Is there someone in your life who is difficult to buy for?

Are you always on the lookout for a new recipe book, something a little bit different from the usual?

Have you been thinking about reducing the amount of meat you eat, maybe even stepping into the world of vegetarians but you’re not quite sure how to start?

I have three cook books to show you that can tick all of those boxes, not only will they amplify your recipe base but also will make the most wonderful gifts. We are talking about the Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt and Cook Yourself Happy by Caroline Fleming.

Soulful Baker

cook books

Probably one of the most beautiful books you will see on the shelf this autumn. The Soulful Baker is a delight to look through searching for that special sweet recipe. This book truly was a labour of love as Julie Jones put it together when her mother, who taught her to cook, was diagnosed with dementia. They would spend time baking together and Julie started an Instagram feed which then led to this book.

The astonishing beauty of her creations will take your breath away and the method is written in such an easy format that your creations cannot fail.

I have been flicking through trying to decide which recipe to try first but there are so many good ones to choose from, I can’t wait to get started.

For me, baking has always been associated with emotion. Those precious hours set aside to unwind and spend quality time preparing something with love and care. I was first introduced to baking when I was very small, stood upon a stool working alongside my Mother, her oversized apron folded in half and tied around my waist. I often think of her encouraging instructions and advice with affection, ‘beat really fast – otherwise the batter will curdle’. No fancy or expensive equipment was used then, just a big ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon. Such happy days. Days I recreate with my own children now. — Julie Jones

The Flexible Vegetarian

cook books the flexible vegetarian

The more I look around me, the more vegetarians I see and when I weigh up how much meat we consume I want to start reducing the quantity but not losing out on wholesome tasty meals. I have a few of Jo Pratt’s books, like In the Mood for Entertaining and Healthy Eating. I even met and cooked with Jo last year at a work event which was a wonderful experience plus I got to see first-hand just how clever her recipes are. Clever but simple, tasty and healthy.

cook books The Flexible Vegetarian

The Flexible Vegetarian is filled with delicious and practical recipes for every lifestyle and if you do have a stubborn meat eater to cook for the recipes offer a neat solution – just add meat or fish as they can be served either way.

There is a huge variety of ingredients that I have never cooked with before but aren’t difficult to find, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at some and venturing into a whole new culinary world.

Cook Yourself Happy

cook books

Have you heard of Hygge? I have a whole Pinterest board on it. It’s not so easy to translate as it refers to a state of mind, a sense of being rather than an object. Hygge is all about cosy, wholesome lifestyle and I think Cook Yourself Happy The Danish Way falls into this sense of being.

Caroline Fleming draws on old family recipes that boost your wellbeing both inside and out. Warm smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, fried pork belly and baked apples with marzipan are amongst some of the favourites but as she says herself, “Cooking and the results are (for me) ‘love’ that you can taste, smell and touch – all a big part, I think, of making us the happiest people.” See more of Caroline on her Instagram @carolineflemingofficial

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of each book for the purpose of this review.

Jo Pratt masterclass

I got to do something really really cool a couple of weekends a go and that was to have a masterclass with TV chef Jo Pratt along with Lilinha from Lilinha Angel’s World

Jo Pratt has been featured on Mari’s World before, there was her Christmas Espresso Martini, her Chocolate, Raspberry and Mascarpone tarts and her  Seared Scallops recipe with smoky leeks and orange butter all three delicious but this time we were invited up by Flora Gold and the masterclass was based on two recipes, Asian saucy salmon with noodles and cinnamon popcorn. Both recipes we cooked and ate and both were easy and scrumptious.

I learnt so many tips that day and I’m going to do my level best to pass them on to you, so sit here we go…

Asian Saucy Salmon on Oodles of Noodles

The thing I love about this recipe is that it can be prepared up to a point in advance and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to cook, the preparation takes only 15 minutes and the cooking time 15 – 20 minutes. AND becuase of the way it’s made there’s very little washing up to do afterwards #winwin

Flavoured butter

The first thing we had to make was a flavoured butter to rub on the salmon pieces. This was dead easy and if you make too much it can be kept in the fridge just like normal butter. You place 50g of Flora in a small bowl and mix together with chopped garlic and ginger (quantities to follow below) done.

How to make a foil cooking parcel

The next thing we had to do was to make some foil bags to hold the ingredients for cooking. They need to close properly so no steam escapes as that cooks the salmon.

How to make a foil cooking parcel

  1. Tear a long sheet of foil approx 30 x 60 cms.
  2. Fold in half with the matt side inside leaving you with a square.
  3. Seal the two open sides by folding three times over to make sure no liquid escapes.
  4. This gives you one foil parcel with the opening at the top. Open it and gently shape the bottom with your fist so it stands upright.

Asian Saucy Salmon

asian saucy salmon on noodles

(Ingredients and full method follow below)

Fill each bag with a good portion of stir fry vegetables. Sit the salmon with it’s butter coating on top of the vegetables. Pour over the liquids (see below for recipe) and seal the parcels by folding down three times and making sure no steam escapes.

Asian saucy salmon prep

Top Tip – Place on a pre heated baking sheet as this ensures the fish cooks from the bottom immediately rather than have to sit in the oven and warm up. This speeds up the final cooking process and ensures a more rounded cooking.

Whilst the salmon is cooking cook the noodles as per packet instructions and trust me they are a cinch.

I cannot stress how easy this recipe is and to prove it, I remade it again when I got home (on a separate evening!) and it worked perfectly so please do give it a try.

Notes

As Jo pointed out the salmon can be substituted with any fish and just make sure that any vegetables added to the parcel are cut small enough to allow an even cooking.

If you don’t have any rice wine substitute with juice, pineapple or orange would work well

Asian Saucy Salmon on Oodles of Noodles - Masterclass with TV chef Jo Pratt
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A quick, easy recipe to use when you're tired or don't have much time. Can be prepared in advance and cooked later
Author:
Recipe type: Fish
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 50g Gold from Flora
  • 2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
  • 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger root
  • 4 salmon fillets, skinned (150g each)
  • 400g fresh stir fry vegetables
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 8 tbsp rice wine
  • 4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • To Serve
  • 250 - 300g dried egg noodles
  • 20g Gold from Flora
  • 1 lime cut into quarters
  • crusty sesame bread
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7. Place a baking sheet in the oven to pre heat.
  2. Put the 50g Gold in a bowl and mix together with the garlic and ginger. Spread equal amounts over the top of each salmon fillet
  3. Tear 4 long sheets of foil each measuring circa 30 x 60cms (see blog post for photos) Fold in half shiny side out and seal the edges by folding over three times. Giving you a parcel with one edge. Make 4.
  4. Divide the mixed vegetables between the four parcels, cutting any thicker vegetables such as baby corn or baby carrots in half or quarters to ensure even cooking.
  5. Sit a salmon fillet on top of the vegetables in each parcel then pour over the soy sauce, rice wine and sweet chilli sauce.
  6. Seal the top of the parcels making sure there are no gaps for any steam to escape.
  7. Place on the preheated baking sheet for 15 - 20 minutes.
  8. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and immediately toss in the 20g Gold by Flora which will melt over the noodles
 

Follow Marianne Weekes’s board Family meals and more on Pinterest.

scallopsA special Foodie Friday as we have Valentines next week, an evening which allows everyone to spend a little extra on their evening meal if they, like us, will be dining in this year. I have been sent In The Mood for Entertaining by Jo Pratt to review and it is a fabulous collection of different menu suggestions for every kind of cooking moment, be it a Saturday night tete a tete, a Boy’s Night In or even Fine Dining. There is an amazing choice of recipes to choose from, so many it took me a fair while to nail it down to my final menu choice.

I have decided on Filet Steak for our main course which will be served with a black pepper sauce, Baked Salt Spiced Chips (p52) and Garlic and Mustard Seed Green Beans (p167) but today the recipe I am going to show you from Jo’s book is Seared Scallops with Smoky Leeks and Orange Butter, which I’ll serve as a delicious starter.

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Do you like coffee? Do you like Martini?

If you answered yes to both of the above then I think you might like to try your hand at Jo Pratt’s Espresso Martini cocktail.

If you answered no read on for a chance to win a cocktail shaker and Jo Pratt’s latest book In the Mood for Entertaining

Jo Pratt will soon be a world famous chef. She has worked with Gary Rhodes (who went to the same college as I did) Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver. She published her first book back in 2007 In the Mood for Food and more recently In the Mood for Entertaining. Gaggia The Italian Espresso Machine coffee makers per eccellenza got together with Jo and dreamt up some delicious cocktails that are easy and tasty and most of all they will impress your punters!

I have a marvellous prize up for grabs a copy of Jo Pratt’s latest book In The Mood for Entertaining AND a cocktail shaker The book is divided into four sections, Two’s company, Relaxed Entertaining, The Dinner Party and Feeding a Crowd which cover most of the times you’re likely to have to prepare food for others and impress. With sections like the Ready, Steady, dinner party you won’t have to slave over a hot stove all day either!

To win this fabulous prize all you have to do is watch the video above and tell me what colour top is Jo wearing and leave it in a comment below. For extra brownie points

If you haven’t already I’d love you to Like Mari’s World on Facebook and follow me on Twitter too
I’ll leave you with the recipe for the Espresso Martini so you can have a go too with the leftover alcohol after the Christmas festivities – Cheers to that!

Espresso Martini

 Ingredients

1 ½ shots of espresso
1 ½ shots of vodka (you could try a vanilla infused vodka which also works well with the coffee)
1 ½ shots of Kahlua
(Some people add in a shot of Crème de Cacao also)
 

Method

  • Make the espresso on your espresso machine or do a Nigella and buy at your nearest Coffee store
  • Put a large handful of ice into a cocktail shaker
  • Add in all your ingredients
  • Add the lid on and give it a good shake for half a minute
  • Strain into a chilled martini glass

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

  • Competition open to UK and Eire residents only I’m afraid (sorry)
  • Participants must be over 18 years of age
  • The competition will close on Friday 13th January – lucky for one!
  • All entries received by this date will be entered into a prize draw and the winner will be chosen randomly
  • The prize is as stated and cannot be transferred, sold or exchanged. There is no cash alternative. No bulk or third party entries accepted
  • The winner will be notified by email, Twitter and via Mari’s World Facebook page
  • The Promoter reserves the right to substitute the prize with a prize of equal or greater value in the event of unavailability due to circumstances beyond the Promoter’s control
  • By entering this competition, entrants agree to be bound by the rules and by any other requirements set out in the promotional material