Tuna and Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

Tuna and Quinoa Salad (serves 4)

2015 is going to be the year that I will try hard to source my meat and fish from organic/wild sources. I also think I will be eating a lot more vegetarian dishes.
This salad uses tuna. Tuna is not farmed (good thing). Tuna contains mercury (not a good thing). The tuna I use comes in a glass container (a good thing) and is bottled in spring water and salt (a good thing – no preservatives). It is wild caught (good thing).
My salad consists of quinoa, tuna, scallions/spring onions, chickpeas, peas and anchovies with an optional vinaigrette (lemon in my case).

1 cup quinoa cooked in 2 cups of water and cooled
8 oz frozen peas – cooked and cooled
1 x 6.7oz jar of tuna (Tonnino tuna fillets in spring water, wild caught)
1 bunch scallions/spring onions – finely chopped
6 anchovies – finely chopped
1 avocado – diced
1 can chickpeas – rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Lemon vinaigrette – optional

Place quinoa in a salad bowl.
Add cooked peas, tuna (broken up into small pieces), scallions, anchovies, avocado and chickpeas.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add lemon vinaigrette (optional) (juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)

My Mother’s Prawn Cocktail (serves 4)

My Mother’s Prawn Cocktail (serves 4)

I arrived at my parent’s house in the UK to be greeted by this delicious version of prawn/shrimp cocktail served in a lovely, delicate, antique china soup bowl (but it would also look pretty in a glass). Very simple to prepare and light to eat as the traditional Marie Rose mayonnaise sauce is replaced with a classic French dressing involving a dollop of Dijon mustard and garlic to the oil and vinegar. If possible use prawns, otherwise chop up the shrimp (and try to get the domestic, wild shrimp if possible – I give a wide berth to those farmed in China/Thailand, etc).

Lettuce – finely shredded (use as much as you like)
2 x avocados – diced
Prawns – enough to balance the other ingredients

Combine ingredients in a bowl and pour over vinaigrette, then place in individual serving dishes.

Vinaigrette

1 good teasp. Dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic – minced
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Place vinegar to mustard and garlic in an old jar with a lid and whisk well with a mini whisk (fork will do otherwise).
Add olive oil and seasoning to jar. Put lid on and shake so dressing emulsifies.

**Little Known Food Fact**
Be careful where you source your prawns/shrimp.
Many farmed shrimp come from countries such as China, Thailand, etc.
The shrimp are densely farmed, hence they swim in their own poop.
Shrimp have quite a high mortality rate, hence antibiotics are administered. Some of these are illegal or banned in the US.
Toxic chemicals are used to clean the ponds too.

All Kinds of Vegetables in a Pot (serves 4)

All Kinds of Vegetables in a Pot (serves 4)

Excuse the title but at the moment I am stumped for a better one – Vegetable Stew maybe? I experimented with a variety of vegetables and it came together nicely – I mixed leeks and garlic together so didn’t need onions. Vegetable stock and lemon juice were the liquids. Powdered red pepper added a bite. The remaining veg. were zucchini, kale, cannellini beans and artichokes. I put some kale in because it is such a healthy food more than for any other reason. This recipe is light and easy on the stomach, which might account for its creation as yesterday I ate something that really disagreed with my intolerances and have had a tender stomach since then. It was a nasty reminder of how I used to feel. Vegetables in a Pot requires minimal cooking (I don’t like over-cooked zucchini).

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper
2 x cloves of garlic – finely chopped
2 x leeks – finely sliced
2 x zucchini – sliced and each slice quartered (not finely sliced)
2 handfuls of kale
1 x can of cannellini beans
1 x can of quartered artichoke hearts
1 cup of vegetable broth
1/2 teasp. of powdered red pepper (less if you don’t like things too spicy)
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat oil in a cast iron casserole dish and when sizzling add garlic and leeks and soften for a few minutes.
Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes or so until zucchini is al dente and kale is cooked.

**Little Known Food Fact**
Not sure if pink Himalyan salt is a food fad and over-hyped, but I bought some. It is meant to be better for you and to contain some 80 minerals! Regular table salt has been stripped of all its minerals though it does contain iodine. Some say white salt = white sugar.

Fennel, Celery, Avocado and Lemon Chicken Salad (serves 4)

Fennel, Celery, Avocado and Lemon Chicken Salad (serves 4)

I published this recipe last year (kind of) and this is an improved version. It can go either way – take out the chicken and it’s vegetarian and vegan. Have served the vegan version to a vegan friend and she had second helpings. You can even serve it with chicken on the side so that everyone can enjoy it as they like. Because chicken can be a bit bland I am currently always cooking it with lemon juice and olive oil. Then you can eat it hot with veg. or cold chopped into salads. Great for a packed lunch too.

2 x chicken breasts (seasoned and cooked in juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)
1 x fennel bulb – sliced or chopped
3 x sticks of celery – sliced
1 x avocado – diced

Let chicken cool and then slice into bit sized pieces.
Place the other ingredients in a bowl and then add chicken and mix well.
Serve with a lemon vinaigrette – juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.

**Little Known Food Fact**
Aluminum foil – such a convenient product, but information about aluminum is enough to make me re-think using it. When cooking, instead of wrapping foods in aluminum foil and kind of poaching them, I will just put them in an ovenproof dish, baste them a couple of times while they are cooking and put a pan lid over them.

Smoked Salmon with Cucumber and Avocado

Smoked Salmon with Cucumber and Avocado

At this time of year there is a lot of smoked salmon about. In my family smoked salmon was always the appetizer at Christmas served on thinly sliced brown bread. The bread was sliced thinly from a whole loaf of bread and the butter to spread on it had to be softened otherwise the bread would tear. Then there was the slicing of the salmon (before the days of pre-sliced) with my father gallantly doing his best to slice it as thinly as my mother wanted. This was after the sourcing of the smoked salmon from somewhere in Scotland about which there was much debate. In the USA salmon accompanies bagels along with chopped hard-boiled eggs, onion, capers, cream cheese. So, if you have some spare salmon hanging about this is an alternative use – so easy, quick and nice to look at (as well as to eat!). Can be an appetizer or lunch or just a salad. Could be good in a lunch box too (lemon vinaigrette will keep avocado from going brown).

4 oz smoked salmon – cut into strips
1/2 an English cucumber – sliced
1 avocado – diced
Lemon vinaigrette (juice of half a lemon and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil)

I arranged the slices of cucumber around the edge of a plate, then I put the strips of salmon in a circle inside the cucumber. I put the diced avocado in the center and drizzled lemon vinaigrette over the plate.

** Little Known Food Fact**
I remember being totally surprised when a woman in my local supermarket told me how hard it was to find hot dogs which didn’t have sugar in them. Many years on I am now horrified how much sugar there is in products and the ingredients are not always labelled sugar. Other names for sugar include ingredients with the word syrup after it, such as rice syrup; fruit juice concentrate; ingredients ending in the letters ‘ose – dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltrose, sucrose, saccharose, xylose; also dextrin, maltodextrin, sorghum. There are probably more. You almost need a good working knowledge of latin to know these are sugar!

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

Stuffed Tomatoes (serves 4)

This recipe just came to me for some bizarre reason when I was cooking my vegetable curry yesterday. The first time I had stuffed tomatoes was when I was an au pair in France. The mother was thrilled when she knew I could cook as she hated cooking. She taught me her recipes and then I made them on a weekly/bi-weekly basis. So alongside stuffed tomatoes, there was (naturally) quiche, steak hache and sometimes tartare, roast chicken (and when we vacationed in Scotland it was roast rabbit!). There must have been other dishes in her repertoire but other than soup in an alarming pressure cooker, I don’t remember them.

Her stuffed tomatoes contained ground beef, rice, tomato and parsley. Mine contain chicken sausage, onion, garlic, tomato, spinach, quinoa and the secret ingredient, Dijon Mustard. I deconstructed the chicken sausage (Al Fresco brand, though it did contain the dreaded ‘natural flavors’ (somehow they are not artificial ingredients!)) i.e. took off the skin and chopped them up. The stuffed tomatoes looked quite jaunty as they went in the oven as I popped the top of the tomato on the stuffing like a hat! I stuffed 4 large tomatoes but could have stuffed 6 if I needed to. As I fed these to the children I looked after in France, these might appeal to children everywhere.

1/2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper

1/4 of a large onion – finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic – finely chopped

4 large, ripe tomatoes – tops cut off, insides put in a bowl and chopped up

2 x chicken sausages – skinned and chopped into little pieces

1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

5 oz baby spinach – cooked and chopped

2 teasp. Dijon mustard

Heat seasoned oil in a skillet, when sizzling add onion and garlic and soften.

In a bowl put the insides of the tomatoes, the softened onions and garlic, chopped chicken sausage, quinoa, chopped spinach and the mustard. Mix together well.

Fill the tomato shells with the mixture, top with a ‘hat’ of tomato.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes.

Vegetable Curry (serves 4)

Vegetable Curry (serves 4)

Am trying to eat a couple of vegetarian/vegan meals every week and even when I am having meat or fish I try to have more veg. in the portion than the protein. My vegetable curry is a blend of Thai and Indian curry flavors. Coconut milk, lime juice, ginger and cilanto from Thai curries; Garam Masala and curry powder from Indian curries. It doesn’t really matter what vegetables you use it depends on what appeals. I love cauliflower and spinach in curries and then I thought out of the box and added sweet potato and red pepper. Chickpeas do well in a curry too. You could add okra or green beans or maybe subsitute lentils for the chickpeas. I am serving this with quinoa.

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt
1 medium onion – sliced
2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
1 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 inch of fresh ginger – finely grated
1 can of lite coconut milk
1 sweet potato – peeled and diced
1 red pepper – de-seeded and diced
1/2 a cauliflower – cut into little florets
5 oz baby spinach
1 x 15 oz can of chickpeas – rinsed and drained
1 tbsp. cilantro – finely chopped

Put olive oil seasoned with salt in a cast iron casserole dish
When sizzling, add onion, garlic, garam masala, curry powder and ginger and cook until onion is softened.
Then add the coconut milk, sweet potato, cauliflower, red pepper.
Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Next add spinach and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes or until spinach is wilted.
Take off heat and throw in a tablespoon of chopped cilantro

**Little Known Food Fact**

Have you ever checked a label and found that the product you are considering buying lists ‘natural flavors’? If so, like me, you might have wondered why ‘natural flavors’ was listed as an ingredient (doesn’t flavor automatically come from the ingredients?). Apparently, ‘natural flavors’, which are conjured up by ‘flavorists’ are not naturally occurring.