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Father’s Day: Treat Your Father To A Special Mea...

Today is Father’s Day. It also happens to be my sister’s birthday (Happy Birthday Lisa!) and I thought it was the perfect day to try a recipe I saw on one of my favourite cooking shows, Saturday Morning Kitchen. It aired on June 5th and featured the wonderful chef Michel Roux, who prepared Pork Sausages with a Pineapple Salsa and Rocket Salad.

What struck me right away about this dish was serving sausages with something other then the usual potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. Instead the pineapple salsa and rocket salad are a light and zesty alternative, absolutely perfect for a warm summer evening.

This is a very simple and elegant meal to prepare. The most labour intensive part of the dish is the salsa and that was much easier to make then I expected. I have never had pineapple salsa before but it was incredible. The pineapple combined with the fresh chilli, chill sauce and lime juice (and a bit of brown sugar) was sweet and tangy with a lovely bit of heat that came through wonderfully. It wasn’t overpowering at all. This is something I plan on making again and I think it would also go nicely alongside tuna or swordfish steaks.

The only adjustments I had to make to the recipe were with the herbs and the sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli sauce). Our coriander isn’t doing very well and I used the last few sad looking leaves which didn’t even come close to making up the 2 tablespoons needed for the salsa. So I used a combination of coriander, apple mint and a wee bit of lemon thyme. I also didn’t have the Indonesian chilli sauce but fortunately there was some Tiger chilli sauce lurking in the back of the fridge which I used instead. I’m not sure how much of a difference this made to the dish, but the salsa tasted pretty good in spite of these changes.

It was a fun and satisfying meal to make and what was so great was the way chef Michel Roux made it seem so effortless. It really showed me that you can create simple, wonderful meals that taste like they come from a 5 star restaurant, in your own home. Sadly my parents and sister live many thousands of miles away, so we weren’t able to share this special meal together. I do plan on making it for them when we meet up later this summer. So you guys have fair warning – get some white wine chilling in the fridge! On the show they suggested a Riesling which happens to be one of my favourite white wines.

For dessert we used up the left over pineapple and apple mint to make a fruit salad. We added some blueberries, strawberries and a chopped up banana along with a tiny squeeze of fresh lemon juice. We served it with a generous dollop of vanilla yoghurt. It was a lovely way to finish the meal.

Here is chef Michel’s recipe again. Try it for yourself and why not share it with your loved ones, especially with dad (and any sisters who may be celebrating their birthdays).

Caramelizing the Pineapple.

Caramelizing the Pineapple For The Salsa

Pork Sausages with Pineapple Salsa and Rocket Salad.

Pork Sausages with Pineapple Salsa and Rocket Salad.

Fruit Salad with fresh apple mint and a dollop of vanilla yoghurt.

Beltane Celebration: Get Out In Nature And Don’t...

Despite the dark gloomy clouds and bouts of torrential rain we had in most parts of the UK we still managed to have a wonderful Beltane weekend. Beltane is the Celtic festival of fire and light and it is celebrated on April 30th – May 1st.

It’s a wonderful time of year. The days are lengthening, flowers and plants are starting to blossom and bloom, butterflies and bees are making an appearance in the garden and everyone has a slight spring in their step.

One of the best ways to celebrate this time of year is to get outside in nature. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a 10 mile hike, a visit to your local park or even just pottering around in your garden, make the effort to get out doors. This weekend I stayed away from my computer and spent as much time as I could (rain permitting) in the garden.

We sowed some seeds, Rocket (Arugula) which is a wonderful peppery salad leaf and some Genovese Basil. My mouth is already watering in anticipation of a Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Salad. The pots are all lined up in our little greenhouse and we hope to see some spouting soon.

Last year we bought some herbs from our local farmers market and they have really taken off. I have really enjoyed being able to cook with fresh Sage, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme and Tarragon. This year we decided to add a few more herbs to our garden; Coriander, Curly Parsley and Apple Mint. Although we had problems previously growing tomatoes and chillies we thought we’d have a go at some sugar snap peas. Our not so very green fingers are crossed!

Beltane is also a very special time for working with Fairies. There are many things you can do to honour them and show your commitment to nature:

• Look into recycling schemes.
• Support animal and environmental charities.
• Buy more organic produce.
• If you’re in a park or on a hike and you see some litter then (if it isn’t too disgusting) pick it up and dispose of it properly.
• Give away unwanted clothing and goods to charity.
• Use gentler more natural cleaners in the home instead of harsh scary chemicals.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to honour the Fairies and to celebrate this wonderful time of year is to get off the couch, get away from the computer or television and go outside! You may also want to leave a little treat for Nature’s Angels as a thank you for all their hard work.

For the Garden Fairies I like to put out seeds (sunflower and pumpkin are good) as well as chopped fruit (apples, pears, plums, blackberries and blueberries). For my House Fairy I like to leave out some milk and honey or mead as well as something sweet like organic chocolate, cookies or cake. If you have an animal companion please make sure they can’t get at any Fairy Treats you leave out, chocolate is toxic to many animals but especially to dogs.

The leaving of a gift is a lovely way to acknowledge the Fairies and thank them for their continual help in watching over your garden and plants, protecting your home and animal companions, and to celebrate the beauty and abundance of nature. Breathe some fresh air, listen to the birds and don’t forget the Fairies!

Fairy and Violets

Sage, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary and Tarragon

Easy Salad Dressing...

Tonight I had a sudden craving for a rocket (Arugula) salad alongside my jacket potato. A very dear friend of mine first introduced me to rocket about 10 years ago and with it she made this very tasty dressing.

2 large handfuls of rocket leaves.
3 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar.
1 Tablespoon (or a generous squeeze) of fresh lemon juice.
1-2 cloves of minced garlic (I tend to use 3-4 but I love things to be very garlicky)

It’s as quick and easy as that!