Category Archives: Sides

Easy Christmas Dinner

This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!

Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!

You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!


We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!


In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!

The Roast

Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.

However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.

A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.

For example:

2 hours before: Roast In

45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)

30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in

25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.

Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.


Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:

Clementine Syllabub

Cranberry Fool


If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!


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Filed under Canapés, Christmas, Desserts, Easy, Mains, Sides, Slow Cooker, Starters

Japanese Simmered Pumpkin (Kabocha no nimono)

1/2 Japanese pumpkin (kabocha)

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp mirin

1 tbsp soy sauce

– Deseed the pumpkin and roughly peel (leave some bits of peel there). Chop into large chunks.

– Place skin side down in a large pan and just cover with water. Bring to a boil.

– Add the sugar and salt and simmer on a low heat until the liquid is half reduced.

– Add the mirin and soy sauce and continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced in half again.

– Either serve warm or leave to cool completely.

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Filed under Dairy Free, Easy, Japanese, Mains, Sides

Pommes Anna Recipe

For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!

6-8 new potatoes (waxy)

125g unsalted butter

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Fresh thyme sprigs

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.

– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.

– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.

– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.

– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.

– Gently heat until fragrant.

– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.

– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.

– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.

– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.

– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.

– Serve hot.

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Filed under Moderately easy, Sides

Japanese Potato Salad

You will need Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise for this to taste right but it’s easy to get hold of, either a local Asian supermarket or Amazon will sort you out! I would also advise the chunkiest ham you can get, either go for trimmings or bake a ham joint and use some in this.

2 large floury potatoes

1/2 small tin Sweetcorn, drained

100g ham, chopped

1/2 medium carrot, julienned

1” cucumber, very finely sliced

6 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise

Pinch of salt

– Peel and chop up your potatoes and boil in a large pan of salted water for 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pan, let them air dry for 5 minutes.

– Mash the potatoes until smooth.

– Add your other ingredients and give a good stir through. Eyeball it, if you feel you want different proportions go for it! Alter it to your taste.

– Voila! It’s a Japanese Potato salad!

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Filed under Easy, Japanese, Sides

Red Onion Refrigerator Pickles

This is one of the simplest things I’ve made in ages and yet it packs a big flavour punch! My recipe for Red Onion Refrigerator Pickles pack a heck of a punch visually too, who can resist bright pink food?  They are perfect paired with pulled pork as here, or even just in sandwiches (put them in a cheese toastie and be amazed!)

Red Onion Refrigerator Pickles

Darcy was poised and ready for any spillages!

Red Onion Refrigerator Pickles

3 red onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
~1 cup/250ml red wine vinegar

  • Put your onions in a sealable tub, jar or bowl.
  • Sprinkle with salt.
  • Cover with the vinegar.
  • Leave in the fridge for 2 hours – 2 weeks.  Then enjoy!

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Filed under Easy, Sides

Cheats flatbreads

Coming to an end of my Indian theme I wanted something quick and easy to accompany my meal, the Fritters were doing a good Yorkshire Pudding substitute but I just felt that it needed a flatbread to accompany it.  I could have made up some dough without too much hassle but with everything else going on in the kitchen I just wasn’t in the mood.  I had a can of bread roll dough in the fridge so I improvised!

Cheat's Flatbreads

They worked brilliantly!  Perfectly portioned, beautifully fluffy inside.  This is a cheat I’m sure to turn to again as it was effortless!

Cheat's Flatbreads

1 can of dough for 6 bread rolls

  • Roll out each “roll” on a lightly floured worksurface.
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan.
  • Place the dough in the pan and fry for about 2 minutes on each side until the dough is firm and browned on both sides.
  • Place the cooked flatbread on a paper towel and keep on a plate in a warm oven until the rest are done.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough, topping up the oil as necessary.

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Filed under Breads, Easy, Sides

Channa Masala

This recipe for Channa Masala is a brilliant one to have in your repetoir.  It makes a delicious meal in its own right or a brilliant accompaniment to a large meal.

Channa Masala

It also makes a wonderful fast day option as it is so filling and extremely satisfying on its own!

Channa Masala

2 tbsp sunflower oil
20g butter
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
2x 400g tins tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
2x 400g tins chickpeas, drained

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan or deep frying pan.
  • Cook the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the spices and cook for a minute longer
  • Add the lemon juice, tomatoes,  puree and chickpeas and simmer on a low heat, stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.
  • The sauce should be slightly reduced and nicely glossy and thick.
  • Serve immediately or this also freezes really well!

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Filed under Easy, Fast Day Food, Mains, Sides

Saag Aloo

I’ve never actually eaten Saag Aloo before so I don’t really know how this recipe compares to others.  What I can say is that I found it absolutely delicious and I will definitely be cooking it again!

Saag Aloo

I will especially be deploying it when my dad cooks curry.  I love spices and the breadth of flavours they bring.  I am not a fan of blowing your head of with heat!  My Dad believes that the hotter a curry is the better.  The potatoes and spinach in this Saag Aloo work to cut down on the spice level but still with a fantastic depth of flavour in its own right.

Saag Aloo

Serves 4

2 tbsp sunflower oil
20g butter
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp coriander leaf
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp Nigella seeds
500g potatoes, cubed ~1cm
200g spinach

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan until bubbling.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook with the lid on for about 3 minutes until the onion is soft.
  • Add the spices and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the potatoes and just enough boiling water to cover them 3/4 the way up.
  • Simmer with the lid on for 20-30 minutes until a sharp knife pierces the potato softly.
  • Add the spinach and give it a stir to wilt.
  • Serve with whatever you wish!


Filed under Easy, Sides

Courgette Fritters

These Courgette Fritters are so quick and easy to whip up and make a delicious side dish to accompany any number of dishes!  They’re also pretty good as a brunch option with poached egg and bacon!

Courgette Fritters

They’re pillowy soft and have a nice crisp to the outside.  I absolutely adore them!

Courgette Fritters

I love that such relatively simple ingredients can come together to make something so tasty!

Courgette Fritters

I also love how quickly I can whip these up.  Especially if I already have courgettes grated from making say, a Spiced Chocolate Courgette Cake!

Courgette Fritters

Makes 6-10 Fritters (Depending on the size of your courgette, its moisture content and the size of your fritters!)

1 large ish courgette, grated (Use the food processor attachment if you have one!)
1 tsp salt
1 large egg
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup plain flour

  • Place your grated courgette in a sieve over a bowl or sink and springle with salt.  Leave it for 5-20 minutes.
  • Gently press out any liquid.
  • Combine the courgette, egg and pepper in a mixing bowl, give it a good stir!
  • Add the flour and mix until well combined.
  • Heat a few tbsp oil in a heavy frying pan (cast iron is great).
  • Add a few spoonfuls of your mixture, well spaced, and press down slightly to level.
  • Cook for a few minutes until crisp and golden brown then flip over and cook for another few minutes until golden brown on the bottom and feeling solid when pressed in the centre.
  • Place on paper towel on a plate and leave in a warm oven while you repeat with the remaining mixture.
  • Enjoy as a side to a main meal, serve for an unusual brunch, take on a picnic, whatever takes your fancy!

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Filed under Easy, Sides

Grilled Salmon and Miso Soba Noodles

A recipe with a bit of a Japanese twist today!  This Grilled Salon with Miso Soba Noodles is quick (about 10 minutes to cook), simple and delicious!  What’s not to love about that? Oh and it’s super healthy for you too! Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles

You marinate the salmon the night before (or even for a few days, it won’t spoil it!) and then simply pop it on the grill while you cook your noodles.  10  minutes, done and dusted!

Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles

I actually made this for my lunches during what I knew was going to be a hectic week.  I needed good quality food, full of nutrients that would tempt me to actually stop and eat rather than grabbing something worthless on the fly.  This dish is delicious either hot or cold.  If you haven’t had cold noodles during a heat wave I urge you to give it a go, they’re divine!

Grilled Salmon with Miso Soba Noodles


2 salmon fillets
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 bundle soba noodles
1 sachet tofu and wakame miso soup
edamame to serve

– Place your salmon in a sealable watertight bag and add the soy sauce and mirin.
– Leave in the fridge to marinate overnight or longer.
– When ready to cook simply place the salmon on a health grill or in a frying pan.  If cooking in a pan remember to flip over then the colour has changed half way up.  Pour the marinating liquid over the top (being careful of run off for the health grill!)
– Prepare the soba according to packet instructions (usually cook for about 4 minutes in boiling water).
– Drain the noodles (don’t be too thorough) and then add the miso paste and dried wakame and tofu bits.  Add a little splash of hot water to slacken.
– Stir well to coat the noodles in miso.
– Serve with edamame if you fancy them!


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Filed under Easy, Japanese, Mains, Sides