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Category Archives: Salads

Rest Your Meat, Fool

It took eighteen months of blogging, dozens of posts, excessive amounts of cooking and even more excessive eating, but it looks like I’ve finally lived up to the entire ethos of this blog. Not only did I actually use a cookbook today that has been brutally neglected for years, I also stopped myself from buying loads more cookbooks and the new edition of Delicious magazine by repeating the phrase ‘no, you have loads of unused cookbooks at home that are desperate to be used’ in my head. So I only bought one cookbook instead. This, my friends, is progress.
I’ve been reading the Smitten Kitchen food blog pretty religiously lately and while the recipes look amazing, there’s only so much cooking I’m willing to do following a recipe from my iPad. Oily fingers and raw meat do not go so well with the lovely smooth, shiny surface of an Apple gadget. So you can surely understand why I absolutely needed to purchase the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, right? With recipes such as peach pancakes, gazpacho salsa and tiny but intense chocolate cake, how could I refuse? It took a lot of self restraint but I stopped myself from buying several others, including last years Masterchef winner Shelina Permaloo’s new book which is filled with the sort of food I very much enjoy eating. Talk about willpower.

Before The Boyfriend left for Ukraine, we had to clear out our cupboard under the stairs to make room for our new boiler. This is where I’d been keeping all of my cookbooks and in between the many trips upstairs to relocate my precious books The Boyfriend pondered over why I had so many cookbooks when all I ever cook from are the same Nigella and Gizzi faithfuls. I don’t like to admit it but he had a point. So, in the childish spirit of wanting to prove him wrong I vowed to mix things up a little and actually use my neglected cookbooks, before he sets fire to them in the garden. I probably wouldn’t even notice them go missing. Step forward, Gordon Ramsay and his book Fast Food. Gordon, once upon a very long time ago, was my weird crush for a while until it looked like he had an affair and became a little bit too prominent on TV. Infidelity and overkill, big passion killers. The Boyfriend, being the understanding soul that he is, surprised me with an Amazon parcel in the post with this very cookbook contained within its cardboard corners. I’m sure there were no ulterior motives in play when he committed this selfless act of love. Of that I am certain. It shames me to say that I’ve never really used this book up until today, and I feel that I’ve missed a trick here. As the title suggests, Gordon gives many suggestions for speedy dinners that don’t involve dialling for a pizza. Trying to lessen my carb intake over dinner but not wanting to completely deprive myself of decent food, I went for lamb steak with a green bean, red onion and pecorino salad which does what it says on the tin really. The Boyfriend tried to trick me into thinking cheese was a carb but research tells me cheese is actually a protein, so now I know what all my carb free dinners will contain from this day forward. Cheese rules. Particularly in this recipe, it turns a pretty simple salad into something much more complex, with salty, earthy cheese taking away the sting of the raw onion and boosting the flavour of the green beans. The lamb itself was cooked exactly how I like it with a little touch of pink in the middle although it was a touch chewy. The key to this is resting the meat for 5-10 minutes after you’ve taken it out of the pan so that the meat relaxes, making it softer to eat, and the residual heat contained in the meat ensures there are no completely raw bits. 2-3 minutes per side on a high heat should get you halfway there, but for the love of god please rest your meat before eating. It’s key to how your dinner turns out. Apologies for the lack of photo, but my phone had taken leave of its senses and just would not work before my dinner turned cold.

So, delving back into my unloved cookbooks has turned out well for me today, and has shown that I might just be able to wean myself off the Nigella addiction. I’ll prove that boy wrong, don’t you worry. Cookbook Neglector 1, The Boyfriend 0.

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Mmmmmm, squeaky cheese

Foolish is the woman who goes on a healthy eating kick the same time that Masterchef and Great British Bake Off are back on TV. And very foolish is one who watches Bake Off at the same time as eating today’s recipe, so one can only assume that the fool is indeed me. After nearly a month of no exercise and eating pretty much whatever I want while The Boyfriend was home, it’s now time to get sensible again and eat healthily. Most days anyway, I need my baking Sunday’s now more than ever seeing as he’s flown away again. I was pretty darn determined to not eat dull, boring meals as part of my healthier lifestyle so I have torn through my cookery magazines to find plenty of delicious recipes to keep me going and to keep me interested in eating well. Today’s recipe has absolutely achieved that. I made fennel and halloumi salad from the August 2012 Delicious magazine and it really surprised me. I’ve not eaten a lot of fennel or halloumi before so had no idea how this would turn out, especially with the addition of dried cranberries which I wouldn’t automatically pair with any of the other ingredients. But what do I know, we’ve already established my foolishness after all, and in the end it was a nifty little salad with a tonne of flavour that was also super speedy to make. The only cooking involved was frying the halloumi so it browned and went a little bit squishy. Before today I was a halloumi virgin, and I have to ask why I left it so long as i loved it. The warm and soft halloumi went really well with the aniseedy crunch of the fennel, while the cranberries added a sour note which made the salad really interesting. It’s not often people say that about salad is it? I put a small portion on my plate thinking it would never fill my (slightly larger than a month ago) stomach but the cheese makes it deceptively filling. Ahhh squeaky cheese, what can’t you do?

As well as feeling virtuous by eating a tiny and healthy dinner, I also felt that I was doing my bit to spare an innocent chicken or salmon by declaring my day Meat Free Monday. This is despite the fact that I have a big bag of chicken breasts in the freezer and that my insignificant and completely insincere protest will make not a jot of difference to any chicken whatsoever. And I’m having salmon tomorrow. But it made me feel good, so high five for me! Anyway, it’s good to know that should you seek out salads that are a little more unusual, you will be rewarded with a great tasting dinner that leaves you feeling full and opens your taste buds up to some new flavour combinations.

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Books, Cooking, Food, Salads

 

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