lundi 29 juin 2009

Macca's meat free Monday - a chicken free chicken salad

I do like my steak - just turned in the pan so that when you slide the knife through it, it is likely to moo at you! And this is from someone who was a strict veggie for many years and even a spent some time being vegan.

There is no question of me going all out veggie again but while I love my meat it's not something I eat every day or even every month. It's for those moments when nothing else will satisfy but a bacon and avocado buttie or a nice piece of rare steak with chunky chips on the side.

While I can understand the farmer's being upset with Paul McCartney's campaign for one meat free day per week, from a green perspective I really think this makes sense. And aside from the environmental aspect, you are giving your body a break, as vegetables are easier on the digestive system.

This is my contribution to Macca's campaign - a chicken free chicken salad that is quick to make and is fully of heathy detoxifying ingredients. To make it easier to digest some of the vegtables are steamed and the tomatoes and cucumber are both peeled and deseeded.

This recipe serves 2


125g plain tofu
3 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
6 red radishes
1 large carrot
1 small avocado
1/4 cucumber
handful of cashew nuts to garnish
hand full of mixed sprouted seeds to garnish


But tofu in bowl and add the tamari sauce, then add water until the tofu is covered by the liquid.

Leave for at least 20 mins (sometimes I do this the night before and keep in fridge until I need it)

Pre-heat oven to 180°c. Using a pastry brush, brush some sesame oil on both sides of the tofu and place on a piece of baking paper in an oven dish, place in oven for approx 20 mins (or until brown) and turn half way through. Once done removed from oven and leave to cool.

Wash carrot & pepper and cut into matchsticks, then steam either in an electric steamer or a bamboo basket over a saucepan of water for for 10 mins. Once cooked add quickly to some iced water and allow to cool.

While the carrots and pepper are steaming, peel the cucumber then half and quarter it and de-seed, chop into small cubes.

Wash and top and tail radishes and slice finely.

Place tomatoes in a bowl of boiling water for two minutes , the remove from water and remove skin. De-seed the tomatoes and chop.

Chop avocado into bite size pieces

Put all ingredients except for the tofu in a salad bowl and mix well. Shred the tofu into irregular pieces and scatter over top of salad , and garnish with cashew nuts and sprouted seeds.

You can you favorite salad dressing, I used the same sweet chili dipping sauce that I norally serve with my fish cakes as a salad dressing. This goes particularly well with this salad.

lundi 22 juin 2009

the end of the line for sushi- one addict's moral dilemma

A mixed sushi sashimi platter would without a doubt feature on my last meal list and is one of my guilty pleasures but with the concern around dwindling fish stocks I am begining to wonder if we can have our sushi and eat it?

Nobu in London may be hitting the headlines for not taking endangered bluefin tuna off the menu but in London, this dilemma does not have to exist, there is an alternative. Planet conscious Londoners can pop into sustainable sushi chain Moshi Moshi where sushi lovers can have all the pleasure without the guilt!

For those of us living this side of the channel, it is possible though with a little effort to enjoy guilt free sushi. It means only ordering sushi that comes from sustainable fish stocks. You will find a guide to what to order in your favorite sushi restaurant at the Blue Ocean Institute . For information on what fish is sustainable and when to eat it, take a look at

The problem is that sometimes even when fish from sustainable stocks is in season it can be expensive - the following recipe uses organic farmed atlantic salmon and easily serves six for a light dinner with an asian style salad. There is enough salmon to give these fish cakes a touch of luxury but not enough to break the bank. A good dish to serve for a Sunday brunch!

Guilt Free Spicy Salmon Fish Cakes with a Polenta Crust & chilli dipping sauce

You will need:
300g organic atlantic salmon (cooked - I normally steam for 10 minutes - and left to cool) 225g mashed potato 1/2 large finely onion chopped 25g buter 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander 1 red chili deseeded and finely chopped 1 large organic egg 2 tablespoons for fish sauce salt & freshly ground pepper to taste polenta sesame/olive oil to fry Flake the salmon into a bowl and add the mash potato and coriander Melt butter in saucepan and add onion and chili, sweat over a low heat until onions are soft then add to the bowl Add egg, fish sauce to bowl and season well with salt and pepper Mix well Form into 6 large or 12 small fish cakes Pour some polenta into a bowl and cover each fish cake in polenta The fish cakes can then be chilled in the fridge until needed To cook heat oil in pan on a medium heat and cook fish cakes until golden brown on each side and warmed through.

While you can use a ready made sweet chili sauce I served this with a sweet chilli dipping based on a Nigel Slatter recipe in The Observer on 31/05/2009

1 large hot chillies chopped finely but not deseeded (the recipe called for 2 but the french in my experience can not handle hot food!)
3 tbsps fish sauce
6 tbsps water
3 tpsps rice vinegar
6 tbsps rice syrup (or caster sugar)
a thumb size ginger - (I crushed mine in the garlic press)
juice of 2 limes
2 tps soy sauce

Put water, fish sauce, rice syrup and rice vinegar into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then add ginger and boil until mixture starts to thicken slightly, let cool, then add soy sauce, lime juice and chilli.

However if you don't want to make the dipping sauce these are almost as equally good served with shop bought with a sweet chilli sauce. I serve these with a light asia style salad

You will have to wait until the next time I cook these to see some photos, they were all gobbled up by the time I got my camera out!

samedi 20 juin 2009

a gal can have too much of a good thing!

and here I am talking about carrots. Yes those of you who argue that a vegetable box can mean that you eat the same veggies for weeks on end may have a point...I have had; steamed carrots, carrot, sesame & chick pea salad, carrot batons with houmous, vegetable flan with carrots and courgette and well you get the picture I am all carroted out!!

So yesterday evening when the vegetable box arrived and there was more carrots I almost couldn't face taking them out of the box and then it hit me, we had friends coming for brunch on Sunday and I had carrots and I was inspired then and there to make my mam's legendary carrot cake!! I don't know where she originally got the recipe but I have it scribbled down on the inside cover of the The Naked Chef cookbook.

By the way the type of carrots you use make a real difference to the cake, I used the ones from my vegetable box which were fresh and sweet , not like some of the bland carrots you sometimes pick up in the super market.

My mam's legendary carrot cake

Wet stuff

1 carton of hazelnut yoghurt (150g)
6oz sunflower oil
4 eggs (free range)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Dry stuff
9 oz wheaten flour
9 oz brown sugar
3 oz coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
11 oz carott grated
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

(I normally reduce the sugar to 6oz and add 3oz golden raisins)

Couldn't be simplier, you beat the wet stuff together then add it to the dry stuff and stir it up, it will be quite sloppy but that's ok trust me, then you pour this all ino a silicon loaf "tin" (which I normally oil lightly first) then stick it all in preheated oven (150 °c) for about 1 1/2 hours (test with a skewer - the cake is done when it comes out clean) in my oven it was done in one hour. Let cool on a wire rack.

You can choose to "top" the cake or not, for those of you not going for the whole hog option, it is quite nice served with some greek yoghurt or creme fraiche (with some orange juice added) for those of you not concerned with your waist bands tough luck - you will have to find a good frosting recipe yourself!

While the cake was in the oven I was browsing the internet and came across a recipe for a mango cake from joy the baker (, no I know mangos don't grow in France and I really do try and make an effort to buylocally bu honestly I was really only trying the recipe out from my brother living in Pakistan who has more mangos than he knows what to do with....anyway highly recommend this receipe and can easily be made into muffins perfect for a Sunday brunch!

mercredi 17 juin 2009

which came first the chicken or the egg: a recipe for Okayodon

for me the chicken was definitely first, or should I say one of the last things left in my fridge midweek and I was starving, in need of a comfort meal (and quick!) to get me through the last two days at work until the weekend. And what could be more comforting than this japanese dish, which name means "mother and child". This dish will without doubt see me and my beau make it through to the weekend!

Some recipes use chicken breast but I think that chicken thighs (skinned) especially organic are much tasty and real comfort food, also some recipes use sugar, but not being a big fan of sweet things I used rice syrup.

Recipe for Okayodon (serves 2 grands mangeurs)

70 ml dashi (pre-made)
50 ml mirrin
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespon rice syrup (or caster sugar)
2 organic chicken thighs (skinned and bonned & chopped)
3 medium organic eggs (or 2 large ones) beaten
1/2 onion peeled and sliced (half moons)
2 spring onions sliced
4 Shitake mushrooms (optional)

to garnish:
1 sheet of nori shredded
shanso pepper

to serve: steamed rice or sushi rice

1. pour dashi into medium saucepan and heat until almost boiling turn down heat
2. add the soy sauce, mirrin, rice syrup and stir
3. add chicken, spring onions & onion and gently bring to the boil, boil for several minutes
4.slowly add beaten eggs, turn down heat and cover saucepan, allow cook for a further 3 mins

5. to serve put rice in either one large bowl and spoon mixture on top and garnish with nori strips and some shanso pepper or divide rice and okayadon mixture between two smaller bowls and enjoy!

lundi 15 juin 2009

an octupus & the best veggie boxes in Paris

Friday used to be sushi nights in our house but not anymore, there is something almost more exciting than discovering fresh monkfish liver on the sashimi menu to tickle my taste buds & my imagination, the weekly vegetable box arrives just in time for dinner.

After a few false starts I finally hit on the right company with a choice of farmers and boxes, its good value for money. You can even order a customised box and include fruit.

In this week’s box there was carrots and radishes (both with tops intact!), a large Batavia, cucumber, courgettes, mushrooms, baby turnips & fennel, everything freshly picked that morning.

That morning as I passed the fish shop in my street an octopus was crying out for a loving home, begging to be bathed in some limejuice, garlic and thyme and thrown onto a griddle until he curled up with contentment and his juices mopped up with some fresh bread. I would have to make sure that the salad was worthy to share the same plate!

Delicious and at 3.90 euro for an octopus, which was ample for two, who can say eating fish is too expensive!

No more sushi Friday’s for me? Sushi night has simply moved to Thursdays and if you come back next week, I might just tell you where to find the best sushi and sashimi in Paris!