Thai Butternut Squash Soup

Make the most of autumn’s harvest with this hearty and warming Thai butternut squash soup.

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Now it’s officially autumn that means soup season is upon us. I’ve definitely been noticing the recent cooler weather and when it’s cold out all I crave is comforting food like soups and stews. Recently I’ve been feeling a tad rundown and decided on making soup so I would feel back to my best.

Around this time of year you’ll be seeing lots of delicious savoury and sweet pumpkin recipes. I adore butternut squash soup and every year when autumn rolls around and pumpkin is in season I like to make a batch of homemade soup. However, whilst I love butternut squash soup as it is, this time I wanted to try something a little more aromatic and spicy.

My love of Thai cuisine is the main inspiration behind this recipe. Many classic Thai recipes are packed full of different flavours and spices. I frequently cook my family Thai green curry and other traditional dishes from Thailand.

For the soup, I thought about chopping up chilli, garlic and ginger, however I was feeling lazy so instead I decided to cheat this time and use a couple of tablespoons of Thai red curry paste we had leftover in the fridge after my sister made a Thai red curry over the weekend.

To make this soup, it’s really quite simple. Take your butternut squash, peel and chop it up in 1cm sized cubes. Add the chopped squash to a large saucepan along with the red curry paste and sauté for a few minutes. Next add the coconut cream and stock, bring up to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for about 25 minutes or until the squash is soft. Finally, blend the soup until smooth. I like my soup a little on the thicker side, but if you prefer your soup thinner in consistency just add a touch more stock.

With Bonfire Night next month, this soup would be brilliant to pack up or come home to if you’re feeling cold after watching fireworks. You’ve got to give this soup recipe a try this autumn, it’s amazingly tasty and comforting with the fragrance from the red curry paste and creamy coconut flavour and texture from the coconut cream.

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

1kg butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste

250ml coconut cream

500ml vegetable stock

Method:

  1. Add the chopped butternut squash to a large saucepan along with the red curry paste. Gently sauté over a medium heat and cook for about 2-3 minutes until all the squash is thoroughly coated in the curry paste.
  2. Add the coconut cream and vegetable stock, cover the pan and leave to simmer for about 25 minutes or until the squash is soft.
  3. Blend the soup in a food processor or with a handheld blender until smooth. Add a couple of generous pinches of salt, stir and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:

  • Add more or less curry paste depending on how spicy you want your soup.
  • Adjust consistency of the soup to your liking by adding more stock if it is too thick.
  • Soup will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up a 2-3 days, it’s best eaten on the day of making.
  • This soup is delicious served with bread, rolls or croutons. We made our own croutons and baked them in the oven until they were crispy and golden.

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My mum’s White Bread Rolls are perfect for dunking into soup!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Roasted Vegetable Couscous

A simple and easy recipe for couscous with roasted vegetables. This is great eaten on its own or you can make it into a meal and serve as a side dish. Colourful, healthy and ready in less than 30 minutes! 

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Eating healthy and sticking to a budget each week can sometimes seem tricky. I always believe delicious and nutritious food doesn’t have to be expensive, hard to make or take an eternity to prepare.

Couscous is one of my favourite ingredients to use in savoury cooking because it’s so convenient. I always have it in my kitchen cupboard along with rice and pasta. If you’re not familiar with couscous, it’s a grain that’s common in North African cuisine and is usually served with tagine and stews.

Preparing couscous is really simple and unlike most recipes I don’t even worry measuring out the water/stock I add. I usually just place the couscous in a bowl, crumble over a vegetable stock cube and then just pour enough boiling water to cover the top. I’ve always used this method of making the best fluffy couscous and it hasn’t let me down yet. What I love most about making savoury recipes is the fact you can freestyle unlike baking which is a science and where the measurements have to be exact.

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Roasted vegetables are my family’s favourite and recently we’ve all made a concerted effort to eat less meat (and cake!) each week. Lately our meals have been based around using fresher ingredients and we’ve been exploring healthier vegetarian options.

I usually get fed up of vegetables like broccoli, carrot or peas that we eat so often with roast dinners. I eat roasted veggies probably two or maybe three times a week. They’re pretty much a staple part of my diet nowadays! I just love the vibrant colour and beautiful flavour when they’re all golden and roasted.

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We love serving this roasted vegetable couscous with either chicken or halloumi. Both of which would be super tasty served with my homemade tzatziki! Also, I think the couscous would be fabulous to bring to a late summer BBQ, potluck or even as part of a mezze platter.

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(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 mixed colour bell peppers, deseeded and cut into medium chunks

8-10 small mushrooms (such as button or chestnut), cleaned and quartered

1 red onion, chopped into small chunks

1 courgette, halved lengthways and sliced into 1/2 inch quarters

Salt and black pepper, to taste

200g (1 cup) dried couscous

1 vegetable stock cube (optional)

Boiling water (see method for instructions)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Evenly spread the vegetables out onto a large baking tray. Drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables until they’re all coated well in the oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until soft and starting to colour slightly.
  2. Once the vegetables are near enough cooked, start preparing the couscous. Place the couscous in a large bowl that will be big enough to mix up all the vegetables in too. Crumble the stock cube over the top of the couscous, season with salt and pepper and pour over just enough boiling water to cover the top of the couscous. Cover the bowl with some clingfilm/plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes (I always leave mine for the full 10 minutes).
  3. Now using a fork, fluff the couscous and then mix through the roasted vegetables. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature. Couscous can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • You don’t have to use olive oil when roasting the vegetables, you can use any light flavoured oil you have in such as canola/vegetable oil.
  • If you’d like you can season the vegetables with your favourite herbs and spices before roasting. Sometimes I add some garlic powder or a pinch or two of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika. Dried oregano and thyme would also taste great with the vegetables.
  • The vegetable stock cube is optional. I find it adds extra flavour to the dish but feel free to leave it out if you want.
  • Swap around the vegetables. If you’d prefer to add more of a certain vegetable that will work just as well.
  • Just an idea, you could crumble a little bit of Greek feta cheese into the couscous prior to serving. I’m going to try that next time I make this!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Paprika Roasted Potatoes

Crispy oven roasted potatoes seasoned with sweet smoked paprika and garlic. Serve as an appetiser or for lunch with your favourite dips. These potatoes are the perfect side dish to about pretty much anything!

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I’ve never been a fan of fried food and I have always preferred baking to frying. Don’t get me wrong I love fries from fast food restaurants, but they’re not the healthiest because they’re loaded with calories and cooked in tonnes of oil which isn’t the best for you. I prefer baking because you can sit back and relax whilst the oven does all the work. 😉

My family usually enjoy these paprika roasted potatoes most weekends. They make a brilliant light lunch and they’re also a great sharing food.

As soon as the potatoes leave the oven they’re tossed onto a platter or bowl and served with dips like sour cream, classics like ketchup and mayonnaise or sometimes we like to serve them with sweet chilli or Sriracha for extra spicy flavour. At the moment we’re big fans of the sauces from Encona. Our favourites are the Mexican smokey jalapeño and Jamaican jerk BBQ.

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 These crisp and golden potatoes are super easy and quick to prepare – they’ll be on your dinner table in less than half an hour! 

To make this potato dish all you will need is 5 ingredients, most of which I’m sure will already be in your kitchen cupboard. They take just 25 minutes to cook and after baking they’re perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside and not to mention super flavourful!

Ingredients:

900g (2lbs) new potatoes, halved

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic granules/powder (optional)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Generous pinch of sea salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200°C Fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl, mix together with the paprika, garlic powder, oil and salt until evenly coated.
  3. Spread the potatoes out onto 1-2 large baking trays. Bake for 25 minutes until the potatoes are crisp and golden and cooked all the way through. Serve immediately with your favourite dips or as an accompaniment to fish or meat.

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If you’re looking for something similar try my homemade Patatas Bravas next!

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Enjoy!

jess

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Linguine Gamberi

Linguine with prawns flavoured with chilli, lemon, garlic and parsley. One of the tastiest seafood pasta dishes you will try and it’s all ready in less than 15 minutes!

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I came up with this recipe when I was on holiday in Sardinia a couple of years ago, where the majority of our meals were based around the fresh seafood on offer and most nights we ate pasta. This dish is perfect to eat anytime of year – it’s a great al fresco meal for the summer, but also extremely flavourful and warming in the colder months too. I love this recipe because fresh flavours are brought together to create an amazing seafood dish that takes hardly any time to make and has to be one of the best dinners you could eat! Just eating this dish transports me back to the beautiful sunny Italian island!

Pasta dishes are definitely one of my specialities! Pasta is a very versatile ingredient, I have shared many different creations on the blog so far, including this spaghetti with marinara sauce and this delicious pesto linguine with halloumi cheese and roasted tomatoes.

This linguine gamberi is truly one of my go-to quick dinner recipes. It would definitely be my last meal on earth – I LOVE anything with garlic butter!

The recipe is based on one of my favourite pasta sauces, aglio e olio – which is simply a sauce made out of garlic oil, you can also add some pepperoncino (chilli flakes) if you like too! All you have to do to make this dish is cook some linguine or any other of your favourite pasta shapes, flavour the oil with garlic, red chilli and lemon, then gently cook the prawns. Add some butter – which adds the indulgence and helps keep the prawns tender and then toss together with the cooked drained pasta. It couldn’t be any simpler!

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I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love a bowl of this pasta for their dinner! Comfort food to the max. This is sure to impress anyone who tries it! Serve with a big glass of chilled white wine for the ultimate dinner, perfect for any night of the week! Enjoy the recipe guys!

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(Serves 4 portions)

Ingredients –

500g dried spaghetti

225g raw tiger prawns, cleaned and de-veined

75g butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 – 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 unwaxed lemon, zest + juice of half

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Method –

1. Cook the linguine in salted boiling water according to the packets instructions.

2. Once the pasta is near enough cooked, add the olive oil to a large frying pan. Gently sauté chopped garlic, chilli and lemon zest until fragrant, then add the prawns and the lemon juice and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until they start to turn pink in colour.

3. Once the prawns are cooked add the butter and cook on a medium heat to warm the prawns completely through and melt the butter. Toss the drained pasta and prawns together in the pan. I also like to sprinkle over a little freshly grated parmesan too. Serve in pasta bowls and enjoy!

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Original recipe posted October 2013

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More pasta recipes you may like:

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce 

Pesto Linguine with Halloumi & Roasted Tomatoes 

Spaghetti with Courgettes, Chilli, Lemon & Garlic 

Enjoy the recipe!

jess

Saffron Rice

Fluffy aromatic buttered saffron rice. A classic and delicious side dish.

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I absolutely adore simple and easy dishes. They’re especially convenient for busy working families with hardly any time to make a delicious and tasty dinner. Rice dishes in particular are a great standby for hectic weeknight dinners. Rice is a basic store cupboard ingredient and my recipe proves it can be transformed into something special with just a handful of extra ingredients!

This rice is amazing and it’s always a big hit with my family. It’s quick to make and with a buttery and fragrant flavour it makes a tasty side dish that is luxurious and will impress any dinner guest who tastes it. I decided to combine one of my favourite ingredients in my herb and spice cupboard, saffron. I often use saffron in my Spanish recipes like paella (recipe for that will be coming soon!) and homemade sauces. This rice recipe is very adaptable as you can add a small handful of cardamom pods, cloves, a little pinch of turmeric and a cinnamon stick and easily turn the recipe into pilau rice ready to serve with your favourite curry.

I’ve been making and creating my own rice recipes for a little while now. I shared this amazingly good One-Pot Mexican Rice recipe a while back when I’d just started blogging and it still remains one of my favourite dishes.

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The rice is speckled with beautiful saffron threads. I love the rich flavour the saffron adds. To prepare the rice it’s very important to have your mis en place prepared beforehand. I take two smallish pinches of saffron threads and I soak the saffron in boiling water for 10 minutes. The soaking allows the oils to be released and the flavour will become stronger. Saffron is the world’s most expensive spice but it can be found at an affordable price if you look around at your local supermarket.

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Whilst the saffron is soaking you have the opportunity to prepare your other ingredients. I finely diced a small white onion and minced up a couple cloves of garlic. To cook the rice, melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Caramelise the onion and then add the garlic and a bay leaf – caramelising the onion again will add more depth of flavour and a little sweetness. Tip the rice into the pan and toast slightly so it can be coated fully in the butter mixture. Then all that’s left to do is to pour in the stock and leave the rice to simmer away until cooked.

Once cooked I always take rice off the heat and leave it to rest for another 5-10 minutes. This allows the rice to steam a little longer and makes it fluffier – it’s one of the most vital steps in making perfect homemade rice! Fluff with a fork and then serve up!

This rice can also be served alongside many dishes – I love to serve it with curry or my mum’s Spanish roast chicken. But the rice is great enjoyed on it’s own too! I hope you give this a go and most all enjoy it!

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(Serves 4-6 generous portions) 

Ingredients – 

2 pinches saffron threads

2 tbsp boiling water

30g (2 tbsp.) butter

1 tbsp oil – vegetable or canola oil

1 small white onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf, torn 

2 cups rice (you can use basmati or long grain rice)

3 1/2 – 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste 

Fresh parsley, to serve (opt)


Method – 

1. Add the saffron threads to a small bowl. Pour over the 2 tablespoons boiling water, mix and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan gently melt the butter and oil. Add the chopped onion, season well with salt and pepper and sauté on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Now add the minced garlic and bay leaf and continue cooking for a further minute until fragrant.

3. Add the rice and toast for 2 minutes. Now add the stock and the saffron infusion you pre-made earlier and stir to combine. Bring up to the boil and then once boiling turn down the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is cooked fully.

4. Once the rice is cooked, take off the heat and leave on the side for 5-10 minutes. Fluff the rice up and adjust seasoning, if needed.

5. Serve warm with a sprinkling of parsley.

 

Note: To make this dish Vegan omit the butter and add an extra 1 tbsp oil or 30g of your preferred butter subsitute. 

 

Enjoy the recipe everyone!

jess

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Pizza Margherita

A Neapolitan classic: Pizza Margherita. Rustic, authentic and simply delicious. Serve with a sprinkling of oregano or fresh basil for a delicious and traditional Italian dinner.

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Tasting this delicious recipe transported me back to Italy and eating pizza Margherita in the middle of the Piazza del Campo is Siena.

Over the weekend is we always enjoy a pizza night in our house. It’s become a tradition over the years and I love getting into the kitchen and making homemade pizza with my family. Once it’s baking in the oven and you can smell all those amazing aromas, you know your weekend is off to a delicious start.

The mix of flavours are simple and taste wonderful. My earliest memories are of my mum making homemade pizza for me and my friends for dinner. Everyone couldn’t believe we had made it all from scratch and so I’ve been making homemade pizza for as long as I can remember. This is just the very basic Margherita pizza, however you can top it with any extra ingredients that take your fancy.

Forget buying pre-made pizza and try my easy homemade pizza recipe. You’ll have so much fun creating your own unique pizza!

(Makes 2 x 25cm pizzas)

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough –

500g strong white bread flour or tipo ’00 flour, plus extra for dusting

7g fast-action dried yeast

1 teaspoon fine salt

250ml warm water

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing

Toppings –

300-400g passata (sieved Italian tomatoes)

Fresh basil leaves, for sauce and serving (optional)

Dried oregano

250g dried mozzarella (also known as pizza mozzarella) or 2 balls of buffalo mozzarella, drained and then torn

Method:

1. To prepare the pizza dough: Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the centre and add the water and oil and mix into a wet dough. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. Once kneaded and elasticated place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and leave to rise somewhere warm for 25 minutes or until doubled in size.

2. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Lightly oil two large baking trays with approx. 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each tray. Once the dough has rested, take it out the bowl and divide into two equal halves. Using your hands or a rolling pin press the dough out to form a circle shape – about 25cm in diameter. Place the pizza bases on the oiled baking trays.

3. Mix together the passata, tear in a small handful of fresh basil leaves (optional) and season well with salt and pepper. Now spread the passata mixture evenly on top of each pizza. Sprinkle with a little oregano or your favourite dried herbs. Divide the mozzarella between the two pizzas and top with the tomatoes (if using).  Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and all the cheese is gooey and melted. Serve hot and garnish with basil leaves and drizzle with a little extra olive oil to finish.

jess

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Spicy Thai Crab Cakes with Lemon and Lime Aiöli

Spicy and sweet Thai-style crab cakes. Crisp and delicious on the outside with a flavourful and aromatic filling. Great served with homemade lemon and lime aiöli to cool down the heat!

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These spicy crab cakes make a great appetiser, lunch or light bite for dinner. The perfect plate consists of a refreshing Asian-inspired salad and a drizzle of Sriracha to compliment the cakes! 

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As part of a collaboration with Wynn Las Vegas resort and restaurants, the famous Vegan chef Tal Ronnen has created a speciality menu offering a menu full of vegan and vegetarian dishes. Tal Ronnen is famous for cooking for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres. The brief was to pick a dish from the menu and give it your own twist. This blogging project is really fun because it’s a good chance to experience some food flavours available on US and Las Vegas menus.

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The menu had so much choice! So deciding what to pick and blog about was definitely the hardest part! I was stuck between many dishes like the mushroom risotto (one of my favourite dishes to cook at home), peach pancakes and the pot pie! But I decided on the crab cakes from the Lakeside restaurant because I was really love seafood. I’ve put an Oriental twist on the crab cakes as Old Bay seasoning is not available in the supermarkets here so I decided to just add some Asian flavour and influence to these gorgeous crispy cakes – ingredients that are accessible for everyone.

These crab cakes are packed full of flavour! With fresh ginger and chilli, garlic, chopped coriander and parsley, lemon zest and garlic all incased in each beautiful patty. Delicious, spicy and a great mix of taste – they’re definitely restaurant worthy and will wow anyone who tastes them! You can read some more about the Lakeside restaurant here.

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(Makes 6)

Ingredients:

2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced

2 red chillies, deseeded and finely minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

250g can of white crab meat, drained well – you can swap crab for salmon or tuna, if preferred

1 tbsp chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped parsley

2 spring onions, roughly chopped

8 tbsp of breadcrumbs

Plain flour

2 large free-range eggs

Vegetable or olive oil oil

Lemon Lime Aiöli –

4-5 tbsp mayonnaise

Zest from 1/2 lime + a squeeze of the juice

Zest 1/2 lemon plus a squeeze of the juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

Method: 

1. To make the crab cakes: In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine the ginger, chilli, crab meat, coriander, parsley and chopped spring onions. Crack in one of the eggs and add 4 tbsp of the breadcrumbs. Mix to combine.

2. Divide the mixture into 6 equally sized portions. Now mould into patties. Place on a lined tray and pop into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

3. One chilled and firm, remove the crab cakes from the fridge. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon of water in a separate bowl. Dust each patty with a little of the plain flour, then dip and coat in the beaten egg. Finish by tossing in the breadcrumbs to coat and shaking off the excess breadcrumbs.

4. Preheat oven to 220°C / 200 degrees Fan / 425°F / Gas Mark 7. Heat approx. 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil is hot enough, fry the crab cakes 2-3 minutes each side. Then transfer to a large baking dish and finish cooking in the oven for 10 minutes or until piping hot in the centre.

5. To make the aiöli: Combine the mayonnaise with the zest, lime and lemon juice and minced garlic until combined. Serve the crab cakes hot with salad and the aiöli dipping sauce and some extra sweet chilli or a drizzle of Sriracha. I also love to garnish with lime or lemon wedges and a scattering of extra chopped herbs.

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So here’s my recipe. These are crispy, spicy and really delicious. We enjoyed these for dinner served with steamed rice and stir-fried veggies, but they are also great served with a simple watercress salad with chopped tomatoes, sliced radishes, cucumber ribbons and a drizzle of olive oil. I hope you do give these a go, they’re exceptionally tasty and really easy to make! #MyVegasRecipe

Enjoy!

jess