Watermelon, Tomato and Halloumi salad

So picnic weather might be quite hard to imagine for those of us in Scotland right now, but the sunshine is never too far away. This salad is perfect as part of a picnic or served on the side at your next BBQ. I got the recipe from Waitrose Magazine originally but have adjusted it it a bit.

More with halloumi: Lentil, squash, halloumi and bacon saladSweetcorn & Halloumi fritters with avocado salsa and poached eggsMashed avocado with grilled halloumi & poached egg on toast

Watermelon, Tomato and Halloumi Salad

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Serves 6 | Prep 20 mins | Cook 5 mins
Easy | Gluten-Free

You’ll need:

  • 15g basil, leaves only – 1/2 finely chopped and 1/2 sliced into ribbons;
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar;
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice;
  • 1/2 small watermelon, flesh cubed;
  • 500g mixed cherry tomatoes, halved;
  • 250g halloumi, cut into 1cm slices.

Make the dressing by combining the chopped basil leaves, olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Whisk together and set aside.

In a large bowl. combine the watermelon, cherry tomatoes and remaining basil. Add the dressing to the salad, and mix well. Transfer to a large serving platter or leave in the bowl – whatever you preference for serving the salad is!

Heat a griddle pan or a non-stick pan over high heat. Add the halloumi slices and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side until deep golden. Top the salad with the halloumi slices and serve.

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Adapted from a Waitrose Magazine recipe, no longer available online.

 

“Use up your Christmas leftovers” Pizza

If you are looking for ideas of how to use up your leftovers over the next few days, this might help! You can really customise this recipe in any way you want with whatever leftovers you have left. You can make it a meat feast (think turkey + ham + stuffing) or vegetarian supreme (think roasties, sprouts, veggies), or of course – mix and match. You can make your own pizza dough if you have time or use ready-made pizza base like suggested below. This turned out to be very tasty, it has quickly become my favourite way to use up Christmas leftovers!

“Use up your Christmas leftovers” Pizza

Serves 4 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 15 mins
Easy

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You’ll need

  • 2 ready-made pizza bases;
  • 8 tbsp tomato passata;
  • 1 tbsp oregano;
  • 1 tsp garlic powder;
  • 125g mozzarella, cubed;
  • leftover meats and/or veggies, chopped to bite-sized pieces (see tips below for suggestions).

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan. To make a simple sugo, mix the passata with the oregano and garlic powder. Season well.

Spread the sugo over each pizza base. Top with your choice of meats and vegetables (see below for toppings suggestions), and finally add the mozzarella. Put the pizzas in a tray or pizza stone and bake for about 15 minutes.

As you can see from the photos, we opted for making our own dough and shaping it to a rectangle (sorry Italian friends!) it worked perfectly for us. If you are making your own dough you can still follow the recipe above.

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Topping suggestions:

Food Notes special: Leftover roast meat (we used goose), sliced red onion, sliced fresh tomato, green olives.

Meat feast: Top your pizzas with equal amounts of chopped turkey, chopped ham and chopped stuffing. Add some sliced red onions and black olives for extra flavour if desired.

Vegetarian feast: Top your pizzas with equal amounts of chopped roast potato, brussels sprouts and other roast veggies. Swap the mozzarella for chopped taleggio for a different taste.

Vegan supreme: Use any combination of your leftover veggies and to your pizzas with cubed or shredded vegan cheese.

Christmas dinner: Top your pizzas with some leftover roast meat, roast potatoes, stuffing and sprouts, for the ultimate Christmas dinner pizza.


Hope you enjoy these ideas! Do share your favourite combinations in the comments and keep sharing the inspiration. I hope you all enjoyed the festive period.

~Em

A perfect Christmas menu for 10

If you are in need of a Christmas menu, then look no further! Here’s my guide to making the perfect feast for 10, with timing and get ahead information to save you from stressing on the day.  With a little prep a couple of days before the big meal, you will be ready to feed an army of hungry friends and family effortlessly!

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The menu

Canapé:
Mozzarella and olive penguins

Starter:
Pork Terrine

Main:
 Pancetta roast turkey crown with chestnut and sage stuffing

Sides:
Roast potatoes
Honey glazed parsnips and carrots
Stir-fried brussels sprouts with nigella seed
Sticky pigs in blankets
Cranberry Sauce

Dessert:
Salted Caramel Cheesecake 

 

Cooking guide and timelines

Two days before the big meal

  1. Start preparing the terrine by marinating the pork as per Step 1 of the recipe. (~10 minutes)
  2. Make the Cranberry sauce and chill in the fridge until you need to heat it up on the day. (~30 minutes)

The day before

  1. Make the pork terrine and leave to chill until you need it on the day (~1hr).
  2. Make the stuffing from the turkey recipe and chill until the following day (~20 min).
  3. Make the cheesecake and chill (~2hrs).
  4. Make the sticky pigs in blankets and chill (~20 mins).

On the day, for lunch at 1pm – turkey served between 2pm – 2:30 pm 
(Adjust timings as required for a later lunch or dinner).

09:00. Take out the turkey from the fridge as soon as you get up in the morning, around 9am at the latest.
09:00. Prepare the mozzarella penguins and set aside until you need them. (Or make the day ahead and store in an airtight container).
10:00. Prepare the turkey for roasting as per Step 1 from the recipe, heat oven 90C/170C fan/gas 5.
10:30: Put the turkey in the oven and roast as per instructions.
11:00: While the turkey is cooking, prepare the vegetables.
Peel, chop and parboil the roasties, set aside until ready for roasting;
Peel the parsnips and carrots and marinade in the glaze and set aside until ready for roasting;
Halve the sprouts and prepare all the rest of the ingredients for the stir-fry, set aside until ready to stir-fry.
13:20: Take the turkey out of the oven to rest for half an hour.
Put the pre-boiled roast potatoes in the oven, increase oven to 200C fan. roast for                40-50 minutes
13:30: Put the prepared pigs in blankets and stuffing in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Put the parsnips and carrots in the oven, roast for 30 minutes.
13:45: stir fry the sprouts and start making the gravy.
14:00: Carve the turkey.

Needless to say, if you can get your partner/guests involved they can help with making gravy, stir-frying etc.

Your Christmas shopping list

  • 600g carrots;
  • 500g parsnips;
  • 2kg floury potatoes (King Edward, Maris Piper);
  • 800g Brussels Sprouts
  • 3 onions;
  • 3 shallots;
  • 4-5 garlic bulbs;
  • 3 lemons;
  • 300g fresh cranberries;
  • 1 clementine;
  • fresh thyme;
  • fresh sage;
  • fresh chives;
  • fresh rosemary;
  • fresh parsley
  • 100g goose fat;
  • 18 cocktail sausages;
  • 3 packs sliced pancetta;
  • 2 packs dry-cured streaky bacon (20-22 slices)
  • 300g Pork tenderloin;
  • 1050g sausage meat;
  • 4kg turkey crown;
  • 1 pack unsalted butter;
  • 6 eggs;
  • 600g full-fat cream cheese;
  • 300ml soured cream;
  • 75ml double cream;
  • 100g green olives, pitted;
  • 1 jar cornichons;
  • 25g pecans;
  • 140g white breadcrumbs;
  • 140g cooked chestnuts;
  • 75g light brown muscovado sugar;
  • 250g dark chocolate digestives;
  • 397g Carnation Caramel;

From the pantry:

  • olive oil;
  • rapeseed oil;
  • honey;
  • wholegrain mustard;
  • English mustard;
  • Nigella seeds;
  • Brandy
  • Plain flour;
  • Chicken stock;
  • Caster sugar;
  • cocoa powder;
  • Sea salt;
  • Pepper;

I hope you find this guide helpful. If you have any feedback of what more detail and info you’d like please let me know in the comments and I will gladly adjust the guide and add more to it!

oznor
Photo Sarah Ahmad

~Em.

Pigs in blankets

Pigs in blankets are a MUST at Christmas dinner and I, for one, cannot get enough of them. This version uses pancetta instead of bacon, which is cured in a slightly different way and is a little more fatty. You can easily use streaky bacon if your prefer, of course.

I’ve swapped the date nectar from the original recipe for honey as it is easier to find and it’s a suitable alternative.

Sticky pigs in blankets

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Serves 6-8 | Prepare 10 mins | Cook 35 mins
Easy | Dairy-free

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp honey;
  • 1 tbsp English mustard;
  • 18 cocktail sausages, separated;
  • 9 slices pancetta, halved.

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Mix the date nectar and mustard in a large bowl and season. Toss the sausages in the bowl to coat in the mixture. Wrap each sausage in ½ a piece of pancetta, then place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden and sticky.

Waitrose magazine, issue December 2016.

Get ahead: Prepare the sausages up to 1 day in advance and bake them when required.

Help yourself brunch for a crowd

With Christmas holidays looming, you may well find yourself with lots of family and friends around and having to be prepared not only for dinners and lunches, but breakfasts too. Personally, I’m quite happy with any excuse for a brunch! These recipes are perfect for a no-fuss brunch were everyone can just help themselves to breakfast. It can be quite ‘stress-free’ too as you can prepare most of the dishes the evening before and just put in the oven for the final step on the day.

We have three recipes today:

  • Mini Omelette Cups;
  • Breakfast Sliders;
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus.

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As I mentioned, you can prepare everything the night before and leave covered in the fridge. I have highlighted in each recipe where you should do this if you are planning to prepare stuff in advance. Click below for each recipe or do them all for a perfect breakfast menu. The only thing that’s missing as a Bloody Mary…

More menus to try: Christmas Eve, the Bulgarian WayNew Year’s Eve Potluck | Entertaining: Spring Menu for 10 – Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more

Click through for each recipe below:

[expand title=”Healthy Egg Omelette Cups”]

Healthy Egg Omelette Cups

Makes 12 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 35 mins
Easy | Vegetarian | Gluten & dairy free

You’ll need:

  • sunflower or vegetable oil cooking spray;
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil;
  • 1 red pepper, chopped;
  • 1 green pepper, chopped;
  • 1 onion, chopped;
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped;
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped;
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped;
  • salt to taste
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • Optional: hot sauce for serving.

Heat oven to 180C | 160C fan |gas mark 4. (If making ahead, preheat oven about 15 mins on the day of cooking).

Grease a standard non stick 12-slot muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large non stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, add in the chopped peppers and onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until peppers are tender. Add in the spinach and mushrooms and cook for an additional 2 minutes. In the last 30 seconds, add in the garlic. Season with salt and remove from heat.

Whisk the eggs and egg whites. Once the veggies have cooled slightly, whisk them in the egg mixture. Pour the egg/veggie mixture evenly into the prepared muffin pan.

At this point you can cover and leave them in the fridge over night, until ready to cook the following day.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked. Cool slightly and serve immediately. You can use a knife to help you carefully take the egg cups from the muffin tin.

Tip: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about 4 days. These may also be frozen. To reheat, pop them in the microwave until warm.

Original recipe from Show Me The Yummy, available online here.[/expand]

[expand title=”Breakfast Sliders”]

Breakfast Sliders

Makes 12-16 | Prep 10 mins | Cook 20 mins
Easy

You’ll need

  • 12 eggs;
  • 2 tablespoon butter + 1/4 cup butter for the topping;
  • 12-16 slider rolls or mini burger buns
  • 1 packet pre-sliced Gouda or Cheddar cheese (or so) or 12-16 slices of cheese;
  • 12-16 slices deli ham (or so);
  • 1 1/5 tbsp brown sugar;
  • 1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard.

Whisk the eggs with salt and pepper together in a bowl until frothy. Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a large pan over medium-low heat. Pour eggs into the pan and scramble them: cook and stir with spatula until set, 3 to 6 minutes . Remove from heat.

Cut rolls in half horizontally. Lay bottoms in a single layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Add a layer of cheese, then scrambled eggs, then a layer of ham, then provolone cheese, then ham, then provolone cheese again. Cover with roll tops. Cut through ham and provolone cheese layers to make individual sandwiches.

You can cover and put in the fridge at this point for up to 1 day. Proceed with the final steps on the day.

Melt 1/4 cup butter, brown sugar, and mustard together in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Spread mixture over roll tops. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and let stand, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Remove aluminum foil from baking dish.

Bake in preheated oven until tops are golden brown and cheese has melted, 15 to 20 minutes.

Original recipe from All Recipes, available online here. [/expand]

[expand title=”Bacon wrapped asparagus”]

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Makes 12-16 | Prep 10 mins + soaking | Cook 10 mins
Easy | Dairy and Gluten free

You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 150g asparagus;
  • 150g streaky bacon;
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges.

First prepare the skewers. Soak 4-5 wooden skewers in cold water for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus and bacon. Cut the asparagus in two or three pieces, depending on their size, you want them a little bigger than bite size. Take bacon pieces and halve them horizontally. Wrap a slice of bacon around each asparagus bite and set aside.

When the skewers have finished soaking, skewer around 5 bacon wrapped asparagus per skewer. At this point you can cover and leave them to chill in the fridge until needed – up to 1 day.

When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in griddle pan. When hot, carefully place the skewers in the pan. You might have to cut the skewer if they are too large – I usually cut down the unnecessary wooden bits in the bottom if needed. Cook until the bacon and asparagus have cooked through – about 10 minutes, rotating regularly. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side. [/expand]

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Bon Apetit!

~Em