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Sal’s Kitchen: Favourite Recipes of 2016

Chocolate Courgette Pistachio Cake

You may not know this, dear reader, but I’m not a professional food blogger in the usual sense, because I’m not working on making money out of this blog. I love writing it, but making it into a dazzling success is not my main goal, because what I do for my day job is try and turn other people’s blogs into dazzling successes. This is what Sal’s Kitchen does, as a blogging consultancy – I write blogs for independent companies, to help them promote what they do, and I specialise in working with foodie companies and developing recipes to show off their produce.

This year, that’s meant that I’ve been creating less recipes for this blog, as things got really busy with my blogging consultancy – so what I thought I’d do is round up my favourite recipes I’ve developed for clients (in no particular order), so you can still get your Sal’s Kitchen recipe fix. All the companies mentioned  below are independent and create or sell fabulously delicious things – I don’t work with anyone whose products I don’t like – so please do check them out. And if you’re looking for recipes or foodie content for your own website, use the contact form on the left to say hello!

 
 

This is truly one of my absolute favourites. I never publish a recipe that I’m not completely happy with, but only some of them go on to crop up again and again on our dinner table. I’ve made this fabulously rich, slow-cooked lamb ragu many times since and it’s become a bit of a go-to for dinner parties, as it’s so easy to prepare in advance. Novel Wines, a local company that imports interesting wines from all over the world, commissioned me to create a series of recipes to complement different wines, and this is one I came up with for them – see below for another.

 
 

Sugar & Crumbs: Chocolate & Coconut Butterfly Buns

Sugar & Crumbs produces icing sugar in a huge range of exciting flavours, and I’ve loved working with them because it’s pushed me to become a much better baker. One afternoon, while I was decorating butterfly buns with my nephew, it occurred to me that you only ever really get them at kids’ parties – so I decided to make some butterfly buns for grown-ups, and I was delighted with how pretty they looked. I used Sugar & Crumbs’ range of beautiful flower-shaped icing nozzles, which I’d also really recommend, to create the roses.
 
 
 

How could I do a round-up of 2016 recipes and not include avo toast? This recipe was everywhere this year, so here’s my take on it – another firm favourite of mine that I now often have for breakfast. I wasn’t sure whether the combination of egg and avocado would work but it does – both have a richness and a creaminess that feels really indulgent, even though it’s actually pretty healthy. Fresh coriander and a dollop of In A Pickle’s fabulous Sweet Chilli Jam complete the whole thing.

 
 
 

I had to include this cake, because I took it to dinner at a friend’s house and the reaction was huge. Using courgette in the sponge makes it beautifully moist and light, while the combination of rich, dark chocolate ganache, lime zest and fresh pistachios is a match made in heaven. If you’ve never made a cake with vegetables before, then you might be put off, but honestly, you’ve got to give this one a go.

 
 
La Saucy Salsa: Paella

Like the lamb ragu above, this is another client recipe that’s become a regular favourite in our household. Rosie at La Saucy Salsa often asks for vegetarian and vegan recipes, which is a really fun challenge for me – and her salsas, inspired by the cuisine of Andalucia, are so full of flavour that it’s easy to make something tasty. This twist on the classic paella is full of delicious sweet peppers, fresh parsley and lemon, and is completely vegan, but you can top it with crispy slices of halloumi if you’re catering for vegetarians. Rosie commissions recipes from me for Facebook, so this one might be a bit harder to track down, but you can find her Facebook page here.

 
 

I did manage to get round to a couple of recipes for my own blog last year, and this is my favourite, made all the way back in February. With Valentine’s Day approaching once more, I thought it was time to dust it off again! The rose petal syrup is really easy to make and fabulous for all sorts of cocktails – or just stir it through chilled champagne. It looks so gorgeous you’re bound to make an impression.

 
 

There are very few foods I don’t like these days, but Christmas cake is one of them – so this was my alternative Christmas cake suggestion, created once again for Sugar & Crumbs. The black treacle cake is very dark and slightly bitter, so it’s the perfect foil for sweet buttercream icing, made with Sugar & Crumbs Crème Brulee Icing Sugar. For the finishing touch, I used sugar glass shards to create the crown on top. This photo got a great reaction on my Instagram profile (which you can check out here) and I was really proud of the whole recipe.

 
 

Novel Wines: Thai Red Curry Noodle Bowl

I love a bit of comfort food, and while sometimes that means packing in as much beige and as many calories as possible (no judgement here), it can also be comforting to tuck into something delicious that you know is pretty good for you too. For me, that’s where a really good noodle bowl comes in. I created this recipe for Novel Wines and it’s become one of my favourite quick lunches.

 
 

Great Little Baking Company: Iced Tea Mojito

Another really fun challenge – the Great Little Baking Company asked for a series of recipes for their blog, but as the site is a marketplace for brilliant commission bakers, I didn’t want to be encouraging readers to make their own cakes instead! So I came up with the idea of party-friendly recipes to accompany the cakes – from outlandish milkshakes to creative cocktails. This is my favourite, an incredibly refreshing combination of iced tea and mojito. I’ll be honest with you, for some reason it’s not currently available online, but I’m hoping to be able to add a link to it soon!

Sal’s Kitchen: Bean Chilli

And finally – a post I’m really proud of for different reasons. The past two years, my husband and I have taken part in the Live BelowThe Line challenge, where you spend five days living on just £1 a day each for all your food and drink. It’s no understatement to say that the first time we did this, it blew my mind. It’s made me far more aware of and grateful for what I have, and determined to do more to help those going hungry – who are often a lot closer to home than we might imagine. This is one of the recipes I came up with for the 2016 challenge, and you can find other recipes, plus my daily diaries, here. We’ll be living below the line again this year and if you can, I’d really encourage you to try this life-changing experience – keep an eye out for more on this topic from me, including shopping lists and recipes, if you’d like to try it with us.

Phew, that was a long post! If you’re still with me at this stage, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all my lovely supportive readers, and to all my clients for their support and inspiration. This year I’m determined to create more recipes for Sal’s Kitchen, but I’ll also be developing loads of recipes for other sites, so keep an eye out for both! Have you tried any of my recipes? Have you got a favourite? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment below.

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