The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook – part 2: Quick Eats

The Ultimate Cookbook - Part 2 - front cover

So following on from my first post about the Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook, the Sunday Lunch edition, this weekend it’s all about fast, fabulous Quick Eats.  Once again, I got a little sneaky peak of the recipes and there are some absolute crackers in there.  Just because you’re time pressed or busy, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat well.  I was delighted to see Nigella’s wonderful lemon linguine featuring – it’s a family favourite here, often served simply with some peppery watercress salad for a satisfyingly quick supper.  We keep grated parmesan in the freezer, which is really convenient and means that we avoid that awful moment when you reach for the block of cheese in the fridge and discover it’s gone a pretty shade of blue.

Yotam Ottolenghi has a delicious Jerusalem artichoke soup – a great choice for a quick and easy meal, this soup contains egg and yoghurt and I’m dying to give it a go.  Eventually though, as we love a bit of spice, we decided to cook Ken Hom’s Sichuan prawns in chilli sauce.  I couldn’t find any chilli bean sauce locally, so used our favourite spicy chilli sauce.  It’s such an easy recipe – the hardest thing is chopping up a couple of cloves of garlic.  The sauce is rich, spicy and zingy.  I served ours simply with some buttered noodles and fresh green salad.  Delicious, healthy, fresh and simple.  Who needs ready meals?

Ken Hom Sichuan chilli prawns sma


Get your copy of The Sunday Times Ultimate Cookbook: Quick Eats this weekend, the second in a four-part series. Featuring a selection of the finest recipes of the celebrity chef era, The Ultimate Cookbook is part of The Incredible Edibles Food Series dedicated to food and dining.

Upcoming editions in the series are Brunch & Baking on Sunday December 1 and Dinner Party on Sunday December 8.

Visit to subscribe and to find out more details about exclusive Times+ chef events, hosted at some of the country’s best restaurants.

Palo seared tuna with potato risotto

Seared tuna with potato risotto

One of my favourite moments aboard the Disney Magic was when I had the amazing opportunity for a one to one masterclass with the Executive Chef of the fine dining restaurant, Palo.  Here I am (below, with lovely Jamie the cameraman – he works on the X Factor you know) doing my piece to camera VERY BADLY.  Palo was my favourite restaurant aboard the Disney Dream, so I was really excited  to see how the Palo on the Magic stacked up.  Luckily the experience was just as incredible, and, with the film crew (film coming soon!), I got to see how Chef made his famous seared tuna with a potato risotto.

The Chef’s version was obviously much more complicated, with shaved truffles, artichokes and a beautiful veal reduction. However, he did tell me how to cook the creamy potato risotto and the wonderful seared tuna:

Potato Risotto (serves 4)

1kg waxy potatoes


1 fat clove garlic, grated

500ml stock (chicken or fish is fine)

Dash of double cream

So firstly, peel all the potatoes and chop them into about 2 cm cubes.  It’s a bit laborious but well worth the effort (as you can see, mine weren’t very uniform – I’m terribly sloppy in the kitchen – what would Chef say?).  As you chop them, pop them into a bowl of salted water so they don’t discolour.  Heat a large knob of butter in a large, heavy frying pan and fry the garlic for a minute or so, then add in the potatoes.  Stir well to cover them in the garlicky butter, then pour in the stock.

Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and allow the potatoes to simmer very gently for about 15 minutes until just tender.  Pour in a dash of double cream, stirring gently so you don’t break up the potatoes, and season to taste.  Keep warm while you quickly sear the tuna.

Seared Tuna

Bring four decent sized tuna steaks, trimmed of any sinewy bits, to room temperature.  Rub the tuna with a little oil and then season with salt and pepper.  Heat a frying pan until it’s really hot, then fry the tuna steaks so that they’re golden on the outside but still retaining some pinkness in the middle.

Serve immediately on the potato risotto.  Drizzle with a little truffle oil if liked.

Doing my 'piece to camera'


Easy tapas: spicy garlic prawns

Spicy garlic prawnsSo next up on my easy tapas menu from the Disreputable One’s birthday tapas feast were these beautiful pink spicy garlic prawns:

Spicy garlic prawns

1 kg prawns (we bought shell-on and peeled them beforehand – never again!)

Large glug of olive oil

3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely grated or crushed

2 red chillies, chopped and deseeded

2 tbsp sweet paprika

If you bought shell-on prawns, it’s a really nice touch to leave the tail on – it just makes it slightly easier to pick them up.  Make sure you provide a finger bowl or two with some lemon slices and plenty of towels – eating these is a messy job!  I also left a couple whole just for decoration.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and add the garlic, chillies and paprika.  Fry gently for a couple of minutes (don’t let the garlic burn), then add in the prawns.  Put the heat up a bit and fry just until the prawns turn pink.  Serve immediately with loads of bread for dunking as the sauce is AMAZING.

Easy tapas: baked cod with garlic and oregano for my Dad’s birthday

Baked cod with garlic and oregano small

So it was the Disreputable One’s birthday on Saturday.  As he loves a bit of tapas, I thought I’d cook him a tapas feast fit for a birthday boy.  The menu looked like this:

Olives and spicy nibbles to start (we used these  from Olives et Al – very yummy they are too)




Easy tapas:

baked cod with garlic and oregano

Papas arugadas

Spicy garlic prawns (click for recipe)

Smoky bacon meatballs (Albóndigas) in tomato and pepper sauce

Green salad


Raspberry sorbet


Selection of cheese including The Birthday Cheese

Baked cod with garlic and oregano

When we were in the Canary Islands last year, we ate a beautiful baked hake dish with garlic and oregano.  Sadly there was no hake at the market this Saturday, but I was determined to cook this dish for my Dad so we picked up some nice, chunky cod, which works equally as well.  Here’s my approximation of the dish.  Use a decent make of dried herb – you don’t want a dry, dusty one. I  like dried oregano from Schwartz, but if you’re using fresh, double up and use 2 tsp.

Serves 6

1 kg fresh cod fillets

1 clove garlic

1 tsp oregano

Olive oil (preferably Spanish!)

Preheat the oven to 190/gas 5.

Pop the cod fillets into a large ovenproof dish.  Bash the garlic with a pestle and mortar, add the oregano, then slowly glug in about 50ml olive oil.

Pour the mixture over the cod, then bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.

I’ll publish all the rest of the recipes for you, but until then, here’s the Birthday Boy, blowing out his cheesy birthday candle.  Happy birthday Dad!

Birthday cheese

On test – Asda’s new salmon recipes: salmon en croute and salmon fillets stuffed with cod

Salmon en croute

Salmon en croute

Asda’s Fishmonger, Darren Wrend has created some recipes to give you a bit of inspiration for how to cook a whole salmon.  They asked me if I’d like to have a go and have kindly allowed me to publish their recipes (and turned a blind eye while I fiddled with them too, bless ‘em):

Salmon en croute filled with parsley, lemon and lemon and pepper butter

Our verdict: delicious, easy to do and really attractive to look at – would make a perfect dinner party dish. The boys absolutely loved this and have begged me to make it again – the combination of crisp, flaky pastry and soft lemony salmon is a winner.  I did think the oven temperature was slightly too hot though (see note below):

Dinner is served

Dinner is served

Recipe will serve 6 people

Ingredients needed:

  • 2 skinless salmon fillets (fillets taken from a whole salmon)
  • Bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 lemon and pepper butter ovals (available from the fish counter – I didn’t have these so I used butter with a squeeze of lemon and a grinding of pepper)
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Cup of milk
  • 2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 sheet of baking paper

Cooking instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 230C/ gas mark 8 (I found 200C/gas 6 was enough here)
  2. Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on a oven dish/tray, and on top of this lay flat one sheet of rolled out pastry
  3. Place one salmon fillet on top of the pastry, skin down (if the fillet is too long for the pastry tuck the tail under to fit)
  4. Along the middle of the fillet place sprigs of flat leaf parsley, then finely grate the lemon over the parsley, along with some cracked black pepper
  5. Crumble on the lemon and pepper butter ovals for additional flavour
  6. Place the second salmon fillet skin side down on a chopping board and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper
  7. Once seasoned place the second fillet on top of the other fillet skinless side down
  8. Brush the visible edge of the pastry with milk, then lay the second sheet of pastry on top of the salmon
  9. Using the side of your hand go around the edge of the fillet and seal the pastry together, cutting off any excess pastry
  10. Using the excess pastry decorate the top of the en croute and brush the top layer of pastry with milk
  11. Place the salmon en croute on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry has gone a light golden brown colour
My cod and salmon 'parcel'

My cod and salmon ‘parcel’

Salmon Fillets Stuffed with Cod Our verdict: I won’t lie, this was tricky for me, but I’m not tremendously dexterous and trying to tie up slippery fish wasn’t easy.  I managed it, but my offering was slightly less attractive than Asda’s photo!  The taste, however was delicious and fabulously healthy too. This recipe will serve 8 people Ingredients needed:

  • 2 skin-on salmon fillets (fillets taken from a whole salmon)
  • Approx. 300g skinless cod loin
  • 2 lemons
  • Sprig of dill
  • String
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning

Cooking instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C /Gas mark 5
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
  3. Cut six pieces of string (measure from hand to elbow) and lay along the width of the baking tray
  4. Place one fillet in the middle of the string, skin side down
  5. Season well with cracked black pepper and sea salt, then place five wedges of lemon across the salmon fillet
  6. Place a layer of cod in the middle of the salmon (about three fillets), and squeeze the juice of one lemon over the cod
  7. Lay the second fillet on the work surface, skin side down, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper
  8. Place the second fillet on top of the first fillet so the skin is upwards. To secure the fish take both ends of string wrap around the salmon and tie in little bows, finally season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil
  9. Place the salmon filled with cod in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, until the skin has gone crispy

How to make a chicken pie (or any pie!): an easy step by step guide (including how to make pastry)

Pastry always seems a bit terrifying.  But honestly, have a think about it: it’s really just a vessel to hold delicious contents, all of which will spill out over your pastry making it all taste yummy anyway.  And if it’s a little thick or a bit uneven, who cares? That’s what home made food is all about.  If you know how to make a chicken pie (or any pie!) it’s such a versatile skill.  So come on, let’s dive in: practice makes perfect!

Pie dishes

A quick word about pie dishes.  By all means use a classic ceramic pie dish but you’ll get a much better result by using a metal tin. I swear by Mermaid, who do proper hard anodised aluminium tins that you can use on the  hob and in the oven (this one’s actually a tarte tatin dish) – they conduct the heat really well, resulting in nice, crisp pastry and an even bake.

How to make pastry

The best tip I can give you about making pastry is to keep everything as cool as possible.  Sweaty hands make for a big gluey mess, so try and keep to just using the tips of your fingers, and use a light touch.

For standard, shortcrust pastry, you’ll need:

200g cold butter

400g plain flour

Pinch salt

1 egg

You can make pastry in the food processor, or by hand.  Here are both versions:

Making pastry by hand:

Cut the cold butter into cubes, and add it to the flour:

… add in the salt, and then rub in the butter gently with just your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs:

Now add the egg.  It’s less messy initially so use a knife to just stir it around until it starts to come together.  Then, with your hands, bring it together into a dough.  Don’t knead it, remember, just treat it very gently.

Making pastry in the food processor

Chop the cold butter into cubes and add it to the flour and salt.  Process it until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Now plop in the egg and pulse slowly until it comes together.

Every time you make pastry it will be different: flours can have different moisture levels and eggs can be different sizes, but you should find it comes together into a ball quite well.  If it’s really dry, add a tablespoon or two of cold water, but you don’t want a wet mess, be very sparing.

At this stage, with either processor-made or hand-made pastry, you’ll have a rough ball of dough.  Now just wrap it in clingfilm and chill for about 2o minutes.

This is the stage where you can get on with making your filling.  I’ve made a creamy chicken filling, but you can use your imagination and fill it with whatever you like: beef and mushrooms in gravy… fish in a creamy sauce… (or veggies) or, if you fancy a sweet pie (add a tablespoon of caster sugar to your pastry), apple, cherry… the list is endless.  Leftovers make fab pies. We always make turkey and ham on Boxing Day, and leftover curry makes a lovely pie too.

Filling for a creamy chicken pie

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 large free-range chicken breasts (or leftover chicken or turkey)

Couple of slices of nice ham (or leftover gammon, cut into chunks)

Dash of double cream

About 200-300ml chicken stock (cube is fine)

So gently fry the shallot in the oil until translucent and add in your cubes of chicken breast. Fry until just coloured (remember it’ll cook properly in the oven), then add the ham (snipped into little pieces, or chopped), season well (not too much salt – the ham’s salty) and then the splosh of cream.  Pour in the stock and leave to bubble away and reduce a little (you don’t want too much ‘juice’ in the pie as it will make the pastry soggy).  Add in some fresh herbs if you like, too.  Thyme is delicious with chicken, and so is tarragon.

Once your filling is done, leave it to one side to cool while you roll out the pastry.  Oh, and this is a good time to preheat the oven to 180/gas 4.

Rolling out the pastry

Retrieve it from the fridge, flour your work surface AND your rolling pin really well.  Divide your pastry into two pieces: one about 2/3 for the base and the other 1/3 for the top.

Roll the larger piece out to about 5-6mm thick, moving the pastry around in 1/4 turns as you roll until you’ve got a rough circle.  This will prevent the pastry from sticking to the work surface.  Remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect!

Roll the pastry up around the rolling pin, then unroll it over your pie dish.  Push it down gently, and use little extra bits to fill any holes or cracks.  Don’t worry too much – it’s home made!

Now spoon in your cooled filling.  Don’t put hot filling into the pie as it will begin to melt the butter and you’ll get the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’!

Now do the same thing with the final third of pastry.  Unroll it over your filling and crimp the edges with your fingers, or a fork so that they’re sealed together.

If you’re feeling arty, make some letters (I’m desperate to do a pie that says ‘bum’) or cut out leaves or whatever.  Pass swiftly on to the eggy wash department for a brush with beaten egg or milk (grab a passing child if you can) and pop in the oven for about half an hour at 180/gas 4.

And yes, sometimes it all goes wrong (this one needed that extra bit of cold water – the patry was far too crumbly) just laugh at yourself and serve it up anyway – it will still taste lovely! (oh, and writing BUM on it is excellent therapy too, trust me).

And that’s it. YOU MADE A PIE!  You’re a genius.

Fresh sardines with gremolata dressing

The lovely chaps at Fish is the Dish work hard to promote fish as the perfect family food. They often send me little surprises, and this time it was a tray of the freshest sardines.  There’s really only one thing to do with sardines: obviously that’s eat them fresh from the barbecue with a glass of local wine at some beautiful beachside location.  Failing that, you can make this easy, fresh version of gremolata to go with your shiny silver dinner:

You will need:

Fresh sardines, gutted

Large bunch parsley

1 lemon

2 cloves garlic

Couple of glugs of olive or rapeseed oil

Salt and pepper

First, preheat your grill so it’s really hot.  Sprinkle the sardines with salt and pepper and pop them under the grill.  They’ll only take a couple of minutes each side – just enough time to make the gremolata oil.

Traditionally gremolata is a ‘dry’ mixture of lemon zest, garlic and tons of parsley all chopped together.  I’ve added oil here to make it easy to drizzle.  So just squish the garlic with the side of a knife (use a pinch of salt for grip), then chop the parsley into it and add the zest of the lemon.  Transfer into a bowl and add the olive oil. Squeeze in the lemon juice.  I added a pinch of dried chilli too.

Serve the sardines piping hot with crusty bread (or I made little square crispy potatoes) and drizzle with the gremolata.

Oven baked lemon risotto with garlic prawns

I love making risotto.  I find the half hour of methodical stirring and adding stock really therapeutic and relaxing.  I know from recent discussion on Twitter, though, that other people hate being tied to the stove for that long, so I thought I’d try out an oven-baked risotto.

This is loosely based on a Donna Hay recipe, I think from Fast, Fresh, Simple (the idea and the rough timings), but none of the ingredients or quantities are the same – apart from the stock and rice, obviously…

For the oven baked risotto:

Slug or two of rapeseed oil

1 onion, finely chopped

300g risotto rice

Juice (and a bit of the zest) of one lemon

1.5 litres chicken stock

So start (in an ovenproof dish like a Le Creuset with a well fitting lid) on the hob.  Heat the oil, add the onion and stir until translucent, then add the rice and continue to stir until well coated in the oil.  Next add in the juice of the lemon and a couple of grates of the zest (my kids don’t like it too lemony, but if you like more, feel free to add it – also see my note at the end about parmesan).  Now stir in all the stock and put on the lid.  Pop the whole shebang into a 200 degree/gas 6 oven and forget about it.

After 30 mins, remove the rice from the oven and give it a stir.  It should be perfect, but like any risotto, the quantities needed seem to differ every time you make it, so if it’s a little too liquid, allow it to sit for a while, or maybe pop it back onto the hob for a bit, or if it’s too thick for you add a bit of water.  Mine was just about right.  Check for seasoning. Often cube or jelly stocks can be a bit salty, so don’t add any in at the beginning.

Allow the risotto to sit while you quickly make the prawns:

1 bag raw frozen king prawns, defrosted (or use fresh if you’re that lucky)

Large knob of butter

1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed with a little salt

So drain the prawns and melt the butter in a frying pan.  Add the garlic, stir around, then add in the prawns.  Cook them until they are just pink and tender.  Serve over the risotto with a large handful of chopped parsley or rocket.

A little note on Parmigiano:

I usually use copious amounts of Parmigiano in my risotto, and actually find that lemon risotto benefits from the saltiness of the cheese.  Obviously with fish I left out the cheese (never a good mixture), and both my boys found the risotto too lemony.  So if you’re making this risotto on its own or with chicken, I’d recommend a couple of good handfuls of Parmigiano, grated, stirred through at the end.  If making with fish – go steady on the lemon, or maybe squeeze it over at the end, to taste.

Fish on Friday! Gorgeous kedgeree

So as you know I’m involved with the Fish is the Dish project, a fabulous endeavour from encouraging families to eat more fish.  Basically I get challenged every couple of weeks to cook with a different fish ( love it when my delivery man appears at the door clutching my parcel – it’s like a fish version of Christmas).  This week it was beautiful fillets of undyed smoked haddock from Delish Fish.  The fillets were firm and meaty, and not at all yellow (remembering the smoked haddock of my youth here).

I fiddled with this recipe quite a bit, but I have to tell you, the end result was fabulous, and was woofed down by every member of the family – even the curry-hating Death Wish Dude.  English Dad isn’t sure he could eat it for breakfast (I certainly could), but it’s an easy and nutritious supper and would make a fab brunch if you have guests or over Christmas:


450g smoked haddock


2 bay leaves

1 onion

25g butter

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1 pinch crushed chilli

350g basmati  rice

4 hard boiled eggs

Chopped coriander

Firstly, boil the kettle (the man from British Gas told me never to heat water on the stove – apparently it’s much more energy efficient to use kettle-heated water!)

So lay the haddock fillets in a nice heavy frying pan and pour over enough milk to just cover them.  Add in the bay leaves and quartered onion.  Poach for about 8 minutes or until the fish is beginning to flake.

In the mean time, pour boiling water over 4 eggs in a saucepan and place on the heat. They’ll take 8 minutes too.

Once cooked, remove the fish, cover and keep warm in a low oven.  Reserve the cooking milk in a jug, topping up to 600ml with stock.

Chuck out the bay leaves, but keep the onions and chop them as finely as your burning fingers will allow.  Fry them in the butter for a few minutes until softened, then add in the spices.

Pop in the rice, stir around until coated and then add the milky/stock liquid.  Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Then stir in the flaked haddock (and add frozen peas if you’re using them) and cook for about another 5 minutes or until the rice is just cooked.  Keep an eye on the liquid. You might need to add a bit more stock.

To serve, top with the boiled eggs.  And I think a nice sprinkling of coriander would be perfect.


For more information on the Fish is the Dish campaign, go to their website, check out their Facebook page, or find them on Twitter @fishisthedish.


Trout with a lime and caper butter sauce

I’m REALLY enjoying this Fish is the Dish project.  They send a ‘fish parcel’ every couple of weeks and I get to cook with all sorts of really beautiful fresh fish.

This week, it was some gorgeous fresh trout from a company called Dawnfresh.  The colours were absolutely amazing.  We all gathered round oohing and ahhing at the beautiful skin (and then had a big family argument about how to cook it).

I won (obviously) when I found this gorgeous recipe over at – it’s basically fillets of trout with a lime and caper butter sauce.  It was so easy and quick, and absolutely delicious.  I changed it about as we didn’t have any fresh herbs, which I think would enhance it even more, but do give it a try anyway, it was yum scrum:

Trout with a lime and caper butter sauce

6 trout fillets, seasoned

125g butter

2 tbsp capers, rinsed

2 tbsp lime juice

So basically just use a knob of the butter to gently fry the trout, skin side down.  It cooks really fast, so you only need to give it about 3 or 4 minutes before you flip it over and cook on the other side for about a minute.

Then just remove the fillets and keep them warm.  Pop the rest of the butter into the pan, and add in the capers  and the lime juice.  Once the sauce is all lovely and foamy, pour it over the fish and serve.


My twist: we ate our trout with some lovely baby roasted potatoes sprinkled with rosemary salt, and also some roasted parsnips – the sweetness went really well with the vinegary capers.

For more information on the Fish is the Dish campaign, go to their website, check out their Facebook page, or find them on twitter @fishisthedish.


A trip to Billingsgate Seafood School

I’ve already told you about the lovely chaps at Seafish – they work really hard promoting great quality, sustainable seafood, and their campaign, Fish is the Dish, is all about encouraging us all to eat more fish and the website is a fabulous resource for recipes, cooking tips and advice about choosing and cooking fish.

They’d noticed the Sea Bass debacle, and invited me up to Billingsgate Seafood School at the famous fish market, to teach me some fishy skillz.  The course was a special one as we were being taught by none other than Allan Pickett, Head Chef of the beautiful Plateau Restaurant in Canada Place, in the very heart of the Docklands.


Allan was a brilliant teacher.  We warmed to him straight away as he abandoned the teaching ‘stage’ at the front of the kitchen to come and work next to us at the workstations.  First of all we were presented with a whole Sea Bass and a scary scraper-contraption and had a good old go at descaling.  This was hilarious as scales were flying everywhere.  I found several scales down my cleavage that night, alarmingly…

Next, Allan took us through filleting the Sea Bass.  It really is all about technique (as the actress said to the bishop), pressing down firmly on the flesh ‘opens up’ the fillet as you gently cut the flesh away from the bones.  It’s a bit gruesome when you have to break the heads off after you’ve cut round them, yes, but it’s also fascinating, and there’s a real sense of satisfaction when you’re left with two neat fillets at the end of the process.

After we’d finished the Sea Bass, we moved onto the Plaice.  These ugly mothers have two larger fillets on the top side, and two smaller on the underside.  I found this a bit more tricky, as the fillets are thin anyway – a bit too much enthusiasm while you’re cutting and you can find that there’s hardly anything left!

After the filleting, we got down to the cooking.  Here are the very simple, and very delicious, recipes we used:

Shallow fried Plaice fillets with French beans and almonds, with nut brown butter sauce

1 Plaice (per person)

Flour, for dusting

Salt and pepper

80g butter

60g French beans, blanched in boiling salted water

10g almonds (toasted then chopped)

Fillet the Plaice (or ask your fishmonger to do it), then skin as well.  Season the flour well then dust each fillet, tapping away the excess.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a pan, then shallow fry the Plaice fillets (we were taught to fry them on the presentation side until golden and NOT to mess with them).  Flip over briefly to make sure the other side is just cooked through.

Put the fillets on a warm plate then add in the butter to the pan, swirling around until it’s bubbling and beginning to brown.  Pop in the beans and almonds, just to warm them through, then spoon the whole lot over the cooked Plaice fillets.

Roast fillet of Sea Bass with a sauce vierge

1 whole Sea Bass, well scaled and filleted

300g new potatoes, cooked then peeled

1 punnet red or yellow cherry tomatoes

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 bunch chives

1/2 bunch chervil or parsley

125ml good quality olive oil

30g pitted black olives, sliced lengthways

Salt and pepper

Heat a pan then add a little vegetable oil.  Once hot, add in the Sea Bass fillets carefully and cook slowly on the skin side until crisp and nearly cooked through.

Meanwhile, slice the cooked potatoes and sauté in butter in another pan until brown.

Cut the tomatoes in half and grill until just warmed through and starting to soften.

Spoon the potatoes onto the middle of a warmed plate.  Quickly flip the fish over in the pan just to make sure the other side is cooked through, then put the hot fish on top of the potatoes, and arrange the cherry tomatoes around the plate.

Mix the olive oil with a little lemon juice, pour into the hot pan.  Add in the chopped herbs and olives.  Warm through and pour over the dish.

And that’s it!  The evening went so quickly I was actually really disappointed when it ended.  We had a chance to sit and chat while we ate our dishes with a glass of wine, which was really nice.

The dishes were both delicious and I really feel ready to buy a whole fish and have a go myself at home.  Remember, though, your fishmonger will always fillet any fish for you, so don’t feel you can’t ask.

Massive thanks to Jo at Seafish for arranging my fab day out, and to the lovely staff at Billingsgate, and the ever-patient Chef Allan Pickett,




‘Posh’ fish fingers with olive tapenade

You know when you write up a whole recipe, then the internet gremlins get to work over the weekend and delete it all? Yes, that.

Ah well, I’ve blown my nose, wiped my tears, and here’s my second attempt at telling you all about our spooky Halloween fishy supper.

You will need:

500g firm, white fish

250g breadcrumbs (this was a bit much actually, 200g would be fine)

80g finely grated Parmesan cheese

300g fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

200g plain flour

1 large egg

Splash of milk

So whizz up a couple of slices of bread in the food processor, then add in the Parmesan and parsley (I whizzed it all together and it was fine).  Season generously.

Now, you need to assemble your eggy wash department.  Grab three bowls, and in the first one put the flour, in the next the egg and splash of milk and in the third, the breadcrumbs.

Get your production line rolling by slicing the fish into nice fat fingers, then placing them into the flour, then the eggy wash, and finally the breadcrumbs.  Arrange them on a buttered (or non stick) baking tray, and bake at 180/gas 4 for around 10 to 15 minutes (you don’t want to overcook the fish – it needs to stay lovely and moist).

For suitable Halloween spookiness, I served my ‘severed fingers’ with olive tapenade (I let it down with a little olive oil) but I’ll be honest, it didn’t go down well.  It would be much better with a quick homemade tartare sauce made with mayo, a squeeze of lemon and some chopped capers.

And the verdict? Gorgeous.  Everyone loved the fish fingers and they were quick and easy to make, with soft, delicate fish and a lovely savoury crust.  Yum!

Happy Halloween!

Baked sea bass with lemon and parsley (and whiffy plasters)

So English Dad has a large Asda near his work and often drops in for random stuff like all the various pills, potions and herbal whatnots he pops every morning for his bones and his joints and his whatevers (‘what? I’m getting old’), prune juice (remind me to tell you about the prune juice incident, it’s a cracker) and, occasionally, to have a quick perusal of the fish counter.

English Dad loves the fish counter.  This is all good, but it does mean that sometimes he arrives home with a slightly fishy smelling mystery parcel and I have to conjour up some form of accompaniment at short notice.  Recently, his niffy romantic offering was a clutch (a school?) of very fresh and rather lovely sea bass.  Whole sea bass.

They were beautiful: fresh, gleaming, with clear eyes and that lovely ozone scent (and two quid each.  TWO QUID!).  But then it all kind of went downhill.  Well first of all I’d kind of planned hotdogs.  I’d bought baguettes and those horrible ‘lips and arseholes‘ hotdog sausages that come in tins (oh admit it, you love them too).  And suddenly to be presented with an enormous bag of slightly wet scales, glassy eyes and gaping maws kind of threw me off kilter.

I know.  Horribly ungrateful.  His little face fell, bless him.

And then the boys came in.  Comments were made.  Sulky, teenagery kind of comments:



I thought we were having hotdogs

‘They’re looking at me!’

I grabbed the knife with a flourish and announced that I would fillet them.

Big mistake.

The first thing I did was to impale myself through the thumb with the spiky bit at the top of the fin.  Who knew sea bass could be so darned painful?  Cursing and beplastered, I swiftly decided to dispense with the filleting and just chop off their heads and tails.  They were gutted (there were livid - boom boom!), so this seemed the easiest option.

Not so.

Have you ever tried to cut off a sea bass’s head?  It’s hard work.  They’re slippery and there’s nothing to hold on to…  I stabbed myself about another three times until, swearing and sweating, my fishy massacre was complete.  The kitchen was littered with severed heads, and the poor Ninja Cat of Death was so traumatised by all the hacking and the swearing she went to hide under the table.  The beady eyed sea bass heads mocked her as she left: ‘where are you going, you hairy pansy?  Never seen a headless fish before?  Wuss!’

Anyhoo, bloodbath aside, stuffed with parsley and lemon, drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper and wrapped in a comfy foil blanket, they were delicious (bake at 180/gas 6 for about 1/2 an hour), served with little oven roasted new potatoes…

They were proclaimed ‘alright, but a bit bony’ by de brevren, (which they were – you just have to be a bit careful), but apart from one near-choking incident and the fact that I was riddled with sea bass spine puncture wounds, it was an altogether delicious dinner.

Tonight, adorned with slightly fishy smelling plasters, I shall be making hotdogs.

Hugs, dinner, Waitrose, oh and prawn and courgette pasta with fresh peas

So we’re home, then.

The last few days have been a bit of a whirl, what with the drunken madness that was the Cybermummy Conference this weekend, but we’ve got everything into the storage locker (the last few things were just hurled in, to be honest) and my long-suffering mum is looking after us until we move in to our new pad.  The Ninja Cat of Death was very good on the way over – apart from constant growling and moaning in the back of the car, there was no ‘poo of shame‘ like last time.  She was less than impressed to meet my Mum’s cat and dog, but we kept her in for a few days, and now she’s happily roaming the upstairs, coming in and out of the windows like she owns the place, and giving my mum’s poor labrador Ellie a swift backhander if she steps out of line.

So far, from my wishlist, I’ve done the following:

1. Hugged my Dad (and had a nice glass of wine and a chat with him too – AND seen the swish new orange tractor)

2. Hugged Ellie.  She still smells and is still hairy.  But I love her.

3. Been out to dinner with the hubster (we had really great food… and two bottles of wine *cough* – more of this later)

4. Been for cocktails with my lovely friends (what is it with me and ‘the claw’?  Can I not pose for a photo without it?):

5.  Been to Waitrose.  Happy, happy days.  I walked round like a grinning lunatic and came back with all sorts of loveliness.  I’m going to have to rein myself in though or otherwise I’ll be bankrupt by the end of July.  Still, they had some gorgeous prawns and FRESH PEAS!!  I spent a very enjoyable afternoon sitting in the sunshine in my mum’s garden shelling peas and sipping cold white wine.  Bliss.  Oh, and here’s what I made for tea:

Prawn and courgette pasta with fresh peas

Serves 4 generously

Good quality dried pasta (I generally reckon on 100g dried pasta per person)

1 pack large raw prawns

2-3 courgettes

As many peas as you can be bothered to shell

Splosh double cream

So first get your pasta on.  Use the biggest saucepan you have and make the water ‘as salty as the sea’ (not sure where I read that, but I always repeat it to myself when cooking it – I’m a bit sad like that).  Linguine works really well here, but I didn’t have any, so ‘tubes’ it is (I’m sure there’s a technical term for ‘tubes’, but you know what I mean).

When the pasta’s well on the way, slice the courgettes and fry in a heavy-based frying pan with a little garlic-infused rapeseed oil.  When they’re just starting to turn golden, pop in the prawns (you need to be careful not to overcook prawns or they get that horrible crunchy texture).

When the prawns go in, pop the fresh peas in with the pasta (they’ll only take a minute or two).

Now add a generous splosh of cream (double is better as it’s less prone to splitting, but you could use creme fraiche too.  Generously grind over lots of pepper too.

When the pasta and peas are just cooked, drain and add to the frying pan.  Toss everything together and serve immediately, with a good grating of Parmesan.  Noms.

This is also lovely with crab (a pot of fresh stuff or a tin of white crab meat) and some fresh, chopped chilli.

A Yeo Valley surprise and cooking with yogurt

Recently, the lovely chaps at Yeo Valley set me a little challenge: ‘fancy checking out a few of our products and then letting us know how you cook with them?’  ‘No probs’, I said, ‘piece of cake’ (see what I did there?).  So yesterday I had a call from a courier.  Not your normal ‘yes, I’m just leaving Dublin – can I have directions?’ (you want an hour’s worth of directions? I hope you’ve got a big notepad), but a lovely friendly one ‘I’ve got some stuff for you from Yeo Valley – it’s refrigerated so I’m going to personally drop it to you now’.  How’s that for service.  When it arrived, my jaw did drop somewhat, though:

Er… wow.

After unpacking (and letting a delighted D next door take her pick), I moved it all into the garage and called Poppy’s Mum to take all the children’s yogurts and those cute little tube things (she looks after two little tinies).  After weighing her down with butter, compote, pots and creme fraiche and fifteen minutes of hysterical laughter when I took the packing peanuts out to the bin and was caught by a gust of wind (it was like a packing peanut snow storm), my fridges looked like this:

Unlike Laura, there will be absolutely no lemon curduments.  Anyone seen looking even remotely suspicious near the lemon curd ones will be prodded with a sharp implement until they back the hell off.  I might even bare my teeth and snarl a bit.  What? They’re my favourite.

So what will I be doing with all this lovely stuff?  Well, I’m going to try Laura’s Lovely Lemon Curd Cheesecake, but with the Mango and Vanilla flavour instead (nomnom) and I’ll be making my talented friend Like Mam Used To Bake‘s gorgeous healthy home-made granola to stir into the little fat free blueberry pots of probiotic yogurt for breakfast.  We’ll be spooning the rhubarb yogurt over a slice of home made lemon and almond cake, and freezing the strawberry one in an ice cube tray to add to smoothies with banana and milk.  Their fruit compote is a new one for me.  I’m going to be popping a spoonful in the middle of some vanilla breakfast muffins this weekend and eating them for breakfast.

I’ll be making Anjum Anand’s Bengali Yogurt Fish (from her I Love Curry book) with the Greek Yogurt (one of my favourite fish recipes) and of course my own easy peasy tandoori chicken with the fat free natural yogurt (yummy in the boy’s packed lunches with crusty ciabatta, a blob of mayo, some rocket leaves and a teaspoon or two of mango chutney).  Talking of Indian food – I’ll also be making my Indian spiced courgette fritters and serving them with a cooling yogurt and mint dressing.

I’ll be using the creme fraiche to make my friend Erica’s gorgeous wild mushroom tagliatelle and the lovely fresh butter for all manner of cakes, biscuits and, of course, for spreading thickly on hot toast.

What an amazing selection.  I’m very impressed.  Now back to guarding the lemon curd.  Go on, just try me.  I dare you.

Moules et frites! (That’s mussels and french fries to you and me)


So, starting as we mean to go on (eating seasonally, I mean), I thought I’d give a mention to the humble mussel. Now it took me a long time to come around to them. Let’s face it, they look kind of like giant orange bogeys, but a few sunny harbourside holidays in Brittany put paid to any illusions about their fabulous taste. Now I’m a convert.

According to Loch Fyne, owners of the most dreamy seafood restaurants known to man, their Scottish Mussels are actually in season from around October to May, after which time it gets all icky with the spawning season.  So right now is the time to rush to your fishmonger for a net or two of these ugly little beauties.  We prefer ours simply done in a white wine and cream broth, but when we were on holiday it was a case of anything goes – we had ‘Caribbean Mussels’, ‘Curried Mussels’, ‘Thai Mussels’, you name it.  It’s easy to bung in whatever extra spices or herbs you fancy so be inventive (and let me know if you come up with something fantastic).

I have to say that the first couple of times I cooked them, I was terrified I was going to murder my family with some horrible, seafood-based plague, but as long as you ask how fresh the mussels are, choose ones that aren’t broken/open you’ll be fine.  Honest.

For a basic mussels with white wine and cream sauce you’ll need:

Couple of nets of fresh mussels (you’ll probably need a couple of kg for 4 people)

Small onion or a couple of shallots, very finely chopped

A big chunk of butter (say 50g)

Large glass white wine

The same amount of double cream

Fresh parsley

To prepare the mussels, firstly bung them into a big bowl of fresh cold water and give them a good rinse.  Now’s the time to throw away any broken ones or any that don’t close completely when you give them a little tap (trust me, they’re dead).  Now work methodically through them, picking off the hairy ‘beard’ bit from every one and giving them a quick scrub to remove any crusty stuff or barnacles.

Now in a big, heavy pan (to which you have a suitable well-fitting lid), melt the butter and gently fry the shallots until they’re translucent.  Turn the heat up a bit and pour in the wine – let it bubble away for a bit, then chuck in the mussels.  Pour over the cream, give them a bit of a stir then pop on the lid and leave it for a few minutes, shaking the pot occasionally.

The mussels really don’t take long to steam – they’re ready when they’re all open (about 3-4 minutes).  Don’t overcook them, if they’re open, they’re done.  Otherwise they’ll be rubbery and nasty.  Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and serve with skinny little french fries (I’m rubbish at these so I buy oven ones).

Et voila.  Bon appetite mes petites!

Frites a la oven

Yummy baguette fillings (or party food)

So me Ma’s visit all passed in a happy blur. Oh, apart from the bit when Bertie disgraced himself by eating her knitting needles- sorry Ma. Oh, and that other bit where Bertie disgraced himself by hopping into her bed and frightening her silly when she returned from a nocturnal trip to the loo – sorry again Ma. And yesterday I found myself dropping her at the airport again.

Still, no point dwelling on the negatives so I took myself off to the Pavilions in Swords. It’s not huge, but I like it because of TK Maxx. What an excellent shop. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel in the mood for trying stuff on (I was eating a Creme Egg at the time – ’tis amazing the amount of men that stare at you when you’re trying to get the last bit of gooey stuff out of the bottom of the egg) because there are all sorts of other rubbish to rummage about in: kitchen stuff, books, cushions, you name it. I came away with a lovely lime green Le Creuset jug, a Typhoon vintage pink pie dish, a pink enamel storage tin and a very handy stainless steel strainer (small enough holes to keep at least some of my rice from ending up in the sink), plus change from thirty Euro. Not bad eh? I dropped into Dunnes on the way back and got some of their nice frozen prawns and their free range chicken (well done Dunnes – excellent selection!!) along with some baguettes. Hubby’s mate, J, is still staying (Bertie’s biscuit pusher) and I thought I’d do a couple of nice things that we can bung into the baguettes with some rocket. First up will be the yummy little chicken cakes that I always do (heaven with some nice sweet chilli sauce and SO easy, and also I’ll do some tamarind prawns:

Chicken Cakes

Couple of raw chicken breasts or prawns (must be raw or you’ll get a big wet mess)
1 medium red chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large spring onion, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cornflour
2 tbsp Coriander leaves, chopped
Pinch of salt

So basically, whiz all the ingredients in a blender. I reserve the cornflour until last so you can see how thick it is – it’s amazing how it differs between batches – you need it thick enough to stay together in hot oil. So you can either make patties or just dollop tablespoons of the mixture into a half inch of hot oil until golden. This works just as well with prawns when you can also spread it onto toast, press on some sesame seeds and fry until the prawns are pink and the sesame seeds lightly tanned.

Tamarind Prawns

1 pack prawns, defrosted, or fresh ones if you’re that lucky – the bigger the better
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp tamarind paste

So pop the prawns into a bowl with the rest of the ingredients so that they marinate for a while, then bung them straight into a hot wok until they’re pink and gorgeous and the sauce is reduced and sticky. Heaven sprinkled with sliced spring onion on noodles, rice, or just wodged into a baguette with some mayo a la English Towers. Excuse me while I wipe my drool from the keyboard

Baked Salmon Parcels

Happy Boxing Day! Or Happy St Stephen’s Day, depending on where you reside. I hope, dear reader, that your Christmas Day was as happy and mad as ours. The smalls didn’t get up until 8am (very satisfying, especially as Lou next door was up at 5am – no, of course I’m not smirking). Hubby and I had next door round for drinks and proceeded to get very happy (proof in itself that you can leave a turkey for an hour and a half in foil with no ill effects – it was certainly rested), ending in an unfeasibly giggly Christmas dinner that was enjoyed by all (oh, apart from the chestnuts but that’s another story). I got some lubly presents, including a beautiful heart necklace from Hubby with a pink diamond in the middle, and more cookery books than you can shake a stick at. Small Eric Clapton and Smaller Slash got the guitars of their dreams. The rest of the day passed in an ear splitting blur of riffs and jagged feedback. Bliss.

Anyhoo, digressing. To the baked salmon. There’s a great fishmonger near us (bit of a rarity these days I’d say) who’ll cut you the biggest fleshiest chunks of salmon that make perfect baked parcels. We usually wrap them in baking paper or foil, but if you’re feeling flash, you can wrap them in pastry too and they’re divine.

For the salmon:

4 large chunks of salmon fillet (boneless)
½ pack butter
1 fennel bulb
1 onion
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 200/gas whatever (6?). So slice your fennel and onion very finely, melt a large knob of butter in the pan, add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper and cook them slowly until they’re translucent (they don’t need to be done, they’ll get another 20 mins in the oven). Cut four large squares of greaseproof paper or foil, pile a spoonful of the onion/fennel mixture into the middle of each square, then plonk your salmon on top. Add a sprig of dill and an extra knob of butter, maybe a bit more seasoning, then fold up into a parcel and plonk onto a baking tray. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon) and serve, with a flourish, still in the parcels, so your guests get treated to a lovely fenelly facial sauna as they open their parcel.

If you’re feeling flash, knock up some pastry:

9 oz plain flour
5 oz cold butter, cubed
1 egg, beaten

First, mix the flour and butter in a food processor, slowly adding the egg until it comes together (or do it the tried and tested English Mum way, which is to shove it all in then add the whole egg and hope for the best – if it’s a bit sticky add some more flour). Or to do it the old fashioned way, rub the butter in to the flour, and bring together with the egg. Squish your pastry into a flat lump and cool in the fridge for half an hour (or however long – it’ll keep in there). Then just roll out your pastry, cut into squares, then dollop your mixture in and wrap your salmon with the pastry as you would a parcel. One word of warning – if you opt for the pastry version, be less generous with the knob of butter on top or you’ll end up with a very soggy bottom (and who needs a soggy bottom eh?). After I’ve done the first wrap, I roll the edges with the rolling pin and discard any extra before bringing them to the top, which both seals them and ensures they’re not too thick. These will take about half an hour. Serve and bedazzle!

Kind of Chinese

We had a right laugh yesterday. C&J came to dinner and I decided to rustle up a dodgy approximation of a Chinese meal. Actually, it went really well and although not particularly authentic, it tasted okay. I had that last-minute flap when everything suddenly either became ready or needed doing at the last minute, but that’s the beauty of having friends round, because they either don’t care, or they’re too polite to say anything. Either way you’re on to a winner.

So, quick menu (recipes at the bottom):

Five Spice Chilli Cashews
Teriyaki Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken Skewers
Red Thai Curry Prawns
Chinese vegetables in oyster sauce

I also did some steamed rice (supposed to be with lemongrass but they didn’t have any in Tesco), and I also planned to do a noodle dish with spring onion and chilli, but in typical ‘doh!’ fashion, found them still in the fridge after dinner. Ah well. We teamed it with a nice, chilled bottle of Chenin Blanc, then J brought along an absolutely to die for cinnamon crumble cake and a chocolate one too for my poor, chocolate addicted children, and we spent rather too long afterwards indulging in a lovely bottle of Hardy’s Crest Cabernet Shiraz and playing mad games on the Wii (still think it’s a stupid name).

So, for the Five Spice Chilli Cashew Nuts (just a little appetiser): heat 300g cashew nuts in a dry pan for 1-2 minutes until toasted. Sprinkle over 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (actually, I found some Thai seven-spice powder which was really nice), 1 tbsp salt (omit if you’re using the salted kind) and 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes, stir for another 30 seconds and Robert’s your Uncle.

For the Teriyaki Chicken, which turned out to be particularly good and very easy, I nicked the idea for the Teriyaki sauce recipe off another one for Crispy Duck Teriyaki Noodle Salad from Ashbell McElveen, who did it on UKTV Food, but then (as usual) bastardised it to my own liking. Basically you just bung 8 tbsp of Teriyaki Sauce (Kikkoman do a good one) in a bowl with 4 tbsp soy sauce and a tbsp Sesame Oil (the recipe calls for 6 tbsp but I was making a healthy version), plus 2 tbsp clear honey, the juice of a lime, one fat garlic clove (grated) and an inch piece of ginger, also grated. Put in your fillets of raw chicken and leave to marinate for a couple of hours. Finally, just grill the chicken pieces until cooked through, basting them with the marinade a couple of times during cooking (obviously don’t serve the marinade uncooked – Salmonella Teriyaki is never going to be a winner).

For the chicken skewers, I just threaded chunks of chicken breast onto pre-soaked wooden skewers, grilled them then served them with the wonderful Ching He Huang’s Sweet and Sour Sauce

For the Thai Red Prawn Curry, I used my Thai Green Prawn Curry recipe but added a sliced red chilli and substituted the red curry paste for the green one.

And finally, for the Chinese vegetables, just chop a couple of Pak Choi and a head of Chinese Leaf, then quickly cook them in the wok with a splash of boiling water (so they basically steam) until just tender, then drain and at the last minute stir in a tbsp of Oyster Sauce. Yum.

There you are, that should keep you busy. Needless to say, when J&C left, Hubby and I were in such a good mood (oh, the joy – adult company that doesn’t include each other!) we ended up carrying on drinking. Sore heads all round today then.

Easy Thai Prawn Curry

Well thank heavens for the weekend. The ridiculous school run has left us all cranky and tired, and last night we all just wanted to crash out. I, being the total pig I am, was in the mood for a take-away curry. That being impossible as all the delivery men are too scared to chance the unfeasibly long, dark drive and the man-eating rabbits, I settled for some cooking-as-therapy and knocked this one up which, I have to say, was rather nice.

Sometimes I’ll be in the mood to take my time and make a proper one. Nigella does a great recipe in her Feasts book for Mughlai Chicken, which has hundreds of ingredients and takes ages, which I love, but Hubby doesn’t like creamy curries so I tend to cut out the cream and increase the garam masala and chilli. Also, I don’t know about at home, but here they sell tiger prawns in brine, which are lovely and cook really well, but obviously fresh is better. They’re also gorgeous fried in butter with the crushed chillies we bought in Turkey and served on croutons (ooh must remember that for when the girls come over).

Sorry, rambling. Anyway, the curry pastes that they sell in jars are really good – I recommend them if you’re in a hurry rather than faff around grinding up all those spices. It’s just dawned on me that my friend R’s husband, the lovely M is a chef. I hope he doesn’t read this sacrilege – brined prawns and curry paste – he’ll probably have heart failure. Ah well, it tastes good so here, for everyone apart from M who should look away now (sorry M!), is the recipe:

Thai Prawn Curry

2 x garlic cloves
1 x onion
1 x red chilli
Tiger prawns
Thai green curry paste
1 tin coconut milk

Heat some oil in a large wok or saucepan and add your finely chopped onion. Add the garlic cloves – I like them finely sliced but crush if you like. I also add a finely chopped chilli complete with seeds to shut Hubby up, but you can leave it out, then a couple of large spoonfuls of the curry paste. Stir, then add your prawns (if raw, you need to wait now until they turn pink), and then add the coconut milk. Simmer with the lid off until it reduces a bit, then eat with some rice in a bowl in front of the telly, then dance around like a complete family of idiots to MTV until dizzy but perfectly chilled.

(#2 had a ham and cheese sandwich).