Month: November 2011

Evening Standard Column: Lentil Soup with Harissa Croutons

I love proper bread, bread that has been allowed to develop properly and not been rushed through a commercial process. I think sourdough is my favourite. How I really love bread is not in a slice or in a sandwich. I love it as an ingredient with other things, to thicken soups, in Italian panzanella or pappa al pomodoro, and especially as a crouton or fried. I really love bread fried in pork fat. Big slices, little chunks. I’ve burned my tongue on them far too many times. (I will never ever learn). Naughty I know, but really delicious. Croutons are incredibly versatile, they are just the perfect vehicle for many things. Whatever you want really! So, in this weeks Evening Standard recipe, I have pimped my croutons with some delicious homemade spicy harissa. I love serving this with a red lentil soup. The simplicity and rustic nature of the soup is a great counter to the spicy, crisp harissa croutons. The recipe for the soup & croutons is on the Evening Standard.  I have …

Competition Time! Get Creative with Carrots & Win

Ok folks! I am hosting a competition over the next few weeks where you can win a £200 restaurant voucher to any UK restaurant of your choice, with 3 runners up winning a copy of my book, Comfort & Spice. Nice Xmas treat, no? You just need to get creative with carrots and email in the recipe, then I will choose the winners. Entering the competition is easy. All you need to do is: Share a carrot recipe on your own blog; Mention the competition in the post; Tell us by emailing the URL of your entry before 21st December 2011 to Love The Garden. The orange root vegetable is a traditional ingredient for Christmas dinners, but your recipe doesn’t have to be Christmas themed. More details on the Love The Garden blog.  

Red Hot Women Awards 2011

What a lovely year it has been. My first book, Comfort & Spice, has been published (and you seem to like it – I am still nervous even though I am proud of it, it is hard to explain), I won the Observer Food Monthly Blog Award last month, and most recently I was nominated for the Red Hot Women Awards 2011. It wasn’t my night but what a thrill and an honour to be nominated with these fantastic women. Hearty congratulations to Sasha Wilkins for her well deserved win and to Red for these wonderful awards. Jane Cunningham, British Beauty Blogger Britishbeautyblogger.com Catherine Hanly, Hot Dinner, Hot-Dinners.com Emily Johnston, Fashion Foie Gras, Fashionfoiegras.com Katherine May, The 52 seductions, 52seductions.com Tatiana Mercer, Bar Chick, Barchick.com Niamh Shields, Eat Like a Girl, Eatlikeagirl.com Becky Wiggins, English Mum, Englishmum.com Sasha Wilkins, Liberty London Girl, Libertylondongirl.com

Feeding My Coffee Habit

I am a coffee junkie. I love the stuff. I need it so. A drop didn’t pass my lips until I was 19, and living in Nice. I discovered pretty early on that, socially, I would be a little inept without a cup in my hand in a local café. That was where everyone met when the sun was cruelly hot on a mid July afternoon. At first I found it too bitter, but hot chocolates at 35 deg C was not a sustainable habit, and it started to feel silly, so I embraced the cappuccino and quickly developed an obsession. An obsession that spiralled out of control when I was at university drinking way too many cups of awful tecoffee (termed so as the tea tasted of coffee and the coffee of tea) and getting the jitters. Over the years I have developed somewhat of a balance, but have always feared having a coffee machine at home. I am a little faddish you see, and had visions of never leaving the house and bouncing around my kitchen fuelled …

Jamon, Jamon! The World of Jamon Iberico de Bellota

I have a cultural and genetic obligation to love the humble pig. Traditionally all Irish houses had one, hiding behind the half door, and it would feed a family for much of the year. Bacon and cabbage is a national institution, we’re obsessed with white and black pudding, and the Christmas ham is wheeled out all through the year. My mother was raised on pigs head and trotters (we call them crubeens – little feet in Irish), but we never had them as children. They would be raised as a threat if we wouldn’t eat our mash and peas. Now as an adult, I adore them. Spain takes the humble ham to a different level with their Jamon Iberico, specifically Jamon Iberico de Bellota. The pata negra (pigs with black feet) love acorns and live in an area where there are many. They are like small shuffling acorn junkies. They are allowed a lot of space to move, and to forage for and snaffle acorns so they get a lovely dispersal of intramuscular fat. This …

A Postcard from Seville

Seville is charming and very pretty, and even though I am back, I had to post some photographs. This is just a selection of the ones I have gone through so far so it’s not comprehensive. I took so many, and it takes a long time to go through them all. More soon on my visit to the pata negra farm (black pig) and jamon iberico de bellota factory. Swoon, I miss that jamon. So delicious. Also, my favourite tapas which were at El Rinconcillio, Cafe Bar Las Teresas & E Morales (listed now as a few of you have been in touch asking for recommendations :).

Exciting News for Irish Readers: All About Home Economics by Deirdre Madden is Now Available

Now, I know a lot of you must be thinking, eh? But really, this is very exciting news for me, and for a lot of Irish readers too. 3 years ago I posted a plea, asking if anyone had a copy of the Home Economics book written by Deirdre Madden that we used in school from the age of 12 – 15. It’s how I learned all of the cooking basics, in two 3 hour sessions weekly, and it is also where I learned the basic building blocks of nutrition (pre my physiology degree!). I feel very strongly that all children should be taught this today. I shared my book with my sister and we cooked from it at weekends. Biscuits, cakes, mainly sweet things. One of the few savouries we were interested in was Welsh Rarebit. It definitely suffered a lot of wear and tear, I remember a big hole in the cover and subsequently the cover falling off. We loved it. About a year ago, Deirdre’s daughter, Kate, got in touch via a comment …