Summery Italian feast

There’s something about Italian food that makes me (and probably a lot of other people, not to forget a whole nation) absurdly happy. My theory is it’s all in the tomatoes. Apparently they’re packed full of natural anti-depressants. So a feast of Italian dishes, coupled with long summer nights, is my idea of heaven!

Check out my Italian feast feature for Farmison below. Click each link to get the recipe.

Pizza Pilgrims pan-fried Margherita pizza 

You remember when I introduced my friends, the Pizza Pilgrims boys? You won’t believe how far they’ve come, having set up their street food stall, hosted their own TV show, penned a recipe book and opened pizzeria in Soho – all in the space of two years. Wow! This is a brilliant recipe I borrowed from their book and the pan-fried base is a great technique for getting your dough crispy on the bottom.

Italian one pot whole roast chicken 

A simple, shareable one pot solution for when you’d rather be chilling out with a glass of vino than slaving away in a hot kitchen. So, most of the time.

Summer asparagus risotto

Take advantage of summer’s glut of asparagus with this simple supper idea.

Summer rose veal meatballs

Serve these with a raw courgette ‘spaghetti’ salad and you’re still good for that bikini bod!

Balsamic strawberry tiramisu

I’ve only just discovered that you can roast summer fruits in balsamic vinegar. Try it served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or in this rather more decadent tiramisu. Just don’t look at the calories in mascarpone…

The art of the salad

Recently I’ve really come to appreciate a good salad. Salad is one of those things you pooh-pooh when you’re young, when you can chow down half a Domino’s pizza at lunch without any thought for the consequences, when a salad is considered boring rabbit food, when “why bother to make a salad when it’s easy to put ham and cheese in between two slices of bread and be done with it?”. But once you creep into your late 20′s, you start to worry about that day your metabolism starts going backwards. As part of my diet revamp I vowed to eat less bread at lunch (especially the sort where you don’t know what it was baked with), and more alternative high fibre, low GI carbs – cue the wild rice, sweet potato, quinoa and so on.

The key to a good salad, I’ve realised, is the yin yang thing. Contrast your flavours, textures and colours; juxtapose gooey with crunchy, cooked with raw, sweet with spicy. And of course, take an interest in nutrition and play the food doctor, mixing and matching ingredients to address your ailments. Here are four of my rejuvenating salads that I created for Farmison recently:

Mixed Beetroot Salad – try this if you’re anaemic and tired.

Kale and Cous Cous Salad – we all know kale is amazing - it has more iron gram for gram than beef – plus this salad is packed with all kinds of antioxidant goodness.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Rose Veal – if you need a protein fix, try veal which is naturally lower in fat than beef. Plus soba noodles are made from saintly buckwheat flour (low GI, high in protein, gluten free).

Grilled Radicchio, Apricot and Goat’s Cheese Salad – if you’re trying to eat less, try this salad. The full flavours of the bitter radicchio, caramelised apricot and creamy goat’s cheese will satisfy your appetite quickly.

 

Three smoothies + a lifestyle update

ABC-smoothie

With the fantastic weather in the UK, I must admit I haven’t been very keen to be stuck indoors, cooking in my tiny, sweltering flat. Plus, a transformation has been taking place over the last couple of months. Perhaps it’s because the prospect of my 30s really aren’t far off; so I’ve had a holistic revamp through a renewed attitude to exercise and what I eat. Continue reading

The Great British Picnic

Photo by Alma Berliner

Photo by Alma Berliner

I can’t believe Midsummer has been and gone (it was on Friday 21st June, i.e. the longest day of the year). People say that Midsummer heralds the start of summer – but isn’t it a bit depressing to know your days only get shorter for the rest of 2013? Anyway, ignore the pessimist in me and enjoy some outdoor picnic recipes that I recently created for Farmison. Click on the titles to get the recipe.

Coronation Chicken

I mean, Coronation Chicken sounds completely weird on paper. I tried to de-weird it as much as possible with this modern retelling.

Venison Scotch Eggs

First it was black pudding, now it’s venison. Watch out posh sausages, I’m on a mission to breadcrumb and deep fry you.

Exotic mushroom arancini

Not gonna lie – these were a bugger to make! But so worth it…

Picnic Perfect Mini Frittatas

Move aside, Pippa Middleton. Don’t you know I can alliterate too? That makes me a bonafide food writer.

Jersey Royal Salad

Jersey Royals deserve the royal treatment.

Marinated Heritage Tomato Salad

So pretty I can’t bear to eat it!

Summer Berry Clafoutis

Finish your picnic with this delightful eggy treat…

Baby turnip fried rice with Chinese sausage

As you know I’m writing some recipes for Farmison at the moment, in exchange for my free pick of their amazing product selection. Sometimes they include lovely surprises in my weekly box and it brings a fun ‘Ready, Steady, Cook!’ element into my recipes. I think spontaneity and surprise often lead to the most creative results.

Last week they chucked in some baby turnips. I’ve only ever eaten turnip in a Chinese context – one of my favourite dim sum dishes is fried turnip / radish cake, which is also a traditional New Year dish (slightly disastrously attempted here). I took inspiration from the classic flavour turnip cake combination of chinese sausage / mushroom / shredded turnip to create an easy and filling fried rice.

Get the recipe for baby turnip fried rice with Chinese sausage at Farmison.com