Category Archives: Salad

Smoked Pork Schnitzel

Hello hello hello hello

I love smoked food.  Smoked salmon is delicious, my favourite spice is smoked paprika, smoked cheese makes me happy, lapsang souchong (which is smoked tea) tastes fabulously decadent (even after my friend Christina described it as tasting like ham…), I was thrilled when I discovered smoked almonds at the supermarket and bacon is utterly pointless unless it’s smoked.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered that Morrisons has just started selling cured, smoked pork tenderloin!  We spied it last week, but it was somewhat too expensive.  It was 1/3 off this week, so we snapped it up.  You can, of course, use normal unsmoked pork tenderloin instead if you prefer.

A Man has made escalopes before and they were delicious, but a little on the dark side.  This time he used one of our new kitchen toys – a cast iron frying pan that we didn’t need but only cost £5 so we had no choice but to buy it.  The advantage of using cast iron for this sort of meal is that it heats up well, retains the heat and cooks evenly.  It worked really really well!  The schnitzel were perfectly golden, and tender and juicy on the inside.

We’ve been eating quite a lot of salad so far this month, after the disgraceful excesses of Christmas.  I wanted salad with this meal (particularly as the escalopes are fried in butter!) but also wanted something a bit more interesting.  This salad was delicious slightly warm, and we made a huge bowl full so there’s leftovers for me to take to work (yay!).  The goat’s cheese was one of a selection of mini truckles that we bought just after Christmas for 20p each, which were reduced simply because they were mini truckles of cheese which apparently supermarkets only sell at Christmas.  It added just enough of the cheesy taste without being overpowering.  Yum!

The ingredients list is a bit ridiculous, but you can chop and change it as you please.  And in case you’re curious, smoked cured pork tenderloin is fairly salty, and brilliant cooked like this.

Smoked Pork Schnitzel

1 smoked pork tenderloin (we cut ours in half and put half in the freezer as it was too big for two!)
Beaten egg
Breadcrumbs (I usually have some in the freezer, but make fresh if you don’t have any)
1 lemon
1 red, 1 green and 1 orange pepper
3 small, fresh beetroots (with tops if possible)
1/2 fennel
1/2 butternut squash
3 carrots
Fennel seeds
Dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Romaine lettuce
1 beef tomato
1 small goats cheese log
New potatoes
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

A Man fries the schnitzel in our fabulous new pan!

A Man fries the schnitzel in our fabulous new pan!

  1. Preheat the oven to around 200OC/400OF/Gas mark 6.  Slice the tenderloin into 3 slices per person.  Sandwich each slice between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment and bash with a meat tenderiser until around 5mm thick.  Mix the chopped parsley and zest of the lemon with the breadcrumbs.  Dredge the pork first in flour, then beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs and set aside.
  2. Half the peppers and remove the seeds.  Chop the tops off of the beetroots and half.  If they are young enough, you can eat the skin.  Chop the stalks off of the fennel and discard, but keep any fronds.  Cut the 1/2 fennel in half again, keeping the core to hold the layers together.  Slice the butternut squash and carrots into fingers, leaving the skin on.  Place all of the veg on a baking tray and season well with fennel seeds, thyme, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil (this won’t be wasted – it’ll be used to dress the salad).  Place in the preheated oven for around 1/2 hour, or until all of the veg (particularly the beetroot) is completely roasted.

    A preview of what's to come...

    A preview of what’s to come, together with my pretty olive wood salad spoons…

  3. Whilst the veg is cooking, very finely chop the beetroot tops and place in a large salad bowl.  Finely chop the fennel fronds and add to the beetroot.  Chop the tomato and romaine, and add these and the rocket to the bowl.  Slice the cheese and add this.  Set aside for the time being.
  4. Boil the new potatoes.  Mix the finely chopped onion with the mustard, a small squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful of mayonnaise.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, cool slightly and mix with the mayo mix.  Add more mayonnaise if you like, but you don’t want it to be swimming in the stuff.
  5. Once the veg has fully cooked, remove from the oven.  Place the frying pan on a medium-high heat and melt the butter.  Turn the oven off, but place a plate in there to warm up.  Chop the veg into bite sized pieces, mix the oil and herbs on the tray with the remainder of the squeezed lemon juice.  Add the veg to the salad bowl, stir the oil and lemon juice well and pour over the salad.  Toss the salad well.

    What a tosser...

    What a tosser… I do love my salad to have a lot of vibrant colours and diverse flavours.

  6. Once the butter is bubbling, fry the schnitzel a couple at a time until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, turning occasionally.  Don’t crowd the pan or they won’t cook properly.  Once each batch is cooked, place them on the warm plate in the oven.

    Action shot!  I forgot to take any photos until the meal was nearly finished, so you're getting a lot of late ones.

    Action shot! I forgot to take any photos until the meal was nearly finished, so you’re getting a lot of late ones.

  7. Plate up once the schnitzel is fully cooked and enjoy with a nice cold G&T!
A Man doesn't like mayonnaise, so he just had plan new potatoes but I thought the potato salad went really well with this gorgeous salad and the beautiful pork.

A Man doesn’t like mayonnaise, so he just had plain new potatoes but I thought the potato salad went really well with this gorgeous salad and the beautiful pork.


Wild Boar Pizza with Allotment Salad


A Man and I went for a cinema date on Friday, and I really fancied pizza for dinner.  He wasn’t in the mood though, so I agreed that we would go to Wagamama’s and make pizza for dinner on Saturday night.

I’ve blogged about pizza a couple of times, so I won’t bore you with that again.  I tried making the dough with some wholemeal flour but it wasn’t as good as before, so I’ll just be using plain white flour in future.  Oh well – lesson learned!

As well as the garlic we also brought back some other culinary delights from France, one of which was a Saucisson Sec de Sanglier – Wild Boar salami.  A few years ago, as A Man and I were preparing to return to the UK after our European tour, we went to a food market in France where we tried some wild boar prepared similarly to parma ham and it was fantastic.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the space in our luggage to bring any back, but the memory remained and A Man was on the lookout at the Rennes market.  As we couldn’t find the ham, saucisson sec was a good alternative and it was a delicious addition to the pizza.

A Man’s mum visited us during the week, and came bearing fresh vegetables from her allotment.  I decided to make up a yummy salad, with some of the red onion, carrots and peas that she brought us.  Yummy!  It’s a fairly robust salad, and adding some pesto to the dressing really helped to bring the flavours of the veg out.  I plan to have the rest with some more saucisson sec for my lunch today 🙂

And, as a final farewell, here are two of her carrots having a cuddle.

Awww, cuddling carrots. How sweet!

Love love

Gemma xx

Allotment Salad

Fresh peas, shelled
Small red onion
Mixed nuts
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Pesto

Allotment salad, with pizza in the background. Mmm, yummy!

  1. Thinly slice the onion.  Peel or scrub the carrots if necessary and chop into fairly small chunks.  Chop the cucumber into cubes and tear the lettuce.  Chop the nuts fairly finely.  Launch all the veg and nuts into a bowl.
  2. Mix the pesto with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season to taste.  Dress the salad and serve.


Leftover Beef Burritos with Homemade Guacamole

Greetings earthlings!

I was a massive glutton yesterday.  I had what seemed like the universe’s biggest roast dinner for lunch and nothing but jam sponge and custard for my tea and despite being so full I could barely move, immediately started considering what to do with the leftover meat.

Some of it went into A Man’s sandwich (dubbed “definitely within the top 2 sandwiches I’ve ever eaten”) for lunch at work today, along with the leftover mushroom stuffing and some lettuce.  The rest I decided to make into yummy burritos/fajitas/something Mexican.  Does anyone know the difference between the two? Because I have no clue.  They’re both stuff in a tortilla, and that’s the important thing.

I love how fajitas are communal food.  You bring everything to the table in bowls, people choose what they want and leave what they don’t, and chat to one another.  Not to mention the fact that the combination of of spiced meat, meltingly soft onions and crunchy salad is one of my absolute favourite things to eat.  Yum!  It looks like there are tons of ingredients here, but most of them are the spices I used, which are infinitely interchangeable – use whatever is your favourite, or a pre-mixed blend if you prefer.  You can use this method for cooking steak (rather than leftover meat), pork, chicken or veggies – lots of peppers, courgettes and butternut squash are a good combination for a veggie version.

What’s your favourite food?  Are you a spice-head or do you like it more mellow?  And does anybody know the difference between a fajita and a burrito?!

Love love

Gemma xx

Leftover Beef Burritos with Homemade Guacamole

A Man is proud of his handiwork, bearing in mind that I managed to make the tortillas unnecessarily (and unintentionally) crispy.

Cold roast beef, shredded into fine strips
1 onion, cut into fine slices
Green pepper, cut into fine slices
1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp onion granules
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp Schwartz Cook Art Chilli Cocoa Bean Spice (don’t worry if you don’t have this – use 1/2 tsp ordinary cocoa powder instead)
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Couple of twists from a chilli flake mill
1 tsp sugar
Pinch Salt
1 green chilli, finely chopped
Zest and juice of a lemon

For the Guacamole

Ripe avocado
Tomato, finely diced (optional – technically, guacamole should have tomato in, but I prefer it without.  Add it if you like)
1 onion, finely diced
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Zest and juice of a lime

Flour tortillas
Preferred side dishes and burrito fillings, to serve

All of our ingredients, ready to be demolished.

  1. If your meat is very fatty, fry it on a low heat in a dry pan to render some of the fat out and pour it off.  Remove the meat from the pan.
  2. Fry the onion, garlic and pepper, stirring occasionally.  You want it to gain some colour, so start it on a medium-high heat, then turn it right down once the veg has started to brown.  Keep stirring regularly until the onion is very soft and sweet.  Switch the heat off once it is cooked.  It could take a while, so do your other prep in the mean time.
  3. Place the beef in a bowl with all of the spices, sugar and lemon zest and juice and stir really well.  If possible, leave this to marinade for a couple of hours.
  4. Cut the avocado in half and twist to separate the halves.  Remove the flesh from the skin and mash until it is as soft as you like.  Some people like their guacamole smooth, but I prefer mine with some texture.  Stir in the onion.  Purée the garlic and salt together with the flat side of a knife and stir into the avocado mix.  Add the chilli a little at a time, tasting regularly, until the salsa is as spicy as you like it.  Stir through the lime zest and juice, adjust the seasoning as necessary.  Place the avocado stone into the bowl – for some reason, this helps to prevent the salsa from going brown.
  5. Prepare your other side dishes.  My absolute favourite is very simply finely shredded white cabbage dressed with lemon juice.  Other popular ones include grated cheese (we had edam), sour cream, tomato salsa, coleslaw, grated carrots, sliced peppers, rice, sweetcorn and finely sliced cucumber.  Use whatever you fancy having with your meat.
  6. Warm the tortillas shortly before serving.  Add the marinated beef to the fried onion and pepper and cook gently until warmed all through and sizzling.  Serve immediately at the table so that everyone can help themselves.

Again, due to the somewhat crispy nature of the tortillas, it was impossible to roll. This one ended up like some kind of bastard son of a fajita and a calzone, with some piadina ancestry.

Home Made Quiche

Morning everyone!

I’ve been a bit on the neglectful side recently, but I’ve still been cooking.  On Monday we had our first BBQ of the year (hooray!) as we’d already planned to have sausages for tea and it would have wasted the weather otherwise.  Nothing quite like a good quality meaty sausage in a bun with home made apple chutney!  On Tuesday, A Man was out for dinner.  As you may or may not know, my little brother is a fishmonger and in February he bought me a load of sprats which he proceeded to fillet and which have been sitting in my freezer ever since.  I simply grilled them for a couple of minutes and ate them with lots of salad, beetroot chutney (thank you A Man’s nan!) and horseradish sauce.  Yum!

Having been at work on Tuesday, I wandered round the store to check out the reduced items, went slightly mad and bought 3 gammon shanks.  As the weather’s been fantastic, I had been planning to make a quiche as it can be eaten hot or cold and is great with salad so I decided to make this for Wednesday’s dinner.  I cooked up the gammon exactly the same as when I made ham and lentil soup and stuck about 2 thirds of the cooked meat in the freezer.  I also made several pints of impressively gelatinous stock, which has been frozen.  If you don’t have gammon shanks (or can’t be bothered to cook them) then this recipe would work just as well with bacon lardons or thickly chopped ham.  Besides, you can stick whatever you like in the quiche – broccoli is one of my favourites.

Love love

Gemma xx

Gammon, leek and mushroom Quiche

A Man decided it was funny to pretend that he was having the entire quiche for his dinner. I know. Hilarious...


Washed and sliced leeks
Sliced mushrooms
Chopped gammon
Shortcrust pastry (made with 8oz flour and 2oz each of butter and drippings)
3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks
Natural fromage frais (most quiche recipes use cream.  I use fromage frais because it’s much healthier and also makes the custard much firmer, which makes slices of quiche much easier to transport for picnics and lunchboxes)
Feta cheese
Salt, pepper and herbs of your choice

  1. Fry the leeks and mushrooms in a little olive oil on a low heat until starting to go soft.  Add the gammon.
  2. Roll the pastry into a 10-12 inch flan dish and blind back at 180OC/350OF/Gas mark 4 until starting to go crispy.
  3. Spoon the leek mix into the pastry case so that it is evenly distributed.
  4. Whisk the egg with around 4 dessert spoons of fromage frais.  Crumble in the feta and season with the salt, pepper and herbs.  Pour over the leek mix and stir slightly to distribute the leeks throughout the custard.
  5. Bake for around 20-30 minutes, until the custard has set and is browned on the top.
  6. Serve either warm or cold with salad, chutney and new potatoes.

Prawn Fajitas


The plan tonight was to go to karate.  My club has just started a new session on Wednesday evenings and I need an excuse to do more exercise (this flab won’t shift itself!).  The only sticking point is that it’s at a different venue to the one I normally go to, and apparently I’m incapable of finding it.  Whoops!  Sit-ups alone at home for me then!

I wanted to make quick dinner once I got home, so here it is – spicy prawn fajitas.  It takes hardly any time to prepare, not much longer to cook and if you’re starving even less time to eat!  This is a photo-free post as by the time we came to eat we were both really hungry!

Much love

Gemma xx

Prawn Fajitas

Seasoning in quantities to suit your personal taste

Onion powder
Chilli powder
Chilli flakes
Ground cumin
Ground coriander
Fresh garlic, chopped
Fresh chilli, chopped

Cooked king prawns, defrosted if frozen
Onion, sliced
Pepper, sliced
Fennel, thinly sliced
Chicory roughly chopped
Drained kidney beans, mashed slightly

Warm tortilla wraps, salad and salsa to serve

  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan until sizzling.  Add the onion and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add the pepper and cook until starting to soften.
  2. Add the fennel and kidney beans and stir well.
  3. Stir through the spices and add the chicory.  Add the prawns and cook until just warmed through.
  4. Serve immediately with wraps, salad and salsa.  My salad was simply lettuce, cucumber and tomato with lots of chopped fresh coriander and dressed with a little salt and lemon juice.  Yum!

Birthday Uzbek Lamb Plov (with bonus candle-blowing-out photo)

Qalaysiz!  According to the internet, that’s Uzbek for hi.

I’m back!!

Hope you’ve had a spiffing couple of weeks as mine have been brilliant.  My first lot of exams are done, I’ve graduated, I’ve been to Amsterdam for the first time ever and I’ve eaten lots of yummy food which was lovingly cooked for me by other people 😀  Today it’s A Man’s birthday and his answer to the inevitable question of what he wanted for his birthday tea was “something with lamb in it”.  I could have done crispy lamb again, or a tagine, but decided to do a little recipe scouring for some new inspiration and I’m pretty chuffed with the result.

I more or less followed the recipe for Aliona’s Plov in the Ballymaloe Coookery Course but with a couple of alterations.  I’m really annoyed with myself that I forgot to add the whole garlic bulb with the rice, but next time I’ll endeavour to remember (yes, there will be a next time).  The salad is also heavily based on the recommended accompaniment of Korean Carrot Salad, but I added fennel as I thought it would go.  I was right.

I have no idea if this is anything close to how a genuine Plov should be – I’d never even heard of it until reading it in the book.  What I do know is that it was very tasty; a kind of hearty pilaf.  One worth trying out.

For now, here’s a photo of A Man blowing out his candles.  Awww.

23 candles. 23. They were a bitch to light!

Much love

Gemma xx

Uzbek Lamb Plov with Warm Carrot and Fennel Salad

Small piece of lamb shoulder
Diced onion
Carrot chopped into sticks (don’t worry about peeling unless it really needs it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
A few twists of a chilli mill
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
About 1 oz/25g basmati rice per person
1 whole garlic bulb

For the Salad

Olive oil
Thinly sliced onion
Thinly sliced fennel
Grated carrot
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1 dessertspoon brown sugar
3 dessertspoons cider vinegar
Large handful fresh coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped

  1. Cut the lamb into cubes roughly the same size.  Separate the fatty meat from the lean meat.
  2. Heat a saucepan on a very hot stove.  Add the fatty lamb and immediately turn down to a medium-low heat.  Add any bones from the lamb.  The idea is to render as much fat from the lamb as possible, so this may need to stay on the low heat for quite some time.  Stir occasionally to prevent it sticking.
  3. If desired, pour away some of the lamb fat (I poured the vast majority off, and retained it – it’s make lovely roast potatoes!).  Fry the onion and garlic cloves in the fat until starting to soften.  Add the carrot and spices and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Turn the heat up a little and add the lean lamb, stirring to ensure all sides are browned.  Add enough boiling water to just cover the meat.  Simmer with the lid on for 20 – 30 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  5. Stir in the rice and place the garlic bulb in the middle of the pan.  Replace the lid.  Cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked through.  Add more water if necessary.
  6. Heat some olive oil in a pan.  Fry the onion, fennel and carrot for a couple of minutes.  Stir through the ground coriander.
  7. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar.  Remove the carrot from the heat and stir the vinegar and fresh coriander through the veg.  Serve with the plov immediately, while the salad is still hot.