Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe

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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

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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”

Grana Padano cheese straws with Prosciutto di San Daniele

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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”

Spicy sausage chilli for #OrganicSeptember

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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.

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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.

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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”

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

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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”

Review and giveaway: Copas Traditional Turkeys

Copas Turkey Collage

Normally I try not to start thinking about Christmas until at least the first of December. Yes, I know the decorations are already up in our shopping centres and our social media timelines are chock full of festive cheer, but it just seems wrong to be talking about Christmas until the first door of the Advent calendar has been peeled open.

Which is why it felt very strange to be roasting a turkey in November for this review. But at the end of the day, it’s really only a rather large relative of the chicken, so why consign it to just a couple of days in December? Our friends in the States will be consuming vast amounts of turkey this week after all to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Copas Traditional Turkeys is a small family business that has been producing free range, hand-plucked and game-hung turkeys just for Christmas for the last half a century. Based in the beautiful Berkshire countryside, Copas has a reputation for combining centuries old production methods with state-of-the-art facilities, as well as taking their time for a superior taste. Continue reading “Review and giveaway: Copas Traditional Turkeys”

Malaysian curry with Welsh lamb for National Curry Week

Malaysia lamb curry

I’m a bit of magpie when it comes to recipes and gather my inspiration from all over the place. That’s why social media was made for people like me with tasty ideas being shared every second of every minute of every day on the likes of Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

One thing I enjoy most about social media is the way it’s allowed me to reconnect with family members strewn across the world and discover a shared obsession with food. Take my cousin Sisi for example in Australia. The last time I met her in person was at our family house in Malaysia and I was just eight-years-old. But since we connected on Facebook, I’ve got to know her and her lovely family and be wowed by photos of her culinary creations. Likewise with my Aunty Lorene. She lives in the States and I think the last time I saw her was in Singapore when I was in my early 20s. And I so enjoy reading her posts on Facebook where she recreates her favourite foods from her childhood in Malaysia.

So when I was invited to come up with a lamb curry recipe using fantastic Welsh lamb to celebrate National Curry Week (12-18 October 2015), I turned to Lorene and Sisi for some Malaysian inspiration. And they didn’t disappoint. Continue reading “Malaysian curry with Welsh lamb for National Curry Week”

#ThriftyOrganic three-course family meal

Organic September Collage

If you are a bit of a foodie and/or follow any social media here in the UK, you’re probably more than aware that this month has been dubbed #OrganicSeptember. Everyone’s being encouraged to celebrate all things organic. The message is that by making a small change to your everyday shopping, we can make a big difference: swapping to organic food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment.

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While most of us will agree that organic produce is better for our environment, better for animal welfare and, well, just a more natural approach, isn’t it hideously expensive to shop organic? I try to buy organic wherever I can, particularly fruit and vegetables. For instance I have a weekly organic veg box delivered by Riverford – although I tend to do this less during late summer and early autumn when we tend to have a glut of veggies in our own garden. But I doubt I could afford to go totally organic.

Or could I? Continue reading “#ThriftyOrganic three-course family meal”

Italian baked chicken with grapes followed by semifreddo with honey, figs and walnuts

Italian feast

Boasting honey, figs, grapes, nuts and sweet wine, this Italian feast would surely have won the approval of Bacchus himself. When I think about good food, when I dream about delicious dishes bringing together the simplest ingredients to create something truly magical, when I picture myself being served an incredible meal in an idyllic setting, I tend to find myself transported to Italy.

It’s been a few years since I’ve travelled in Italy and I long to return. My parents are in Tuscany right now and as you can imagine I am extremely jealous. My step-mum Sue has been sending me droolsome updates on Whatsapp, replete with photos, documenting their food adventures. There have been accounts of wonderful salads with chicken, ravioli in a walnut cream sauce,  the thinnest pizzas with just one or two toppings, grilled sea bass with roast courgettes, fritto misto in the lightest of batters, fagiolini with fine green beans and bacon in tomatoes and garlic. Oh and lots of gelati with figs and cherries… The list goes on. It’s been pure torture.

So when Expedia challenged me to come up with an Italian meal for their #expediaworldonaplate challenge, I knew I would be taking my inspiration from Tuscany. Continue reading “Italian baked chicken with grapes followed by semifreddo with honey, figs and walnuts”

Habas con jamon (broad beans with Serrano ham and mint)

habas con jamon

One of the things I love most about summer holidays abroad is the opportunity to try out lots of local dishes. Sadly we’re not going overseas this year. But that’s OK. Instead we’re heading up to Durham and Northumberland next week and while the North East might not be renowned for its cuisine – although saying that, I am extremely fond of that Geordie favourite, stottie cake with ham and peasepudding – I know we’re going to have huge amounts of fun exploring all the castles, beaches and Roman remains along Hadrian’s Wall.

So while we might not enjoy guaranteed sunshine on this year’s summer getaway (my fingers are firmly crossed nevertheless), we have been enjoying a taste of the continent right here at home. Think of Spain and I think of tapas, and this habas con jamon has to be one of the tastiest tapa on the menu. Continue reading “Habas con jamon (broad beans with Serrano ham and mint)”