Category Archives: Finger Foods

Halloumi and Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Halloumi Kebabs

We’re truly in the throws of one hot summer here. And for once the UK seems to be matching the glorious South of France climate too, hooray …. but please may it last through to August when I shall be descending on the homeland to, fingers crossed, bask in the delights of an English summer for the first time in many years!. Unlikely, but one can live in hope.

I’d like to say the fabulous weather has brought on a spate of barbecues at Chez Foti but to be honest there simply hasn’t been the time with everything else that’s going on. But we did manage a lovely one last Saturday with an assortment of Kebabs, Satay Sticks and Salads. Very much enjoyed by all and both kids happily munched away.

I LOVE Halloumi on a barbie and it makes for a fab veggie kebab. And as I recently discovered my kids like it too it’s sure to become a bit of a regular round here, though they’ll have a fight on their hands for it with me! Since Halloumi doesn’t take long to ‘cook’, more like brown, I suggest you either bbq it with quick-to-cook veggies like cherry tomatoes, finely sliced courgette ribbons and mushrooms OR like me with a pre-roasted selection of slightly longer-to-cook veggies, namely red peppers, aubergine and thickly cut courgette. Obviously the roasted veggies can be prepped in advance, so all you need to do pre-barbie is thread them with the Halloumi on to skewers.

fsf-summerCooking-with-HerbsSeeing as I’m hosting this month’s Four Seasons Food with a Barbecue and Barbecue Side theme I shall of course be entering this post! Also to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs Challenge.

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs

Great for Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Barbecues, Barbecues Sides, Outdoor Eating, Vegetarians

Notes: Feel free to vary your choice of veggies as to what you have in, or your kids will eat

Makes 6 – 8 Kebabs Sticks

1 small courgette

½ aubergine

1 red pepper

1 white or red onion, large

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon oregano leaves, roughly chopped

1 pack Halloumi cheese, 225g or 250g

Pre-soaked bamboo kebab sticks or metal skewers

1. Pre-heat your oven to 200ºC.

2. Slice the courgette into 6/7mm slices and cut the pepper and aubergine into similar sized chunks. Cut the onion in half, then each half into quarters. Half each of the quarters and separate the layers to roughly match the thickness of the veggies.

3. Place all the veggies in a roasting tray. Stir in a tablespoon of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper (go easy on the salt for littlies). Bake in the hot oven for 20 minutes.

4. Mix the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon and oregano in a bowl big enough to easily house all the veggies.

5. After 20 minutes remove the veggies from the oven and place in the bowl with the marinade. Ensure they have an even coating and leave to marinate until you’re almost ready to barbecue.

6. Cut your Halloumi into similar sized chunks to the veggies.

7. When you’re ready to barbecue thread the veggies and Halloumi onto your pre-soaked bamboo sticks or metal skewers, alternating between each component.

8. Cook the kebabs on a hot barbecue (or under a hot grill) for 4 to 5 minutes turning frequently. The cheese should be golden.

One very excited wee boy about the prospect of a barbie!

Jacques for once without a silly face. But very excited about the prospect of his forthcoming barbie fodder!

Roasted Veggie & Halloumi Kebabs

Never much time to snap a photo before little hands start grabbing!

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Griddled Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta

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One Pot Ratatouille


Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay

Jacques tucking into his ‘chicken lollipops’ with zeal

I’ve been meaning to make satay sticks for the kids for so long now, and it’s taken me to host the Four Seasons Food barbecue event to actually get around to it. And predictably they were a huge hit. With both the littlies and myself, plus some friends I also trialled them out on with an additional chilli kick. It’s funny how food on sticks is always so appealing? And now, predictably also, I’m wondering why oh why it took me so long! Prepped in minutes, left to marinade for a few hours then barbied or grilled in a flash.

PAC_Logo_L-300x300Having travelled extensively in SE Asia in my twenties I must have gobbled my way through an inordinate amount of pork and chicken satay sticks through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, each with their national and regional twists. Always an exceptionally tasty, cheap and highly addictive street food snack on the hoof.

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

Pig A Chic @ FBC5

I was recently reminded and inspired of the wonders of satay by the highly authentic Pig A Chic who were dishing out Thai satay sticks and papaya salad (plus a range of hot sauces) a plenty to hungry delegates all weekend at Food Blogger Connect. If you get a chance to sample their food then you really MUST, please do check out their site at www.pigachic.com or follow them on Twitter @Pigachic.

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Even Little Miss F LOVED them, devouring three!

Now on to my own considerably less authentic but nevertheless pretty tasty Satay Sticks. I made them first minus any chilli with the kids in mind and the ‘chicken lollipops’ proved very popular. I think Jacques managed five and Little Miss F three. And served with barbecued Halloumi & Roasted Veggie Kebabs and a Child-Friendly Salad that was an impressive eat. Yes, salad….I’ve FINALLY found a salad they’ll eat, but more on that in a later post. Whilst the chilli-less ones were fragrantly tasty I have to admit to personally preferring my grown-up version with a couple of finely minced hot chillies thrown into the marinade mix.

Naturally I shall be entering my post to this month’s Four Seasons fsf-summerFood, hosted by myself and with the seasonal theme of Barbecues and Barbecue Side DishesAnd if you have your own barbecue dish then please do join in, there’s even a prize this month of the Pitt Cue Co Cookbook.

Chicken Satay Sticks

Chicken Satay Sticks

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Appetisers, Starters, Mains, Barbecues (or Grilling)

Special Equipment: Pre-soaked bamboo skewers or metal skewers

Notes: How about substituting the chicken for pork or tofu?

3 free range chicken breasts

2 heaped tablespoons crunchy peanut butter

2 tablespoons thick coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 dessertspoon Thai fish sauce

1 dessertspoon fresh ginger, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 heaped teaspoon soft brown sugar

1 – 2 hot chillies, finely minced (optional)

1. Flatten the chicken breasts a little. I usually bash mine with a rolling pin on a chopping board. Pretty therapeutic actually. Cut the flattened chicken into narrow long strips, about six per breast.

2. Combine all the other ingredients in a medium sized bowl to make the marinade.

3. Stir the chicken strips into the marinade. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two. Or even over night.

4. Cut in half and soak your bamboo skewers (if using) in water for 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook.

5. Thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers.

6. Heat up your barbecue or grill. When very hot cook the chicken on each side for 5 minutes until a little charred and cooked through. Serve immediately.

Chicken Satay Sticks

My grown-up chillied version served up as part of a Tapas night with the gals. Inclusive of sangria.

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Blue Cheese Barbecue Burgers


Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops

Francesca: strawberry & banana yogurt pops

Wowsers things are busy round here. Packing and organising for the BIG move to the UK, working on a migration to a new blog (more on my exciting venture soon!), a trip to London for Food Blogger Connect last weekend (again more on this wonderful weekend shortly), snippets of time visiting friends for good byes AND it’s the big ten week school holidays here so have two kids desperate for some holiday action!. Needless to say there’s been many a trip to various water parks, swimming pools and lakes. So I offer my sincere apologies for the sporadic blogging now and over the next few weeks.  The simply aren’t enough hours in the day for all I have to do!.

In view of my extreme state of busyness here’s a real quickie of a recipe today, Strawberry and Banana Yoghurt Pops which could probably be made and bobbed in the freezer in less than two minutes flat. And they’re good, really good. More importantly the kids LOVE them, and since they’re considerably healthier than any lolly you could possibly buy, containing only fresh fruit, natural yogurt and a weeny bit of honey to sweeten, that’s a very good thing in this baking hot weather we’re currently having!. Homemade lollies are definitely the way forward, and if you don’t have any lolly makers why not invest in a set or two, mine cost a mere two euros! And if you don’t want to use fresh fruit you could always just fill and freeze them with fruit juice (which is actually what I do more often than not!).

Feel free to vary your fresh fruit, a few days ago I also made a batch with raspberries and peaches (though admittedly I did add a little more honey), just use up whatever you have lurking. A great way to get your kids eating plenty of fruit, and to quickly use up any gluts.

Strawberry & Banana Lolly

Credit-Crunch-MunchBeing notably cheaper than bought lollies I shall be entering this post to Credit Crunch Munch’s event, co-hosted by Camila of Fab Food 4 All and Helen of Fuss Free Strawberry-FundasFlavours, and this month by Sian of Fishfingers for Tea. I recently happened to notice a new challenge on the block called Strawberry Preservation Fundas, hosted by Techie Cookie Freaky calling for bloggers to submit their strawberry preservation recipes, so naturally I thought of entering my lollies!.

Yogurt Lollies

Strawberry and Banana Yogurt Pops

Great For: Toddlers and Pre-schoolers, Big Kids, Grown Ups, Summer, Parties, Snacks, After School Treats, Fruit Gluts

Serves: Makes 6 Lollies (though this will depend on the size of your lolly maker)

Special Equipment: a hand held stick blender OR food processor or liquidiser, lolly makers

125g strawberries, washed and hulled

a large banana

125g plain yogurt, greek, cows, sheeps, goats are all fine (I’ve tried them all!)

dessertspoon of runny honey

1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and whiz with a stick blender until the consistency of a smoothie. Or place in a processor or liquidiser and blitz.

2. Pour into your lolly moulds and place in a freezer for a few hours or overnight until they’re set.

And that really is all there is to it!. Off to do some packing…..

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

Strawberry & Banana Yogurt Pops

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Minted Pea and Feta Dip

Pea & Feta Dip

I make a lot of dips at Chez Foti. The kids love them, usually, and they strike me as one of the best and easiest ways to pump lots of raw veggies into little tums. They’ll happily munch away on pepper, carrot and cucumber sticks with a tasty dip but rarely touch them otherwise. Especially not in a form of salad. Oh no, not a salad. It’s funny now kids just don’t ‘do’ salad eh? I wonder at what age they’ll happily tuck into a plate of dressed leaves, 10?, 18?. Please do let me know what tricks you deploy, or at what age they’ll get salad?. I fear we’re a long way off from reaching that milestone.

So dips and sticks it is for a while. But dips are good anyway, and can be made from pretty wholesome ingredients. And they’re so conveniently quick, a couple of minutes of assembly followed by a further couple of whizzing and dolloping and hey presto a homemade dip in probably less time than you’ve take to select a supermarket ready-made one. Here’s a couple of my previously dippy posts: A Couple of Fishy Dippy Dip Dips and A Trio of Dips for Babies, Toddlers & Big People.

And this is a goodie of a dip, and could even be made from store cupboard ingreds. Simply peas (fresh or frozen) whizzed up with feta, lemon zest & juice, fresh mint and a little olive oil and black pepper. Very very tasty. And met with 50% approval from the kids. Jacques wolfed it down, and Francesca reluctantly tried after several minutes of complaining that she didn’t like ‘green sauce’ (meaning pesto which she has a weird and inexplicable fear of!) and ate some. Not too bad a result. And I’ll be happily polishing off the rest for my own dinner of dips and sticks later. Though possibly with wine.

Pea and Feta Dip

Dips also give me an excuse to bring out my new and very gorgeous Oogaa divider bowls. Thanks so much to my friend Sam for sending them over, and indeed for designing such wonderful products in the first place!. Pretty fab I think you’ll agree. And my kids LOVE them, such fun and vibrant colours and designs.

fsf-summerJust a couple of challenges to enter. Firstly my very own co-hosted Four Seasons Food challenge, this month hosted by Anneli over at (award winning!) Delicieux with the theme of Outdoor Nibbles and Picnics. Would you believe this’ll be entry numero 48?. Cooking-with-HerbsNot bad for our first month! And secondly to the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge. And finally for my first ever time to Anyonita Nibbles’ Tasty Tuesdays

Minted Pea & Feta Dip

Minted Pea & Feta Dip

Great for: Finger Foods, Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Picnics, Lunches, Nibbles, Snacks

200g fresh or frozen peas

75g feta, crumbled

½ lemon, zest & juice

1 dessertspoon finely chopped fresh mint

black pepper, to taste

1. Steam or boil the peas for a couple of minutes. Drain and cool in cold water.

2. Place the cooled peas together with all the other ingredients in a bowl and whiz with a stick blender OR in a food processor.

Easy as that!. Hardly a recipe today I’m afraid, but busy, busy times.

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A Super-Healthy Carrot, Pineapple and Coconut Oil Cake dedicated to Jacques and his Grandpa

Carrot Cake RecipeNumerous events have occurred lately that have made me take stock and have a serious think about mine and my family’s diet. Two of which I’m going to tell you about today, hopefully without boring you too much! Firstly there’s Jacques. The boy with a terrible phlegmy night-time cough that he’s had all too regularly from the tender age of 8 months, keeping us awake for many an hour and many a night, sometimes for several months at a time. Numerous trips to the doctors when he was younger confirmed nothing. Then a few weeks ago, at a particularly sleep deprived time around his 3rd birthday we started to do lots of reading around the issue, and to my surprise discovered the cough may be down to a cow’s milk allergy. I have to confess to being a little sceptical as allergies, fortunately, don’t run in either of our families. But I thought I’d give it a go, immediately cutting out all cows milk, yogurts and cheeses. And do you know what, the cough dramatically stopped that very first night! Bearing in mind he’d been coughing every night for at least an hour for the previous few weeks this was a bit of a breakthrough. To say the least.

And since then I’ve on the whole been sticking to it, not regimentally as he obviously doesn’t have a severe allergy, but definitely making sure there’s no (cow’s) dairy in the late afternoons and evenings. And for a boy that adores his after-dinner yogurts (clearly where the problem lay!) this meant switching to sheep’s milk ones instead, which interestingly happen to be far tastier and handily readily available in yogurt-loving France. Luckily he’s never been a milk fan. And he’s barely coughed since. How wonderful is that?!. The (somewhat bitter) downside of his better nights of sleep are the ever-earlier wake ups, but that’s another story!

Jacques with his Grandpa

Jacques with his beloved Grandpa

Now the second event was a chance viewing of ITV’s DayBreak show (actually a friend called me up to watch it) and an interview with a young chappie, Kal Parmar, who claimed his father’s Alzheimer’s had dramatically reversed as a result of taking a regular dose of Coconut Oil. Following the show I turned to google and found quite a few people in the States were making similar claims. And Kal, being a budding film maker, is making a film about his dad, which I’ll be most excited to see. My own father has Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed a year and a half ago. So naturally he’s on strict instructions to take his Coconut Oil! And Coconut Oil being the wonder fat and food that it is, it strikes me he’s absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain.

But more on the wonders of Coconut Oil in a later blog (of which I have quite a few baked and planned!), but for now I’ll crack on with today’s recipe. A very low-sugar, low-fat, cow’s milk-free and pretty darned healthy Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake in honour of both Jacques and my dear Dad, who happen to share a very special bond. It uses Coconut Oil and Yogurt (Sheep’s in my case) in replacement of the usually large measure of Sunflower Oil, which make the cake a good deal healthier as well as being exceptionally moist. Despite it’s healthy line-up of ingredients this cake is impressively high in the taste stakes and we all loved it. And I know my Dad will too, nudge nudge Mum….

If you can’t source or don’t want to use coconut oil, just replace with sunflower. And if you want to naughty things up somewhat this would be sublime with a cream cheese frosting…

Carrot & Pineapple Cake

Carrot & Pineapple Traybake Cake

Great for toddlers, bigger kids, grown ups, dieters, healthy eaters, baking with kids, elevensies, lunch boxes, afternoon tea, after school treats, carrot cake fiends

Makes 20 – 25 small pieces

300g of Plain Flour

2 heaped teaspoons of ground Cinnamon

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

½ a teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

150g of dark Soft Brown Sugar

4 medium Free Range Eggs

180ml of Plain Yogurt, Sheeps or Cows

60ml of Coconut Oil (softened) or Sunflower Oil

zest of an Orange

zest of a Lemon

220g of finely grated Carrots

120g of Sultanas

227g tin of Pineapple pieces, in natural juice, drained

Special Equipment: a 20cm by 20cm square baking tin, or similar

Pre-heat your oven to 150°c and line a small baking tin (about 20cm by 20cm) with baking paper.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and bicarb into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar.

My chief stirrer!

My chief stirrer!

In another bowl lightly beat the eggs with a whisk, then whisk in the  yogurt, coconut oil and orange and lemon zest. Employ a whisker and a stirrer (i.e. small child) if you have one.

Pour the egg and yogurt mix into the flour and sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Then mix in the carrots and sultanas. Cut the pineapple pieces into small chunks and stir these in too.

Scrape the cake mix into the lined tin.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Turn out of the tin and allow to cool a little on a cooling rack. It’s truly wonderful eaten fresh out-of-the-oven-warm. With a cuppa for the grown up folk.

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Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins


Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

We’ve just had a couple of days of bank jolidays here in France and it rained. It’s pretty much expected and part of the course of bank holidays in the UK, with the amazing exception of this last weekend obviously, but not so normal here!. So rain meant a spot of indoor baking with the littlies which we haven’t managed for quite a while now with all the flitting around I’ve been doing lately. And with a couple of prosperous rhubarb plants in the garden and the Swallow Recipes for Life challenge to mind we made some tasty and fairly wholesome Rhubarb Crumble Muffins together.

Francesca & Jacques Rhubarb Muffins

Tucking into their muffins, in a short break from the bank holiday rain!

I’m actually staying at my friend Debbie’s house this week with the littlies, on the premise of doggie and horsey sitting. To be honest it’s been a welcome wee joliday for us all, wonderful to spend some quality and relaxed time with the kids after my recent three trips to the UK without them. And they’ve been the most chilled I’ve known them in recent times. Not that anyone would exactly call either of my kids ‘chilled’, but they have indeed been a good deal calmer than normal!. And for me, I’ve enjoyed getting my blogging and cooking mojo back, hence a spree of planned blogs I have for you in store.

P1070791

The Lovely Dexter

These surprisingly healthy muffins are very low in sugar (and dark soft brown sugar at that) and fat (sunflower oil, apart from a little butter in the crumble topping). To increase the health stakes you could always omit the crumble topping and switch the plain flour for wholemeal (which I was intending to do but had run out!). Or you could un-health and sweeten with a little additional sugar if you wish!.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust incase you missed my earlier posts the Somerset based charity SWALLOW, through the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat, are running a six month Recipes for Life challenge.  Each month three ingredients are picked and bloggers are challenged to come up with easy, tasty and wholesome dishes using them. And for May the ingredients happen to be Rhubarb, Lemon and Spice. How lovely!

Simple and in SeasonSeeing as Rhubarb’s well and truly in season I’m entering my blog to this month’s Simple and in Season, hosted by Ren Behan herself. Just in case you hadn’t seen, this month there’s a chance of winning the gorgeous and new Yeo Valley Great British Farmhouse Cookbook! So go enter….

breakfast-club-logoAnd finally as they happen to make a pretty tasty, and healthy, breakfast munch (we’ve eaten them for breakie a couple of times now!) to Fuss Free Flavour’s Breakfast Club event. Hosted this month by Katie of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter  and the theme so happening to be Bakes.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Great for Baking with Kids, Rhubarb Lovers and/or Growers, Toddlers, Kids, Growns Ups, Picnics, Breakfasts, Elevensies, Packed Lunches, Afternoon Tea, After-school Munchies

Makes 12

For the Crumble Topping:

60g of Plain Flour

60g of Butter

50g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

40g of Oats

a heaped teaspoon of Cinnamon

For the Muffin Mix:

250g of Plain Flour

a heaped teaspoon of Baking Powder

a heaped teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

½ a teaspoon of Cinnamon

½ a teaspoon of Ground Ginger

a large free range Egg

150ml of natural Yogurt

3 tablespoons of Sunflower Oil

zest of a Lemon

250g of Rhubarb, washed

175g of Dark Soft Brown Sugar

Special Equipment: A 12 hole muffin tin, muffin cases

Pre-heat your oven to 200°C. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases.

Start with making the crumble topping. Place all the crumble ingredients together and rub the butter into the flour, cinnamon, oats and sugar. Set aside.

Sift all the dry muffin ingredients together into a large bowl, namely the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and ginger. Set aside. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg then stir in the yogurt, oil and lemon zest.

Slice each strip of rhubarb lengthways into 2 or 3 strips depending on width. Then dice across. Place the diced rhubarb in a bowl with the sugar and stir. Set aside.

Combine the egg and yogurt mix with the sugared rhubarb and pour into the flour mix and combine well.

Spoon about a tablespoon of the muffin mix into each muffin case. Then spoon a layer of the crumble mix on the top and lightly press down.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen, golden and a cake skewer comes out clean.

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

Rhubarb Crumble Muffins

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A Couple of Fishy Dippy Dip Dips

Smoked Salmon & Red Pepper Dip

To be truthful things have been a little on the busy side at Chez Foti lately. Make that insanely hectic. Way too much flitting to and from the UK for a multitude of reasons, four times in the last few weeks!. Which is all very tiring, both emotionally and physically, and has sadly meant less time to potter in the kitchen putting together new recipes and ideas. Not that we haven’t eaten well, very well indeed. But there’s been a greater reliance on those firm family favourites and the pulling together of goodies from the freezer. I’ve also been on somewhat of a mission to cook and eat my way through five enormously fruitful PSB plants, and probably been a little too reliant on my PSB Pasta and Tart recipes for quickie mid-week suppers. Plus there’s been PSB pizzas, PSB pesto pastas, PSB stir fries and PSB crostini and bruschettas a plenty!

Between the flitting and Mission PSB I’ve managed a few catch ups with friends, involving various nibbles and numerous drinkies. Nibbles at this time of year, as the weather’s happily warming up, usually means a plate of assorted Crostini (including one with the the aforementioned PSB, cooked with anchovies, garlic and chili) and a dip or two with various dipping accompaniments.

P1070766

Both these dips are made in minutes, which is always a bonus in my book. Both are very tasty indeed but I wouldn’t necessarily serve them together, possibly being a little bit too similar. And both have funnily enough been stolen from other people!. The first is a Smoked Salmon & Roasted Pepper Dip, which also makes for a wonderful sandwich filling, pate or crostini topping. It’s a recipe I ‘stole’ from a friend of mine, Anita, who nearly always turns up at social occasions with a pot of this pink loveliness. It’s a heavenly blitzed-up mix of creme cheese, smoked salmon, roasted red peppers (I use the jarred ones), a little red onion, horseradish, lemon zest and juice, and plenty of black pepper.

My second recipe is for a Tuna & Caper Dip, which I stole in idea from my big brother Julian. Again it’s wonderful in sandwiches or on crostini too.. And no blitzing required, just a stirring of creme cheese, tuna, capers, parsley, lemon zest and juice and black pepper. So so simple, and perfect for impromptu drinks parties.

And they’re not just for the grown up folk. My kids love these ‘fishy dippy dip dips’, and dips are a fine (and manipulative) way to get your kids eating more raw veggies and lots of them. Namely carrot, pepper, celery and cucumber strips. So along with my faithful hummus I make dips pretty frequently at Chez Foti. For more baby and toddler-friendly dippy ideas please do bob over to a blog I wrote last year: A Trip of Dips for Babies & Toddlers.

Since there’s parsley involved I shall be entering my blog to Lavender & Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux.
herbsonsaturday

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Smoked Salmon & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

150g of Creme Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light depending on how virtuous you’re feeling!

100g of Smoked Salmon trimmings

80g of Roasted Red Peppers – about 2 or 3  (you can make your own but I use the jarred shop bought ones for speed), drained of all oil

zest of ½ a Lemon plus a couple of generous squeezes of juice, to taste

¼ of a small red onion, diced

a heaped teaspoon of Creamed Horseradish

a large pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth and creamy texture. Or alternatively blitz with a hand held stick blender. Season with more black pepper and lemon juice to suit. Eat and devour.

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Tuna & Caper Dip

Great for Parties, Drinks and Nibbles, Starters, Picnics, Kids, Finger Foods, Grown Ups, Sandwiches, Crostini Toppings

a 185g tin of Tuna, drained

150g of Cream Cheese, full fat, light, or extra light

a tablespoon of Capers, drained and rinsed

the zest of a Lemon plus a squeeze or two of juice to taste

a heaped tablespoon of chopped Parsley

a large pinch of coarsely ground Black Pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and season with more black pepper and/or lemon  juice. Eat. So so easy.

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A Couple of Winter Crostini: Lovely Cannellini Beans & Homemade Tapenade

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Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta

Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta


Banana Pancakes!

Banana Pancakes

I know, I know, I know I’m more than a little fashionably late for Pancake Day….but I had very much intended to write this blog quite some time ago!. Pancakes are big business in our house and barely a day goes by without a pancake request (breakfast, lunch or dinner!). But seeing as these days the monsters will only eat them with a gargantuan spreading of the not-so-healthy but so well-known Hazelnut and Choccie Spread, I’m loath to make them often. So I’ve been experimenting with healthier options and these Banana Pancakes have happily been gobbled down with great success minus any need for the naughty stuff. I’m certain they’d taste sublime with a decadent spreading but I’m not going there, these pancakes are served with fruit and fruit only at Chez Foti, plus a wee drizzle of honey or maple syrup and a dollop of creme fraiche naturally. Happy days.

Anyone who’s ever travelled any the more popular backpacker routes of Asia or Latin America should be familiar with the ubiquitous Banana Pancake. They seem to crop up on pretty much every hostel or backpacker cafe breakfast menu, and I must have tirelessly munched my way through an inordinate amount in the totality of my two and a half years of traveling. Making them myself has wonderfully taken me back to those heady days, albeit life is rather more different now than then!

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I may be late for pancake day, but I’m hopefully not too late to enter my pancake recipe to this month’s No Waste Food Challenge, an event held by Kate from Turquoise Lemons and this month hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen and the no waste ingredient being eggs!. Now we’ve always got eggs to use up from our hens and pancakes are the perfect answer in my book. Plus these pancakes are a great way of using up blackened and over-ripe bananas too. Since our eggs are so local (the hen house being approximately ten meters away from the kitchen door) I’m also entering my pancakes to this month’s Breakfast Club which has the theme of ‘local’. The challenge is the baby of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and is being hosted this month by Heidi at Kitchen Talk.

No Waste Food Challenge

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Banana Pancakes

Banana Pancakes

Great as a Finger Food for very little littlies, Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Breakfasts, Sleepovers (I’m too scared to go there yet!), Grown Ups 

Enough for a Family of Four:

20g of Butter, plus a little extra for greasing the pan

175g of Self-Raising Flour

½ a teaspoon of Baking Powder

a tablespoon of Soft Light Brown Sugar

2 free range Eggs

170ml of Full Fat Milk

2 Bananas, preferably very ripe, mashed with the back of fork

To Serve: Creme Fraiche or Yogurt, Honey or Maple Syrup, Berries or other Fruits

Melt the butter and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Place the flour, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl and mix together.

In another bowl or jug lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in the milk and cooled butter.

Whisk the wet mixture slowly into the dry mixture and when you have an even consistency stir or whisk in the mashed bananas.

Heat a frying pan until hot. Grease with a little butter and gently drop in a tablespoon of the batter at a time. You should be able to cook three to four at once, depending on the size of your pan. Allow plenty of room between each pancake as they do spread a little. Once each pancake is a little risen and you can see bubbles appear on the surface carefully turn over with a spatula and cook the other side. Each side should be pale golden-brown.

Either serve immediately or keep warm in a low oven until you’re ready.

Perfect served with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, a (generous) dollop of creme fraiche or yogurt and fresh berries or fruit of your choice. Absolutely no Nutella required.

Master J sabotaging my photo!

Master J sabotaging my photo!


Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Cheese Bread

Now I know this isn’t exactly the most suitable recipe for any New Year dieters out there, but my excuse is I haven’t started mine yet. I’m still working my way from the excesses of choccies, biscuits, mince pies, christmas cakes, salami and cheese that are still lurking each and every which way I look. How could one possibly start any sort of diet and waste such bounty?. So today I decided to help myself along a little and throw all the cheese scrag ends into an oh so easy and oh soooooo naughty Cheese & Onion Loaf. Though I should hasten to add I still have a quarter of a Stilton and an equal amount of a mighty fine aged local Brebis (Sheeps Cheese). So I’m still a long LONG way of the D word. Thankfully. So my apologies now to any dieters out there, and I would seriously advice you not to make this, as just the one, ridiculously calorific, slice will not possibly be enough. You’ve been warned.

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Master Jacques giving the Cheesy Bread his all!

Finally it seems I have my baking mojo back. After endless freezer-filling pre-christmas baking sessions it’s been the last thing on my mind the last couple of weeks. But today’s a Wednesday and that’s a baking day in our house. The kids aren’t at school and I always try to bake something or other with them each week. Today it was just Jacques and I, as Big Sis was out with Mr F collecting wood. So we made a gloriously quick and simple yeastless and kneadless throw-it-all together Cheese & Onion Bread, that was all made in the time it took to put together a simple Pumpkin Soup. This cheese fest bread is the perfect accompaniment to hearty up a lunch time soup and particularly wonderful served piping hot out of the oven whilst the cheeses are still oozy. And you can literally use any cheese, or combination of cheeses, you happen to have in. I really did use up all our scrag ends, throwing in chunks of goats cheese, Manchego and Comte.

Leftover Cheese Bread

Leftover Cheese & Onion Bread

Makes one large loaf

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

a large red onion, finely sliced

450g of plain flour

a level tablespoon of baking powder

a teaspoon of English mustard powder

a large pinch of salt

a large pinch of black pepper

75g of butter, melted

375ml of milk

250g of leftover cheeses, roughly cut into chunks

Special Equipment: a large loaf tin lined with baking parchment

Preheat your oven to 200ºC.

Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently saute for 10 minutes until softened. Set aside.

Meanwhile sieve together the flour, baking powder and mustard powder and stir in the salt and pepper, ensuring everything is thoroughly combined.

Melt the butter and stir into the milk, then stir them both into the dry mixture. Finally mix in the cheesy chunks and onions and dollop into a large lined loaf tin.

Place in your oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on the top, firm to touch and an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Serve warm with soup. Perfect. Perfectly naughty anyway.

If you like this, you might also like to try these other super-easy to bake with kids recipes:  Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins, Chocolate Pumpkin Cake, Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins or Cheesy Biscuits

Cheese & Onion Loaf


Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

I’m baking more and more with my littlies these days which is wonderful. At the ages of 2 and 4 they really enjoy getting involved at all stages. Every wednesday, as there’s no school on Wednesdays here in France, we bake at least one thing together, usually some sort of muffin, cake or biscuit. They love doing all the stirring, whisking, dolloping, sprinkling, decorating. Then obviously the scoffing.

We’ve made these muffins many a Wednesday baking session lately and I’ve only just realised they’ve yet to be blogged. So easy peasy to make, especially for little hands that like to do stirring, and pretty healthy to boot with all that deliciously sweet roasted pumpkin and red onion. I’m sure they must count as at least one of your five a day? If you or your kids are cheese fiends (like all of us!) then savoury muffins are the way to go, great for snacks, lunches and lunch boxes, picnics and even tea time treats. Fresh out of the oven is best, but they still hold their own cold.

Unusually for me I made large muffins this time round, I usually prefer to make smaller mini sized ones in fairy cake cases. It’s up to you. As for the cheese, I used about half Cheddar and half Parmesan in this batch but you could use all Cheddar or all Parmesan equally as successfully. You can happily substitute the pumpkin for butternut.

Cheesy Grins for Cheesy Muffins!

Pumpkin, Cheese & Red Onion Muffins

Makes 12 large muffins or 24 small mini-muffins

500g of pumpkin or butternut squash, skin and seeds removed

a large red onion

a tablespoon of sunflower oil

275g of plain flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ a teaspoon of English mustard powder

salt & pepper

85g butter

2 free range medium sized eggs

200ml of milk

100g of grated Mature Cheddar or Parmesan or a mixture of the two

Special Equipment: Cake or Muffin Trays, Cake or Muffin Cases

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/Gas Mark 6.

Start with roasting off your pumpkin. Cut into large chunks and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes until pretty soft and cooked through, turning once or twice during the cooking time. Once roasted place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Set aside cool a little. This part could always been done before when you happen to be using the oven for something else. Over the pumpkin season I tend to always have some pre-roasted pumpkin in the fridge to be used in cakes, muffins, pasta dishes or soups.

While the pumpkin’s roasting, finely slice the red onion. Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for 10 to 15 minutes until softened.

Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard powder into a large bowl. Stir in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Melt the butter and allow to cool a little. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, then whisk or stir in the milk. Once the butter’s cooled a little whisk into the eggs and milk.

Attention littlies, lots of stirring action now required!. Throw the wet mixture into the dry and stir, stir, stir. Once combined chuck in the roasted and mashed pumpkin, red onion and ⅔ of the cheese.

Dollop the mixture into cake or muffin cases in cake or muffin trays. It’s about a dessertspoon of the raw mixture for a fairy cake sized mini-muffin or a heaped tablespoon for a large muffin. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tops.

Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes for mini-muffins or 40 to 50 minutes for normal full sized. They’re ready when they’re golden on the top, firm to touch and an inserted cake skewer or fork comes out crumb free.

Remove from the trays and cool on a cooling rack. Particularly lovely eaten warm, and if you want to be exceptionally naughty, ahem, break in half and smear in butter.

You might also like:

Super-Fruity Banana Mini Muffins     

Pumpkin Carbonara

Chocolate Pumpkin Cake                          

Cheese, Ham & Sweetcorn Muffins


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