Mozzarella Penguins

My other half found this fantastic idea for canapés or appetisers when you have friends over. We just had to make them at our Christmas party this year! These super cute penguins definitely caught the eye of our friends and everyone absolutely loved them. They aren’t too faffy to make and are worth the effort in the end. You can make them vegetarian by not adding the pancetta scarfs. You’ll have a lot of fun making them (I believe they will be a hit with children in the kitchen too!) and you’ll definitely have fun eating them.

Mozzarella Penguins

Makes 20  (or as many as you need!) | Prep 30 minutes | No cooking
A little effort | Gluten-free

Penguins 3

 You’ll need (adjust the amount of ingredients depending on how many you need. Ingredients below are for 20 little penguins):

  • 1 medium carrot;
  • 40 black olives, pitted;
  • 20 mini mozzarella balls;
  • 20 toothpicks;
  • 2 slices smoked pancetta.

Full instructions below, or just watch this video for a quick demo.

Prepare all the ingredients before you start assembling. Slice 20 medium disks (just over the thickness of a pound coin) from the carrot.

Use 20 of the olives to make the penguin wings. Carefully cut the olive through the middle lengthways without separating at the top – you need the olive halves to open up but to still be attached at the top.

Halve the pancetta slices, then cut 5 strips from each halve. These will be used for the scarves.

To assemble, take a mini mozzarella ball and slide it into a ‘halved’ olive to form the ‘body’. Using a toothpick, attach a whole olive to the ‘body’ with the olive whole towards you. Cut out a triangle from a carrot disk, roughly a quarter from the disk and set aside. Attach the disk at the other end of the body, then take the little quarter you cut out and half it. Carefully place this in the olive whole which makes the head to complete it. Finally, wrap a slice of pancetta as a scarf around the penguin.

Penguins 1

I hope you enjoy making and eating those penguins. Credit to this video by Recipe Videos for the idea.




Showcasing Cod: Cod, pepper and tomato stew

Ingredient Challenge 2.0: Showcasing Cod

(You can skip to the next bit if you are here for the recipe!)

You might remember that occasionally I run an ‘ingredient’ challenge over on my Instagram page. It isn’t so much of a challenge, but more of a social cooking experience on social media, and it is great fun! I first started it to challenge myself to be more of a creative cook and think of ways to showcase ingredients without using my trusted cookbooks/magazine. And it is really fun to get fans of the blog involved in the process by getting them to submit ingredients and potentially even also cook along with the chosen ingredient.

This time around we had another fantastic selection of ingredients: figs, coriander, pork belly, matcha, peppers, pak choi, celeriac and cod. The randomly selected ingredient this time around was cod. At first, I wasn’t sure how to approach the ingredient to best showcase it – cod is a really lovely and gentle fish and so versatile you can do so many things with it! I narrowed it down to three options: fish tacos, pan seared cod with gazpacho sauce and a cod stew with smokey tomatoes and peppers. I ended up choosing the latter as it seemed most appropriate for the weather and the season but I think I will be going back to the other two ideas soon…

This ended up a really simple meal and equally delicious. The smokey tomato and pepper stew don’t overpower the fish and, in fact, they compliment each other’s flavours really well. For extra oomph, adding a bit of diced chorizo to the stew would bring more spice and heat to the dish, but don’t add too much as it will overpower the fish.

Cod, pepper and tomato stew

Serves 2 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 20 minutes
Easy | Gluten-free | Dairy-Free

Cod 10

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 red onion, chopped;
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped;
  • 2 peppers (1 red and 1 yellow), chopped;
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 can chopped tomatoes;
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika;
  • 1 pinch saffron;
  • 1 pinch chilli;
  • 2 cod loins;
  • small handful black olives;
  • small handful parsley, chopped (to serve);
  • crusty bread (to serve).

Cod 1

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes until slightly softer. Add the garlic for 1 more minute. Add the peppers and saute for another 3-5 minutes until they have started to soften up. Add the chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (if using cherry tomatoes, add 1/4 glass of water) and stir well. Season well with sea salt and black pepper, and add all of the spices. Stir well and let it bubble for a minute.

Cod 5

Add the cod loins to the stew and cook over low-medium heat for 10 minutes with the lid on, adding the olives in the final 2 minutes.

Cod 7

To serve, add the tomato stew to two deep plates and top with the cod loins. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with some fresh, crusty bread to mop up the juices!

Photos were taken by my fabulous helper and friend – Katrien Sutherland.

If you fancy taking part in “Showcasing Cod”, cook something using cod as your primary ingredient, don’t use any recipes while cooking (but you can use beforehand for inspiration!) and comment on this post with your result.