Vic-terranean Salad

Do you know what else I love?

A really good lunch.

Once, at a work meeting, the venue we went to supplied us with a very fancy lunch and on that day I had the most incredible Mediterranean Salad. It took me like three days to stop talking about it and even longer to stop thinking about it and I knew it was only a matter of time before I attempted to recreate it with a twist of my own.

[Enter: meat, meat and more meat]

Honestly, can you really say you’ve eaten anything if there’s no meat inside? 
(Please vegetarians/vegans shouldn’t come and kill me- you don’t have to add meat to this salad)

If you do decide to add meat, however, I’d suggest white meat or fish. The venue served the salad with salmon (which was delicious) and it also went really well with the pork belly I made (even though pork is technically red meat). I imagine it would also go very well with chicken or turkey.

The thing that excited me the most about this recipe was the use of nuts!

I usually only eat nuts on their own as a snack, or in food like cereal or chocolate but other than in a few Asian dishes, I’ve never really eaten nuts as part of the main meal. So this definitely added to the appeal of trying to recreate the recipe as it would be something I hadn’t cooked before.

And let me tell you; it was sensational.

And super quick to make!

salad

Ingredients used:

  • Pork Belly, cut into bitesize chunks
  • Broccoli, top cut into small florets
  • 25g Sundried Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • A handful of mixed nuts, ground in a pestle and mortar briefly to break up into smaller chunks
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tsp Rapeseed Oil
    • 1/2 Garlic Clove, chopped finely
    • Rosemary, sprinkle
    • Black Pepper, using a mill
    • 1 seasoning cube (Maggi/Knorr)
    • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 tbsp Manuka Honey
    • Italian Herbs

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, place the pork belly and season with rapeseed oil, garlic, rosemary, black pepper and seasoning cube.
  2. Mix together and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the salad ingredients as listed above (do not mix together yet).

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain well.
  4. Mix the broccoli together with the sundried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and mixed nuts in a bowl.
  5. To create the dressing for the salad, mix the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, manuka honey and a pinch of Italian herbs.
  6. Once the pork is ready, serve with the salad and drizzle the dressing on top.
  7. Enjoy!

Extra tip: if you like sweet meats as I do, when you take the pork belly out of the oven to turn over, glaze with some honey for an extra kick.

Gizdodo

I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you don’t know, I am very Nigerian. I was born in Lagos and moved here to the U.K when I was eight years old.

Despite spending my adolescent years over here, I am still very much ruled by the Nigerian upbringing and culture imbibed in me during my formative years.

And that also translates into the types of food I like to eat.

I love different types of cuisines and flavours but honestly, none of it holds a candle to Nigerian food.

One common theme in any kind of cuisine is my love for finger-foods/starters/hors-d’oeuvres, whatever you want to call it- Nigerians call them “small chops”. Any kind of savoury meat snack; whew, sign me up!

Another great part of being Nigerian is that we use almost all the parts of the animals we eat so I am no stranger to eating offal. In fact, I find it very, very delicious. This recipe calls for chicken/turkey gizzard (which is a thick muscular part of a bird’s stomach). It can be purchased at most halal butchers and is quite cheap. The “dodo” part of the recipe is what we Nigerians affectionately call fried plantain. They can be purchased at most Afro-Caribbean grocery stores and are also relatively cheap.

An important point to make is that with most of my recipes that call for any type of meat to be boiled, it will always be done in a pressure cooker (because honestly who has 28,407 hours to sit there and watch meat boil amiright?)

gizdodo2

Ingredients used:

  • Chicken or Turkey Gizzard
  • 1 Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 2 Plantains
  • Seasonings
    • 3 tbsp of Rapeseed Oil
    • 1 clove of Garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 2 Scotch Bonnets
    • 4 stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • 1 tsp of Basil
    • 1 tsp of Thyme
    • 1 tsp of Curry Powder
    • A pinch of Nutmeg
    • Enough oil to shallow fry the plantain

Prep time – 15 mins

Method:

  1. Rinse the gizzard in a bowl of warm water and a splash of vinegar.
  2. Using a sharp knife, chop the gizzard into smaller bitesize pieces and place in the pressure cooker.
  3. Chop 1 medium onion and 1 scotch bonnet and add to the gizzard.
  4. Season with 2 stock cubes and garlic and stir.
  5. Close the cooker and put it on medium-high heat. Once the valve on the cooker starts hissing (indicating that it’s cooking under pressure), lower the heat and leave to cook for a further 5-7 minutes.

 

Cooking time – 20 mins

Cooking (sauce for gizzard):

  1. Blend together the chopped tomato, bell pepper, medium onion and scotch bonnet until smooth.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the rapeseed oil on medium-high heat (but do not let it start to smoke) and once hot enough, pour in the tomato mixture to fry.
  3. Fry the mixture for 5-7 minutes and lower the heat for it to continue simmering for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Season with the remaining stock cubes, basil, thyme, curry powder and nutmeg and let simmer on low heat for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked gizzard to the mixture and set aside.

Cooking time – 15 mins

Cooking (dodo):

  1. If you’ve never peeled a plantain before, please visit HERE.
  2. Once peeled, slice the plantain down the middle into two halves. Next, take the two halves and slice each down the middle again into longitudinal quarters and then slice each long quarter into bite-sized chunks.
  3. Shallow fry the plantain until browned all over and drain on some kitchen towels to remove the excess oil.
  4. Add the fried plantain to the gizzard mix and stir until the sauce covers all the plantain.
  5. Serve.

Extra tip: some people fry the cooked gizzard before adding it to the tomato mix but patience is not one of my strong points and I cannot come and die.

Salmon and Broccoli Bowl

I’ve said this before on a previous post, but I feel led to reiterate it.

I really love meat.

I also really love fish.

Well, not really love, but I do adore a good salmon (see also Cod, Hake and Catfish).

To be honest, I’ve never really experimented with other types of fish, so I have no idea whether I like them or not. (basically I could never be vegetarian/vegan in this life or the next. Disclaimer: I have nothing against them- do what makes you happy innit)

Anyway, due to the vicissitudes of life it had been a while since inspiration hit me kitchen-wise but recently I found myself craving the soft, flaky texture of a good Salmon fillet and after looking at the ingredients I had in my fridge, I knew exactly what to pair it with to satisfy the craving within.

Also, for some very weird reason, I like eating most of my food out of a bowl. My father says it’s the village girl in me, but I think it’s because I am incredibly lazy and hate the formality of eating from a flat plate and using proper cutlery. Ugh.

But I digress. On with the show!

IMG_1517

Ingredients used:

  • Salmon Fillets (I prefer going to a fishmonger than buying fish pre-packed)
  • Basmati Rice (2 cups)
  • Pak Choi (200g pack can be found in most big supermarkets)
  • Tenderstem Broccoli (250g pack)
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2tbsp
    • Soy Sauce – 2tbsp
    • Chilli flakes
    • Chinese 5 spice
    • 2 cloves of Garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • Chopped Ginger
    • 1 or 2 Bird Eye Chillies (or regular thin chillies)
    • 1 stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • 1 Lime
    • 1 knob of butter

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, place the salmon fillets and season with sesame oil, soy sauce, 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, half the amount of chopped ginger, stock cube, and a dash of chilli flakes and Chinese 5 spice.
  2. Leave the fish to marinate for 5 minutes.
  3. Before cooking, cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of half a lime onto the fish.
  4. Wrap the individual fillets in foil to create foil parcels and cut the remaining lime half into slices and put on the fillets before closing the parcels.

The purpose of the parcels is to allow the salmon to cook in it’s own juices and to give you something to pour on the rice once ready.

Cooking time – 30 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (gas mark 5)
  2. Place the salmon on an oven tray and leave to bake for 15 minutes, checking intermittently.
  3. Wash the rice and put into a saucepan.
  4. Pour 3 cups of boiling water into the saucepan and bring to the boil.
  5. Once the rice starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
  6. Leave the rice to simmer for about 15 minutes then remove from heat and leave to steam in the saucepan for a further 2-3 minutes.
  7. While the rice is cooking, sauté the pak choi, broccoli and chopped up birds eye chillies in the knob of butter and season with the remaining ginger and garlic. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for aesthetics.
  8. Serve the rice with the salmon and sautéed vegetables in a bowl and enjoy!

 

Extra tip: don’t lick your fingers after throwing away the lime slices because baked lime tastes like sorrow.

Plantain and Egg

Egg vs Eggs.

I don’t know whether it’s a Nigerian thing, or a Victoria thing (most likely the former), but there is a huge difference in making eggs (sunny side up, scrambled, poached, Benedict) and making egg.

Let me explain:

Eggs are a delightful dish that you can add to other breakfast items to  make a hearty meal that will give you the energy needed to face the day ahead.

Egg can be an entire meal in and of itself- filled with mouthwatering tomatoes, onions and spices and is usually paired with yam or plantain.

Now before you tell me “it sounds like an omelette”, technically, yes it is one but it also isn’t….okay?

Plantain and Egg is honestly my favourite thing to eat mid-morning on a day where I don’t have any spectacular plans. Mostly because it sends me right back to bed for a cat nap.

A very important point to also note is that in this entire world, there is no one and I mean NO ONE- not my mother, any of my aunties, friends or foes- that can make plantain and egg better than I can. And that is an absolute fact.

Argue with your ancestors.

IMG_1117

Ingredients used:

(feeds two people)
  • 2 Ripe Plantains (the riper the better)
  • 4 Eggs (if large eggs, then use 3)
  • 1 Onion (white or red)
  • 2 Vine Tomatoes
  • A Tin of Sardines
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet
  • Seasonings
    • Sunflower oil
    • 1 stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • Salt (to taste)
    • Mixed Herbs (a pinch)

 

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. Peel the skin from the plantain and cut at an angle to create slices of your desired thickness. To be honest it doesn’t matter too much how you cut plantain- cut it according to how you like to eat it.
  2. Slice the onions and tomatoes and put in a bowl
  3. Finely chop up the scotch bonnet and put in the same bowl
  4. Open the sardines, drain the excess oil and crush into smaller pieces. Again, there is no hard and fast rule about how many sardines one should use- let your spirit guide you.

 

Cooking time – 30 mins

Cooking:

  1. In a clean, dry, deep pan, measure out enough oil to shallow fry the plantain. As a healthier alternative, I have a Phillips Air Fryer that allows me to cook food without the use of oil and achieve somewhat similar results.
  2. Heat the oil, but don’t wait for it to get too hot before adding the plantain, otherwise the outside of the plantain will burn faster than the middle cooks.
  3. In another shallow frying pan, add 4 tablespoons of oil and put on high heat.
  4. Once hot enough, add the tomatoes, onions and scotch bonnet and fry until the onions become translucent (3-5 minutes).
  5. Add the stock cube, pinch of mixed herbs and sardines to the tomato and onion mix and lower the heat.
  6. Make sure to keep an eye on the plantain. Once it has achieved the level of brownness you like (usually 7-9 minutes), flip each plantain over so the other side can cook.
  7. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs and a pinch of salt and whisk together and pour into the frying pan with tomatoes and onion mix.
  8. At this point it’s most likely time to remove the plantain. Put in a bowl lined with kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil.
  9. Leave the egg mixture to cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Once it has begun to solidify at the bottom, take care to flip the mixture over so the other side can cook. I use a wide spatula to flip the egg over in sections so it retains it’s ‘togetherness’ as much as possible.
  10. Cook for a further 7-10 mins on medium-low heat, flipping the sections as needed until the egg has been cooked through.
  11. Put the plantain on a plate and place the egg on top of the plantain.
  12. Serve

 

Extra tip: there isn’t one. That’s how perfect this meal is.

Sweet Chilli and Garlic Prawn Noodles

It was a Wednesday, it was way past lunchtime and as I said to my sister on FaceTime, I needed some kind of Oriental flavour in my mouth.

I also didn’t want to take ten years to cook it so it had to be quick and delicious.

Enter…

prawn noodles

Ingredients used:

  • Rice Noodles (300g pack)
  • Raw Peeled King Prawns (165g) – cooked prawns can also be used
  • Spring onions (2 stalks)
  • Broccoli – I would have preferred to use Tender stem Broccoli tips, but I only had the regular ones to hand.
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2tbsp
    • Soy Sauce – 2tbsp
    • Chilli flakes
    • Chinese 5 spice
    • Garlic (2 cloves)
    • Ginger (30g)
    • 1 stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • Sweet Chilli Sauce – 1tbsp

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. Chop the spring onions
  2. Put the prawns in a separate bowl and add the garlic, ginger and chilli flakes. Mix until all prawns are covered.
  3. Chop the broccoli as desired and soak in a bowl of bowling water for 2 minutes.
  4. Soak the rice noodles in boiling water for 1 minute, then rinse in a colander with cold water.

Cooking time – 10 mins

Cooking:

  1. Heat the sesame oil in a wok (medium-high heat) and fry the prawns once the oil is hot enough.
  2. Add the spring onions and broccoli to the wok and stir continuously for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the rice noodles to the wok.
  4. Season with soy sauce, Chinese 5 spice and stock cube.
  5. Stir the noodles until all covered with seasoning.
  6. Add the sweet chilli sauce and stir for a further minute.
  7. Serve

Extra tip: in any stir fry, I like my vegetables to be crunchy so I take extra care not to leave them soaking in hot water for too long (if this step is needed), or to leave the stir fry cooking for longer than necessary.

Pesto Tagliatelle

You ever get those days when the only thing you want to eat is creamy, cheesy and carb-loaded?

This was one such day.

This meal is so delightful, and each calorie-filled bite is as decadent as the next.

Truly a hearty meal to curb any carb craving.

pesto carb

Ingredients used:

  • Fresh Egg Tagliatelle (500g pack)
  • Bacon Lardons (155g pack)
  • Smoked Back Bacon (6 rashers)
  • Chestnut mushrooms (4 or 5)
  • 1 large onion
  • Crème fraîche (300ml – you can use normal cream instead, but I happen to find it a little too sweet to use in cooking)
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 1 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Black pepper (I use a pepper mill)
    • Pesto – 3 tbsp
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep time – 5 mins

Method:

  1. Chop the onion and mushrooms and put into a bowl
  2. Slice the bacon rashers vertically and keep together with the Lardons

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. In a large wok, fry the bacon and Lardons in vegetable oil until almost cooked. Then add the chopped onion and mushrooms to the wok.
  2. Season with the garlic, stock cube, black pepper and pesto.
  3. Add the Crème fraîche to the mixture and leave to simmer on low heat.
  4. In another saucepan, cook the Tagliatelle (follow the instructions on the packet).
  5. Once cooked, drain the water from the Tagliatelle and add the pasta to the wok.
  6. Stir in the pasta until all of it is covered by the creamy sauce.
  7. Leave to simmer for a further two minutes
  8. Serve

Extra tip: grate some Parmesan cheese over the pasta after serving and sprinkle some dried mixed herbs for aesthetics 

Spicy Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Fun fact about me: I love meat. I really, really do.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a vegetarian meal in my life (at least willingly).

While I enjoy eating and cooking copious amounts of meat, I find that chicken is always at the bottom of the list of meats I make. It’s a little boring to me and prefer playing with red meats.

However, every once in a while a very silly craving for chicken will hit me and it won’t go away until I have done with it what my soul desires.

Thus we have this post.

I wanted chicken, I wanted Caribbean food and I wanted it immediately.

So I made it.

jerk chicken

Ingredients used:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 2 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed habanero chilli flakes or 2 scotch bonnets
    • Jerk seasoning (Dunns River is my favourite to use)
    • Thyme
    • Salt
  • 3 cups of rice (any type is fine- I only had basmati available)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of coconut milk

Prep time – 15 mins

Method (chicken):

  1. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  2. Put the chicken, vegetable oil, half the chopped garlic, stock cubes, chilli flakes/scotch bonnets and jerk seasoning into a mixing bowl and mix together until all the chicken is covered.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Method (rice):

  1. Wash the rice by putting the rice in a bowl, submerging in warm water and stirring. Tilt the bowl to pour out the starchy water. Repeat this step until the water remains clear.
  2. Put the rice in a large saucepan.
  3. Pour the red kidney beans into the saucepan.
  4. Use a measuring cup to pour the coconut milk into the saucepan. (It’s usually about 2 cups). This step is important because you will subtract this number from the amount of water you put in the rice.
  5. Season with salt, thyme and the remaining garlic.

 

Cooking time for rice – 20 minutes

Cooking time for the chicken – 30 minutes

Cooking the chicken:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees(gas mark 5)
  2. Place the chicken on a foil-lined oven tray skin side down and leave to bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the chicken thighs so the skin is facing upwards and leave to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven once the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crispy.

Cooking the rice:

(For every cup of rice, use 1.5 cups of water to cook)

  1. Boil water in a kettle
  2. Add the boiling water to the rice (subtracting the number of cups that was used to add the coconut milk- so if 4.5 cups of water is needed to cook 3 cups of rice, and 2 cups of coconut milk was added to the rice, only 2.5 cups of water needs to be added to the rice).
    Who knew cooking required so much maths?
  3. Once the rice starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Leave the rice to simmer for about 15-18 minutes then remove for heat and leave to steam in the saucepan for a further 2-5 minutes..
  5. Use a fork to fluff the rice and mix the kidney beans throughout.
  6. Serve.

Extra tip: use the stock from the chicken as a sauce for the rice.

Roasted Honey and Black Pepper Pork

Pork is probably my favourite meat.

I find it so versatile and it easily and readily absorbs the flavours of your desired cuisine.

My go to with pork is usually some sort of Asian flavour but one day I had a hankering for pork belly that I knew wouldn’t be satisfied with the Asian flavour.

So I went into my kitchen and let the spirit lead me.

IMG_2196

Ingredients used:

  • Pork belly (a pack bought from the supermarket)
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
    • Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
    • 1/2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • Chopped ginger (not much is needed)
    • 1 Stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed chilli flakes
    • Honey – 5 tbsp
    • Crushed black pepper

Prep time – 20 mins

Method:

  1. Cut the pork belly into bitesize chunks and put in a mixing bowl
  2. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  3. Put the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and stock cube into the bowl with the pork belly and mix together until all the pork is covered. For an extra kick, you can add half a scotch bonnet.
  4. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Cooking time – 25 minutes plus 5 minutes

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Take the pork out of the oven and coat with the honey and crushed black pepper.
  4. Increase the heat of the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 5) and cook the pork for a further 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve with steamed black kale and broccoli for a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Extra tip: if you’re feeling super hungry, this meal can also be paired with steamed rice.