Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe

gran-canaria-menu

Today has been quite possibly one of the coldest days of the winter so far; a cold-to-the-bone kind of cold when it takes an hour in a hot bath to thaw out. In the depths of winter, I can’t help but dream about summer holidays in warmer climes…

When Monarch Holidays invited me to recreate some traditional Spanish recipes for their new online Island Cookbook, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to feed my craving for sunshine food and cheer up these dark, dank days. I took my inspiration from the third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, where I have fond memories of holidaying with my family as a teenager Continue reading “Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe”

Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs

claudia-rodens-kofte-kebab-2

I know I do harp on a bit about cutting down the amount of meat we eat. And yet, while I love vegetarian food, I could never give up meat completely. My blog is called Bangers & Mash for a reason. Plus, it would mean giving up dishes like this. And that’s simply not happening.

This is one of my favourite recipes from one of my favourite cookery writers, Claudia Roden. I met her briefly following a talk she gave at the Bath Literary Festival a few years back when she signed my copy of Arabesque, from which this recipe comes. I talked to her briefly about my blog and she wished me lots of luck with it, although it was clear the concept of blogging was a bit of a mystery to her. And I successfully managed to refrain from telling her how beautiful I think she is. Because she is. But that might have come across just a little too creepy. Continue reading “Claudia Roden’s kofte kebabs”

Tarka dal with curly kale

tarka-daal-2

Over the past few years I’ve been making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of meat my family and I eat. While I could never contemplate being vegetarian, it’s very important to me that I don’t bring up my children to consider meat as a basic, ‘everyday’ kind of ingredient, but much rather a luxury ‘treat’ food. This is for a variety of reasons: to avoid unnecessary cruelty to animals through intensive farming methods; to reduce our impact on our environment; and to improve our overall health.

It hasn’t always been easy. At first it was my husband who showed the most resistance – his attitude was that a meal wasn’t a proper meal unless there was a meat component. Then there were complaints from the children when I refused to take them to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. “It’s not fair,” they’d whine. “Our friends at school get to go with their parents!”

But recently I think we may have turned a corner with both our girls. Our oldest,who started secondary school in September, has started talking about wanting to be pescatarian – inspired by her new (vegetarian) school friends – and is keen to learn to cook her own meals. And our youngest, now eight, who has always been a somewhat stubborn carnivore, actually asked for a second helping of tarka dal. Yes, you read that right. My daughter asked for more lentils. Lentils! Admittedly, she asked for “more of that meaty thing” but once I explained all the dishes on the table were vegetarian it then became clear that by ‘meaty’ she meant ‘tasty’.

My work here, people, is done.

tarka-daal-3

Continue reading “Tarka dal with curly kale”

Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele

grana-padano-cheese-straws-with-prosciutto-di-san-daniele

The season of home entertaining and dinner parties is nearly upon us and cheese straws really have to be one of the loveliest homemade nibbles you can serve to your guests when they first arrive. They’re oh so easy to make (because I cheat and use shop-bought puff pastry) and if you’ve got kids you can probably get them in on the act too.

As with all simple foods, success is down to the quality of the ingredients. To make good cheese straws, you must start with really good cheese. Continue reading “Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele”

Our ghastly Halloween showstopper

halloween-showstopper

Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.

The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.

*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year. Continue reading “Our ghastly Halloween showstopper”

Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember

sausage-chilli

Autumn is almost upon us. We enjoyed the warmth of the sun yesterday on our bike ride under the Suspension Bridge towards Pill, but by the time we got home there was a distinct nip in the air. The blackberries are out in full force, the leaves have started to turn and we spotted conkers and acorns on the ground.

autumn-bike-ride-collage

It’s a brilliant time of year. While summer is for picnics in the park and eating out, autumn marks the return of proper home cooking – making the most of the glut of glorious autumn vegetables; cooking up slow, hearty, satisfying dishes to warm the cockles.

sausage-chilli2

It was good to return home from our bike ride to this spicy sausage chilli – an absolute cockle-warmer if ever there was one, and just what we needed after working up quite an appetite. I came up with the recipe to celebrate the return of #OrganicSeptember, the Soil Association’s annual campaign to encourage more people to go organic. Continue reading “Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember”

Healthy snacks for NSPCC’s Big Board Game Day

bbgd-banner-v3

It’s Big Board Game Day on Friday 27 May 2016, a chance for us all to unleash our inner board game demons while fundraising for the NSPCC.

Big Board Game Day Collage

Big Board Game Day is for absolutely everyone; whether you’re a Sore Loser, Rule Master, a Puzzled Player or The Lucky One. Taking part is so simple: all you need to do is get together with friends and family and play your favourite board games. It’s as easy as Connect Four! Visit www.nspcc.org.uk/boardgameday to find out more on how to get involved.

If you decide to take part, and I really hope you do, how about whipping up some tasty and healthy snacks for your games night? When the NSPCC asked if I’d contribute some snack ideas for Big Board Game Day, I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate. The tag line for my blog after all does state that it’s fun to play with your food!

In my eyes, finger foods are best for games snacks, but as I was keen to steer clear of the usual pizzas, sliders, creamy dips and crisps, I thought I’d have a go at a few healthy alternatives and tried them out on the family over a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Continue reading “Healthy snacks for NSPCC’s Big Board Game Day”

Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge

cat in a box 2

Like many of my fellow food bloggers, I’ve been taking part in the #OrganicUnboxed challenge this last few weeks. The idea of the challenge is simple. Organic UK is sending bloggers a big mystery box of organic produce to see what easy, every day dishes they might come up with to inspire more people to switch to organic. In my excitement I failed miserably to get a picture of the organic goodies being unboxed. Which is why I’ve brought you a gratuitous shot of our cat Tango in the box instead. Now, hasn’t that brightened your day? Continue reading “Chilli beef pasta with Savoy cabbage and caraway for the #OrganicUnboxed Challenge”

Spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and honey

spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and granola

For me April is rhubarb month. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I suspect the rest of my family get rather bored of it, but not me. Rhubarb crumbles, fools, cake and salsa… I’m not quite sure what it is – the vibrant colour, that distinctive sharp flavour, its sheer Englishness, or the simple fact that something that grows in such abundance like a weed could taste so good? Friends with rhubarb in their gardens know now to bring their surplus to me. Continue reading “Spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and honey”

Janie’s pomegranate salad dressing

Pomegranate Dressing-2129

Moving house is such hard work, isn’t it? They say it’s one of the most stressful things you ever do in life, and I couldn’t agree more. But thankfully, the stressful bit is over and our move from Somerset back to Bristol is finally complete – hurrah! Southville is our new home, albeit temporary as we’re renting while we find ourselves a house to buy, but I am absolutely adoring city life again.

The stress however has been replaced by what seems a permanent state of exhaustion as we focus on trying to sort out the new place (oh my, the never-ending unpacking!) balanced with the day job. We’ll get there soon, I’m sure, but it does mean I’m being rather distracted from the blog.

And so my fabulous blogging buddy, Janie from The Hedge Combers has come to my rescue with this impeccably timed guest post and her delicious recipe for a pomegranate salad dressing. I’m definitely trying this at the weekend with the leftovers from our Sunday roast… Enjoy! Continue reading “Janie’s pomegranate salad dressing”