Gluten-Free · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Rice Dishes · Vegetarian Recipes

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 Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo) 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 chopped 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.

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(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients:

2 pinches saffron threads

2 tablespoons boiling water

30g / 2 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 bay leaf, torn

450g (2 cups) rice (you can use basmati or long grain rice)

900ml (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Fresh parsley, to serve

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 tablespoon of oil or 30g of your preferred butter substitute.

Enjoy!

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Baking · Italian Cuisine · Light Lunches · Main Meals · Travel · Vegetarian Recipes

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

2 teaspoons sugar

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.

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Main Meals · Vegetarian Recipes

Halloumi and Vegetable Couscous with Tzatziki

Halloumi and vegetable couscous with tzatziki is a summery dinner all your friends and family will love. It’s super tasty and easy to make!

Originally posted in June 2014, recipe, writing and photographs updated August 2019.

Lately I’ve been baking so many sweet treats that I felt like posting something different and sharing a savoury creation of mine.

I’m constantly dreaming of all the recipes I can bake and create! Any spare moment I have I’m constantly scribbling down any recipe idea that pops into my head. I remembered a dish I used to make for dinner frequently that’s inspired by my travels and love of Cypriot and Greek cuisine.

I’ve been making this dish for a long time now and having first posted the recipe all the way back in 2014, I’ve meant to update the recipe and photographs for a while as I’d adapted it since then and the photographs didn’t do this recipe justice.

Eating a plate of this takes me back to sunny and warm evenings on holiday, one taste and I could be back in Cyprus or on a beautiful Greek island and that’s exactly how I want you to feel when you eat this beautiful dish.

This recipe combines two recipes I’ve previously shared: my Roasted Vegetable Couscous and traditional Greek-style Tzatziki. I’ve added some fried halloumi cheese to make this into a summer dinner all your family and friends will love. I’m yet to meet someone who dislikes halloumi, it’s quite possibly my favourite cheese simply served with a sprinkling of dried oregano and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon!

The dish is served with tzatziki, I find halving my recipe makes just enough to serve four people with maybe a little leftover. Sometimes we serve this dish part of a mezze and serve it with falafel, hummus, olives and homemade pitta bread.

Another recipe update completed. I hope for everyone who missed this the first time round will enjoy making and eating it!

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

Roasted Vegetable Couscous: 

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 dried couscous

1 vegetable stock cube (optional)

Boiling water (see method for instructions)

Halloumi:

2 x 225g packs of halloumi cheese (see recipe method for instructions on slicing)

Olive oil, for grilling/frying

Dried or fresh herbs (I personally love seasoning mine with fresh thyme or dried oregano) – this is optional

To Serve: 

1/2 x tzatziki recipe

Fresh lemon wedges

Method:

  1. To make the couscous: 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 (go easy on the salt as the stock cube is very salty) 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.
  4. To prepare the halloumi: Heat a small amount of olive oil in a griddle/frying pan. Take the halloumi and slice each block of cheese directly down the centre widthways, then slice each half into four slices (you’ll have eight slices in total – so four slices per person).
  5.  Sprinkle each side of the halloumi with herbs (if using) and then grill/fry the halloumi until it’s lightly golden and cooked to your liking – some people prefer their halloumi slightly softer, whereas others like it on the crispier side.
  6. To serve, divide the couscous between four serving bowls or plates, along with the cooked halloumi and serve with the tzatziki and fresh lemon wedges.

Enjoy!

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Baking · Bread · Light Lunches · Vegetarian Recipes

Cheddar Chive Soda Bread

Want to make homemade bread in under an hour and without any kneading/rising involved or a bread machine in sight? If so, you’re in for a treat because I’m sharing my recipe for a super easy and tasty savoury quick bread. I love making homemade bread, but it always takes so long and I tend to get quite impatient waiting for the dough to rise. This is why I thought I would share this amazing recipe I recently found which doesn’t require any kneading, rising or proving. Simply add all the ingredients into a bowl, mix, bake and then dig in whilst the bread is still gloriously warm and toasted!

Soda bread filled with creamy, mature Cheddar cheese and fragrant chives. This is one of the easiest and quickest bread recipes you’ll ever bake!

My taste testers loved the mix of flavours in this bread. This tasty bread combines oozy mature Cheddar cheese in each bite with a mellow hint of flavour from fresh chives. I can’t wait to make this bread again and I will definitely be making and packing it up for picnics in the summer but I am sure it would be fantastic toasted and served with a bowl of soup in the winter months.

Ingredients:

400g plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

125g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Bunch/large handful of fresh chives, finely chopped

300ml buttermilk (instead of buttermilk you can use 200g of yoghurt mixed with 100ml of milk)

Topping:

1 tablespoon milk, for glazing

50g mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / 400°F / Gas Mark 6. Lightly dust a large baking tray with flour and set aside.

2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Now mix in the cayenne pepper, grated cheese and chopped chives. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk (or yoghurt/milk mixture) and bring the ingredients together into a clean ball – add little extra milk if needed.

3. Shape the dough into an 18cm round and put on the prepared baking tray. Mark the dough into quarters, cutting almost all the way through. Brush the top with a tablespoon of milk and sprinkle with the additional grated cheese.

4. Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until the bread is crisp and sounds hollow. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

5. Bread will store at room temperature in a bread bag or airtight container for up to 3 days.

This bread is best eaten on the day of baking spread with butter

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