Category Archives: Bit on the side

Side Dishes

Pao de Queijo – aka Brazilian Cheese Bread


The buffet breakfasts in Brazil were bloody brilliant, loads of different types of cake, fruit, cereal etc,  but best of all was the squidgy cheese balls known as Pao de Queijo.

Encased in a golden crisp shell with the inside all soft and… well… gooey!

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Cheesey Twists


I made these tasty little cheesy nibbles for the sole purpose of using up the left over puff pastry from the previous recipe, they are so simple and great excuse to have a G&T!


300g puff pastry

100g mature cheddar

Pinch salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Roll out the puff pastry to about 3mm thickness sprinkle the cheese, salt and pepper over half of this puff pastry sheet. Fold the un cheesey half over the cheesey half and roll until the cheese is embedded. Slice into about 1 cm width strips. Twist these strips a few times to look pretty then place in a hot oven (220 oC)

SunBlush Tomatoes from my Oven


I’m afraid to break it to you but ‘Blush’ isn’t a term used for drying tomatoes in the sun; instead SunBlush is a brand of tomatoes that are slow roasted in a convection oven, with a marinade of oregano and garlic. I used to work for the SunBlush brand, and have visited the factories that make them, so this recipe is close to the real McCoy.

Making your own Vs buying from Sainsburys??: you can’t beat the satisfaction of watching your little tomatoes shrivel slightly and intensify in flavour, and then you can marinade them in whatever you like.


4 ripe (salad size) tomatoes

3 tbsp olive oil

3 tbsp sunflower oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano


Slice the tomatoes into 8 wedges; starting with where the stork was slice in half, then each half into 4 slices. Sprinkle with salt, then lay on a rack and place in the oven at 150oC (fan oven if you have different settings).

Essentially you are removing the moisture from the tomatoes rather than cooking them, so a low temperature is needed, and a fan oven will help remove the moisture more efficiently.

Leave in the oven for 1 hour with it on, turn the oven off and leave them in there for a further 15 minutes. they should look like this just starting to ‘blush’:

Make your marinade by placing the oils, garlic and herbs in a small bowl, and mixing to combine.

Coat the tomatoes in the marinade, before placing in a container or jar to steep until you need them. You can keep them in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week should you not want to eat them all.

Giant Couscous Salad with Rocket Pesto & Chargrilled Peppers


If you have a little blender (even a hand one will work) making pesto is a piece of piss, and once you’ve done it you can keep it covered in the fridge for over a week. I don’t think I need to explain its extensive uses… I recommend maybe with pasta?!

Giant couscous is pretty much as it sounds, did you know that couscous is made from the same as pasta? Wheat flour. So when they make giant couscous it basically goes into a larger mould than the one for regular couscous. If you can’t get hold of it this salad would be great with pasta too, or the regular couscous. I know that Merchant Gourmet do giant couscous in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

Unfortunately I don’t have a BBQ yet, so my chargrilled peppers were charred on a griddle, but if you do have one and you have it fired up, it will give your peppers a better flavour.

Serves 2-3

For the pesto

A good handful of basil leaves (about 25g)

An even better handful of rocket (about 50g)

1 clove of garlic

½ tsp of grated lemon zest

100-150ml olive oil

1 tbsp lemon juice

30g pine nuts, lightly toasted

Salt and pepper to season

1 tsp sugar

Remainder Ingredients

200g Giant Couscous

3 Red Peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 Red Onions, quartered lengthways

1 tbsp of pine nuts, lightly toasted

20g Manchego (or any cheese you like will go well!)

Handful of pea shoots

To make the pesto place the basil, rocket, garlic and lemon zest in the blender first and blend until quite a small chop. (Generally if you are making a salsa verde or sauce with fresh greens, if you chop the greens in the blender first before adding any liquids, your sauce will stay a brighter green). Then add all the remaining ingredients until you have a pesto-ey consistency. If it is too thick add a little more olive oil, don’t worry its good for you!


Cook the couscous according to the pack instructions, drain and place in a bowl with the pesto.

Cook the peppers and onion by drizzling with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before grilling until slightly charred, turn over making sure they are evenly cooked.


Place the chargrilled onions and peppers into the bowl with the couscous, season with a pinch of salt and freshly grated pepper and mix. Slice the manchego cheese and serve the salad with the peashoots, pine nuts and manchego on top.