Latest Posts

Chicken Rendang (In Partnership with Le Creuset)

Chicken Rendang Recipe

Chicken Rendang Recipe

This post was sponsored by Le Creuset. They asked me to write a one pot recipe and to choose one of their pots to cook it in. I fancied something spiced,  slow cooked and full of character,  so I settled on a rendang inspired by my travels to Malaysia. I chose a shallow pot that would aid evaporation, caramelisation and intensification of the sauce  (a 30cm shallow casserole, in lovely Marseille blue). 

Le Creuset Pot in  Marseille Blue

Le Creuset 30cm Shallow Casserole in Marseille Blue

I have been to Malaysia twice in the past year, to the tip of it in Langkawi, and the bottom, Sabah, Borneo. I love it there for many reasons. The monkeys (who can resist?), the rainforests and the gorgeous seas, the sandy beaches and the mangrove trees. Best of all is the food, seasoned with punchy aromatics and a little spice. Where India has spices, Malysia has aroma – galangal, lime leaves, lemongrass, lots of fresh turmeric – and slow cooked tender meats, bright fish, with sometimes funky undertones from fermented fish. For this project, I settled on a chicken (ayam) rendang, the perfect food for a chilly November. Read More

UPDATES: Project Bacon & Eat Like a Girl, the Next Evolution

As one door closes, another opens.

As one door closes, another opens.

This year has been a a year of surprises and challenges. A difficult year, when I look back I see myself overwhelmed, sometimes panicking and all consumed with Project Bacon, but you know what? It is nearly there. We have the final photography days this week and then my creative portion will be almost complete. The rest doesn’t worry me so much. My art director is brilliant, as is my editor, and my book could not be in better hands. I will switch my attention to more practical matters like printing and distribution, which will be a relief after all of the angst that writing a book can bring.

The hardest bit with writing a book is that bit that you should love the most. The manuscript. When in the zone it can be wonderful, but more often than not it is torture. Writers block, panic, fear, too much time alone, constant reassessment of your work, frustration, and ultimately a book that was at times painful to write, but one that you are proud of, and want everyone to have.

Nearly there, still in the trauma portion.

It is clear that I undertook a project much bigger than what I realised, and it wasn’t that I couldn’t do it, but at the same time as I was, everything else became very busy too. And that everything else is what pays my rent, and keeps everything stable, so it is very important too. Project Bacon was always my priority, but it generates no income yet, and in the end has cost much more than I forecast (as with every project, ever, I know).

Looking back now I can see that through pushing myself very hard all year, braving the waves of total overwhelming panic, not sleeping enough, not looking after my health and seeing so much more of the world, and all for work reasons, I am in a much better place now. I look at my work and think, YES, this is where I wanted to be, and it was traumatic getting here but I now see what needs to stay and what needs to go.

There are things that I do, but they are not practical, and they need to stop. I need to work smarter so that I can have more downtime. I still want to be the sole writer here, but I want it to grow, so I am working that out now. This blog is almost 8 years old, and while it has grown with me over the last almost 8 years, it needs to change too. I travel more, and am at home less, and Eat Like a Girl will reflect that a bit more. There will also be more work with sponsored partners (but more content around it as I go). As always I will tell you here first, as I always value your feedback.

Once Project Bacon is complete, all energy becomes refocussed here and also on myself (I have already initiated a health kick which I will share here as I go). Content will be more regular, there will be a kick ass redesign which brings it more up to date, there will be lots more recipes and more travel stories. I have a another project which I will wait to announce in a few weeks, maybe early next year, and things will make a lot more sense then. Read More

Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Roast Pumpkin, Kale, Feta & Pomegranate Salad

Yes, more roast pumpkin. But you probably have some left over from the last recipe, and I bet you are not averse to roasting some more. Or is that just me?

In Winter my salads become a little more robust. More kale than lettuce, wilted or crisped, chunks of pumpkin or similar dense veg, roasted into submission. No salad should be heavy, so I lift mine with spritely dressings, this time a pomegranate molasses and lime dressing with no oil, so you know, healthy and lower calorie (I did say I was going to try, right?). Over this, soothing pops of sharp creamy feta, and then to give it some sparkle, a gorgeous sprinkle of juicy pomegranate seeds.

It is winter? Who cares, when you have this salad? I quite like winter anyway.

Some very pretty lilac kale that I happened upon - but any kale will do

Some very pretty lilac kale that I happened upon – but any kale will do

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[Preview] Sharing Stories: An Italian Dining Experience & an Exclusive 2-4-1 Ticket Offer for Eat Like a Girl Readers (In Partnership with Peroni Nastro Azzurro Alta)

This post was sponsored by Peroni Nastro Azzurro Alta. I attended the preview dinner of Sharing Stories: A New Italian Dining Experience, details of which are here.  The dinner is a once off, on Wednesday 26th November at Daphne’s in London, and includes 3 cocktails, complimentary Peroni Nastro Azzurro Alta, and a bespoke menu created by Daphne’s head chef.  A special 2-4-1 offer is available exclusively for Eat Like a Girl readers. Details are at the end of the post. The dinner is to celebrate the launch of Alta, a new sharing bottle designed to be enjoyed with friends. All photos were provided by Peroni, the editorial is mine.

To showcase the launch of the new Alta bottle, Peroni is hosting an exclusive supper club at Daphne’s in South Kensington. Sharing Stories: An Italian Dining Experience will be a multi course feast created by Daphne’s Head Chef, Michael Brown. It will bring to life the diners’ most memorable Italian experiences through taste, smell and sound. The entire night will be created from the diners’ impressions of Italy, with each course inspired by the guests’ memories. These will also shape the cocktails, décor and music for the evening giving guests an entirely bespoke experience.

Daphne’s, where Sharing Stories will be hosted, is a well respected and very popular restaurant which has been serving classic Italian food in Kensington for 50 years now. The food was very good and plentiful, seven dishes in total, including sensational gamberoni with chilli and garlic, an excellent mushroom risotto and beef carpaccio served with lots of fresh truffle. There was lots of Peroni, served in the new Alta bottle, and the cocktails were twists on classics, with – of course – some Peroni involved.
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Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Tina

Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Almond crusted tuna frequently pops up my idea periscope when my mind wanders. I first had it in Sicily a few years ago in San Vito Lo Capo, when I was a judge for the International Cous Cous Festival (yes, I really was, and it was bonkers, and a lot of delicious fun). There are many almonds in Sicily, pistachios too, and they appear a lot in the cuisine. Almond crusted tuna was one of my favourite dishes that I tried, a fabulous alternative to breaded fish, the tuna remains crisp and is – obviously – nutty. Read More

A Postcard from Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

An Orang Utan in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

An Orang Utan at Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

I have stacks of recipes to share with you all, and was in the midst of writing one up for you, when I thought: no, I really don’t want to do that right now. What I have to do is share some pictures from Sabah with you first. It is a wonderful place, and while I am here I am keen to share it with you.

Sabah is in Malaysian Borneo. A tropical part of the world, it has sea and rainforest, monkeys and bears, and lots of fantastic food, particularly seafood. I have been busy since my arrival, that won’t surprise you much, and have seen and eaten lots. The food has been wonderful, as good as I had been told, but I would be telling a lie if I didn’t tell you that it was the wildlife that stole my heart.

Oran utangs (translates as man of the jungle), proboscis monkeys (so called because of their massive nose, they are also called belanda, Malay for Dutchman, as it was thought that the Dutch colonisers had similar large bellies and noses) and cheeky little macaques (which were rifling through the rubbish and stealing eggs at breakfast this morning) featured but there was much more.

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A proboscis monkey! Native to Borneo. Curious and divine. Bigger than you think too!

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Next Stop: Sabah & Brunei

What a week! A very good week, I spent the bulk of it at World Travel Market in London, where I met lots of inspiring people and spoke about food & travel blogging. 4 full days, and a blissful early night followed, so rare, and very much needed. I am shattered, but I have lots to do, for I am going to Sabah and Burnei on Sunday. And that is exciting, isn’t it?

Sabah is new to me, in Malaysian Borneo, and a whole new world of food is waiting to greet me. Many of you will know it already, and possibly have even been to a wedding there, as many people travel to marry on their tropical shores. We start in Kota Kinabulu, and explore Sabah from there. I will be doing lots, highlights among these being lots of terrific eating, a cooking class, visiting markets, heading into the jungle, and I am very excited that we are going to see some Orang Utans at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.


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Cardamom and Turmeric Chicken Curry

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Today has been stressful. Yesterday was worse. Because of stupid but unavoidable things, in isolation fine, together brain stuffing. Delayed planes, trains and automobiles (yes, all three), a broken front door, mysteriously vanished side gate, and lots of other dull stuff. My brain was starting to tense, my heart was pounding and I was being taken away by fury, a red mist.

What a bloody nightmare, eh? What to do? Sort the essentials, ignore the rest, withdraw from the world for a bit, and think of curry.

Chicken curry to be precise, I don’t think you can beat it if it is made right. A nice plump chicken from a happy home, whatever cut you fancy, or the lot. I bought a small bird, brought it home and removed it from the carcass, which I will use soon for stock along with the chicken skin and wings. I removed the leg, thigh and breast, the legs I kept whole, the rest I diced chunkily, and added all of the meat to a creamy turmeric bath. I love fresh turmeric, but dried will do, added to yogurt and chilli, the colour and the possibilities lifted my spirits. I put it in the fridge and let it rest.

After a couple of hours, and I was starting to feel better, I sautéed some finely chopped onion in some coconut oil (any oil will do, I had that). It soothed me to see it gently sink into the oil and release its own tension. I gave it time and cooked it gently, until soft. Then I added ginger, garlic, and more fresh chilli. I toasted some spice, cardamom seeds, cloves and black pepper. I ground them until a powder, and added them to my onion mix.

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Homemade Matcha Soba Noodles & A Recipe for Matcha Mari Soba

Matcha noodles! Well, why wouldn’t you make them? You surely want to try them. I had the good fortune of eating superb matcha soba when I was in Kyoto last year, and they pop up from my memory to say hi frequently. Sure, you can buy green tea / matcha noodles in speciality shops here, and they are decent, but they are not a patch on the real thing. Of course. But, then you hear that it takes 3 years to learn soba making, 32 years to perfect it (!) and that it is very tricky. But you know what, you still really want to give it a go. Right?

Right.

Let us get down to the details. There are two things that we need to think about here. Soba and matcha. Soba means buckwheat or buckwheat noodle in Japanese. Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain, it is a seed that is grain like, and is not related in anyway to grass, it is actually closely related to rhubarb and sorrel (both very characterful plants, as is buckwheat). It has no gluten, so it takes skill and knowledge, the kind of knowledge that lives in your muscles and your palms, after years of getting to understand soba dough, to get the buckwheat to combine so elegantly with water to form noodles. Not just any old noodles but noodles that you would get on a train across town for, maybe even to another city, maybe even on a plane to Japan.
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Rice Soup with Chorizo, Pumpkin, Kale & a Poached Egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

I don’t like telling you what to do, but on this occasion, I must. It is almost the weekend, and it is very much Autumn, so what I need you to do, is to go out and buy a couple of raw chicken carcasses (most butchers will have them, and failing that 500g chicken wings), some ham bones, if you can get them, or a ham hock. You see with these, and some veg, you can make a sublime broth which will keep you in gorgeous soups for the week, as I have done. I just needed soup and lots of it.

A home made broth is wonderful, far surpassing any commercial pretenders. Even those home made ones you see in shop fridges will not have been made with the love and care that yours can be made with at home. Love and care brings flavour, and health, and joy. I am insisting that you give this a go.

A good home made stock will have clear strong flavours, but it is gentle too, and only ever supports what you add to it, it never dominates. Shop bought stocks, especially the cubes, always do. It is an effort, but making a big batch when you have the time is very rewarding, the bulk of the work lies in waiting for it to be done.

There are many things you can do with this stock. A steaming mug of it on its own brings great pleasure and sustenance. With shredded chicken, leftover or not, some spring onions, some coriander and some chilli, you have a vigorous bright chicken soup, with a ham backbone. It also freezes well. Read More

Making Fresh Gozitan Cheese with Rikardu in Gozo, Malta

Scenes from Gozo.

Gozo is the second of the three Maltese islands. When you consider that the smallest has only three (elderly) inhabitants, and that Gozo itself is only 8.7 x 4.5 miles, you might be surprised to learn that Gozo has a food culture all of its own. Best among this is the Gozitan fresh cheese, Ġbejniet. I made it my mission to meet a cheesemaker while I was on the island and explore this. The world is a smaller tighter place when you can get close to the origins of your food, and the people who make it.

Ġbejniet is made daily by small farmers (one I met, Victor, from the charming Dreams of Horses farm has just a few sheep and makes it daily). I managed to track down Rikardu, who has a farm with 200 sheep and goats which he milks by hand daily, and then makes fresh cheese with the milk while it is still warm. He sells the cheese in his restaurant Ta’ Rikardu, where you can have the fresh cheese (Ġbejniet) on its own, or a platter for two of fresh cheese, wind dried cheese and peppered cheese (at just €8.95). .

Rikardu, making his cheese.

Rikardu starts by adding rennet to the milk. The rennet which he uses now is a commercial product, however, before the tradition was to kill a suckling sheep and use the stomach (from which rennet is obtained) to set the cheese by letting it sit in the whey for 3 days. This whey would then be used for up to a few months. The milk, with rennet added, is allowed to sit until it sets, which takes about 20 minutes. Rikardu then pours it into individual moulds (little plastic baskets, really), which are allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, before each cheese is turned within gently, all by hand. The cheese is good to eat a few hours later, and for up to a couple of days. Rikardu showed me an original wicker mould too, but these are expensive now and also less practical when it comes to cleaning them.

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What to Eat in Madrid & Where to Eat It

Madrid is a serious food city. It is also a city that parties hard and keeps extremely late hours. I went to bed early each night over the weekend that I was there, at 3am. Woah, Madrid! Madrileños eat as they drink, and that eating is a serious business. Their expectations are high, and so they should be, quality abounds, and once you steer clear of the tourist joints, you will eat well.

This list is based on my last trip there, a week ago. It is well researched and sampled, but not exhaustive. Madrid is brilliant and exciting in that it has an enviable list of great places to eat. Which is why I plan to go back there as soon as I can manage it. For this trip, I asked the locals, as only people who live there can have the full breadth of experience required to pick a sample for a weekend.

Conspicuously absent on this list until my return is Callos Madrileños (Madrid style tripe), Cocido Madrileño (a heavy chickpea based stew) and DiverXO (Madrid’s exciting 3* restaurant). The first two seemed more wintry, so I decided to save them for a trip in a colder time, and DiverX0 needs very early booking and a day dedicated to it.

Eat Cochinillo (Suckling Pig) at Los Galayos & Santceloni

I enquired of a local, where should I eat suckling pig in Madrid? He replied, well of course I don’t eat it in Madrid, I head to the small villages in the Sierras where it is the best. I despaired a little, I didn’t have time to go to the Sierras. But, where should I eat it in Madrid? OK: Los Galayos is best, and that is where the locals go, was what he disclosed. There is also Botín, the oldest restaurant in the world (according to the Guinness Book of Records) and where Hemmingway is said to have eaten two suckling pigs with two bottles of rioja in one seating. It is supposed to be excellent, but it is firmly on the tourist map, so I chose the local alternative, which was just around the corner. The suckling pig (less than one month old) was tender and sublime, with a thin crisp crackling surfing a rich glorious fat. A large portion, it was very well priced at €21.75. At the other end of the scale, the suckling pig loin at two michelin starred Santceloni is steeper at €53, but it is excellently executed. It is served as racks of ribs and loin which are roasted to the point where the flesh is moist and luscious and there is a perfect crisp skin.

Eat Anything (Everything?) at StreetXo

StreetXo, the street food offering from DiverXO’s 3 star chef David Muñoz in El Corte Inglés, is one of the most exciting restaurants that I have eaten at this year. Creative and inspired, each dish was sharp, elegant and full of flavour. There is one u shaped counter around the open kitchen, with some stools. I chose to stand. I stood there for 3 hours, and ate as much as I could. No dish disappointed and there was lots of surprises.

David happened to be there on the night that I visited, and he said that the menu changes all the time, so while I can’t say for sure that these dishes will be on when you visit, try anything, and if the peking dumpling with pigs ear or the butter fish are on, dive in. I ate too much and had a few glasses of wine, and my bill was still less than €50. It opens at 8.30, and I arrived 5 minutes later. All the seats were gone, but I got a space at the counter. Anyone who arrived after had to wait, so do get there early. (Note: StreetXO relocates from El Corte Inglés to a bigger premises in Madrid in November).

Eat Churros & Porras with Coffee or Chocolate

I am sure you are all familiar with churros but when in Madrid you must also have the local version, porras. Porras translates as truncheon, and reflects the larger size, which is even better for absorbing what you dip it into. It is common in Spain to dip churros in hot thick chocolate, but in Madrid, locals prefer to dip it in coffee, which became my perfect regular breakfast while I was there. Seek out a Fabrica de Churros & Patatas Fritas, most neighbourhoods have them, and it is where locals go to buy fresh patatas fritas (crisps!), churros and porras. Chocolatería San Ginés, one of Madrid’s oldest cafés, is very popular with tourists but is still very good, and locals love it too. Go there to have them with chocolate.

Go to Madrid’s Markets

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A Day in Valletta, Malta: Breakfast, Lunch & Culture

I am reaching the end of a serious stint of work related travels, bouncing in and out of London and landing in Ireland, Malaysia, Portugal (travelling North to South), Madrid and now Malta. Malta is the perfect place to finish. Based on the sleepy island of Gozo (the locals pronounce it Goh-zoh, all slowly), the only thing that moves quickly here are the cats darting for your food, or me, darting for mine. Occasionally.

I have been really enjoying my gentle explorations. More on Gozo soon, for I am not finished here yet. Lets starts with Valletta. Yesterday, I headed for the Maltese metropolis, for a wander and bite to eat. Gozo locals think Malta quite intense and busy, and sure, by Gozo standards this is so. For me, it was dreamy and peaceful. Valletta is not an excessively large city, but there is much to see.

The entirety of Valletta, is protected by UNESCO, and it is so pretty. Lofty limestone houses with windows jutting out, just to see what you are doing below. Painted to match the limestone, occasionally green, pops of red and some blue. At times, these seem to reach to each other across narrow alleys that stretch to the sea, never reaching, always hoping, always calm. Lots of steps, some hills, gorgeous parks like the Lower Barrakka Gardens, overlooking the sea, complete with a folly of a neoclassical temple within. There are lots of churches, standing proud, and St John’s Cathedral, boasting the work of the Knights of St John, including some by one of their most famous members, Caravaggio (who was eventually defrocked). The water surrounding the walled city of Valletta, in the sun an electric blue, gives Malta a sometimes surreal feel as it slinks against the city walls.

I start with a wander, as I always do, and I have a list, but I only have a day here, so I have to choose. I start with breakfast at Prego, an old Maltese café, with some of the best pastizzi in town, crisp flaky pastry, almond shaped and filled with fluffy ricotta which peeps out to say hello. I also tried a qassat, taller and plump with split peas, made of a shorter thicker pastry with a lid on top (nice but more appropriate for a heavier day, I think).


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Greetings from Gozo, Malta

Greetings from Gozo! A small island, just under 9 x 4.5 miles,  and part of the Maltese archipelago, I am based here for 5 days exploring the island, and a little of Malta too. I have just arrived, the photos above are from my (25 minute) ferry journey from Malta. Gorgeous, isn’t it?

Despite its size, Gozo is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago, and it has much to explore. Gorgeous scenery, those azure waters, and hillside villages. Lots of fish and rabbit on the food front, pastries like pastizzi, mahi mahi pie, and that is just the tip of it. The locals are very keen to tell me it is Winter, but it is 26 degrees C and I am toasty warm. After spending a day in London battling the rain, it is a lovely change.

You can follow my adventures on twitter and also those of my travelling companions, who are all bloggers but maybe are not so food obsessed. What?! I know. Check in on the #MaltaIsMore hashtag on twitter, instagram and facebook.

Tips are welcome, as always! Thanks.

I am visiting Malta for Blog Island, created and sponsored by Malta Tourism Authority in partnership with iambassador. All editorial is my own, as always. 

Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 2: Heinz Beck’s Recipe for Green Tortelloni with Frutti di Mare]

Making Heinz Beck’s Green Tortellini with Fruitti di Mare 

So,  you have just been out foraging for clams with a 3* chef. You have fallen over on the boat (just a few scratches), and you have a wicker basket full of clams. What do you do next? Head to the kitchen, of course.

Getting a chance to cook with Heinz Beck in his kitchen at Gusto at The Conrad, Algarve was a treat. He is (obviously) talented, but he is also very thoughtful, helpful and open to food writers blundering around his kitchen. We cooked 2 dishes, Bacalhau with Herbs, Pepper sauce and Fennel and Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare, both flavourful, light and healthy, and just what my body is screeching for at the moment. I am on a bit of a fresh pasta kick – you will have noticed – so I will share the pasta recipe with you now. It seems complex, but it is all achievable, and it is a perfect lunch for friends. Just give it time, perhaps get your friends to pitch in as you do it.

Enjoy!

Ps. – passionate pastanistas out there, there are only 2 places left for my full day pasta cooking class on Saturday 18th October. There are still places for the later dates, but they are filling up.

RECIPE: Green Tortellini con Frutti di Mare

adapted from Heinz Beck 

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Taste Portugal: A Day on the Algarve Clam Digging & Cooking with Heinz Beck [Part 1: How to Catch a Razor Clam & Visiting an Oyster Farm]

I have a terrible life, I know. Last Tuesday, my last day in Portugal on a trip to explore the food and drink (as a guest of Taste Portugal), we finished with a terrific day clam digging and cooking with 3* German but Rome based chef, Heinz Beck. Heinz also has a restaurant in the Algarve at the Conrad, you see, and while he is not based there he visits regularly and spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

Despite growing up on the sea, clam digging was entirely new to me, and it was fascinating. Even if we didn’t get that many, as the sea was too choppy and the clams were all buried away. We dragged a few out of their hidey holes though, and I can tell you how to do it.

To catch a razor clam, and yes, catch it you do, find a keyhole shaped hole in the sand in an area where the clams live. In the Algarve we went by boat to a sand bed that is covered by the tide when it is high. The clam holes are not particularly large, less than a centimetre, but do look like a keyhole or figure of 8. Sprinkle quite a bit of salt on it, covering it, and if there is a razor clam in residence you will soon know, as the salt drives them to the surface with speed. You will notice a frothing where the salt is, add more on, and soon you will see the razor clam peep out. It will eventually jump and then you grab it, and put it in your basket. Job done. Well, for one clam anyway, you will need a lot more.

You can also use a little spear to catch the clams, poking them into the hole, with the intention of not actually spearing the clam as you want it alive, but getting it to latch on to it. Wire mesh or wicker baskets are used to collect the clams, so that you can wash your catch by dipping it in and out of the water when you are done. You will occasionally catch a worm (don’t grab that, and prepare for a fright, they are pretty speedy and lashy). For best results, use fine sea salt for holes in the sand and coarse sea salt for holes in the water (like in a shallow pool). For smaller clams, we used a triangular shaped spade and dug up portions of sand, plucking out the clams as we did, this was much more successful.

On the way back, we stopped at a small oyster farm, Aquaprime Oysters, and indulged. Large salt sweet oysters greeted us, plucked straight from their bed. We had some light Douro sparkling to accompany, that the oyster farmers make themselves. At this point I actually fell over in the boat, such was my enthusiasm, but thankfully no harm done. I landed in the boat, saved my camera, and apart from a few bruises, all was ok. I have long ago given up on worrying about what people think of my frequent accidents, I am ridiculously clumsy. Read More

A Big Brunch and a Recipe for Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise (In Partnership with Tabasco® Brand Pepper Sauce)

In Partnership With Tabasco Badge

Brunch! Boiled Eggs and Tabasco butter soldiers; Feta, Corn & Tabasco Cakes; Tabasco Crab Devilled Eggs; Louisiana Crab Cakes with Poached Eggs & Tabasco Hollandaise

Brunch is my thing. I have brunch everyday when I am at home. I am a sleepy morning creature and my body is not ready for anything except coffee for the first few hours. I have always been like this. My body likes evenings and night time, and while early morning is beautiful and, increasingly, I do wish I was a morning person, it is not when I am at my best.

I am great at brunch though. I love it. My body is awake and hungry and eager to eat. Often eggs. Almost always with some chilli. I love a brunch dish that packs some heat (as you will have seen regularly on my instagram). Eggs never cease to amaze me with the amount you can do with them. Fried, poached, boiled, gooey, oozy, spread on toast soldiers. Eggs are brilliant when you force fat into them, as you do when you make hollandaise or mayonnaise. Eggs also love Tabasco, so when Tabasco asked me to come up some recipes and host a brunch for my friends to showcase them, it had to be an eggy one. Read More

Review: Barrafina, Adelaide St, London

Barrafina Adelaide St seems to be London’s new favourite restaurant. I can’t bear hype, and I loathe queues, but I love the original Barrafina so I braved it. The queue wasn’t that much a of a drama in the end, you get to have a drink at the counter while you wait. There were 4 of us and we waited about 45 minutes. Which flew by.

If you are not in the know, Barrafina is a Spanish tapas bar, the original is on Frith St in Soho, the newest sibling on Adelaide St, between Charing Cross and Trafalgar Square and just up the road from Terroirs (which I love). Diners are seated along a curved counter which circles the kitchen, the room is buzzy and smart.

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Kapitan Chicken (Malay Chicken Curry)

Malay Chicken Curry

Kapitan Chicken (Malay Chicken Curry)

I know how annoying it is when people like me say: please go out of your way to find this impossible ingredient, I promise it is worth it. But it is! In this journey we have taken together over seven and a half years of blogging, we are all now toasting and grinding our own spices, right? And doesn’t it make a big difference? Well, trust me when I tell you that getting your paws on some fresh turmeric makes a huge difference here too. It is also fairly straightforward. I always used to peel it, but the chef that I cooked with in Malaysia (at The Meritus Pelangi Hotel) made a paste with it unpeeled and it made no difference. I now consider myself educated. I was fussing unnecessarily, which is really not how I like to roll.

Fresh turmeric is having a bit of a hipster moment, but some of us (cough) have been using it for a long time. The hipsters are on to a good thing with their turmeric tea though. It is ridiculously good for you. It is a really potent anti inflammatory agent, is brilliant for easing burns (the powder mixed with double cream – thank you Maunika for that tip) and there is lots of research that indicates that it is helpful in cancer treatment. It is very tasty too.

I suspect many people store dried turmeric in their cupboard for ages and then think it is tasteless. Dried turmeric, like all spices, needs to be fresh and stored in an air tight container. Fresh turmeric is very different and is an aromatic delight. A rhizome like ginger, it has some similar properties, but is floral by comparison. A lot of supermarkets stock it in the UK these days. Indian food shops do too. Read More

A Postcard from Langkawi, Malaysia

Greetings from Langkawi, Malaysia! I am just about to go to the airport to head home, but I wanted to share some photos with you from 4 amazing days here before I go.

It was my first trip to Malaysia and I am wondering why it has taken me so long to get here. Such warm friendly people, fabulous interesting food and it is so beautiful. The first thing I saw when I landed was a water buffalo mooching idly in a rice paddy field. They had me at buffalo, but the monkeys I saw next? I was sold.

Langkawi, it turns out, is a bit of a hidden gem. An archipelago of 99 islands (104 at low tide), with just 2 inhabited, it sits at the northern tip of Malaysia opposite Thailand, which is just half an hour away by boat. You can clearly see Thailand from some parts of the Langkawi shore. 4 days isn’t a lot but I packed so much in. 2 cooking classes, a mangrove tour, a sunset boat trip, a trip to the night market and lots of meals. Lots more on all of that soon.

Have a good evening! Read More