3 Fearne Cotton recipes for you to ‘Cook Eat Love’
You’re used to Fearne, 35, making you chuckle alongside pal Holly Willoughby on ITV’s Celebrity Juice or spinning tunes on Radio 2. However, these days she’s more likely to be in the kitchen cooking for her children Rex, four, and Honey, 20 months, as well as her two older stepchildren with husband Jesse Wood, 40.
Full of hearty recipes such as coconut-crusted haddock fingers, carrot cake porridge and paradise chicken curry, Fearne’s second cookbook Cook Eat Love makes for a mouth-watering read. It even has chapters dedicated to Elevenses and Afternoon Treats, and the book is tailor-made for busy families who all like eating something different at different times.
MAKING A MESS
Giving us a clear insight into her chaotic home life, Fearne admits the little ones cook with her and have done for a while. ‘Rex was baking as soon as he could hold a wooden spoon,’ she says. ‘I’m a neat freak but you’ve got to let go and allow them to create absolute havoc. Rex will get a bowl and put loads of squishy fruit and milk and eggs and flour in it just to have fun. He loves it. You’ve got to let them get messy.
She describes her house as a crazy melting pot of personalities and appetites, and says what goes in at mealtimes is essential to ensure stable energy levels and calm moods are maintained. Everything is made using natural ingredients, as Fearne gave up processed sugar after the birth of her son in 2013.
‘I had Rex and I felt really knackered,’ she admits. ‘I just thought “I’ve got to do something.” I started baking a lot of stuff using natural sugars. It’s not a free pass to eat a cake but it’s a better version of a crappy shop-bought cake.’
Nowadays, Fearne knows what she needs to keep balanced. ‘Feeling energised, rested and amazing is so underrated,’ she says. ‘And not being tired. We feel pressure to be doing stuff all the time. Sometimes I just want to sit and read in a chair.
‘I spent a lot of my 20s being knackered. If I was to do that now, I would feel I couldn’t cope and needed sleep. For me, it’s all about going to bed early and eating well when I can.’
‘There are some recipes inspired by veganism – but I think even people who are very dubious about vegan food may be pleasantly surprised.’
COCONUT-CRUSTED HADDOCK FINGERS & MUSHY PEAS
‘I love making these, as everyone in the family eats them with little complaint. The coconut gives them a whole new crunchy twist. Mushy peas are one of my all-time favourite foods, so I’m happy to dollop a large portion of them next to this sublime dish. This whole meal takes no time at all to make. Whip it up and enjoy every bite!’
• 400g frozen peas
• Small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to serve
• Grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon
• 2tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 60g fresh breadcrumbs, gluten-free if you wish
• 4tbsp desiccated coconut
• 500g skinless, boneless haddock fillet
• 100g rice flour or cornflour
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 4tbsp coconut oil or sunflower oil
• 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
• Mayonnaise, to serve
• Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1. Add the peas to a pan of boiling water and cook for 4 minutes until completely tender. Drain the peas, then add them to a bowl together with the parsley, lemon zest and olive oil. Combine and roughly mash the peas with a fork (or use a food processor). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
2. Combine the breadcrumbs with the desiccated coconut and 1tsp each of salt and pepper.
3. Cut the haddock into 16 2 x 7cm fingers. Coat each finger in the flour, then dip into the beaten egg and roll in the breadcrumb mixture until evenly covered on all sides. Set aside on a plate while you finish the rest.
4. Add the coconut oil or sunflower oil to a pan and place over a medium heat. Add the haddock fingers and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until crisp, golden and cooked through.
5. Divide the mushy peas between the plates, top with the fish fingers, scatter over some parsley and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil, if you wish. Serve immediately with the lemon wedges and some mayonnaise to dunk into.
‘I find it annoying that there are all these rules you should and shouldn’t do. The only rule I apply is not eating refined sugar. I’m relatively strict on that one because it makes me feel terrible.’
Read m0re: 3 Fearne Cotton recipes every baker needs to know
GINGER & LIME TOFU NOODLE SALAD
‘This zingy salad always gives me a huge sensory wake-up – its flavours are so fresh and punchy. Prep all the veg before you start cooking the tofu, as you want to chuck it all in at the same time towards the end of cooking. Note: You will need to make the dressing in batches.’
• 400g firm tofu
• 2tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1 stick of lemongrass, outer layers removed; tender core very finely chopped
• 3 shallots or 1 small red onion, finely sliced
• 2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
• 4 lime leaves, very finely sliced (optional)
• 180g rice vermicelli noodles
• 60g rocket
• 150g firm mango, diced
• 80g roasted cashews or peanuts
• 15g fresh mint leaves
For the dressing:
• 1½tbsp coconut palm sugar, maple syrup or honey
• 2tbsp fish sauce
• Grated zest of 1 lime
• 3tbsp lime juice
• 1tsp toasted sesame oil
1. Tightly wrap a clean tea towel around the tofu. Over a sink, squeeze the tofu very firmly, tightening the tea towel as you go, to extract as much water as possible, almost wringing out the tofu. Unwrap and crumble tofu into a bowl, breaking up larger pieces with a fork.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add crumbled tofu and stir-fry for 4 minutes until beginning to crisp up. Add the garlic, lemongrass, shallots or onion, grated ginger, most of the chilli and the lime leaves (if using), and stir-fry for another 1–2 minutes until fragrant. Keep everything moving the whole time to avoid burning. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3. Put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Test after 2–3 minutes to make sure they are cooked through, then drain well.
4. Add the noodles to the cooked tofu and toss with the rocket, mango, nuts, most of the mint and all of the dressing ingredients. Transfer to a serving dish and top with remaining mint and chilli.
STICKY SMOKED PAPRIKA & MAPLE CHICKEN WINGS
‘I served these up for our family on New Year’s Eve and my husband and stepkids devoured them with huge grins on their faces. The flavours are sensational and give the chicken a real kick. They’re so simple to make as all the work is done during the marinating process. Mix it all up, pop in the fridge and sit back while your clever ingredients do all the work.’
• 20 chicken wings, wing tips removed
• 4 spring onions, finely chopped
• 4tbsp maple syrup or honey
• 2tbsp tamari or soy sauce
• 2tsp smoked paprika
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2cm piece of root ginger, peeled and finely grated
• 1tbsp chives, roughly chopped, to serve
1. Put all of the ingredients, apart from the chives, in a large freezer bag or wide dish and combine until the chicken is completely coated. Close the freezer bag or cover the dish and leave to marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours – the longer the better. If you are short on time, 2 hours will do.
2. When you are ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/325°F/Gas
3. Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 1 hour, then remove the foil and roast for a further 15 minutes.
3. The chicken can be eaten at this point but, for a delicious char, place a griddle pan over a medium-high heat. Once hot, fry the chicken in batches for 1–2 minutes on each side, or just until slightly charred.
4. Put on a plate, sprinkle over the chives and serve immediately.