Tag: food

5 things I eat as an adult that I wouldn’t touch as a child

As I sat eating my fish, chips and mushy peas on Friday night, I had a flashback to being about 6 years old and sitting in the school dinner hall while a boy from my class flashed a luminescent green grin full of mushy peas. I’m not sure if that was the point at which I decided I didn’t like them, but it sticks in my head as the reason, for many many years, I always told people that I didn’t eat mushy peas. Everything about them seemed wrong to me – the colour (why were they so bright?!), the texture (so sloppy) and just the very concept.

Mushy peas

Fast forward to probably as recently as last year, and the husband assured me that I was missing out. So, one night, I had a taste and he was right! I really liked the flavour. The texture, which I had been so against, was the perfect accompaniment for fish and chips and, was it just me or did they look less nuclear green too?

What changed? Was it my tastebuds? My perception? My greedy approach to life and fear of missing out?!

Here are some more things I wouldn’t eat as a kid, but have big love for now.

Parsnips

Probably my most favourite meal in the whole wide world is my Mom’s beef stew and dumplings, with boiled potatoes, lashings of Worcestershire sauce and fresh white bread for mopping up the gravy (mouth actually watering). When I was little, my Dad used to like parsnips in it. I hated parsnips. They were too perfumed and spoilt my favourite dinner. Taking the parsnips out of my bowl of food wasn’t good enough, I could still taste them! And heaven forbid they appear on a roast dinner!

Parsnips

These days I’m all for parsnips. My Mom doesn’t put them in stew, but that’s because other family members don’t like them. I’d wolf them down! Roast parsnips are an integral part of a roast dinner, and I’ve been known to make and eat parsnip mash in the past too (it’s nice on top of a shepherd’s pie). Beautiful.

Tomatoes

Even getting a tomato seed on my hand used to freak me out, and they always tasted so bitter and wrong. I would only have tinned tomato juice on my English breakfast, not any of the tinned tomatoes.

Tomatoes

Now tomato is an integral part of a good salad (especially sweet cherry tomatoes), delicious when it’s the tinned variety and a welcome addition to a juicy burger.

Gherkins

Going to McDonalds always involved opening the burger, removing the top bun and fishing out the gherkins to be thrown away. It could be a messy business in a cheeseburger or Big Mac, feeling about in the sauce for the offending critters.

Sliced gherkins

I think the turning point must have been when I’d forgotten to take it off one time and wasn’t offended by it. Now I love pickles on a burger, and my go to Subway sandwich always has a generous handful on top.

Black pudding

I used to watch my Nan cooking black pudding for my Grandad’s greasy fry up breakfast and wonder why on earth anyone would want to eat it. It’s pigs blood and fat, for goodness sake! Then, at a wedding a few years back, the starter included of small pieces of black pudding, which I ate to be polite and found out I really liked.

Black pudding

It can be over powering, so best in small quantities, but is a REALLY good accompaniment as a burger topping, and also works well when dry fried on a none greasy full English breakfast.

How about you? Have your tastebuds changed over the years? Are there things you eat now that you hated when you were younger, or the reverse? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

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A taste bending hot dog

I’m going to share a little secret with you; one that I was introduced to in summer (you remember summer, it happened briefly). You might wrinkle your nose or make vom noises. But bear with me.

A hotdog with peanut butter and jam is a thing of beauty!

I KNOW!!! I was shocked/horrified/disgusted/intrigued at the thought as well, but it’s true!

Here’s how it came about.

The husband and I went to Moseley Jazz Festival in Moseley Park & Pool and had a wander around the food stalls looking for some scran. We spotted the ingeniously named Piggie Smalls, and their menu of greatly named hotdogs.

Piggie Smalls hotdogs

Now I’m not a traditional hotdog lover, frankfurters aren’t my bag usually, but we spotted the Pig Daddy Kane with it’s PB, cherry jam and bacon bits and curiosity got the better of us. “Let’s share one,” we said, “in case it’s all kinds of wrongness.” Which, in truth, it should be.

Except it wasn’t. It was a revelation.

So we went back the next day and had another, in case the first one was a fluke. It wasn’t. We oohed and aahed and licked our lips and proclaimed it to be the BEST. HOTDOG. EVER.

And then, on the walk home, the husband had the genius idea to try and recreate it at home (we weren’t even that drunk). So we hotfooted it to Sainsbury’s and bought the closest ingredients we could get:

Pork and herb sausages

Whole Earth crunchy peanut butter

Seedless raspberry jam

White finger rolls

And the next morning we sat with trepidation at our barbecue, wondering whether the difference in fruit and the lack of bacon bits and the herbs in the sausages would be the undoing of our tasty memory. But it worked! Oh my god it worked! And it was so indulgent and naughty and guilt inducing but also so right and tasty that we had another one each!

What do you think? Does it work in your head? Would you try it? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

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Eating away temptation

I’m not the kind of person who has much willpower.

Or, mostly, any willpower. I cave incredibly easily in the face of temptation. It’s not one of my better traits.

I can resist everything except temptation

So, while I stated that I was ready to be eating lighter meals in my previous post, it seems I’m not ready to give up the junk just yet. Purely because it’s there.

Plus it seems so ungrateful to waste it! Some of the tasty treats still lingering around were part of our annual goody bag from my Mother in Law, and you can’t throw away gifts now can you?

Therefore the best course of actions seems to be to dispose of them in other ways. Remove temptation. Eat them. Well, if it’s good enough for Oscar Wilde…

The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it

Which is why I ate most of a toblerone on Monday night. A large one. And why I ate a whole bag of Wispa bites last night (not all in one go, if that makes things any better?)

It’s also how I discovered that Original flavour Pringles smothered in Whole Earth crunchy peanut butter is delish.

Somebody stop me!

On the plus side it’s mostly all gone now. Phew!

Unless I start on the husband’s Ferrero Rocher…

Is anyone else struggling to shake off the holiday gluttony?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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Food review – Dark Horse, Moseley

I’ve been going to the Dark Horse in one form or another for over 10 years. It was where the husband and I had our first official date (when it was The Cross) and I’ve had many a boozy Sunday lunch with friends, mid week burgers and £1 sambucas over the years.

Late last year, or early this, The Cross was bought by the owner of the Prince of Wales (also in Moseley – read my review here) and everyone got super excited because Keith (the owner of both establishments) has great flair for being a publican. The Prince is testament to his vision.

The Cross underwent a quick makeover to become a pop up restaurant called Mo-Dough for a couple of months (the name being a play on Moseley and pizza base), before turning into it’s current incarnation of the Dark Horse.

The focus of the Dark Horse is very much on cooking well. No sub standard pub food here. They’ve invested heavily in a wood fired pizza oven and a meat smoker to make sure things are done properly. Ingredients are all fresh and locally sourced. The place has a quirky, cosy homely feel with mismatched sofas, exposed brickwork walls and decorations such as a saxophone and a road lamp on the walls, and the outside is lit with hundreds of fairy lights sparkling and inviting you in.

The Dark Horse, Moseley

Drinks wise there is a focus on craft beers and an increasing wine collection alongside draught and bottled lagers, traditional wines and spirits.

We went out for food and drinks this week and there was no question of where we were headed. Parked in the front window with the twinkly lights and a view of our beloved Moseley, we set about choosing from the menu.

Dark Horse Christmas tree

Drinks at the Dark Horse Moseley

It was a no brainer for me as soon as I saw the low & slow smoked beef brisket. Served with chipotle sauce, pickles and skin on chips, it’s the most tender and tasty brisket I’ve ever had.

Dark Horse brisket

Dark Horse skin on chips

It’s was so squishy that if cows were actually made that way, they wouldn’t be able to stand up. The sauce was sweet and smoky and the pickles sharp and crunchy. The portion size was huge, with loads of chips, and piles of meat. Super impressed.

Husband went (as he so often does) for a burger – the Big Kahuna. With pineapple and candied bacon, it wouldn’t be to my taste but he was very excited and proclaimed that excitement to be justified.

Dark Horse Kahuna burger

A big well stacked burger with plenty of toppings, all of which could be tasted individually. The pattie was, he said, juicy and succulent.

With small plates such as mac & cheese topped with pulled pork (hello!), and God’s own fries (skin on chips smothered in chilli, pulled pork, burnt ends, jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and cheese sauce) there’s a smorgasbord (I love that word!) of flavours to experience, as well as Sunday lunch and desserts like warm chocolate brownie and baked cheesecake.

The Dark Horse knows meat, and knows what to do with it.

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Restaurant review – Saba Birmingham

Saba is a Persian restaurant just outside Moseley. I’ve driven past it many times and not really paid much attention. Then I saw it listed on a voucher website and the offer was really good, so I checked out the menu and TripAdvisor reviews (which are excellent) and purchased the deal.

As is often the case with vouchers, we end up leaving them until they’re about to expire and then toy with whether or not we can be bothered to go. Never was that more true than on Sunday evening, on a rainy windy night when the temptation to stay in and decorate the Christmas tree was really strong!

But I’m so glad we did. Because the food was outstanding.

The restaurant seats maybe 30-40 people. It’s nothing fancy; nice but not a posh night out, if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s unlicenced, and doesn’t offer a BYOB policy either.

Saba persian restaurant interior

There were no other diners when we arrived and the waiter was very attentive; happily talking us through the menu and making suggestions based on flavours and tastes we like.

Oh, and the menu really doesn’t do the food justice. At all.

To start, the husband ordered Naan Panir Sabzi, which included feta cheese and walnuts. The colours were vibrant and fresh, the food tasty.

Saba persian restaurant feta and walnut salad

I ordered Kashk-e Bademjan which is mashed aubergine – not very exciting, right? Wrong! It was incredibly tasty with lots of flavours and one of the biggest naan breads I’ve ever seen.

Saba persian restaurant mashed aubergine

Saba persian restaurant naan bread

For main course husband ordered a skewer with rice and salad – I can’t remember if he went for chicken and added a lamb one, or the other way round.

Saba persian restaurant skewer grill chicked and lamb

Either way, it was delicious (I had to try it, purely for research purposes, obvs). The meat was tender and juicy and succulent.

I had lamb shank with rice.

Saba persian restaurant lamb shank and fragrant rice

The lamb was smothered in a thick succulent sauce and was some of the most tender lamb I’ve ever had; it quite literally fell off the bone.

To finish we were served baklava and Persian tea.

Saba persian restaurant tea and baklava

The baklava was sweet and flaky with a nutty honey taste. The tea was served in a beautiful ornate pot and poured into tiny glass mugs.

Saba restaurant persian tea

Saba persian restaurant tea

It was clear and fragrant with both sweet and spicy flavours. I tried to guess some of the ingredients- the waiter wasn’t keen to share all of them as it’s a secret apparently – but he did tell me that cardamom and rose are two of the flavours.

We had a fabulous evening and will definitely return in the future without a deal voucher. In fact I’m already wondering what to have next! The menu also includes Afghan options, which definitely pique my interest.

Have you eaten Persian or Afghan food?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

 

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Chillidogdogs – oh yeah!

If you read yesterday’s post about one of my local pubs, you’ll have seen me mention Chillidogdogs.

In keeping with the nation’s current obsession with streetfood, Chillidogdogs deliver a pared down menu done really really well. They serve from their little premises in the beer garden at the Prince from Thursday through to Sunday and boy is their food good!

These pictures come from 2 different visits (not that I care whether you think I’m greedy, just saying that I have tested for consistency and been delighted both times).

Chillidogdogs food selection

Nachos to start – I’m going to put this out there and say these are some of the nicest nachos I’ve ever had. The balance is right – enough topping to last right until the last delicious crunchy triangle. The chilli is sweet and meaty, not hot or spicy, just really really tasty.Chillidogdogs nachos 2

Chillidogdogs nachos

The hotdogs are hot-damn! Sausage spilling over the end of the roll, there’s just enough bite to the skin followed by the juicy meaty filling – these are quality ingredients! Lashings of afore-mentioned chilli and mustard with just enough kick. My mouth is actually watering as I type.

Chillidogdogs hotdog

The husband is something of a burger aficionado and has a lot of experience in eating them. He has declared this to be right up there with the best burgers he’s ever tasted. Smothered in juicy pulled pork, oozing with cheese, there were yummy noises aplenty (he was so impressed he had the same both times).

Chillidogdogs burger

Chilli fries kind of speak for themselves really. If they could speak they’d say “eat me”. They’re so good. The kind of thing you wish you weren’t sharing. I’d happily lie down in them like a big cheesy chilli potato pillow and eat my way out. Too good.

Chillidogdogs fries

So, there you have it. As you can tell I’m rather indifferent to the whole shebang and could take it or leave it. By which I mean order and eat all of it. All of the food. All of the chilli topped products, until I slumped into a meaty chilli cheesy carb coma. That sounds good.

If you’re in or around Birmingham and haven’t visited the Prince of Wales and Chillidogdogs, have a word with yourself!

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Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels…

…er, except it does.

About 3 years ago, in preparation for my holiday to LA, I decided I wanted to lose weight. So for about 3 months I did the SlimFast diet, I cut out drinking in the week, I upped my exercise. And I used that phrase in my head when temptation hit me; imagining myself swanning around LA being a skinny mini and happier than ever.

I did lose weight. But it was probably disproportionate to the effort I put in. Some days I was exercising twice a day. I was having a liquid breakfast and lunch. And in 3 months I only shifted about a stone.

The truth is I just don’t lose weight that easily.

On the plus side I don’t put it on that easily either. With the amount I eat and drink I should be a lot porkier.

Case in point, you may remember a couple of weeks back I talked about exercising. Well I rejoined the gym, and have been doing cardio and weights, and the scales said I’d put two pounds on! (I know I shouldn’t be governed by the scales, but it’s engrained in all women, no?)

Now I haven’t been to the gym for a week, and I had takeaway on Friday, burger at the festival on Saturday, roast dinner at the pub on Sunday, Thai food on Monday, carbs on Tuesday and curry on Wednesday, all washed down with copious amounts of wine and vodka, and those two pounds have disappeared.

WTF?

Does this tell me that eating out is good for me? (if there were a God that would be true!) Is my own home cooked healthy food making me gain weight? (I can see that going down well as a reason I don’t cook anymore!)

It’s definitely more difficult to lose weight as you get older (for most people). It’s also harder to lose weight when you have a foodie partner in crime and very little willpower.

But the main reason it’s difficult to lose weight is that food is fantastic. I mean, really really good. Like, daydreamworthy good. I bet you could think of something, right now, that would make your mouth water. In my case I can think of many things.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

And life’s too short to deprive yourself.

So I will keep up the exercise and try to cut down on wine.

But that half a stone I wanted to lose before Italy? I might just have to take it with me after all…

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Cocktails and Curry

You’d think, as Brits, we’d have known better than to make bank holiday plans that involved being outdoors – or at least have a contingency plan – but we, er, didn’t. Which is why we spent a good chunk of a very wet bank holiday Monday lounging on the sofa watching Criminal Minds.

Bank holiday

Not wanting the day to be an entire washout, not least because it’s the last bank holiday of the year, we spent at least an hour trying to decide on a cuisine and therefore a restaurant that we could eat out at in the evening. Otherwise I may well have stayed in my PJs all day and night.

We decided on Indian food – one of our favourite cuisines. We more often eat indian food at home via delivery rather than in a restaurant, but fancied the sense of occasion that eating out brings (and a reason to get dressed!)

And with there being a cocktail bar just 3 doors away from the restaurant, which had reduced priced cocktails all day, it seemed daft not to combine the two!

La Plancha in Moseley is a true gem of a bar.

La Plancha restaurant

La Plancha

Small and cosy with an extensive cocktail menu and great tapas. Like really great. So great that we almost changed our curry plans. It’s one of the only bars in Moseley that doesn’t attract the pub crawl crowd at weekends.

First I had a Myzo and husband had an Old Fashioned.

Myzo and old fashioned

Myzo is one of my most favourite cocktails, and my first choice whenever we’re in La Plancha. It’s both sweet and sour and spicy – vanilla vodka, lemon juice and elderflower cordial, shaken with chopped up chilli and then strained, garnished with a full chilli. It has a real kick to it. I can recommend, from personal experience, not eating the chilli – even if you’re dared to by your husband (very mature behaviour).

Myzo

You may end up in the bathroom with your head under the cold tap for 10 minutes, followed by the staff having to give you milk to cool your mouth.

An Old Fashioned is whisky based (bleugh) and very strong. That’s all I know!

Second drink was a Pornstar Martini for me and a Long Island Iced Tea for husband.

Pornstar martini and long island iced tea

Despite it’s trashy name, a Pornstar Martini is a really nice drink – a mix of passionfruit and vanilla vodka, with passion fruit puree and a shot of prosecco on the side (OK, that bit’s not so classy!) For some reason the barman kept topping up my prosecco shots, which was jolly nice of him! If he’d have topped up the cocktail continuously I’d definitely have stayed all night (and probably not been in work today!)

Pornstar Martini passionfruit

The Long Island Iced Tea has one of the highest booze content out there, with tequila, vodka, gin and rum. A firm favourite with both of us!

Imlees restaurant is definitely our favourite Indian restaurant in Moseley.

Imlees restaurant

It’s been refurbished fairly recently (about 18 months ago) and the interior is lovely, with lots of cream leather, wood and glass chandeliers.

Imlees interior

Imlees interior 2

The food is exceptionally good, with some great unusual menu choices. Plus it’s bring your own booze, which is always useful when there’s too much month at the end of the money.

I had chilli chicken to start – it was sweet and spicy and gooey and tasty and perfectly cooked, with a nice fresh salad garnish for a bit of crunch.

Chilli chicken

Husband had onion bhajis, which I always think are a bit of a waste of a starter selection when there are so many other good options, but I have to say these were fantastic – light and fluffy and very tasty. And, because he couldn’t decide, he also had some paneer (cheese) samosas, which you can see peeking out on the plate as well.

Onion bhajis

After the starters we were served a small lemon sorbet – a lovely refreshing palette cleanser.

No pictures of mains but they were bloomin’ lovely. I had peppery chicken which I’ve never seen on an Indian menu before; it was thick and saucy with chunks of green pepper and chicken flavoured with black pepper. Really really tasty and one I’ll definitely have again.

Husband had king prawn madras which had lots of huge juicy prawns and a bright red sauce.

The side orders were also different to the usual offerings – a naan bread with both keema and garlic (delish) and fried rice with chicken (also delish).

I wore an F&F floral teadress that I bought in last year’s sale, and my new ASOS 70s leather studded platform clogs which are currently in the sale at just £20. So much love for these!

Floral dress ASOS clogs

ASOS clogs

ASOS clogs and floral dress

I love unexpected nights out that come from nowhere and become a resounding success! And I love living somewhere that affords me so many options right on my doorstep.

And I love food. Obvs.

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Baked lamb with stilton and potatoes

I’m aware of the irony of posting a recipe just one day after moaning about my weight! But I promised it after last weekend, and if anyone wants to give it a try this weekend they’ll need some notice to get source the ingredients, so it’s really a public service…

Recipe

I’m a huge huge fan of lamb – if I had to go out on a lamb limb I’d say it’s my favourite meat.

Husband is not a huge fan of lamb. In fact he regularly tells me that he doesn’t like lamb.

Contrary to that is the fact that one of his favourite dishes when we go to Greece is kleftiko. Which is lamb based. And for someone who doesn’t like lamb, eating it three nights out of the seven we were there last year would indicate otherwise.

Despite this, when I bought some lamb escalopes a couple of weeks back, the usual “I don’t really like lamb” response was wheeled out. So I went looking for a recipe to shut him up change his mind.

One of his main gripes with lamb is that it’s tough. Which it can be if not cooked well, I will grant him that. This recipe involves cooking the lamb in stock quite slowly, retaining the moisture and making it really tender (using escalopes helps as well – I’ve also tried it with leg steaks as the recipe suggests but the end result wasn’t as good, you’d probably need to cook it longer and as this was an after work dinner I didn’t have time).

Here it is step by step:

Slice baby potatoes – I leave the skin on – and par boil until slightly tender.

Sliced and parboiled potatoes

Meanwhile, add the lamb to a hot pan with olive oil and brown – this should take around 2-3 minutes.

Lamb escalopes

Frying lamb escalopes

Put the browned lamb into a cooking dish.

Next, chop one red onion and 2-3 cloves of garlic.

Red onion and garlic cloves

Fry the onion and garlic in the olive oil left in the pan, until soft, then add to the lamb.

Make up around 3/4 pint of lamb stock (I used lamb gravy granules for a thicker sauce – and also because I couldn’t find lamb stock cubes). Add a few splashes of Worcester sauce to taste.

Worcester sauce and lamb gravy

Arrange the potatoes over the top of the lamb, onion and garlic, and pour the stock/gravy over the top.

Potatoes with gravy

Sprinkle with dried mixed herbs (anything that calls for dried herbs rather than fresh is a winner in my lazy time constrained books).

Sprinkled mixed herbs

Pop it into the oven for around an hour (you may want to stir the potatoes in part way through to keep them moist, otherwise they’ll roast on the top – but this is down to personal preference).

Around 15 minutes before serving, halve some cherry tomatoes – a small packet full is good – and pop them into the sauce. Return to the oven.

Baked lamb with stilton - cherry tomatoes

Here’s where I went off piste from the original recipe, and this is what makes it (in my opinion). Add cheese.

Stilton

I find that blue cheese works really well because the strength of flavour cuts through and gives a real depth to the dish. I used stilton here. I’ve tried it with feta and it wasn’t quite strong enough.

Baked lamb with added stilton

You don’t want it to melt completely, just soften up from the heat of the dish.

Baked lamb with melted stilton

I serve this with roast parsnips and crusty bread. The latter is essential to soak up all the lovely juices. Mediterranean or olive bread is great if you can get it. Otherwise crusty white will be lovely too. Just GET BREAD. I can’t state the importance of that enough!

This is rustic cooking at it’s best. No airs and graces; just good, honest, tasty food.

You’ll notice that I haven’t specified quantities on the lamb and potatoes. I’d say use your own judgement – and appetite – as a measure. I hate being told that a recipe will serve 4 people and then the two of us eat the whole lot and feel like greedy pigs! Know your own stomach! Just make sure that the stock covers the lamb and some of the potatoes (they will soften and sink as they cook anyway).

Ironically, husband declared that this dish reminds him of his beloved kleftiko. Which isn’t surprising when you consider the list of ingredients.

Turns out he’s an in denial lamb fan after all.

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A quick and simple mid week stir fry

There can be a lot of snobbery in cooking – leaving you feeling like you have to use multiple ingredients, spend ages preparing and then use a combination of baking, roasting, blending, fancy presentation and magazine quality photography to display it at its best.

As mentioned previously, I’m a healthy cook, mainly due to guilt about high calorie ingredients. Couple that with time constraints during the working week and anything that makes my life easier while enabling us to eat well is very welcome.

I usually make a stir fry once a week; often on a Monday as all the healthy veg help us to recover from the excesses of the weekend. Today I went for the super quick option, using a pre-packed bag of veg (2 of your 5 a day per half bag). I used to use stir fry sauces for flavour, but they’re full of sugar and empty calories so these days I stick to flavoured oil and soy sauce (not too much, due to high salt content)

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I also used the convenient option of dried seasoning.

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To start, a splash of Chinese stirfry oil heated in a wok, and veg (a mix of Chinese leaf, beansprouts, carrot, sweetcorn and a bit of red pepper)

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I bulked it up with some extra mushrooms and more red pepper.

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Splashed in soy sauce and sprinkled in spices. Fresh chillies work well, but I forgot to buy them this week, so crushed were a fine alternative. I also added dried garlic pepper – a mix of black pepper and garlic granules – which is a new find for me, because, to be honest, I couldnt be bothered with prepping fresh garlic!

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To mix it up, instead of the usual salmon or chicken, I used prawns and mussels. The prawns were frozen, defrosted before use, and the mussels were fresh and already pre-shelled. Both low fat and excellent forms of protein, as well as quick to heat through and flavoursome with the mix of vegetables and spices.

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Ensure the seafood is heated through, add some more chilli and garlic pepper for a kick, and it’s ready to be eaten. I added a sprinkle of sesame seeds for texture and flavour.

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From prep to plate in less than 15 minutes – what’s not to like?!

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