Okay, I know, June this year hasn’t exactly begun with a barbecue vibe, but it’s only going to be a matter of time surely before the rain clears up and we all start rushing out to buy charcoal and burger buns at 4pm every Sunday?
To make sure you’re ready for the sunshine, I’ve been practising my barbecue skills by making some homemade lamb burgers. This is the latest in my series of lamb recipes to support the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it‘ campaign, and if you haven’t already, do pop back and check out some of my other lamb posts, like a Green Eggs and Lamb breakfast recipe, (genius, if I do say so myself), and a Game of Thrones inspired rack of lamb, which I feel has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
The aim of the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it’ campaign is to highlight the health benefits of lamb – lamb is rich in niacin and vitamin B12 and a fantastic source of protein, zinc, potassium and phosphorus – as well as show that cooking with lamb doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.
In this vein, I’ve made what are quite possibly the easiest lamb burgers you will ever make. I came across a lot of recipes while I doing my lamb burger research that had long lists of ingredients – breadcrumbs, egg, vinegar even – but I just don’t think you need them. Lamb has a lovely flavour already, and lamb mince holds together really well, so all I’ve done is add a couple of ingredients to enhance the natural lamb flavour at the same time as keeping things super simple.
Also, who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen making breadcrumbs on a sunny day?? Not me. You want to be sat outside drinking beer and pretending that life is sunny and full of possibilities don’t you?
So, get the barbecue lit, crack open the beers and let’s go. View Post
Is there a word that means the opposite of heritage? Opposite in that it’s about looking forward rather than backwards? Forwardtage maybe? No, that’s terrible.
What I’m looking for is a word to describe the fact that my sister has been living with her Irish husband and my neice and nephew in Ireland for a few years now, and the longer they stay and the more often I visit, the more I feel a connection to Ireland as a place that part of my close family is growing up in. I may have no Irish heritage, but I feel a growing sense of Irish forwardtage.
When the latest theme for my lamb recipe project came through then, and it was all about cultural influences on food, an Irish stew seemed like an obvious choice. I’ve never cooked an Irish stew before, but the ‘Lamb. Try it, Love it’ campaign is all about inspiring you to try new lamb recipes, so this felt perfect. View Post
Advertisement feature in association with Tesco Jersey Royals
Is there anything more spring-like than a huge bowl of Jersey Royal new potatoes, slathered in butter and fresh mint?
I mean sure, there are lambs and primroses and what not, the smell of grass, cut for the first time after winter, but give me a Jersey Royal, butter dripping down my wrist, and I’m a happy woman.
I didn’t take much persuading then to get on board with creating a spring recipe using Tesco Jersey Royals. In store now until the end of the season in July, Tesco Jersey Royal new potatoes have a heritage that dates back over 140 years. They’re still produced and harvested using traditional methods like planting the seed potatoes by hand and fertilising using seaweed from Jersey beaches.
‘Delicate and nutty’ it says on the bag, which describes most of my ex-boyfriends, so it’s no wonder I like them. View Post
Advertisement feature in association with Naked Wines
I’m going to subtitle this post ‘how NOT to look like you’d normally pick whatever was on offer at around the £6.99 mark in the supermarket, even though you’re 40 years old and should know better.’
Catchy isn’t it?
The truth is though, that despite having ‘learn more about wine’ on my mental to-do list for about the last 15 years, I haven’t quite gotten around to it. On dates, when faced with the wine list, I find myself smiling at my date coquettishly and saying ‘you choose for me’, as though it’s 1953 and I can’t possibly make a decision on my own, but really it’s just that I have no idea what’s what.
One way around this is to buy your wine online through a company that helps you to choose decent wines and provides you with information about them, so you can drop in impressive sounding key phrases at dinner parties. This option can sometimes feel too pricey though, especially if you don’t drink a lot. Surely there’s a middle ground?
(You knew I was going to say that didn’t you?)
It’s the Naked Wines ‘Angels’ scheme.
I was sent 6 bottles of wine to ‘test’ them, (tough job…), but I accidentally drank one bottle before I remembered to take a photo.
The Naked Wines Angels programme is a kind of crowdfunding scheme for wine, designed to benefit you, the buyer, AND the winemakers. It comes from a desire to stop wine producers having margins squeezed endlessly by supermarkets, and to give them the investment they need to produce exclusive, exciting wines. View Post
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You heard me, Game of Thrones.
I have to say that the brief to create a ‘lamb recipe to tie in with the new series of Game of Thrones‘ presented a bit of a challenge to me initially, as I’ve never even seen an episode of Game of Thrones, not even five minutes of it. When I read ‘Game of Thrones’ then, my first thought was ‘sexy dwarfs’. I have no idea if there even are any dwarfs in it. The sexy bit I think was just because I’ve heard there’s a fair amount of nudity.
I asked around, and was given clues that mentioned brutal violence, murder and dragons.
I still wasn’t really feeling the lambiness.
The ‘Lamb. Try It, Love It’ campaign is all about making you think differently about lamb though, and I was definitely doing that.
I remembered a few years ago how we’d gone to Northern Ireland to tick ‘visit the Dark Hedges‘ off my list of 40 things to do before 40. The Dark Hedges is a country road in the middle of nowhere, where massive trees have grown over the road and intertwined to make a tree tunnel. Tree tunnels are one of my best things, and when I’d seen a picture of this one in a magazine a few years earlier I knew I wanted to see it in real life.
What I didn’t know when I visited was that The Dark Hedges was actually used as a location for some of the action in Game of Thrones.
Here at last was my way in!
I looked back at the photos, and an idea started to form in my mind… View Post
Advertisement feature in association with Planted
Check me out reflected in the knife – I’m such a super pro food photographer.
This post is a bit of a double win. Not only do you get to discover how to make your own vegan hot cross buns, but further down the post there’s the chance to win £50 of Asda vouchers, plus a load of goodies from Planted, so you can buy everything you need to make your own vegan hot cross buns.
(Or just spend it on 100 packets of Asda’s own hot cross buns, I’m not here to judge.)
Regular hot cross buns normally use milk in the recipe, so I switched this for Planted’s coconut drink with cocoa. Instead of butter I used vegetable oil and I used apple puree as a substitute for a beaten egg. The cocoa in the Planted drink gives the hot cross buns a subtle chocolate edge, but you could ramp this up by adding chocolate chips if you wanted.
Be warned – they do take a while because of the proving. I’d say these hot cross buns are a good Sunday activity. Get the Archers Omnibus on and potter about between stages doing jobs like washing the bin and trimming dead bits off the houseplants. (I actually love those kind of Sundays.) View Post
Advertisement feature in association with Bacofoil®
What will you be doing this Mother’s Day? Delivering or receiving breakfast in bed maybe? A nice meal out?
As much as I like going out to eat, I always feel a bit weird about eating out on special occasions like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. I feel somehow gullible? Like everyone else is just there because they think they should, and I’m buying into an international money making plot.
What I DO love though is when someone else makes me dinner at home. Belle is actually pretty good at this, and does cook two or three times a week, but even then I have to decide what we’re going to have and do the shopping, which is the most tedious part of the whole thing.
I have two suggestions for you then if you’re looking to do something nice for your Mum this Mother’s Day:
- Cook her a meal
- Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Kitchen Foil
Note: number two is not meant to be a present – probably go with flowers or chocolates as an actual gift – it’s just to help you with point one.
I can hear you muttering here – ‘Jeez, is there anything this woman won’t write about?’ – but bear with, because Bacofoil® was actually a bit of a revelation for me. If you’re as much of a massive lazy bones as me and you’re not already using it, it’s going to be something you actually want to read about.
I don’t know why, but I never think to use foil when I’m cooking. I’ll use it to wrap up a bit of cheese for the fridge or something, and I use greaseproof paper for baking things like cookies, but it’s never occurred to me before to line roasting trays or anything like that with foil.
Perhaps because I’ve never had Bacofoil® The Non-Stick Kitchen Foil before!
*cue dramatic drums*
Dum dum DUM!!! View Post
Advertisement feature in association with McCoy’s
That title’s a bit of a mouthful isn’t it? ‘A Mexican feast with McCoy’s Muchos’. Try saying it after a few shots of tequila, see how you get on.
I’ll tell you what DOES make for a bit of a nice mouthful, (smooth Middleton, smooth), and that’s Muchos – three feisty Mexican flavours of folded tortilla crisp from McCoy’s, the UK’s number one ridged crisp.
To be honest, I tend to think of myself as more of a Jaffa Cake kind of girl than a crisp person, but when I sat down with a bag of Nacho Cheese flavour Muchos last week, (just for research purposes you understand), I found myself half way through a sharing bag before I’d even got to the first ad break in Celebs Go Dating. They’re just too damn moreish. That crunchy texture, the flavour… I had to get Belle to take them away from me in the end.
Available in Smoky Chilli Chicken, Nacho Cheese or Sour Cream & Onion, you could quite easily just chomp your way through a big bowl of Muchos and dips with friends, but I thought it might be nice to use them as part of a feast.
I’m calling this feast ‘deconstructed nachos’ because everyone knows that calling something ‘deconstructed’ makes it fancy. I mean sure, it’s really just laziness – you can’t be bothered to finish making something so you call it deconstructed and then you can get away with serving it in bits – but let’s brush over that and enjoy the splendour of my Muchos inspired Mexican extravaganza shall we?
Thank you, thank you.
*takes small bow* View Post
Can you believe that this easy lamb curry is the final scoop of lamby deliciousness in my series of lamb recipe posts? I’ve made five different lamb based recipes now over the last few months, including treats like these lunchtime lamb meatballs and roast neck of lamb with honey and lemon. (Probably good for colds.)
I have to say that taking part in this project with the ‘Lamb. Try It, Love it’ campaign has definitely made me more inclined to buy and cook lamb. Six months ago lamb was one of those things that I would eat if I was in a restaurant but not something I would buy to cook at home. I always figured that lamb was probably a bit too expensive for me, or that I wouldn’t know how to cook it well, but turns out I was wrong on both counts.
Even something like an overnight lamb curry doesn’t have to be complicated, as I’m about to show you.
Advertisement feature in association with California Walnuts
When I think of walnuts, I always think of my Dad.
When I was little, my Dad has this little wooden pot for cracking nuts. (He probably still has it). It was a cup shape, and you put the nut inside, and then a wooden sort of stumpy pole shaped bit screwed in through a hole in the side, and cracked the nuts. All of the bits were caught in the bowl, and there you were. I loved cracking nuts in it, slowly twisting the screw, applying just enough pressure to crack the shell without shattering the walnut inside.
It was very satisfying. View Post
Advertisement feature in association with Hello Fresh
I’ve been answering the dreaded ‘what’s for tea?’ question for over 20 years now, so Hello Fresh is really the ultimate dream for me. I don’t mind the actual cooking so much you see, as the PLANNING. After such a long time it’s really difficult to think up new twists on stuff kids like, (plain pasta, dry bread etc), and then if you do find a recipe you like you have to go shopping, and spend £2.99 on red wine vinegar, knowing you’ll never use more than one tablespoon of it.
I’ve used Hello Fresh quite a few times in the past, as they totally cut out all the tedious and wasteful bits of cooking, and just present you with recipes and ingredients, nicely prepared for you in the exact amounts you need. Honestly, it’s bliss, even if it’s only for a couple of nights out of every week.
What I hadn’t realised though was that Hello Fresh, who are the UK’s leading recipe box people, also have a recipe archive, so you can benefit from their food knowledge without having to necessarily buy a box. Even if it does mean having to go shopping yourself, it still cuts out the THOUGHT part, which is the worst bit in my opinion.
Hello Fresh asked me if I’d like to have a go at recreating one of their recipes, so I chose Mexican spiced chilli tostadas. Even though Belle won’t eat things like peas, she will eat spiced Mexican food and guacamole, so I knew she’d enjoy this one. It sneaks in all kinds of wholesome stuff but still presents like a delicious treat from a street market – who’s not going to love that?
If you fancy giving it a go, I’m going to talk you through it now. View Post
Advertisement feature – homemade mozzarella sticks with Pik-Nik
When I was younger there were certain things in your lunch box that marked you out as the sort of person who’d NEVER be picked last for the rounders team. I’m thinking mini bags of animal biscuits, Monster Munch, that sort of thing. Then there were the lunch box ‘treats’ that didn’t do you any favours in the friend stakes, like egg sandwiches and carrot sticks. I’m not sure Bee will ever forgive me for sending her into school with sunflower seeds wrapped up in little bits of tin foil. (I hate making packed lunches though, so.)
In my mind, peelable cheese sticks definitely fall into the first category. When you’re a child you get points for any food that gives you the opportunity to say ‘yeah look at this, I always do this with my cheese’, while performing some elaborate ritual that you’ve made up on the spot.
(This isn’t just me is it? I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house for tea and having sausage, mash and beans, and spreading the mash all over my plate, sticking the sausages into it like flag poles, pouring my beans on top and saying ‘oh yeah, this is how I always eat them’.) View Post