Lemon roast chicken for Sunday supper and Monday lunch

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

Before I had a family and had slightly more disposable income, I rarely took a homemade lunch into work. I’d usually pop out to the local sandwich shop, or on a Friday I might join colleagues for a pub lunch and a shandy. Those were the days!

Keeping a lid on our food budget means preparing a packed lunch most days, for me and my husband and the girls. And very often that means making the most of the leftovers from the night before. But lunchbox leftovers don’t need to be dull, and they don’t need to be a case of simply reheating last night’s dinner.

leftover lunchesI’ve teamed up with Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from money-saving site VoucherCodes.co.uk to devise a recipe that demonstrates how you can spend just a tenner on a delicious family meal for four that can then be magically transformed into a deliciously different lunch the following day.

The good folk at Most Wanted are keen to help people make the most of their money without compromising on life’s little luxuries. While a trip to the local deli might be a nice treat, regularly spending £5 on a salad or panini can’t be cost-effective. So they’re on the search for tasty recipes that create an abundance of leftovers you can eat for lunch without it costing a fortune.

I love a roast on a Sunday and, what’s more, they are ideal for leaving you with heaps of delicious leftovers for versatile weekday lunches, from soups and curries to sandwiches, wraps and salads. Personally I like to play with my leftovers a little, so I don’t find myself growing bored eating the same dish again and again.

This lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrot and sweet potato is a colourful and cheery take on a roast dinner, making the most of those seasonal root vegetables. The veggies are roasted along with the chicken for an incredibly easy meal, full of rich, sweet, caramelised flavours.

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

To give the chicken its incredibly fresh, vibrant flavour, I roast it with half a lemon stuffed inside, and then when the cooked chicken is resting, I squeeze the juice of the other half all over the skin. It’s so simple but it tastes glorious.

lemon roast chicken

Then to turn the roast into a different dish for Monday lunch, I’ve used the leftover meat and vegetables in a tasty bulgur wheat salad with fresh mint and coriander and lots of nutty, juicy pomegranate seeds. The colours are fantastic and I love the way the beetroot juices soak into the bulgur wheat turning it pink.

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

What’s more, you should also have enough chicken left over to cook up a soup for Tuesday lunch, making a stock from the chicken bones.

And all this for under £10. Pretty good, eh?

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

Lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrots and sweet potato

Serves 4 with leftovers

1 medium chicken (around 1.5kg)
1 lemon
salt and pepper
25g soft butter
400g raw beetroots
450g carrots
350g sweet potatoes
olive oil
mixed salad leaves

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Sit the chicken in a roasting tin. Cut the lemon in half, and then one of the halves into quarters. Place the lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity and sprinkle some salt in there too.

Rub the butter over the skin and sprinkle with some more salt. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you poke a sharp knife into the thickest part of a leg. If the skin is browning too quickly, cover with a sheet of kitchen foil.

Peel the beetroot, carrot and sweet potato. Cut the beetroot and sweet potato into wedges, and slice the carrot into similar sized chunks.

Place the beetroot onto a sheet of foil and drizzle over a little olive oil and a grind of salt and pepper. Wrap loosely and place in another roasting tin.

Place the carrot and sweet potato at the other end of the tin, and similarly drizzle with oil and a little salt and pepper. Mix it up with your hands to make sure the vegetables are well coated.

Put the vegetables in the oven once the chicken has had around 50 minutes of its cooking time. Roast the vegetables for around 40 minutes, until they are tender and beginning to brown.

When the chicken is out of the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt and squeeze the juice from the other half of lemon all over the crispy skin. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the roast chicken and vegetables with a simple leaf salad. There’s no need for any dressing; simply pour over the lemony roast chicken juices. Don’t be greedy now – make sure you leave enough chicken and veggies for tomorrow’s lunch.

So now for those leftovers…

lemon chicken bulgar wheat roast vegetables

Lemon chicken and bulgur wheat salad with roast vegetables and pomegranate seeds

Serves 4

125g bulgur wheat
leftover roast vegetables – beetroot, sweet potato and carrot
handful each of fresh coriander and mint, roughly chopped
seeds from half a pomegranate
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper
leftover cold roast chicken

Rinse the bulgur wheat and place in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water to at least double the height of the bulgur wheat, and leave for 15 minutes. Drain the bulgur wheat and leave to cool.

To assemble the salad, simply place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl with the vegetables, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season to taste.

Mix it all together gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

If you’re serving this straightaway, lay pieces of shredded chicken on top of the salad and bring to the table.

If you’re taking the salad to school or work for lunch, I share the salad between the plastic boxes and then place the torn pieces of chicken on top before popping the lid on.

For some reason, I prefer to keep the chicken separate to the rest of the salad, but feel free to mix it all up together if you like.

So there you have my two ways with a roast chicken.

How do you use your Sunday roast leftovers?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VoucherCodes. I received a fee to buy the ingredients and develop the recipes. 

no food waste challenge

 

As these recipes are a brilliant way to ensure you reduce your food waste, I’m entering them into this month’s No Waste Food Challenge hosted by London Unattached and Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

Sweet and sour winter salad

sweet and sour winter salad

This article first appeared in the Wells Journal on 9 January 2014.

In the deepest, darkest days of winter, it is not uncommon to crave large helpings of a warming slow-cooked casserole, a rich, meaty pie or a satisfying steamed pudding smothered in hot custard.

There are times though when it’s not heavy, stodgy comfort food my body yearns for. Instead I need something light, crunchy and zingy; a fresh and healthy dish to transport my head to more sunshiny climes.

While this salad is comprised for the main part of seasonal winter produce, it successfully delivers a taste of summer, as well as providing a much-needed alternative use for those seemingly uninspiring ingredients filling our veggie boxes week after week at this time of year.

Based on a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, this salad is extremely versatile and can be used with just about any root vegetable or cabbage. All the vegetables are served raw, either grated or finely shredded, so it is very much like a winter coleslaw or remoulade. But it is the dressing that really elevates this salad, featuring generous handfuls of fresh herbs, lemon juice, salty capers, mustard, sour cherries, sultanas and a little sugar, for a superbly vibrant sweet and sour kick.

I served it alongside a baked ham for our Boxing Day gathering and it went down a storm with family and friends. It’s also a very good accompaniment to simple grilled fish or chicken, or include it as part of a mezze.

So next time you pull up yet another swede or parsnip from you veg box or allotment, don’t automatically boil it up or roast it. Instead, give this sweet and sour salad a go and bring your taste buds out of hibernation.

sweet and sour winter salad

Sweet and sour winter salad

Serves 4-6

500g winter vegetables, shredded or grated
(I used red cabbage, celeriac, parsnip and swede)
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
50g capers
juice of 1 large lemon
1 tsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tsp wholegrain mustard
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp caster sugar
50g dried sour cherries
50g raisins
salt and pepper

Place all the shredded or grated vegetables in a large mixing bowl and simply add the rest of the ingredients. Use your hands to thoroughly combine everything to make sure the vegetables absorb all those flavours.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and possibly a little more vinegar or sugar depending on how sweet or sour you like it.

Leave the salad for an hour or so before serving to allow the flavours to develop. I always intentionally make too much, as I think it tastes even better the next day.

Cooking-with-Herbs

As this salad features both fresh herbs and zingy lemon, I’m entering it into this month’s Cooking with Herbs hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage where the theme for January is Herbs & Citrus Fruits.

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It is also my offering for Extra Veg, a new challenge hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy, encouraging us all to eat an extra portion of vegetables each day. With a big bowl of this in your fridge, there’s no excuse to snack on the bad stuff when you get the munchies.

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Since it’s such an unbelievably healthy bowful of goodness, I’ve got to share it with Four Seasons Food (hosted by Eat Your Veg and Delicieux), where the theme this month is Virtuous Food.

FFF

And finally I’m also entering this salad into the Fabulous Fusion Food challenge, hosted by by the very talented Deena Kakaya.

After Eight ice cream sundaes

Sundae CollageIn the words of Perry and Bing and may other crooners, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Our tree went up at the weekend and suddenly the house feels transformed into a magical, sparkly wonderland. It’s the earliest  we’ve ever put it up. My husband doesn’t think we should have a tree until Christmas Eve, but I’ve been working on him over the years and, having been to the children’s school Christmas fair the day before, it just felt right for it to go up last Saturday.

We also made these After Eight ice cream sundaes at the weekend, which got us into the festive feasting spirit. Wow – they were good. Indulgent, rich and decadent, just like a proper sundae should be. Not of course, something you should eat every day though. But for a Christmas treat, these are just the ticket.

after eight sundae

I must admit, I haven’t eaten After Eight Mints for some years. I associate them with Christmas as a child back in the eighties. I can clearly remember being at my grandparents’ house in Lancashire for Christmas and having them at the end of a meal. As the grown ups were chatting, I pretty much worked my way through the box, and I couldn’t deny how many I’d eaten as the evidence was there in front of me in the form of a pile of those little black envelopes. I’d forgotten how much I like them. And my children seem rather partial to them to. It was a battle keeping the grubby little mitts off them so that I had enough to make this dessert.

The good people at After Eight sent me some of their goodies to experiment with: a box of After Eight Mints and their After Eight Collection, a selection of dark and white mint chocolates. The challenge was to come up with a dessert featuring their chocolate mints. As my children adore mint choc chip ice cream, an ice cream sundae was the obvious choice. 

These sundaes are very simple to make; more of an assembly job really. There are chocolate brownies at the bottom. Feel free to bake your own, but I made things easy on myself by buying some. Next comes a layer of forest fruits, which bring a touch of tartness to the proceedings. You need it to cut through all that rich sweetness. Then there’s the After Eight ice cream. Even if you don’t fancy making the whole sundae, do try making the ice cream – it’s a lovely take on the classic mint choc chip and really couldn’t be easier to create.

after eight ice cream

Melted After Eight Mints combined with a little cream conjure up a wonderful chocolate sauce, which is loving drizzled over the ice cream before topping with whipped cream for that extra level of indulgence.

after eight chocolate sauce

So there you have it – my simple After Eight ice cream sundaes. You’re welcome!

After Eight ice cream sundaes

Makes 4 large sundaes

Half a litre vanilla ice cream
300g box of After Eight Mints
4 chocolate brownies, cut into bite-size chunks
300ml double cream
250g forest fruits (fresh or frozen)
After Eight Collection chocolates for decoration

Place the ice cream in a bowl and allow to soften at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Chop half the After Eight Mints into small pieces. Fold the mint pieces into the ice cream, spoon into a plastic carton, cover and place in the freezer until it has re-frozen.

To make the sauce, place the remaining After Eight Mints and 100ml of the cream in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Stir until the chocolate mints have completely melted and the sauce has formed. Leave to cool.

Whip the remaining cream in a large bowl until stiff.

Place the brownie pieces at the bottom of four sundae glasses and top with a couple of spoonfuls of the frozen fruits. On top of the fruits place a couple of scoops of the chocolate mint ice cream and drizzle with a generous smothering of chocolate mint sauce. Finally, spoon whipped cream on top of each sundae and decorate with a pretty chocolate from the After Eight Collection. 

Dig in and enjoy to your heart’s content!

Disclosure: this post is sponsored by After Eight who paid me to develop this recipe and provided me with complimentary boxes of After Eight Mints and the After Eight Collection.

As this pudding definitely fits the description of a Festive Treat, I’m entering it into December’s Teatime Treats hosted by What Kate Baked and Lavender & Lovage.

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And these sundaes would be great for parties, so I’m also entering them into Four Seasons Food hosted by  Delicieux and Eat Your Veg.

fsf-winter

My children adored the sundaes, so I reckon they would also make a good entry for December’s Family Foodies challenge over at Eat Your Veg, where the theme is Kids Christmas.

family-foodies

Beetroot and carrot pancakes with herby mascarpone

What is it about pancakes that makes them just so popular? Whenever I announce to my brood that pancakes are on the menu, there are always shrieks of excitement. They don’t seem to care either what the pancakes are made from, so if you’re finding it tricky to get certain foodstuffs, such as beetroot, into your youngsters, pancakes could be the ideal way to sneak it past them.

These pancakes are made from beetroot and carrot, although I’m sure if you did a blind taste test no-one would be able to guess. They simply taste good in a savoury, wholesome kind of way. I was rather hopeful the final pancakes would be pink like the batter. My girls would have loved that. But unfortunately the colour changed as the pancakes fried. Perhaps if you use only beetroot you end up with a stronger colour? I need to experiment some more, I think.

I came up with these pancakes as my entry for this month’s Recipes for Life challenge. The three set ingredients for March, you see, are beetroot, carrot and cheese. So the beetroot and carrot are in the pancakes, while the cheese comes in the form of Italian mascarpone cheese combined with Greek yoghurt, lemon juice and lots of fresh herbs for a very delicious topping.

I’m running the Recipes for Life challenge in partnership with Somerset charity SWALLOW which works with adult with learning difficulties. Over a six month period we’re challenging food bloggers to come up with a whole host of tasty, healthy and easy-to-cook dishes and the best of these will appear in a new cookbook to raise money for the charity. So if you have your own ideas of what to cook with beetroot, carrot and cheese why don’t you get involved?

But for now, back to my pancakes…

Beetroot and carrot pancakes with herby mascarpone

Serves 4 to 6

250g self-raising flour
50g beetroot, scrubbed and grated
50g carrot, scrubbed and grated
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
salt and pepper
2 eggs
90g melted butter
420g milk
vegetable oil for frying
200g mascarpone cheese
200g Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
large handfuls of fresh parsley and mint (or whatever herbs you fancy), roughly chopped

For the pancake batter, put the flour, beetroot, carrot, bicarbonate of soda and a generous grind of both salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix together well.

Gently beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add the melted butter and milk and mix. Add this to the beetroot and carrot mixture and stir until everything is well combined.

Heat a spot of oil in a heavy-based non-stick frying pan. When it’s hot, drop in spoonfuls of the batter and cook your pancakes for a minute on each side. Keep your pancakes warm in the oven until you’ve worked through all the batter.

To make the herby topping, simply put the mascarpone and yoghurt in a bowl with the lemon juice and throw in the chopped herbs. Mix it all together and season to taste.

Serve your pancakes with a good dollop of the herby mascarpone on top.

As this dish features lots of lovely fresh herbs, I’m also entering it into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, which this month is being hosted by London Busy Body. Lots of lovely recipes featuring herbs as a star ingredient have already been entered, so do take a look. I’m sure you’ll be inspired!

I’m also entering it into Turquoise Lemons’ fantastic No Waste Food Challenge where food bloggers are asked to share recipes using a particular ingredient in a bid to prevent food waste. This month the challenge is hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen. Do pop over and take a look. A great resource if you’ve got lots of eggs to use up!

And finally as beetroot and carrot are both in season, I’m entering the pancakes into this Fabulicious Food’s Simple and in Season challenge, which this month is being hosted by my fantastic Food Blogger Connect buddy Chez Foti.

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Slow roasted pork neck in thyme, rosemary & bay with mint flatbreads

Generally in January I yearn for rib-sticking, stodgy, winter warmers; the kind of hearty, satisfying food that provides an extra layer of insulation against the cold and damp outside.

But occasionally I find myself craving sunshine food; dishes that remind me of blue skies, eating al fresco and the scent of honeysuckle. And this slow roasted pork does exactly that. The sweet, fragrant and tender pork neck is shredded and served simply with flatbreads, salad and tzatziki, very reminiscent of incredible gyros we enjoyed on holiday in Kefalonia last summer.

Pork neck is a very cheap cut of meat but you’ll probably need to ask your butcher for it. Ours doesn’t have it out on the counter as it’s not all that popular; he normally uses it in his sausages. But it is perfect for slow cooking – so delicious and full of flavour, especially when you marinade it in plenty of herbs, garlic and lemon juice. Don’t be tempted to rush the roasting. For a wonderfully succulent texture, the pork neck will need around four to five hours in the oven.

Slow roasted pork neck in thyme, rosemary and bay

Serves 4

1kg pork neck
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
large bunch of fresh thyme, leaves stripped
2 large sprigs of rosemary
1 lemon
handful of bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. You begin with a high temperature to get it started and then whack it right down low to slow cook.

Using a pestle and mortar, roughly crush the garlic cloves with the thyme, a handful of rosemary picked from the stalk and the juice of half the lemon. Put the piece of pork into a medium-sized ovenproof dish, pierce all over with a sharp knife and rub all over with the garlic and herb mixture so it penetrates the flesh.

Chop the remaining lemon half into half again and place in the dish alongside the pork with the rest of the rosemary and bay leaves. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. (If you’re using an Aga, place in the middle of the top oven.)

After 15 to 20 minutes, just enough time to really get the meat hot, turn the temperature down to 140°C/gas mark 1, or the middle of the simmering Aga oven.

Roast for four to five hours until the meat is tender and beginning to fall apart.

Remove the foil and increase the temperature to 200°C/gas mark 6 (back to the top Aga oven) again for another 10 to 15 minutes to brown the pork a little.

Shred the pork using a couple of forks and pile onto a large serving plate. Bring to the table with a simple salad, tzatziki and a stack of warm mint flatbreads (below).

Mint flatbreads

These flatbreads were inspired by a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in his wonderful book Plenty. I’ve swapped coriander for mint, which perfectly complements the Greek-style pork and yoghurt.

280g plain flour
3tsp baking powder
1½ tsp salt
280g Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp dried mint
butter
olive oil

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, yoghurt and mint in a large bowl and mix together to form a dry dough. Add a little more flour it it’s a bit sticky. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth and stretchy. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.

Divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces, form into balls and then roll with a rolling pin into round discs about 2mm thick.

Heat a knob of butter and a little olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and fry the flatbreads, one at a time, for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. Add a little more butter and oil as required. Keep the flatbreads warm until you’ve cooked them all.

Enjoy with your slow roasted pork!

As this dish features lots of lovely herbs, I’m entering it into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday recipe challenge, which I also happen to be hosting this month!

Afghan-style aubergine and yoghurt

As soon as I came across this recipe for Afghan-style aubergine and yoghurt in a recent edition of Delicious magazine, I knew I had to make it. I adore aubergine dishes and the Middle Eastern flavours in this one simply called out to me.

The recipe comes from Sally Butcher, a British-born cook who married into an Iranian family, and it is taken from Veggiestan: a Vegetable Lover’s Tour of the Middle East. I don’t own this book yet but I plan to get hold of a copy very soon.

It’s an incredible dish. The herbs and spices, lemon, garlic and chilli give it a beautifully fragrant zinginess, which works so well with the creaminess of the Greek yoghurt and the soft, sumptuous texture of the smoky aubergine.

I did worry it might be a little grown up for the children and so I made a version without the chilli for them. Miss Bangers, the four-year-old, did have to be persuaded a little to get through it. But Miss Mash, the seven-year-old, wolfed it down happily.

Afghan-style aubergine and yoghurt (burani bonjon)

3 large aubergines
salt
vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
4 green chillies, chopped (optional)
1 tsp ground turmeric
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

For the yoghurt

450ml Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
handful of fresh mint, chopped, plus extra sprigs for the garnish
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergine into half centimetre slices and sprinkle salt on both sides. Leave for half an hour, then rinse in cold water and dry with kitchen towel.

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and saute the onion and chillies (if using) until soft. Remove and keep to one side.

Add some more oil to the pan and fry the aubergine in batches until slightly browned on each side. Sprinkle the aubergine with a little turmeric and return the slices to the pan with the chopped tomato, coriander, onion and chillies. Pour in enough water to just cover the ingredients, cover with a lid, turn down the heat and simmer gently for about half an hour. Add a little more liquid if it starts to look too dry.

While this is cooking, prepare the yoghurt. Simply mix the yoghurt and lemon juice in a bowl, stir in the crushed garlic and mint, and season to taste. Place in the fridge.

When the aubergine mixture is ready, spread half the yoghurt across a large serving plate, and then place half the aubergine on top. Cover with more yoghurt, the remaining aubergine and finishing with a last dollop of yoghurt and a sprig or two of mint.

Serve straight away with warm pitta or flatbread. Heavenly.

As this dish features lots of tasty mint and coriander, I’m entering it into October’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage. If you enjoy cooking with herbs, do head over there and take a look at the other recipes submitted as you’re sure to find plenty of new inspiration.

Fusilli with Broad Beans and Mint

This is a quick and easy pasta dish for summer days when you don’t want to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. Flavoured with fresh mint and zingy lemon, it’s ideal for using up the last of those broad beans on the veggie patch.

Fusilli with Broad Beans and Mint

Serves 3 to 4

200g dried fusilli
100g shelled broad beans
3tbsp creme fraiche
juice of half a lemon
large handful of fresh mint, chopped
125g grated Cheddar cheese
glug extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

Meanwhile boil or steam the broad beans for a few minutes until just cooked, with a little bite, and drain. Refresh in cold water.

When the pasta is tender, drain – reserving a little of the pasta water, and return the pasta to the hot pan.

Add the broad beans, creme fraiche, lemon juice, mint, cheese and olive oil to the pasta and mix thoroughly until the pasta is well coated. Stir in a little of the pasta water to loosen the sauce if required. Season to taste and serve.

There you go – told you it was easy!

As this dish features lots of lovely broad beans, I’m entering it into August’s Simple and in Season – a wonderful blog challenge hosted by Ren Behan at Fabulicious Food, celebrating the best in seasonal produce.

And as mint is another star of this dish, I’m also entering it into August’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, hosted by Karen Burns Booth at Lavender & Lovage.

Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo

Semifreddo is a wonderfully easy ice-cream to make for anyone who, like me, doesn’t own an ice-cream maker. Usually it is made from eggs and whipped cream but this version uses condensed milk instead of eggs, making it even more of a doddle. It looks really rather impressive though, so no-one would ever guess it only took 10 minutes to make!

I got the idea for a semifreddo made from condensed milk from Kavey Eats. The theme for her Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge this month you see just happens to be condensed milk, and I was intrigued.

The recipe I’ve come up with to enter the challenge is a light and summery combination of perfumey raspberries with zingy lemon, lifted further still by the addition of chopped fresh mint. It’s loosely based on a recipe I saw on the Carnation website.

And as the recipe also features lots of lovely mint, I’m also entering this semifreddo into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge.

Raspberry, lemon and mint semifreddo

1 can (405g) sweetened condensed milk
juice of 3 lemons
grated zest of 1 lemon
300ml whipping cream
200g fresh raspberries
large handful fresh mint, finely chopped

In a large bowl, mix together the condensed milk, lemon juice, zest and whipping cream. Whisk until you have soft peaks.

Carefully fold in the raspberries and fresh mint.

Spoon the mixture into a 2 litre loaf tin lined with clingfilm, covering the top with more clingfilm. Freeze for at least four hours or preferably overnight.

Simply slice and serve.

Chicken and noodle salad with coriander and mint

“Cold noodles? Really? Are you sure?”

That was my husband’s reaction the other day when I told him we were having this chicken and noodle salad.

“But Mum! Noodles should be hot!” was Jessie’s response.

Mia took a mouthful of noodles and promptly spat them out.

Not the best of starts. But after a little cajoling and a bit of encouragement, things did get better.

“Actually, this isn’t bad,” Jason conceded in between mouthfuls.

Once Mia got used to the texture of the noodles, she was tucking in wholeheartedly. And Jessie polished hers off without any further fuss. “Yum,” she declared on finishing.

It can be so easy to serve up the same kinds of foods day in and day out but I’m one of those annoying mothers who likes to challenge her family’s taste buds. And it does pay off. Now they’ve got their heads around cold noodles in a salad, I think we’ll be coming back to this quite a lot.

It’s a beautifully freshy, zingy dish – perfect for summer, or at least helping to give the impression of a summer. The chicken thighs are poached so they are lovely and moist and the fresh coriander and mint, along with the lemon, ginger and garlic in the dressing, pack it full of flavour.

I also added some scrummy broad beans from the veg box; the ones in the garden aren’t ready yet. Shelling broad beans has to be one of my favourite jobs in the kitchen. It makes me feel like a 1950s mother for some reason.

If you were making an authentic South East Asian noodle salad, you probably should also use chilli and fish sauce in the dressing. I left these out because a) chilli would be a step too far for little Mia and b) my husband can’t eat fish – I know! How inconsiderate is that?! But if these sound good to you, go ahead.

Chicken noodle salad with coriander and mint

4 skinless chicken thighs
½ onion, peeled and chopped
5 kaffir lime leaves
small handful black peppercorns
200g vermicelli noodles
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 carrot, grated
½ yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced
large handful shelled broad  beans
large handful fresh coriander, chopped
large handful fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp sesame seeds
6 lettuce leaves, shredded

For the dressing

3 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp chopped ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 kaffir lime leaves

Place the chicken thighs into a pan with the onion, 5 kaffir lime leaves and peppercorns and cover with water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Allow the chicken to cool in the liquid.

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water to refresh.

Dry fry the sesame seeds for a couple of minutes until golden. Remove to cool on a plate.

Place all the dressing ingredients in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Sieve into a jug and leave to cool.

Into a large salad bowl place the noodles, spring onions, carrot, yellow pepper, broad beans, coriander, mint, sesame seeds and lettuce. Pour over the dressing and mix well to ensure everything is well covered. I like to use my hands for this bit.

Slice the cooled chicken thighs, arrange on top of the salad and serve.

I’m entering this recipe into Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, which this month is being hosted by me! Find out which other entries have been entered and perhaps submit one of your own?

Spicy lamb meatballs

There’s something about meatballs that makes them a family favourite the world over. Why do we, young and old alike, go crazy for food in bite-sized morsels? From the ubiquitous chicken nugget to the classy vol au vent, we all love food we can pop in our gobs.

And I’d say meatballs fit this category. Mini (or, if you make them like me, not-s0-mini) mouthfuls of meaty pleasure, smothered in a rich tomato sauce and served with anything that takes your fancy really - spaghetti or rice, in a warm pitta, or simply with a salad.

I normally make my meatballs with beef mince but, as I’ve been looking at a few Moroccan-style recipes lately, I thought I’d try making them with lamb. Of course this led me onto the traditional Moroccan accompaniments of mint, apricot, cumin and coriander.

We’re lucky that our daughters like spicy food. I’d always taken this quality for granted but I’ve eaten with a few friends and their children recently who really don’t like strong flavours, which has made me wonder why our girls do go for them in such a big way. I suppose it’s because spices have always been an essential part of my cooking. During both pregnancies I ate a lot of spicy food, even more so in the latter stages when both girls were overdue and I was trying to encourage things along!

If you’re thinking of making this recipe for children who aren’t into spicy flavours, you’ll probably want to consider cutting down (or out) the cumin and coriander and perhaps reducing the amount of garlic. But if I were you, I’d try the recipe as it stands – you might be surprised.

As this was one of our favourite meals last week, I’m entering it into The Best Thing You Ate link party organised by Justa at Frugally Delicious. Justa is a woman after my own heart: she’s into her weekly meal planning and, as the name of her blog suggests, she’s into frugal food that is seasonal, fresh and inexpensive.

Spicy lamb meatballs

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 x 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
20g fresh mint, finely chopped
400g lean lamb mince
handful dried apricots, finely chopped
40g breadcrumbs

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and gently soften the onions until golden. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple more minutes. Put half the onion mixture into a bowl and leave to cool.

To the remaining onions in the pan stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for ten minutes until the sauce has thickened.

When the onions have cooled, add the mint, lamb, apricots and breadcrumbs. Season well and mix together with your hands. Shape into ‘bite-sized’ meatballs.

Heat the remaining oil and fry the meatballs until golden brown. Stir in the sauce and cook gently until the meatballs are cooked through. Serve with boiled rice and a green salad.