The “Friends” (Jennifer Aniston) Salad

Sometimes random things pop up on your social media feed and this was the “Friends” salad, apparently the female cast members all ate the same thing every day for lunch for 10 years.

I followed the recipe provided by icecreamandneondreams.com and I have to say it’s very tasty (maybe not eating it every day for 10 years), but definitely worth including in your salad or lunch dish rotation.

Needless to say its very healthy with plenty of fibre and protein and full of lovely flavours that compliment each other. Like any salad you can play with the ratio of ingredients depending on your taste

The original salad doesn’t have any dressing, but you can also add some olive oil and lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Ingredients

250 Grams Bulgar Wheat (dry weight cook according the instructions on the packet)

1 Large or 2 small Cucumbers

400 Gram Tin of Chick Peas

1 Small red onion (finely sliced)

200 Grams Feta Cheese (crumbled)

50 Grams Shelled Pistachios

2 Tbsp. Fresh mint (chopped), or 2 tsp dried mint

2 Tbsp. Parsley (chopped)

Method

  1. Cook the bulgar wheat according to the instructions on the packet and allow to cool
  2. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out and discard the watery seeds on the middle. Cut each half in half again and slice into 1 cm slices (you can make them chunkier if you prefer)
  3. Drain the chick peas and add to a large bowl along with all the other ingredients and mix well. Have a taste and add some salt and pepper if you the salad needs it

Healthy Mexican Breakfast

I love a hearty breakfast, and this is quick enough for a weekday breakfast but you might prefer to save it for the weekend as it makes a great brunch/lunch dish.

I have shown quantities per person, so just up the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for. I know we don’t usually use herbs at breakfast time, but the coriander and mint really make this delicious (I love picking this from my window box). This meal has plenty of fibre and protein and will fuel you for a good part of the day. If you are gluten free, you can swap the wholemeal tortilla for corn tortilla (just make sure to check the label, to ensure they are GF)

Ingredients (per person)

1 Wholemeal torilla

2 eggs

1/2 Avocado (diced)

6 Cherry tomatoes (halved)

1 Spring onion/scallion (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Mint (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)

100 Grams Canned black beans

Chilli powder – according to taste

1 Tsp Oil

Method

  1. Heat oil in a small pan, crack both eggs into the pan (I like to add a little water and cover with a lid so they steam fry, but feel free to cook the eggs your preferred way)
  2. While your eggs are cooking, slice the vegetables and herbs. Place the tortilla on a plate
  3. Place your eggs on top of the tortilla, and use the same pan to warm through the black beans
  4. Scatter the vegetables, herbs and heated black beans, across the tortilla and eggs and sprinkle with chilli powder (or sliced fresh chillies if you prefer) according to how spicy you like your food.

Spicy (Vegan) Dauphinoise Potatoes

Classic dauphinoise potatoes are loaded with cream and sometimes cheese, and are one of my favourite things to eat.

The first time I made this I had spuds but no cream, so these were basically an experiment. But it was a really yummy one. It’s also nice to mess with the classics sometimes.

I could eat a massive bowl of this on its own, but it’s works really well as a side dish to marinated tempeh or chicken or fish if you’re a carnivore. This is full of creamy, garlicy, chilli gorgeousness.

Left overs are also great heated up with a fried egg on top.

1Kg Potatoes

400ml Tin of Coconut mik

3-4 Cloves of Garlic (minced)

1Tsp Chilli flakes

1 Tsp Ground ginger

1Tsp Tumeric

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Peel and slice your potatoes as finely possible. Some people use a mandolin, but I’ve never been able to use one without cutting myself, I just use a kitchen knife
  3. Add the coconut milk, garlic and spices to a saucepan and heat over a gentle heat, add the sliced potatoes and simmer very gently for 10 minutes
  4. Line a baking dish with parchment paper (you don’t have to this, but it does make it easier to clean the dish afterwards)
  5. Add the potatoes to the dish and spread evenly before putting in oven for 40-45 minutes. Test with a fork to make sure the potatoes are soft

Halloumi Bake

Healthy food can still be rich and unctuous. This makes a great week night dinner or you can assemble and bake the following day.

Packed with flavour and protein, this makes a deeply satisfying meal. I love it served with salad and crusty bread.

Ingredients

200 Grams Halloumi (allow the halloumi to come to room temperature before using)

340 Gram Tin of Chick peas

400ml Passata

150 Grams Mushrooms (roughly chopped)

1 Onion (roughly chopped)

1 Courgette (roughly chopped)

Large sprig of thyme

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Add oil to a large pan over a medium heat, add onion, courgettes and mushrooms, and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until the vegetables start to soften.
  3. Add the chick peas and passata, and simmer for a another 5-10 minutes before transfering to an oven proof dish
  4. Slice the halloumi into 1cm think slices and brush or spray with a little oil
  5. Top the vegetable mix with the halloumi and bake for 25-30 mins or until the cheese had turn a rich golden brown.

Middle Eastern Barley and Feta Salad

I have been over indulging lately and my body was crying out for something healthy and delicious. I love this salad, its packed with colour, texture and flavour and is full of protein.

Barley is a much underrated ingredient and used mostly in soup and stews, but is also amazing in risottos and salads.

This salad is substantial enough to eat on its own but is also fantastic as a side dish or part of a mezze, or in a wrap. This will in fridge in an airtight box for 2-3 days.

Ingredients

75 Grams Barley (dry weight)

100 Grams Radishes (finely sliced)

2 Scallions/spring onions (finely sliced)

50 Grams Almonds (rough chopped)

2Tbsp Pumkin seeds

50 Grams Pomegranate seeds

100 Grams Feta (crumbled into junks)

2 Tbsp Mint (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely sliced, you can use parsley if you don’t like coriander)

For the dressing

2 Tbsp Olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Cook the barley according to the instructions on the packet. Lightly oil a shallow baking tray and spread the cooked barley across it to cool
  2. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, add the dressing and stir well

Feta and Vegetable Slice

Vegetarian main courses can be a bit Meh.  This yummy mix of vegetables, lentils and creamy feta cheese wrapped up in delicious flaky pastry makes great quick weeknight dinner and packed with protein.

You can change up the vegetables you use depending on what you have (it’s a good way to use up left over veggies).  You can also used canned lentils, and I always use shop bought flaky pastry (because who really ever makes it from scratch).  You can also make the filling the day before, so all you have to do is assemble and bake if you’re short on time.

I made one large pastry parcel that can sliced up, but you could also make 4 individual ones if you prefer.

Ingredients

1 Sheet of shop bought puff pastry (pre-rolled)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

2 Leeks (sliced)

2 Peppers (sliced)

150 Grams Cooked green lentils

150 Grams Mushrooms (sliced)

200 Grams Feta cheese

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

2-3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

Salt and pepper

1 Beaten Egg (for brushing)

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the vegetables over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and continue to cook until the vegetables are soft
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely, stir in the cooked lentils and feta cheese
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  4. Place your pastry on a sheet of baking parchment. Leaving a border of 2cm, place the vegetable mix on on half of the pastry sheet. I use a slotted spoon to drain off any excess liquid from the vegetable mix
  5. Lightly brush the edges of pastry with beaten egg and fold the pastry over to cover the filling. Press the edges of the pastry together with a fork (or you can crimp it if you’re feeling fancy)
  6. Brush the pastry with some beaten egg, if you want to make things look pretty you can lightly run a knife across the pastry in a criss Cross pattern (be careful not to go too deep and pierce the pastry)
  7. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown

Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake

I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, he does some amazing things with vegetables. He’s able to avoid the usual criticisms of vegetarian food, that it can be a bit rabbit foody and uninteresting.

While a lot of people are vegetarian for health reasons, there are times you still want something rich, unctuous and indulgent.

I’ve filed this under Pure Filth due to the amount of cheese involved. The original recipe calls for just Parmesan cheese. I didn’t have enough, so I used half strong Cheddar. This recipe would probably still work well as a way to use up cheese you have hanging about the fridge. The original recipe recommends that it should be served cold or room temperature (I’ve also eaten it hot, as I couldn’t wait on it cooling and it was yummy). I used a mix of nigella (onion seeds) and sesame seeds on the outside, but you could swap out this for just sesame seeds (I think using just nigella seeds would be too much)

Line the bottom of the cake tin and then coat the sides with nigella and sesame seeds

Ingredients

1 Cauliflower

2 red onions

1 Tbsp Olive oil

7 Eggs

1/2 Tsp Rosemary (optional)

15 Grams Basil

120 Grams Plain flour

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Turmeric

Salt and pepper

Melted butter (for greasing)

1 Tbsp Nigella (onion) seeds

1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

75 Grams Parmesan (grated)

75 Grams Cheddar cheese (grated)

Method

  1. Break the cauliflower into florets and simmer in hot water until soft (but not mushy), drain well and allow to cool
  2. Peel the onions, slice half the first onion into 1/2 cm thick rings and set to one side. Coarsely chop the remaining onions.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 10 minutes, allow to cool
  4. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line the base of a 24cm x 24cm spring form cake tin with baking parchment. Brush the sides of the tin with melted butter and sprinkle with the nigella and sesame seeds
  5. Transfer the cooked onions to a large bowl, add the eggs, herbs, and turmeric and whisk in the flour and baking powder
  6. Stir in the cheese, and then add the cauliflower and mix until the cauliflower is coated in the batter (be careful not to break up the florets, as you want to keep some texture)
  7. Add the batter to your prepared cake tin, making sure you spread it to the edges. Top with the onion circles you set aside earlier and bake for 45 minutes

Almondina

After Christmas many of us want a break from big heavy sit down dinners. With cheese and grazing boards becoming popular, almondina are the perfect addition to lend some interest if you’re bored of crackers.

This is also a great recipe to use up any left over nuts or dried fruit. I actually think it’s better to have mix of fruit and nuts.

Ingredients

175 Grams Nuts (I used a mix of almonds, walnuts and pecans, but any mixture will work)

125 Grams Plain flour

25 Grams Brown sugar

125 Grams Dried fruit (I used roughly chopped apricots and dates, if you are using smaller fruit like raisins or sultanas, keep an eye in them during the second bake as they can catch quickly)

1/4 Tsp Baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1/2 Tsp Salt

175Ml Milk

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Grease a loaf pan
  2. Add all the dry ingredients to a large bowl and combine
  3. Stir in the milk with a wooden spoon and when thoroughly mixed transfer to the loaf tin and bake for 60 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  5. Wrap in cling film and freeze for 1 hour. This will help you slice the almondina thinly. Do not freeze for longer than this
  6. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment
  7. Take the almondina out of the freezer and remove the cling film
  8. With a bread knife, slice the loaf into 1/2 cm thick slices and place on the baking sheet for 12-15 mins (until they brown around the edges), before cooling on a wire wrack
  9. These will last in an airtight container for up to a week

Potato Latkes

Food is one of the best ways to nurture people but also remember those who we loved.

We are in the middle of the Jewish holiday of Hanukah. I’m not Jewish, but my much loved sister in law Bobra Fyne was. She was great at describing the customs surrounding the holiday and was a brilliant story teller (she was one of my favourite people in the world).

She also shared my family’s love of carbs and was an amazing cook, and so I made these as a way to remember her.

Squeeze your grated potatoes in a clean tea towel to remove as much liquid as possible

This is a simple recipe from Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food. While grating the potato is a bit of a faff the results are delicious served the traditional accompaniments of sour cream or apple sauce. Similar to a potato rosti, they can be served as an appetiser or side dish.

Ingredients

1kg Potatoes

2 Eggs

1 Tsp Salt

Oil for frying

Method

  1. Peel and grate the potatoes, rinse in cold water to remove the starch.
  2. Drain in a colander. Depending on the type of potatoes you use, you might need to put the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Transfer to a large bowl
  3. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt and add to the potatoes. Mix until combined
  4. In a large pan, add just enough oil to cover the base and heat over a medium heat
  5. Add a tablespoon of the potato mixture to the pan at a time and flatten slightly so they cook evenly, (they should be thin enough to make sure you don’t have raw potato in the middle)
  6. When brown, turn with a spatula and cook until brown on he other side
  7. Drain on kitchen paper and serve while hot

Pierogis (Polish Dumplings)

Potato and cheese pierogi

I visited Krakow recently, and loved everything about the place. What I really fell in love with were pierogis, served in pretty much every restaurant.

Our food guide told us the it’s really common in Polish homes for members of the family to get together and make huge batches of pierogis, especially at certain times of year, like Christmas.

This weekend I got together with my Krakow travel companions to drink maybe more than we should and make pierogis.

A few cocktails while cooking with friends. If you’re entertaining family over the holidays I would recommend this as a great way to get everyone involved and keep them entertained.

Pierogis are fairly easy to make and we worked in a kind of production line which made it even easier. I would definitely recommend getting your friends together and giving communal cooking a go. By the time you chat, laugh and have a few drinks you can make loads of them. I didn’t have a recipe for these so we used the BBC Good Food recipe and the dumplings tasted exactly like what he had in Poland.

Pierogis freeze well, double up on the recipe and you can pull them out of the freezer for a quick week night dinner. You can also make a sweet version by simply replacing the filling with raw blueberries and serve topped with sour cream.

Blueberry pierogis with sour cream

Ingredients

For the dough

250 Grams Self Raising Flour (sifted)

1 Tsp Salt

3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil

250-300ml Warm Water

For the filling

250 Grams Mashed potatoes (this is a great way to use up left overs, make sure the mashed potatoes are cold before using)

50 Grams Butter

1 Onion (finely chopped)

250 Grams Cottage Cheese

Method

  1. Add the flour and salt to a bowl, add the oil and then gradually add water and mix until you have a soft dough. Gather into a ball, knead for 5 minutes, wrap in cling film. Chill for 30 minutes
  2. While the dough is resting, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown
  3. Mix the potatoes and cottage cheese together and stir in two thirds of the fried onions. Mix until thoroughly combined
  4. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible (nobody wants a thick doughy dumpling). Use a cookie cutter or class to cut 4-5 cm circles
  5. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of the circle and lightly wet the edges of of circle. Fold over to create a half moon and press the edges closed tightly
  6. Heat a large pot of water to just before boiling, add the pierogi, about 6-7 at a time (depending on the size of your pot, just be careful not to overcrowd the pot)
  7. When the pierogi start to float, lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Keep cooking the pierogi until all the dumplings are cooked.
  8. Serve on a large plate, and sprinkle the remaining fried onions over the top