Posh picnic for grown ups

Posh picnic for grown ups

So, what happened? One minute we were harassed mothers trying to get food on the table for the kids. The next we are domestic goddesses, pulling together posh picnics for grown ups without breaking into a sweat. If that doesn’t sound impressive, listen to this menu: beetroot tarte tatin with goats cheese and thyme, cucumber salad, raspberry fizz, finished off with lemon and lavender posset. Yeah! I will let you know what happened. These recipes happened. They are PHENOMENALLY easy. The tarte tatin takes about 10 minutes to prep and relies on having one of those vacuum packets of cooked beetroot knocking around, plus some frozen puff pastry. Lemon posset is DELICIOUS and so easy! I had no idea! Basically cream and lemon juice. If you have some lavender in the garden, bung it in and ta da! Lemon and lavender posset. Plus a raspberry fizz to die for (with or without booze). If you discount the chilling of the posset (around three hours) I reckon you could prepare this little lot in under an hour (of childfree time, obv).  Anyway, without further ado I reveal four of the easiest, most impressive recipes EVAH! To see us make them with devastating ease, watch this. Posh Picnic for two Beetroot and Goat’s cheese tarte tatin Serves: 2 for a light lunch, 4 as an accompaniment Start to finish: 10 minutes prep and 30 mins in the oven 50g golden caster sugar 30g butter A splash of cider vinegar 1 tbsp honey Leaves from 5 thyme sprigs 4 fresh cooked beetroot, sliced into discs, not too thin 250g puff pastry, ready rolled!...
Fish with a pesto crust

Fish with a pesto crust

This fast family friendly fish dish has earned itself in a place in the McDonald hall of culinary fame. My children both love it and it takes about 60 seconds for a very quick person to prepare. OK – about 2m really, I was just showing off. It can be made from stuff most of us have in our cupboards or freezer. The fish is a frozen fillet (I used cod. I always have a bag of cod fillets in the freezer. It is such a great way to buy fish – good value, fresh and they last for ages) and then you literally smear over a tbs pesto, a small handful of Parmesan and a larger handful of breadcrumbs, which you have already mixed in a bowl. Then pop the fillet on a lined baking sheet in an oven that has been pre-heated to 200c and roast until cooked all the way through – about 20m. I started cooking this because, bar fishfingers and prawns, my youngest wasn’t keen on fish, until a viewer on our YouTube channel (where we made a very short film about it) recommended this so thank...
Emergency roast chicken in just 45m!

Emergency roast chicken in just 45m!

This recipe is one of my favourites from our new cookbook. I love roast chicken. If I could choose my last supper this would be it. Crispy, salty skin, juicy moist breast, and as for the wings – I will fight you for them. I like it any which way…. with roast potatoes and gravy, salsa verde and rice, or chopped up in a salad and exquisitely dressed. So when I realised you can cook one in 45 minutes flat I knew my life had changed for the better. More often than not when I cook chicken in this way, I do something simple alongside… maybe just serve it in a baguette with some mayonnaise, avocado and french fries on the side, or if it is just for the grown-ups I often serve it with a Middle Eastern salad, some flatbreads and muhammara (a spicy walnut dip that can be made in advance… recipe coming soon) to slather on top. Any leftovers are put into a pie and the bones boiled up for stock. The key to cooking this is a small bird – under 1.2kg and a hot oven – 230c and there you have it…. a chicken roasted to perfection in 45 minutes flat. It is great for after-work or after school entertaining – if there is a few of you roast 2 or 3. I made a film about it here.   Takes: 45m Serves: 2-3 people   1 chicken 1.2kg or under Half a lemon and/or a bunch of thyme to put inside it Lots of butter Salt and pepper   Smother the chicken in butter, season, and put the lemon and herb in the...
(Mis)fortune cookies

(Mis)fortune cookies

The internet said it would be so easy. Every fortune cookie recipe I read had five star reviews. They were supposedly “simple!” to make, “fool proof!” or “just like the kind you get at a Chinese restaurant”. Well, sad news… the internet lied. My fortune cookies were a FLIPPING DISASTER. And so confident was my belief in the recipe’s simplicity, that I cooked them for the first time on camera thinking it would be a fun way to celebrate Chinese new year this half term. It is extremely embarrassing being filmed mid-culinary disaster, so if you fancy a laugh have a look at the video. I would love to say this is the first time this has happened to me, but regular viewers will remember the fairy tale castle cake that sunk. Despite that, it’s one of our most watched videos. You bunch of sadists. So after four attempts and a tinker with the recipe mine finally turned out ok. Looks aren’t everything after all and they taste much nicer than shop-bought ones. The best bit by far was writing the fortunes. Mine included: Always do as your mother tells you, A tidy room is a tidy mind and kindness costs nothing. Nagging by stealth. My top tips are below but a warning – they are – quite literally – tough cookies to master. Top Tips Work quickly when they cool even for a few seconds they lose their bendiness and crack Make them in small batches – I did about 4 at a time. The batter consistency is really important. You are aiming for only slightly thicker than pancake batter. If the first batch doesn’t...

Healthy snacks – roast chickpeas

So, we had our kitchen done. In fact it’s nearly a year since the whole nightmare began. And although I can’t say that I am yet really enjoying it (the stress and pain of a potentially dangerous water pump and boiler, electrics which can’t be signed off and some very expensive and badly sealed tiles are all giving me sleepless nights) there is one element that has been truly life-changing. And that’s the island. At the end of it are two stools, on which, more often than not, are my two little boys. Precariously leaning back, often burping (the youngest is genuinely impressive) and, refusing to eat whatever delicious nutritiousness I’ve served up. Mr McDonald and I tend to eat there too, rather than the dining table. It’s warm, cosy and intimate. It’s become the absolute hub of our world, whether it’s colouring in or chopping up carrots, it all takes place here. If the youngest is feeling really irritating it’s a good thing for him to hide around – if you are opposite him, on the other side of the island and he really doesn’t want his teeth brushed, it can be almost impossible to catch him. On the other end of the island is a small brass sink and a copper tap. Mainly it looks really, really cool. But it is also useful, especially if all three of us grown ups (me, Mr McDonald and Uncle Brend, who lives with us) are cooking in the kitchen. It’s where I have the biggest fruit bowl known to man (I think it may have been a cattle feeder, in...
Hold on to your hats: meal-planning!

Hold on to your hats: meal-planning!

When I got pregnant eight years ago, I knew things were going to get exciting. New lives starting, old life-styles ending, nappy skills improving, sleep deteriorating. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine THIS! Meal-planning. In fact dedicating part of my evening to it, once a week. I’ve improved. I used to spend hours on it, when I was at home pretty much all the time with two young kids. I used to give my brain a  workout planning lunch, tea and dinner. Now I just do kid’s tea and our dinner, as school takes care of them at lunchtime and Pret takes care of me. It’s much simpler.  My top tips are to download a planner like this to focus your mind and use a pencil as the chances are there will be a lot of rubbing out. For more words of wisdom, click through to our YouTube channel, and if you’ve got any tips, please do leave below. The idea is that this video log (or vlog) is kicking off a weekly slot (on Mondays), where we talk about our week ahead and what we’re going to cook.  Here’s how my week is looking so far: Monday: [Soup] roasted cauliflower soup (delicious! I plan on developing my own asap! since discovering roasted cauliflower, it has become one of my favourite vegetables). Tuesday:[Fish] mackerel pate and flat bread Wednesday: [Veggie] kids go swimming and have falafel at local cafe, Liam and I go vegetarian: spiced carrot fritters Thursday: [Pasta] Puttanesca Friday: I’m out, so Liam gets the...