Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Monday, 26 October 2009

Weekend Eats

After a busy weekend of eating, I need a rest and a detox. Mine started on Thursday evening, when I was invited to the launch of the Natural Beauty Yearbook 2010 at Neal's Yard Remedies on the Kings Road in Chelsea. My brother (hey Dom) had invited me to take photos for his company and my reward was being able to drink organic wine, eat delicious canapes and take home a Neal's Yard Remedies goodie bag. Of course I couldn't resist taking some pics of the food too...

My brother

Friday, I managed to "work" from home... Now, I don't normally make banana bread, chicken and cashew nut curry and do my food shopping whilst "at" work, but who was to know as long as I was answering e-mails and being available if anyone needed me on the phone?

The weekend then continued with a trip to Tunbridge Wells to see Amor Flamenco, a fantastic show, far removed from the tourist shows seen on the Spanish Costas. The atmosphere was more that of a late night Spanish bar, with earthy gypsy singing, two fantastic Spanish guitarrists, and two dancers who all put on a fantastic performance. The talent behind the show is Ana, who is a brilliant flamenco dance teacher (I have lessons with her but have a very long way to go!).

Saturday was spent in a rainy Brighton, where my sister Sarah and I went from having delicious coffees at Coffee@33, to brunch at Bill's Produce Store, and then on to a couple of shops just to show willing. Anxious to get home as I had left a curry simmering in the slow cooker, I then had to get me, my flat and dinner ready for my siblings and their spouses, all in time to watch Strictly Come Dancing.

On the menu was slow-cooked lamb rogan josh, chicken and cashew nut curry and a very quick prawn and mango curry, all served with rice. Dessert was my current favourite "margarita" ice-cream which finished the evening off nicely. We then all took it turns falling asleep whilst watching Robbie Williams on the Electric Proms. This was no reflection on his performance, which was great, but more due to the consumption of food and wine...

Sunday was a little more relaxing, enjoying coffee and chocolate & banana bread at Dom's whilst deciding on Christmas menus, then home to make the Christmas chutney from Nigella's Christmas. This wasn't quite as succesful as the cranberry & apple chutney, as it seemed to stay quite runny. I decided to turn up the heat, only to then burn the bottom of the pan... (ok, so I got distracted signing up for Twitter). I think I managed to salvage it, but only time will tell. I'll post the recipe, but if you want an easy life, stick with the other chutney recipe!

The weekend finished with a Chinese takeaway with my friend Suz, and a few episodes of Grey's Anatomy (who can resist a weekly fix of McDreamy...?)

So, excuse me while I have a food rest and prepare for next weekend which will be spent in Stockholm. If anyone has any suggestions for places to see and things to eat, please let me know.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Cookalong: Lamb Patties with Hummus and Pitta

It's impossible to blog about everything you cook, after all, I don't want to bore you all with some of the stuff I throw together! Mostly, I just make regular meals and these are hardly newsworthy as they are made during the week from whatever is lurking in the fridge or from store cupboard ingredients. It's nice to venture out of the comfort zone though and follow something that has been suggested by someone else. As a regular follower of the forums, I have joined in the last few Cookalong recipes, and this one for October is a real winner.

The recipe can be found using the link below, or in Nigella's Forever Summer book.

The addition of soaked bulgar wheat into the patties adds a lovely wholesome texture, and the dried mint and lemon zest really come through once the're cooked. I made a couple of slight variations at the end, using rocket leaves rather than little gem, I skipped the onion and instead of spritzing over the lemon juice, I added it to the hummus/yoghurt mixture. Falafels instead of the lamb patties would make a lovely vegetarian alternative.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

What to do with lots of apples...

I'm not really one to think about Christmas until at least 1st December, but every year I have a burning desire to make presents for friends and family, and preferably edible ones. The problem with this is lack of time, and the fact that I think I can make lots of goodies on Christmas Eve, whilst writing cards and wrapping proper presents. Anyone who is a little more organised than me, would tell me that any edible gifts of the chutney variety, should be made at least two months before Christmas... so that would be now then.
So having recently treated myself to Nigella Christmas, and being given a couple of kilos of apples from a friend's garden, it was time to chop fruit, sterilise jars and set about making some cranberry and apple chutney. I started prepping at about 8:30pm after making a big batch of leek and potato soup for my supper, and it was all done before 10pm. How easy is that? I should point out that this is the first time I have ever attempted making a chutney.
The results, even without two months maturing time, are pretty tasty. I'm looking forward to trying it with cold ham and turkey, and I think it will be lovely with a good strong cheddar. My batch made one largish jar (0.5 litres) and two smaller jars, so at least I can test one before deciding whether to give them as presents!

Nigella recommends that this chutney is made up to 2 months before using or giving (the longer it has the mature, the better) and then stored in a dark, cool place for up to 1 year. Once opened, it should be placed in the fridge and used within 1 month.
Roll on Christmas!

Monday, 19 October 2009


I've just had a lovely evening in London with my gorgeous friend Fi. We studied Spanish together so more often than not, we spend our evenings together over tapas and a decent bottle of red wine. Tonight was no exception, and it was a good excuse to try one of the many fantastic places recommended by Bellaphon, one of my favourite food blogs. It was a tough choice between Iberica and Dehesa, but as we found ourselves close to Oxford Circus, the latter won and we were not disappointed. For more detailed reviews and some delicious looking photos please read here and here (another favourite blog and I share Ms Marmite Lover's love of Spanish sherry).

We enjoyed pimientos de padron (Fi got all the hot ones), hand carved Teruel ham, the trio of manchego with membrillo, croquetas de jamon and boquerones. All these were washed down with the house red which at 15 quid a bottle, was remarkable value. For dessert, we shared the most delicious rice pudding made using calasparra rice, with submerged roast figs, topped with vanilla ice cream (and a cheeky glass of moscatel each). We had to move tables after eating as our table had a reservation but the staff were so lovely about it, this wasn't a problem. Thinking they would have to move us again, they gave us a glass of wine on the house, only to then not move us!

I have been really looking forward to coming here and can't wait to visit again. Thank you Bellaphon, you give good restaurant review.
p.s. photos are taken from Dehesa's website, I'm not brave enough to take my camera to restaurants yet!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Feeling fig

The title of this post should be "feeling fit" as I was due to run in the Royal Parks Half Marathon tomorrow... but, I've had cold and been feeling very sorry for myself for the last couple of days. I slept for 11 hours last night to try and get over it and it has almost done the trick but I know I am not fully fit. But in case I make a miraculous recovery, I've taken it very easy today, been drinking lots of water, and made myself a lovely pasta dinner to give me my energy boost for tomorrow.

I have a passion for figs, usually served with prosciutto or serrano ham and shavings of parmesan then drizzled with a lovely balsamic dressing in a salad, yum. I had never thought of putting them with pasta until I discovered this dish in the River Cafe Pasta & Ravioli pocket book. The combination of lemony cream, caramelised fig and slight hint of chilli is quite delicious.

Tagliatelle with fresh figs and chilli - serves 4

350g dried egg tagliatelle
8 black figs, stalks removed, cut into quarters
2 dried red chillies, crumbled
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon
100ml double cream
50g freshly grated parmesan
extra virgin olive oil

Here's how:
Mix the lemon zest and juice into the cream and season. Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat a frying pan large enough to hold the figs in one layer. Add 2 tbsps of olive oil and when smoking, place the figs in the pan, turning them immediately to caramelise on each side. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the chillies ans season.

Drain the pasta, return to the pan, then stir in the cream mixture and toss together. Add the figs and serve with the parmesan sprinkled over.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


to Lili in the Kitchen! Please bear with me while I make a few changes, more posts to follow soon!