A note about barbequing: The best way to bbq is by lighting your bbq in advance of cooking. The bbq needs to be hotter than you would like to cook initially as this will sterilize the grill and really get the heat going. When it is really good and hot (about 10 mins for a gas bbq & 30 mins for a charcoal bbq), use a wire brush or scraper to clean the rack. Reduce the temperature to about 200˚C, or as a rule of thumb, you should only be able to hover your hand over the surface for about 5 secs! Avoid cooking on direct flames as this will burn the outside while leaving the middle raw. It is a good idea to keep a silicone brush and a little jug of oil next to the BBQ to keep everything well-oiled. While BBQing, try not to constantly move the food around…allow it to sit & sear!
Lamb and Feta Burgers
For the burgers:
450 g lamb mince
1 red onion
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoon fresh oregano (use a teaspoon of dried if you don’t have fresh)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
100g feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, whisked lightly (to bind)
For the raita:
1 small tub natural yogurt
Fresh mint, finely chopped
½ a cucumber, seeds removed with a teaspoon & diced
1 clove garlic, minced or chopped finely
Pitta breads & Rocket Leaves
- Combine all the ingredients for the burgers in a bowl, keeping half of the egg back.
- Mix thoroughly and check the mix is wet enough to hold together and add more egg if necessary
- Season the mixture and cook a teaspoonful of it to taste
- Shape into patties and refrigerate if time allows as this helps to keep their shape
- Cook on a skillet or pan or best, on the BBQ!
- Cook for 5-8 mins on each side, checking the middle of one to ensure it is cooked through
- Leave to rest for 5 mins
- To make the raita, combine the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and mint
- Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and remove the seeds with a teaspoon
- Chop the cucumber finely and add to the yogurt
- Taste and adjust seasoning
I love to serve these burgers in lightly toasted pitta bread as it is lighter than burger buns but please feel free to use what you like!
Assemble the burger in the bread you are using and top with the raita and some rocket leaves. Dig in!
Lemon, Garlic & Yoghurt Marinated Chicken
2 tablespoons plain Greek Yoghurt
1 Lemon, zested
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chicken breast fillets, sliced lengthways to give about 6 pieces per fillet
Place the yoghurt, lemon zest and garlic in a bowl and add the chicken pieces. Refrigerate and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
When you are ready to BBQ it, thread the chicken onto metal skewers.
Place on a medium heat on the BBQ, turning every 3 mins or so to ensure it is evenly cooked. You can check the very centre of one piece to be sure. The metal skewers are helpful as they conduct the heat and help to cook the chicken from the inside out.
Griddled Courgette, Wild Rice & Chilli Salad
This is a really nice simple summery lunch or suppertime dish. Although I have used a griddle pan here, it really is perfect for the BBQ and is best enjoyed al fresco with a chilled glass of white wine. A crisp sauvignon blanc would be good or maybe even a Riesling or gewürztraminer.
1 red chilli, sliced
1 lemon, zest & juice
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 courgette, sliced thinly lengthways
100g wild rice, boiled and used warmish if possible
100g feta or goat’s cheese, crumbled
A handful of flaked almonds, toasted on a dry pan
Some fresh mint, chopped
A good glug of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt flakes
In the meantime, drizzle the courgette with oil & season with the salt. Place these on the griddle too. Turn after 3 mins and cook until softened and charred a little.
In a bowl, place the still-warm rice with the griddled courgette, cheese, lemon juice, olive oil & salt. Taste for seasoning and if you are happy, top with the mint & toasted flaked almonds.
Choose any veg you fancy! We are using:
Baby Gem lettuce
Fennel, sliced & blanched
Potatoes, sliced & blanched
Flat cap mushrooms
Arrange all your veg on a tray or platter & drizzle with oil & season with salt & pepper
Place on the BBQ and allow to cook for a few minutes on each side until charred and cooked thorough. I like to drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice & fresh herbs such as oregano & parsley.
The kids at our cookery camps and birthday parties always love these fajitas! I know you can buy packs of ready made spice mix and salsa but making your own is always better as you are guaranteed there are no added sugars, salts or preservatives. Also, once you have the spices, this is a cheaper way of doing it! The kids at the cookery school always love making their own flat breads but this is not essential!
½ tsp Salt
3 tblsp Olive Oil
Put the flour and salt in a bowl and make a little well in the middle, add the oil and water to this.
Mix it all together and knead it for about 10 minutes
Shape the dough into a ball & put the dough back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for at least half an hour (or even overnight if you want)
When you are ready to cook them, put the dough out on a worktop with some flour on it.
Cut the dough into golf ball sized pieces and roll out into a circle, as thin as possible.
Heat a dry frying pan & place your tortilla wrap into it. When it starts to blister & bubble, carefully turn it over and cook the other side.
For the Spice Mix:
Mix together: 1 tsp sea salt , 1 tsp caster sugar, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp oregano , ½ tsp ground black pepper, ½ tsp paprika
2 Tomatoes, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ a red onion,
1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
A handful of fresh coriander chopped
Pinch of Sea Salt
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl
To make the Chicken Fajitas:
2 Chicken Breast Fillets
3 tablespoons Spice Mix
½ a Red Pepper, slice lengthways
½ an Onion, sliced
Some Cheddar cheese, grated
A few dollops of Sour Cream
Some Groundnut or Vegetable Oil, to cook
Place the Chicken, Peppers & Onions in a large bowl and sprinkle the seasoning over and mix it through with a spoon
Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the chicken & vegetables
Stir fry until the chicken is cooked through. You can check this by taking a piece out of the pan and cutting it in half. If it is completely white on the inside, it is cooked.
Place the chicken and peppers & onions into the middle of a tortilla wrap and add the cheese, salsa and sour cream. Roll one side of the wrap over to the middle, then tuck in the end and roll the other side of the wrap over.
A couple of nice, easy family friendly dishes that are healthy to boot!
Fragrant & Creamy Chicken Curry
This chicken curry is a winner with both children and elderly relatives. It is flavoursome without being too spicy. It can be made ahead and chilled or frozen until you are ready to serve it. If you are making it ahead of time & want to add the veg, it is best to steam or blanch them separately and mix them through just before serving the curry as this will keep them nice and crisp & maintain their colour.
20 chicken thighs, boned & skinned (ask your butcher to do this for you)sliced into bite-size pieces
1 tsp Turmeric, ground
1 tsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Garam Masala
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated.
1 tsp tomato puree
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
100 ml pouring cream
750 ml chicken stock
A glug of groundnut oil
Optional: selection of veg such as baby corn, sugar snaps, mange tout, green beans, red pepper, blanched or steamed.
In a large bowl, mix the spices with a couple of tablespoons of water to make a paste and coat the chicken in it. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Heat the oil in a pan until quite hot and add the chicken pieces to brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onions and a pinch of salt to the pan with a little more oil if necessary. Sweat until softened. Add the garlic for the last few minutes.
Add the tomato puree and cook out. Return the chicken to the pot and cover with the stock and the cream. Simmer for about 25mins on a low heat or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened. Add the veg just before serving
Sticky Basmati rice
This sticky rice is perfect for soaking up all the lovely sauce from the curry
250g basmati rice
375 ml water (or cover with half an inch over)
- Place the rice in the pot with the water, add a pinch of salt
- Boil for 10 mins
- When most of the water is absorbed, turn the heat off and cover-DO NOT STIR
- Leave to steam for at least 5 mins
- Fluff up with a fork
Healthy Salmon Chow Mein
For the sauce:
Thumb-size piece fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tsp tomato puree
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 lime for squeezing
For the noodles:
1 large red pepper, sliced
2 spring onions, sliced
A large handful of mangetout, washed
A large handful of beansprouts, washed
2 salmon fillets, sliced lengthways
2 nests of medium egg noodles
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
To Garnish: A few fresh Coriander leaves & Sesame Seeds, toasted.
- Put the garlic & ginger in a bowl and add the tomato puree, oyster sauce, soy sauce, 3 tbsp water and stir
- Boil a large pan of water on the hob. When the water is boiling, drop in the noodles, turn off the heat and allow to sit for 5 mins. Drain in a colander or a large sieve in the sink
- With everything prepared, you can now start cooking. Heat the wok – it’s hot enough when it starts to smoke.
- Add the oil and lay the slices of salmon on the wok carefully, ensuring all the pieces of salmon are in contact with the pan.
- Use a spatula to gently keep moving the salmon around the wok until it is half cooked. Add the pepper and mange tout and stir-fry for a further min.
- Pour the sauce into the wok and allow to bubble.
- Add the noodles, beansprouts and spring onions, then toss into the sauce until it is well coated, stirring constantly until the beansprouts wilt. Add lime juice & check for seasoning. Adjust with soy sauce if necessary.
- Serve in bowls – an easy way is to use tongs
- Garnish with the coriander & sesame seeds.
It feels like Spring is in the air! The daffs and crocuses in our garden are in full bloom and the evenings are getting longer. I love this time of year and Easter always feels like a real turning point in the seasons. Enjoy this fantastic Roast Garlic & Rosemary Leg of Lamb with Rich Red Wine Gravy and Simnel Cake for a perfect Easter Sunday Lunch! Listen to the podcast here (40mins in)
Roast Leg of Lamb
1 leg of lamb
3 Cloves Garlic, sliced
A couple of rosemary sprigs
1 carrot cut into chunks, no need to peel
1 onion quartered, no need to peel
1 stick of celery cut into chunks
A few drops of soy sauce
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
For the gravy:
A knob of butter
1 small onion, finely diced
A teaspoon of tomato puree
A tablespoon of flour
250 mls lamb stock
A dash of red wine
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C
- Placing the lamb on a board, use the sharp tip of a small knife to make incisions about ½ a cm deep all around the lamb. Brush with a little rapeseed oil.
- Poke the garlic and the rosemary into the holes.
- Season the lamb generously.
- Place the carrot, onion and celery into a roasting dish and add a little soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a cup of water. Place the lamb on top and place in the oven for 2 hours.
- For the gravy, make the roux by melting the butter in a saucepan and adding the flour. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the tomato puree and stir for about 30 seconds
- Add the wine and allow to bubble up until almost evaporated
- Add the lamb stock and reduce to a simmer for at least 30mins, stirring every now and then
- When the meat is done, remove the lamb to a warmed dish to rest (for at least 10 mins) and pour the juices from the roasting dish into the gravy.
- The gravy should now be rich and flavourful. Pour through a sieve for a smoother finish (optional)
175g/6oz butter or margarine
175g/6oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g/6oz plain flour
½ tsp ground mixed spice (optional)
350g/12oz mixed raisins, currants and sultanas
55g/2oz chopped mixed peel
½ lemon, grated zest only
1-2 tbsp apricot jam
1 free-range egg, beaten for glazing
1kg Marzipan or Almond Paste
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs until well incorporated and then sift in the flour, salt and mixed spice (if using) a little at a time. Finally, add the mixed dried fruit, peel and grated lemon zest and stir into the mixture.
- Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 18cm/7in cake tin. Smooth the top and cover with the circle of marzipan. Add the rest of the cake mixture and smooth the top leaving a slight dip in the centre to allow for the cake to rise. Bake in the preheated oven for 1¾ hours. Test by inserting a skewer in the middle – if it comes out clean, it is ready. Once baked, remove from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack.
- Brush the top of the cooled cake with the apricot jam. Divide the remainder of the almond paste in half; roll out a circle to cover the top of the cake with one half and form 11 small balls with the other half.
- Place the circle of paste on the jam glaze and set the balls round the edge. Brush the cake topping with a little beaten egg.
- Preheat the grill to high. Place the cake onto a baking tray and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until the top of the marzipan begins to brown. Alternatively, lightly heat the cake topping using a cook’s blow torch, until the marzipan is golden-brown.
White Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes
175g Plain Flour
110g Caster Sugar
110g Butter, softened
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Baking Powder
55g White Chocolate, chopped
100g fresh Raspberries, chopped
For the Buttercream Icing:
150g Butter, softened
150g Icing Sugar
To flavour: any type of extract you wish such as vanilla, lemon, strawberry or almond & any food colouring
To decorate: Sprinkles, toppers, marshmallows etc… We have coloured sugarpaste & cut out mini stars
Preheat the oven to 190˚C, or 170˚C Fan
With a whisk, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one by one and then the milk.
Add the flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into the paper cases and pop a little white chocolate & raspberry into each one.
Bake for 15-20 mins until golden brown and firm on the top.
To make the Buttercream:
Whisk the butter until light & fluffy then add the icing sugar. Stir in a few drops of flavour essence & food colouring.
Use a piping bag to decorate the cupcakes with the buttercream icing.
Our lunch at today’s Easter Kid’s Cookery Camp is Quesadillas with Guacamole & Sweetcorn Salsa. This is a more-ish dish and I love it as a quick supper in front of the TV. Much healthier & tasty than a take-away!
For each quesadilla, you will need:
2 corn tortillas
Some grated cheese (about 50g)
A tablespoon of sour cream
A selection of fillings such as: ham, spring onion, peppers, chilli, leftover chicken, coriander
Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a tortilla. Sprinkle your filling over it evenly and top with the second tortilla.
Toast gently for a couple of minutes, using a spatula to check the underneath is not burning.
When the cheese has melted, it will be easier to flip the quesadilla over in the pan to toast the other side.
When it is golden brown all over, remove to a chopping board and cut into wedges.
Serve with the sour cream.
1 avocado, ripe & chopped roughly
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of ½ a lime
Small handful of fresh coriander
Red chilli, deseeded & chopped finely. How much is up to you!
A pinch of sea salt flakes
Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl until all are combined. Taste of seasoning and adjust the balance if necessary
1 small red onion chopped VERY FINELY
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Optional: chopped green chilli
A glug of olive oil
½ a teaspoon of sugar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl at least 10 MINUTES before serving to allow the sugar to dissolve and for the flavours to develop a little. Stir well and serve with the quesadillas.