What brunch dish will you bring to the Breakfast Club?

Breakfast Club: because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.

During December, I am delighted to be hosting Breakfast Club, a bloggers challenge created by the very talented Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more creativity in the kitchen for that all important first meal of the day. I really hope you’ll join in the fun by entering a dish or two.

Let’s do brunch!

The theme for Breakfast Club this month is Brunch. According to Marge Simpson’s charming Casanova of a bowling instructor, the über smooth Jacques, brunch is…

…not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!

Brunch is my idea of a perfect breakfast. The kind of lazy breakfast you cook and eat at leisure on a relaxed Sunday, when you’re not in a rush to get to work or school. The kind of laid back breakfast you take your time over with a large pot of coffee and a selection of papers.

So no, not the kind of breakfast I get to eat all that often, but I always make sure I indulge when the opportunity presents itself. And a very good idea to have a stock of good brunch recipes up your sleeve for when it does.

It’s very easy to enter a brunch dish into this month’s Breakfast Club:

  • Email me with the URL for your brunch recipe blog post
  • Mention in your post you are entering your dish into Breakfast Club, include the logo above, and add links back to both this post and the Breakfast Club page at Fuss Free Flavours
  • Entries can be submitted to other events
  • You are welcome to enter old posts/recipes but they must be republished with the logo and links above
  • If you use Twitter please use #blogbreakfastclub and tweet your entry, and I’ll retweet everyone I see
  • The closing date is Friday 28 December 2012.

Hopefully, that all makes sense but if you do have any questions, please comment below. I can’t wait to see your entries!

Oh and before I forget, Helen at Fuss Free Flavours is always on the look out for new guest hosts for the Breakfast Club, and last month’s round up is here.

To get things started, I thought I’d give you my brunch recipe. I found it hard to choose which one as I have so many brunch favourites. I love pancakes and did think about entering these indulgent lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Or how about a more virtuous start to the day with some homemade granola?

But then I do also find it hard to resist a good fry up, but really – who needs a recipe for that? And so I’ve decided on…

The full English pizza

I know it sounds a little crazy. Or maybe a lot crazy. But this is a perfect and fun weekend brunch, particularly when you’ve had a few drinks the night before and need some stodge to sort you out. It’s essentially all the usual suspects you’d find in a cooked English breakfast but on top of a pizza. Gorgeous. And you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

I get up early to make the pizza dough. Then go back to bed for a bit with a cup of tea while the dough rises. But if that sounds to you like too much of a palaver, then ready-made pizza bases would make life a little easier.

Makes 4 pizzas

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

200g spinach
knob of butter
passata, about half a jar
4 pork sausages, grilled and sliced
4 rashers bacon, grilled and chopped
mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
4 free range eggs

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. This is when I retire back to bed for a while.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the spinach and cook gently until wilted.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Spread some spinach over each base (squeeze out any excess butter), followed by the pieces of sausage and bacon, and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella. Be careful not to overload the centre of the pizza, where you’ll be cooking your egg later.

Bake the pizzas in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully break an egg into the middle of each pizza. Return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is just cooked but the yolk is still soft. Enjoy at your leisure!

December’s entries for Breakfast Club:

  1. Turkey, Cranberry & Stilton Christmas Brunch Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  2. Beet Greens & Red Pepper Frittata from On Top of Spaghetti
  3. White Chocolate &  Cranberry Christmas Cookies from Chez Foti
  4. Buck Rarebit from Credit Munched
  5. Courgette and Mushroom Omelette with Garlic and Parsley from Bangers & Mash
  6. Swiss Scrambled Eggs, Croissants and Shakes from Fabulicious Food
  7. Mushrooms on Rye Toast from The Garden Deli
  8. Minestrone Soup from Divine Foods Living
  9. Nduja Potato Cakes from Foodycat
  10. Christmas Breakfast Muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  11. Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake from Kavey Eats
  12. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Mondomulia
  13. Brunch Quesadillas – Fab Food 4 All

Care to Cook: The Winner is Announced!

When I put out a call a month or so ago for people to send in their favourite family recipes for the Care to Cook recipe challenge I had absolutely no idea what kind of response to expect. Care to Cook is a challenge I set up with a fostering and adoption charity I work with called TACT in order to promote their cookbook, which they’re selling to support adopted children and their families.

But I had nothing to worry about. You lot rose to the challenge splendidly, supplying a fantastic assortment of family favourites, both savoury and sweet. The task set was to suggest a dish you would cook to welcome someone into your family home. For many children in care, family meals are simply something they are not used to. Each and every dish submitted into the challenge is one I know would make a vulnerable child or young person feel special, valued and welcomed.

Before I announce the winner, here are each of those delicious entries in turn. Warning – this list is guaranteed to make you hungry!

First in was this tasty little number from Under The Blue Gum Tree, which looks far superior to its McDonald’s namesake: Homemade Fillet O’ Fish and “Chips”.  The fillet is served in lovingly prepared carrot and cumin bread rolls, with potato skins covered in paprika and cayenne pepper, and some salsa and soured cream on the side. Now, who could resist that?

Homemade Fillet O’ Fish and “Chips” from Under The Blue Gum Tree

Next we have French Madeleines from Crêpes Suzettes. These pretty little cakes look so tempting and perfect for goûter, the snack French kids have at around 4pm. I think my children must be a bit French as they are always starving when they come home from school too!

French Madeleines from Crepes Suzette

For Reluctant Housedad, what to cook for this challenge was a bit of a no-brainer. It had to be his Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake. Doesn’t it look incredible? I love puddings that combine sweet and salty and absolutely anything that contains peanut butter, so this is going straight to the top of my must-bake list.

Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake from Reluctant Housedad

My fabulous mother Cheryl suggested this next dish Hokkien Mee, which she remembers eating as a girl growing up on the Malaysian island of Penang. It’s a hot and spicy noodle dish, featuring both meat and seafood, common in many South East Asian dishes. It’s a little different to the Singapore version but, as my Mum would tell you, much more delicious!

Penang Hokkien Mee from Cheryl Leembruggen (photo via vkeon.com)

Karen from Lavender & Lovage offers up these ‘frugal but comforting’ Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats, which I think look incredibly tasty and very satisfying. It’s a real family-favourite in Karen’s house; her daughter loved eating this when she was little, and still does now she is all grown up!

Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage

My little sister Elly surprised me with her cooking skills with this next entry, her Nonya Chicken Curry from Malaysia. I just assumed she would submit a recipe for something sweet and sticky – she’s a great baker you see. But no, this is her curry dish that got a big thumbs up from her boyfriend’s dad. He’s from Malaysia himself and apparently not an easy man to impress!

Nonya Chicken Curry from Elly Rowe

Pasta and Pesto Sauce is our next entry which comes from A Trifle Rushed. Pesto is always a favourite in our house but I must admit it’s normally a meal-in-a-hurry using dried pasta and jarred sauce. Here Jude and her daughter lovingly make fresh pasta by hand and blend their own pesto in a pestle and mortar. I bet it tastes incredible; it certainly looks wonderful.

Pasta and Pesto Sauce from A Trifle Rushed

Louisa at Chez Foti now lives in the French Pyrenees and likes to cook classic French dishes whenever friends and family come to visit. This Boeuf en Daube is a particular favourite and I can see why; it looks so sumptuously satisfying! It’s one of those meals you can prepare in advance and leave to slow cook in the oven, so that your visitors arrive to the most glorious aromas emanating from the kitchen. Yum!

Boeuf en Daube from Chez Foti

When I received this next entry from Lavender & Lovage for Yorkshire Season Pudding with Herbs I had to try it straight away. We had it for brunch one Sunday morning, and it was perfect with our bacon, eggs and beans. I like the fact this is a traditional family recipe, and one that Karen’s grandmother used to make. I think it might just become a tradition for our family too.

Yorkshire Season Pudding with Herbs from Lavender & Lovage

Spinach and Bacon Macaroni Cheese from Sian at Fishfingers for Tea is next up. Macaroni cheese is the ultimate in satisfying comfort food and I do love this version, beefed up with tasty bacon and spinach and finished with slices of tomato and crunchy cheesy breadcrumbs on top. Another great dish for preparing in advance and popping in the oven just before your visitors arrive.

Spinach and Bacon Macaroni Cheese from Fishfingers for Tea

My Nana Barbara sent in two dishes for her entry: Courgette Bake followed by Vanilla Cream Terrine. She says the courgette bake works well both as a starter and as main course served with large hunks of crusty bread. My Nana is fantastic in the kitchen and as a kid I would love staying with her and Grandad as it always meant getting to eat lots of lovely cakes and pies.

Barbara’s Courgette Bake – perfect for anyone with a glut of courgettes on their hands

Chicken Basquaise is the delicious entry from Helene at French Foodie Baby. She warns that it might differ from traditional recipes but that’s what she likes so much about her mother’s cooking; she cooks from the gut. I love the way Helene relives her food memories through her blog and brings them into the present day as she cooks for her little boy Pablo.

Chicken Basquaise from French Foodie Baby

This Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake comes from my step-mum Sue and is the cake she bakes every June to celebrate my twin sisters’ birthday. I’ve always been very jealous of them having a summer birthday when strawberries are in season! Now wouldn’t you like this for your birthday cake each year?

Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake from Sue Hamer

The final entry is one of mine: Hainanese Chicken Rice. It’s a dish I loved to eat when I was a little girl on trips to Penang with my mum and little sister. I had no idea how to make it so I turned to members of my Chinese-Malaysian family for a helping hand, and my Aunty Lorene and Cousin Sisi did the honours by providing this recipe. How would I ever survive without Facebook?!

Hainanese Chicken Rice from Bangers & Mash

There you have it – a fine collection of family recipes if ever I saw one! But there can only be one winner in the Care to Cook challenge, and the unenviable task of selecting a winner was given to 15-year-old Josh, who lives with one of TACT’s foster carers in the South West of England.

Josh says it was a very difficult decision to make and he sat deliberating – and salivating! – over the list for quite some time and really struggled to choose just one winner. He really liked the look of both the Penang Hokkien Mee and the Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake, but in the end it was the Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake from the Reluctant Housedad that won his vote.

So a huge congratulations to Keith at the Reluctant Housedad for your fabulous entry, which Josh found he simply couldn’t resist! As winner of the Care to Cook family recipe challenge he will receive a copy of TACT’s Care to Cook recipe book, signed by the charity’s celebrity patron Lorraine Pascale.

Choosing one winner wasn’t easy but in the end our judge Josh couldn’t resist this Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake from the Reluctant Housedad

And thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their favourite family recipes, helping to raise awareness of this very worthwhile charity, which is working so hard to improve the lives of children and young people across the UK who haven’t had the best starts in life. More information of the work of TACT is available on their website.

Barbara’s Courgette Bake and Vanilla Cream Terrine for the Care to Cook Challenge

Knitting with my Nana Barbara back in the 1980s

My parents split up when I was very little. I can barely remember them being together. So much so, I’m not totally sure how old I was when they went their separate ways. Two perhaps, or three?

But despite that, my dad’s parents, my Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter, ensured they remained constant factors in my life – through my childhood and teens, my university days and when I started my own family and they became great-grandparents. My mum moved around the UK quite a bit as I was growing up, but no matter where we went, Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter would trek across the country to come and visit me. Because family is important. I grew up knowing that and knowing how much I was loved. And that is so important.

I am so pleased my Nana Barbara has entered these recipes into the Care to Cook recipe challenge to raise awareness of the fostering and adoption charity TACT. I always associated visits from my grandparents and then later, when I was old enough to go and stay with them in Lancashire and then the Lake District, with food. Homebaked cakes, pies, tarts, casseroles and puddings. Dinner round the table. Proper family food.

My Grandad Peter and my Nana Barbara with me and my daughter Jessie a few years ago

The two dishes Nana has entered are actually new ones on me, and I can’t wait to try them out…

Courgette Bake

In one bowl mix:

2 grated courgettes
1 grated carrot
1 chopped onion
5 rashers of chopped up crispy bacon
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 cup self-raising flour

In a second bowl mix:

5 eggs, beaten
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
crushed clove of garlic
1tsp paprika

You’ll also need:

Parmesan or cheddar for sprinkling on top
Chopped fresh parsley to finish

Stir bowls one and two together, then spread into a lasagne dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Cheddar cheese.

Cook at 200°c for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold, garnished with fresh parsley. Will serve six people.

Vanilla Cream Terrine

2 tsp vanilla extract
425ml whipping cream
11g sachet powder gelatine
85g caster sugar
425g Greek yoghurt
Mint leaves and raspberries to garnish
raspberry couli

Begin by placing the gelatine in a cup together with three tablespoons of the cream and leave to soak for 10mins.

Meanwhile place the rest of the cream in a saucepan with the sugar and heat gently until sugar has dissolved. It is important not to overheat the cream. Next, add the soaked gelatine to the warmed cream and whisk everything over the heat for a few seconds. Now remove the cream mixture from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, stir the yoghurt & vanilla together, then pour the gelatine cream mixture through a sieve. Mix very thoroughly and pour the whole lot into a plastic box (I use an old ice cream container). Allow to cool, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.

Serve sliced, with fresh raspberries and mint springs, with a pouring of raspberry coulis.

Thanks Nana!

Elly’s Nonya Chicken Curry for the Care to Cook Challenge

My little sis Elly with our Mum Cheryl (left) in Penang in the early 80s, and again with me (in the days when I was still bigger)

Our next entry for the Care to Cook Challenge comes from my little sister Elly. I say ‘little’ but must admit that Elly has towered over me for many years now, despite being five years my junior.

Elly has a very sweet tooth and I assumed when I asked if she’d submit a favourite recipe for this challenge, her contribution would certainly be a cake or pudding. But no, she’s gone and surprised me with this amazing looking Nonya Chicken Curry. My little sis is all grown up and is cooking very grown up food!

Nonya cuisine comes from the Malaysian island of Penang, where our Mum was born, and is now seen as one of the earliest examples of fusion food. Penang is a melting pot for different cultures and food from the Nonya kitchen is influenced by Chinese, Malay and Thai cooking. My sister Elly will tell you more…

I make this for my partner Kelvin and to this day he still says it’s the best chicken curry he’s ever had, which from a Malaysian is pretty high praise. And if we think perhaps he is a little biased, I also made it for his father (a lovely man but one of very few words) who told me, “It’s good.” I almost fell over – hehehe!

The method is pretty short so makes it look likes it’s going to be quick but if you really make it from scratch (ie grind and pound all the spices with a mortar and pestle), it’s quite a lot of work and you’ll end up with muscles. However, it is worth it and even just thinking of it is making my mouth water!

Here we go:

Nonya Chicken Curry

4-5 tbsp oil
1 star anise
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

Spice paste (ground)

7 dried chillies, soaked
200g (20) shallots
3 cloves garlic
20g belachan (shrimp paste), toasted
20g (2cm) turmeric
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fennel

1.5 kg meaty chicken pieces
300g potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
400ml thin coconut milk
100ml thick coconut milk
salt and sugar

Heat oil over a medium low flame and saute star anise, cloves and cinnamon stick. Add in spice paste and stir-fry well. Add 2 to 3 tbsp thin coconut milk (if it is too dry) and fry over low heat until fragrant and oil separates.

Add chicken and fry for a minute. Add potatoes and pour in thin coconut milk. Simmer until chicken is tender and potatoes are cooked.

Lastly, add the thick coconut milk and season to taste. Continue to cook until gravy is slightly thick. Serve with boiled white rice or roti.

Elly with her gorgeous daughter Loella

Do you have a favourite family recipe you’d like to contribute to TACT’s Care to Cook Recipe Challenge? Share a link to a post on your own blog or email me your recipe to be featured here on Bangers & Mash. The winning recipe will receive a copy of TACT’s cookbook signed by the charity’s patron and celebrity cook Lorraine Pascale. The closing date is 12 August – more details are here.

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.

The Care to Cook Recipe Challenge, plus Bernadette’s Caribbean Pot Roast Chicken

What dish would you cook to welcome someone into your family home? Share your favourite recipes and you could win a copy of TACT’s cookery book, signed by the charity’s patron Lorraine Pascale, who has personal experience of both the care system and adoption.

For the last few years I’ve been working with a wonderful charity called TACT, which provides fostering and adoption services to help some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK. Their aim is to help these youngsters find loving homes and a fresh new start in life.

In this time I’ve had the privilege to meet many amazing carers, adopters and staff who are making an incredible difference to the lives of the young people they work with.

The concept of family is very important to TACT; providing a safe, stable and caring home environment is so crucial and it makes a massive difference in supporting children and young people who find themselves in the care system for all kinds of reasons. Young people need to feel valued, made to feel special and loved, and need to be listened to when they are ready to share. That is what family is there for.

One of the simplest ways to bring family together and welcome new people into our home is through food. Family meals all too often are something children in care have missed out on. Because the family meal is so important, TACT has launched its very own cook book called Care to Cook, packed full of delicious starters, mains and desserts kindly donated by TACT’s adopters, supporters and staff.

The cost of the book is £3 and all proceeds directly benefit adopted children and their new families.

To help raise awareness of Care to Cook, Bangers & Mash is calling on food bloggers and food lovers to submit their own favourite family recipes, and one lucky person will receive a copy of the cook book signed by TACT’s new celebrity patron, TV chef and best selling cookery writer Lorraine Pascale.

Lorraine Pascale, patron of TACT, TV chef and cookery writer

How to submit your recipe

  • If you are a blogger and would like to enter the Care to Cook Challenge, simply post a recipe on your blog with links to both this page and the Care to Cook page on the TACT website and include the Care to Cook Challenge logo somewhere in your post.
  • The recipe can either be one of your own or somebody else’s but do remember to clearly credit your sources. You can republish an old blog post but please include information about the Care to Cook Challenge.
  • Your post can also be entered into other blogging challenges, so long as this complies with their rules.
  • If you mention your post on Twitter please mention @BangerMashChat and @TACTCare and use the #CareToCook hashtag. We will retweet all we see.
  • Please also email a link to your entry to vanesther@reescommunications.co.uk.
  • If you aren’t a blogger, don’t worry – you are still welcome to enter. Simply email your recipe (and a photo if you have one) to the above address and I’ll upload it to the Bangers & Mash blog for others to see.
  • The closing date for entries is Sunday 12 August 2012, and a round-up of all recipes submitted will feature here on Bangers & Mash and on TACT’s website the following week.
  • The winning entry will be chosen by one of TACT’s looked after children in the Bristol and South West region.

We can’t wait to see your family favourite recipes and please feel free to enter the challenge as many times as you like. Thanks for your support!

To get things started, here’s a fantastic recipe for Caribbean-style Pot Roast Chicken taken from Care to Cook. I tried it out on my own family last weekend and it is extremely yummy and very, very moreish. My daughters loved it – they asked for seconds and then thirds!

As my husband was tucking in to his, he asked where I got the recipe and I explained it had been donated by a TACT adopter for their cookery book. In between mouthfuls, Jason nodded and said: “Whoever Bernadette has adopted is very, very lucky. Her food is great!”

Pot Roast Chicken – Caribbean Style
By Bernadette Biscette, TACT Adopter

Serves 6

1 whole medium free range chicken, cut in half
½ medium onion, peeled and chopped
1½ tbsp all purpose seasoning
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp mild bajan or jerk seasoning
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar

For the gravy

Cup of hot water
1 tsp cassareep or molasses
1 tbsp tomato puree
½ medium onion, peeled and chopped
½ tsp all purpose seasoning

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.

Place the two halves of chicken in a large bowl and add the onion, all purpose seasoning, mixed herbs, paprika and bajan or jerk seasoning. Rub the seasoning into the chicken with your hands making sure it is well covered.

Pour the olive oil and brown sugar into a large iron or Dutch pot and heat until the sugar starts to brown. Place the two halves of chicken in the pot and slowly brown the surface by turning in the oil for around 15-20 minutes. (I had to do the two halves separately as I don’t have a pan large enough.)

When the chicken is well glazed, let them simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place in a deep roasting pan and set aside.

Add a cup of hot water to the juices in the pot and all the ingredients for the gravy. Stir over a medium heat for 5 minutes and then pour over the chicken, cover with foil and cook for 2 hours in the oven, removing the foil for the last half hour. The chicken should be tender and well cooked.

Serve with salad and boiled rice for a hearty meal.

And now it’s your turn – what would you cook?

The Entries

  1. Homemade Fillet O’ Fish and “Chips” from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  2. French Madeleines from Crêpes Suzettes
  3. Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake from Reluctant Housedad
  4. Penang Hokkien Mee from Cheryl Leembruggen
  5. Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage
  6. Nonya Chicken Curry from Elly Rowe
  7. Pasta and Pesto Sauce from A Trifle Rushed
  8. Boeuf en Daube from Chez Foti
  9. Yorkshire Season Pudding with Herbs from Lavender & Lovage
  10. Spinach and Bacon Macaroni Cheese from Fishfingers for Tea
  11. Courgette Bake followed by Vanilla Cream Terrine from Barbara Hamer
  12. Chicken Basquaise from French Foodie Baby
  13. Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake from Sue Hamer
  14. Hainanese Chicken Rice from Bangers & Mash