonday but still delicious will be homemade Butternut Squash Soup with
Cheesy Jalepeno Pull Apart Bread .

Take one Roast Chicken, I serve mine with brown rice from my family food post.

A really simple dish of John Dory with lemon butter sauce and a tomato and onion salad.

We'll be having the leftover chicken and rice, turned into special fried rice by adding finely chopped ginger, garlic, chilli and a couple of eggs and a good glug of soy sauce and whatever greens that are in the fridge.

Friends over for dinner, we're doing a bit of a cider tasting so think I might drag out the old fondue pot for a some Cheesy fun.

 Have a brilliant and joyful week and for more menu inspiration visit OrgJunkie.

Love Food X

Monday, 31 March 2014

Menu Monday 31st of March

The clocks have "sprung" forward this weekend and the evenings will be getting longer, can't wait for full on BBQ season to start properly. I plan big things in the smoking and marinade department and am collecting some funky herbs and spices, will keep you posted. In the meantime, here's what's happening food-wise in our neck of the woods.

We're getting an early crop of very nice aubergines/eggplants from Spain in my local market so #Meatless Monday is a classic Egg Plant Parmigiana .


Tasty, speedy and easy to make Lamb and Pea Keema Curry have with rice or naan bread.


Main course salad, quick to throw together, White Bean, Chorizo and Herb Salad, chunk of crusty bread, done!


I have today off so I'll be making stock for future soups etc and actually have time to make 2 courses for tonight. Starting with Persian Duck with Walnuts and finishing with gorgeous and seasonal  Rhubarb Crumble.


Making burgers. Grilled fish, homemade tartare sauce served on oven- bottom Barms, shredded iceberg lettuce and tonnes of sweet pickled beetroot!

Have a great week and for more inspiration visit OrgJunkie 

Love Food X

Monday, 24 March 2014

Menu Monday 24th March

Get Fresh

After a brilliant weekend away playing with friends, laughing way too loud on public transport and learning more than I ever thought possible about cranes, I'm ready to tackle another week of the baffling and delicious stuff the universe sends me. Hope you are ready too! 


For Meatless Monday today the Greek classic feta and spinach pie, Spanakopita is perfect. If you can't find filo pastry, I know it's not authentic but I put the mixture into a pie dish and top with ready rolled puff pastry. Not "perfect" but still delicious. 


An easy one pot dish from Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall, Chicken with Tomatoes and Tarragon, served with nutty brown rice, cooked while the chicken is roasting away.


Home late tonight,so some super quick pasta!
Peppered Smoked Mackerel Pasta
500 grams of dried pasta, best with shell types to catch the sauce. 
150 - 200 grams smoked, peppered mackerel, skinned removed and broken into chunks
100 ml single cream,
 handful of spinach and/or frozen peas
squeeze of lemon juice
Cooked the pasta as per directions on pack, drain.
Put the cream in the pot on a medium heat while pasta is
draining. Add the fish and frozen peas, simmer for a minute or two.
Throw the pasta back in the pot with the sauce and add the spinach, 
heat through and add lemon juice, taste, adjust seasoning and serve.
Any leftovers are brilliant served cold for take to work/ school lunches.


Putting the kids in charge of tonight, a simple and delicious tortilla, Spanish Omelette with some bread and  salad. Ole'!


Bit of a fancy date night dinner, Pan-fried Sea Trout with Spinach Puree, Spring Vegetables and Sauce Vierge . 
Serving that with the first of the seasons glass of rose', maybe a cheeky large bottle .

Have a great week and for more ideas visit OrgJunkie