Mrs. Jackson Cooks

Life through food

Simple summer salad: Courgette and chickpea salad

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I got a vege box from one of the farm delivery places – they were doing an offer – and they sent it with a load of recipes, some of which look quite good. This particular company is called Riverford and are local to Manchester, in case you’re interested. So I thought I’d give one of the recipes a go. This salad is so simple and very tasty and can be put together in about 15 minutes. It’s about 400 calories too, so it’s great for a low fat, low carb lunch to keep you going til dinner.

The salad is just lovely, summer on a plate, and even better if you can enjoy in the garden – which we did. But even if you can’t the simple zesty flavours just conjure up summer.

The original recipe uses beans – haricot or borlotti – but I didn’t have any so I used chickpeas instead. It worked very well with chickpeas and I’m sure is tasty either way.

Courgette and chickpea salad

Serves 2 (as a main)

  • 2 courgettes, peeled into ribbons
  • 1 tin chickpeas, drained
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 100g lettuce, cut into ribbons
  • zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  • small handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 50ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a griddle pan, or head the grill and griddle the courgettes until softened and browned in spots
  2. Put the chickpeas, lettuce and tomatoes into a bowl together.
  3. Blitz the lemon juice & zest, oil, basil and garlic in a blender or mash it in a pestle and mortar into a dressing. Season to taste.
  4. Add the courgettes to the chickpeas and tomatoes and pour over the dressing. Toss to combine and serve immediately
  5. Enjoy the lovely summer flavours ūüôā
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An Easter extravaganza: chargrilled squid, slow roasted lamb and st. clements pie

I’ve been debating whether to do this as separate posts or all in one, and I’m going with all in one – hope it’s not too full on! ¬†Although having said that, it felt full on to cook it for 7 people – bit like Christmas all over again, but without the hangover….got something right at least!

But the whole thing was delicious and I did enjoy making it. ¬†If you’re thinking of doing a dinner party there’s some great ideas here. ¬†Not really suitable for veges though – and I was a bit relieved not to have any coming as I’d have to do something completely separate for them. ¬†What I loved about this was all the flavours and spices in it – both the squid and lamb used quite a lot of different spices so we had quite a mix of flavours. ¬†And the tangy lemon tart to finish was perfect after all the richness of the lamb.

The lamb, incidentally came from a farm near Hebden Bridge. ¬†I happen to know the lady that owns the farm and she sold me a load of lamb cuts, as well as regular egg deliveries. ¬†And I do notice the difference in the meat. ¬†I don’t really notice it with organic meat from the supermarket or butchers but definitely with it coming fresh from this farm – and the eggs are so yellow and tasty too. ¬†I think the lamb had a lot more flavour and was a lot more tender than supermarket versions. ¬†But you can do it with any lamb – not only if you happen to know someone with a farm!

The squid recipe is an Ottolenghi recipe and so it’s a bit bitty and fiddly but it’s not complicated. ¬†There’s just lots of steps – I think you could combine some of them quite easily but it’s up to you – I followed it more or less – with the exception of replacing sumac with lemon juice and zest because I didn’t have it and had no idea where to get it! ¬†By comparison, the lamb is ridiculously simple! ¬†And great for dinner parties because you can shove it in the oven and forget about it. ¬†And the pudding can be made the day before if you want.

The original recipes are here – I have adapted all slightly, to reflect what I had available to me. ¬†The shoulder of lamb served 7 very well – there wasn’t much at all left over, but if you did have fewer guests the leftovers would make very nice sandwiches for lunches in the following week.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/mar/30/squid-salad-braised-chicory-recipes

http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/slow-roast-shoulder-of-lamb-with-merguez-spices-recipe

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2063673/st-clements-pie

Tangy squid and pitta salad

Serves 7

  • 700g cleaned and prepared baby or adult squid (adult squid cut into thin rings)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons, 1 juiced and zested
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 large pitta (white or wholemeal) sliced into thin strips
  • 60g capers
  • 4 celery stalks cut thinly on the diagonal
  • large handful of celery leaves chopped or rocket (if leaves unavailable) – I used a combination as I had some leaves but not enough
  • 1 tsp all spice berries (or ground all spice), ground
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp pink or green peppercorns, crushed and ground
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley
  1. Put the squid rings in a bowl with the oil, lemon juice and zest, salt & pepper.  cover and place in the fridge until needed.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the remaining lemon and chop the segments up into small bits and place in a large serving bowl.
  3. Add the celery leaves or rocket to the lemon and the spices and parsley – mix well and set aside.
  4. Toast the pitta in some olive oil in a pan for a few minutes until crispy and starting to char in spots, remove these onto a plate to keep warm.
  5. Follow the pitta with the capers – fry until crispy and turn onto the pitta slices.
  6. Follow the capers with the celery and fry for a few minutes until softened slightly and tip onto the pitta and capers.
  7. Finally flash fry the squid with the marinade juices and zest for a minute until just cooked through.  Tip the pitta, capers and celery into the serving bowl with the lemon and leaves and stir well.  Then tip in the squid and give it another stir before serving immediately with a nice dry white wine.
  8. Enjoy all the spicy zingy flavours!

Slow roast spiced lamb shoulder

Serves 6-8 (or 4-5 with leftovers)

  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ¬Ĺ cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Roast potatoes and veges to serve
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 22o degrees celsius.  
  2. Score the shoulder joint all over with a knife to just under the skin.  
  3. Put all the whole spices in a pan and lightly toast still the start popping.  Tip into a pestle and mortar and roughly grind.  Add the ground spices, garlic, salt and olive oil to mortar and stir well to combine to a thick paste.
  4. Using your fingers spread half the spices all over the lamb- ¬†including sides and underneath and especially in the cuts that you’ve made. ¬†
  5. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 120 degrees celsius
  7. spread the remaining spices over the lamb using the back of a spoon, pour a glass of water in the bottom of the roasting pan the lamb is sat in (not over it) and cover in foil.  
  8. Return to the oven for 6 hours.
  9. Remove, allow to rest for a bit and then using a carving fork, tear the lamb off the bones (it should fall off easily) and serve with the roasted vege and potatoes and the juices from the pan poured over it.  
  10. Enjoy (perhaps with some red wine this time?!).  

St. Clements Pie (orange and lemon pie)

Serves 10 ish

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g butter (unsalted)
  • 3 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 oranges zested and juiced
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • 1 large egg plus 4 large egg yolks
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g greek yoghurt
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • more lemon zest
  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  2. Lightly grease an ovenproof flan dish or removable bottom cake tin
  3. Put the digestives in double bagged food bags tied tightly and bash with a rolling pin or spoon until they form crumbs.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and remove from the heat.
  5. Add the digestive crumbs to the butter and mix well.  
  6. Tip the crumbs into the dish and spread out and pat down to form a crust along the bottom and up the sides.
  7. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes (keep an eye on this Рmine did quite quickly and the first one burnt).  
  8. Remove from the oven, turning it down to 160 degrees celsius and allowing the crust to cool slightly.
  9. Meanwhile whisk the egg and yolks with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the condensed milk and orange & lemon zests and juices and whisk again until well combined.
  10. Pour the topping over the crust and bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until set (not going brown though). ¬†Again keep an eye on this so it doesn’t over cook.
  11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Then refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or overnight.  
  12. Just before serving, whip together the cream, yoghurt and icing sugar and dollop over the pie.  Sprinkle over the remaining zest and serve with some coffee
  13. Enjoy!  
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Italian style rice & egg salad

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It was sunny yesterday, and a pleasant return to the UK after a great holiday in Cape Verde where we just chilled out, ate too much and I didn’t cook once. Just what I needed. So I returned 1/2 a stone heavier and in need of a diet. I wanted to do something healthy and light and salad seemed like a good thing. But we didn’t have much in the fridge, so I was being inventive.

I got the recipe from my new Italian Comfort Foods cook book, which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Italian-Comfort-Food-Soul-Satisfying-Recipes/dp/1856269361/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333377952&sr=8-1 and it uses pickled vegetables. But I didn’t have any of them, except for onions, so I just used marinated roasted peppers and artichokes and some olives instead. And some sweetcorn that was lurking in the fridge. I also didn’t have any mozzarella, so I used goats cheese and it was delicious.

So basically – just substitute whatever you’ve got into the salad and I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I also used Thai Jasmine rice for the rice, as that’s what I had, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was ok but it’s quite a sticky rice. I think a long grain rice would be better for a salad.

Italian style rice & egg salad

Serves 3

  • 130g rice
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1.2l water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 90g pickled onions (the little ones you use for cheese crackers – I had leftover ones from Christmas!)
  • 100g (ish) roasted peppers from a jar – drain and rinse off the oil and slice into strips.
  • 100g (ish) artichoke hearts from a jar – again drain and rinse off the oil
  • 100g (ish) green olives – rinse off the oil or brine
  • 100g tinned sweetcorn, drained
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced
  • 100g mozzarella cheese (real stuff, not the pizza stuff), diced or use goats cheese instead
  • handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1tsp English mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Spread the rice out on a baking tray and place in the oven to toast for a few minutes.
  2. Bring the water to boil, place the lemon in the water and the salt and then add the rice. Re-bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer until the rice is just cooked (you don’t want to over cook it and have all the starch come out) – about 10 minutes.
  3. Then drain and rinse under cold water until the rice is cooled and the water runs clear. Set aside until needed.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, salt & pepper to form a dressing.
  5. Put all the salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (the larger the better for mixing) and toss. Add the rice and toss again.
  6. Add the dressing and toss once more to combine then serve immediately.
  7. Enjoy! ūüôā
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Moroccan spiced pork with apple salad

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I am sat at work twiddling my thumbs (well playing crazy eights actually!) because I’ve had a new system installed which has upset my computer. I was just thinking I should write a blog tonight when as I was flicking through pics I realised I hadn’t told you about the Moroccan pork chops.

So as I can’t actually work I thought I’d blog.

These are quick, delicious and easy peasy to make. Also quite low in calories and carb free if you’re not eating carbs at night. If you are eating carbs i served with crushed potatoes (new potatoes very badly mashed). You may even find them kiddy friendly. I’m not overly keen on sweet salads but I used a tart apple and really enjoyed it.

Comes from bbc good food (of course) but I can’t be bothered to find the link on my phone.

Moroccan spiced pork
Serves 2

2 pork chops
3 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix
1 tsp chilli powder (leave out if you don’t want heat)
4 tbsp olive oil

For the salad:
1 apple thinly sliced
2 celery sticks sliced on diagonal
1/2 red onion very thinly sliced
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 shallot finely chopped
1 garlic clove minced
Small handful of coriander and mint leaves finely chopped
Salt & pepper

1. Mix the spice mix and chilli powder with the olive oil and smear on the pork. Leave to marinade for 20 mins or longer
2. Preheat the grill on high
3. Meanwhile make the salad by putting the apple, red onion and celery in a bowl and mixing well.
4. Make the dressing by whisking together the mustard, vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt & pepper and herbs. Pour over the salad and toss to mix.
5. Grill the pork chops for about 5-10 minutes each side or until cooked through, basting with the marinade.
6. Serve with the salad in the middle of the plate topped with the pork
7. Enjoy!

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January pick me up: Lamb chops with pomegranate salsa

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This is a wonderful recipe, full of flavours and colours and very light on the calories and fat. It’s so low in calories you could have it for lunch if you wanted. But it also makes a great low calorie dinner. You can’t help but feel fantastic eating this it entices your senses and lamb is such a tasty meat too.

These chops actually came from a local (ish) farm, provided by a lovely lady who brings meat and eggs to our offices from her farm. And you can taste the difference in the meat. I’ve never noticed the difference with organic meat before – but fresh from her farm where they’ve obviously had a wonderful life and slaughtered by a local abattoir They really taste delicious and are perfect for eating simply. If you get the opportunity to try organic meat like this – then definitely take it – you won’t regret it.

According to my recipe calculator, there are 382 calories in it – however, I’m not sure that’s the case as I had to approximate the weight of the chops and that also included the bone. The original recipe says 280 calories and I didn’t use the feta in it, but I did add tomatoes and pomegranate. Also – I used balsamic vinegar and honey instead of pomegranate molasses so these will all alter it – but I’d say that it’s unlikely to be more than 300 calories.

Either way – very light, very healthy, very colourful and very tasty. Also, very quick and very easy to make! Perfect for a midweek meal.

If you wanted to pad it out a bit then you could serve with couscous as well – I’d stir that into the salad and make it a couscous salad.

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/325608/spicy-lamb-chops-with-turkish-pepper-salsa but I adapted it – as mentioned before.

Lamb chops with pomegranate salsa

Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or use 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1tbsp honey – and reduce to a syrup)
  • 4 lamb chops
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds removed (you can do this by cutting in half and immersing in tap water. Allow to soften for a few minutes, then peel off the peel under the water. As you do, the seeds will sink to the bottom and the pith will rise to the surface. Skim off the pith and then drain the seeds from the water)
  • handful of chopped fresh coriander or mint
  • 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Brush the chops with the2 tbsp of the molasses or balsamic reduction and season with salt & pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a pan and brown the chops on either side in the pan. Then transfer to a baking dish or tray and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  4. Meanwhile, combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl.
  5. Whisk together the remaining molasses or balsamic reduction with the tomato puree and some salt & pepper. Add a little more balsamic vinegar if the reduction has become too thick. Pour over the salad and mix well to combine.
  6. When the chops are cooked, pile the salad into the middle of a plate and top with the chops.
  7. Serve immediately and enjoy the wonderful colours and flavours ūüôā
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January detox continues: another avocado, beetroot and goats cheese salad!

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This is a different salad – completely different – I promise! It may have avocado, beetroot and goats cheese in it, but that’s all that’s similar to the other salad.

I found this through foodpress, and thought it looked both simple and healthy. The original doesn’t have goat’s cheese in it but I wanted to beef it up a bit and had some goats cheese left over. I think it goes very nicely. And of course, if you’re vegan or lactose intolerant you can just leave it out.

http://crystalchild.wordpress.com/2012/01/01/carrot-beet-and-avocado-salad/

I also didn’t have any apple juice or cider vinegar so I used white wine vinegar and more lime juice. And I used pumpkin seeds instead of sunflower seeds because I didn’t have any of them either.

It’s very good though, lots of colour, different textures, flavours – very exciting – doesn’t feel like you’re dieting at all, when in fact it’s low GI, high in protein, high in good fats – and just about perfect for an office lunch.

Beetroot, avocado and goats cheese salad

Serves 2 (as a main)

  • 2 medium cooked beetroots, grated
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 green apples, cored and finely chopped (or grated)
  • handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme, but parsley or coriander is also good)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and diced
  • 80g goats cheese, crumbled.

For the dressing:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • salt & pepper
  • handful of sesame seeds
  • handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  1. Put the grated carrot and beetroot in a bowl along with the apples and fresh herbs. Toss to mix.
  2. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and whisking to form an emulsion.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well to combine.
  4. Add the avocado and goats cheese and carefully mix.
  5. Serve immediately with some nice crusty bread.
  6. Enjoy!
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January detox: lentil, roasted vege and feta salad

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Happy New Year! I’m starting as I mean to go on. It may not last but if I don’t try, I won’t know. January is detox month for me (with the exception of the last weekend when I usually abandon it!). After Christmas and new years excesses, a detox is definitely needed. I don’t follow any strict regime, I just basically cut out alcohol, reduce my calories and stay away from high sugar and salt things (e.g. crisps and cake) and fat things, except for good fats. And stop spending so much. Which is ok if I’m not going out and not buying clothes to go out in! And reacquaint myself with the gym – I’ve not been in 3 weeks! Eek! I went for a run yesterday though and that wasn’t too bad.

Lentils, as I’m sure you’ve seen me go on about before, are wonderful things – full of protein and energy, low in GI and sugars and things that make you sleepy. Also low in calories. And feta is a very low fat, low calorie cheese too. And what’s not to love about roasted vege? And just to be sure, there’s some chilli and garlic thrown in to speed up your metabolism, eliminate free radicals and stave off colds. Really, you can’t go wrong with this. And it’s vege friendly. Leave out the feta and its even vegan friendly. It’s easy to make and if you do like I did, and make the night before, it’s perfect for lunch at work.

I got the recipe from here, and it’s utterly delicious http://www.culinaryanthropologist.org/2011/10/roast-squash-red-pepper-puy-le.html

Lentil, roasted vege and feta salad

Serves 4

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into small cubes

2 peppers, cut into thin strips

1 red onion, finely sliced

9 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chilli flakes

salt & pepper

250g green or puy lentils

2 garlic cloves, peeled, one whole, one mashed

1 bay leaf

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

handful of basil leaves

200g feta cheese

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Put all the vege in a roasting pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and the chilli flakes.
  2. Roast in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes, stiring half way through, until all the vege is cooked and slightly charred.
  3. Meanwhile put the lentils with the whole peeled garlic clove, 1 tbsp olive oil, bay leaf and enough cold water to cover the lentils plus 2 cm into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer slowly, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but still hold their shape. Add salt about half way through and you may need to add more water if the lentils look too dry.
  4. To make the dressing, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, the remaining 7 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and mashed garlic clove (I just used one of those garlic pressing machines).
  5. When the lentils are done, drain them and rinse under cold water to cool them down. Place in a large bowl. Add the roasted vege when it’s ready. Allow to cool before adding the dressing, torn basil leaves and feta, crumbled. Stir well and serve!
  6. Enjoy the yummy goodness!
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Lunchbox lunches: beetroot, green bean and goat’s cheese

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As promised, here’s my post on the lovely salad I was eating whilst blogging the other day. You could do worse than this for lunch at work. It takes minutes to put together – so can be done before you leave the house, and it fills you up, keeps you going, and doesn’t make you lethargic due to the absence of starchy carbs. The ingredients are cheap as they’re in season right now, so it’s good for those saving their pennies for Christmas. Plus it’s bright and colourful and when it’s cold and dark, what’s not to love?! If you’re still unconvinced – it’s 313 calories – perfect for lunch on a diet.

The original recipe is here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6572/beetroot-green-bean-and-goats-cheese-salad. I, of course, changed it slightly. Not by much though. I used lemon zest and juice instead of orange as I’ve not got oranges at the moment. I really liked it with lemon but orange would probably be lovely too.

I used a hard goat’s cheese from Spain, but I think any goat’s cheese or feta would be fine – so long as it’s crumbly rather than gooey.

Beetroot, green beans & goat’s cheese salad

Serves 2

  • 200g green beans, topped & tailed (this is most of a bag of them)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • zest & juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 shallot very finely choppped
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard (you can use other varieties, but if they’re potent, use 1 tsp instead)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 precooked pack of beetroots, cut into wedges (be careful not to stain your clothes! I always keep the kitchen roll handy when dealing with beetroot!)
  • 100g goat’s cheese, cut into cubes or crumbled
  1. Boil the beans in boiling salted water until cooked. Then drain and rinse in cold water until cooled. Drain again and set aside until needed.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice & zest, shallot and mustard. Season to taste.
  3. Tip the beans into the bowl with the dressing and toss well to coat.
  4. Then add the beetroot and cheese and lightly toss again.
  5. Serve immediately with some crusty bread, or put in a tupperware box and take to work. The flavours will infuse during the morning and taste delicious by lunchtime.
  6. Enjoy ūüôā
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Fakeaway no. 2: MJFC (Mrs Jackson’s Fried Chicken)

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I know, I realise, MJFC does sound like a football club. I assure you its not. Infinitely tastier, for starters, and generally not full of football fans (although it may fill football fans). It’s my (or rather, Ravinder Bhogal’s) version of KFC. And I must say I’m pretty pleased with it. When I eat this, I wouldn’t rather have KFC at all. Ever!

I serve with spicy wedges (recipe you can find here https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/spicy-baked-wedges/), and some corn on the cob (done in a very high tech way of sticking in the microwave!) or some coleslaw (recipe for which you can find here https://mrsjacksoncooks.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/healthy-vege-lunch-options-falafels-with-red-cabbage-salad/). You could even do some baked beans if you wanted…the colonel would be proud!

The recipe for the chicken comes from Ravinder Bhogal’s Cook in Boots recipe book which you can find here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cook-Boots-Ravinder-Bhogal/dp/0007291175/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320768392&sr=8-1 and is still my favourite recipe book of all time. She uses this recipe for chicken wings, but I prefer thighs and drumsticks. Just make sure you cook them properly (I usually stick them in the oven to keep warm for a few minutes once the wedges are done).

The recipe calls for whole spices, which I use – I’ve never used the ground ones and they do give a different taste, but if you don’t have the whole spices you could try ground coriander, cumin and some ground pepper instead. I expect it would work – it may just taste a little different.

What I like to do is get the wedges on early – do them before anything else as they take a good 30-40 minutes. Then whilst they’re doing I make the chicken coating, followed by the coleslaw. It’s perfect because the coleslaw needs about 15 minutes in the fridge once it’s made – which it gets, and then you’re ready to fry the chicken – and the wedges are then done at the same time as the chicken and you just get the coleslaw out the fridge. It’s all done in about 40-50 minutes tops.

Serve it all immediately in front of the tv and some comforting reality tv or a good movie and maybe even a bottle of wine. Perfect night in.

Mrs Jackson’s Fried Chicken

Serves 3

  • 4 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 dried chillis, crumbled or crushed (or use chilli flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • Lots of oil (vegetable, rapeseed, sunflower, groundnut etc) for deep frying
  1. Grind the whole spices (and chillis if you like) together to form a rough powder.
  2. Put the cornflour in a bowl with the dried spices, the lemon zest, garlic, chillis, salt and cinnamon and mix together well.
  3. Heat about 3-4 inches of oil in a wok or high sided frying pan.
  4. Coat the chicken all over in the flour & spice mix. shake off the excess.
  5. When the oil is very hot and smoking, drop the chicken into the oil – be careful it doesn’t spit at you. You may need to fry in batches – make sure you give enough room to the chicken pieces to cook properly.
  6. I usually cook the chicken for a good 5 minutes on each side – sometimes longer if they’re large pieces. Test they’re done with a knife or skewer and drain onto kitchen towel.
  7. Serve immediately with wedges, coleslaw, corn on the cob, baked beans – whatever you prefer – it’s finger lickin’ good!

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Post holiday detox: grilled pepper and tomato salad

I’m back from a week of girly hedonism in Ibiza.¬† It was fabulous, and we had an amazing time, but it wasn’t a foodie holiday – and I did miss that.¬†¬† But it was excessive in every other sense, and so I am detoxing.¬† My face is literally falling apart – so I need this!¬†

Hubby has been very busy whilst I’ve been away growing tomatoes and peppers in his greenhouse, and so this seemed like the perfect salad – easy, simple and definitely cheap!¬† Not to mention healthy, low calorie, low fat and full of nutritious things.¬† And definitely tasty.¬†¬† If you’ve been growing vege – this is perfect for the crops at this time of year.¬†

I found the original recipe in my Italian cookbook, but, as usual, I adapted it.¬† The original had anchovies and capers in it, but I don’t like either, so I just added some goats cheese instead and left them out.¬†

By the way, for this to really work, you have to properly burn the peppers.¬† Don’t worry, the skin comes off and the flesh underneath is soft and sweet and lovely.¬† But the more burnt the skin is, the easier it’ll come off.¬†

If you’re doing this as a side salad (would be lovely with a bbq if you can find a day warm enough, or perhaps with some fish or lamb chops) then it’ll serve 4-6.¬† If doing as a main, it’ll serve two and you may want some bread to go with it.¬†

Grilled pepper and tomato salad

Serves 2 (as a main)

  • 2 large peppers (red or yellow is best)
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • 5 pieces of sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 40g goats cheese

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley, but chives or whatever you have is nice)
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat the grill on a high setting.  Cut the peppers in half, remove the pith and seeds and then quarter and place under the grill.  Cook until chargrilled.
  2. When the peppers are chargrilled, remove from the grill, place on a plate with another over the top and leave to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the fresh tomatoes and chop the sundried tomatoes into strips.
  4. When the peppers have cooled, carefully peel off the skins and slice the flesh into strips.
  5. Arrange the fresh tomatoes and peppers on plates.
  6. Sprinkle over the sundried tomatoes, followed by the pine nuts.
  7. Crumble over the goats cheese.
  8. Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together.
  9. Pour over the salad and serve (you can leave the salad marinading in the dressing for a few hours if making in advance). 
  10. Enjoy!
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