What to eat in the post Christmas / pre New Year lull..

Yum
We're in that weird inbetweeny stage aren't we? For those of us lucky enough to be off work for the duration, we're facing the middle ground - those lost days between Christmas and New Year to be precise. What do you eat when you're fed up of left over turkey and pork pie/cheeseboard buffets and can't be bothered to cook anything complex? Here are a few of my quick and easy suggestions.

Last of the leftovers Bubble & Squeak

- Ok, I know I just said "when you're fed up of the leftovers" but this is really yummy and easy to make. Bubble and Squeak appears periodically in cook books and magazines but in my mind, you can't make it from fresh. It has to be leftovers!

Ingredients, serves 2
  • Handful of left over ham or a couple of strips of crispy bacon
  • 2 eggs
  • Left over veg - ideally:
    • roast or mashed potatoes
    • brussels 
    • carrots
    • parsnips
    • cabbage
Method: 
  • Break all the veg up into chunks and throw into a frying pan with some olive oil.
  • Heat some oil in a pan ready to fry your eggs and add bacon if using (as this will take longer than the eggs).
  • Fry the mixture, pressing down with a spatula for a good 10 -12 minutes. You want some burnt bits as these really add to the flavour of bubble and squeak. Chuck in any chunks of ham or gammon too (instead of bacon)
  • Serve on a plate with a good crack of salt and black pepper and top with a fried egg. We use  Burford Browns. You really can't beat them!
Gingeybites leftovers bubble and squeak
Gingeybites bubble and squeak topped with a fried egg


Spicy griddled chicken with salad & potatoes

- A great antidote to all the heavy food associated with Christmas. Feel like you've done a good deed for your body without having to go to the gym!

Method:
  • Slash deep grooves across the top of two chicken breasts and leave to marinade in a bowl with 2 tsp chilli sauce with 20ml water. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour. I used Wiga Wagaa chilli cooking paste but there are other chilli sauces available of course! I love the depth of flavour Wiga Wagaa has but be careful, the whole range packs a punch! 
  • Pre-heat oven to 180degrees and cook chicken breasts for around 20 mins.
  • Take out the oven and finish in a griddle pan - not only does this make the chicken look better to eat, it adds those nice charry bits!
  • Serve with a nice rocket salad and boiled new potatoes with butter and salt and pepper.
Wiga Wagaa chilli sauces
Spicy chicken with salad and potatoes




Crab and Fennel Linguine

- Another healthy meal with ingredients from the cupboards plus just a couple of fresh items. I can't take credit for this, my inspiration came from this recipe on the BBC Good Food website but I've made a few small tweaks along the way.  

Ingredients:
  • 400g baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 bulb of fennel sliced thinly. 
  • 150g linguine or spaghetti
  • 100g white crabmeat or 1 tin of crabmeat drained (if you can't get fresh)
  • large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • olive oil 
  • lemon juice
Method: 
  • Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan and add the tomatoes, chilli and fennel. Season and fry gently for 5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft but still have their skins intact and hold their shape.
  • Cook the pasta, drain, reserving some of the cooking water. 
  • Add the pasta to the pan with the tomato mixture and add the crab meat and half the parsley. 
  • Let this warm through and add the pasta water as needed to just coat the pasta, stirring it gently to avoid breaking up the tomatoes. 
  • Taste and season before scattering over the remaining parsley.


Now I need to prepare myself for New Years Day - I'm cooking for 6 and have challenged myself to make a Mary Berry Cappuccino Cake.. wish me luck! x

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Product Review: Spicentice Lamb Tagine

Yum
I've talked about Spicentice before - I met Ketan, the owner, at the good food show in November and have really rated their products ever since.You can read my review on their Goan King Prawn Curry here.

This week, they've helped me on two occasions! On Friday night I had a friends Annie Bean & Clo over for dinner. Having been at work all day I needed something quick and easy but still impressive - so I went for their Lamb Tagine mix. Last night, my sister and her partner came home for Christmas and to welcome them back my mum and I did an Indian feast - we used their Tandoori Rub to marinate some lamb chops and chicken legs.

Lamb Tagine Spice Mix (serves 4)


Ingredients:
  • 650g diced lamb 
  • 4 onions diced
  • 2 potatoes diced (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 10 dried apricots cut in half
  • 400ml tinned tomatoes
  • 6 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp toasted almonds (optional, for garnish)
  • Handful of fresh coriander (for garnish, optional)
Method:
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add contents of sachet 1 and fry the seeds for a few seconds before adding the onions.
  • When the onion has softened add the garlic. Fry for a minute then add the lamb. Stir well and cook with a lid on for 20mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Add sachet 2, stir and cook for a further 2 mins.
  • Add the tomatoes, apricots and 1 tsp of salt. Stir all the ingredients together and cook for 2 mins.
  • Add 300ml boiling water, gently simmer for 15 mins and then add the potatoes.
  • Cook for a further 30 mins until the meat is tender. If the sauce begins to dry then add 50ml of boiling water.
  • Finally season to taste and garnish with almonds and fresh coriander.
I served with cous cous with a little Olives et al Dukkah mix and a handful of peas. The finished thing was really tasty although the packet says medium and I'd probably say it was hotter than medium. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked and there was a deliciously authentic cinnamon taste to it. Overall, a great dish for a casual meal with friends. I'd make it again.


Served with cous cous spiced with Dukkah and peas.
Waiting for the bang!
The Tandoori Lamb Chops and Chicken. Mum mixed the spice rub with yoghurt and lemon juice and left the lamb and chicken to marinate in it for a couple of hours. Then cooked in the oven and served with raita and a potato and spinach curry.

Dig in!
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Make ahead and cut down that Christmas Dinner Stress!

Yum
I know everyone is posting about Christmas at the moment - how to plan ahead, what to buy, what to cook etc.. and at first I didn't want to join in but to be honest, as the day draws closer and panic sets in, I've decided enough is enough. TIME TO GET AHEAD AND ELIMINATE STRESS!!



Make ahead Gravy
Courtesy of James Martin on the Chris Evans breakfast show yesterday morning! I can't find the recipe online anywhere but basically.. you boil wine, chicken stock (1/2 litre per person) and a bay leaf in a saucepan until it starts to thicken down. Then let it cool, stick it in ice cube trays and defrost in a pan on Xmas day and top up with turkey juices.

Roast Potatoes

Make ahead Roasties
Courtesy of BBC Good Food - I'll be prepping these tomorrow! The reviews are all brilliant so I've got high hopes!

Ingredients, serves 8
  • 2½kg DesirĂ©e or King Edward potatoes
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp goose fat or sunflower oil
Method:
  1. Peel the potatoes, then cut into halves, or quarters if large. Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add a little salt, then tip the potatoes into the pan. Bring back to the boil and cook for 7 mins. Drain really well, then return to the pan and sprinkle over the flour. Place a lid on top of the pan, then pick up the pan using oven gloves or a tea towel and give it a few really hard shakes so the potatoes get bashed around (this will make them nice and crisp).
  2. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Spoon the goose fat or sunflower oil onto a large, lipped baking tray and leave to heat on the top shelf of the oven for 5 mins. Carefully pull out the tray, make sure its surface is evenly coated with the fat, then tip on the potatoes. Roast for 20 mins, then turn up the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and roast for another 30 mins, turning the potatoes once, until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with a little salt and serve straight away.
If freezing ahead, simply follow the recipe to the end of step 1, then let the potatoes cool. Line 2 baking trays or sheets with greaseproof paper. Arrange the potatoes on the paper, making sure none of them are touching each other, then place in the freezer. Once frozen solid, tip the potatoes into a bag to free up some freezer space. Can be frozen for up to 1 month. Cook for 30 mins at 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 before turning the oven up.



Make ahead Christmas Spiced Cabbage
A lovely recipe from Delicious Magazine which can be made up to 2 days ahead. This is so Christmassy, I really think it helps elevate the Roast Turkey dinner into something extra special.

Ingredients
  • 30g butter
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small red cabbage, core removed, finely sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 150ml port
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan140°C/gas 3. Melt the butter in an ovenproof casserole or saucepan, add the onion and spices, season well and cook over a low heat until soft but not coloured.
  2. 2. Add the cabbage, apple, sugar, port and vinegar, stir well, then add 2-3 tbsp water. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours until the cabbage is tender. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and serve.
All thats left to do is the Turkey, brussels with pancetta and peas, roasted carrots and parsnips, stuffing, pigs in blankets and the bread sauce... and breathe... PHEW!

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Cod with Chorizo and Tomatoes

Yum
After a weekend of excessive eating and drinking, I wanted something quick and healthy for dinner tonight. After a rummage in the freezer and fridge, I (sort of) had the ingredients for this Cod with tomato and chorizo recipe from the BBC Good Food website.

cod with chorizo and tomatoes

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Product Review: Spicentice Prawn Goan Curry

Yum
I was fortunate to meet the lovely Spicentice guys at the BBC Good Food Show a few weeks back. We were drawn to multicoloured stall and after a little chat, found out that they hail from Leicester, my home city and just a few miles from where I live now.

They specialise in spice kits and rubs, chutneys and marinades from around the world but mostly of Indian cuisine. I couldn't help myself and came away with a carrier bag full of goodies including spice kits for Methi Chicken, Goan Prawn Curry and Lamb Tagine as well as a delicious lime pickle and Ras el Hanout, a fragrant mix commonly used in Moroccan dishes.

The spice kits are aimed at adventurous cooks who perhaps aren't confident enough to mix the spices themselves from scratch but don't want to use pre-made sauces. Each packet contains spices, a shopping list and easy to follow cooking instructions. You can buy directly from the Spicentice website from as little as £1.99.

Goan Prawn Curry  - serves 4

Ingredients: 
  • 450g King Prawns
  • 2 onions
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 200ml tinned tomatoes
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsbp cooking oil 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Fresh coriander to serve (optional)
 Preparation

1. Peel and finely chop the garlic, ginger and onions.

2. Wash prawns in cold water.

3. Blend the tomatoes.

Cooking the curry

1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the contents of Sachet 1. Allow the seeds to sizzle for a few seconds before adding the onion.

2. When lightly browned, add the ginger and garlic and continue to fry.

3. Now add the tomatoes, contents of Sachet 2, 1 level tsp salt and 1 tsp lemon juice. Stir the ingredients together.

4. Add the coconut milk with 100ml cold water.

5. Stir in the prawns and simmer for 5-10 mins on a low heat until prawns are tender.

6. Finally check the seasoning and garnish with fresh coriander.


The finished thing - the flavours were delicious, when I was frying off the spices from sachet 1, the aroma filled the kitchen and it smelt really authentic. I think I was a bit liberal with the coconut milk and so, my finished dish was quite saucy, whereas the picture from Spicentice looks a little more dry. All in all, a really tasty, easy to make dish - for the next one, I'll be testing the simplicity of the instructions by getting my husband to do the cooking!

*This is not a sponsored post*
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Foodies Christmas Gift Ideas

Yum
I've made a real effort to be organised this year and have almost finished my Christmas shopping already! All this has made me think about what I'd like this year and presents I've loved in the past. With a foodie theme (of course), I've come up with what I think is the perfect ideas list for your friends and family of foodie persuasion!

Upside down measurements apron

One of my bestest friends in all the world bought this for me for my birthday earlier this year. What a fun present for any foodie! Made by Suck UK, printed on the bottom of the apron are all the measurements you could ever want - conversion charts, cooking and roasting times, portions and a cooking glossary. Granted, with my short legs, its a bit long on me but its a nice quality cotton apron and great gift idea for foodies!

Upside down measurements apron

Do my legs look short in this??


BBC Good Food Magazine subscription 
 

No foodies shelves are complete without a copy of this magazine. I'm a greedy guts and subscribe to Good Food and Olive and also read Delicious frequently but I really think Good Food is the best of them all. Stylish layouts and easy to follow recipes. Sometimes they give a free gift at the time of setting up a subscription so if you're lucky you'll get a present for yourself too (or wrap it up and give it to someone else! teehee). A subscription for 12 months starts at just £18.50!  


Le Creuset Love Heart Ramekins

My only rule for these is that you have to get two! They are so cute and being Le Creuset, they are head wearing and fantastic quality. There's nothing more to say. John Lewis currently have them at 20% off


Cropwell Bishop Potted Stilton

I've talked about Cropwell Bishop on my blog before, they are local to me, based on the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border and have been making cheese for over 100 years. They do a lovely potted stilton in a ceramic jar. The cheese is delicious and the jar is a great keepsake. At under a tenner, what a great stocking filler! Buy direct from Cropwell Bishop's website.



So there you have it - my suggestions for some great gifts for the foodies in your life. Happy shopping and Merry Christmas! 


And remember....

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Christmas Leftovers: Turkey Pilaf

Yum
If you're hosting Christmas this year, this could be just what you need for Boxing day whether you're planning a buffet for 10 or a quiet hot meal for 2. The flavours in this dish are simple but delicious and I think this is a credible alternative to turkey curry. This would work well with any poultry so why not try it with whatever left overs you have - duck, goose or even just chicken?  


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The BBC Good Food Show Winter - Roundup!

Yum
On Saturday I was at the BBC Good Food Show Winter at the NEC in Birmingham. It was a busy, tiring but very enjoyable day. Over the four days, it was expected that over 80,000 people would attend the show - it was so busy on Saturday it felt at times as though they were all there in one day! There were hundreds of stalls from every concievable angle of the food and drink industry - sausage makers, cheese stalls, vineyards, salt producers, cooking equipment.. the list goes on.

Here's my round up of the best..

Cropwell Bishop
Local to me, Cropwell Bishop (named after their home village in Nottinghamshire) are a family business producing a small range of Stilton cheeses. The same family have been making Stilton for over 100 years from their dairy. They work with local suppliers to ensure that Cropwell Bishop remains as delicious as it always has been. They are one of just a few creameries in the country who are legally allowed to call their cheese Stilton (as opposed to 'blue cheese'). Whilst at the stall, I tried some absolutely gorgeous cheese, in particular their 'Classic Blue Stilton' which is rich, creamy and completely delicious. Its made with vegetarian rennet too meaning anyone can enjoy it.


 Cornish Sea Salt
The only time I've really tried flavoured salt was during a meal at J Bakers (top 10 meals of my life) in York a few years ago. We had mini jacket potatoes with smoked sea salt and the memory has never left me. I have to admit I am a salt fiend and probably eat far too much of it and now that I've tried some of Cornish Sea Salt's flavours, I'm worried its only going to get worse! I was lucky enough to get a press pack from these guys and in the back were some samples for me to take home - chilli, garlic, onion, smoked, luxury pepper. The company is fairly new, launched in 2008, and in that time they've attracted the attention from numerous high profile chefs including Mark Hix and Nathan Outlaw. I tried the onion salt on my poached egg this morning and it really lifted it to the next level. I'll definitely be using their salts in my cooking going forward.

Spicentice
Another company local to me - the Spicentice guys were very friendly and their brightly coloured stall drew us in immediately. They specialise in spice rubs, pickles and spice mixes. The spice mixes focus around Indian cuisine with a few extras thrown in for good measure. You get a list of ingredients and recipe card for great dishes like Methi Chicken, Lamb Tagine, Aloo Gobi etc. I think this is a great way to make new dishes accessible to less adventurous cooks. I picked up a whole bag full of goodies including a moroccan rub and spice mixes for Goan King Prawn curry and Methi Chicken. I'll report back once I've tried them out but I've got high hopes!


 

Overall, it was a fantastic day, I'll be back next year for sure. If you want to see more from my day at the show, visit my facebook page - I've got an albumn full of pictures from the day, including some great facials from the Masterchef cook off between Dhruv and Shelina in the Supertheatre.. great fun!


and highlight of the day ... meeting John Whaite, GBBO 2012 winner..


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Review: A hidden gem - The Grey Lady, Newtown Linford

Yum
After a days Christmas shopping we decided to stop for lunch at The Grey Lady in Newtown Linford, a picturesque village on the edge of Bradgate Park, around 5 miles north of Leicester. Let me stop at this point to tell you that as a child we often went to The Grey Lady for carvery with my grandparents. It was that kind of place, full of old people. I think the last time I went was on my 18th birthday and it was still that kind of place.

They've had a refurbishment since then and the business has passed to the owners son, back in the kitchen from London where he worked in several Michelin starred kitchens including Le Gavroche. So, bearing this in mind, I thought it was definitely worth a try!


We turned up to a busy carpark and walked in to an airy, modern split level room with large windows showing off the stunning countryside views outside. On a week day lunchtime, the place was around 3/4 full. I've never seen much in the way of promotion or advertising for this place so I can only assume they thrive off word of mouth - and lets face it, that shows true skill.
  

The fixed price lunch is either £12.50 or £16.50 for 2 or 3 courses and the menu is quite old fashioned, nothing overly 'out there' to choose but the food was beautiful, high quality and cooked to perfection. We were blown away by it and will definitely be heading back at night to try the full al a carte menu! Highly recommended, a true hidden gem. People say that there aren't many high quality places to eat around the East Midlands area but the more I do this, the more I think they're wrong.

Goats Cheese and Red Onion Tart - The Grey Lady - Gingeybites.com
Goats Cheese and Red Onion Tart
Butternut and Sage Risotto, The Grey Lady, gingeybites.com
Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto
Pan Fried Salmon, Confit Tomatoes
Pan Fried Salmon, Confit Tomatoes
Rump of Lamb with Shepherd Pie




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