Summer Greek Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Thursday, 21 August 2014


Hello!  I inadvertently took a summer break there, my apologies.  I will never cease to be impressed by bloggers who manage to work full time, blog regularly, and live their lives all at the same time.  I constantly feel as if I'm dropping a ball somewhere, and my little corner here has been that ball of late.

But!  Isn't summer wonderful.  We had a few glorious weeks of weather here so I made sure to enjoy as much of it as I could.  I played Bowls for the first time, ate ice cream, wished Jo a happy birthday, and survived a two-week bootcamp - 6.30am every day for an hour!  Oh, and made this salad.  Many times!

This is a perfect salad for on-the-go summer days, when you don't want to have to turn on the oven, or miss any of the precious sunshine outside.  The vinaigrette comes together quickly in a jam jar and will easily keep for a week in the fridge so you can mix and match it with other dishes, too.  I haven't specified amounts for the salad ingredients because it's very adaptable to what you have on hand and which ingredients you love the most, but I have put in italicised brackets the rough amounts I used as a guideline should you need it.

I'm in love with summer.  I'm in love with this salad.  I hope you will be, too!







SUMMER GREEK PASTA SALAD WITH LEMON VINAIGRETTE
Feeds: 4 people        Time: 20 minutes


INGREDIENTS

for the dressing
5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
a pinch of sea salt
some freshly cracked black pepper

for the salad
100g orzo pasta, cooked and cooled
(1/4) cucumber, cut into small chunks
(12) cherry tomatoes, halved
(100g) feta cheese, crumbled
(1/2) red onion, thinly chopped
(two handfuls) pitted (Kalamata) olives
fresh basil, torn
freshly cracked black pepper


INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Place all the dressing ingredients together in a clean jam jar, close the lid tightly and shake vigorously until combined.  It'll make more than you need, but it can be stored for up to a week in the fridge so you can use it with other salads!
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the salad ingredients.  Season with pepper.  Add the dressing as you serve.  Eat!


NOTES

Adapted from Joy the Baker.

Devonshire Scones

Thursday, 31 July 2014


It's summer here and it's so beautiful.  London is quieter, warmer, friendlier, and it's almost hard to imagine that we regularly spend our summer days under grey skies, shielding ourselves from the rain.  This summer has actually been a summer so far, and almost everyone's loving it.  Just this morning I was fifteen minutes early to work and spent ten of them just standing outside, face turned up to the sky.

Last weekend saw my Mum, our eighteen-year old cat Catkin, and I take a little expedition to visit family.  It was a palaver and an adventure, not helped by the fact that I'd decided to get my very first spray tan done that morning and so had to sit in suspended animation for the entire journey.  Catkin howled, I looked like a patchily-bronzed statue, and my Mum was left wondering how she ended up in a car of such misfits.  

Nevertheless, we arrived safe and well, had a wonderful weekend, and now it's already Thursday and I can't believe another week has flown by.  The weekend was book-ended by Olivia being home, so Friday and Monday were a delightful whirlwind of bridal shops, bridesmaid dresses, a naughty Big Easy dinner with Flynn, and delicious coffee at Poilane.

As you may know if you follow my Instagram feed, these scones have been in the making for a little while.  I was first introduced to the recipe by my neighbour, Pauline.  We've had a few afternoon teas at hers over the years and more often than not she'll pull these scones out of the oven.  Eventually I just had to ask her for the recipe.  Not long later, a photocopy floated through my letterbox, and now I can pass this brilliant recipe on to you.  I like to serve them with either butter or whipped vanilla cream, along with Homemade Raspberry Jam.  A cat who wants to steal your cream is optional, but highly recommended.





DEVONSHIRE SCONES
Yield: 18 scones       Time: 30 minutes


INGREDIENTS

for the scones

450g self-raising flour
2 rounded teaspoons baking powder
75g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
225ml milk (approximately)

for the cream
200ml cream, whipped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

for the jam
see Homemade Raspberry Jam recipe here


INSTRUCTIONS



Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Heat your oven to 200C / 425F / Gas Mark 7.



  1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub it between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the sugar.
  3. Pour the eggs into a measuring jug and add in enough milk to make it up to a generous 300ml.  Put a tablespoon's worth of the mixture to one side to use for glazing the scones later.
  4. Gradually add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until you have a soft dough.  The mixture will stick to your hands.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and flatten it out with your hand (or a rolling pin) to a thickness of 1-2cm (1/2 - 1in).
  6. Using a 5cm (2in) fluted cutter, stamp out the scones by pressing firmly down and lifting.  Gently push the remaining dough together, knead very lightly and then re-roll and repeat until you've used up all the dough.
  7. Place the scones on the lined baking trays and brush the tops with the reserved beaten egg mixture.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or so until well-risen and golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool, covering with a tea towel to ensure their freshness.  Serve as fresh as possible with jam and cream (or butter!).



NOTES


It's much better to have a wet mixture than a dry mixture as it will rise better!


Try not to twist the cutter whilst stamping the scones out of the dough, as the smooth edges you get by simply pressing straight down help them to rise evenly and keep their shape.

Scones are always best eaten fresh and really don't last long.  All the more reason to eat and share them all at once!

Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Rocket and Almond Pesto

Thursday, 24 July 2014



My friend Jo recently introduced me to Hemsley + Hemsley.  In fact, she is very good at introducing me to new recipes.  I received a text message from her recently, part of which read: And if you're not busy tomorrow night, did you want to come for dinner?  I've got a veggie thing I want to try out!  

Yes!  Undefined vegetarian food with some of my favourite people!  I love being a vegetarian recipe guinea pig, especially for Jo who always finds exciting new recipes and then feeds them to me, whilst making the entire thing look calm and effortless.

I was already sold on this plan, obviously, but the text then ended with: And if you haven't watched the latest Agents of Shield we could all watch it together?!  Oh, how well she knows me.  

(The first recipe was the Marks & Spencer Nutty Super Wholefood Salad, in case you were wondering, and it was delicious.  A few weeks later, it was the Hemsley + Hemsley Spring Quinoa Risotto, also delicious.  Jo + new veggie recipes = delicious.)






So in the true style of jumping on the bandwagon, I thought I'd give one of their recipes a go!  My cousin Johanna was coming to stay for the night as she, my Mum and I had an early start the next day to make it down to the Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Race Track.  It opens at 6.30am, and by 7am clever people are already leaving as you're arriving, their arms full of bargains.  (If you follow my Instagram you might have seen that Johanna provided our fuel that morning - chocolate chip brioches and Starbucks iced lattes - and I bought a lovely wooden chest!)

The Hemsley girls swear by this salad when travelling as it's so full of vitamins, so I thought it might be just what we needed for our action-packed morning.  It was perfect.  Light, healthy, and full of nutrients.  I did feel like I was bouncing.  A delicious twist on a classic pesto, too!



BROCCOLI AND CHICKPEA SALAD WITH ROCKET AND ALMOND PESTO
Feeds: 3-4 people         Time: 1 hour


INGREDIENTS

Salad

100g bag of baby leaf spinach
1 400g tin of chickpeas
1 head of broccoli (approximately 300g)
a handful of cherry tomatoes
4 spring onions, chopped small
cracked black pepper (optional)


Pesto

120g rocket
4 small cloves of garlic, chopped small
25 blanched almonds, soaked overnight in water with a pinch of sea salt (if you have time!)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
a pinch of sea salt
70g parmesan, shaved
1/2 teaspoon of honey (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS



  1. Blend all the pesto ingredients together by pulsing until you have your desired consistency.
  2. Chop the broccoli into florets and boil for 4-5 minutes until just tender.  Drain and allow to cool.
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.  Stir them through the pesto mixture.
  4. On a large plate or in a large bowl, arrange a bed of spinach and place the chickpea pesto mixture in the middle.  Decorate around it with the broccoli, tomatoes, spring onions and parmesan shavings.  Drizzle extra olive oil and/or pepper if you wish.  Eat!


NOTES


Pulse rather than blitz your pesto unless you prefer it completely smooth.


If you haven't time to soak the almonds and you feel your pesto mixture is a little dry, simply add a teaspoon or two of water.

You can make this ahead of time and keep the sections separate in airtight containers (ie. chickpea and pesto mixture in one bowl, cooked broccoli in another, and the salad bits separate).  The whole dish will also keep well in the fridge for a day or two.

Adapted from: Hemsley + Hemsley.

Homemade Raspberry Jam

Tuesday, 15 July 2014


This recipe is so simple I almost feel a fraud for posting it.  But I didn't realise it could be this easy to make your very own, delicious, fresh raspberry jam!  It's amazing on toast, scones, bread...  And it only has two ingredients!  Yes, it has a lot of sugar in it, but so does jam you buy in the shop, and that jam has preservatives and ingredients I can't pronounce, too, so I'd choose this one any day.  It'll keep in an airtight jar in your fridge for a month or two.





HOMEMADE RASPBERRY JAM
Yield: 250ml     Time: 25 minutes


INGREDIENTS

250g (1 cup*) fresh raspberries

250g (1 cup*) golden caster sugar


INSTRUCTIONS


Heat the oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4.

Have a 250ml jar clean and ready to pour the jam into.

  1. Pour the raspberries and sugar into separate pie dishes.  If you have different-sized dishes like I do, use the larger one for the raspberries so that they are not piled up on top of each other.
  2. Place both dishes in the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are very hot.
  3. Remove them from the oven and pour the sugar into the raspberries.  It will begin to turn molten.  Give it a gentle stir until fully combined and then pour into the waiting jar.  Seal it and leave to cool before storing in the fridge.  It should keep well for a few weeks.


NOTES


* 250g of caster sugar is equal to 1.1 US cup, whereas 1 US cup of fresh raspberries is only equivalent to 150g fresh raspberries.  I've rounded both to 1 cup of each here because so long as you have equal amounts raspberries to sugar then you should be okay.  Next time I'm in the US I will buy myself some US cups so that I can be sure of all of these conversions!

The mixture left me with a little over what would fit in my 250ml jar so I poured the rest into a mini jar.  It helped for cuter photos, too!

Source: Nigella Lawson - How to be a Domestic Goddess p346
 

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