Tag Archives: healthy

Simple Grilled Sardines

Please, please would someone open a great fishmongers in central/south Bristol?? The two high streets near us have 5 butchers between them and zero fishmongers. And we’re really not that far from the sea! Anyway, these lovely sardines were picked up at the supermarket which is convenient, but we would love to be able to shop local and get an expert’s advice every now and then. This would have come in really handy when we got home and discovered that we had to gut the fish at which point Bird walked away and made herself very busy chopping tomatoes. Fats did a fab job though and they were soon cleaned up with minimal swearing.

Oily fish like sardines are great with really strong flavours like in our recipe with harissa and orange, but they also shine when cooked simply and served with some classic flavours. We grilled ours with just salt and pepper and served with thyme-roasted tomatoes, steamed broccoli and some freshly baked sourdough.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 sardines per person
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes
  • Several sprigs of thyme
  • Salt & pepper
  • Green vegetables and bread to serve

To start with get the tomatoes roasting, these will cook on low for about 45 minutes until slightly dried out and the flavours have really intensified. Preheat the oven to 150°C. Cut the tomatoes in half and place in a roasting dish with 1 tbsp of olive oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and then lay the thyme over the top. Place in the oven and leave for 45 minutes. Our grill is combined with our oven so when the time came to cook the fish we took the tomatoes out and left on the side – they kept really warm. Obviously if yours is separate then you can time it slightly differently so that they finish cooking while the fish grills.

Thyme roasted tomatoes

Make three deep slashes in each side of the fish and then rub all over with olive oil and plenty of seasoning. Place them on a baking tray covered with foil for an easier clean up. Pop under a preheated grill – they should take about 5-8 minutes per side, when they have been bubbling and spitting away for a while they should be ready to flip over.

Sardines raw

Serve with bread and green veg (or salad) and a wedge of lemon to squeeze over – so simple and delicious!

Sardines, tomatoes and bread

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Crab Chowder

This was inspired by a recipe in Olive Magazine but because we couldn’t be bothered finding string and didn’t read the recipe too closely it was made a little differently. We always thought chowder had to be really rich and creamy which isn’t really our cup of tea so when this recipe with a clear broth and then just a dollop of sour cream on top came along we had to try it! The result was vibrant, fresh yet still comforting because of the sour cream and the avocado slices on top. We made a simple white loaf packed with olive oil (based on our bread recipe) to have with this and it went perfectly. This also has to be one of the easiest meals – in 30 minutes you’ll have a pretty impressive bowl of food on the table!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • One small white onion/half an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • A bunch of coriander, stalks sliced and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 1-2 pints of chicken stock
  • 1 large tin of sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tin of white crab meat, drained
  • 1 avocado, cut into thick strips
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • Soured cream
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
Make sure you use a nice ripe avocado - it should be a little soft. This one was perfect!
Make sure you use a nice ripe avocado – it should be a little soft. This one was perfect!

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the onion, potato, spring onions, coriander stalks and celery. Cook this together for about 1-2 minutes and then pour over the stock. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until the potato is tender. Add in the sweetcorn and the crab meat, stir through to heat and then add in half of the chopped coriander leaves. Spoon into bowls and serve with the sour cream, chilli slices, avocado, lime wedges and the rest of the coriander sprinkled on top.

Crab Chowder Done

We’re loving South American flavours at the moment, especially lime and chilli. This was so fresh and warming and definitely takes less than half an hour – perfect for perking you up after a hard day at work!

Smoked Mackerel Salad

This is another slightly summery, very healthy yet comforting dish – a perfect antidote to winter over-indulgence! We were originally planning on doing a rich white sauce with this mackerel, but after spending the day making (and subsequently eating) pastry at Bristol’s Bordeaux Quay we really fancied something lighter.

Here’s the ingredients for 2 people:

  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • Small handful of sunflower seeds
  • A lemon
  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets, skins removed
  • 100 g salad leaves (we used little gem lettuce, watercress, rocket and spinach)
  • 2 salad tomatoes, deseeded and cut into strips
  • Olive oil & extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes, drain and leave to steam for a minute before transferring to a roasting dish. Add the sunflower seeds, about half the zest of the lemon and a good glug of olive oil, mix together and put in the oven. This should take about 25-30 minutes – make sure you stir it about occasionally.

Mix up a dressing by combining about 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, about half the juice of the lemon and a good pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Broccoli for Salad

When the broccoli is done, serve it up on top of the leaves, and top with a few strips of tomato and the mackerel, torn into bite-sized chunks. Add any remaining sesame seeds and drizzle everything with a bit of dressing.

Smoked Mackerel Salad

On top of being a delicious and healthy meal, this has to be one of the most delicious ways to prepare broccoli that we’ve ever experienced! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Chargrilled Chicken with Za’atar and Roasted Spiced Vegetables

Carrying on our Middle Eastern obsession we have another really simple dinner of griddled chicken with roasted vegetables and cous cous. This is quite similar to our za’atar steak recipe and is a great healthy yet filling option. It manages to be comforting enough for winter yet light enough for summer – these chicken breasts would be incredible cooked on a barbecue. This would also be delicious in a lunchbox or taken for a picnic, what a versatile dinner! You’ll see in the photos that we have 2 trays of vegetables – this was because we had veg to use up but in the ingredients we’ve given what should be enough for two people just to go with the dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 1 courgette, chopped into 2cm cubes/rings
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin wedges
  • 2 peppers, sliced into 3cm pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaped tsp ras el hanout
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 heaped tsp za’atar
  • Cous cous
  • Salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place your vegetables in a roasting dish and coat with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the ras el hanout and a good pinch of sea salt. Toss the vegetables to coat them all in the oil and spices and then whack in the oven. These will take around 45 minutes to an hour to become perfectly soft and slightly charred around the edges. Stir them every 15 minutes or so and after around half an hour shake over the pomegranate molasses for the last part of cooking.

Roasted Moroccan Veg

For the chicken place the breasts between cling film, one at a time. Use the base of a large pan to bash them out until they are about 3cm thick and an even thickness all over. Once they’re both done heat up a griddle pan. Coat the breasts with a little olive oil and once the griddle pan is nice and hot place the chicken on. Let it cook on the first side for about 1 minute so that it can start charring and then turn over. On the side that you have already started to cook and is now facing up, sprinkle half of the za’atar so it coats the chicken. After 1 minute on the other side flip the chicken over again and sprinkle the rest of the za’atar on the other side. The chicken should take about 4 minutes on each side to cook so just keep an eye on it and turn it occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick. The sesame seeds in the za’atar should become lovely and toasted during this time… it smells amazing!

Chicken za'atar

Just before you’re ready to serve make some cous cous by placing it in a bowl, covering with boiling water (to about 1cm above the cous cous) and covering the bowl tightly with cling film. Leave it for about five minutes and you should have perfectly fluffy cous cous! Fluff it up with a fork and season with salt. Whack the whole lot on a warmed plate and you’re done! We sliced our chicken up before serving but that’s up to you – whatever you prefer.

Za'atar chicken done

This was lovely hot but would also be great cold – you could mix the vegetables into the cous cous and serve with the sliced chicken for a mid-week lunch to make your colleagues jealous!

King Prawn Stir-Fry with Tamarind and Oyster Sauce

We make stir-fries all the time – remember our steak with stir-fried veg? They’re really easy to throw together, quick (this one takes less than 20 minutes altogether!) and healthy too. If you’ve got a few store-cupboard essentials you don’t even need to buy any sauce, and it’s a great recipe for using up any left-over veg. Our tamarind and oyster sauce is really tasty, and would be a great one to show off to guests who like their stir-fries.

To make the sauce for 2 people:

  • Chunk of tamarind (see pic for size! About 3cm by 5cm), soaked in hot water and strained
  • 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Groundnut oil
  • 1/2 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
  • Thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp caster sugar

And to make the rest of the stir-fry, throw together whatever veg you have lying around with some noodles! Here’s what we used:

  • 1 Courgette
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Pak Choi
  • Handful of Cabbage
  • 50g Mange Tout/Sugar Snap Peas
  • 10 King Size Prawns
  • 2 portions straight-to-wok noodles
This what raw tamarind looks like! You need a medium-sized chunk, it packs in loads of flavour.
This what raw tamarind looks like! You need a medium-sized chunk, it packs in loads of flavour.

Start by making the sauce. You’ll need to soak the tamarind for about half an hour in a bowl with boiling water, and then strain it through a sieve – make sure you manage to squeeze all of the flavour out of it. Mix together all the ingredients and give it a good stir. Depending on how you like your stir-fries, you could use more or less chilli – these proportions make a sauce that has a medium heat when using relatively firey chillies. A bit of a tip for ginger too – we keep loads frozen in the freezer in small chunks – it grates really well from frozen, and the flavour really comes through.

Raid the store cupboard for this sauce!
Raid the store cupboard for this sauce!

Once the sauce is made, slice up all the vegetables. How you slice depends on what veg you’re using, but as a general rule make sure that everything is sliced really thinly – especially hard vegetables like carrots – so that it cooks quickly and retains its crunch. No-one wants a soggy stir-fry! Add you veg to a wok with a splash of vegetable oil (or any other flavourless oil) and cook over a high heat, stirring regularly. Once the veg is close to cooked (this shouldn’t take longer than about 5 minutes) add the sauce, stir in and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add the noodles, stir in again, then finally add the King Prawns and cook for another couple of minutes until they’re just pink – that’s it, you’re done!

Veg being Stir-Fried

You could try this sauce with different meats – it would be pretty good with chicken or turkey – and it would work with loads of different veg too. It’s a perfect go-to meal if you’ve had a long day at work, and is guaranteed to perk you up.

Stir-Fry in a Bowl

Posh Sardines & Tomatoes on Toast

This will be our first ever breakfast/brunch post! We’re always posting pictures of our delicious brunches on our instagram, so we thought we’d share some inspiration with you. It doesn’t take much effort to make sardines on toast quite special! It’s also healthy and nutritious and pretty cheap. We served ours on fresh home made bread, using our usual recipe, with some added Three Malt and Sunflower Seed flour – delicious.

Three Malt and Sunflower Seed Bread

For 2 servings:

  • 4 slices of bread, toasted (I’m sure you guys can figure this out!)
  • 200 g cherry/baby plum tomatoes
  • 1 60g tin sardines (in tomato sauce/olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Handful of fresh basil (optional)

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Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Half the tomatoes and add to the pan, and season well with salt and pepper. Cook until they are starting to soften, and then add a splash of water and the balsamic vinegar. Once they’re nice and soft and have started to form a sauce, add the sardines, making sure that any bones have been removed. Chop the basil and add it to the pan, if you want to. Heat through for a couple of minutes and then serve on top of the toast.

Sometimes the simple things are the best

This is probably one of the shortest recipes we’ve ever posted. But sometimes all you need is a bit of inspiration! This is delicious with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, or just a nice cup of tea.

Indian Spiced Baked Salmon

We use jarred curry pastes all the time, they’re really convenient! They’re choc full of spices that you’d have a hard time keeping your kitchen stocked with. The only problem is that when you’re cooking for 2 there’s often quite a lot left over, so unless you want to keep eating the same thing over and over you have to get inventive! This recipe for salmon with Balti paste definitely falls into that category – what’s more, it’s easy and totally delicious. You can really use any kind of fish fillets and any kind of curry paste, the recipe is very flexible.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 200 g new potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp curry paste (we used Patak’s Balti paste, which is medium-hot – you can use whatever you have!)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 200 g baby leaf spinach

Start by halving your potatoes length-ways (so that they’re quite thin) and parboiling them placing in a pan of cold water and bringing to the boil, then simmering for 2-3 minutes. Bring the oven to temperature while you’re doing this – about 180 ºC should do it. Put your roasting dish into the oven to heat up. Once the potatoes have been parboiled, drain them and add the oil, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and the salt to the pan. Make sure the potatoes get a good coating, and one the roasting dish is nice and hot take it out of the oven and add the potatoes into it, savouring the satisfying sizzle! Put the dish back in the oven – the potatoes should take about 40-45 minutes to cook.

Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome
Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome

To prepare the salmon, mix together the curry paste and the yoghurt so that it forms a consistent light-coloured paste. Cover the salmon fillets in the paste in a bowl. About 15-20 minutes before the potatoes are ready to come out, move them aside in the roasting dish (or use a separate dish if you don’t have space) and put the salmon in. We had some particularly meaty fillets, but if yours are thinner they will probably take less time to cook.

Curry Salmon in Roasting Dish

Wilt the spinach in a pan on a low heat with some salt and pepper – it should only need about 5 minutes.

Curry Salmon Served

That’s all there is to it – this is a really simple meal and a great alternative to a standard curry. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Chinese Steamed Fish

Chinese food has something of a bad rep in the UK, greasy Friday night takeaways being most people’s only experience of it. This is something completely different – a fresh, healthy and exciting recipe that is only distantly related to sweet & sour and chicken chow mein. The original recipe for the fish is a Ken Hom recipe, again something we found on the BBC food website! We’re putting our own twist on it by serving it with a big dollop of stir-fried veg with some cracking flavours.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 2 fillets of white fish
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Small thumb-sized chunk of fresh ginger, chopped into thin strips
  • 1 pak choi & other mixed veg (we used another pak choi, cabbage, 1/2 courgette, 1 green pepper, 200 g babycorn & mangetout)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 150 g white rice
  • 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (different from Ken’s recipe – we love the flavour but it’s strong!)

Start by putting two pans of water on to boil – one for the rice and one to put the steamer on. While these are coming to the boil, prepare the fish; dry it off with some kitchen paper, rub it with the sea salt and arrange it in the steamer, on top of a few leaves of pak choi, and sprinkle over the ginger. Don’t worry if the fillets overlap – ours was packed in there pretty tight.

We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!
We somehow wound up with rather more than 2 fillets!

Fish In Steamer With Ginger

Once the water boiling, put the rice in one pan and a couple of minutes later put the steamer on the other one – we found that the fish took about 10 minutes to cook, though this can vary depending on how densely packed it is in the steamer and how tight the steamer fits on the pan! When it’s done it should be opaque and flaky, but still lovely and moist.

While that’s all cooking, chop up the rest of your veg and make up a sauce with the oyster sauce, fish sauce and 1/2 tbsp of the light soy sauce. Heat the oil over a high heat in a wok and add the garlic, stirring for 10 seconds or so before you add the veg. After 30 seconds add the sauce, and mix together thoroughly so that everything is coated.

Stir-fry Veg

Stir Fry Action Shot

When everything is cooked, serve onto warm plates. Drizzle the remaining light and dark soy sauce over the fish, and sprinkle over the spring onions. Now for some excitement! Heat the groundnut and sesame oil in a frying pan over a high heat until smoking, and pour over the fish – you should get a satisfying sizzle.

Chinese Steamed Fish

That’s all there is to it. This dish has some great umami flavours, and is super fresh and healthy. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

How To Cook Whole Fish

This will be less of a recipe post and more of a getting you over your fear of whole fish post! Loads and loads of people stick to fillets because in lots of ways they are easier – no/minimal bones to deal with, no head, but you miss out on loads of flavour from cooking a fish whole! Mackerel is a firm favourite with us. Bird grew up in Brighton and the fishmongers on the seafront sell the freshest mackerel there so it was a regular dinner from a young age. This is one of our favourite ways of cooking any sort of whole fish, it’s easy and results in moist fish which just falls off the bone. We kept it simple flavour-wise; mackerel is beautiful with stronger flavours like harissa but for this meal we used lemon thyme, a few slices of fresh lemon and some salt and pepper.

To start give the fish a quick wash under cold water and dab dry with some kitchen paper. When you’re buying whole, fresh fish then the main things that we look for are a good shine on the scales/skin, red gills and bright eyes, not dull or clouded over. Once the fish is washed lay it on a chopping board and make 2 or 3 slashes into the flesh down the sides, cut right down to the bone. This will help the fish cook evenly, and make it easy to get any lovely flavours into the fish. We placed a couple of small sprigs of lemon thyme in the slashes and then a couple more sprigs inside the cavity along with a couple of thin slices of lemon. We then seasoned the skin on both sides with sea salt and black pepper.

Mackerel raw

Now grab yourself a length of kitchen foil (about 50cm). Put the fish in the middle of it and bring the foil up to form a bag, rolling the edges over several times to get a tight seal while leaving a good bit of space around the fish so it can steam. An average-sized mackerel will take about 20-25 minutes to steam in the oven at 180-200°C – remember that it’s cooking from cold and will take a while to start steaming.

Serve with whatever you like! We had ours with some roasted baby potatoes, and then asparagus and tender stem broccoli which we blanched for 30 seconds and then whacked in the oven with the potatoes to finish cooking – they retain some bite this way and get a little crisp on the ends. To eat our fish we get a large plate ready for the bones and scrape the top fillet off (the meat should fall off the bones), then pick the whole of the skeleton up from the tail end and slowly peel away which should leave the bottom fillet with very few bones still in it… easy!

Mackerel dinner

Thai Noodle Soup with Crispy Tofu

This was only our second ever time cooking with tofu. Bird is a big fan and often chooses it over meat options when eating Thai food out but our first attempt about two years ago fell a little flat (well, more accurately, it fell a little slimy). However we got a real craving for it and decided to try again. The tofu we bought helpfully had some cooking instructions on and told us to press the tofu for a better and firmer texture, we figured it knew best so went along with it. What a huge difference! Much firmer, much less fragile, and when cooked MUCH crispier! The extremely-helpful-packaging suggested a minimum of 10 minutes but we left ours for 30 minutes. To press tofu simply drain it of the fluid it’s packaged in and then wrap it in about 2-3 layers of kitchen paper. Place it on a chopping board with another chopping board on top and place a weight on it. This doesn’t have to be really heavy, we used 2 cookery books but a large saucepan would be perfect too. Then make yourself a cuppa and go and chill out for a while. When you come back to it simply unwrap it, use a fresh piece of kitchen paper to give it a wipe down and then get cooking!

Tofu marinading

Ingredients

  • 1 block of pressed tofu
  • 1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 spring onions, white parts sliced thinly, green parts sliced thicker on the diagonal
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • Zest of 1 lime (you will use the lime juice to season later)
  • noodles, either straight-to-wok or dried ones cooked and drained
  • vegetables, we used baby corn, mange tout and pak choi but use whatever you fancy making sure you have a mix of crunchy and leafy
  • dark soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • coriander leaves

Chop your tofu into 1-2 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Drizzle over around 1-2 tsp of dark soy sauce and let the flavour soak in. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add in the sugar, the white part of the spring onions, the garlic, the lime zest and most of the ginger and chilli – the rest will be cooked with the tofu. Let this simmer away for about 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle.

Onions, chilli, ginger

After this time grab a wok and heat the vegetable oil in it over a medium-high heat. Once hot throw in the tofu and the remaining ginger and chilli. Our tofu took about 7 minutes to become golden and crispy all over. Keep an eye on the tofu turning it over every 30 seconds or so to make sure it colours evenly. Put the noodles in with the soup and let it come back to the boil. This is the time to season it with dark soy sauce, fish sauce and lime – the amounts are completely up to you, try with 1 tsp of soy sauce and fish sauce and the juice of half a lime and then keep tasting and adding until it’s perfect for you.

Tofu fall

When the tofu is almost ready chuck the vegetables in with the soup, we reserved the leaves of the pak choi as they just need to wilt in. Let the vegetables cook for around 1 minute – you want them to retain some bite! At this stage pour the toasted sesame oil over the tofu, let it cook for a last few seconds and then tip into some kitchen paper to drain slightly. Season it with about 1 tsp of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Put any leafy vegetables in the soup to wilt and then serve immediately.

Crispy tofu

Dish yourself up a bowl of the noodle soup, top with the crispy tofu and garnish with the green parts of the spring onions and the coriander leaves – this would also be lovely with some crushed peanuts. We had ours with a wedge of lime to add extra zing at the table and a simple infusion of lemon and ginger to drink.

Tofu with noodle soup

This has filled us with confidence to try tofu again soon, maybe with a stir fry, a curry or a salad… any suggestions?