Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.


Minted Melon, Feta and Fennel Salad

For a long time I’ve been put off Gordon Ramsay’s Fast Food book due to it’s clunky layout, but I’ve been revisiting it a lot lately to prepare some really interesting, quick meals. As a concept for swift cooking, the recipes are a lot more appealing and user-friendly then the similarly themed Jamie’s 30 minute meals.

For this salad to serve 2-3 people, remove the tough outer leaves from a fennel bulb, and trim the top and bottom. Slice the fennel as thinly as possible – if you have a mandolin this will get the fennel wafer thin. Immerse the fennel in a bowl of ice water and set aside.

To make the dressing, whisk together 1 and a half tablespoons of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a small lemon, 50ml of good quality olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Take a quarter of a canteloupe melon, deseed and peel it, then slice it into long wedges. Cut those across into thin slices. Drain the fennel, pat it dry with kitchen paper and place it in a salad bowl with the melon and some mixed leaves. Crumble 100g feta over the top. Add a handful of finely shredded  mint leaves to the dressing and pour over the salad. Toss well and serve.


Mexican Chicken Salad with Chili and Coriander Cream

Just finished my second day of leftovers of this dish, which is an adapated version of the one that appears in Darina Allen’s Easy Entertaining.

The quantities serve 12 people. It is important that if you don’t intend eating it all in one sitting, you are best to assemble just the amount of ingredients you need each time, as anything that’s left will just turn into a soggy mush. Once you have the chicken cooked in advance and the dressing made, it’ll only take five minutes to throw everything together each time.

Cook four chicken breasts on a chargrill pan. If the chicken breasts are very big, slice them in half longways horizontally, as this will ensure they get cooked all the way through without burning them on the outside. The great thing about a cast iron chargrill pan is that you can put it in the oven – what I sometimes do is grill the outsides to get the nice grilled look and taste, and then transfer the chicken on the grill pan into the oven to make sure it cooks through. Once cooked, leave to cool, and roughly chop/tear the chicken into approx 1cm cubes.

For the dressing, in a large bowl mix 175ml cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons English Mustard powder, 2 tablespoons honey, the juice of half a lemon, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 110g of tomato puree, 1 teaspoon of chili flakes, 175ml extra virgin olive oil, 225ml sunflower oil, and 1 tablespoon of ground cumin. Mix it all together, and if the taste is too intense add a little cold water.

In a very large bowl, add the leaves of a large Cos lettuce, torn into strips, the cooked chicken pieces, 400g tin black beans, 350g tin of sweetcorn kernels, 12 cherry tomatoes halved, 4 small avocados chopped, 350g grated cheddar cheese, and 225g of lightly broken (not crushed) tortilla chips. Add the spicy dressing and toss gently.

Serve on individual plates with a dollop of chili and coriander cream (225g creme fraiche mixed with 1 tablespoon red chili chopped very small and 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped coriander leaves).

The spicy dressing is amazing, so if you have any left over it would make a great dip with some nice tasty bread.