RECIPE: Summer fish stew


This is ideal is a quick, healthy midweek meal. It's a pretty standard fish stew recipe that is made more special with a few simple fresh toppings that elevate the flavour. Add a glass of chilled white wine and pretend you're on holiday whilst blissfully ignoring the grey British weather outside.

Serves 4

2 tbs olive oil
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Half fresh red chilli, finely chopped
Teaspoon smoked paprika
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
New potatoes, scrubbed or peeled and sliced
400g tin of tomatoes
Fish stock, about half a tin can, fresh or made with stock cube
A handful of frozen peas
A generous handful of king prawns, defrosted if frozen or fresh
4 white fish fillets, skinned, deboned and cut into chunks

Topping;
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Zest of one lemon, finely grated
Garlic clove, finely chopped
Lemon juice
Olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the chilli, garlic, paprika and continue to cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the remaining chopped vegetables and saute for a few minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, stock and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Add the peas, fish and prawns and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Season to taste.

Serve in bowls and top with a little of all the toppings, a squeeze of lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy with plenty of crusty bread.

Being thrifty with good food


The increasing cost of food is something that concerns many of us and looks unlikely to stop rising. Volatile weather affecting crops and demand from a growing population are all factors and there are tons of percentages and bar graphs you could analyse, but at the end of the day, the cold hard fact is that our money isn't going as far as it used to.

I'm coming across a lot of blog posts that try and and address this by doing a "living on £10 a week" piece and then skirting scurvy on tinned spaghetti hoops and processed bread but I'm not sure how helpful that is to anyone. I would use that budget for nutritious basics and get more creative with shopping (I'm hoping to add a post where I devise a meal plan week on £10 myself). Luckily the majority of us are not on that tight a budget but still need to tighten belts due to extra mouths to feed, redundancy or even living on maternity pay as I am now (it's hard!).

I think being smarter about shopping and cooking is the way forward and eating fresh and nutritious food where possible. People say it's more expensive to eat healthily but all I know is that a huge bag of veg and packet of lentils for a nice soup, or a bag of flour and eggs for homemade pasta costs far less than a salt laden ready meal. Anyway, here are a few tips I've leaned to help my family out when sourcing our food.

Shop around
I never get my shopping from one source. I use independent, budget and higher end supermarkets. And yes, I have a job, two kids, a blog and a busy life but I make time because food is important to me. I've found the fresh fruit and veg at Lidl really good value and they sell the best supermarket vine tomatoes. They also have fantastic guest cheeses like Piave and their chacuterie is great. On the other hand, I prefer to get my meat from the butcher and bread from the bakery, buying infrequently but buying quality. I will also use a little local health store to buy grains like farro which are cheap, filling and nutritious. The local market is also your friend for fresh produce. I made a ton of caponata for something silly like £5 with produce I bought from The Open Market in Brighton and that lasted us 4 meals!

Use comparison sites
There are sites where you can get up to date prices on supermarket goods. I'll use this when I go to bulk buy quality tinned tomatoes or my favourite De Cecco pasta. I will normally buy about 10/15 packets at a time (I love carbs!) when I catch it on offer so will save a third at least.

Online voucher codes
I never buy anything online without having a look for a voucher code. Even just for free delivery! But it's not just handy for shoes and TVs. Places like www.vouchacodes.co.uk will help you save on certain Food and Drink brands and services to get you a better deal. Always worth a check before you checkout.

Time your shop
I drop in daily to a major supermarket on the way back from work and will always pick up a few bargains like pitta breads for 30p or bags of veg. These are handy for freezing or batch making mid-week lunches.



Use an app
Ok, Mr Graphic Foodie put his foot down and made me install a budget app (we use GoodBudget) on my phone as I can get carried away in the supermarket. This has really made a difference as you can lose sight of that £5, £10 or £15 here and there. Result? Monthly food bills are a fraction of what they were. Once they make a GPS app that alerts him when I go near Waitrose, I'm sure he'll make me install that too. And my bonus of being under budget is that it pays for luxury items like nice wine, steak or decent balsamic vinegar!



Meal Plan
Food waste is a crime to the Earth as well as your pocket. Here in Brighton the seagulls will frequently go for the bin bags in the street and the contents get strewn around the street for all to see. I'm staggered at what people throw out really. Every week the chalkboard goes up with the weekly plan and I can shop only for things I need. A little kill joy maybe but by heck this will save you £££s over the course of a year and it's kinder on the environment. Another bonus is I never have that blank fridge face if I come back late from work. I mix up nutritious vegetable dishes with two or three meat or fish dishes every week to keep it cost effective too.

This is a sponsored post by Vouchacodes.co.uk. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create original content like this for The Graphic Foodie. All content, ideas, and words are my own.

REVIEW: Eat Naked, Brighton


2015 seems to be THE year for "clean eating". My twitter feed is full of juice cleanses, 5:2 dishes and general healthy eating gloating. (Me and my 1kg jar of Nutella are keeping quiet.) So it's probably ideal timing for Eat Naked, Brighton's first clean eating super food cafe, which serves nourishing, natural food, free from chemicals and processing, gluten, wheat, refined sugars and pretty much free from dairy too. 



They are open for grab and go breakfasts (granola and acai pots), coffee and treats, health targeted smoothies and cleansing juices. You can also get pretty substantial lunch boxes as well. The format is pretty simple where you pick a main (free range chicken, organic beef, salmon or vegetarian special), base (brown rice or leaves), two salads and a dip/sauce. All in all this costs from £7-8.50 or £5 for just the salads.



I had the de rigueur courgetti as one of my salads. These were really good, super fine and still crisp, served with a lesser known Sicilian trapanese pesto made with almonds. Nut based sauces are actually incredibly popular in certain Italian regions and this was a good reminder why. The other salad was packed with spicy super greens (kale, green beans and broccoli stem) stir fried with chilli, ginger, black sesame and tamari. Two things I love are beetroot and hummus so the dip choice was perfect to me and the hot smoked salmon was delicious too. Overall I couldn't have asked for a more balanced, filling lunch. It kept me satisfied until dinner which rarely happens! 


The sweet options are very smart concept. Snickers, Bounty...all our naughty brand favourites reinvented. To be honest, I'm just getting my head around gluten and dairy free treats. They tend to have nuts and dried fruit pastes as their base, giving them a squishy texture which wheat eaters may not be used to. But with my nutrition head on, these are useful energy boosters with good fats to keep you going. I really quite liked them here and the "Snickers" felt particularly indulgent too with a rich gooey centre, crunchy nut base and raw cacao top.

Ingredients are carefully sourced and of a good quality although I expect the price point is will limit most people to a weekly or biweekly lunch treat here.



The location of Eat Naked is a tricky one. Hidden away in the East Street Arcade amongst niche designer boutiques and overpriced sportswear, it will struggle with casual passing trade. But to my mind, there isn't another place offering wholly "free" foods. I imagine if you are on a restricted diet, for whatever reason, it must be rather liberating to be able to choose anything you see. So hopefully they will prove themselves to be a destination eatery, which we have seen work quite well in Brighton before (think Coal Shed and Curry Leaf Cafe). If you do visit, you'll find a really nicely put together place with a small bar for you to sit at if you wanted the option to dine in.

Behind the counter you will probably find the raven haired beaut that is Stacie Stewart who you may recognise from Masterchef, although she looks a little different now, clearly practising what she preaches and inspired enough to open this place.

I think people in Brighton are generally quite conscious of what they are eating and maybe that's why Eat Naked feels right at home here.

16 East Street Arcade, Brighton

PRODUCT REVIEW: Global Ni knife range


The knife is the ultimate kitchen tool. I say if you invest in nothing else, knives are where you need to spend.

Global are the sexiest of them all though, I've always loved looking at them in kitchen shops! The slick design is functional but stunning, the one piece design is a dream to clean and the "chestnut" handle pattern a design classic. The blade is fluted (the dimples) so food doesn't stick and ride up as you cut.

This particular knife (11cm oriental cook's knife) has an Asian style angled top which is really elegant as well as being precise. The difference with this new Ni series is that the knives are heavier and the blade slightly thicker than other Global ranges. The handle has been made longer to balance this. Personally, I thought the knife was still quite light as you would expect from this brand.

And talking of balance, weighting and feel is really important when kitting out your knife collection. When I went looking for our cutlery, I kid you not, I spent about a month looking for the right weight and feel! (I'm a lunatic about plates, glasses and cups too.)


I loved this knife that I was sent to wield around in the kitchen. It really did make a difference, cut down prep time and tackled everything. (In your FACE swede!) 



Not sure if you can see just how precise the cut on the beetroot is. My knives, even freshly sharpened, would not have cut like that.

I've always believed that blunt knives are far more dangerous than sharp as they can slip and slide over food and nip your fingers. Global are, as you would expect, very sharp and therefore also gives you more precision. I was able to cut finer and my finished dishes looked better for it too. As they are quite an investment, you'll probably make sure they are looked after and sharpened properly too.


This particular Global range , the first consumer range in 30 years, is exclusive to Steamer Trading Cookshop, one of my favourite shops (obviously). You'll often find me in there stroking the pan sets! It's a hive of quality branded kitchen kit, crockery and gadgets but for the serious cook. If I'm looking for something specific, Steamer Trading is my one stop shop. If it's not there, it's not anywhere in Brighton, believe me!

To see the full range of Global Ni knives visit: https://www.steamer.co.uk/brands/brand_global The Oriental Cook' knife is currently on offer at £59.95 but will be £129.99.

Anyway, I have to go. Got to pen an early letter to Santa for the rest of the set!

I was sent the knife for review. Words and thoughts, as always are my own.

PRODUCT REVIEW: OXO Good Grips non stick rolling pin / Italian crostata recipe


I have no idea why I haven't come across a rolling pin like this before. We all know how essential non-stick frying pans are but whenever I roll out pastry or pasta, it ALWAYS sticks to the pin! (Note: I'm not the world's most patient or proficient baker.)


The OXO Good Grips non stick rolling pin is a heavy beast. Aside from the coating,  I love the shaped handles that always remain the right way up due to the weighted design. The handles enable you to keep your grip (rather than rolling with the flat of your hands) and also stop your knuckles bashing the worktop.



The pin is also 30cm wide, so you can get a decent crust top or size rolled out evenly.

Although I don't use a lot of pastry, when I do, it's normally a beautiful, glossy crostata, which is a large Italian jam tart. Delicious on its own or with a big dollop of sweetened marscapone.


Ingredients
500g self-raising flour
200g butter  
150g white sugar
Grated rind of one lemon
3 egg yolks plus l whole egg
Vanilla essence (few drops)
One jar of jam (any flavour) or Nutella!
Milk or beaten egg for glazing

Method 

  • Cut butter into cubes & rub into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Add sugar and grated lemon rind
  • Beat eggs and add to mix with the vanilla essence
  • If mixture is dry, add a little milk until it all comes together and forms a ball (take care not to make it too wet – add milk a little at a time)
  • Leave to chill in fridge for half an hour
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5 / 190°C / 170 °C (fan)
  • Grease a large, loose bottomed flan tin approx 12 inches in diameter
  • Roll out pastry sufficiently to cover bottom and sides of flan tin
  • Gently ease the pastry into flan tin and trim off any excess pastry around rim of tin
  • Add jam to the pastry inside the flan tin and spread out evenly to cover the base
  • With remaining pastry, roll out and cut strips half an inch wide (use pastry wheel if you have one to make the edges of the strips decorative) and arrange on top of the jam, leaving an inch or so between each strip.
  • Fold down the pastry on the sides of the flan tin until they seal in the strips & press firmly all around.
  • Brush with beaten egg or milk and bake on the middle shelf of a preheated oven at Gas 5 for about 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
  • Take out and leave to cool completely in the tin.






I was sent OXO Good Grips products for review. Words and views, as always, are my own.

PRODUCT REVIEW: OXO Good Grips Non-Stick Frypans


You need good pans in your life if you are a keen cook. It's the one thing I saved all my weekend job salary for as a student a good 15 years ago. And thankfully, those pans are still going strong! 


OXO Good Grips have now designed a set of pans exclusive to Lakeland in sizes ranging from 20-30cm.

It's got everything you need in a pan; three layer non stick coating, rounded bottom for clean and easy stirring and an oven-safe silicone sleeved handle. As always with this brand they think a little further and have added a smart little notch in the handle, so it is nice to hold. And the biggest USP with this range is the Magneto branded base, which is stable and ensures optimum heat transfer on all hobs.


And not forgetting - it's easy to clean!


This pan was a good companion throughout the week. I hardly needed any oil for things like meats and eggs as the non-stick is great. The heat was pretty consistent across the whole base of the pan too.

If you are looking to refresh or replace your non-stick frying pans, then these are a great quality range that should see you a good number of years.

See the full range here an on Lakeland's site here

I was sent OXO Good Grips products for review. Words and views, as always, are my own.

PRODUCT REVIEW: OXO Good Grips Complete Grater & Slice Set



You can never have too much kit in the kitchen I say. Mine is jam packed with products but always room for more. Now I'm a touch, well, older, I seem to be replacing them all with good quality versions. Other than the IKEA garlic press (you will find no better), I think kitchen tools need a little investment and they will always repay you in the end.

Anyway, one of my favourite brands, as you may have noticed, is OXO Good Grips. Their products are mid-priced and on the whole really fantastic quality. Their other USP is that they have higher design considerations than other products. The way you use, hold and store them have really been thought about. Clearly, they hire exceptional product designers!

I'll be showcasing three new products this week but today I'm testing out the Complete Grater & Slice Set (rrp £30.00). This is a compact set compromising of a fine and coarse grater, mandolin style slicer and julienne cutter. I like how they have been designed to store neatly inside the box.



Handily, you have the option to use the individual cutting plates over your bowl or plate or slide them onto the box lid, which doubles as a container to catch the food.

The base is non slip and the blades razor sharp. It was a good idea to include a finger guard, and one that is actually useful and grips onto the vegetables! All my other mandolin finger guards have been too bulky or don't grip well.



It's been a great little tool to have and I've been happy with the results from all the challenges I've thrown at it from cheese and fruit zests to root vegetables. If I could change one thing, it would be to have the julienne slicer s touch lager as there was a tendency for the vegetables to shred up rather than form neat matchsticks.

As summer is here, crunchy, vibrant salads tend to feature more on our dining table. As hardier vegetables are used, I like to prepare a huge bowl so I can grab and go lunches on the fly. Being a new mum again, you can easily put yourself last and healthy eating can go down the pan! So I always stock up on fresh meals so I have no excuse to eat out of the bread bin. Again.

This Vietnamese style salad recipe is a favourite and you really do need a decent set of grater and slicing tools to make it unless your knife skills are ace. The different textures are really nice and the dressing has a real zing. Salads boring? As if!


This Vietnamese style salad with chilli garlic prawns

Serves 4

Salad ingredients
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
half a small white cabbage, cut into fine matchsticks
quarter of a cucumber, cut into fine matchsticks
firm mango, peeled, stone removed and cut into fine matchsticks

Chilli prawn ingredients
Olive oil
300g raw king prawns, defrosted if frozen
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Red chilli, finely chopped
Sea Salt

Dressing
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
Juice of 1 lime

To serve
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
handful of cashew nuts

Method
Prepare all of the ingredients for the salad base using a grater, mandolin, food processor or sharp knife. 

Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a jar and shaking.

Heat the olive oil for the prawns in a large frying pan, add the chilli (to your heat preference) and garlic, fry for a few seconds then add the prawns. Fry for a few minutes, turning regularly until cooked through. Season.

Dress the salad and divide between bowls.

Top with the prawns, coriander and nuts.



I was sent OXO Good Grips products for review. Words and views, as always, are my own.