Thursday, 30 November 2017

Smoked spaghetti and there's snow forecast!

Recipe of the week...
... Smoked mackerel & kale carbonara

Ingredients: 250g spaghetti, 100g kale, 4 eggs yolks, 4 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese, 2 smoked mackerel fillets, salt and pepper.

Time taken: 20 mins.

Serves: 2 generous platefuls of pasta.

Hi readers,

How’s it going? Hope you’ve got the same beautifully sunny, frosty day that we’ve got up here. It’s certainly fresh out! As I write, readers, we’re right at the end of November and there are wintry showers forecast overnight.

I’ve deemed it to be hat weather fo sho and found out my snuggest woolly hat, which I won’t leave the house unless I’m wearing now. I could see my breath, readers, in the car this morning. My poor car hiccoughed into life and we got going but – Christ – it’s a cold day! Do you have the same wintry weather where you live??

This last weekend, readers, I ventured up to Newcastle (non-Brits – it’s one of the most northernmost cities in England) for a nostalgic visit back to the place where I studied for uni. And it was COLD. But magical, too! We got to see the Fenwick Christmas window, which is Paddington Bear themed for 2017, and we did a little Christmas shopping around Eldon Square. Then had a good dance in Flares later that night!

This was the first of a series of visits I’ve lined up, readers, to see friends over the festive season. It’s such a fab thing at this time of year to be able to get to together and spend time with everyone that, ultimately, you’d like to see. Hopefully – we’ll be going on loads of new adventures together in the new year!

Do you have Christmas plans starting to come together, readers? Will you be choosing a tree soon and visiting a Christmas market? Adding a little Baileys to your hot chocolate and donning a crazy Christmas jumper? Mulling your wine and formulating some new year’s resolutions for 2018?

I’m excited, readers! I’m definitely starting to get excited for Christmas and yes STILL trying to maintain some normality on weekdays. Exercising a little, and taking nights off drinking, and cooking healthy meals packed with lots of energy… to power me through all this Christmas action!

Our ‘Recipe of the Week’ this week, readers, is one I found in the November 2017 edition of Asda’s free Good Living magazine, which I picked up at a checkout recently. There are such good recipe ideas in freebie supermarket magazines like these, I love them! This is a really simple but great-tasting, five-ingredient recipe for a smoked mackerel & kale carbonara.

I was drawn in by the lure of only five ingredients, readers, and wanted to try mackerel – a fish I hadn’t eaten before! And I’m pleased to report it all went well in the kitchen. This straightforward spaghetti recipe took no time to whip together on an evening earlier this week, after I staggered in from a HIIT class at the gym, and it was certainly the good plateful of grub I needed. It did the job!

Fancy trying this dish yourself? Here’s the recipe in just ten simple steps…


Recipe: Smoked mackerel & kale carbonara

1.     Okay, here we go! Set the kettle boiling and, while you wait, set some Christmas tunes playing. Open a window for a little fresh air and stretch reeeeally tall – see if you can touch the ceiling! Pour yourself a beverage and get all the ingredients out.

2.     You’re ready for action – pop the spaghetti (about half a pack) into a saucepan and leave boiling for ten minutes.

3.     Meanwhile, use your hands to break the mackerel up into bite sized pieces.

4.     Crack the egg yolks into a mug and – if you’re skilled at egg cracking – try and save the egg whites in another mug.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: The whites might come in for something! It seems a shame to waste them – maybe make an egg white omelette for breakfast in the morning?

5.     Spoon around 4 teaspoons of grated parmesan (or ‘Italian hard cheese’) into the mug, along with a big shake of ground black pepper.

6.     Add a few tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and use a fork to stir the contents of the mug together.

7.     Add the kale to the pan with the spaghetti in and cook for a couple of minutes.

8.     Then, drain the kale and spaghetti before returning to the pan over a low heat.

9.     Use a big spoon to stir the egg mix and the flaked mackerel into the pasta. The egg mix should soon cook to form a rich, creamy sauce.

10.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then ladle out onto two dinner plates. Tuck in to your delicious tea!



What do you reckon, readers? Is this recipe tempting you? Do the steps sound do-able? Does the pic look worth the effort? I’d love to know what you’re thinking! Maybe this sounds just like a recipe you’ve tried before, or rather you’re intrigued as you’d never normally think to make spaghetti in this style? Either way – shout out! Share your thoughts.

I say, don’t be put off by the mackerel or the kale, if you have reservations about either of these ingredients. Maybe you don’t normally like one? Or you’ve had a bad food experience? Or you haven’t tried but you’ve certainly heard bad things? Don’t let it put you off! Life is brief, readers, and I think you’d be missing out if you didn’t give this dish a go.

So – let me know how you get on! Or let me know if you have any ideas for improving this recipe? Would you add in another flavour, or perhaps prepare the dish differently? I’d love to hear your thoughts, readers. And any festive cooking or baking you’re getting up to – please share your pics and ideas you have for Christmas dishes I could try out in the kitchen!

Drive safely,


Thursday, 23 November 2017

Saying no to Christmas and yes to cauliflower (for now)

Recipe of the week...
... Prawn Fried Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients: 200g fresh king prawns, 1 small cauliflower, 2 carrots, 1 tin of peas, 4 eggs, 1 bunch of spring onions, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 splashes of olive oil, 1 small root of fresh ginger, a big glug of soy sauce (or tamari), a small glug of sesame oil, salt and pepper.

Serves: 2 big portions or 3 modest ones.

Time taken: Half an hour veg prep and then 20 mins cooking.

Hi readers,

How are you all today, my lovelies? Are you doing okay? As I write, it’s a bright and sunny winters day in November. The weather may have been blowing a gale last night but, today, we’re enjoying the calm after the storm. And locating our outdoor furniture.

It’s Thursday, and we’re not on with advent yet.. but Christmas is creeping. Sheffield lit its Christmas tree on Sunday (I was along to see, with a tasty mulled wine in hand) and the shops are stocked with Christmas gifts. We’ve perfume ads on every TV break and they’ve sent some ‘celebs’ into the Australian jungle for I’m a Celebrity… I’ve tried a Starbucks eggnog latte and greatly enjoyed it. Go! Get one.


But, the Christmas tree is not yet up. I refuse until at least the 1st December. And – other than picking up the odd bit – Christmas shopping isn’t underway for real yet. If they’re playing Christmas songs in shops, I’ve successfully dodged them so far. The radio remains a safe space. And I’m yet to launch Christmas baking, although I did recently succumb to a mini mince pie or two after wine…

Whether you’re on-board or heavily resisting the looming prospect of Christmas, readers, it is on the approach. And that’s exciting, I think. I may not have donned a Christmas jumper mid-November, but I am looking forward to the fun of Christmas when we get a bit nearer. For now, though, at least until my work Christmas do kicks things off a week on Friday, I’m enjoying some last normal non-jingling non-carolling days of peace.


For now, I’m trying to eat relatively normally and keep up exercising and maintain regular yoga and book club and pub quiz attendance. Things can stay normal for just a bit longer, for my liking. The thing that has (so far) made my week? A body combat class! My first one. Which was loads of fun, with a bonkers instructor and rave music, and loads of enthusiastic punch and kick moves. Was great.

Also, some new music. I had a hunt around online and was – in general – vastly disappointed with the new music on offer. C’mon UK alternative music scene! But, I did find a few new songs to jazz up my playlists.


Here are the best, I reckon, of the bunch:

1. The Bay – Stereo Honey
2. Brooke Bentham – Losing, baby
3. Clean Bandit – I Miss You (ft. Julia Michaels)
4. Tove Lo – shedontknowbutsheknows 
5. Major Lazer – Love Life (ft. Azaryah)

I recommend. And if you have any new tunes to recommend – please do! I’m suffering a musical drought, so that would make my day. And now – hopefully – I can make your day with a fantastic recipe to rock your socks. This week’s recipe, readers, comes from Instagram.

An account I’ve discovered, called Tipbuzz, posts fascinating recipe videos of the kind where the camera hovers over the pan and you watch them do the whole recipe super-fast. Once you start watching you can’t look away! I’ve adapted slightly, but here’s the original recipe written up on Tipbuzz and you can watch the video here on Youtube.

And here’s my take on the recipe in just 12 simple steps…


Recipe: Prawn Fried Cauliflower Rice

1. Prepare yourself for some serious veg prep! Open a window for some air and set a little upbeat music playing in the background. Pour yourself a drink – whether soft or alcoholic – and dig out your choppiest kitchen knife.

2. First, use a grater to shred the cauliflower into coarse rice grain-size pieces.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Persevere, even if your arm hurts. I hate food waste and for this recipe you can grate the whole cauliflower including its stalk – do so.

3. Then, slice and dice your carrots; top and tail your spring onions, and finely chop; peel your garlic and ginger, and finely chop both.

4. Open your tin of peas and drain. Then… ta-da! Veg prep complete. Heat a splash of cooking oil in a frying pan or wok, and pat your prawns dry using kitchen roll.

5. Once your pan has heated, add your prawns to the pan along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let your prawns sizzle for a minute or two on one side, before turning over to cook on the other side.

6. After a minute or two, once your prawns are pink all over, remove the pan from the heat and spoon your prawns into a bowl for now. Set aside.

7. Wipe the pan clean and return to the heat with a fresh splash of cooking oil. Once heated, add the carrots, garlic and ginger to the pan and fry for five minutes to soften your carrot.

8. Next, add the peas, grated cauliflower and ¾ of your spring onion to the pan. Stir everything together and fry for a further five minutes. In the meanwhile, crack your eggs into a mug and whisk together using a fork.

9. Add a big glug of soy sauce (or tamari) and a small glug of sesame oil to the pan, stir into the veg until evenly mixed, and then spoon everything aside to make small well in the centre of the pan.

10. Turn the temperature under the pan down to a low heat. Pour your egg mix into the well in the centre of the pan, and then use your fork to scramble.

11. Once your egg mix is quite solid and scrambled, then you can mix everything together once more so your eggs spreads about the pan. Season with salt and pepper.

12. At last, remove the pan from the heat and spoon your fried cauliflower rice onto plates to serve. Top with king prawns and a scattering of spring onion. Tuck in!

What a plateful of tasty, healthy food!


What do you think, readers? Does this recipe tickle your fancy? Are you tempted by the tasty pic? Fancy an arm workout grating all that cauliflower?? I recommend! If you’re looking for a gluten-free, carb-free recipe to try out, in these last few days/weeks of healthiness before Christmas kicks off for real… then I say give it a go.

This recipe is a great way to get 4 of your 5-a-day all in one go, there are no complicated ingredients to go out and source, and the only costly ingredient really is your prawns. So, this isn’t a dish that will break the bank. It’s healthy and tasty and colourful food! It MIGHT give you wind. Just a little bit. If you’re maybe not used to such veg content in your diet.

So.. this recipe did maybe give me a little wind, readers. I will concede! But that’s the ONLY drawback about it, I so promise, and maybe that’s only me! Perhaps you can digest this no problem, you could eat it three meals a day and not bat an eye. I hope so, readers. I hope you try out this recipe, and you like the food, and you do not spend the whole night blowing your bedspread up in the air.

Let me know! If you give this recipe a try, readers, please do let me know how you get on, and send over any feedback or ideas for improvement. All will be greatly received. And have a wonderful rest of your week, everyone! Not long until the weekend now. Power on.

Sizzle safely,


Thursday, 16 November 2017

Spanish adventure and foooooood

Recipe of the week...
... Grilled Seabass & Heritage Tomato Salad

Ingredients: 2 fillets seabass, 400g mixed heritage tomatoes, 1 shallot, 2 tablespoons small capers, 1 tablespoon sliced black olives, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ teaspoon pimenton, 1 teaspoon honey, 3 tablespoons good quality olive oil, a small handful of fresh mint and basil leaves, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves: 2 platefuls of good Spanish grub

Time taken: 10 minutes prep then 25 mins cooking time

Hi readers,

How are you all?? Are you well? And wonderful? As I write, it’s a cold and dark November night in Sheffield. Pretty chilly out and cosy inside! I’ve just eaten a delicious dinner (recipe to follow…) and am steeling myself to head out into the night for the pub quiz. How about you, readers? I hope you have lovely evening plans, or – blissfully – no plans at all!

It’s been a shock coming back off holiday to this cold, readers. I spent 5 nights last week in the lovely, sunny Barcelona. And I was ready to come home for my own bed, and a return to normalness, and crumpets and all that… but – what am I saying?? Take me back!

Take me back to the warm sun on my skin, and a total lack of an alarm clock, daylight in the morning and daylight in an evening, too. Take me back to warm croissants and freshly squeezed Spanish orange juice, bustling markets and sizzling paella, cracking open a cool Estrella on the hot sandy beach. Take me back to crazy Gaudi architecture and little winding Gothic streets, with Catalan flags proudly strewn over every balcony.

SIGH sigh sigh sigh… oh well, readers. I miss Barcelona but most good things do tend to come to an end. It was a welcome break from the everyday, and I have some holiday spirit still brightening my November. And I’m still telling the grand story of my holiday, featuring all the most exciting moments from my solo adventure abroad, the wonder that is Find My iPhone, and surprising kindness from strangers…

I will stop now, readers. Going on about my holiday and ever so SLIGHTLY rubbing it in, for anyone who hasn’t also escaped abroad for some November sunshine. But, I will say – if you get the chance to go to Barcelona, definitely do. There’s the beach, there’s the food, and culture, and history, and anything more you might ever want from a holiday… with EXCELLENT tapas and sangria. Not to be missed. And I’m DONE gloating!

This week, readers, our recipe of the week is one inspired by my recent trip to Barcelona. This is a recipe I found within a menu at my hostel, the Generator Barcelona. I didn’t actually eat at my hostel – per se – mainly I was just drinking sangria. But I was merrily leafing through a menu at one point and happened upon this colourful-looking Spanish recipe, for Grilled Seabass & Heritage Tomato Salad, which I vowed I would defo recreate when I made it back home.

Now I must confess, readers, despite my absolute determine to recreate this recipe… I did fall short on a weekday evening shop with sourcing all the right ingredients. So, my first attempt at this Grilled Seabass & Heritage Tomato Salad does feature seabream instead of seabass, paprika instead of pimenton, and cherry tomatoes instead of heritage. Not my best effort! But tasting great all the same.

If you fancy a taste of the Barcelona sunshine, on a cold and dark evening, then this light summers dish could be just the perfect antidote to your wintery world. Here’s the recipe, readers, in just ten simple steps…


Recipe: Grilled Seabass & Heritage Tomato Salad

1.     Set the scene… I’m thinking a few candles lit, a glass of Spanish wine in hand (maybe a rioja? or a tempranillo?), some traditional Spanish flamenco music playing (

2.     Begin by trimming the sea bass (or bream) so the edges are clean and tidy and the fillets are both the same shape. Pat the skin dry, and then use a sharp knife to score the skin every centimetre.

3.     Slice the tomatoes randomly into halves and quarters. Don’t worry, different shapes and sizes look nice for variation. Rinse and roughly chop the capers, then finely dice the shallot, and roughly chop your mint and basil leaves.

4.     Add the olive oil, honey, lemon juice and pimenton to a large mixing bowl. Mix and season to taste.

5.     Then, add the shallots, capers, black olives, sliced tomatoes and ¾ of the mint and basil leaves. Stir together your salad.

6.     Heat a non-stick frying pan – or, even better, a grill pan – until very hot. Meanwhile, season the fish with a little salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil on both sides.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Randomly, I decided to use my George Foreman grill instead of a grill pan… and it worked! I definitely got lucky there, readers. Could have gone terribly wrong. But, if you have a George Foreman, I say go for it!

7.     Add a couple of drops of oil to the pan and place a square of greaseproof paper on it. Lay the fish fillets on the paper in the pan, skin-side down. As soon as they go in, press each fillet down with your fingers to stop them from curling up.

8.     After a few minutes, once your fish looks to be around 75% cooked, carefully turn it over and cook for a further minute. Then remove from the pan and set aside.

9.     Dish up your tomato salad in the centre of two dinner plates and place the sea bass, skin up, on top.

10.  Drizzle with some olive oil and the rest of the chopped mint and basil leaves… then serve up! Enjoy a fine tasting Spanish tea.

Mmmmmmmmmm yeah!


And that’s all there is to it, readers! Not too tricky, I don’t think? If you’re a better chef than me and you manage to actually get all the ingredients then who knows maybe this tastes even better than my first attempt tonight! I certainly plan to give the recipe another go with the full roster of ingredients soon.

Let me know what you think, readers. Is this dish something you’ve tried before? Something you’ve ordered in Spain while holidaying, maybe?? Does this look like the kind of food you’d like to try? I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’m still new to the world of fish eating, having only started up eating fish very recently, so I’m easily pleased and thought this was a simple but exciting tea – would you agree?

Shout out with your thoughts on this Grilled Seabass & Heritage Tomato Salad, readers, and please do let me know how you get on in the kitchen! Did it all go to plan? Any disasters to speak of? Is there anything you’d do differently? Can you improve on this recipe at all??

Until we meet again – have a great weekend, everyone!

Salad safely,