Pork Apple and Stilton Salad

Pork, Apple and Stilton salad

One of the many things that is wonderful about Spring is it’s never ending ability to take you by surprise and create an almost perfect few days when you least expect it. Unless you’re a meteorologist.

And so it has been for us over these last few days, which happily, has coincided with the Easter weekend.

However, unlike many who immediately whip out the barbeque, my immediate thought is salad.  Why?  Because it is one of the most versatile, light foodstuffs you can rustle up in the blink of an eye and, in my limited experience, almost anything goes with greenery.

This little number was particularly successful.  Probably because the union of pork and apple, or apple and stilton, is tried and tested and therefore not such a great leap of faith to imagine it’s glory together, chucked over a spinach and watercress combo, then sprinkled with a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Of course my palette is also refreshed by something I haven’t rustled up in a while. That opinion may waiver slightly come September.

Meanwhile, I am insisting that we all spend time in the sunshine to top up our vitamin D levels, much to the chagrin of some.  However, I am unfaltering in my conviction that a small amount of time in the sunshine produces much happier people than sunshine enjoyed through a window.

And anyway, as always, the weather can turn on it’s head within the blink of an eye, so best enjoy it whilst we can.

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Kitchen Sink Salad

kitchen sink salad

I have called this a kitchen sink salad as I put almost everything but the kitchen sink, into it.

Made me smirk.

What it actually has in it is spinach leaves, beetroot, avocado, blue cheese, red orange and yellow pepper, and tomatoes.  Not that much really, but it seemed a lot at the time.  I was going to put some walnuts in there as well, but forgot.  Which is no surprise really, as this is the first time I have rustled up a salad since last year, and am therefore a little salad rusty.

That’s my excuse anyway.

But I tell you what, it was delicious with some lovely new potatoes.

Meanwhile the wee boy’s dilemma of the day is what he’s going to change his name to when he grows up.  The options are:

1.  Wallace – his favourite films at the moment are the Wallace and Grommit series

2.  The Apprentice – taken from some Star Wars film or other, another favourite

How wonderful it is to be five.

Red Thai Curry

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I do believe we are officially experiencing summertime.  It’s glorious.  And with this season comes a whole array of foods to eat which compliment the heat.  In my head I have time to flick through recipes, buy new ingredients and potter in the kitchen, presenting my boys with yet another piece de resistance.  The reality is, there is never really enough time, and I end up, most of the time, falling back on old faithfuls. Things which I have the ingredients for, that don’t take too long to cook, and that I know everyone will enjoy.

When I was growing up, the summer staple was always some sort of food, with salad.  And every time we had salad, big Dave would exclaim something along the lines of,

‘Rabbit food again then?’

As a friend of mine once said, ‘I don’t do greens.  I don’t do anything with fibre’

There’s nothing quite like the soul destroying feeling of someone’s dinner disappointment.

So, with this in mind, I have incorporated a red Thai curry into my repertoire, which I believe ticks all the summer food boxes, without instigating the ‘summer salad’ conversation.  And it’s a doddle to make.

I usually use either a meaty fish (cod), pork or chicken strips, but sometimes I break the mold and just use vegetables.  Oh yes, living on the edge.  Anyway.

What I start with is a teaspoon of Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste, bought in a tub from my local supermarket which cuts out the faff of mixing together all the things I don’t have, and it keeps in the fridge for an eternity.  I think.  I add this into a wok with a splash of oil, a teaspoon of soft brown sugar, a splash of fish sauce and a dash of lime juice.  Mix together, warm through and add the meat.  If you’re using fish, skip this stage and add the fish in with the coconut milk as otherwise it breaks up too much.

Cook for five minutes or so.

I then add sliced red onion, orange, red and yellow peppers if I have all three, if not I put in whatever I do have, stir around for a wee while, and add a tin of coconut milk. Next I add mange tout, sugar snap peas, green beans, (once again, whatever I have in), and let them all cook in the milk until they look as though they’ve seen some heat**.

And that, my friends, is it!

If we’re eating it with noodles, I also add them, if we’re eating it with rice, I cook that alongside the curry and serve the two separately on the plate.

I do like to add some fresh chopped coriander right at the end, but more often than not, if I haven’t bought some that day, the stuff I have has either wilted or been semi frozen by my temperamental fridge.

It may not be totally authentic, but it tastes devine.

** Just a final thought, the peppers, beans, whatever you fancy veg really could do with having a crunch to them otherwise it does taste like ‘old people’s home’ food.

Mackerel

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I absolutely adore mackerel.  I love the oiliness of it, the saltiness of it, the texture of it.  I love it smoked and fresh, warm and cold.  Absolutely everything about it.  I can even cope with the inevitable tiny bones within it.  So imagine my absolute delight when I found out that you can get it from a local supermarket either fresh with a chilli and lime dressing all ready to cook, or smoked with a piri piri dressing.

I have tried both, but tonight plumped for the smoked version and let me tell you, it is out of this world.  If you like mackerel.  Obviously, if you’re not that keen, I’d imagine you are feeling slightly bilious by now.

So for tonight’s dinner, I made a smoked piri piri mackerel salad and delicious new potatoes, smothered in butter, as Nigella might say.

‘What is in this salad?’ I hear you ask.  Well, I decided to put in red, yellow and orange tiny peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, rocket, spinach and watercress, and beetroot.  But to be honest, you could put anything you fancied in there.  However, if you’ve never had the combination of mackerel and beetroot, you truly are missing a treat.  Once again, you do really need to be on the ‘I love beetroot’ wagon to even have a chance of trying the combination, but trust me, when you do, there will be no turning back.

So that is what we have eaten.  I was hoping we could maybe eat outside, in preparation for this weekends camping trip, but sadly, just as it was all ready, the heavens opened, and we ended up sitting in semi darkness due to not being able to put the kitchen light on.

But that’s another story.