Tag Archives: lunch

Baby Kale, Smoked Chicken and Duck Salad

Baby Kale, Smoked Chicken and Duck Salad

When I was younger, I used to visit my Mum and Great Uncle in Dorset every Easter. We had a family tradition of going to the beautifully scenic countryside hotel and restaurant, Plumber Manor, for our Easter Sunday lunch. The menu was very traditional, and I ordered the same dish every year: smoked chicken and duck salad to start, followed by roast beef and ending with chocolate pudding. My favourite part of the meal was the starter; I loved the combination of smoked chicken and duck and it always felt such a decadent salad, entirely appropriate for a special lunch.

Having been given some coupons from Florette Salad to try their new baby kale, I decided to create my own smoked chicken and duck salad for Mother’s Day lunch on Sunday. I have to say, I was pretty pleased with the results! This salad is perfect for spring and is great to serve either as a light lunch, or as a starter.

Baby Kale, Smoked Chicken and Duck Salad (Serves 2 for lunch or 4 as a starter)


For the salad:
1 bag (60g) Florette Baby Kale salad
30g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
a medium bunch tarragon leaves, torn from stem
160g smoked chicken breast, cut into strips
80g smoked duck breast, cut into strips
6 radishes, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon sumac
1/4 teaspoon Lebanese zaatar mix
salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons half-fat creme fraiche
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
salt, to taste

1/ Start by making the dressing: mix together all the ingredients until combined and season with salt to taste.

2/ Toast the almonds lightly in a frying pan and set to one side.

3/ Assemble the salad by tossing the baby kale with the almonds, tarragon, smoked chicken, smoked duck and radishes. Arrange on a platter, small plates or bowl.

4/ Drizzle on the dressing and scatter the sumac, zaatar mix, salt and pepper over the salad.

5/ Serve immediately with some crusty bread (a glass of rose is rather nice with this too!).

Baby Kale, Smoked Chicken and Duck Salad

I’ve used kale in plenty of recipes before, but I’d never tasted baby kale. I absolutely loved it! It’s got quite a peppery taste, so is similar to rocket, and it’s delicious in salads. I’m tempted to try out the summer salad recipes that Florette list on their website that suggest other ways to use this super food.

Have you ever had baby kale before? Do you have any favourite spring or summer salad recipes?

Disclosure: I was sent coupons for Florette’s baby kale, as well as Harry Eastwood’s cookbook, A Salad for All Seasons, in exchange for writing a recipe post. All opinions are of course my own. 

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Quick and Easy Borscht


I’m eating a lot of soup at the moment (it’s great diet food!), and as I hate wasting food and love to think of new ways to use up leftovers, I decided to turn part of a red cabbage I had lying around into this quick and easy borscht.

Happily, this is a very forgiving soup! You can adjust the proportions of red cabbage and cooked beets (I buy the beets ready cooked and peeled and dice them up myself) easily to suit you. It can also be made with ordinary green cabbage and yellow onions: it always cooks up to make a delicious, comforting and inexpensive lunch, perfect with some crusty bread on the side and a dollop of sour cream on the top.

Quick and Easy Borscht (makes about 6 bowlfuls)

1 pack cooked beets (250g), diced (save their juices)
2 Tbsps butter
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded red (or green) cabbage
1 tin (400g) chopped tomatoes
3 1/2 cups of boiling water, used to dissolve a beef bouillon cube
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional, but I love them!)
1 tbsp fresh dill (or parsley), chopped
salt and pepper
dollop of sour cream, plus extra chopped herbs (or caraway seeds) to garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan (I use my cast iron one) melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and transparent. Add the garlic and red cabbage and cook until the cabbage has wilted.

Add diced beets and their liquid, the chopped tomatoes, the dissolved beef bouillon cube in the boiling water, the red wine vinegar, sugar, dill and caraway seeds (if using). Cover and simmer for about 30 -45 minutes. Use a stick blender, food processor or blender to puree until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot and garnish each bowlful with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of herbs. It keeps well in fridge or freezer and if anything tastes even better reheated the next day!

Do any of you have any favourite soup recipes for me to try?

Smoked Salmon and Spinach Tart


If you happen to have some smoked salmon leftover from your New Year’s Eve spread, then this Smoked Salmon and Spinach Tart is the perfect way to use it up. It makes a brilliant lunch served with a crispy salad and a mustardy dressing, and, even though it does have cream, it doesn’t taste too rich. I based this recipe on one from Gail’s cookbook, but I’ve used a regular (rather than flaky) pastry for it, and I didn’t think the original recipe made enough filling so I’ve made some alterations.

I used to be really nervous of making pastry and I’ve had some real disasters – too dry, too wet, not forming a dough and having lumps of butter still left in – but since I’ve started making it in the food processor, I’m much more confident. The recipe I use seems truly to be a fool-proof way to make pastry, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Smoked Salmon and Spinach Tart

For the pastry:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour
Pinch of salt
1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:

3 tbsp olive oil
400g onions, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bunch of spring onions, chopped
240g spinach (I used frozen)
1 small bunch of dill, roughly chopped
200ml double cream
100ml single cream
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 eggs, beaten
300g smoked salmon

Start by making the pastry. Add the flour, salt and butter to a food processor and pulse until fine grains are formed. With the food processor still running, add the egg and the water and mix until a dough starts to form. Add a little more water if needed. Remove the dough mixture from the food processor and form into a ball, then cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 1/2 an hour.

Whilst the pastry is cooling, get on with making the filling. Heat the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Fry the onions until translucent, stirring regularly (for about 6 minutes), then add the crushed garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is fragrant, but not coloured.

Add the spring onions and cook for 2 minutes until softened, then add the spinach. Cook the spinach until defrosted (if using frozen) or wilted (if using fresh) before adding the double and single cream and the dill. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the mixture reduces and thickens slightly, then taste and season with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and mustard.  Pour into a clean bowl and leave to cool, then chill. When the mixture is cold, mix the beaten eggs into it and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly dust the worktop and rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry to form a rectangle roughly 30cm x 40cm. Use the pastry to line a baking dish about 25cm x 35cm and about 2.5 inches deep. Press the pastry into the base up the sides to form a rough tart case, then chill for 30 minutes in the freezer (or 1 hour in the fridge).

Preheat the oven to 180° C and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. Lay and fold the slices of smoked salmon in the chilled pastry case so that they don’t sit flat. Make sure the smoked salmon is distributed evenly so everyone will get a similar portion when the tart is sliced and served. Pour the prepared filling into the case, then place on the hot baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes until the base is golden brown. Leave to cook slightly and serve warm. It’s also great served cold the next day!

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Smoked trout or mackerel are apparently also a good substitute for the smoked salmon, and I think would be equally delicious!

Do you have any favourite recipes that make the most of festive leftovers?

Smoked Salmon and Wheatberry Salad


This smoked salmon and wheatberry salad makes the perfect healthy winter lunch. The decadence of the smoked salmon gives a nod to the festive season, but if you feel you’ve been having one too many mince pies lately, and are in the mood for something lighter, this salad is perfect. I adapted this recipe from one in the Gail’s cookbook, but have substituted wheatberries for black barley. I prefer serving it warm after the wheatberries have just cooked, but it also tastes good later cold! For a vegetarian option, I would substitute roast courgettes and peppers for the smoked salmon, which I think would be delicious too!

Smoked Salmon and Wheatberry Salad (serves 3-4 as a light lunch)

For the mustard dressing:

40g Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tsp fine sea salt
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
150 ml olive oil plus extra for garnish
200 ml vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)

For the salad:

1 cup wheatberries, cooked as directed on packet.
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large cucumber, deseeded and diced
good handful (about 6-8) sprigs dill, chopped finely, plus extra sprigs for garnish
6 spring onions, chopped finely
2-3 good handfuls of fresh spinach (washed and prepared)
200g smoked salmon

Start with the dressing: mix the mustard, pepper, salt, lemon juice and vinegar together with a whisk. Continue to mix as you add the olive oil, all in one go, then trickle in the vegetable oil to form an emulsion.

Cook the wheatberries according to the packet instructions. Add the salt towards the end, a minute before done. When cooked, add a dash of olive oil to the wheatberries and add them to the rest of salad mixture in a large bow. Add 160 ml of the dressing (extra can be served in a jug at the table) and mix everything together thoroughly. Spoon onto a platter or large bowl and add the smoked salmon, folded over top.

Enjoy, and feel a little better about eating all those mince pies…!

Go-To Winter Soup Recipe


This is my go-to winter soup recipe for days when I’m digging around in the bottom of the fridge (not an infrequent occurrence!) looking at the veggies that are languishing in the bottom drawer and wishing to transform them (quickly and with minimum effort!) into a tasty and warming soup for cold and damp November days.

The beauty of this soup is you can use whatever is lying around in your veggie drawer: swap the potatoes with cubes of butternut squash, carrots or parsnips if that’s what you’ve got. You can substitute a couple of stalks of celery, a shredded hunk of white cabbage or even some kale or spinach for the pak choi if you prefer, but the simple combination of potatoes and pak choi makes a deliciously smooth and sophisticated soup that glides over the tongue and warms you down to your toes. It’s too yummy a combination not to share so here’s what I do:

Winter Soup Recipe (makes about 4 generous bowlfuls):


20g butter (I usually have unsalted, but salted is fine too if that’s what you’ve got)
I large onion (red or white or even a bunch of spring onions will do), diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small green pak choi, washed and with white stalks sliced and green leaves shredded separately
1 Tbsp rosemary leaves pulled from stalks and finely chopped (or 1 tsp of Herbes de Provence is an excellent store cupboard alternative)
1/2 tsp of celery salt
freshly ground pepper
4 medium potatoes (Desirée or King Edward are the best sort for soup I find), diced
100ml of white wine (or water if you haven’t any wine leftover)
900ml chicken stock (I usually use one stock cube mixed in to this quantity of boiling water)
1 bay leaf
one egg yolk
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and some chopped parsley to garnish

First melt your butter in the bottom of a deep saucepan (I use my deepish cast-iron pot for soups as there’s plenty of room in it when I blitz the liquid and veggies with my handheld blender stick at the end. The depth stops the soup from splashing out everywhere -over the counter and me usually -which means less cleaning up in the long run!).

Then add the diced onion and garlic and allow to sweat over a medium heat. Once the onion is softened add in the sliced pak choi stalks, the diced potatoes and give all a good stir around with the rosemary, a couple of grinds of black pepper and celery salt for 5 minutes. Then add the white wine (or water) and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the chicken stock and bay leaf and bring all to the boil. Let simmer for 25 minutes, then add the shredded green leaves of the pak choi (and remove the bay leaf) for a final 5 minutes.

In the meantime, plop your egg yolk into a small bowl and whisk in about a third of a ladleful of the hot stock from the pot (I usually pour the unwanted egg white into one of a set of teeny tiny tupperware containers I save for this purpose and throw it in the freezer. If I’m making pancakes, scrambled eggs or an omelette for a Sunday morning breakfast treat, I defrost it overnight in the fridge and throw it in to the whole eggs for a bit of extra goodness or use three or more to make a meringue base for a Sunday supper dessert. Or, if you’re being good, you could of course just make scrambled eggs whites for a healthy breakfast.).

Once the pak choi leaves are wilted. Grab your handheld blender stick and pop it in the pot. If using a food processor or blender instead, ladle the veggie/ hot liquid mix carefully and in several batches, into their bowls, being careful not to fill too full. Give it all a good blend about so that it all purees down to into a wonderfully smooth velouté. Add another third of a ladleful of the smooth soup to the whisked egg yolk mixture that is waiting on the side. Then pour all into the pot of soup, whisking it in carefully so it doesn’t scramble and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Taste to check the seasoning, adding a little more salt and pepper as needed. Ladle a hearty portion into a bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

I love a bowl or two of this with a piece of baguette or a cheese scone. It lasts well in the fridge for lunch the next day or freezes well if you want a bowl of comfort ready and waiting for a busy day. I used to never like soup much, but now I eat it all the time and wonder how I ever did without it. What about you? Is soup a staple of your winter diet?

Warming Pumpkin Soup Recipe


Whenever October comes around again, I seem to want to use pumpkin in everything. This curry pumpkin soup recipe is perfect for a warming lunch or light supper. My Mum made it all through my childhood, and now I’ve been cooking it for years. It’s a perfect store cupboard meal. I like to cook up a big pot whenever I’ve got a busy week coming up, or if I haven’t had time to do much grocery shopping! Here’s the recipe:

Curry Pumpkin Soup

2 tbls. butter

1 small onion, chopped

1 tsp curry powder (as mild or strong as you like)

1 tbls. flour

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1 cup whole milk

800ml chicken (or vegetable) stock

I can pumpkin

1 tsp. brown sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Chopped chives or parsley and creme fraiche to garnish (optional).

Heat the butter in a pan and saute the onions until limp. Stir in the curry and flour until bubbly. Gradually stir in the stock, then add the pumpkin, sugar and spices. Cook, stirring until the soup begins to simmer. Stir in the milk and continue to heat. Do not allow it to boil. Serve into bowls and add a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of chives to garnish.