Rum & Pineapple Cake

I recently unearthed a dog eared notebook from behind the bench in my kitchen. It was fuzzy with dust and every single page had been written on. I’m a compulsive note-maker so it isn’t unusual for filled and forgotten notebooks to turn up in the house, the car, old handbags… I flicked through this notebook and came across a whole chunk of pages scrawled with ideas and sketches, preparing for a very special day. It also contained this recipe; a rich, rum soaked celebration cake with a tropical twist.

I started writing this recipe almost two years ago, in honour of two people who are very dear to me. It just so happened that one of my oldest friends was getting married to one of my best friends and I knew that a run-of-the-mill fruitcake just wouldn’t cut the mustard on this occasion.

This cake is rich, fruity, spicy and rummy. It makes a wonderful cake for weddings and other celebrations as it’s traditional enough to not freak out old aunty Ethel but different enough to be memorable.

I make this about a week to ten days before I cover it in marzipan and decorate it and after that it will stay fresh almost indefinitely. It needs feeding with rum everyday until you ice it, so after a week it will be pretty well preserved in all of that Alcohol!

Buy the best rum that you can afford. A good, dark rum will have notes of molasses, vanilla and spices which will add a depth of flavour to your cake. Cheap rum will just taste like alcohol. Also you will enjoy the leftovers much more if you buy a nice rum!

Ingredients

  • 250g dried mixed fruit
  • 100g dried pineapple
  • 50g dried coconut flakes
  • 150g pecans
  • 1 orange
  • 120g butter
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 200g soft brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground allspice, ginger and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 1 bottle of spiced rum

Method

  1. Place the dried fruit in a large bowl with the juice and zest of the orange and 200g of rum. Mix well and leave to soak for at least 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140°c and grease and line a deep, 8″ cake tin.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar, mix in the eggs followed by the flour and ground spices.
  4. Next fold through the nuts and soaked fruit.
  5. Place the batter in the cake tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 3-4 hours. The cake is ready when a skewer comes out clean.
  6. As soon as the cake is out of the oven, fed it with 4 tablespoons of rum. Leave to cool in the tin.
  7. When the cake is fully cooled, place it in an airtight container. Feed the cake with few tablespoons of rum every day for at least one week.

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Lemonade Pockets 

My husband tells me I have champagne tastes and lemonade Pockets.

I’m not ashamed to say I have something of a penchant for the finer things in life. I like nice wine at the weekend and champagne on special occasions. I like fancy cheese and artisanal gin. I wouldn’t dream of buying ‘spread’ instead of real, British butter. Unfortunately I have very little disposable income with which to buy these things I like so much. 

The problem is that the price of everything is going up and up and up and up but income is not. Inflation is currently at a four year high here in the U.K. meaning that normal, low earning households like mine are really feeling the squeeze. I won’t pretend I know much at all about economics but what I do know is that my money is getting me a lot less than it did this time last year. 

Over the last couple of years we’ve had to get pretty savvy when it comes to how we spend our money in order to make sure we have a little left over at the end of the month to have some fun. After all, what’s the point in working your arse off if you can’t even treat yourself once in a while?

 One of the easiest changes you can make when you look at reducing household spending is to spend less on groceries. Now I’m not suggesting you eat a diet of gruel and boiled lentils in order to save money for shoes and cocktails. Life is too short to make yourself that miserable on a daily basis. But I am going to share a few tips on how I spend less on groceries whilst still enjoying the food we eat.

Get Organised

Being organised is not something that comes naturally to me. I am a lazy bitch at heart but I work really hard to keep up the veneer of being an organised adult who has her shit together. I do grocery shopping once a week, usually on a Monday morning straight after the school run when it’s nice and quiet and there are less distractions.

Before I go there are a few things I do…

  1. Take a look in the fridge and the cupboards. I am notorious for buying the same things every week, even though I already have them. Make sure you know what you have in your fridge and plan to use it before it goes off.
  2. Look in the diary. There’s no point in me buying food for evening meals if no body will be in to eat them! 
  3. Have something to eat. Not only because of the dangers of hunger related impulse purchases, but because I get hangry. And there’s nothing like a supermarket to bring out my rage.
  4. Remember my shopping bags. It’s annoying when I forget and it costs me money. 

Make a plan and stick to it

Once I’ve looked in the cupboards and my fridge and checked the diary I start making a rough plan of what meals I can make that week, and how many I need to make. I know that if I have lots of carrots and red lentils, I can make a soup without having to buy anything expensive to complete the recipe. 

When I’m in the supermarket I’m always looking at what is on a special offer, what’s in season and what looks particularly good that week. The vegetable aisle is a constant source of inspiration when it comes to meal planning, especially as the seasons change. 

Once I get home from the supermarket I start planning what meals I’m going to make that week. I like a lot of variation in my diet as I get bored eating the same dinners week in, week out. I like to be able to look forward to cooking the evening meal for my family so meal planning is something I spend quite a lot of time doing. Thank God for Pinterest is all I have to say on that matter!

Reduce your waste

Every year in the U.K. we waste 7 million tonnes of food and drink. This works out costing each household an estimated £470 a year. Every time I waste food I imagine myself throwing cash straight into the bin. The odd forgotten packet of sausages at the back of the fridge may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it soon adds up. Being organised, knowing what you have in your fridge and when it needs eating helps to alleviate wastage. 

I also try to be careful with portion control, especially with things like pasta and grains. Using scales or measuring cups is a quick way of making sure you don’t cook too much for one meal. You’ll be surprised how much longer that bag of rice lasts when you pay more attention to how much you cook in one go. 

Eat less meat and more seasonal vegetables 

The first thing I changed when I started trying to spend less in the supermarket was the amount of meat we consume. You can get much more protein for your pennies by cooking with lentils, beans and other pulses. I make black bean chilli instead of using beef and we actually prefer it that way. You can find my recipe for chilli here

When I do buy meat I like to get good quality, high welfare meat and really make the most of it. If we have a roast chicken for Sunday supper I can use the leftovers for two more meals. The meat that you pick from the carcass can be used to make fried rice, a pasta bake or a stew. Once I’ve done that I’ll put the whole thing in a big pan with some celery, onion and herbs, cover with water and simmer for a few hours. Then I strain the liquid, get rid of all the bones and mush and I’m left with a really tasty and nutritional broth which I can use to make ramen or a barley soup.

I tend to buy the same things every week when it comes to vegetables because I know I will use them. Pretty much every stew or soup starts off with onions, celery and carrots. We eat a lot of peppers and tomatoes in this house, both in recipes and as a snack, and I always have sweet potatoes as they are so delicious and versatile. 

We also eat eggs instead of meat as they are full of protein, high in healthy fats and good quality eggs are not particularly expensive compared to good quality meat. This recipe for Eggs with Tomato and Cumin is cheap, fast and nutritious. 


Keep your larder stocked up

I don’t have a larder. I have an inadequate amount of cupboards and shelves. But I do make sure they are always stocked with dried and canned goods. There is never nothing to eat which means that on the occasions when we’ve paid all the bills and our bank accounts are empty I don’t have to panic about what we are going to eat. A bag of lentils, an onion and some spices is all you need to make a tasty dhal or a hearty lentil soup. A can of haricot beans, some tinned tomatoes and an onion and you’ve got baked beans. This also comes in handy for when I haven’t had time to do the groceries or we have more people than expected joining us for dinner. 

I tend to stock up once every six weeks, in a larger supermarket where there is a bigger selection than my local supermarket. 


Don’t be afraid to use spices

By using spices in your cooking, the simplest ingredients can be turned into a fantastic, tasty meal. Tinned tomatoes and chickpeas turns into a delicious Morroccan inspired stew with a handful of dried apricots and some Ras el Hanout. Some coriander seed and cumin makes a dull, red lentil soup taste lively and exotic. Spices are a cost effective way of adding interest to boring, cheap meals. 

I buy my spices in the Chinese supermarket, or the world food section of the supermarket. Spices in little glass jars may look nice on the shelf but they are incredibly expensive in comparison to the bags of spices sold in ‘ethnic’ food stores. I always prefer to buy whole spices over ground as they are cheaper and taste better. Store your spices in airtight containers in the dark and they will taste great for ages. 

To start off I recommend you have cumin, coriander seed, chilli powder, black pepper, smoked paprika and garam masala. These are the basics that I use frequently but if you enjoy using spices the list is endless. 


So I hope that you’ve found these tips useful. I’m sorry if you’ve read to the end and I’ve told you nothing you didn’t already know! If you’ve got any good money saving tips for the kitchen I’d love to hear them!

October


So October has happened and I’ve been scrolling back through the pictures that I’ve taken this month and leafing through my notebooks trying to find something worthy of writing about. I’ve actually really struggled to feel motivated this month. I’ve been feeling quite lost and lonely and I haven’t quite managed to shake it off. I know this is partly because I’m getting stressed about how stressed I’m going to be in the run up to Christmas, but it’s also because I can’t help feeling that another year has passed me by but I’m still in the same place as I was last year. I feel like everyone in my life is achieving things and moving forwards and I’m just running on the spot. 

I find it quite hard to socialise with this dark cloud hanging over me, but there have been a few good days. At the start of this month my little brother came to stay and my husband and I took him out for a bit of a wild night in Bristol. I love living so close to this vibrant city and I really enjoyed sharing it with my brother, who lives in London and doesn’t visit nearly enough. We took him to see Mr Scruff at the Old Station and danced until 4am, got an über home and had fried egg sandwiches at the same time I normally get up for work. 



Autumn Strolls

We’ve been lucky with the weather these last few weeks so we’ve been sure to make the most of the dwindling autumn sunshine with some walks in the countryside. Living in Bath means we only have to drive for a few minutes before the built up landscape opens up into rolling hills. One of favourite walks, especially on days when time is limited, is Rainbow Wood on the edge of the city. It actually links up to the Skyline Walk which takes you up onto the hills surrounding Bath and gives you some of the most breathtaking views of the city. The woodland section of this walk is perfect for little legs and there is even some really cool play equipment hidden amongst the trees. 


We also visited Nunney Castle this month which is a small ruin in a picturesque village just outside of Frome. It’s free to visit which is great if you’re on a budget and Stink had a great time exploring the ruins, charging around the moat and imagining what it was like in its glory days. 



Half Term

Stink was on half term for the last week of this month and her Nanny B came to stay for the first couple of days. I left it to husband to organise, so the plans were a little haphazard. We thought about going out for lunch but it was raining so we ended up having a hastily thrown together lunch at home. I made Pear & Stilton Quiche, a couple of salads and banana & caramel cake for dessert. The next day whilst I was at work the three of them visited the SS Great Britain in Bristol which is a wonderful day out for all ages. The best bit is that your ticket is valid for a year after the date of purchase which makes it really good value, especially if your kid digs history as much as mine!


Halloween

The most notable event of the month for this household was Halloween, one of my favourite days on the calendar for cooking. We invited a couple of Stink’s friends home for tea after school and filled the house with spooky decorations and sweeties. I don’t really agree with trick or treating as I find it quite rude and inconsiderate for our elderly neighbours, so instead we made a treasure hunt in the garden. Husband spent the afternoon hiding sweeties in the bushes, then when it was dark we gave them each a torch and sent them out to find their treasure. They had great fun, and we had even more fun watching the lights from their torches dance around the garden. It took them quite a while to find the sweets so to warm up afterwards we lit a fire and had toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate. For dinner I cooked Bird Pie a la Mr & Mrs Twit using pipe cleaners with singed ends to make bird claws, with cheesy toe shaped bread and crudités in peppers cut to look like pumpkins. Dessert was a delightfully artificial banana flavoured Angel Delight pudding with Meringue ghosts for the little humans whilst the big ones enjoyed pumpkin-spice brownies and cold beers.

And that was October! An uneventful month for me. I hope you’ve all been having lots of fun me good fun! 

Apple Crumble Cake

I’ve never been one for worrying about my ‘bikini body’ or wether or not my figure is ‘beach appropriate’. The Winter Coat however is a speciality of mine. You’ll know exactly what I mean if you find yourself devouring all kinds of cockle-warming stodge as soon as the weather turns the tiniest bit wintery. This cake is just the right amount of stodgey and will certainly put you on the right track for fending off the winter cold, so long as you eat it with plenty of custard.

I like this recipe because it extols all of the virtues of a classic crumble (crumbly, moist, fruity) in a convenient, any-time-of-day appropriate cake disguise. It makes a really super tea time treat as it is very moist so lasts a couple of days in an airtight container before drying out. It is however, especially good whilst still hot from the oven with cream, ice cream or custard (or all three).


Ingredients 

For the cake…

  • 200g butter
  • 200g soft, brown sugar
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 100g raisins
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 200g grated Apple
  • 3 eggs

For the crumble…

  • 100g butter
  • 200g flour
  • 100g sugar
  • 50g oats

For the compote…

  • 150g Apple, diced
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anise (optional)



Method

  1. Prehat your oven to 170 degrees. Grease and line a deep, loose bottomed cake tin. 
  2. Cream the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs, followed by the flour and cinnamon.
  3. Fold the grated Apple and raisins into the batter, taking care not to knock out all of the air.
  4. Set aside 1/3 of the cake batter. 
  5. Place the rest in the prepared cake tin and bake for around 30 minutes.
  6. While the cake is in the oven, make your compote by placing all of the ingredients into a pan and simmering until the Apple starts to break down. This should take about 10 minutes. When it’s ready, place in a clean bowl and carefully fish out the cinnamon and star anise.
  7. Next make your crumble by placing the ingredients in a large bowl and rubbing together with your finger tips. 
  8. When the cake has risen and started to go firm, take it out of the oven. Carefully spoon over the remaining 1/3 of batter. It will melt over the surface of the baked cake. 
  9. Next add the compote in a thin layer, followed by the crumble. The crumble layer should be about 1cm thick.
  10. Put the whole thing back in the oven and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. The cake is done when the crumble starts to brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the tin.


Tips

  • Be very careful when adding the extra batter, compote and crumble to the almost-baked cake. If you are too heavy handed it could collapse or the compote could sink.
  • You may not need to use all of your compote. If you have any leftovers it will keep in the fridge for 5 days and makes an excellent porridge topping.
  • Any spare crumble can be frozen for up to a month in an airtight container and used straight from the freezer. 

September

So I’m starting this new thing. Really it’s an exercise for myself, a way to push myself to write more frequently. I’ve been so cross with myself for not keeping up with regular blog posts over the past few months, so I’ve decided to force myself to make changes. I made a commitment to start this blog in order to share my recipes and foodie experiences, but work and life seem to keep getting in the way. I put a lot of work into all of the recipes I share here and between my full time job and my family life I often struggle to find the time to do it. 

So welcome to my first monthly round up, where I’ll be sharing all the things I’ve cooked, eaten and baked over the last 4 weeks. 

This month stated off with back to school and back to that boring old routine. It’s always such a bore after the summer holidays to get back to homework and laundering endless polo shirts and PE kits. It has also meant earlier bed times, which means I’ve needed to get my arse in gear to cook dinner earlier. I had two wisdom teeth taken out, so we’ve been eating a lot of soup this month, much to Stink’s dismay. But aside from all this mundane stuff we’ve also celebrated a wedding, a couple of birthdays and even a new arrival! 

The Wedding Cake

I know right? What a great subject to be starting with! At the beginning of this month a very good friend of mine got married. One of the nicest things about being able to bake is that I always have a gift to give. So I was absolutely honoured to make a wedding cake for the happy couple! I can’t take all the credit though, I had a lot of help from my talented friend and colleague Shannon, and it wouldn’t have been possible at all without the steady driving skills of my husband. 

It was the third wedding cake that I’ve made and by far the biggest, with four tiers of semi-naked sponge decorated with purple and white flowers, seasonal fruits including figs and blackberries, Meringue kisses and of course a sprinkle of glitter! I find making wedding cakes such a joy but also truly terrifying. It’s a lot of stress to be responsible for such an important part of a wedding day. I must admit to a couple of sleepless nights and nightmares about collapsing cakes. I wonder if that will go away with time?

And of course the wedding day itself was beautiful! Set in a sprawling old Manor House in the glorious Wiltshire countryside, adorned with rambling roses. The sun came out in time for the photos, the champagne flowed and the bride and groom looked gorgeous! 


The Birthday Boy

My husband turned 29 this month so we celebrated, as we always do, with a party at home. Unfortunately this year the weather wasn’t on our side. It was a grey and drizzly day but it didn’t put Jake off from spending the day outdoors with his new barbecue. The new barbecue has been quite exciting for him. I’ve never seen this man get out of bed with such a spring in his step, but when there’s meat to be smoked he is up at the crack of dawn! 

He chose a huge piece of belly pork to cook for this party. It was a fairly hefty piece of meat,so I removed the ribs and we cooked them separately. Luckily there was quite a crowd in the end, including adults, kids and a couple of dogs. I made a fair few sides to go with the meat and we followed it with chocolate brownie and Birthday Cake, which for Jake is always a carrot cake. The tiny house was absolutely full to the brim. It was pretty chaotic and I’m glad that the rain held off enough for us to spill into the garden.

BBQ Party Menu:

  • 10 hour smoked belly pork with a sweet chipotle rub.
  • Bbq chicken wings, with homemade sweet and spicy barbecue sauce
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Boston Baked Beans
  • Watermelon and Feta Salad
  • Salsa, tortilla chips and pimento cheese dip



The New Arrival

September is a busy month for birthdays in this family and now it’s even busier! Our nephew Leo arrived in the middle of this month, just days after Jake’s birthday. Stink is overjoyed to have her first ever cousin, and to no longer be the baby of the tribe! I’m so proud of my brother in law and his lovely partner for making such a beautiful little human. It reminds me though of what hard work it is having a new born. Not only are you sleep deprived, but everyone wants to come and see the new baby. Putting on a lunch and hosting a house full of family is the last thing any new parent wants to do and driving to North Devon to visit grandparents is out of the question. So we decided to make life easy for them and invite the family over to our house. It was a really lovely day, and so special to have 4 generations under one roof. I decided to cook a simple lunch of roast chicken, bread and salads, followed up with a cheeseboard. I made scones and caramel-apple cake for afternoon tea before Nanny B, Great Nanny and Pops had to drive back to North Devon.

Easy family lunch menu:

  • Tarragon and Lemon Spatchcock Chicken
  • Roasted Grape and Roquefort Salad
  • Green Beans, Rocket and Basil
  • Garlic and Herb Fougasse




New Books

And lastly, I treated myself to two new books this month. I figured as I had two teeth forcibly removed from my mouth that it was a fair compromise. 

The first one was Olia Hercules new book Kaukasis which is a collection of recipes from the part of the world where Europe become Asia. It’s an area of this planet that we don’t hear much from in terms of cuisine and having read this book from cover to cover, I can’t understand why.  Every recipe is intriguing, the pictures are breath taking and the stories of the people she meets in this journey are beautiful. As if her first book Mamuschka wasn’t amazing enough, Olia Hercules has gone and re-ignited my wanderlust all over again!

The second book I treated myself to Simple by Diana Henry. I must admit, I’d never actually heard of this writer before but after a little research I realised she’s kind of big deal in the food writing world. I picked this book because I liked the cover picture and I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from it. What I discovered was a book rammed full of new ideas, bold flavours and recipes which fit in to my busy schedule. The narrative is completely down to earth, noting that the average home cook doesn’t always have unlimited time and funds for complex recipes and exotic ingredients. I love every single recipe in it and I’ll definitely be looking out for this author when I next go on a book buying spree!


So there we have it! That was my September. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this update as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Wishing you all happiness and autumnal joy for the next month!

Hedgerow Galette

I can’t work out if I’m late the blackberry party or if the blackberries are hella early this year. In my mind, I associate blackberries with Autumn. I’m almost certain I remember picking blackberries as a child after school, back when September was chilli and damp. I never associate these hedgerow gems with balmy, summer afternoon walks in the woods. Maybe it’s because blackberry crumble is such a comforting, autumnal treat. Maybe it’s just climate change….
Whenever we start to see the hedge laden with berries, we make sure we always have a Tupperware with us on our adventures. Little Stink isn’t such a big fan of blackberry picking, but she has a lot of enthusiasm when it comes to consuming the fruits. There’s something really pleasant and whimsical about gathering berries. It must be our primal instinct. It even compels my husband to have a go at baking ( this is a big deal, believe me!).
If you’ve been out picking blackberries and you’re wondering what to do with them, here is a really simple, faff-free recipe for what I like to call Hedgerow Galette. It’s basically a lazy Tart. Lazy because you don’t need to take the time to line a Tart case and chill it; faff-free because this dessert is oozing with rustic charm. I’ve used blackberries and elderberries in this because the trees were absolutely dripping in these tiny, often overlooked berries. They are not essential, neither are the blackberries. If you can’t get hold of any blackberries then raspberries would be just as lovely.


Ingredients

For the pastry…

  • 150g salted butter
  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g fine Polenta 
  • 50g sugar
  • 50g milk

For the creme patissiere

  • 250g milk
  • 1 egg
  • 30g plain flour
  • 50g sugar
  • Dash of vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1 Apple, sliced thinly 
  • 200g berries, washed and dried
  • 2 tsp cinnamon sugar (optional)
  • Egg wash (optional)


Method

  1. Make the pastry by rubbing the butter and flour together with your finger tips to create a breadcrumb consistency. Mix in the sugar and Polenta. Add the milk a little at a time until a dough forms. You may need more, you may need less. Once you have obtained a firm pastry, wrap it in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
  2. While the pastry is resting, make your creme patissiere by first putting the milk in a saucepan and heating on medium flame. Mix the egg, sugar, flour and vanilla into a paste in a bowl large enough to hold the milk. When the milk is just below boiling, carefully pour it into the egg mixture, stirring all the while. Next transfer this back into the pan and heat gently whilst whisking. As soon as the cream has thickened, remove it from the heat and place it in a clean bowl. Lay cling film over the top to stop it forming a crust. Leave to cool.
  3. When your pastry has rested, it is time to preheat your oven to 180 degrees C or gas mark 5.
  4. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out your pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Trim the pastry to be the same size and shape as your baking tray.
  6. Carefully transfer the pastry to the lined tray, then spread a generous layer of creme patissiere over it.
  7. Then goes on the fruit. You can put the fruit on however you like. I prefer to go with an artful scatter, but you could fan the apples or even make stripes or other patterns. Just make sure you leave a gap of about 2cm all around the edge of the pastry.
  8. Next you need to fold the 2cm of pastry from around the edge up and over the sides of the Tart. Press it down with you finger tips, then starting with the corners carefully use your thumb and forefinger to crimp the pastry.
  9. Egg wash the pastry and sprinkle the fruits with the cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through to ensure an even bake. The pastry should be golden and baked underneath.
  11. Leave to cool a little before serving with lashings of vanilla ice cream or clotted cream!


Three Simple Salads

Happy 1st of July everyone! This is one of my favourite months: the days are longer, school is nearly over and it’s my birthday soon! 

I find that recently we’ve been lossening up on our (already pretty loose) bedtime routine. The evenings are so light and it’s so close to the end of term and I’d much rather be having fun than ushering Stink off to bed at 8pm sharp. Im pretty sure that all they do in the last few weeks of school is colouring in and watching videos anyway…
Having had a few weeks of really nice weather here in Somerset we’ve found ourselves edging away from our normal evening routine of chores, dinner, telly and bed in favour of impromptu mid-week dinner picnics and leisurely strolls along the canal to our local pub for a cheeky pint. I also find it so much easier to entertain guests at this time of year. We live in a tiny house which makes it difficult to have more than a couple of people at a time round for dinner. We are however lucky to have a good sized garden, and if you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen we’ve been making good use of it.


So I’m hoping for a sunny month with more balmy evenings in the garden, and with this in mind I thought I’d share with you three Simple Salads. All of them can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days. They work just as well for barbecues and garden parties as they do for packed lunches and picnics.

Morroccan Couscous

Ingredients:

  • 200g dried couscous 
  • 350g boiling water
  • 75g raisins
  • 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, paprika, ginger and coriander 
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • A handful of walnuts or almonds (or both)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar 
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  1. Place the couscous, raisins and spices in a large bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir and cover the bowl with a plate to keep the steam in. After ten minutes the couscous will have absorbed all the water. 
  2. Pour over the olive oil and vinegar, fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
  3. Once the couscous has cooled completely add the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Store in a covered container until you need it.


    Tomato, Basil and Butterbean Salad with Feta 

    Ingredients 

    • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 2 large tomatoes, diced
    • 1 can of butter beans, drained
    • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
    • 100g feta, crumbled
    • A large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
    • 3 tbsp of olive oil
    • 1 tsp of good quality balsamic vinegar 
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Rocket to serve

    Method

    1. Place all of the ingredients except the rocket and balsamic in a large bowl. Mix well and season to taste. Be careful with the salt as feta is brined and therefore very salty already.
    2. Store in a covered container until, ready to serve.
    3. To serve, gently toss the rocket and salad together, then drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.


      Beetroot, Cucumber and Zaatar Salad

      Ingredients 

      • 1 pack of pre-cooked beetroot, diced
      • 1 large cucumber, cut into semicircles
      • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
      • 1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
      • 1 clove of garlic,  minced
      • 1 tsp of  zaatar (a spice blend available in most good supermarkets)
      • 150g thick natural yoghurt 
      • Salt and pepper to taste 

       Method

      1. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.