Thursday, 28 March 2013

Warm Mackerel and Asparagus Salad

So after reading the title of this blog post you're probably conjuring up images of merely mackerel and asparagus tossed in a few iceburg lettuce leaves. Think again. When I was younger (and maybe still) I always wanted to open a soup and salad restaurant. In the summer I love making up my own salad recipes as it was a far lighter way to eat lunch rather than always bread-based food. However, in restaurants I always think that original salads are hard to find. Obviously you'd get your standard Caeser, Nicoise etc. etc. But I reckon I could give these big names a run for their money with this bad boy.

The joy of this salad, and in fact virtually any salad, is that you can chuck in whatever is left in your fridge. You all know about my unconditional love for Mackerel (check out my homemade pate recipe). It's so healthy and delicious and even scrummier when chucked in the oven for a few minutes to heat up (although I would recommend shutting all kitchen doors- the smell is rather pungent.)

Now I'm home from uni my fridge is brimming with food which is probably one of the best sights possible, especially seeing as regularly at uni I would open my fridge to find half a solitary rotting lime. So after opening all doors and cupboards of my kitchen and ransacking my fridge, I was quite content with my final ingredients for my super warm super good salad:

Handful of cherry tomatoes
Leftover Mushrooms
4 Asparagus
1 cooked Smoked Mackerel
Handful of rocket salad
1 shallot
1 deseeded chilli

It was destined to be a beautiful food love affair.

To start off, cut those little tomatoes into quarters, chuck them in an oven-suitable pan, soak them in oil, a bit of garlic salt and basil and let them grill in the oven with the Mackerel for literally about 7 minutes (until the juices start to run and the skins start shrivelling up).

Next, cut up all your ingredients: tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, shallot and chilli and bung that all into a non-stick frying pan and let it do it's magic for about 7 minutes.

Take the Mackerel out after about 5 minutes, leaving the tomatoes in for a couple extra, take the skin off and cut it (very roughly) into small chunks.

Toss the salad, adding the Mackerel and then the tomatoes, letting the juices seep in. When the rest of your ingredients are ready, mix it all in a big bowl before serving it up. Just divine!

What I love about this salad is it's so colourful and exciting. You know that you're eating pure goodness when a rainbow salad appears. Enjoy and don't be afraid to experiment with different ingredients!

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Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Sarah's Birthday Dinner

I'd like to think one of the things that our house in Exeter is famous for is throwing a cracking party...especially birthdays. In October we hosted over 100 people in our small student house as well as a fab firework display for Katie's birthday... Sophia and Frankie were presented with a champagne breakfast... So now it was our time to show our best friend Sarah (a.k.a. Saz) a good time and make sure we lived up to our reputation! What better way to have an amazing night then host a dinner party?

As I mentioned before, 16 Queen's Crescent never fails to produce a good party and we definitely pulled out all the stops for Saz- this very much includes canapes and a bit of cava-obviously! Will revealed some delicious cocktail sausages and we were very happy sipping on our cava which Saz's parents kindly donated for the evening (as obviously we're students and can only otherwise afford Tesco's Finest). 

Danvers obviously enjoying his canape and cava.

Let's be honest our living room (more like corridor) isn't the nicest, so we thought we'd spice it up a bit with some decorations. 

However before dinner was served, I whipped off my apron (jokes) for a quick little photo shoot....

Which obviously some didn't take quite as seriously as others....

Believe it or not I actually went to school with two of these girls and I live with two of them...nightmare

You'd never know but the boys are often worse at steel boys.

So, back to the kitchen. As designated chefs of the house Frankie and I prepared a fab beef and horseradish stew with dauphinoise potatoes and a bit of broc which was delicious and super easy. (let's not forget Will, who was adamant he should be mentioned for slicing the onions- well done Will.) It turned out to be such a treat! I've learned many a lesson from my wise mother, the main one being that when you host a dinner party, "you'll want to spend as much time with your guests" so a stew is perfect for this. Started on it at 5pm and then let it do it's thing until serving it up at 9pm.

You'll probably know already how much I adore this new Creme Egg Chocolate Brownie recipe (check out the recipe here) so obviously these were whipped up by Sophia and Frankie for Saz's birthday cake.

A few bottles of wine later and we all began to very much enjoy ourselves...

....especially Will...

As the only two boys in our house of 5 other girls they seemed to over compensate for their masculinity. It definitely took more than a few shots to get a good one!


Yes, believe it or not I live with these two...

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