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May 17, 2013
Caesar salad with chicken is one of my all-time favourite salads. It reminds of the summer I lived on Martha’s Vineyard and I love to order it when eating out during the warmer months. I’m under no illusions that it is a healthy option, but it tends to be one of the few carb-light meals on pub menus.
I’ve recently started making it at home too and now both Gav and I are totally hooked. The secret is in a punchy homemade dressing. None of that goopy nonsense from a jar, oh no. A simple mix of finely chopped anchovies, minced garlic, lemon juice, zest and olive oil, and you’re good to go. I love this kale version (where my dressing is adapted from), but more often use romaine lettuce. A whole head provides plenty of crispy goodness for two people.
Croutons are made from sour dough, torn or cut into bite sized pieces, tossed with a little olive oil and baked in a 200°c pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Chicken tastes best griddled I think, with the smoky charred stripes contrasting nicely with the sharp and creamy dressing. I look forward to making this lots over the summer (if we get one!), enjoying it in the garden with a chilled glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Bliss. I hope you'll give it a go.
Amazing Caesar salad dressing
1 garlic clove
3 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
*Blitz all the ingredients except salt in a blender. Taste and season with salt if needed. If the dressing is too thick, thin with a little water. Toss with torn romaine lettuce, croutons and grated Parmesan. Serve griddled chicken on top or on the side.*
May 1, 2013
I’ve never really been into meatballs. Growing up in a red meat-free household, our bolognaise was soya, burgers were quorn and our sausages contained the lovely Sos Mix (it is really lovely, honest. I still use it in sausage rolls now.) The idea of a ball of meat sounded quite gross and never really appealed, until I gave them a go at Leon a few years ago. De-lish.
Now completely converted to these tasty little morsels, I love to make meatballs at home, especially with turkey for a leaner option to beef. My favourite recipes include Ottolenghi’s turkey and sweetcorn meatballs (I’ll feature them soon) and these hoisin-glazed turkey beauts.
Super simple and tasty, they are great to whip up any day of the week. We had them on Saturday evening with basmati rice and steamed asparagus. Yum. Just don't let them overcook - the lean turkey mince can dry out.
Hoisin-glazed turkey meatballs
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp freshly grated root ginger
½ tsp crushed red chillies
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
2 spring onions, minced – plus extra for garnish
450g turkey mince
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment/grease-proof paper.
2. Whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, crushed chillies and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in corn flour until smooth. Mix in spring onions and turkey until completely combined.
3. Wet hands, take rounded teaspoon of mix and roll into bite-size balls. Lightly coat with cooking spray and transfer to oven. Bake until meat is cooked through – about 15-17 minutes.
4. Stir hoisin sauce, coriander and lime juice in a large bowl. Add cooked meatballs and gently toss to coat with glaze. Sprinkle with spring onions and sesame seeds and serve hot.
April 17, 2013
Our hometown of Lichfield is lovely but it is definitely too quiet for me, with little in the way of independent shops, interesting restaurants or buzzing bars. However, the one thing it is not short of is great curry houses. We’ve sampled them all in our quest to find the best and agree that Indian Village takes the top spot. Bursting with fresh flavours, the perfect amount of heat and spices, and not in the slightest bit greasy, the food is really wonderful and great value for money.
Gav had an excellent butter chicken there last week so we decided to recreate something similar at home this weekend, as well as our first attempt at making naan bread.
We followed this recipe for butter chicken from one of my fave food blogs, Manger. It was absolutely delicious although quite different to the version at Indian Village, which had no tomato and was more yellow-green in colour. Next time, I plan to have a go at this recipe instead. It is a Punjabi recipe and includes more ginger and almonds, which seems more authentic and closer to what we had.
The Peshwari naan bread recipe from Manger wasn’t so good unfortunately, and the resulting very dry, dense dough ended up in the bin. We were determined not to give up though and tried Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for plain naan instead and filled it with the Peshwari stuffing. Thankfully, this was a huge success and something we’ll definitely be making again – perhaps with more ground almonds and coconut to enhance the flavor.
I’m definitely inspired to try more curries from scratch instead of relying on trusty Patak’s pastes. I’m interested to know – what’s your favourite Indian dish and have you tried making it at home?
March 18, 2013
Smitten Kitchen was one of the first food blogs I started following many years ago, along with Lottie and Doof and 101 Cookbooks. I continue to check in with these three foodies more often than any others as there is always something tempting on offer, with an interesting story and fabulous pictures.
It often means I’m converting US to UK measurements though, so I’m thrilled to hear that the recently released Smitten Kitchen cookbook is now available in the UK, and if this blueberry cornmeal butter cake is anything to go by, it is definitely worth picking up.
I love blueberries but rarely cook with them and this will certainly change after making this delicious bake, which is somewhere between crumble and cake. It is not overly sweet, which I really like, and recieved rave reviews from friends and family this week. I'll certainly be making it again. I couldn’t find cormeal so substituted polenta, which worked fine.
Find the full Smitten Kitchen recipe via Bleubird here.
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March 8, 2013
I have raved before about Yotam Ottolenghi and his fantastic cookbooks. I think Plenty is my favourite as despite not being a vegetarian, I love the abundance inspiring ways to cook vegetables that make them the star of a meal, packed full of fresh flavors and interesting textures.
One recipe we turn to again and again is green pancakes with lime butter. I made it last Saturday when my friend Carly visited for the weekend, and I’m making it again tomorrow for a little Mother’s Day brunch I’m throwing at home.
They are great simply served with the lime butter and rocket salad, or as more of a meal – with smoked salmon, sautéed garlic prawns or a poached egg. The recipe is a little involved and washing up heavy (you use three mixing bowls and a frying pan) but definitely worth the effort.
I’m not normally one for this style of thicker pancakes but the whisked egg white makes them nice and light rather than heavy and stodgy, which completely wins me over.
The lime butter recipe tends to make more than you need for the pancakes, but we relish the leftovers melted on scrambled eggs or smeared on toast. Delicious.
Find the recipe, originally featured in the Guardian, right here.
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February 22, 2013
Are you a sweet or savoury person? I am definitely in the savoury camp, preferring toast and eggs at breakfast; starters over desserts and last weeks pancake day treats filled with cheese and ham.
But I’ve been looking for ways to break up the same old savoury breakfast options, as well as to bring more healthy goodies into our diet. Granola seemed like the obvious solution, but the packet ones I’ve tried are either too sugary or artisan brands that give little change from a fiver.
So, when I discovered a recipe called 'A Better Granola' in Bon Appétit magazine, I decided to try making a batch of my own. It is a customizable recipe, to which you can add your own choice of nuts, grains, seeds and dried fruit. I used pecans, mixed seeds (sunflower, linseed and pumpkin); desiccated coconut and dried apricots, and substituted the agave syrup for honey.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this granola not all too sweet, in fact I could taste the sea salt a little, which is a big plus for a salt fiend like me. It is fantastic served with natural yoghurt and sliced banana, and we’re on our second batch already. I highly recommend giving it a go - find the full recipe at Bon Appétit here.
PS. Have you tried Total Greek Yoghurt? By far the best brand in my opinion.
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February 6, 2013
I adore olives but rarely buy marinated ones anymore – they are just too easy to make at home, and of course much cheaper too. Instead, I buy a jar of regular pitted olives and play around with different herbs, spices and flavourings.
So this Food Talk post isn’t so much a recipe – more just a handful of tips and ideas for DIY marinated olives.
- Always drain jarred or tinned olives in a colander and rinse with cool water to remove the salty brine.
- Marinate in a non-metallic container. Tupawares are ideal as you can shake and tip the container around to ensure even coverage with your marinade.
- Allow your olives to marinate over night for optimum flavor before eating – even longer if possible.
- Marinate at room temperature. Storing in the fridge will cause the oil to solidify – you don’t want that!
- If using raw garlic – crush a clove and keep it whole – it is much less overpowering than chopping or grating it.
- Use a tablespoon of oil and a splash of vinegar or citrus juice for the base of your marinade – I like extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar or lemon juice.
- Lime zest and dried chilli flakes
- Lemon zest and fresh parsley
- Lemon zest, thyme and rosemary
- Smoked paprika and toasted fennel seeds
- Orange zest and oregano
- Lemon juice, garlic, chilli, fresh coriander and dried cumin (Moroccan style)
- Toasted seseame seeds and mint
January 11, 2013
I love pasta and never tire of trying new ways to serve it. This Nigel Slater recipe from Kitchen Diaries II really appealed to me and while it is more of a spring-like dish, the fresh feel of it just seemed right after the overindulgence of Christmas.
Admittedly pasta and peas doesn’t sound that exciting but I put my trust in Nige and the recipe did not disappoint. I improvised with chard and frozen peas and it worked really well. The light sweet greens with the cheesy pasta was a great match. It was simple, very tasty and will be definitely become a regular week night supper.
Peas, Pasta and Parmesan
From Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater
• 250g/9oz peas (shelled weight)
• 250g/9oz small dried pasta such as orecchiette
• 35g/1½oz parmesan
• 50g/2oz butter
• 200g/7oz snow peas or mangetout
• a couple of handfuls of pea shoots
• 12 large basil leaves
1. Put a deep pan of water on to boil. Shell the peas. Lightly salt the water and boil the peas for a few minutes until tender. Drain.
2. Fill the pan with water and bring to the boil, then cook the pasta until firm but tender, about 9 minutes. Meanwhile, grate the parmesan onto a plate. Cut the butter into small pieces.
3. Place a non-stick frying pan over a moderate heat and add the butter. Leave to melt, then add the snow peas or mangetout. Let them cook for a couple of minutes in the butter then add the pea shoots. As soon as they start to wilt, add the basil leaves.
4. Add the cooked peas to the pan, then add the drained pasta. Add the parmesan and toss gently. Serve immediately.
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December 29, 2012
I love having friends over and although I never need an excuse, Christmas and New Year's provides the ultimate occasion to plan few little get-togethers at home. But let’s be honest, it can be quite overwhelming to entertain and make things extra special, even for your closest friends and family. However Nigella struck a cord with me in her entertaining section in Nigella Express, saying that is its far better to put on an abundance of a few choice dishes rather than stressing about lots of different ones. She reckons it is much more welcoming and I couldn’t agree more.
So in a quiet moment the other weekend, I had a cup of mulled wine and made up a big batch of gougéres from Mimi Thorisson’s recipe on her fabulous blog, Manger - which I first raved about here. I keep spotting recipes for these French cheesy puffs around and I’m so pleased I finally gave them a go.
They are deliciously light and flavoursome, and definitely worth the elbow grease required in vigorously mixing the batter. I got in a bit of a mess piping out the little golden nuggets, but that’s more due to my inexperience than the recipe itself. It is really quite simple, and as Mimi suggests, the gougéres are the perfect chic snack for serving with wine or champagne.
I added fresh thyme leaves, which worked well, and I'm sure other herbs and different cheeses would be equally delish. After snaffling a couple, I popped them in the freezer to be brought out and reheated for guests. They went down a storm and were on regular rotation in our house over Christmas. Find the recipe here.
November 26, 2012
I love lifestyle blogs but they can give me serious life envy if I’m not careful. Do you know what I mean? Getting sucked into perfectly captured images of a seemingly perfect life can create unrealistic expectations and make you dissatisfied with your lot.
Keeping in mind that every personal blog is a carefully edited version of the owner’s life makes them much more enjoyable to read, taking each post as a highlight of that person’s day or week to inspire you or make you think.
I came across a new (to me) blog this week called Manger, which presents a life so different to mine that I’m fascinated to find out more. Manger is a food blog written by Mimi Thorisson who lives in Médoc in the French countryside with her husband, four children, two step-children and 14 dogs.
Coupled with her husband’s atmospheric photography, Mimi presents snippets of their life with beautiful recipes, many of which are understated and elegantly simple. Mimi’s passion for food is clear and I enjoy reading about how she is adapting to a life of foraging and deer spotting, despite being a self-proclaimed city girl. I’ve added many recipes to my to-make list, including Sophia Loren’s meatballs; galettes; and gougéres. Go check out Manger - I think you'll like it.