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A Lot on Her Plate

May 29, 2015

The last Friday before summer is perfect for showing you a stunning new book – Rosie Birkett’s A Lot on Her Plate (or A new way to cook for two, a few or plenty).

plate1

Before you think to yourself “oh, no, not another cookery book…” try out one of Rosie’s recipes (you’ll find it at the bottom of this post); you simply have to trust a girl who “always thought that cooking is a little bit magical”!

I love the fact that Rosie would never say no to a dessert and her thought that “aside from being relaxing and fun, cooking is also about looking after yourself and the ones you love”. Well, it’s definitely a very creative process, especially when you’re cooking something for the very first time. I find it extremely exciting. And if you gather your whole family and friends to taste one of your masterpieces… can you think of a better way to spend your weekend?

Rosie Deal

A Lot on Her Plate is a very personal book. You’re not only encouraged to try out food that is cooked in different continents (Rosie has travelled quite a lot and everywhere she goes she practises her cooking skills), but you also get to know the author and her life story. Tasty meals have always been something that brought Rosie’s family together and, as she later found out, these were the most precious times, that she can now remember fondly.

Rosie Deal

“A great dish starts with the ingredients” – this is one of the basic rules, so be prepared to “explore your local markets and shops, butchers, delis and fishmongers, and investigate producer-direct box schemes for fresh well-sourced produce”. Cooking from scratch is fashionable once again and this is brilliant. As Rosie has correctly pointed out – “you have more control over what you’re consuming, and can make informed decisions about how you want to nourish yourself”.

Anyway, I guess now we can get to best part – the promised recipe, from the wonderful collection of healthy breakfasts (for e.g. Kale and coriander pancakes with slow-roasted tomatoes + avocado cream, Basted eggs with kale, lemon + chilli or Coconut+almond granola), delicious home-made nibbles (for e.g. Cumin + garlic black beans, Cheat’s seeded crackers or Baby potato + rosemary pizzas), super suppers (for e.g. Parsley, bacon + broad bean risotto, Kale + almond pesto linguine) and amazing desserts (for e.g. Lychee + hazelnut pavlova, Orange + ginger madeleines or Blueberry, basil + almond pudding pie), but before that I need to pay a compliment to the publishers – they have done a wonderful job! It’s a very nice book that you will definitely want to have in your private library.

Cherry Pie

And here’s the promised recipe. I went for some Asian and Mexican flavours, as Rosie describes it “balancing sweet, sour, salty and spicy” with “a tropical edge”. Ready?

CRISPY SESAME CRUSTED TUNA TACOS WITH MANGO SALSA 

M A K E S
6 tacos

Tuna Tacos

Try to track down corn tortillas as they really make the dish and add a satisfying crispy texture: you’ll find them at Mexican grocers, delis or online. The seaweed salad is optional, but if you can track down wakame (you’ll find it in Asian stores) then it’s really worth making.

Seaweed salad
(optional)
15 g ( ½  oz) dried wakame seaweed, rinsed
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
pinch of white pepper
½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar

Salsa dressing
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
½  teaspoon good-quality fish sauce (Three Crabs brand is good)
1 tablespoon olive oil
pinch of salt
pinch of ground white pepper

Chilli Mango salsa
1 fresh mango, or tinned mango (230 g/ 8 oz drained weight), peeled and diced
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
½ red bird’s-eye chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

Crispy Tacos
20 g ( ¾  oz) sesame seeds (mixture of white and black)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200 g (7 oz) sushi-grade tuna fillets
5 tablespoons rapeseed or groundnut oil
6 corn tortillas
¼ white cabbage, finely shredded

To garnish
1 tablespoon fried red onion or shallots (available from most Asian grocers)
Sriracha mayo
fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, finely chopped
lime wedges

• To make the seaweed salad, if using, rehydrate the wakame in tepid water for 5–10 minutes. When it’s floppy, drain it. Mix it with the remaining salad
ingredients. Set aside.

• To make the salsa dressing, mix the ingredients together, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

• To make the chilli mango salsa, combine the mango, shallot, chilli and coriander, and then pour the salsa dressing over the mango mixture, and stir.

• For the tuna filling, pour the sesame seeds onto a plate with salt and pepper and press the tuna fillets down onto them firmly, to coat. Flip over the fillets and do the same on the other side.

• To make the taco shells, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy-based frying pan (skillet) over a medium–high heat. Using tongs, place a tortilla in the hot oil. Fry for about 15 seconds, and then flip it over and fold the shell in half, holding it in place with the tongs for about 15 seconds until it’s crispy and holding its shape. Drain on kitchen paper, and repeat with the other tortillas. Sprinkle with salt.

• To sear the tuna, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the frying pan. When it’s really hot, cook the tuna for just over 1 minute on each side, for medium-rare, 1 minute longer for well-done. Remove from the heat, rest for a minute and cut into bite-sized cubes.

• If you don’t have store-bought crispy fried red onion or shallots for the garnish, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan (skillet), and fry a finely sliced shallot until crisp and golden, but not burnt. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

• To assemble the tacos: place some cabbage in each shell, followed by the seaweed salad (if using), mango salsa, tuna and fried shallots. Drizzle over some Sriracha mayo, garnish with coriander leaves and serve with wedges of lime. Eat immediately with your hands.

• TIP: To get a nice drizzle effect with the mayonnaise, it’s worth investing in a squeezy plastic bottle. They’re super cheap, easy to come by in kitchenware stores or on the internet, and will help you get that restaurant look.

— — —

Well, I can guarantee you two things – this book will inspire you to gather all your loved ones for a nice summer party and… to travel round the World looking for new tasty combinations.

A Lot on Her Plate by Rosie Birkett (Hardie Grant) Photography: Helen Cathcart

— — —

P.S. Don’t forget to visit Rosie Birkett’s blog.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire permalink
    May 29, 2015 10:26 am

    Ooh that books looks gorgeous and her blog is lovely too – thanks for the recommendations

    • June 3, 2015 12:23 pm

      You’ll love it, Claire. You just need a little bird now to tell your husband what you’d like to get for… hmm… well, think of some special occasion 🙂 K.

  2. May 29, 2015 10:48 pm

    Looks beautiful.

    • June 3, 2015 12:34 pm

      It certainly is! Probably one of the nicest cookery books I’ve ever come across. K.

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