Opening a Jar of Sunshine

I was gifted a jar of home made marmalade recently. This special marmalade was  lovingly made by my foodie friend Alison Grayer. I must say that it is  the most lip smacking, gorgeous marmalade I’ve tasted in eons. It was made with orange, grapefruit and lemon  and had the perfect balance of sweetness, tang and  bitterness. Alison’s marmalade ticked all the boxes of taste, texture and colour. The juicy, chunky bits of  citrus are a serious delight. I’m someone who prefers a savory breakfast normally and not a huge fan of any jam or preserve save marmalade. My love for marmalade was cultivated in boarding school.   St.Hilda’s School in Ootacamund, India. The head cook in our school, Mari, made awesome marmalade, the taste of which I and my fellow Hildites still remember fondly.  Alison’s marmalade very much stands on that same lofty pedestal . Thank you Alison for your jar of sunshine. It sure has brought a lot of joy to our breakfasts. 14698899-Citrus-fruits-lemon-lime-orange-and-grapefruit-isolated-on-white-background-with-shadows-Stock-Photo

Vietnamese summer roll – roast chicken and herbs

A couple of days back I cooked a roast chicken for lunch and had some left over in the fridge.   I am hooked on cooking a whole chicken having successfully done so the last couple of times.   The addition of fresh rosemary from the garden in both the chicken and vegetables makes it all the more tasty.   Today’s lunch was fairly quick to prepare but it packed some flavour (fresh basil and mint from the garden).  If you haven’t eaten a Vietnamese summer roll try it and you will give up the fried spring rolls.

The summer roll started with the soaked rice paper layered with an iceberg lettuce leaf and filled with whole basil, mint and coriander leaves and a few chopped pieces of spring onion.   I heated up the left over roast chicken for a couple of minutes with some Chinese crushed red chilli sauce.   I added a good handful of the chicken on top of the herbs and wrapped the rice paper to form a roll.  I can’t wait to get Anna to try this when she gets back next week as I am sure she will love the freshness of the dish.

The roast chicken is simple to make.   I used a small bird, cleaned it up, placed in a roasting pan and then seasoned with salt and pepper.  I then rubbed the chicken with a generous knob of butter and placed a couple of knobs under the skin on either side above the breast.  I placed a lemon cut in half and a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary in the cavity and cooked in a pre heated 210 degree oven for an hour till chicken was cooked through.   During the cooking process I take the pan out and baste the chicken with the melted butter to keep it moist.  For the vegetable barring the potato (boiled and peeled it and added it to the roasting pan 15 minutes before chicken was done) I roughly chopped up some carrot, parsnip, celery and added some whole shallots, garlic cloves and button mushrooms – drizzled a little olive oil and seasoned them with salt, pepper and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from the garden.   I added the vegetables to the roasting pan half way through the cooking process.   The end results was a nice golden bird with roasted vegetables.


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Tricolore salad

As previously stated in one of our earlier blogs tricolore is one of our all time favourite salads and tonight we had one for dinner.  We have normally stuck to the traditional recipe of beef tomatoes, avocados and fresh mozzarella cheese garnished with fresh basil and dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice.  This evening we added grated lemon zest  for a change  and it works really well 🙂

Tricolore salad

English summer

We have had our first peek of summer with sunshine for 4 days in a row (I say this with my fingers and toes crossed)!!  Having cleaned our barbecue last week I decided to grill some chicken for dinner tonight and served it with some roasted green peppers, mushrooms and a simple baby mixed leaf salad.  It was an opportunity to try out the apple balsamic vinegar which I picked up from Waitrose earlier.

The marinade for the chicken was dead simple – six de-boned chicken thighs, 3 tbsp of Scwartz blackened cajun seasoning and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  For the veggies I drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled some garlic salt over them before grilling.  The salad was baby mixed leaves with olive oil and apple balsamic vinegar dressing.  Looking forward to more sunshine over the next few weeks to get the maximum out of the Weber grill.

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Can you stick to a Paleo diet on a long haul flight?

The answer to this is a resounding yes.  I recently took a 7 hour Royal Brunei flight from London to Dubai and had requested a gluten free meal.  This was one of many firsts – flying with Royal Brunei (to be fair I’ve heard good things about this airline and an absolute pleasure to fly with), eating gluten free without an ingredient list to guide and flying without family 😦

When the drinks trolley came out I chose the juice option (technically not fresh pressed but beats having sodas which I used to in the past).  The stewardess offered nuts as a snack which I took, scanned the ingredients on the back (did include wheat and gluten) and graciously handed it back to her.  I waited for dinner to be served and wasn’t sure if my request for gluten free would be adhered to.  Lo and behold dinner was served (gluten free!) – TIP if you don’t like waiting for your meal make sure you choose a preferred meal option when booking your flight – these meals always tend to be served first!  My meal consisted of a green salad with grilled chicken, followed by main course of grilled chicken breast with steamed vegetables.  For dessert, I was served a portion of fruit salad.  I was given a couple of rolls which to be fair were probably gluten free but I didn’t risk it!

I am at my sister’s place in Dubai for 2 weeks and it’s going to be interesting sticking to the Paleo lifestyle – loads of vegetables, fruit and shish tawook I guess.  A quick trip to Spinney’s was quite revealing – whilst Free From hasn’t quite caught on yet there are some products available.  I am determined not to fall of the wagon on this trip and make sure I weather the storm – wish me luck.

The humble omelette

It tends to be the default option for many when pressed for time to whip up an omelette.  For the longest time I made a typical masala omelette with green chillies and onions.  Then I have found the addition of western herbs works really well – tried it with chopped tarragon or chopped basil.  For the carnivores in us try omelettes with chorizo, spicy pepperoni or salami that have been grilled to a crisp like bacon instead of ham.

An omelette does not have to be a dull, boring option but a colourful, tasty meal to look forward to!