Keeping roasty with a kim-cheese toastie!

Kim-cheese toastie:

It's enchanting when 2 worlds collide and the mundane can become magical. A road stacked with rush hour traffic becomes a shimmering toboggan run as children volunteer to go out and play. The school day is a ski day with parents kicking back.  Weekday rules fall by the wayside, we are in unchartered territory!

But what about snow food? Apres ski is as important as the skiing. No Alpine raclette or Croque-monsieur here. What will be our equivalent?

Fortunately, I found myself this week on a fermenting workshop. My first experience of fermenting started just under a year ago embarking on milk kefir and a sourdough starter.  Until this week that was pretty much my experience of fermenting. I was keen to learn more.

In steps Caroline Gilmartin PhD of Every Good Thing and mum to my cooking tutee, H.  She has become a fermenting guru and now markets her own products locally and holds fermenting classes in CliftonWood.

Although my foodie's brain is not wired too well for science, I do know that adding fermented foods to your diet can aid your immune system and help our good bacteria thrive. (Of which we have 2.5kgs in our bodies I learned!) So I was all up for learning how to make my own fermented Kimchi and Sauerkraut for good health and longevity!

Sauerkraut is basically fermented shredded cabbage and pretty fuss free and simple to make. However, Kimchi is a little more involved and packs an amazing hot heat punch! It's probably a little less well known in the UK, but it is deep-rooted in Korean food history.  It is a mixture of raw chopped vegetables including Chinese cabbage which is fermented in a red pepper powder based sauce and is mildly addictive!

It seems the most challenging part is waiting until your delicious pots of goodness are ready to eat; Luckily with Kimchi, it's only 3 days! So, after a stint with the kids and sledges, what better way to recreate a tasty, ski snack by colliding 2 worlds together....a toasted kimchi and cheese toastie.......or kim-cheese toastie as I now call it!

As with most things they taste better when you make them yourself, but quite a few health shops will stock 'live' kimchi in their chiller cabinets. These are the ones to go for!  I hope you will give this a go....my husband had never heard of kimchi and he loved these!

Kim-cheese toastie
  • Good quality loaf (preferably sourdough), sliced
  • Cheddar cheese, mature, grated
  • Kimchi
  • Butter, spreadable
  • Frying pan
  1. Get two slices of bread and butter them on the outside. This will be the outer side of your toastie and go beautifully golden in the frying pan
  2. Open out the bread and cover one side of the unbuttered bread with cheese, so there is about a 1cm covering all over
  3.  Pop 2-3 tbsps of kimchi on top of the cheese and put the other slice of bread on top. Buttered side facing out and close up the sandwich
  4.  Have a frying pan on a medium-high heat. Place the sandwich in the pan and leave for about 5 minutes making sure it doesn't burn but goes golden brown
  5. Flip the sandwich over carefully and let it cook for 5 minutes on the other side. I like to weight it down with a plate/tin to ensure a tight toastie!
  6. You could serve this with some soup as we had at our workshop, or just enjoy two big toasties as we did after sledging. LUSH!

Don't forget to share your versions on the FFF Facebook group....and if you are looking for more ideas of things to cook with the children this weekend if you can't get out, then take a look at the recipes below!

10-minute chocolate chip cookies

Honeycomb

Rocky Road

To find out more about fermenting classes with Every.Good.Thing, join the fermenters club on Facebook.

Sexy summer salad

Sexy summer salad

I was never a fan of Star Trek, but I have to agree with The Borg that resistance is futile, as resistance can be the compass that steers us to our soul's true purpose. Let me explain further.....

A week ago I was invited to be a part of a kitchen demo at St Nicks market in central Bristol. Exciting! And this was literally my initial emotion and feeling as it's exactly where I want to be taking the Fuss Free Foodie.

However. The next feelings that came about were fear and self-doubt. Feeling overwhelmed with the work going on at home and challenges with the children had left me feeling like maybe this wasn't the right thing for me right now. The timing just wasn't right.

I had a few days to commit to the slot, and I sought counsel from friends who know me. As one rightly said, I was just dealing with fear. And I acknowledged and recognised this. Another stripped away my rationalisations. If you weren't overwhelmed with your kitchen and the kids would you pass up this opportunity? Of course, I wouldn't, I'd be saying yes straight away. I quickly fired off an email to say I'd do it.

And here's the thing. I listened to an interview with the author of the War of Art, a couple of months ago and he talks of resistance being the very thing that stops us being the person we are meant to be. That the actions that fill us with the deepest terror ARE the very things that we should be doing. Layers of conditioning, fears of failure, success and external judgments are what stop us from being internally directed.

I realised that this was what I was doing. The very thing I was resisting was what I needed to be moving towards, as it was closest to moving towards where I want to be. By listening to my own rationalisations I would have sabotaged this. As in the words of Steven Pressfield, our only job is to be the person who we already are. So when you feel resistance come knocking, don't fight it, run towards it with open arms! You are right on course to getting out of your own way to find your true calling.

Let me know what you think to this week's blog in the thread on the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook page or in the Fuss Free Foodie community, about the callings you are following or ones that you aspire to. If you would like to follow more daily what the Fuss Free Foodie is up to you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter too. Lisa

Caerphilly cheese, cherry and walnut salad

 

A handful and a half cherries pitted
A handful of walnuts (or pistachios) broken up
100g Caerphilly cheese, crumbled
Bag of mixed leaves, rocket or spinach leaves
Dressing:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper

To make the dressing place all the ingredients in a jam jar and shake.
On a serving plate lay your leaves on the plate and tear the cherries and lay on top.
Drizzle over about half of the dressing and then sprinkle over the walnuts and Caerphilly cheese.
Serve with some lovely bread or alongside an awesome BBQ.

Pesto courgetti salad with feta and almonds

3 medium-sized courgettes, made into strips with a veg peeler, julienne or spiralizer
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved if large
3 tbsp high-quality pesto
100g sheep's cheese or feta
A handful of chopped parsley
A handful of almonds, roughly chopped (or walnuts would work too)
Half a lemon or tsp of white wine vinegar.
Take your courgettes and make the courgetti using whichever tool you have. If you don't have one, just use a veg peeler to make long ribbons.
Add the courgettes to a bowl, along with the parsley and tomatoes. Then add the pesto and stir through so they are all coated. Season with salt, pepper and add the lemon or vinegar. Stir again and taste for the seasoning.
Place the salad on a serving plate and sprinkle over the nuts and cheese.
This is a great salad to eat in its own right, or with a piece of grilled chicken, or even a piece of salmon. Some people don't enjoy fish and cheese, so you could leave the cheese out if serving with fish.

Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto salad

Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto salad

This week was like bumping into an ex but knowing that it was going to happen as I travelled back to a city where I had a whole other life. If Cardiff was an ex we didn't finish on good terms, in fact, the split was messy and caused some heartache, which was a shame as we had some great times together!

This is all about my trip to see Coldplay this week, and it seemed I had something in common with the band, as they hadn't played a gig in Wales for 17 years, which is when I last visited properly too.

In the build up to the gig, I was acutely aware that there were some strong memories, almost mental photographs of places in the city that needed healing, as they still held some charge within me when I contemplated them. In fact, I recognised that I had closed off from those parts of myself as if I felt I couldn't relate to the person I was then and how she ran her life.

We were young and carefree and my lifestyle then, on the surface, couldn't have been any more different to now. I'm not even sure I enjoyed it all the time but I seemed to be a rebel with a dancing cause! With superficial enjoyment, I often felt disconnected from the crew that I hung out with and the majority didn't feel like true friends.

On reflection part of my sadness was that I didn't fully appreciate what Cardiff had to offer and that it was a missed opportunity; Despite this, the path I took was the one I was supposed to take. These photographic memories of heartache and joy had actual locations, and unknowingly I actually passed through these exact places, which felt like a changing of the guard from feeling empty to healed. I mean the chances of being sent to the wrong gate which lead me to see one place....the universe is funny like that!

So I was there to see a band who had become the soundtrack to my life in those subsequent years of living in Cardiff. Sipping Pu'erh tea (very grounding you know, after all those years with my head in the clouds) opposite a nicknack shop called Rebel! And you know, it's funny that I didn't associate so much with the rebel me from back then, as she was dared to be different but now I feel that I'm not that different... I'm just harnessing that inner rebel to be different in my mainstream foodie world!

This lovely salad is one I made to take in the car to Cardiff and was heartily enjoyed on the way to Wales, so I thought I would share it with you. Please remember if you enjoy the Fuss Free Foodie to share any posts that resonate with you with your friends, as I hope to build our following and community, and this happens with your help! So loves and likes will help us grow and help people know what the FFF is all about! (In fact today at City Hall someone knew me because he'd seen his friends like the FFF!)

Have a great weekend Lisa

Fig, mozzarella and prosciutto salad

3 figs
1 ball mozzarella
3 slices prosciutto
3-4 handfuls rocket or mixed leaves
2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp blackberry vinegar (red wine vinegar or lemon juice)
Salt and pepper

  1. Place the leaves over a large serving plate.
    2. Pull the tough stalk off the top of the fig. Then tear the fig into pieces and place over the leaves.
    3. Drain the mozzarella and tear into small pieces and place around the plate, and do the same with the prosciutto, tucking it in amongst the other ingredients.
    4. In a jam jar mix the olive oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and shake.
    Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.
    This is a surprisingly good dish to eat in a car on the way to a Coldplay concert

Join the FFF community where we inspire each other to cook here or follow my week on the FFF page here. The new website should be here in the late Autumn!!

Top 3 Fuss Free BBQ dishes

Top 3 Fuss Free BBQ dishes

 
 Is it possible to loose yourself when you don't even have any space? To feel free, available and unoccupied in family life these days can sometimes feel light years away.

Finding space to do the things you did BC (before children!) certainly changes when you sign up for family life...especially if you don't have grandparents on tap! Your opportunities to play golf for the day or have a spa weekend at a drop of a hat are few and far between and even feels indulgent at the thought!But isn't it funny the very things we probably need to make family life run more smoothly is often put on the back burner. Being caring and compassionate to ourselves seems to come at the bottom of the list but ironically will, in turn, lead to this being reflected to those around us.

Last weekend I had 24 hours on my own in the house for the first time in 7 years! Having that sense of space to do what I wanted to do, on my terms also created a sense of space on the inside too.  My ability to be more objective, and look at situations from a different (calmer!) standpoint was evident.

The space that it created inside of me also allows for a little more personal growth, a little more creativity and a little more fulfillment to achieving what I want in life. Now that's not a bad thing, is it? I hope you can manage to find a quiet hour or afternoon to create a little more space for yourselves this bank holiday weekend!

As always, some of these recipes have come a long way through my life.  The chicken skewers recipe was from a Sainsburys calendar I used to have, and it's SO fuss free that I still do it now.  In fact, I remember, in 2006 preparing a big bowl of this for a world cup BBQ in Stourbridge and my 'husband to be' dropping the dish on the floor and it smashing......not his finest hour!!! But I love how food creates memories and I can laugh about it now!

The couscous dish is really fuss free too , as you can interchange different cheese and nuts to what you have in .......delish! Look out for a quick video on how to put together this couscous salad over the weekend on Facebook or YouTube. Lisa

Chicken Skewers (Makes approx 4 skewers)

Try and keep the chicken a similar size.
 
  • 4 large chicken breasts, diced 2cm sq. (approx 600g)
  • 100g mango chutney
  • 100g Pataks curry paste...not sauce (Madras, Rogan Josh)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  1. Place the mango chutney, curry paste and olive oil in a bowl and mix.
  2. Then add in the chicken and stir well so all the chicken is coated.
  3. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to build you skewers.
  4. When building the skewers, try not to push the meat together too tight, allow a little space
  5. Cook on the BBQ on a medium heat for 20-25 mins, turning regularly to get an even colour.  The sugars in the mango chutney will char the skewers slightly, but this give a lovely flavour.

Halloumi and vegetable skewers (Makes approx 6-8 skewers)

Try and cut your veg into a similar size and shape for even cooking.
 
  • 1 pack of halloumi, cut in half lengthways, and then into chunks
  • 150g cherry/small tomatoes
  • 150g small courgettes, cut into rounds about 1cm thick
  • 100g ramiro peppers or small peppers, cut into 2-3cm square
  • 50g shallots, cut lengthways and in half (or red onion)
  • 150g mushrooms, cut in half if large
  • 5g fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 tsp sumac
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 75ml olive oil
  1. Once you have chopped all your veg and halloumi, place in a bowl with the herbs, garlic, sumac and olive oil, and mix together so everything is coated.
  2. Leave in the fridge until you are ready to build your skewers.
  3. When building your skewers try to get at least 2-3 pieces of halloumi on there with a variety of veg.
  4. Coat the BBQ grill with a little oil on kitchen roll. (Or if you have a flat grill on your BBQ with no bars use this). Cook on the BBQ for about 20 mins on a medium heat until all the veg are cooked, turning to give even colour.

Couscous salad

  • 200g dried couscous
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced (or 5-6 spring onions)
  • 2 handfuls of chopped fresh herbs (Mint, parsley, dill or whatever you have)
  • 75-100g feta or goats cheese, crumbled
  • 2 handfuls of nuts (walnuts or almonds), chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, cut in half
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  1. Tip the couscous into a large flat dish.  Squeeze on the juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Mix and coat the couscous.  Then pour over freshly boiled hot water, so that it covers all of the couscous and just goes over the top by  about 1mm! Cover with cling film and leave for 15 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, chop and prepare your ingredients.
  3. After 15 mins, fluff up the couscous with a fork, add the herbs, nuts, cheese and onions and stir in.  Once mixed, take one half of the pomegranate and have it flat side down in your hand with your fingers spread.  Wack the pomegranate with a rolling pin and let the jewel seeds land on top of the salad. Stir in the first half, and then add the second half to the top.
If you are looking for some more fuss free additions to your BBQ, check out my fuss free coleslaw recipe.....or try roasting some hassellback potatoes in foil on the grill. Want to know what beers to have with your BBQ? Follow this link to a fantastic guide to which beers to choose for your BBQ.
 
Please remember to post up your BBQ pictures on the weekend thread on the Fuss Free Foodie community on Facebook. Have a great Bank Holiday! Lisa x

Cheese – a course to be reckoned with!

How to pick the cheeses for a cheese board....

In our house Cheese is for life not just for Christmas, but I appreciate not everyone feels the same way! Sometimes the thought of tackling 'another course' where there is SO much variety, is enough to put you off and grab a prepackaged option. So enter stage left (with a tinsel halo) the Fuss Free Foodie guide to making a cracking Christmas cheese board!

I didn't need a big excuse to go and hang out in one of Bristols best Deli chains, Chandos Deli, Henleaze, as it has an amazing and to some maybe, an overwhelming selection of over 50 cheeses. The great thing is that the staff, and in particular, Matthew Hunt, who has worked for them for over 12 years are experts and can guide you through and let you try some too! But I wanted to lay it down, to give you a fuss free guide , which is a formula you could follow wherever you live by popping into your local deli.

SO where to start?! Firstly, look at how many people will be eating; Generally, if you have 4-6 people eating, a selection of 3 cheeses will be fine, over 6 people I would consider choosing 5 cheeses. But which styles of cheese should be going on the board? If you are choosing 3, a soft, hard and either a blue or goat cheese. For 5, I would choose all of the aforementioned and add on either a sheeps cheese or an unusual smoked cheese.

Other things to consider are, if you have anyone who is pregnant or of a vulnerable age group to choose pasturised and unpasturised options. Also, are you trying to choose cheese from a particular country, or just have a cracking International cheese board? (Certainly the latter is the fuss free way, as it has less constraints, but worth considering if you are doing micro details! I won't be!!)

The UK produces some great cheeses in the style of traditional French cheese, and taste as good, if not better in some cases. So use this as a guide, go with what feels right for you. My only request is that you add in 1 or 2 that you wouldn't normally choose to mix it up a bit! Now, let's talk specifics ....

Soft cheese

Classic one to choose here is the Brie de Meaux. It's creamy, soft and quite a crowd pleaser, as it's not too strong. Alternatively, you could choose a Camembert. I love a Bath Soft Cheese which is available from Molesworths the butchers, Henleaze or something like Stinking Bishop is another UK alternative.

Hard cheese

A great opportunity to bring out the cheddar, as lets face it, most people will eat this! By all means use your favourite cheddar at this point, or if you want to try something a bit different, Keens unpasturised cheddar is made in Wincanton, or a pasturised alternative would be Barbers 24 month aged cheddar.

If you didn't want to use Cheddar, how about going back to France and choosing a Gruyere or Comte, which have a lovely nutty, creamy flavour.

Blue Cheese

Now, I know this is not every ones cup of tea but stay with me! Blue cheese isn't all about stripping the skin off the roof of your mouth! If you think it may not be your thing, try a buttery, crumbly and slightly salty Italian Gorgonzola or play it safe with a classic British Stilton. But if you are looking for an alternative, we love Bleu d'Auvergne, Picos blue or Roquefort. They are bold and strong!

Goat Cheese

Goat cheese can be fresh or firm. The fresh style is really easy going, citrus flavoured, creamy and fluffy! You can get little round crotins or a mini lingo, which are like little ingots. If you want a showstopper, my personal favourite from Chandos is the Belle de Sancerre. Made in the region of the wine of the same name, it was once described to me by one staff member as 'the booby cheese', which is more about its shape than the milk used!! A firm goat cheese option would be Rachels, washed rind goat cheese from Somerset or a chevre fermier (firm goat).

Sheep or smoked cheese or 'unusual' cheese

This is where you could freestyle a bit or just stop if you feel its all getting a bit much!! Your 5th cheese could be something like a Italian Pecorino or Roquefort, Spanish Manchego or Appleby's smoked Cheshire, the latter I shall definitely be trying this year!

Now let's get to the crackers; I am a bit of a purist when it comes to what I put my cheese on! I just want to taste the flavour of the cheese, so I look for a neutral cracker, so we are Carrs Water biscuits all the way! However, these days there is a lot of choice, and crackers don't need to be an after thought. In France, cheese would be served on a baguette, but you can also use oat cakes for harder or blue cheese, Peters Yard Swedish crispbreads, Bath Olivers, (quite plain and simple) or Italian Piedmont crackers, which are light and crisp and made of ciabatta flour. Most Deli's will have a good selection.

Accompaniments, are what really finish off a cheese board, and make it into that course to be reckoned with! There are no hard fast rules, and its always good to pick things you are likely to enjoy at any other time of the year. So things like, onion marmalade, gooseberry jelly, spicy tomato chutney, pickle, membrillo (quince paste) are all fabulous options. Chandos stock some lovely jars so enjoy picking something tasty! Simple vine tomatoes and grapes will also set off your cheese board if you want to keep it totally fuss free.

If you are buying your cheese this weekend, wrap your cheese in cling film and check it very few days to make sure the film isn't wet (if it is just change for fresh cling film) and if there is any cheese left over, keep it wrapped in baking parchment or cling film. To serve on the big day, let your cheese sit outside the fridge for 2-4 hours before you are ready to serve, so that the cheese comes to room temperature, so it tastes at it's best!

FORGET THE FUSS....

No time to get to Chandos or a Deli to try the cheese?

Aldi have an amazing selection of cheeses under their specially selected label...My Fuss Free Foodie picks for a bespoke International cheese board would be...

Soft- Pont l'Eveque (pasturised cows milk)
Hard- Ossau Iraty pasturised (pasturised ewes milk)
Blue-Tuxford & Tebbutt Mature Stilton (pasturised cows milk)
Goat-Gevrik Cornish Goat cheese (pasturised goats milk)
Sheep-Spanish Manchego (pasturised ewes milk)

Have a Merry Christmas everyone and enjoy your holidays....look forward to more fuss free fun in 2017...hope you'll be there too! Lisa.x