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Times Top 10 Food Blogs in the World

Top 10 Food Blogs in the World

This is going to be brief as I am too excited to type. Simon from Dos Hermanos, has chosen my humble blog as No 10 in his Top 10 Food Blogs From Around the World. They’re all fantastic blogs and I really am honoured to be included. I am still chuckling at the “Eat Like a Baby Elephant” reference (it’s usually “Eat Like a Goat” from family and friends). I was particularly delighted to see two of my London favourites on there too – the wonderful Cheese and Biscuits and Silverbrow on Food.

Check out the rest here.

Congrats to everyone. Now where’s the bubbly? ;-)

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GOOD Oil & good food, a great combination

Pea & Pecorino Crostini

Pea & Pecorino Crostini

This food blogger cares about her health, it may not be obvious with my clear overindulgence in staples like chorizo and pork belly, but I do care about what I eat, I want to be and to feel healthy, and as a consequence, I do try to maintain a balanced diet. This is increasingly difficult in these busy times but I think I do ok.

Recently, I was invited to try GOOD Oil, a hempseed oil, at a dinner party in West London with a group of fellow bloggers (Alex from Epicurienne,  Melanie from Fake Plastic Noodles, Helen from Food Stories, Lizzie from Hollow Legs, Chris from Londonist) and hosted by the lovely couple that have dedicated the last 8 years of their lives to perfecting this oil, Henry & Glynis, and their son and cook for the evening, Ben. It seemed like a really good opportunity to broaden my culinary horizons and have an all round nice evening with some of my blogger friends.

I always feel like I need to say in these posts, and I’ll say it again, that I will not tout a product because it’s been given to me or promote something that I would not run out to the shop to buy. I feel passionately about the integrity of what I do and I’ll stick by it, even if it offends, it’s important. GOOD Oil impressed me on many levels so I want to share the experience with you and a recipe from that night for you to try at home.

Cheeseboard

Cheeseboard

So, hempseed oil, what’s that? Well, it’s oil that’s made from hempseed…simple really! Henry Braham and Glynis Murray, cinematographer and film producer respectively, bought a farm in Devon almost a decade ago with a view to producing a sustainable crop, and settled on hemp. We all know that hemp is used for fibre (e.g. clothing) but it’s also highly nutritious and contains Omega 3, 6 and 9. Scientific studies have shown that it’s good for arthritis, cardiovascular disease, ADHD, skin, hair and for us ladies, PMT. The only hemp oil available at the time tasted unpleasant, so Henry & Glynis decided to press it like an olive oil with a view to producing something healthy and tasty using traditional methods to get the best from the seed.

They’ve struggled and persevered and I admire them for that. They believed in sustainable agriculture and chose hemp for that reason, they could have gone the traditional route and used hemp for fibre but they felt passionately in the oil, and spent many years perfecting it. They could have used modern less expensive pressing techniques but they wanted the best quality and strove for it. They wanted GOOD Oil. They survived the foot & mouth crisis and even fended off some trips from the police wondering what exactly was this hemp that they were growing! That particular bit, I found very funny!

What’s the result of all this struggle? Was it worth it? YES! GOOD Oil is nutty and rich and healthy, a really pleasant flavour that works well with different foods like mash and ice cream (yes, really, it’s lovely drizzled on vanilla ice cream – I am told it was Jamie Oliver’s idea). In fact, I would substitute it anywhere I would use extra virgin oil and I’ve a few things I want to experiment with using this oil. I want to use it to make nice and healthy winter soups, I really want to try some nice and different salad dressings, and, to use it in super healthy spelt and pearl barley salads. That’s just the start, a new ingredient is always so exciting.

So, GOOD Oil, is good! Give it a go. For now, I’ll leave you with the recipe for the starter that we had that night – pea and pecorino crostini – give it a go, and let me know what you think! I thought it was fresh and lively, and the GOOD Oil worked really well with the nutty pecorino. This recipe serves 4.

Ingredients:

150g shelled peas
75g grated pecorino
Juice of half a lemon
4 slices of sourdough bread
Drizzle of GOOD Oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.
Cook the peas until bright green and tender by boiling in water, only a few minutes. Refresh with ice cold water to stop the cooking process and preserve that lovely colour.
Mash the peas with the pecorino and some of the oil, aiming for a guacamole like texture.
Brush the sourdough on both sides with the oil and bake in the oven until crisp. Shouldn’t take anymore than 5 minutes.
Spoon the pea and pecorino mix on top. Shaving of pecorino make a nice garnish.

More info and recipes at http://www.goodwebsite.co.uk/

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Macaron Classes at L’atelier des Chefs

Rose & Raspberry Macarons
My head is full of things that I’ve yet to blog: my recent trip to Barcelona, a Galler chocolate tasting I recently attended, food and sherry matching with Heston Blumenthal (that was a ridiculously long time ago but it was great and I want to share!) and this macaron class that that I attended last weekend that I will share with you now. So, with all those lovely things, why bump this to the top of the queue? It was great and I want to relive it, I’ve some nice photos of PINK macaroons, and I actually have a recipe to share with you! At last, I hear you cry.

Last Saturday, 15 bloggers gathered at L’atelier des Chefs for a 3 hour macaron class, making 4 types of macarons:

The classic : lightly salt butter caramel macaroon
The original: Porto and foie gras mousse macaroon
Flower power: Raspberry and rose macaroon
Asiatic summer: Lime and fresh ginger macaroon

Now, you won’t have spotted many baking recipes on this site, I love savoury food, and that’s what I spend most of my time cooking. Also, most of my cooking is a little slapdash, adding a little here, and a little there. Baking is very unforgiving of my approach, it’s a science and requires precision, even down to weighing the egg whites, in the case of macarons. Now, my background is in science, I know, so I should enjoy it, but macarons take so much time, and I didn’t want to devote a whole day to them, only for them to be screwed up (by me). When I need to be, I can be focussed and devoted, but a whole day on the weekend for a recipe is a big ask, even if I am only asking it of myself ;-)

So, naturally, the prospect of having a chef lead me through the process was very appealing, also the exciting flavours were attractive. The other bloggers, I know from experience of previous events, are lots of fun, so I was sure it would be a good afternoon, and that if nothing, else, I’d have a feast of macarons at the end.

So, hands up, I wasn’t the star pupil, I am far too clumsy to be, but by the end of the class, I could pipe and slam the tray to remove the air with great gusto! My favourite of the four above were the ones that my team made (really!), for the colour and the gorgeous flavour, and that’s the recipe I will share with you now. The others were delicious too, second favourite was the salted caramel, then the foie gras and porto (would be great for xmas!) and lastly, but still very good, the lime and fresh ginger.

You can read about it on the other bloggers sites too (listed below). View the whole photoset on flickr.

This recipe serves 6 people.[Read more]

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Slow Roast Pork Belly with Cider & Lentils

Roast Pork Belly with Cider

Slow roast pork belly with cider - a little messy but it tastes *good*!

And now it’s November. It’s dark and cold, it’s been quite wet. That’s ok though, life is all about balance, the rough with the smooth, the highs with the lows, the summer with the winter, and I embrace it. Well, most of the time and maybe not the rain, I had enough of that growing up in Ireland!

I’ve had a busy few months leading up to this, new flat, new job, new everything it seemed, and now that everything is starting to settle, well almost, I took some time this month to experiment, a little, and indulge alot. It’s been a month for comfort food.

Comfort food is at once a friend and an enemy, that first spoonful is so lovely, but by the end, I can start to hate it as I’ve usually eaten way too much. One of the exceptions to this rule is slow roast pork belly, which never grows tired. In fact, I only wished I’d roasted double so that I could have eaten it for the week and not just two days. Of course, that would have been horribly greedy and gluttonous (catholic guilt: seven deadly sins!), there’s also the small issue of health to think of, so I am destined forever to cook small portions, in an attempt at control.

Vegetables that the pork belly roasted on

I have been obsessed with pork belly for some time, the obsession ramped up a notch at Taste of London when I sampled the pork belly from Le Cafe Anglais. Within a short time I was at the restaurant and sampling it there. Hola, full blown obsession! The moist and tender meat blanketed with that oh so crispy crackling, I started researching to see how I could recreate that perfect meal.

So, these are the secrets I uncovered. Most important is slow roasting, start it at a high temperature and reduce it to low, and wait. Roast it with cider or wine for moisture or flavour. Add vegetables to flavour the juices. A variety of herbs and spices are used from fennel to aniseed. So, I thought, what kind of flavours do I want with my pork? I settled on fennel, thyme and cider, and it worked quite well.

Pork Belly Lunch!

Pork Belly Lunch!

I roasted 500g pork, enough for one greedy person over two days or two normal people for dinner. I had my leftovers for lunch the next day, mmmm. Double up if you want to make enough for two, and on and on. It’s a very cheap dish incidentally, pork belly is very inexpensive, especially when you consider the luxury of the final product.

Enjoy![Read more]

butternut squash curry
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Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

This has been a great couple of weeks for festivities. Diwali, Halloween, Day of the Dead last week, and Guy Fawkes coming up. It certainly takes the bite out of the impending Winter!

I always like to celebrate anything like this with food if I can, hey, I don’t need an excuse I know, even if it’s just for me, or, better again with friends. Last week was busy but I did sneak in a dish that would in some way cover Diwali and Halloween, well, kind of.

Diwali being a Hindu festival is all about vegetarian food, particularly curry, snacks and sweets. As for Halloween, well, Halloween is about spooks and scary things, but also pumpkins, so I thought, why not make a veggie curry with pumpkin in? Or, in this case, butternut squash.

I had an ulterior motive, I felt I needed a few veggie days, or veggie meals at least. I usually have quite a balanced diet but lately I’ve been buying lunch out alot more than usual, and as I work so near to delicious Brindisa, my diet has been leaning heavily on the meat side. So, beans, veg, tomato and coconut seemed like a good alternative to a chorizo stew!

It’s very easy and very light. I made this on a weekday evening and it was absolutely manageable. The measurements are loose as always, feel free to experiment, it’s more about the spices and the flavours in the sauce. I used a small butternut squash about 6-8 inches high. The spice blend is very basic. I just used what I had in my cupboard. It works, though!

This will serve 4. I served it with steamed basmati rice. It keeps well, indeed like most tomato based dishes, tastes better the next day.[Read more]