*Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

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So here’s the thing.  I’m not a massive fan of salads – in fact, I’m not really a fan AT ALL(Great start, I know…)  I’m a big kid at heart, I need to be tricked into getting those greens; I’ll eat them, but there’s got to be a lil’ something-something tossed between the leaves to bring me to the table.

This (kind of Wimbledon-inspired!) Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad is really easy to make and really hits the spot served up for an al fresco lunch or alongside a barbecue.  Fresh, sweet and creamy – with a sour, zingy edge thanks to the added raspberry vinaigrette – the strawberries really steal the show on this one, provided you pick the best the season has to offer.  British strawberries really are in their peak season at the moment and these “Red Diamond Strawbs” from my friends at Marks and Spencer are quite possibly the juiciest I’ve ever tasted; their sweet scent filled my car on the short drive back from my local M&S Food and perfumed my fridge and kitchen all weekend!  Get them while you can! 🙂

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Strawberry and Gruyere Summer Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • 150g Strawberries, sliced
  • Italian Peppery Leaf Salad (spinach, lettuce, rocket)
  • 50g Gruyere Cheese, shaved (use a potato peeler 😉 )

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 150g raspberries (I used M&S’s Sapphire Raspberries)
  • 25ml balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • a handful of basil leaves
  1. To make the vinaigrette, blitz together the raspberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey and basil until smooth.
  2. Assemble your salad, then drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and sprinkle with the shaved gruyere. Easy!

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Have a great week! 🍓🍓🍓

*This post contains gifted items from Marks and Spencer, to find out more about what that means click here to read my disclaimer.

Chilli Mac & Cheese

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Happy Monday (and Happy 1st of July!)!  Here’s a recipe to bookmark for later, because – well – firstly, Mac & Cheese isn’t exactly the kind of thing to be scoffing in the middle of summer, is it?  It definitely falls under the category of cold weather comfort food; it’s perfect for gloomy, November night’s in rather than a sticky, July suppers scoffed alfresco – right?  (Although, honestly my appetite knows no season, and – besides – you never know when the Welsh Weather’s going to trip you up…) And secondly, it’s two recipes in one!  Definitely one to keep up your sleeve. 😉

Chilli is one of my absolute favourite meals to make because it’s a one pot wonder that’s easy to whip up mid week when I’m feeling too tired to cook and tempted to reach for that takeaway menu.  It’s also perfect for batch cooking; the recipe makes more than enough to sort both one dinner and a couple of lunches for the week.  Make it meaty with beef mince if you like, but I actually prefer the veggie version using Quorn Mince.  I’ll usually serve it up with some rice, grated cheese and sour cream (my husband likes to add a couple of crushed nachos to his too for some extra crunch), but it’s also pretty fabulous served up on a bed of gooey, super-cheesy Mac and Cheese.

I feel like Mac and Cheese gets a bit of a bad rap from all those cardboard microwave versions (bleugh!).  I mean it only takes a little extra effort to make it yourself, and it tastes so much better!  Especially if you use the right kind of cheese.  Lucky for me, the guys from Dragon Wales (who make my favourite vintage cheddar – my fridge is always stocked with a block!) sent me a lovely little hamper full of their brand new range of cheeses, including a Maple Smoked Cheddar that was born to make the smokiest, creamiest cheese sauce for Mac and Cheese. 👌

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Chilli Mac & Cheese (serves 2 – with plenty for leftovers!)

Ingredients

For the Chilli:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 350g mince (sure, beef’s traditional, but I personally love Quorn mince)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp chipotle paste
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 225g black beans
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • chopped fresh coriander
  • salt and pepper to season

For the Mac & Cheese:

  • 100g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar cheese, grated (I really like Dragon’s new *Maple-Smoked Cheddar)
  • 100g butter
  • 100g plain flour
  • 200ml milk
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. To make the chilli, heat up your olive oil in a deep pan – then add the diced red onions and fry on a medium heat until they’re glossy.  Add the garlic and fry for one minute.
  2. Next, add the mince and fry it for a couple of minutes until brown, then add the bell pepper and black beans.  Add the chipotle paste, honey and passata and stir until combined.  
  3. Season the chilli with the paprika, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes – then turn down the heat, whack on the lid and allow the chilli to simmer for twenty five minutes.  If it’s looking a little dry, pour in a little cold water.
  4. Once it’s cooked, you can stop there, season it with salt and pepper and serve it up with some fresh coriander, rice and sour cream… or you can keep the lid on and whip up some Mac and Cheese to scoff it with! 😉
  5. To make the Mac and Cheese, first get your macaroni boiling with some salt.  While it’s cooking, grab a fresh saucepan and gently heat the butter until it’s melted.  Next, add the flour and whisk to make a roux (fancy-pants term which basically means a sauce base). 
  6. Keeping the heat down low, slowly pour in the milk and whisk until everything’s combined.  Add the grated cheddar, season and stir to make a lovely, thick and cheesy sauce. 😉
  7. Stir in the cooked (and drained!) macaroni, then serve up with the chilli and fresh coriander.  Yum!

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Have a great week everyone!  And thanks to Dragon Wales for the lovely cheese!  💛💛💛

*This post isn’t sponsored, but contains gifted items.  To find out more about what this means and to read my disclaimer, click here.

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

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Okay, I’m well aware that it hasn’t exactly been “Ice Cream Weather” recently (it’s been so wet and windy here in Wales the past couple of weeks that I’ve had to dig my winter coat back out of storage)… so let’s call this post aspirational, shall we?  Mind you, I grew up slurping down Joe’s Icecream cwtched-up in the back of the car with my Mum and Mamgu parked up on the front in Mumbles in the dead of winter so I can’t say the weather’s ever really stopped me, so…

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that making ice cream is difficult – or that you need a special machine to do it – because they’re having you on (and trying to stop you from creating your own never ending supply of the good stuff…).  There are a lot of complicated recipes out there that involve creating the custard base with eggs, or stirring the mixture every hour as it freezes (ugh)… but this recipe?  It’s EASY.  Too easy, in fact.  All you need is some double cream and condensed milk, and with some restrained whipping you’ll have yourself a simple ice cream base that freezes like a dream (no need to break your wrist when it comes to scooping!) and can be flavoured any way you like it.

Since the weather’s been a bit… autumnal, I added some marshmallow fluff and toasted marshmallows to mine to make this Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream – which I bet would be absolutely awesome served up between two cookies as a kind of Smores Ice Cream Sarnie.  Yum! 😉

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Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 600ml double cream
  • 400ml sweetened, condensed milk
  • 100g marshmallow fluff
  • 200g large marshmallows (plus a few more to serve!)
  1. This recipe is so easy, it’s practically criminal.  To make the ice cream base – grab a mixing bowl and whip up your double cream (whip it good) until it’s nice and thick and forming stiff peaks (if the cream becomes foamy and starts to separate then you’ve whipped too much!).  
  2. Pour in the marshmallow fluff and condensed milk and whip until everything’s combined.
  3. Next, toast your marshmallows.  It’s completely up to you how you do it; you can either pop them in the oven under the grill until they start to brown and bubble, or you can (carefully!) scorch them with a blow torch.  Set them aside for a few minutes to cool down – then mix them into your ice cream!
  4. Pour the ice cream into tubs, then freeze for at least five hours.  Serve up in cones, or between a couple of cookies (yum!) or over grilled peaches with a couple of scorched marshmallows and toasted nuts on top. 🙂

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Have a great week!

Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

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It was my Dad’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and so – of course – I baked him a cake.  He’s a big fan of coffee and walnut cake, and so I decided to bake him one of those – but fancied levelling up the flavours a little.  I have a candle in my kitchen called “Coffee Break” (a TK Maxx bargain!) that I like to burn in the morning while I’m making breakfast or cleaning; I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t drink coffee but absolutely LOVES the smell of it.  Anyway, this candle smells like an American Coffee Shop in the best kind of way; it gives off a kind of nutty, syrupy, dark roast smell and I love it!  I kind of gave myself the challenge of making the cake taste like that candle smells – which is a very weird thing to do, I know – but I think I kind of pulled it off!  I added in a good glug of maple syrup and some brown sugar and that seemed to do the trick! Nutty, syrupy, coffee(-y) – it’s the perfect bake for Father’s Day! 🙂

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Coffee, Maple and Walnut Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 egg whites
  • 150g butter
  • 150g ground walnuts (just blitz them in a blender until they look like wet sand)
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 75ml milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee granules

To decorate:

  • 50g ground walnuts
  • 200g salted butter
  • 400g icing sugar
  1. Set your oven to 170°C and grease and line a small, round, spring-form cake tin (less than 20cm).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar, then pour in the eggs and egg whites.  Mix until well-combined and fluffy.
  3. Next, warm the milk in the microwave and mix in the coffee granules.  Leave the coffee mixture to cool before stirring it into the batter (you don’t want to scramble the eggs!).  Stir in the maple syrup.
  4. Next, sift all the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl (that’s the flour, salt, baking powder and ground walnuts), then gradually add the mixture to the batter – stirring until well-combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for 50 minutes – or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool.
  6. Once the cake has cooled, carefully slice into two or three layers (depending on how dab-handed with a knife you are!).  Sandwich the layers together with buttercream, then ice the cake with whatever you’ve got left.  Sprinkle with ground walnuts and decorate with whole nuts and fresh flowers. 🙂

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Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, but mostly to my awesome Dad.

Strawberry Frosé

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I’m not the biggest fan of Rosé (no way, Rosé!).  It’s way too close to white wine and I haven’t drunk that stuff since my twenty-first birthday (DON’T ASK).  But, when it’s sweetened with some fresh strawberries, syrup, a little lemonade and slushedStrawberry Frosé.  Now that, I can definitely get on board with.  It’s like an adult Slush Puppy (remember those?) – minus the blue tongue – and would be perfect served up at a barbecue or summery wedding.  The base recipe is also super-adaptable; if you’re not a fan of strawberries then swap them out for raspberries or peaches – yum!  And, the best thing?  They’re really easy to make – especially if you prep the night before.  All you need is a strong-bladed blender and you’re good to go. 🙂

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Strawberry Frosé

Ingredients

  • One bottle of Rosé
  • 250g punnet of strawberries, chopped with stalks removed
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200ml cloudy lemonade
  1. There are two ways to do the first step.  You can either faff around dissolving the sugar on the hob with the lemonade and then add the strawberries to infuse and then seive the liquid into the Rosé… or, you can just take the easy route and blitz the whole lot in a blender until it’s nice and smooth and the sugar has dissolved.  You do you.
  2. Next, pour the frosé mix into ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
  3. When you’re ready to serve, blitz the ice cubes in the blender until you get candy floss pink slush.  Pour into glasses and garnish with a fresh strawberry.  Cheers! 😉

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Have a beautiful weekend guys! 💕