We had an overnight visit to Tarifa at the weekend. It’s a small bohemian town in the province of Cadiz, on the southernmost coast of Spain. It literally sits at the very bottom corner of Europe where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic. It’s a great place. The kite surfing and water sports attracts a really laid back crowd and an easy atmosphere.
Today’s post has been inspired by the fabulous fish and fresh tapas we sampled on our visit. I have brought together 3 simple ingredients that together make a knock out tapas plate.
The sweetness of the date works beautifully with the fish and the creamy crunchy almond gives the little nibbles some extra texture.
For each piece you will need:
A strip of approximately 25g smoked salmon
(Each piece contains around 70 calories)
Pop an almond inside the date.
Wrap the salmon around so that it just covers the date. Keep the strips the same if not a tiny bit wider than the date so that no date peaks out.
Pierce through with a cocktail stick (don’t try pierce the nut just work to the side).
Grind on a little black pepper and squeeze on some lime.
Put in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 5 minutes and serve immediately.
And because I LOVE a good salad…
Another serving option is to slice up 4 single pieces once cooked through and serve with lightly dressed leaves and coriander.
I’m currently trying out various new ideas and recipes on the whole family. The objective is to find some new ‘dinner winners’. Tasty and healthy food that we can all enjoy. The top recipes will be rolled into our family favourites and called upon when we need a trusted result.
Like a lot of families, we can be really fragmented in terms of the food and times that we eat. It’s not unusual during the week for us to have three different meals at three different times. I appreciate we can’t completely change that. However I am on a mini mission with my Project Dinner Winner to increase the common ground. The key things:
The meals all have to be healthy and nutritious, made from unprocessed foods
They have to be easy to make and ideally freezable too
They have to taste great
So first up, these flavoursome little mini burgers. They’re incredibly tasty, jam packed with goodness and very simple to make.
The ‘big people’ version served with garlic roasted cauliflower, broccoli and chickpea:
The ‘little people’ version served with melted cheese and smiley face vegetables:
To make around 20 mini burgers (each around 75 calories) you will need:
2 tablespoons of oil plus a little to brush before cooking
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 grated carrot
120 g of gluten free/regular oats (or 100g breadcrumbs)
1 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon balsamic
And here’s how:
Fry the onion and garlic in the oil till translucent and soft.
Add the vegetables, balsamic and oregano and reduce on the heat till the spinach has completed wilted down and most of the liquid has evaporated (this is important for the consistency of the burgers).
Once cool use a hand blender or food mixed to blitz up the mixture so that there are no big chunks left.
Then in a separate bowl mix together the oats, turkey, eggs.
Combine both sets of ingredients in the mixing bowl with a spoon. The mixture will be pretty moist, not as firm as a classic burger, but stable enough to shape.
Make individual balls (each approximately 25/30g) and gently pat into neat dinky burgers. You can make all the burgers and fridge/freeze the ones you don’t need at this stage, or just freeze the mixture you don’t need.
Brush the ones you’re making with oil on both sides and gently fry until golden brown. Don’t blast them on too high a heat or they’ll char pretty quickly.
Once browned, pop them in an oven at around 180 degrees c for about 15 further minutes.
You can then add cheese and grill, or serve up with salad and roasted vegetables. Try adding some crunch to the plate as the burgers are soft in their texture.
The vegetables shown here were easy to make. Just chop cauliflower and broccoli into small florets and a garlic clove into slivers. Lay on a tray with a handful of chickpeas. Brush them all with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast till they start to change colour and the garlic has gone crispy. They add some good texture and a nice punch of garlic to the plate too. I’d definitely recommend having a go.
The tough critics here gave these mini burgers a clean plate thumbs up. I hope these work out well for others too.
I loved the whole BISH BASH BOSH concept that Jamie Oliver introduced us to in the late 90’s. He transcended the austere and seemingly grown up world of traditional TV chefs and authors, making cooking and creation more accessible for real 20 somethings like me. I loved it. Glass of wine in one hand, music on and a sense of relative chaos around the kitchen. There were sizable chunks of roughly chopped this and that, with glugs of olive oil and plenty of balsamic on the go. His recipes always turned out well and tasted great. Happy days.
Fast forward 15 years. Add pets, a husband and two children. I am now often clutching the Dyson Animal rather than the wine whilst preparing food for everyone. Some days there’s quite a bit of clutter and unintentional BISH BASH BOSHING. Other days I face culinary rejection from critics under the age of 6.
However, when there is calm and space of mind, I find complete peace in my time carefully preparing and creating good food. I have a stronger set of principles about what I eat these days. I actively look for ways to create good food that makes us feel nourished and whole. Knowing this means I enjoy the taste of delicious, well sourced food more than ever.
This recipe was adapted from my friend Natalie’s Ottolenghi cookbook. It features recipes from two bright chefs who produce beautiful mindful food.
Roasted vegetables with saffron dressing
This salad is stunning. It is vibrant, healthy and wholesome.
If you can, prepare your vegetables carefully and with love. Take time to taste the dressing. Leave the ingredients to settle a little before re-tasting and serving up. The vegetables will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days and the dressing for 3 or 4.
For a salad for 4 try this with:
2 aubergines cut into 1-2 cm slices
1 butternut squash cut into 1-2 cm slices
olive oil to brush vegetables
20g toasted pine nuts
For enough dressing for above with leftovers:
A small pinch of saffron strands
3 tbsp of hot water
180g greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 – 3 tbsp lemon (go by taste)
3 tbsp olive oil
To prepare the salad:
Infuse the saffron in the water for a few minutes. Pour the infusion into a bowl with the other dressing ingredients plus a little salt. Whisk up till you get a smooth sauce, then chill.
For the vegetables, brush with oil on both sides and lay on an oven tray, roasting at 220 degrees C for around 25 – 30 minutes till golden. Let them cool before serving.
Assemble either as a large salad or as individual servings.
I have served this with grilled goats cheese and roasted beetroots too. It is a very robust dressing and has enough flavour to stand up well to cheese, fish or white meat.
These brilliant little bites are made with good stuff and packed with flavour. Fruity crushes feature cranberries, orange juice and orange zest, making them a refreshing alternative to some of the previous raw food bars and balls I’ve posted.
Let’s be honest, if you are in the mood for a four-finger Kit Kat or a bag of M&M’s, these are not going to do it for you.
However if you’re on a roll with healthy eating and want a brighter, more interesting snack, they are perfect. They’re quick to make and because they use store cupboard ingredients, you can make them as and when you fancy.
To make 10 balls (each containing around 110 calories) you will need:
100 grams of cashew nuts
50 grams of brazil nuts
80 grams of dried cranberries
40 grams of dates
A squeeze of orange
Zest from half a medium orange
Cinnamon for dusting at the end
Blitz up all the dry ingredients.
Then blitz up the fruity ingredients.
Work the two sets of ingredients together by hand before adding a squeeze of orange and the zest. The amount of orange juice will probably depend on the consistency of the mixture. It needs to be firm and hold together. If crumbly add a little more juice, but not so much that the mixture becomes wet.
Divide and roll in to 10 balls.
At the end dust lightly with cinnamon before putting in the fridge for an hour or so to firm up.
Store in a jar in the fridge and enjoy as and when you fancy a little something sweet.
…Then get obsessed. Give up a kilogram of oats, 8 eggs and 4 hours. Bake 43 muffins and force feed your loved ones. Over and over. Until you strike the jackpot.
I saw a great recipe on the Glitter and Grey blog for spinach and chocolate chip muffins. The recipe really grabbed me, so I thought I’d have a bash. I decided to tweak it though, making it into a carrot equivalent. The result was ok, but it certainly wasn’t a crowd pleaser. My five year old squeezed honey all over his first one and said that was pretty good though.
I wanted to create something as tasty as carrot cake, but without the flour, sugar and frosted icing. Slightly ambitious I know.
However, with some patience and practice I have created a beautifully sweet, slightly spiced and moist fruity muffin. These saintly bakes also now feature extra honey, thank you Tobias.
You will need:
100 grams of greek yoghurt
2 grated carrots
Grated peel from 1 medium orange
3 tablespoons of honey
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
200 grams of oats (I used gluten free)
100 grams of raisins
Thank fully the process is simple:
Put everything except the oats and raisins into the blender for a few seconds
Then mix in the oats and raisins in a separate bowl
Spoon into muffin cases (Use silicone cases to avoid sticking, there’s not a lot of grease in these)
Put into pre-heated oven (180C fan or 350 F) for 15 – 20 minutes until a rich brown
Leave on wire racks to cool
You will get 12 muffins from this recipe, each containing around 130 calories.
I also made a batch of buttercream. A reward to my husband and son. They were truly impressed with the less saintly alternative muffin served with a generous topping of buttercream.
The end result here is ultimately just a really tasty plate of cakes. Somehow, the thought, love and attention to get them spot on has made them something more special to me this week. For me this is how you take good ingredients, then carefully find the best way to serve them up with masses of affection.
I really like this one. It’s a super healthy plate of crunchy raw vegetables topped with a simple piece of fish.
I’ve playing around with various yoghurt dressings for the coleslaw. With the final version featuring freshly squeezed orange and lime, I can happily now call this a Sunshine Slaw. It’s bright colours and zesty taste, make it a perfect clean spring salad.
For around 500g of coleslaw you will need:
400/450g crunchy vegetables – made up of grated carrot, grated beetroot, finely chopped red onion and plenty of shredded red cabbage
100ml natural yoghurt – you may choose to add a little extra once you’ve tasted at the end
1 tablespoon of oil – try safflower or olive oil
1.5 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
juice from half a lime – just squeezed by hand
juice from half an orange – just squeezed by hand
Seasoning (be fairly generous – but taste to make sure it works for you)
The full batch contains around 300 calories – not a fraction of a regular mayonnaise coleslaw.
To make the coleslaw:
Simply mix it all together and taste.
The seasoning and various elements of the dressing may need a little tweak at this stage because the vegetables, oil, yoghurt, vinegar we use are not all uniform. Just be guided by your palette and what tastes good to you.
For the final plate:
For a small lunchtime salad serve around 100g of the coleslaw with around 80g mackerel per person. Simply pan fry fresh mackerel or serve cold mackerel. I tried and loved both but the cold mackerel option is definitely a quicker prep. If you buy pre-cooked fish just check the packet for any added extras. Most will contain some salt, but there’s no need for extra preservatives. You can easily buy this fish without.
The sustainability debate
Mackerel has been both on and off the recommended ‘fish to avoid’ list due to concerns about over fishing in the North East Atlantic. However since 2013 this fish has been on the ‘fish to eat’ list managed by the Marine Conservation Society. Line caught mackerel is by far the best way to source mackerel. Read more about the eco information.
The positive virtues of mackerel
As for the health benefits, mackerel is a widely recommended oily fish. It is rich in essential vitamins and minerals with both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. It also contains protein and the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10, which is associated to the elimination of cancerous elements from cells. Read more on the health benefits.
I have been itching to post this one for a couple of days, however a ‘laptop meets floor’ incident has left me technically restricted for the back end of the week. I’m so clumsy it’s untrue.
As much as I love living in Gibraltar, escaping across the border does bring a certain sense of relief in the middle of my week. This week Finn and I went for a run on the beach and then walked back through the market in La Linea. It’s not a very salubrious town and the market is pretty simple, but the perfect place for fresh, well priced vegetables and fruit. This week I went without a list and paid the penalty of getting over excited. I struggled back over the border with more than I could carry and the pressure of working out a plan for all my purchases.
So I’ve free-wheeled a bit. I’ve played around with various fruity concoctions, including a lovely pineapple chutney a few stunning smoothies.
The star of the market selection was the lovely fat strawberries. So I’m going to start with an updated version of a classic smoothie. I used goats milk and avocado in this one, both of which give a really creamy taste. The seeds are really not to be missed. They add crunch and texture which totally transforms the smoothie.
You will need:
2 x banana
1 x tablespoon honey
250g goats yoghurt
10g toasted chia seeds and linseed (just toast in a dry pan for 5 minutes)
This makes 2 very generous smoothies (around 330 calories each) or 3 regular glasses (around 220 each).
Add everything except the seeds to a blender and whizz up.
Stir the toasted seeds through the smoothie and sprinkle a few on top.
Pop these in the freezer for 10 minutes before diving in with a spoon