Summery warm lemon potato salad with fresh chives and crispy bacon

 This warm lemon and chive potato salad recipe with crispy bacon makes a really easy side dish that packs a flavourful punch. It’s a firm favourite at all our bbq’s and picnics and is much healthier and tastier than the usual potato and mayonnaise combination that normally gets left to the side. Fresh, zingy and perfectly summery, I usually have to double up this recipe because it goes so quickly!

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Ingredients

2lbs/900g new potatoes, skin on and washed
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt
1 heaped tsp whole grain mustard
4tbsp olive oil (extra virgin is the best)
a sprinkle of black pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped chives
6 spring onions
6 slices of bacon (smoked will add the most flavour)

Method

Firstly place the potatoes in a saucepan with enough boiling water just to cover them, add some salt, and simmer them for about 15-20 minutes until they are soft when cut with a knife.

Meanwhile, slice the bacon into small strips then fry slowly on a medium to low heat until they turn dark and crispy. Once they’re crispy I always take them out of the pan and lie them on some kitchen towel so that the grease can drain out.

To make the vinaigrette, finely chop the garlic then whisk in all the other dressing ingredients. You can use pre squeezed lemon juice if you like but it won’t have the same punchy flavour as fresh lemon. Roughly chop the spring onions and chives ready to garnish with the bacon.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them in a colander and transfer them to a serving bowl. Pour on the vinaigrette dressing while they are still hot, toss them around in the dressing to get a good coating, then finally scatter in the crispy bacon, chopped chives and spring onions and serve.

Places to eat: Pete’s Eats, Llanberis

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Every now and again I do love a big greasy fry up and there is none better than Pete’s Eats in Llanberis. Sat at the foot of the Snowdonia mountain range, I’ve been coming to Pete’s with my parents ever since they first marched me up a Welsh mountain. After a day spent running away from my sister, who was armed and dangerous with skilfully crafted snowballs that would inevitably end up down my top and all over my face, we would bumble back down the mountain. Rosy cheeked and ravenous. Pete’s would be there waiting with it’s famous pints of steaming hot tea, ready for us to reintroduce our bones to the concept of warmth.

Now I love fine dining in restaurants that use fancy words like ballotine and cover their dishes in decorative micro-herbs, but sometimes that kind of food just doesn’t hit the spot. I know for the health conscious, a plate piled high with deep fried potatoes is not on the top of their list but after a brisk walk half way up Snowdon I think it’s perfect.

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The outside of the building is painted an eye catching deep blue which really stands out against the stunning natural beauty of Snowdonia. Inside sit groups of climbers (or walkers in our case) huddled over newspapers or maps planning their next route up the mountain range. There is a really relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Staff walk through the cafe shouting out order numbers, being greeted by a sea of wishful faces, scrambling to find their order ticket. As we search for a table I notice that some of the walls are covered in photos of seemingly relaxed climbers in impossibly risky positions on the sides of sheer cliff faces. Upstairs there are showers, beds and a cosy back room and library for keen climbers to plan their routes.

A child on the table next to us has a look of delight spread across his face (and a look of dismay across the parents) when he sees the size of his chip sandwich. The portions here are generous. Understandable really when you look at the photos on the wall. I doubt you could really justify eating here unless you had at least the intention to walk up a mountain.

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Our food arrives fairly quickly considering that every other table is full and there’s a queue gathering at the door. It’s simple, tasty and plentiful. It’s well cooked, and whilst the quality might not be of michelin standard, there is plenty of it, the eggs are all free range and the chips, oh the chips.

Pete’s has really hit the nail on the head. It caters exactly for what its customers want. Good food and lots of it. This place is really buzzing. Everyone seems to know each other, there’s a notice board on the back wall sighing under the amount of notices and local advertisements. In a quiet town, tucked away in the Welsh mountains, it feels like a real community. Serving traditional grub, straight to the point, Pete’s is a welcome sight for any hungry climber.

Places to eat: Blue Sky, Bangor North Wales

Photo Credit: Blue Sky Bangor
Photo Credit: Blue Sky Bangor

A little gem, hidden just off from Bangor high street in rural North Wales, Blue Sky is one of my favourite places to be. Always bursting at the seams with hopeful customers, it’s best to get there early to grab a table. I will always have a soft spot for this place. It’s where my husband and I used to go when we were teenagers and when we first started dating. He had a part time job there and I would catch the bus into town after school to go and meet him and share a bowl of their delicious, chunky chips.

We both love this place so much that we decided to have our wedding evening party here. It was the perfect place, with it’s huge wooden beams, wood burning stove and friendly, lively atmosphere. It suited our relaxed style and want for a really fun wedding entirely. We ordered generous platters of their delicious marinated chicken, tasty falafels and mountains of chips with plenty of side salads and houmous to fill up our hungry guests. The bar served local ales and ciders, we plugged a huge speaker into my laptop and danced the night away.

Now, whenever I return to visit family in North Wales, Blue Sky is on the top of my list of places to visit. Walking up their wooden staircase I always feel a bit nostalgic, remembering taking those same steps , dressed in my wedding dress with my handsome husband and walking into a room filled with our beautiful friends.

Although everything on the menu is locally sourced and delicious (they’ve featured in the Good Food Guide for the past six years), I do have a couple of firm favourites. Their chicken in a basket, the same chicken that we had on our special day, is just the best. It comes stuffed into a wholegrain pitta bread, which is already bursting with fresh salad, and is joined by their famous chunky chips. And that’s right, it is served in a basket. I don’t know what goes into their chicken marinade but I NEED that recipe! On occasion, when I’ve been watching the waistline, I’ve been able to replace the chips with extra salad. The staff at Blue Sky really are very accommodating and are happy to help with any dietary requirements or to help with a need for flavour with less calories!

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The second star of the show for me is their Cobb salad. Layers of organic perl las blue cheese, free range chicken, crispy bacon and hard boiled eggs with the brightest yolks I’ve ever seen, all on top of a fresh salad. A marriage made in heaven.

I may sound a bit obsessed but Blue Sky really is that good. A cosy, friendly atmosphere, great quality food and happy staff. You really must try it out.

Tasty, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Bacon

I’ve never been brussels sprouts’ biggest fan, I’ve tried every Christmas to enjoy them but always end up leaving them to go cold on my plate. Boiling sprouts in a pan just isn’t conductive to great flavour, so this year I decided to try and make them a little more appealing and I’ve ended up falling in love with them! Now I would happily eat them all year round (never thought I’d be saying that!) and this recipe is a great way to use up left over gravy or stock.

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Ingredients

500g brussels sprouts, peeled and halved
3-4 rashers of bacon, cut up into small pieces
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
A knob of butter for frying
A pint of pre-made gravy or stock, quite weak as the flavour will intensify as it reduces

Method

Melt the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Put in the chopped up bacon and fry gently until it’s very crispy, then add the brussels sprouts and garlic. Fry softly until the sprouts start to brown slightly then pour over the gravy until it just covers the sprouts. Simmer until the  sprouts are soft and the gravy has reduced into a glaze which coats the sprouts evenly.

Serve alongside your Sunday roast or with the left overs the next day!