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!!

Folk House Cafe

Folk House Cafe

Have to recommend the Folk House Cafe for lunch if you’re near Park St. Bristol. (3/4 way down) Met an old colleague from Bordeaux Quay and talked all things food! Great mix of soups, salads, posh toasties, nibbles and filling plates and tremendous cakes and pukka tea and coffee. Loads of space and few outside tables too!! Now you know why the blog will be late today…..😁

Chicken, bacon and avocado salad with maple mustard dressing

Chicken, bacon and avocado salad

A change is as good as a rest they say. That should be prefixed with *unless that comes with a crew of builders and heavy machinery! So if my latest life endeavours aren't going to bring me rest, then I wonder what will it bring? {I know, I know...a new kitchen.....!)

So the day came yesterday when the work on the house finally started, to extend our dining room and knock through to the kitchen. And to be fair there was a part of me (for 24hrs at least) that was excited for the talk to turn to action! But I know myself, and adapting to 'change' isn't necessarily one of my strong points, so I guess with this, brings opportunity!

Change can mean modification and we will be certainly be making plenty of those to our home, but change can also mean a shift and when things shift this can make way for new openings to occur. So over the next few months, I'm not entirely sure where the ideas for cooking and writing are going to come from as my little vantage point where I enjoy writing from and my kitchen will be non-existent by next week.

But I feel that actually, the blog may be more of a continuum and not necessarily conclusive each week. As people offer support and space to me, I will for sure be inspired by things that I haven't imagined. And to be fair this week has been a bit of a mental haze!! But as I work from my new bolt hole this afternoon at The Chiron Centre, I can already feel many great things could be on offer! I hope you will join me on the journey and see where it will go, and that you'll enjoy the most fuss-free cooking of all!

If you fancy following our progress, I'm adding stories on Instagram and photos on the Fuss Free Foodie FB page ....so remember to come and join us there if you aren't already! Wish us luck! Lisa x

Chicken, bacon & avocado salad with maple mustard dressing

Serves 2 (easily doubled to serve 4!)

Salad

150g leftover roast chicken meat or 2 small chicken breast
3 bacon rashers, cooked crispy, roughly chopped or torn
100g mixed lettuce leaves
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin half moons (or 6 spring onions, chopped)
150g tomatoes, diced
1 ripe avocado, diced (cut in half, remove the stone, quarter, scoop out the flesh and chop)
4 tbsp sweetcorn

1. If using chicken leftover from a roast dinner, pick all the meat off the bones and set the carcass aside to make some stock or pop in the freezer until you are ready to. Go to step 3.
2. If you are using a chicken breast, flatten it out so that it is about 1cm thick all over. Do this by laying the chicken in cling film on a chopping board and whacking it with a rolling pin! Then rub the chicken in a little oil, season and either grill, fry or cook on the BBQ.
3. Assemble the salad. Share the salad leaves between two plates. Sprinkle with the red onions, sweetcorn and avocado. Add the chicken and bacon.

Dressing
Make in a jam jar. Double up if you fancy having some leftover for another day...it tastes so good!!

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or best salad oil
3 tbsp cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp maple syrup
Twist of salt and pepper

1. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake! And pour over your lovely salad!

This is a classic recipe for using up what you have, so don't let not having one ingredient stop you giving it a go, substitute for what you have! Remember to let us know if you give the recipe a try in the comments below or on social media! Lisa

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

Nourish me whole in a bowl

Vegan nourish bowl

I'm learning to take the rough with the smooth with kids, and to use a food analogy we are more ugli fruit than peachy in our house! You know that feeling like you're Casper the ghost.... invisible to your own kids, but friendly and personable to every other child, as they listen to your requests and actually want to talk to you!

So it was ironic yet pleasing that this week I was invited to guest blog for the website 'Practically Perfect Mums'. Now let's get one thing straight. As the precis describes I am no perfect mum, but qualify on 2 counts at least; And having been an A-Level theatre arts student, a chance to watch, let alone review a play was a treat. (Click the link above for my full review).

Based on a poem by Tim Burton, Oyster boy, tells the story of Sam, a boy with an oyster-shaped head and his life being 'different' and the impact this has on those around him. Though it sounds quite macabre, it was set in lively song with ukulele, dark comedy and general clowning around! But beneath the frivolity, the points of acceptance, fitting in and connecting with people drove home modern day issues. Sometimes as adults we find these things challenging, so really, why should this be any different for our youngsters growing up today?

It's not what you picture when you imagine your family life....yelling to get shoes on, repeating the same question 15 times or negotiating bottom wiping with a 5-year-old (hope you are not eating!!) But I guess home is their training ground to experiment and as parents we are facilitators. Though creating an environment for them to learn is not always easy, accepting this is probably as important as accepting them for who they are and what they will become one day.

So for all those parental, partied, recovering from illness or overworked bodies, let us nourish ourselves from the inside out! This version of a Buddha bowl is my favourite bowl made from many recipes being brought together. Please don't be overwhelmed by the different elements! Make things fuss-free by writing a complete shopping list and have all the ingredients in so that when you are ready, you can prep the elements ahead of time. I have put in a few fuss-free hacks too.

You can assemble the dish when you get home, in the Winter I reheat the potatoes for 5 minutes in the oven and beans for a couple of minutes but in the warmer months, I just serve at room temperature.

NOURISH BOWL
Serves 2 (With leftovers for lunch!)

Let me know your favourite elements in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group or take a look behind the scenes, watch tutorials and see food reviews on the Fuss Free Foodie page. See my fuss-free life in pictures on Instagram or what I'm tweeting on Twitter. Don't forget to keep seeing FFF in your feed, keep giving a little like, comment or share on FB or post to your timeline, tweet or pin with the buttons below! Lisa x

Pickled red cabbage
1/2 red cabbage, cut into quarters, cut out the core and slice thinly
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup of water
1 tbsp rice or agave syrup or honey
1 tsp salt

  1. In a Kilner jar (or similar) or large bowl, place all the liquids, salt and syrup or honey and mix.
  2. Add the red cabbage. Make sure it is all covered and leave in the fridge at least an hour before serving or longer if possible.
    Fuss Free alternative: Use the coleslaw recipe from Westbury Baked chicken but I love the crunch and sharp notes from the pickle!

Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 red chilli, cut lengthways and sliced (optional)
1/2 small red onion, diced small
1 small tomato, deseeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper
Optional 1-2 tbsp coriander, chopped

    1. Take the stone out of the avocado and mash roughly in a bowl.
      Add the juice of the lime and stir. Add the red onion, tomato, chilli and coriander (if using). Stir.
    2. Season with a few twists of salt and pepper. Mix and taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, cover and keep in the fridge until ready.
      Fuss Free alternative: If you are pushed for time sliced avocado would work. I do love the kick from the chilli with the creaminess from the avocado!

Grains

1 teacup of quinoa or bulgar wheat with red and white quinoa (Waitrose) 2 teacups of cold water
1 tsp salt

  1. Wash the grains thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  2. In a medium, pan put the water, salt and grains. Bring up to the boil and then simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the water has almost disappeared, but still looks a little wet.
  3. As soon as this happens, turn off the heat and put a lid on the saucepan and leave to steam to completely cook.
  4. Go back and shake the pan with the lid on, to the fluff up the grains a few times to ensure it stays light and fluffy.

Fuss Free alternative: Use a packet of merchant gourmet or Aldi grains, which you could dress in lemon, oil and a little salt and pepper; Or make a quick couscous by covering the bottom of a flat dish with dried couscous. Squeeze on half a lemon, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork so that all the grains are coated. Pour on freshly boiled water so that it sits only slightly above the couscous. Cover with cling film and leave for 15 minutes. Take off the cling and fluff up with a fork.

Sweet potatoes
2 sweet or purple potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sweet or hot smoked paprika
1 tbsp cinnamon
Few twists of salt

  1. In a bowl place the potatoes and add all the other ingredients
  2. Mix well and place on a tray lined with parchment. Cook at 180℃/350℉/Gas mark 4 for 25 mins or until they are cooked through and tender.

Fuss Free alternative: Use something like Barts spice rubs, like Ras el Hanout, Zatar or Cajun.

Turmeric and Tahini dressing
65g tahini
50ml cold water
50ml lemon juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
11/2 tsp soy sauce or liquid amino (Vegan alternative)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground ginger

No alternative! This brings the whole dish together and has a tremendous colour and anti-inflammatory properties!

Black beans with garlic
1 tin of black beans
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil

  1. In a frying pan add the oil and warm on a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry gently but not letting it go brown.
  2. Throw in the black beans and toss in the garlic oil and heat for a few minutes until warm, but not allowing to go mushy.
  3. Fuss Free alternative: Use a tub of hummus for your legume-based protein.

Assembly
In a bowl or plate place, some lettuce leaves and then add a spoonful of each element. Drizzle over the dressing and enjoy!

Love it or love to try it? Share buttons are just below to post to your timeline for later, pin or tweet! Drop your thoughts in the comments below....what do you think?!