Recipe: Beef salad with a stunning secret dressing

It’s time to get back into the kitchen and today’s dish is inspired by my recent visit to Vietnam. We stayed in the fabulous Victoria Phan Thiet Beach Resort and Spa and enjoyed dishes created by genius Chef Hoang. I was amazed at the beautiful salads he served up and kept trying to work out the recipe for the dressing. Well, lucky me, when we did a cookery course with him he divulged the secret recipe which I’m sharing with you today. Keep reading to find out more.

Waste not, want not, so I used my leftovers from my huge sirloin at my recent dinner at NV80. This salad is a perfect way to use up any leftover meat, this recipe would also be great with chicken or pork.

I served my delicious salad on this beautiful frog platter from Ceramix. Their delightful and unique ceramic collections feature stylish white platters, dishes, cups and bowls with an animal motif. As well as the frogs, which I particularly love, you can choose from birds, bunnies, cats, tortoises, snails and doves.

Vietnamese-style steak salad with a stunning secret dressing

Recipe for Vietnamese beef salad

The tasty salad on my beautiful Ceramix frog platter

Serves 2

250g white cabbage, shredded

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

8 cherry tomatoes, halved

One quarter of a cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

A handful of fresh mint, chopped

A handful of fresh basil, torn

300g cooked sirloin steak (medium rare), sliced. I used leftovers

6 shallots, sliced, fried until crisp and left to dry on kitchen towel

A handful of peanuts

Mix the cabbage and carrot and lay as a base to the salad.

Top with the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, mint and basil.

Layer the slices of steak next.

Sprinkle the fried shallots and peanuts over the top.

Pour over the dressing just before serving.

Chef Hoang’s secret dressing recipe

I make a big batch of dressing and store it in a jar in the freezer. It lasts for about a month and turns any salad into something special.

My favourite salad dressing recipe

The most delicious dressing recipe ever

1 kg fresh passion fruit

250g sugar

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp chilli sauce

Put the pulp of the passion fruit into a blender and whiz for 30 seconds. This is just to loosen it up a bit, we don’t want to break the seeds up.

Remove the pulp and put through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Add the sugar and whisk until it’s absorbed and the dressing has a slightly fluffy texture.

Stir in the chilli powder and chilli sauce and mix everything together thoroughly.

Delicious beef salad recipe

Close up salad with the frog watching over it

You can find out more about the fabulous ceramic collection from Ceramix at www.ceramix.co.za

Do you have a favourite recipe inspired by your travels? I’m always looking for new recipes to try, so do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Recipes: Simple salads with crunch

Okay, I know autumn is here, but we did have something of a lovely, elongated Indian summer which gave me the excuse to come up with two new salad recipes for the unexpected barbecues we managed to squeeze in.

And what a pleasure it was to make them as I’d been sent a set of Robert Welch Signature knives which made all that inevitable salad chopping a total breeze. Find out more details about these amazing unique knives below. And do try the recipes and let me know what you think.

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The cooks knife makes food prep a joy

CRUNCHY GREEN SALAD

Serves 6

2 large cos lettuces, trimmed and torn into pieces

5 celery sticks, chopped into small pieces

6 large spring onions, chopped on the diagonal into small pieces

1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped into bite-size chunks

2 handfuls of seedless green grapes, halved

3 avocados, peeled and sliced

For the dressing

3 tbsps fruit vinegar (I used raspberry and rhubarb that I bought the week before in Yorkshire)

6 tbsps olive oil

Chop all your ingredients and lay them out on a platter in layers, starting with the lettuce as a base and finishing with the avocado.

Mix your dressing and save for pouring over when you serve.

That’s it!

Top tip

To stop your avocado from going brown keep the pips from the fruit and place among the slices. Make sure you include the pip from each one.

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A salad in shades of green

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The final step – a topping of avocado

TRIPLE C COLESLAW with cabbage, carrots, cucumber and sweet chilli mayo

Serves 4

Half a Savoy cabbage, sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into small batons

1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into small batons

For the dressing

6 tbsps mayonnaise

2 tbsps sweet chilli sauce

Mix the cabbage, carrot and cucumber together.

Mix the mayonnaise with the chilli sauce.

Combine the two, making sure the vegetables are well coated with the chill mayo.

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Coleslaw with a spicy bite

Robert Welch Signature knives combine German stainless steel and a Japanese-style blade edge. The handle is smooth and makes the knife comfortable and easy to use. The range is available to buy individually or within sets. Individual prices range from £22.00 to £59.

Find at more at robertwelch.com

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The handy wall-mounted magnetic holder

 

Recipe book review: Savage salads

It’s always exciting to acquire a new recipe book for my ever-expanding collection. And I was certainly inspired as I started paging through Savage Salads to decide what to cook for dinner.

The book is the brainchild of Italian chef Davide and Swedish food expert Katrina and the recipes came about because of their highly successful market stall in London.

They came up with the idea after noticing a distinct lack of healthy food options in London’s many food markets. And they also cleverly decided to offer a range of salads that were more interesting than your average leafy collection, as well as being substantial enough to leave you full and satisfied.

The book offers so many choices, it really does take salad to a new level. It’s divided into the four seasons and encompasses a mind-boggling array of ingredients, all of which are easily available in the UK.

The recipes are clearly laid out and easy to follow and I loved the mouth-watering photography.

So far I’ve tried three recipes, all of which have got a huge thumbs up from everyone who sampled them.

From the autumn section I made this fabulous potato salad with new potatoes, apple, spring onion and wholegrain mustard. Such a lovely sweet and sour combination with great crunch. It was served with a perfectly grilled pork chop.

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Something new for my potato salad repertoire

I love gazpacho and I love beetroot so it seemed a no-brainer to try this. Okay it’s soup, the book gets away with this by including what they call a Blitzed Salad at the end of each season. This is summer in a bowl, beautifully pink, sweet and health giving.

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Gotta love a bowl of pink soup

My third choice was from the winter section. No, I’m not confused it’s just that summer hasn’t really turned up so I’m still looking to cook comfort food. Little lamb kebabs marinated in garlic, lemon juice and rosemary are served with roasted sweet potato and turnip and served with crispy kale. Wow! I’m making crispy kale all the time now, it’s so easy and tasty and so full of goodness.

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There’s also a range of dip, dressing and mayonnaise recipes to try out. I’m loving the sound of smoked paprika and lime hummus, or maybe a bit of watercress mayonnaise. Salads are certainly never going to be boring again – the book certainly lives up to its strapline: Fierce Flavours Filling Power-Ups.

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Savage Salads by Kristina Gustafsson & Davide Del Gatto, photography by Kim Lightbody, is on sale now. Published by Frances Lincoln (£16.99). More information on the book can be found here

If you don’t want to cook them yourself (though I really recommend you do),  you can visit them at one of their stalls. You will find them in Berwick Street in Soho from Monday to Friday, Stratton Ground on Victoria Monday to Wednesday and at St Giles in field market in Covent Garden every Thursday.

Recipe: Roast vegetable salad with rocket, feta and pine nuts

Summer’s here – well sort of – today’s decidedly autumnal actually. Anyway, what can you do, it’s June, so for me that means it’s time to barbecue/braai as much as possible. Which also gives me the excuse to experiment with different salads. I made an impromptu version of this one earlier in the year with what I could find in the fridge. That’s one of the beauties of it, you can pretty much use whatever leftover vegetables you have.

I take time and effort roasting them all, regularly checking their progress and turning them, as I like them to be that perfect slightly blackened colour with a little crispiness without being burnt. Cooking them slowly with attention ensures everything is bursting with flavour and makes the salad. Lay them in a single layer in the roasting tray and cook in batches if necessary.

I dry fried the pine nuts, it brings out some of the delicious oils and enhances the flavour. But take care, they burn very easily and it’s not good to have to throw away the charred remains of this rather expensive commodity.

Do you have favourite salads that you like to make when you barbecue? I’m always looking for new ideas, so do get in touch and let me know what they are. 

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

The most delicious vegetable combo in a salad

Serves 4 – 6

2 aubergines, thinly sliced

2 courgettes, medium sliced

1 red pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 orange pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 yellow pepper, cored and sliced into bitesize pieces

1 x 140g bag of wild rocket

50g pine nuts, dry fried

100g feta, crumbled

Olive oil for frying

For the dressing

Three-quarters of a cup of olive oil

One-quarter of a cup of balsamic vinegar

2 tsp runny honey

Roast the aubergines, courgettes and peppers in the oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place on kitchen roll to drain and cool.

Make the dressing by mixing the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey.

Dry fry the pine nuts in a pan over a medium heat for about 5 mins. Keep a close eye on them as they burn easily.

Spread the rocket over a large platter.

Layer the roast vegetables on top.

Sprinkle with crumbled feta and the pine nuts.

Pour the dressing over 10 minutes before serving.

 

Recipe: Prawn, pasta and pineapple salad

I hate throwing food away, my leftovers always go back into the fridge. All very good except for the fact that a lot of the time they end up in the bin a few days later. Not anymore…it’s time for me to get creative and think of ways to use those leftovers in delicious dishes. I’m pretty impressed with my first effort.

When we have pasta I always seem to cook too much, hate the idea of there being not enough, I guess, so I had a generous portion of cooked penne in the fridge. I’m in Cape Town at the moment and the weather was sweltering, so I came up with this lovely salad recipe.

The secret with the seafood-style sauce is to make it using twice as much mayo as ketchup. Although, of course, if you prefer different predominant flavours it’s easy to experiment until you’ve got your ideal ratio.

Serves 2

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A tasty salad for a hot summer’s night

For the sauce (per portion – so double for this recipe for two)

4 tbsps mayonnaise

2 tbsps ketchup

A squeeze of lemon juice

A dash of Worcestershire sauce

For the salad

150g cold cooked penne

250g medium sized prawns, cooked and peeled

3 slices of pineapple, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 handful of chopped fresh mint leaves

Half a small iceberg lettuce, chopped

1 tomato, quartered

6 slices of cucumber

Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce.

Add the prawns, pasta, pineapple and mint and mix together thoroughly

Serve in a bowl with the lettuce on one side and the prawn salad on the other, tomato and cucumber arranged around.

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The pasta salad all mixed and ready to serve

Do you have favourite recipes using leftovers? Get in touch and let me know, I’m always looking for new dishes to try.

Argan oil: great for hair, skin and eating!

I’m always keen to try new products, and here’s my latest discovery. I had heard of Argan oil, but rather than cooking with it, I’ve been putting it on my hair! Don’t worry, I knew what I was doing, this amazing oil has both cosmetic and cooking uses. You’ll find it in shampoo and hair serum (usually called Moroccan oil on the bottle) – a dash of it rubbed into hair helps to minimise frizz and hair chaos which is much-needed when you have hair like mine. It is also used to treat skin problems but I’m going to talk about…not surprisingly, eating it!

Argan oil is made largely in Morocco and comes from the nuts of the Argan tree. It’s produced by Berber women – in fact only women are taught to make it. This precious oil is full of vitamins and fatty acids and is said to have amazing health benefits, helping in reducing cholesterol and with heart issues and obesity.

The trees and fruits don’t look disimilar to olives, not surprisingly. Very pretty.

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The beautiful fruit of the Argan tree

The cooking type is toasted before bottling which gives it a subtle nutty flavour. It’s great for finishing hot dishes more than cooking, simply drizzle over soups, pastas or tagines just before serving for an extra depth of flavour. And it’s also wonderful in salad dressings. It’s also used to make a delicious paste called Amlou which is a blend of almonds, honey and Argan oil and tasty spread on toast or bread.

It’s a precious and therefore quite expensive oil, but you really don’t need to use very much to add a special nuttiness. Here’s what I came up with.

Goats cheese, honey, pine nuts and Argan oil bruschetta

This makes a deliciously indulgent starter or snack with the flavours melding together perfectly and the lovely textures of the melting cheese, oily pine nuts and crisp bread creating the perfect eating experience.

Serves 2

Tasty little snacks for any time of day

Tasty little snacks for any time of day

1 small baguette, cut into four slices

1 beef tomato sliced, and slices halved

1 small goat’s cheese with rind, sliced into 4

3 tbps honey

4 tbsps pine nuts

3 tbsps Argan oil

Toast one side of the bread under the grill.

Take out, turn over and place slice of tomato, a round of goats cheese and a drizzle of honey on each.

Place back under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted a bit and the toast has browned.

Meanwhile dry fry the pine nuts for a few minutes until browned. Make sure you keep an eye on them as they burn very easily.

Remove the toasts from the grill, sprinkle with a drizzle of Argan oil and the pine nuts and serve.

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I’ve also discovered the most fabulous lip balm which is made from, you’ve guessed it, Argan oil. I’ve had chapped lips for months now (TMI, I realise)…and after using this balm for four days they are nearly completely better. It’s only £4 from The Body Shop, too.

Argan oil is definitely very good for your lips

Argan oil is definitely very good for your lips

Magical stuff this Argan oil – and versatile, too.

Moroccon Organic Argan Oil from Alassala is £19.99 for 250ml and £12.99 for 100ml.

Visit www.alassala.co.uk for more information and to buy.