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LUNCH RECIPES FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

Bored with lunch? Not any more!
Gizzi Erskine shows you how you can liven up your daily lunch

With everyone working harder than ever at the moment, the long leisurely lunch break appears to be a thing of the past. You may find yourselves lucky if you are able to grab 15 minutes halfway through the day, and even then, how many times do you stay at your desk catching up on household bills or emails from friends? This summer Gizzi Erskine and recruitment specialist Monster are on a mission to ‘Bring Back Britain’s Lunch Hour’!

If you are one of these desk junkies then it is often difficult to make sure you have a nutritious lunch. If you are getting fed up of the daily cheese sandwich then Gizzi has the answer.

You can easily bring new life to your lunches with simple changes. Perhaps alter the bread you use, try having a nutritious soup or delicious, healthy salad.

The key is to prepare the night before, remember any left overs you have can be turned into a delicious meal for the following day. And for those with really hectic lifestyles, make a large quantity at the weekend and then you can take portions throughout the week.

You will be amazed at the difference a healthy tasty lunch can make to your productivity and general well-being come the end of the day. Monster believes the lunch hour is time to enhance work/life balance by spending time away from the desk. Eating good food, learning something new, reading, exercising or just relaxing, will enable smarter working in the afternoon.

In order to help liven up your lunch hour, food writer and presenter Gizzi Erskine has teamed up with Monster.co.uk to provide you with some nutritious and delicious recipes.

In the following video she talks you through a week’s worth of recipes.

Gizzi Erskine

Gizzi's Kitchen Magic
Gizzi's Kitchen Magic
available from Amazon

Gizzi Erskine is a food writer, stylist and television presenter. She is best known for being one of the presenters of Channel 4's Cook Yourself Thin where she also co-wrote the accompanying number 1, best selling book also called Cook Yourself Thin. Her television debut though, was as contributing presenter on Sky One's Taste in 2006.

After finishing a full diploma course at Leith's School of Food and Wine in 2003 and leaving with honours, she went on to win a placement at BBC Good Food magazine, where she started to establish herself as a food writer and stylist. After over 4 years in the industry, Gizzi's clients have included Marie Claire, Elle USA, Arena, FHM, In Style, Grazia, First magazine, UK food magazines and many more.

She is on a mission to get young people into food and cookery by giving them a worthy role model in someone they can relate to as Gizzi's life is such that she understands the foody needs and wants of the average young person.

Her method is to dispel the myth that cookery is difficult and time consuming, by showing the skills in layman's terms, then getting passion sparked by turning these skills into her inspired mouth watering recipes. This is heavily demonstrated in her first "solo" book Gizzi's Kitchen Magic, which was published by Virgin Books and Random House in March 2010.

 

PANCETTA FARO AND BEAN SOUP RECIPE

Ingredients

100g pancetta cubetti (or smoked bacon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 onion , finely chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced (or 2 whole tomatoes from a can, chopped)
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1l chicken stock, fresh if you can find
140g pearled spelt (or faro), but pearl barley is more than acceptable
1 x 400g can canellini beans
flat-leaf parsley and Parmesan to serve

How to make

  • Fry the pancetta in the oil for 2 - 3 minutes in a medium saucepan.
  • Add the bay leaf and onion. Cook over a gentle heat until the onion has softened and is starting to go golden.
  • Add the garlic, fry for a few seconds more, then the tomatoes and puree. Cook these down until the tomatoes start to thicken and soften.
  • Pour over the stock and bring to the boil.
  • Rinse the spelt and drain well. Add to stock then simmer very gently for 25 - 30 minutes.
  • Add the Canelllini beans and simmer for 10 minutes more, or until the grains are tender.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Ladle the soup into bowls, then sprinkle with parsley and freshly grated Parmesan.

Makes 5 portions (1 for each day of the week)

COURGETTE GOATS CHEESE AND TOASTED PINE NUT TART RECIPE

Ingredients

For the pastry:
225g plain flour
100g butter, ice cold and cut into cubes
1 free range egg

or 500g packet of short crust pastry

For the filling:
3 egg yolks
150ml double cream
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
a small handful of mint, finely chopped
1 green courgette, sliced into ribbons with a potato peeler
1 yellow courgette, sliced into ribbons with a potato peeler
100g good soft mild goats cheese
50g toasted pine nuts

How to make

  • If making the pastry place the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into a food processor and blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Crack the egg in and bring together until it forms a pastry ball. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface then line a 25cm tart case. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 20 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 200°C.
  • Line the case with baking paper and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes, then remove the paper and beans and finish baking for a further 10 minutes until the pastry is golden.
  • Leave to cool in the case, then carefully trim the edges of the pastry
  • Gently beat together the eggs and cream.
  • Add in the Parmesan cheese and mint, then season with salt and pepper.
  • Fill the tart case with the filling.
  • Mix together the courgette ribbons and heap into the tart.
  • Dot with the crumbled goats cheese and pine nuts, then pop in the oven to bake for 20 - 25 minutes until just set and golden.

Makes 6 slices

SMOKED SALMON AVOCADO AND BRIE ON RYE RECIPE

Ingredients

2 pieces of seeded rye bread
a teaspoon of butter, optional
50g smoked salmon
2 slices of ripe brie cheese
½ avocado, sliced
A squeeze of lemon
½ teaspoon poppy seeds

How to make

  • Lay the two pieces of bread out on the kitchen surface and spread each with the butter.
  • Lay on the smoked salmon and avocado, then squeeze with lemon.
  • Top with Brie and then sprinkle with poppy seeds and a good grinding of black pepper.

Makes 1 sandwich

RARE ROAST BEEF WITH CRUSHED POTATO SALAD WITH HORSERADISH RADISH WATERCRESS AND ROASTED TOMATOES RECIPE

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 beef fillet steaks, each 5 cm thick
sea salt and white pepper
100g crème fraiche
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons good horseradish
a squeeze of lemon juice
300g charlotte potatoes, cooked whole then cut in half lengthways
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch watercress, trimmed
10 radishes, quartered
8 cherry tomatoes, preferably a mixture of red and yellow
4 chives, snipped

How to make

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan until really hot.
  • Season the beef steaks with salt and pepper then sear them all over for 20 seconds on each side until the meat is fairly dark on the outside and really rare in the middle.
  • Remove and leave to rest for one hour in the freezer until it firms up and is almost frozen (a restaurant trick that will make it easier to slice). Technically you need to let things cool before popping them into the fridge or freezer but as this meat has simply been seared it should not be too warm. Use your own instincts though - if you think it needs to cool a little before freezing then feel free to do so.
  • Mix together the crème fraiche, horseradish and mayonnaise with some salt and pepper.
  • Mix with the potatoes, spring onions, watercress, radishes, tomatoes and chives.
  • When you're ready to serve, thinly slice the beef, aiming to cut 12 slices from each steak. (You can sneak the end bits as a chef's perk!)
  • Lay slices, overlapping each other, on each plate.
  • Top with some salad and serve.

Serves 4

TUNA AND CAPONATA SALAD RECIPE

Ingredients

2 x 5cm thick spankingly fresh tuna steaks or sashimi loin
seas alt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large aubergine, chopped into uniform 1 cm cubes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
250g cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
150g kalamata olives stoned
30g capers in vinegar
handful basil leaves, shredded
a small bag of rocket
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
capers for serving

How to make

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan until really hot.
  • Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper then sear them all over for 20 seconds on each side until the meat is fairly dark on the outside and really rare in the middle. Remove and leave to rest for one hour in the freezer until it firms up and is almost frozen (a restaurant trick that will make it easier to slice). Technically you need to let things cool before popping them into the fridge or freezer but as this meat has simply been seared it should not be too warm. Use your own instincts though - if you think it need to cool a little before freezing then feel free to do so.
  • Heat half the oil in a large sauté pan.
  • Add the aubergine, then cook for 8 - 10 minutes until brown and soft. Tip into a colander over a bowl.
  • Fry the onions and peppers for 6 - 8 minutes until starting to soften.
  • Tip any oil from the bowl back into the pan and top it up with a splash of fresh oil.
  • Fry the tomatoes and the crushed garlic together.
  • Sprinkle the sugar over, splash in the vinegar, then cook for 3 - 4 minutes until the tomatoes start to release their juice.
  • Tip the aubergine, onion and peppers back in. Scatter in the olives, capers and basil, then give everything a good stir.
  • Cook for 5 minutes until simmering, then season to taste. Turn off the heat, drizzle in the rest of the oil, then set aside to cool for this salad.
  • Dress the rocket leaves in the lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning.
  • To serve slice the tuna really thinly and lay out onto a plate. Top with some cold Caponata salad and some dressed rocket leaves and maybe scatter over a few more capers.

Serves 4

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