Thursday, 25 July 2013

A Simple Beach Barbecue: Paprika Scallops and Prawns with a Tomato Salad

School was out and the sun was still just about shining so we headed down to the beach for a bit of paddling, hole digging and sandcastle building. Whilst my crew were busying themselves at the seashore I unpacked my provisions and set about building a barbecue. We had decided to head to the beach in the late afternoon, picking up a few simple ingredients along the way. We are spoilt here in North Wales, you can be at any number of award-winning beaches in under an hour. We plumped for Conwy; a peaceful and unspoilt beach where there are plentiful stones, perfect for barbecue construction.

Whilst the coals were heating I rubbed some scallops and prawns in olive oil and sweet paprika and I thickly sliced a chorizo sausage before loading up my skewers. I then sliced juicy, ripe tomatoes into a bowl where I simply dressed them with salt, pepper and olive oil. Once the barbecue was throwing out a fierce heat I put on the chorizo, turning it just before it started to blacken. The scallops followed a few minutes later, I gave them a minute or so each side, until the outside was just caramelized and crisp. Finally I put on the prawns, giving them less than a minute each side, so they were slightly charred and just cooked through. I added the chorizo to the simple tomato salad and tossed them together. The seafood needing just a sprinkle of sea salt, pepper, a squeeze of lemon and we ate it greedily with our fingers. Simple summer food. Enjoy, Victoria x 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Summer & Strawberries: Recipe free zone

The warm weather is continuing and we are trying to squeeze every last bit of enjoyment out of it. Other summer inspired recipes will be on the way but today is just a quick post celebrating the arrival of summer and the strawberry season. Evie and I spent a lovely morning strawberry picking at Hawarden Farm Shop this week. No recipes here: when strawberries are this luscious and sweet the only thing to do is to eat them just as nature intended: a real treat.

Hawarden is my favourite farm shop. They stock a wide variety of produce and it is situated in the beautiful grounds of the Hawarden Estate Farm. We have whiled away many hours here; Evie watching the piggies rolling in the mud from the top of the fort play area slide and chasing the free-range chickens that have ventured inside its walls.  The village of Hawarden is a lovely place to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon. The woods that surround the old castle are perfect for a gentle stroll and the Estate also owns The Glynne Arms pub which serves a mean Sunday lunch. Today, there are a number of events in the village including a charity cricket match with cream teas and an antique and vintage market at the pub. For more details of the events visit the Hawarden Farm Shop website. I might see you there. Enjoy the sunshine! Victoria x

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Salad Days: Asparagus, Watercress, Pea & Wensleydale Salad

I've reached that point in the year where habitually lunch is some form of salad. As that will probably mean there will be a glut of salads featuring on these pages you hopefully agree that you can never have too many salad ideas. In the last few weeks I have often arrived home from work on a sunny afternoon with hunger pangs. I love that I can be in a summer dress/flip-flop combo and on the patio with a bowl of salad in under half-an-hour. It feels like a stolen holiday moment in the middle of the working week before I have to get on with the chores and pick Evie up from school. So, here's to the beginning of summer salad days and stolen moments of simple sunshine pleasures.

Asparagus, Watercress, Pea & Wensleydale Salad

I don't offer quantities here as I feel it really is matter of individual appetite and taste.

For the dressing

Lemon juice
Rapeseed Oil

For the salad

Asparagus spears
Frozen Peas
Wensleydale (or similar crumbly cheese)
Melted butter (wild garlic butter is very good here if you have any left)

In a jam jar shake together the dressing ingredients. I work on a rough half and half of juice and olive oil and honey to taste but it really is up to you. 

Put a frying pan or griddle on to a high heat. Toss the asparagus spears in the melted butter and then cook in the pan/griddle until slightly charred at the edges. Throw in the peas to warm through for a couple of minutes (fresh or frozen is good here).

Assemble your plate with the watercress leaves, asparagus and peas. Dribble on some of the dressing and crumble nuggets of cheese in and around the asparagus.

Enjoy, Vic xxx