Month: January 2013

Eat like a Bajan: Cooking Bajan Sunday Lunch with Heather in Barbados

On arrival in Barbados, you quickly learn a few things. Things from Barbados are Bajan, and Barbados is affectionately known locally as BIM. The people here are so warm, friendly and very generous. I am always asking lots of questions about food – as you know – as I try to understand what the local food culture is and where it comes from. This nosiness I am sure can annoy, but in Barbados people loved to share, and one lady, Heather, a chef from The Club where I am staying, invited me to her home to cook a traditional Sunday lunch. How exciting. It is the best thing that I could hope for when visiting another country. Heather lives in a lovely neighbourhood, calm, near the sea, and primarily composed of the traditional Bajan chattel houses, lovely wooden homes, usually small, some big, almost always colourful. Heather welcomed me with a traditional Bajan lemonade (recipe soon!) and we got started. The traditional Sunday lunch here has mac pie (a Bajan take on mac & cheese, …

A Postcard from Barbados

Well, hello there! And greetings, now from Barbados. I am on the second leg of my Caribbean break, nearing the end of it, this time at The Club in Barbados. It has been a super week. I have gotten under the skin of Bajan food, learned to cook it, had lots of gorgeous fresh local fish and a few cocktails. Typically, I finish with a backlog of all the things that I wanted to do but didn’t. So, I start at 8.30am tomorrow with a trip to see some turtles, cooking in the kitchen here and getting a recipe for pepper sauce (I love that stuff!) and I am going to finish it all with a massage and facial. Then back to London overnight on Wednesday and straight back into meetings and insanity. Here are some photo highlights. Back soon with recipes, stories and lots more photos. Travel Info: I am in Barbados on the Barbados Blogathon, sponsored by Tropical Sky & Elite Island Resorts.

Recipe: Chef Baka’s Banana Fritter Recipe (from Palm Island)

Every morning on Palm Island, I would ask what the local breakfast was, and almost always order it. I love Caribbean breakfasts. On my first morning, the local breakfast was banana fritters. Well, yes please. The bananas here are fantastic, rich and sweet, almost like they have been soaked in a rich banana syrup. I made banana fritters in school at Home Economics and was quite taken with them. These, however, were different. My school banana fritters were slices of banana, fried in batter. Just that and for a 13 year old Irish cailín a revelation. These Caribbean banana fritters are more of an intense banana American pancake with some gentle spicing. Fluffy, light and like a morning banana tickle. Except that sounds quite rude. It isn’t! Like banana bread, they are made with bananas just on the right side of brown – speckled skin with some yellow bits – mashed until soft (do you remember banana sandwiches?! I used to love them) and then added to the fritter mixture. Perfect for bananas that have …

A Postcard from the Grenadines: A Lobster Lunch at Tobago Cays

I wish I had more time to write, but as I sit here typing, I really should be packing. I leave in an hour you see. However, I really wanted to share some pictures of my fantastic lobster lunch yesterday. I left Palm Island on the Pink Lady – a small sailing boat that can take up to 4 passengers. We went to Tobago Cays, a protected series of tiny islands and a nature reserve. It is also the home of many turtles which you can see pop their heads up occasionally to breathe. I did see them, but I also snorkelled to have a look. I am possibly the worst and most panicky snorkeller in the history of creation. But I saw turtles, starfish, some seahorses. So despite the fact that I nearly choked when I came up for air, it was worth it. Back to lunch. One of the small islands has several barbecues and for  EC$12 a pound they will cook you lobster. The lobster lives in little lobster pots off the …

A Postcard from St Vincent

Good morning and greetings once more from Palm Island. Yesterday I went across to St Vincent, principal island of St Vincent and the Grenadines. I flew there, it took about 2o minutes in a tiny plane. They used to make me nervous but I have grown to trust the pilot and the air industry and now enjoy the sense of adventure instead. Unless it gets rocky, then all bets are off. I went to visit a farm. By sheer coincidence, before my arrival the people who supply Palm Island with passion fruit visited, and when I arrived they came up in conversation. It sounded wonderful, so a visit was arranged. Becky and her husband have repatriated to St Vincent in the last two years. Becky’s husband was born and raised in St Vincent but they have spent most of their adult lives in the US, returning now to farm his grandparents land, now called Madam Ground Farms. The farm is on a steep hill and is packed with passion friut, pineapple, papaya, ginger, mangos. It …

A Postcard from Palm Island in the Grenadines

I know. I am so very lucky. Here I am in the Grenadines, on a glorious Caribbean island, not even a mile long. I am here as part of the Barbados Blogathon, where four bloggers have been sharing their experiences of Barbados. I am the last one. I tagged on an extra island, as I am a little greedy that way. So, before I hit Barbados, I am spending 5 nights on Palm. Palm Island is off of Union Island, a short ride in a tiny plane from Barbados. It felt like such an adventure, and it is. Once I arrived at Union, I jumped on a boat, and landed 5 minutes later on Palm. We were greeted with a delicious rum punch and the last 2 days have been bliss. A wee glimpse now, I will be back shortly with lots on what I have been up to, the food, and also some recipes. See you soon! You can follow the Barbados Blogathon on twitter, #bdosblogathon. Disclaimer / info: I travelled to Palm Island with Virgin …

Behind the Scenes at Ottolenghi and Lunch

Some of you are going to hate me now, but here goes. Yesterday I went for lunch behind the scenes at Ottolenghi. The hub of all Ottolenghi activity, where recipes are developed and a lot of the restaurant items and most of the deli items are made. Ottolenghi are proud of their sourcing, and this is evident from the food. Each bite has an intensity of flavour and freshness that isn’t delivered unless you take extreme care with your ingredients, and how they are stored. Secret places and people. Every good restaurant has these. They generally don’t share them with us. Except Ottolenghi does now. In response to readers craving exotic ingredients from the books in order to recreate the food at home, Ottolenghi have now set up an online store, and they deliver all over the world. Ingredients, products, and wine too. Exciting, eh? And really delicious. Date molasses, sumac, za’atar, rose petals, (proper) rose water, dukkah. Fragrant and delicious. I cook a lot with rose petals (see the rose petal butter in my …

Recipe: Prawn and Pork Lemongrass Patties in Lettuce Leaf Wraps with Carrot Salad

The inspiration for these patties comes from fond memory of a lovely trip to Sydney some years ago, pre blogging, so I have never written about it here. Particularly, of an evening in a Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown. Now, brace yourselves. At the time, I didn’t eat meat. It is ok really – calm down – it really is ok. I ordered a prawn on sugar cane dish. I asked what was in it, was there any meat? No just prawns, don’t worry. Any meat at all, any pork? (I expected there would be). No, no! Just garlic! The waitress looked at me, suddenly worried and said: do you have a problem with garlic? No, no I don’t. Bring it on. I took a bite. SAUSAGE. Pork sausage with a lick of the sea. It was lovely and I couldn’t resist it. I conferred with the waitress who said, why yes, there is pork in there! Of course there is. I ate every bit, it was delicious. And that taste memory, and the recall …

rhubarb-rose-porridge

Recipe: Rhubarb, Rose and Pistachio Porridge

I had the weirdest day yesterday. In the middle of Balham, in broad daylight, a random stranger kicked me up the arse. I KNOW. I was shocked too. He kicked me hard too. Very aggressive and actually quite scary, he thought I had hit my shopping trolley off his car, started roaring at me. I explained that I hadn’t, that I had merely hit the kerb. He roared “HANG ON! WHERE ARE YOU FROM?!” and was suddenly further incensed. At this point it was obvious that he was out of control and I said that I would call the police if he didn’t stop. So he went for me. I am so thankful that someone intervened. It is all in the hands of the police now but WHAT A WEIRD DAY. I am tired and sore and in need of nourishment. I am also startled. If it weren’t so in line with a Fr Ted episode (kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse), it might not be quite so bizarre. As awful as it was, the …

Recipe: Spaghetti with Tomato, Calabrian Chilli, Rosemary & Kale

I found myself down an unfamiliar January cul de sac yesterday evening. Already in the midst of a Spring clean (my hoarding demands it) and with my eyes and mind firmly planted on a tin of pork sausages confit in goose fat in my cupboard, I found myself wander as I cleaned, towards the bag of kale in the fridge. I love kale, I find it fiercely underrated and viewed as the cheap relation to the swisher (and also delicious but more expensive) cavolo nero. However, I had determined that after the horror of spring cleaning I wanted indulgence. Goose fat preserved sausages seemed more my thing. I went with the kale though, to kill the craving, I was beginning to obsess. The cleaning had demanded freshness and vibrance instead. Spaghetti is frowned upon by dieters but ponder this: (good) pasta cooked al dente is low GI. When I say good, I mean pasta that is made with great flour that is high in protein, made properly using bronze dies and not teflon so that …

Recipe: Quail Eggs Diablo with Chorizo

January demands delicious comfort. More than any other time of the year. It is so grim. All your money is gone, you have just seen all of your friends and now everyone is hiding at home. A spring clean no doubt looms after the Christmas chaos. I hate spring cleaning. It just sucks, doesn’t it? So why then, would you deprive yourself of the only nice things available to you? Nice food and drink? Well that is my theory anyway. January should be a fun month. A month to evade the low grey sky hanging so gloomily over our heads and brighten things up a bit. Red tights with black dresses, yellow umbrellas. Whatever you can do to add a bit of sparkle, just do it. I have been kick starting my 2013 mornings with firey brunches. Chorizo has been my best friend, and I have been combining it with all sorts of things, always eggs, sometimes braised lettuce, often smoked garlic. This morning I loved my brunch so much, I thought that even though …

Well, hello there 2013! Come on in. Plus the top recipes from 2012.

HELLO 2013! Well, it is lovely to see you. Come right in. Would you like a cup of tea? Some coffee? What about a chocolate truffle. I have just made some. 2012 was exciting, traumatic, generous, and depriving. A whirl of activity, almost too much and everything it should and shouldn’t be. 2012 taught me lots, and I am entering 2013 with a generous and happy heart, full of enthusiasm for life, food, exploring and plans I started scratching in the sand last year. There will be bacon, there will be products, there will be lots of writing (in several formats), cooking classes and there will be lots of travel. I want to enjoy every minute, sleep a bit more, and wake up eager and not feel like I want to hit myself over the head. I didn’t do a 2012 round up. I started but found the idea exhausting and thought it better to just wave it goodbye and bound on. Are they even interesting to read anyway? Some are but I wasn’t sure …