The Spice Trail: your favourite chilli recipes

Chilli Collage

Well, I have to say, if you’re looking for a new chilli recipe, this surely has to be the place to come.

When I first launched The Spice Trail challenge, I wasn’t sure what take-up would be like. I know how much I adore cooking with spices, but what about the rest of the blogosphere? The answer, it seems, is just as much as me. If not more.

This round-up of the first challenge in The Spice Trail is an incredible celebration of cooking with chilli, taking us all over the globe. From tagines and tarts, pies and pasta, to sweets, soups and salads – it’s all here.

So let’s hit the road on this month’s Spice Trail…

Slow cooked beef chilli

Slow Cooked Mexican Style Beef from Mamacook

Slow cooked beef brisket with garlic, chilli, pepper, tomatoes and paprika. You can just tell that meat is going to melt in your mouth, can’t you?

Vietnamese chicken salad

Kinda Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Mamacook

A fresh and tasty oriental salad featuring chicken thighs, fish sauce, garlic, chilli and lime, plus lots of crunch raw veggies, peanuts and coriander. A wonderful combination of flavours and textures.

pineapple cinnamon red chilli frozen yoghurt

Pineapple, Cinnamon & Red Chilli Frozen Yoghurt from Deena Kakaya

Just like Diwali, this frozen yoghurt is a feast for the senses, combining sweet with sour, chilli heat with chiller cool, and a touch of cinnamon perfume. And it looks pretty as a picture too.

sweet chilli and lychee dipping sauce

Sweet Lychee and Hot Chilli Dipping Sauce from Deena Kakaya

According to Deena, her dipping sauce is as good with chips as it is spring rolls and “carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky.”  If you like it hot and sweet, this is the sauce for you.

chilli oil

Chilli Oil with an Indian Accent from Deena Kakaya

So what’s a chilli oil with an Indian accent? Think garam masala and you’ve got the spice mix right there, giving this oil a wonderful aroma and gentle heat with just the right level of sweetness. Truly inspired.

lamb apricot tagine

Lamb, Butternut & Apricot Tagine from Eat Your Veg

This tasty slow cooked tagine is perfect for cheaper cuts of meat and a great way to ‘sneak’ vegetables passed unsuspecting little ones. And what’s more, it’s absolutely packed full of rich, intense flavours for a different take on the traditional Sunday lunch.

homemade harissa

Homemade Harissa from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

Harissa is a versatile chilli and garlic paste originating from North America, ideal for spicing up soups, stews, cous cous and rice dishes. When you’ve seen Chef Mireille’s homemade version, you won’t want to buy shop-bought again!

Persimmon Chilli Tart

Chilli, Ginger & Persimmon Tarts from Chocolate Log Blog

Having never eaten persimmons, I am intrigued by these beautiful tarts, particularly as they also feature white chocolate flavoured with naga chilli. I am a big fan of chilli chocolate but generally find the flavouring is a little on the timid side. Naga chilli chocolate sounds right up my street, providing the perfect foil for the gingery persimmon custard in these tarts.

coconut lentil curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry from Recipes from a Pantry

When you take a look at this curry, you just know it’s going to taste good and make you feel good. Simple lentils with exciting flavours: coconut, garam masala, curry powder, ginger, garlic and, of course, chilli. Plus it’s so incredibly easy to make; it’s one of those pop everything in the slow cooker numbers and simply leave for a few hours. “Now repeat after me,” Bintu instructs us. “I will go shove everything into my slow cooker and then make time for me, four whole hours for me, me, me…” You have been told!

Lamb-Curry

Lamb Curry from My Golden Pear

Here’s a gorgeous “no-nonsense” lamb curry originating from South Africa, just like its creator Angela from The Golden Pear. It’s a sweet and spicy combination of punchy flavours – garlic, ginger, curry powder, chilli, apricot and cinnamon. Lamb with fruit and cinnamon is a fantastic combination – I really look forward to trying this one out on my family.

Peanut Plantain Soup

Plantain Peanut Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

This soup has gone right to the top of my ‘must make’ list. It originates from Africa and wherever African slaves were transported, you’ll find a version of this peanut soup. As well as plantain, it also features okra and green beans and a whole heap of tasty spices, and looks like the perfect dish to warm you up on a chilly night.

sicillian style spicy beef pasta

Sicilian Style Beef Chilli Pasta from Spurs Cook

How about this for a hearty pasta supper, with big chunks of tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef and packed full of spicy flavours? An easy-to-cook, one pot wonder you can stick in the slow cooker in the morning for a wonderfully satisfying meal all ready and waiting for you when you get back from work in the evening. Sounds good to me!

paella

Cheryl’s Paella from Bangers & Mash

Here’s my mum’s take on a Spanish paella. It’s incredibly moreish and very, very tasty with an extra kick from some fiery red chilli. It’s not exactly a traditional paella, but completely gorgeous nonetheless.

chocolate chestnut spiced loaf

Chocolate & Chestnut Spiced Loaf from Blue Kitchen Bakes

While I’ve seen chocolate and chilli come together in all kinds of dishes, I’ve never seen them together in a bread, and a savoury bread and that. But I am completely intrigued by the idea and will definitely have to give this bread recipe from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes a whirl very soon.

vegan spiced parsnip samosa pies

Vegan Spiced Parsnip Samosa Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen

If you ask me, parsnips and spices are a match made in heaven, and these cute little samosa pies look absolutely heavenly. These would be lovely for lunchboxes or picnics (dreaming of warmer weather) and I think they’d make a splendid addition to any buffet table this Christmas time.

pork-meatball-pasta

Pork Meatballs and Pasta from Searching for Spice

Pasta with meatballs is my idea of the perfect comfort food, especially with the addition of a little chilli to heat things up a bit. And this entry from Corina at Searching for Spice looks like just the kind of bowl of meatball loveliness I could dive straight into.

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Creamy Vegetable Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

Here’s another beautifully spiced soup, this time from Chef Mireille in New York. It’s a delicious way to use up vegetables lurking in the fridge, and using crispy fried slices of sweet potato as a garnish is an excellent finishing touch.

Tagliatelle with liver text web

Tagliatelle with Lamb’s Liver from Bangers & Mash

My next offering is another spicy pasta dish, which I came up with for the £3 Cooking Challenge in support of the food charity The Trussell Trust. Chillies are a great way to add flavour to a dish when you’re on a tight budget.

smoked mozzarella and chipotle cornbread

Smoked Mozzarella & Chipotle Cornbread from Fromage Homage

This is such a fantastically evocative entry, with its talk of campfires and cowboys. While I’m not much of a camper, I can quite easily imagine sitting beneath the stars beside a roaring bonfire, tucking into this scrummy, cheesy cornbread as someone serenades me on a ukulele!

chilli con carne

Chilli con Carne from Jibber Jabber UK

I was hoping someone would enter a chilli con carne this month, as it’s one of my all-time favourite chilli dishes, and Ness from Jibber Jabber UK has come up trumps. She describes it as the perfect Friday night meal for sharing with friends and family: “big bowls and happy memories.” Serve me a big bowlful of this chilli con carne and I’d be very happy indeed.

Luchito-Chilli-Honey-Glazed-Ham

Luchito Honey Glazed Ham from Eat Your Veg

There is something just so satisfying about baking and glazing your own ham, and the idea of using a chilli-flavoured honey for the glaze has me practically drooling. I tried Luchito Honey recently in a fruit crumble and can vouch for the fact it is quite delicious. This would be a great way to prepare your ham this Christmas.

winter-soup-with-spiced-tadka

Winter Root Soup with Spiced Tadka from Cook Eat Write

Stacey’s spicy soup looks like a hug in a bowl but it is the spiced tadka, with caraway, paprika, garlic, parsley and chilli, that I really want to try. Next time I make a soup, I’ll definitely be preparing some tadka to drizzle on top. Oh yes!

chilli beef pie

Chilli Beef Pie with Spicy Potato Wedges from Bangers & Mash

I recently got my mitts on a copy of the Higgidy Cookbook and this chilli beef pie was the first recipe I tried. It is absolutely delicious and the idea of topping a stew with crispy wedges is truly inspired. I can’t wait to work my way through the other dishes in this book.

Eat-Your-Veg-Homemade-Baked-Beans

Joe’s Homemade Baked Beans from Eat Your Veg

Don’t you think these wholesome baked beans, flavoured with honey and a generous pinch of chilli flakes, would make a marvellous accompaniment to Fromage Homage’s cornbread above? I’ve wanted to make my own baked beans for ages, and now I think I’ve found the perfect recipe.

chilli with black bean sauce

Chilli Con Carne with Black Bean Sauce from Reluctant Housedad’s Recipe Shed

Here’s another take on one of my favourite dishes. Keith, aka the Reluctant Housedad, has come up with not one, not two but three twists on the classic chilli con carne. He has used chunks of meat instead of the more familiar mince, a spiced butter at the end of cooking, and the unusual addition of Chinese black bean sauce; not an ingredient I’d have thought of using myself but I can imagine it works well. Very well indeed.

Peri-peri-sauce

Peri Peri Sauce from My Golden Pear

Every food fair I go to I seem to end up with another bottle of chilli sauce to add to my ever-expanding collection at home. But no more. I have decided the next bottle of chilli sauce that makes it into my kitchen will be the homemade variety, and I now have two very tempting recipes to test out, starting with this vibrant peri peri sauce from My Golden Pear featuring no less than 20 hot chillies. My tongue is tingling in anticipation!

scotch_bonnet_sauce

Scotch Bonnet Sauce from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

And here’s the other chilli sauce I can’t wait to cook up myself – this time a scotch bonnet sauce from Sarah’s Kitchen Shed, which she made with her own homegrown chillies. My husband is also a keen chilli grower so we have a regular stock of chillies here at Chez Bangers, and what better way to make the most of a chilli glut? Sarah used to sell her sauces to a local Mexican restaurant, so her recipe comes highly recommended!

And the winner is…

I have been enormously impressed by the sheer range and diversity of chilli recipes entered into this first month of The Spice Trail, providing so many hot and spicy dishes to satisfy my chilli addiction for quite some time to come. But there can be only one winner, and I’m very glad it’s not down to me to choose. That unenviable task went to Bryn Davies, one of the directors of Kitchen Nomad.

Over to Bryn…

It was a tough decision but I think the lamb curry from My Golden Pear has to win – it looks delicious!  - closely followed by the honey glazed ham by Eat Your Veg.

So congratulations to Angela at My Golden Pear for winning the inaugural Spice Trail challenge. Drop me a line as soon as you can so we can arrange for your fantastic prize of a Mexican Kitchen Nomad recipe box to be sent out to you. And congratulations also to Lou at Eat Your Veg for coming in a very close second.

kitchennomadmexico

The Kitchen Nomad Mexican recipe box

Thank you to everyone that took part this month in the chilli challenge. The theme for December’s Spice Trail challenge will be announced very soon so watch this space!

February’s Recipes for Life challenge: what can you do with sausages, onions and tomatoes?

Take part in the Recipes for Life food bloggers challenge for your chance to see your recipe featured in a new charity cookbook!

I am thrilled to be launching a new challenge for food bloggers called Recipes for Life.

Each month I’ll be calling for your tasty, wholesome and easy-to-cook recipes that revolve around just three main ingredients. The best of these recipes will be included in a new charity cookbook to be published by SWALLOW later this year.

Kicking off the challenge in February, our first three ingredients are: sausages, onions and tomatoes. What tasty dish could you rustle up with those?

SWALLOW is an incredible charity based just down the road from me in Somerset, supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. It runs a wide range of programmes for its members, empowering them with the skills and experiences to live their lives to the full, from therapeutic art courses and drama groups to domestic and work-based training.

As part of its Fit for Life programme, SWALLOW runs cookery courses, helping members learn to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals. SWALLOW is looking for new recipes for its members to cook on the course, and ultimately to include in its cookbook, that don’t require a lengthy list of ingredients and aren’t incredibly complicated to make.

And so we’re calling on the food blogging community to help us create an exciting collection of cheap and easy recipes, based on readily available, everyday ingredients.

For February we’re looking for recipes that focus on sausages, onions and tomatoes. The sausages can be meat or vegetarian, and the tomatoes can be either the fresh or tinned variety. Any other accompanying ingredients need to be the kind of basic items you’d find in any fridge or store cupboard, such as flour, pasta, rice, milk, eggs and so on. Nothing too fancy like artichoke hearts, preserved lemons or balsamic vinegar please!

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above and below) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by basic store cupboard items.
  3. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Thursday 28 February 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #recipesforlife, @BangerMashChat and @SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet everyone we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much needed funds for its ongoing work.

Here are my easy sausage meatballs, based on a recipe in Nigellisima, to get the ball rolling…

Sausage meatballs

Serves 4

8 large pork sausages
2 tbsp oil (olive or vegetable)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
100ml chicken stock
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Slit the skins of the sausages and squeeze out the meat. Roll the sausagemeat into cherry-tomato-sized balls.

Heat the oil in heavy casserole and fry the meatballs until golden. You may need to fry in batches, depending on the size of your dish. Remove all the meatballs from the casserole and fry the onion for about five minutes until soft and golden. Add the garlic and oregano and fry for another minute before returning the meatballs to the pan.

Pour in the stock and the tomatoes, throw in the bay leaf, and give it all a gentle stir. Bring it to a simmer and leave to cook uncovered for 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a little and the meatballs have cooked through. Taste and add some salt and pepper if needed.

Serve with rice or pasta.

I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for Recipes for Life. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

February’s entries:

  1. Sausage Meat Sauce for Pasta Bakes or Sloppy Joes from Fuss Free Flavours
  2. Sausage Lasagne from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  3. Slow Cooker Turkey Sausages and Veg in the Red from On Top of Spaghetti
  4. Thrifty Sausage, Vegetable and Pearl Barley Hotpot from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  5. Sausage Casserole from The Good Stuff
  6. Sausage, Bean and Veggie Hotpot from Chez Foti
  7. Sausage & Onion Tarts from The Garden Deli
  8. Jumbo Mediterranean Sausage Pasty from The Crazy Kitchen
  9. Sausage Ragu from The Foodie Blog
  10. Quick and Easy Soba Noodles from Fun as a Gran
  11. Sausage and Pepper Pasta from JibberJabberUK
  12. Jacki’s Sausage, Chorizo & Chickpea stew from Jacki Harrison-Stanley

Herbs on Saturday – January Round Up

When I first guest-hosted the Herbs on Saturday blog challenge for Karen at Lavender & Lovage back in July, I found the experience such good fun, particularly discovering so many talented bloggers and a whole heap of tasty new recipes to try. But I was rather surprised at just how many entries were submitted; 30 in total. Putting off writing the round-up to the last-minute was a bit of a silly move. I vowed if I were ever to host Herbs on Saturday again, I’d compile the round-up as I went along to save myself from a last-minute panic.

Hosting Herbs on Saturday second time round has been a real blast and I’ve loved the steady flow of emails arriving in my inbox offering a diverse array of tasty and tempting dishes. But guess what? Yes, you’re right. I failed to learn my lesson and so last night I had another last-minute panic on my hands. This month Herbs on Saturday attracted a whopping  43 entries – you lot are incredible! And each and every one is a wonderfully delicious celebration of cooking with herbs.

Since we’ve got a lot to get through, and I have a slight tendency to waffle on a bit, I’ve decided to be extremely strict and limit myself to just three words to describe each entry. So let’s get this show on the road…

Nigel Slater’s Hangover Salad from London Busy Body

In three words: herby hangover heaven

Herbed Cheese and Bacon Souffles from Caroline Makes

In three words: romantic slimming starter

Cumin Spiced Chicken with a Puy Lentil and Chargrilled Courgette Salad from How to be a Gourmand

In three words: hearty healthy deliciousness

Mushroom, Onion and Thyme Focaccia
from Lancashire Food

In three words: tasty, tempting, satisfying

Swamp Juice from Tinned Tomatoes

In three words: nutritious, luxurious, delicious

In three words: nutritious, luxurious, delicious

Parsley and Almond Pesto from Chez Foti

In three words: quick, simple, scrummy

In three words: quick, simple, scrummy

Slow Roasted Pork Neck in Thyme, Rosemary & Bay with Mint Flatbreads from Bangers & Mash

In three words: sweet, tender, succulent

In three words: sweet, tender, succulent

Creamy Lemon Butter Beans from The Garden Deli

In three words: fresh zingy wholesomeness

In three words: fresh zingy wholesomeness

Roast Chicken with Bulgur Wheat Stuffing and Roast Butternut Squash from Food Eat Love

In three words: mellow, warming, homely

In three words: mellow, warming, homely

Bacon-Wrapped Salmon from Fab Food 4 All

In three words: speedy succulent supper

In three words: speedy succulent supper

A Really Useful Asian Broth with Awesome Add-Ins from Food to Glow

In three words: flavoursome Asian goodness

In three words: flavoursome Asian goodness

Rosemary and Thyme Chickpea Pancakes (Socca de Nice) from Food to Glow

In three words: easy gluten-free nuttiness

In three words: easy gluten-free nuttiness

Saltimbocca alla Romana from Rita Cooks Italian

In three words: divine Italian classic

Spicy Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Beans from Farmersgirl Kitchen

In three words: sweet warming spiciness

In three words: sweet warming spiciness

Parsley Pesto from The Botanical Baker

In three words: easy, tasty, versatile

In three words: easy, tasty, versatile

Chicken, Sausage and Vegetable Hotpot
from Lavender & Lovage

In three words: seasonal healthy heartiness

In three words: seasonal healthy heartiness

Dukkah & Sun Dried Tomato Muffins
from Fuss Free Flavours

In three words: herby spicy deliciousness

In three words: herby spicy deliciousness

Fridge-Raid Smoked Salmon Spaghetti
from Crumbs and Corkscrews

In three words: tasty frugal simplicity

In three words: tasty frugal simplicity

Tiger Prawn Curry with Basmati Rice from
Lavender & Lovage

In three words: seriously - diet food?!

In three words: seriously – diet food?!

English Parsley, Walnut and Stilton Pesto
from Marmaduke Scarlet

In three words: fashionably green gorgeousness

In three words: fashionably green gorgeousness

Easy Shakshuka (Spiced North African Tomato and Eggs) from Food to  Glow

In three words: intense, aromatic, luxurious

In three words: intense, aromatic, luxurious

Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus from The Taste Space

In three words: creamy, zingy, flavourful

In three words: creamy, zingy, flavourful

Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps from Chez Foti

In three words: warming comforting fabulousness

In three words: warming comforting fabulousness

Middle Eastern Chicken Salad with Hummus Dressing from Bangers & Mash

In three words: moist, succulent, nutty

In three words: moist, succulent, nutty

Chicken Breast Fillets with Sage from
My Little Italian Kitchen

In three words: classic Italian flavours

In three words: classic Italian flavours

5:2 Diet Minestrone Soup from Tinned Tomatoes

In three words: rich, tasty, slurpilicious!

In three words: rich, tasty, slurpilicious!

Rillettes de Canard from Blue Kitchen Bakes

In three words: tempting tender tastiness

In three words: tempting tender tastiness

Cauliflower & Pear Soup from Elizabeth’s Kitchen

In three words: clever flavour combinations

In three words: clever flavour combinations

Croustade de Canard (Duck Pie with Figs) from Delicieux

In three words: economical spicy warmth

In three words: economical spicy warmth

Roasted Mushrooms with Rosemary from Cherrapeno

In three words: easy, herby, garlicky

In three words: easy, herby, garlicky

Zero Effort Spicy Carrot Soup from Dinner with Crayons

In three words: quick whizz go!

In three words: quick whizz go!

Thyme, Black Garlic and Tomato Flatbreads from
Blue Kitchen Bakes

In three words: sweet mellow crunch

In three words: sweet mellow crunch

Bresaola Spirals from Leeks and Limoni

In three words: deliciously romantic temptations

In three words: deliciously romantic temptations

Shakshuka from Exploits of a Food Nut

In three words: herby flavour explosion

In three words: herby flavour explosion

Peashoot, Bacon & Ricotta Penne from Anne’s Kitchen

In three words: speedy frugal tastiness

In three words: speedy frugal tastiness

Nigella’s Chicken Tagine from Blue Kitchen Bakes

In three words: yummy Moroccan flavours

In three words: yummy Moroccan flavours

Kroppkakor – Swedish Style Dumplings from Delicieux

In three words: tasty meaty dumplings

In three words: tasty meaty dumplings

Belleau Minestrone from Belleau Kitchen

In three words: nourishing, hearty, satisfying

In three words: nourishing, hearty, satisfying

Sicilian Style Tuna with Salsa Verde from 8&Ruth

In three words: zingy, fresh, lemony

In three words: zingy, fresh, lemony

Smoked Mackerel Salad with Yoghurt, Horseradish & Dill Dressing from Recipe Junkie

In three words: fantastic flavoursome fish

In three words: fantastic flavoursome fish

Lemon Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Rosemary from Lavender & Lovage

In three words: cooking next week!

In three words: cooking next week!

Cheesy Chorizo Flatbreads from Blue Kitchen Bakes

In three words: easy cheesy breadilicious

In three words: easy cheesy breadilicious

Goats Cheese Souffles with Thyme from Maison Cupcake

In three words: step-by-step souffle guide

In three words: step-by-step souffle guide

Now how’s that for an impressive selection of recipes, providing a veritable wealth of culinary inspiration? I look forward to working my way through the list. I’m starting the 5:2 diet next week and will be trying out the Lemon Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Rosemary from Lavender and Lovage, and I’ve also got my eye on the Croustade de Canarde from Delicieux, as I have some duck breast in the freezer. Which dishes have caught your fancy?

“But who won the prize this month?” I hear you cry. Well, the lucky winner of Your Kitchen Garden: Month-by-Month, by the renowned gardening author Andi Clevely, is none other than Rachel from Marmaduke Scarlet for her fashionably green pesto made with English parsley, walnuts and Stilton. Karen’s mystery judge this month is a professional herb grower based in North Yorkshire, who we’ll call The Herb Lady.

The Herb Lady said: “It took me a long time to select the winner but I chose Marmaduke Scarlet’s pesto as it is so fresh and innovative and a good use of parsley, which is so often relegated to garnishes and sauces. Using walnuts instead of pine nuts makes this a thoroughly British pesto.”

Congratulations to Rachel and we hope you have lots of fun devising new ideas for your kitchen garden with inspiration from your new book!

Before I sign off, I’d just like to say a huge thank you to Karen at Lavender & Lovage for once again entrusting her Herbs on Saturday challenge to me. I’d love to host again some time – once I’ve fully recovered from compiling this round-up! And now I think I need a little lie down…

January Herbs on Saturday blog challenge – win a copy of ‘Your Kitchen Garden’

Well, here we are in 2013 already. How on earth did that happen? I know I say it every year but 2012 really did feel like it was over in a flash. I hope you enjoyed a delicious Christmas and had a wonderful time seeing in the new year. Ours was lovely. Christmas was a whirlwind of visits from family and friends, while we spent New Year’s Eve very quietly, enjoying steak and chips, good red wine and Jools Holland on the telly. Splendid.

I’m extremely pleased to be welcoming in the new year here on Bangers & Mash by hosting the Herbs on Saturday blog challenge for Karen at Lavender & Lovage.

I first hosted Herbs on Saturday back in July and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The challenge is a fabulous way to share delicious recipes that celebrate cooking with herbs, and I was fortunate enough to meet so many new and talented food bloggers as a result of hosting it last time. I can’t wait to see what comes in this month, particularly after seeing the recipes submitted last month.

To take part in the challenge, simply submit any recipe using fresh or dried herbs by emailing me with the URL for your post. And they don’t only need to be recipes made on a Saturday. At the end of each month, a ‘special blogger’ will choose their favourite recipe from all the entries, and the winning blogger will receive a fantastic cookbook as their prize. The full entry guidelines are below.

January’s prize is Your Kitchen Garden: Month-by-Month by renowned gardening author Andi Clevely.

Highly practical and easy-to-use, with clear illustrations and seasonal charts, Andi Clevely’s book is invaluable for creating a  well-managed kitchen garden providing a plentiful supply of vegetables, fruit, salad crops, herbs and flowers throughout the year. Each chapter focuses on one calendar month, setting out the tasks to be done and featuring crops that will be ripe for harvesting.

Herbs on Saturday for January – guidelines on how to enter

  1. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date is Thursday 31 January.
  2. Display the Herbs on Saturday badge (as shown above and below) on the relevant recipe post, with a link back to this post  and also to the challenge page over at Lavender & Lovage.
  3. Email me as many recipe links as you like, there is no limit and the recipes and posts can be from any day, not just Saturday!
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #herbsonsaturday, @BangerMashChat and @KarenBurnsBooth in your tweet – I will retweet all that I see.
  5. The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge as listed above with the Herbs on Saturday badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. A guest blogger will choose their favourite recipe at the end of the month, and the winner will receive a copy of Your Kitchen Garden: Month-by-Month.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m really looking forward to receiving your entries for Herbs on Saturday!

January’s entries:

  1. Nigel Slater’s Hangover Salad from London Busy Body
  2. Herbed Cheese and Bacon Souffles from Caroline Makes
  3. Cumin Spiced Chicken with a Puy Lentil and Chargrilled Courgette Salad from How to be a Gourmand
  4. Mushroom, Onion and Thyme Focaccia from Lancashire Food
  5. Swamp Juice from Tinned Tomatoes
  6. Parsley Pesto from Chez Foti
  7. Slow Roasted Pork Neck in Thyme, Rosemary & Bay with Mint Flatbreads from Bangers & Mash
  8. Creamy Lemon Butter Beans from The Garden Deli
  9. Roast Chicken with Bulgur Wheat Stuffing and Roast Butternut Squash from Food Eat Love
  10. Bacon-Wrapped Salmon from Fab Food 4 All
  11. A Really Useful Asian Broth with Awesome Add-Ins from Food to Glow
  12. Rosemary and Thyme Chickpea Pancakes (Socca de Nice) from Food to Glow
  13. Saltimbocca alla Romana from Rita Cooks Italian
  14. Spicy Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Beans from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  15. Parsley Pesto from The Botanical Baker
  16. Chicken, Sausage and Vegetable Hotpot from Lavender & Lovage
  17. Dukkah & Sun Dried Tomato Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  18. Fridge-Raid Smoked Salmon Spaghetti from Crumbs and Corkscrews
  19. Tiger Prawn Curry with Basmati Rice from Lavender & Lovage
  20. English Parsley, Walnut and Stilton Pesto from Marmaduke Scarlet
  21. Easy Shakshuka (Spiced North African Tomato and Eggs) from Food to  Glow
  22. Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus from The Taste Space
  23. Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps from Chez Foti
  24. Middle Eastern Chicken Salad with Hummus Dressing from Bangers & Mash
  25. Chicken Breast Fillets with Sage from My Little Italian Kitchen
  26. 5:2 Diet Minestrone Soup from Tinned Tomatoes
  27. Rillettes de Canard from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  28. Cauliflower & Pear Soup from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  29. Croustade de Canard (Duck Pie with Figs) from Delicieux
  30. Roasted Mushrooms with Rosemary from Cherrapeno
  31. Zero Effort Spicy Carrot Soup from Dinner with Crayons
  32. Thyme, Black Garlic and Tomato Flatbreads from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  33. Bresaola Spirals from Leeks and Limoni
  34. Shakshuka from Exploits of a Food Nut
  35. Peashoot, Bacon & Ricotta Penne from Anne’s Kitchen
  36. Nigella’s Chicken Tagine from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  37. Kroppkakor – Swedish Style Dumplings from Delicieux
  38. Belleau Minestrone from Belleau Kitchen
  39. Sicilian Style Tuna with Salsa Verde from 8&Ruth
  40. Smoked Mackerel Salad with Yoghurt, Horseradish & Dill Dressing from Recipe Junkie
  41. Lemon Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Rosemary from Lavender & Lovage
  42. Cheesy Chorizo Flatbreads from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  43. Goats Cheese Souffles with Thyme from Maison Cupcake

Why I can’t stop grinning…

My cheeks are getting really rather sore now. There’s only so much grinning one woman can do. But every time my grin begins to subside, I remember the events of Friday night again and bam! I’m beaming again!

It rather took my by surprise. There I was at the MAD (Mum & Dad) Blog Awards ceremony in London, feeling just so thrilled because I was actually out on a Friday night and what’s more I was wearing the most beautiful dress I have ever owned in my life AND I’d just had my photo taken with the very gorgeous Myleene Klass. And then the name Bangers & Mash was read out as winner of the Best Food Blog category. I almost fell off my chair.

Of course I wanted to win. I’m one of the most competitive people I know. But I had done a really good job of convincing myself I had absolutely no chance as I was up against some very talented food bloggers.

And yet win I did and I am now the happiest mummy food blogger on earth. I owe a whopping big thank you to everyone that voted for Bangers & Mash to win and to everyone who has sent me the loveliest messages over the last couple of days via the blog, Twitter and Facebook.

But my favourite  message of all was the one I received when I got back home the next day, attached to a single red rose…

I hope to bring you some more photos from the awards ceremony in the next few days, but in the meantime you can pop over to Storify for some of the Twitter highlights…

Herbs on Saturday – July Round Up

Well, I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed my first experience hosting a blog challenge. What a wonderful opportunity to get to know new food bloggers and share in such a diverse and exciting collection of recipes. Before I go any further I must say a massive thank you to Karen at Lavender & Lovage for entrusting her Herbs on Saturday challenge to me for the month of July!

I have to admit I was a little worried I wouldn’t receive any entries during my ‘term in office’ but can you believe there were actually 30 entries to Herbs on Saturday this month. Thank you each and every one of you for your entries, each dish a glorious celebration of cooking with herbs. So let’s take a look at each of those dishes…

First up is this tasty sausage plait from Mamacook, which I can’t wait to try out on my own family – we love both puff pastry and sausages in our house! And I love the fact there are sneaky hidden vegetables in there too.

Sausage plait from Mamacook

Doesn’t this Pan Bagnat from Lavender & Lovage look incredible? A gorgeous French picnic sandwich that just cries out for a day spent lazing on a rug in a summer meadow with some good friends, a bottle of cold white wine or perhaps some Pimms, and maybe a game or two of French cricket or Pooh sticks…

Pan bagnat from Lavender & Lovage

I love the fact that Cooking Around the World’s Mediterranean Feta and Tomato Bake comes complete with its own fairy story! It looks such a fresh and simple dish, perfect for mopping up with a great hunk of crusty bread. Definitely my kind of food!

Mediterranean Feta and Tomato Bake from Cooking Around the World

Try it, like it, love it are the instructions accompanying this simply delicious spaghettis aux herbes et ail from Simple Quiet Modern, and I have no doubt that anyone who tastes it will instantly fall in love with it. I adore simple pasta dishes, with a glug of good olive oil and some lovely fresh herbs, and this bowl of spaghetti looks incredible.

Les spaghettis aux herbes et ail from Simple Quiet Modern

Next up is my chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint, a fresh, zingy summer salad. My family weren’t quite sure what to make of it when I first served it. Cold noodles! Are you mad?! But after a couple of bites, they were persuaded…

Chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint from Bangers & Mash

Another simple pasta dish now; this time a quick and satisfying Pepper and Mushroom Pappardelle  from Tinned Tomatoes, who knows a thing or two about good vegetarian family food. I do love a creamy pasta sauce and was interested to see this recipe features goat’s yoghurt as well as cream. I must give it a try!

Pepper and Mushroom Pappardelle from Tinned Tomatoes

If you happen to have a glut of gooseberries or have over-indulged at a pick-your-own farm, then this Devilled Gooseberry Sauce and Tarragon Vinegar from As Strong As Soup should have you pricking up your ears. It sounds absolutely delicious and easy to make, and apparently is good with oily fish like mackerel, as well as chicken, duck and pork.

Devilled Gooseberry Sauce and Tarragon Vinegar from As Strong As Soup

I think cheese scones with salad are perfect for a light lunch, providing a tasty alternative to bread, and it would seem Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen agrees. Take a look at her scrummy Cheese and Herb Scone, featuring chives, rosemary and thyme.

Cheese and Herb Scone from Farmersgirl Kitchen

These Turkish Zucchini Fritters from Tinned Tomatoes look incredibly tasty and very, very versatile. I know my two girls are going to love trying these with their favourite hummus and soured cream dips, and I think they’ll work well in their lunch boxes when school starts again.

Turkish Zucchini Fritters from Tinned Tomatoes

I have never tried Involtini di melanzane before but after seeing this beautiful entry from Leeks & Limoni I really must put that right and make it soon. Aubergine is a favourite ingredient of mine and I do like the sound of these rolls with cheese, pinenuts, passata, mint and oregano.

Involtini di melanzane from Leeks & Limoni

Food and childhood are inextricably linked and in her beautiful entry white asparagus tips with tarragon sauce, Helene at French Foodie Baby recalls memories of Sunday lunches eating white asparagus as a child in her mother’s apartment. Here she adapts her mother’s recipe for her own son Pablo.

White asparagus tips with tarragon sauce from French Foodie Baby

Pablo is one very lucky boy! Helene at French Foodie Baby created this heavenly Nectarine Shiso Ice Cream for him as his first ever taste of ice cream. I have never tried the herb shiso before but I really must track some down now!

Nectarine Shiso Ice Cream from French Foodie Baby

Next French Foodie Baby brings us her take on a French classic, Salmon with sorrel. This is an incredibly simple and delicious dish, which she’s created as a puree for her young son and is ideal for anyone looking for new ideas for little ones moving onto solids.

Salmon with sorrel from French Foodie Baby

Back to me again for penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli, a very quick and easy pasta dish using lots of one of my favourite herbs, fresh tarragon, as well as purple sprouting broccoli which I just can’t get enough of!

Penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli from Bangers & Mash

Mich from Piece of Cake brings us this tempting Rosemary Foccacia next. I just wanted to reach into my computer screen and grab a slice when I saw it! I’m rather partial to a good foccacia and this looks very, very good.

Rosemary Foccacia from Piece of Cake

These blackberry lavender popsicles from girlichef look so enticingly juicy and refreshing. As Heather herself describes them – berrylicious! The pairing of blackberry with lavender really appeals to me. We have lots of lavender in the garden so I can’t wait for the blackberries to ripen so I can make my own…

Blackberry Lavender Popsicles from girlichef

Heather from girlichef brings us another refreshing recipe for hot sunny days with her sensational Herbal Lemonade - inspired by the novel Thank You for Flying Air Zoe via a band called The Flip-Flops which made her think of summertime. Love it!

Herbal Lemonade from girlichef

I defy anyone to be able to look at this piece of toast and not instantly crave strawberry jam! Sarah from The Garden Deli brings us this gorgeous strawberry and basil jam, which she describes as not so sweet as your usual strawberry jam, but still with that fresh taste a good strawberry jam should have. I want some now!

Strawberry and basil jam from The Garden Deli

For me, this Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta from Chez Foti is summertime on a plate. I always enjoy reading about Lou’s adventures in her veggie patch, or rather potager, over in France. This summer she has a large glut of courgettes and therefore a steady stream of clever and creative courgette recipes on her blog. This bruschetta looks so tasty and I look forward to recreating, along with her yummy courgette cake…

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta from Chez Foti

I’ve developed a bit of a passion for beetroot in the last year, probably as a result of our weekly veg box, and so this Beetroot with Chorizo, Feta and Mint from Farmersgirl Kitchen is right up my street. The combination of sweet beetroot with the spicy, smokey chorizo, salty cheese and punchy mint definitely appeals.

Beetroot with Chorizo, Feta and Mint from Farmersgirl Kitchen

Next up is A Gratin of Tomatoes from how to cook good food and as soon as Laura mentioned she made this dish in minutes, she’d got my full attention. It’s the school holidays and with two young daughters I’m constantly on the look-out for quick and easy food to make the family, and this tasty gratin looks just the ticket.

A Gratin of Tomatoes from how to cook good food

Karen from Lavender & Lovage offers us a second dish with her glorious Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats. I really like the idea of using oats to make the meat go further, which means it’s both a frugal and tasty family dish.

Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage

French Foodie Baby offers us more stunning photography and another incredible yet simple dish with her Artichoke bottoms with green sauce. You could serve just about anything alongside a soft-boiled egg and I’m there, but this dish really does beg to be made. I’ve said it before, but little Pablo really is a very lucky boy!

Artichoke bottoms with green sauce from French Foodie Baby

Herby Roast Chicken from A Trifle Rushed is our next entry – now doesn’t that look so good? You can almost smell the roast chicken from here – yum! Another dish which shows that good food doesn’t need to be complicated; it’s all down to seasonal, local ingredients cooked simply and well.

Herby Roast Chicken from A Trifle Rushed

This Pesto Linguine is a favourite dish of Jacqueline over at How to be a Gourmand - a quick mid-week meal when she needs an easy, fuss-free dinner. It’s a classic dish elevated to a whole new level through Jacqueline’s beautiful photography.

Pesto Linguine from How to be a Gourmand

Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo is my final entry into this month’s challenge. I don’t own an ice-cream maker so semifreddo is my homemade ice-cream of choice. This version is even easier as it uses condensed milk instead of eggs. Don’t you think it looks pretty?

Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo from Bangers & Mash

Linzi at Lancashire Food says her Grilled halloumi and herb salad will transport you to the Mediterranean in moments and I absolutely believe her. I love using heaps of fresh herbs in salads, as an ingredient in their own right, rather than just a flavouring, and Linzi’s salad looks the perfect accompaniment to her paprika-dusted grilled halloumi. I’m beginning to drool a little thinking about it…

Grilled halloumi and herb salad by Lancashire Food

Tomato and basil are a match made in heaven, and they certainly look good together in this Tomato and basil tart by Blue Kitchen Bakes. As I’m not a natural-born pastry chef myself, I particularly enjoyed Jen’s descriptions of her escapades while making the pastry for this tart!

Tomato and basil tart by Blue Kitchen Bakes

Lou at Chez Foti continues her love affair with courgettes with her 70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow – an overgrown courgette in other words. This looks so much better than the flabby stuffed marrows I remember from my childhood and I love the combination of pork in the stuffing with sage and apple. If the courgettes in my veg patch ever get going, I’ll be leaving one of them to grow and grow just so I can make this dish.

70s Flashback Stuffed Marrow by Chez Foti

And finally we have a Tomato and Herb Foccacia from Working London Mummy, who uses slow roasted tomatoes and fresh oregano to top her sumptuous olive oil rich bread. Regular readers of my blog will know how much I adore slow roasted tomatoes, so this recipe’s going straight to the top of my ‘to do’ list!

Tomato and Herb Foccacia from Working London Mummy

So there you have it – all 30 entries for July’s Herbs on Saturday challenge. I’m sure you’ll agree, they make a very fine recipe collection.

But of course there can only be one winner. And this month the winner receives a copy of The Best-Ever Easy-to-Use Herb Cookbook, edited by Joanna Farrow. Helen from Fuss Free Flavours is July’s mystery judge and she has chosen as the winning post… drum roll please!… Nectarine Shiso Ice Cream from French Foodie Baby.

Helen said of the winning post:

Lovely recipe.  Really like the use of herbs in a sweet dish, and the flavour pairing intrigues me. I imagine the slight sharpness of the shiso combined with the concentrated sweetness of the roasted nectarines is quite amazing and adds so much to the ice cream.

So huge congratulations go to Helene at French Foodie Baby - the cookbook will be in the post to you very soon.

And congratulations also to girlichef as Helen at Fuss Free Flavours was keen to single out your Blackberry Lavender Popsicles for a special mention.

Thank you so much to everyone for sharing their fabulous food and for making Herbs on Saturday such a pleasure to host this month.