Month: June 2007

Prawn Curry

You’ve probably noticed that I like prawns. Alot. I would say that we have them at least weekly if not twice a week. They’re so tasty and so quick to cook and are perfect for something speedy and healthy after work. I also love Indian food so a prawn curry is a real treat. Some people don’t like to make curries from scratch because they think that working with the spices is an ordeal, but all you need to do is bung all of the spices in a pestle and mortar and grind them before adding them to the pot. It couldn’t be easier. This recipe is based on one that I found online – Caril de tomato, a goan prawn, tomato and coconut curry. I have adapted it to my taste and to suit the ingredients available to me. It’s an old favourite and requires about an hour in total for prep and cooking and once you’ve sorted out your spices it’s relatively painless. I buy my prawns with their shells removed and deveined …

Tagliatelle with chanterelles

One of my favourite food shops in London is near where I work. It’s an old school Italian deli that’s been in the area over 40 years. It’s there to serve the local Italian community and has the best produce at great prices. It’s run by an elderly Italian couple who run it with style – no pressure, no rush, if you want to be served you’ll wait your turn, but, when it is your turn they’ll take their time with you and get what you ask & make suggestions if you want them. They’ll grind coffee for you, slice meats, make sandwiches with what’s in the fridge – there’s no menu, whatever’s your fancy. There’s a stool in the shop that’s frequently occupied by one of the owners friends for a chat, or, one of the Italian builders working across the road who has stopped off to eat his lunch. It’s a little slice of Italy in London, an escape from the chaos outside the door. Sometimes they have random produce, like today when …

Prawns with chilli, garlic & parsley in cava

I am calling this a tapa but, in truth, I didn’t have something like this in Spain. But, Spain inspired me to make it. And, I am using cava. Can I get away with that? It seems like something you would get in Spain, perhaps with less chilli? Anyway, here it is. I love prawns. We eat them really often, preferably from raw. I don’t like buying the precooked ones – they’re too tough and overcooked. I can be quite lazy and frequently buy the ones that are uncooked but have been deshelled & deveined for you to save time. We usually have them in a curry or in pasta with the occasional breakout to piri piri or a fish pie. This time they’re cooked briefly in cava with chilli, garlic & parsley and served on toast.

Broad beans with ham & lemon

I am still on a Spanish buzz! I just can’t get enough of tapas. This dish was inspired by habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) that we had in Spain but using what I had to hand – bacon. We had it twice in Spain. The first time was very disappointing in Plaza Nueva in Granada, in a bodegas which looked great but unfortunately wasn’t. This, incidentally appears to be very rare in Andalucia! The beans were overcooked and I couldn’t even see any ham. However, we had it again and it was delicious, nice bright fresh broad beans amidst chunks of serrano ham, one for the notebook to try and recreate when I got back to London. It’s broad bean season so I had no problem getting these fresh. At this stage they’re quite large but still tender. To get the best from the broad beans be sure to double pod them. This takes a while but it is worth removing the rubbery skin, especially from larger ones (you can leave it on …

All’s quiet on the photography front

Woe is me! My camera is dead! Please excuse me while over the coming days I post crappy photos to accompany my food. I am lost without it. It came to what I hope was a near fatal end on the hard stone floor of a moorish fortress in Almeria. Some feral cats took me by surprise at the water machine and the rest, as they say, is history. Sigh. Someone has kindly loaned me a camera until I get it fixed/replaced but I am still getting used to it and the results are not up to speed yet.

Eating in Granada: Taberna el 22

We landed in Granada on our first night a little weary following our delayed flight and very hungry! We had arranged to rent an apartment in the old Medina facing the Alhambra. I called our new landlord, Pedro, a really lovely guy, who gave me the briefest of Spanish courses advising how to pronounce Aljibe de los Tomasas in the Albaicin, our new address, a beautiful old moorish quarter set in a hillside facing the alhambra. Despite repeating it 14 times for him on the bus, I was not in the least confident (nor was he!), however, the taxi driver understood me and off we sped up the labyrinthine streets. It was midnight at this stage and Pedro advised that not many places would be open for food but we could try the place at the foot of the medina opposite the 16th-century Iglesia de San Gregorio church, I must find out the address but unfortunately I was too absorbed in my eating and drinking to think of it! Unfortunately, we were too late for …

Tapas for tea

We had to do something to lift our spirits! The harsh reality of leaving our little Spanish seaside town and returning to the urban jungle that is London was a little hard to bear. Especially as it was raining. I love London but that contrast is too extreme and sudden. So, we decided we’d have a little Spanish night. We got home a little late so we didn’t have alot of time and limited it to two tapas and some Spanish rioja that we had brought back with us. We settled on a a Tortilla EspaƱola (or Tortilla de Patatas, Spanish Omelette) and Chorizo cooked in cider. I have been making tortilla for years, it’s one of my favourite dishes, it takes a little time but you can squeeze it in after work, it’s a relatively low maintenance dish. Chorizo with cider is new, we had chorizo with cider in Andalucia and it was the first time I tried it. It was delicious, the sweetness of the cider combined with the intensity and sharpness of …

A taste of Spain

Pic: Tapas in Granada, from top left: Jamon Serrano, Queso Manchego, Chorizo in cider, Artichokes with anchovies, Tortilla. Ah, Andalucia! London seems so grim by comparison. It’s a wonderful part of the world: sunshine, sea, fabulous food, beautiful wine, lots of cheese & lovely people. We went to Granada for 3 nights, then, headed east to Agua Amarga on the coast for a weeks relaxation and a friends wedding. It was a great experience on many fronts, very relaxing, great & very reasonable food and wine, lots to see, cultural things to do, lots of friends about and a great wedding to finish it all off with. I haven’t had a chance to get into the kitchen yet but I intend to this evening. I have lots of Spanish treats to tuck into: chorizo, morcilla, manchego, luscious olive oil, rioja and more. I did cook quite a bit in Spain though and will leave you with this quick and very tasty bite. One evening we wanted something quick to snack on with wine. We had …

Gone fishin’

I am off to Spain for the next 10 days – let the foodie adventure begin! The only fishin’ I’ll be doing is for rioja, chorizo, manchego, gazpacho etc. etc. Watch this space…

Leon – healthy fast food disappointment in Carnaby St

Leon should be a good place to eat. When it first opened it won the Observer Food Monthly Newcomer of the Year Award. Lots of people were talking about it. Fresh healthy food that isn’t overpriced and is very quick. Sounds like my cup of tea! We had to try it. We first went about a year ago and it was a bitterly disappointing experience – the food was just warm, the bowls it was served in were chipped, the service was haphazard and it wasn’t all that cheap in reality. We thought we’d try it again, perhaps it was an off day? They were expanding and maybe they’d sent some experienced staff to start up a new branch? Plus, everyone else seems to like Leon. So, we went yesterday evening to the the Carnaby St branch for a bite.

Roast butternut squash, coconut & chilli soup

This isn’t a quick dish like my normal Monday-Friday dishes. It takes a little time as I like to roast the butternut squash. Roasting intensifies the flavour and leaves a beautiful sweet syrup on the roasting tray which I put in my soup. I also add chilli and herbs when roasting it which on it’s own makes a lovely side dish. Any pumpkin/squash will do, I just happened to have a butternut squash. The smaller the better, the smaller ones have a better flavour, large pumpkins tend to have more water. We cooked a giant pumpkin some years ago and while it was great fun and a challenge to use all of it, it just didn’t have that lovely sweet flavour of the smaller ones. I would love another one though. A friends neighbour grows them on his allotment. It was so big it had to be delivered in an old cement bag, it wouldn’t fit in a normal refuse sack. And we only got a quarter of the pumpkin that time. This is a …

Santa plum tomato, avocado & manchego toasts

This isn’t exactly complicated but it was so pretty and easy I thought I’d blog it :-) On a recent trip to the market I spotted beautiful baby santa plum tomatoes. I bought a pound of them with the intention of making a tomato, basil and mozarella salad. But, I forgot to buy the mozarella. So, I quickly threw these toasts together instead: Chop half the tomatoes & 1 avocado. Season, then add some fresh lemon juice to taste. Toast the bread on one side and lightly toast the second side until slightly crisp but not brown (this ensures they won’t go too soggy when you add the avocado/tomato). Add your tomato and avocado mixture and sprinkle some grated manchego on top. Grill until the cheese is melted. Eat!

Pasta with potato, red lentil and pumpkin

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything but I’ve got a few things to post from the weekend. I’ll start with a pasta dish that I made yesterday, one of my comfort food favourites. I tend to make this by eye and by tastebud, adjusting it as I go so feel free to be flexible with the recipe. My mood also affects it, sometimes I like it very soup-y with alot of stock, other times I prefer the pasta to be the star of the show. Yesterday was a pasta day! I got the idea for it many years ago when I visited Italy with some friends, one of whom was a local. I got many ideas that holiday, we had some wonderful food, much of it cooked by my friends boyfriends Dad whom we were staying with. It was my first time having homemade pumpkin gnocchi and proper neapolitan mozarella di bufala. It was out of this world. You just don’t get that mozarella anywhere else and I have tried very hard …