Yesterday, at a surprise baby shower (a great success, by the way), I enjoyed the glorious English tradition of afternoon tea, with a slightly less traditional glass of fizz. Feasting on finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream was an incredibly pleasant way to while away the hours before the long winter night set in. However, after all of that utter decadence my evening meal had to be something well behaved and virtuous.
When I’m after something tasty but virtuous my mind always turns to Japanese food. I am by no means an expert in this area, I’ve never been to Japan (although I’d love to go, if it didn’t involve being on a plane for a ridiculous amount of time) but I have eaten enough Japanese food to know that I love it!
This dish is not in any way authentic but it does bring together a few of my favourite flavours and ingredients in a way that is super tasty and incredibly easy to prepare after a hard day of jamming scones into your face. (continue reading…)
It’s been an exhausting week, one of those weeks when your social calendar goes unusually crazy and on top of that you’ve got a holiday to prepare for and presents to buy for your 3 year old niece. A perfect storm of craziness that leaves you feeling lost at sea and fuzzy headed (and no the red wine had nothing to do with it, promise)
So today I felt the need for healthiness and simplicity and when this happens there’s only one way to turn and that is to my food hero, the marvellous Mr Nigel Slater.
This coleslaw was exactly what I needed. Chunky flakes of smoked mackerel (my skin was crying out for a bit of oily fish), cool celeriac shreds and little bursts of mustard seeds, finished off with some smooth sour cream. A squeeze of lemon juice isn’t just perfect for cutting through the oiliness of the smoked fish, it also keeps the celeriac brilliantly white. (continue reading…)
Today’s post is for my good friend Helen. A while back she was declared gluten intolerant and condemned to a life of missing out on amazing cakes, so when I started my blog Helen requested that I post some interesting gluten free desserts. There’s only so many meringues a person can eat and whilst a coconut macaroon is heavenly, sometimes you just fancy a change.
My search for a slightly more unusual gluten free cake led me to this wonderful carrot cake. Like all good carrot cakes it’s scrumptiously moist and this is only improved by the addition of ground almonds and sultanas. As well as being gluten free it’s also dairy free, and I’m sure you could replace the eggs with flax eggs to make it completely vegan.
The cake is unleavened so it’ll stay fairly flat, but it still feels light and fluffy, I guess it’s something to do with it not being weighed down by dense, wheat flour. This lightness makes this the ideal cake for an afternoon treat or a moderately virtuous dessert. We all need a little break from wheat every now and then, so why not give it a go? (continue reading…)
Oh quinoa, how I love you! Quinoa is always the answer when you’re after an easy to make, healthy dinner after a hard day’s work. In fact, for me, it’s always the answer even when I’ve had a lazy day. It’s the perfect base to salads or side dishes and barely a week goes by without me boiling up a batch.
For the uninitiated, quinoa is kind of like couscous, but it’s much more nutritious, gluten free and its texture is much less dry and sandy. (Can you tell I’m not a couscous fan?) It’ll soak up the flavour of your dressing and sits happily with almost any flavour. Apparently you can even use it in baking, although I haven’t tested this theory yet! If you haven’t tried quinoa yet, you really have to! Promise me you will, okay? (Pushy? Me? Never)
Now that autumn has enveloped us, it’s time to fall back on some trusty and comforting roasted veg. It’s squash season right now and I beg you to make the most of it. Sure you can go with a boring old butternut squash, but why not hunt out something a little more exciting. Crown Prince, or in this case Onion squashes are simply incredible and a decent sized supermarket should stock them or something similar. They both have a slight hint of chestnut to their flavour and are frankly gorgeous simply sprinkled with dried thyme and rapeseed oil and roasted as a side dish, but here they work wonderfully in an autumnal salad. (continue reading…)
The time has most definitely come for comfort food. Large bowls of fabulous, spicy concoctions, to be enjoyed as the rain pours down the windows and the evenings roll in. Ideally there should be a log fire involved, although if I started one in my flat I fear that my service charge would increase exponentially.
Rice pudding has always had a place in my heart, but I’ve never made it, having assumed that it would take hours to cook and being, essentially, lazy. But recently, Joy the Baker and Tracy Shutterbean have shown me that it’s possible to make a completely amazing rice pudding in only half an hour! This was a total revelation to me and this weekend I finally got round to testing out the recipe. Let me tell you, I’m glad I did!
The key is to replace the usual pudding rice with risotto rice, which cooks much faster but still has the requisite starchiness to make the pudding beautifully creamy. Cooking the rice for half an hour retains some of the bite, resulting in texture perfection. (continue reading…)
A lovely weekend back home with my family, involving plenty of good food and a wonderful Christening, (Yes, I finally have my first Godchild, Harry, and he is utterly gorgeous!) resulted in no daylight time in my own kitchen. Therefore, I was forced to invade the family kitchen and whip up something quick, simple, yet oh so good!
Is it just me, or are almonds just the best thing ever? Not only do they taste amazing in their natural raw state (and apparently lower your cholesterol), but they’re also a dream cake ingredient, the perfect addition to granola, essential for a beautiful macaroon (I simply must master these soon!) and the key ingredient of my all time favourite, frangipane. But what’s more, roast them up, drizzle them with honey and spices, and you’ve got something seriously special on your hands.
This was my first attempt at home roasted nuts, but I needn’t have worried, it really is simple. As long as you set your kitchen timer and don’t abandon them, there’s very little risk of them burning, they’ll just turn a slightly darker brown, their taste will be intensified and your kitchen will smell amazing! (continue reading…)
Salt and sweet, for me it’s a life long love affair. Despite the fact that I’m as British as bangers and mash, my childhood lunch of choice was most definitely the all-American peanut butter and jam sandwich, PB and J if you will / must. (I’m sorry, I just can’t call it jelly, you have to draw the line somewhere!)
As I’ve matured (umm…) and developed a mildly crazy peanut phobia, so my tastes have evolved, but my salty/sweet love has not abated. I could eat chocolate covered pretzels until they’re coming out of my ears, but my most recent obsession is the salted chocolate chip cookie.
Having previously whipped up a very tasty batch of salted pistachio and dark chocolate cookies, I was keen to find out whether a salted biscotti would work equally well. And let me tell you, salted chocolate seems to work in just about anything! (continue reading…)
This weekend, with the sun on my face, I could almost believe that the summer was still here, but a cloud passed over, the chill kicked in and I had to accept the fact that autumn is upon us and winter is coming. (Quick nod to my fellow Game of Thrones nerds there!) But, my friends, do not despair for the start of autumn heralds the arrival of the blackberry.
I long to go blackberry picking, but being stranded in central London I’ll have to settle for foraging in my local branch of Waitrose, which isn’t quite the same thing. However, the supermarket does have the advantage of an ample supply of dessicated coconut, which the British countryside is sorely lacking.
After several happy hours spent leafing through a stack of recipe books, I came upon the ideal recipe to celebrate this wonderful fruit, in my trusty copy of Bill’s Food, by Bill Granger. (continue reading…)
The fish finger sandwich, beloved by British people of a certain age (or possibly any age, I haven’t performed an extensive survey) and the perfect handheld comfort food. Whenever I see a proper fish finger sandwich on a restaurant or pub menu, I find it incredibly hard to resist and will inevitably suffer severe food envy if someone else orders it and I don’t.
But what is a fish finger sandwich without a good dollop of tartare sauce? For some reason I’ve never made my own tartare sauce, this is a total travesty considering how much I love it and how particular I can be about it.
A lot of recipes include finely chopped raw onions, but I’ve never been a fan of their strength, as I don’t want to taste them for hours after eating. Some recipes include tarragon, but again its not for me. That’s the great thing about tartare sauce, you can really make it your own. The only indispensable elements are capers, gherkins and a squeeze of lemon juice, the perfect ingredients to add a little piquancy where needed, in this case with a potentially bland fish dish. (continue reading…)