Month: January 2014

The Atlantic Here & There: Ireland, Antigua & St Lucia

When we last spoke I was procrastinating, as I often do. Making homemade peanut butter for a supposed quick dish (it was still quick), but you know, what I really should have been doing was my laundry. I was set to fly to the Caribbean the next day and I had nothing clean to pack. At least very little that would be suitable for the heat. Now, cooking is my jam. Any other domestic things, not so much. I would drive to Edinburgh to buy a packet of crisps to avoid a stint of spring cleaning (I can’t even drive, and I still would). To cut quickly to the end, I put my suitcase on the British Airways scales at Gatwick and the hostess, surprised, commented, only 12kg? You must be hoping for warm weather! I thought: RUBBISH, I completely forgot that extra load of washing that I had hung up to dry. So here I am in a mish mash of razzle dazzle pinks, greys and yellows, writing to you from my balcony at …

Recipe: Fuchsia Dunlop’s Spicy Peanut Butter Noodles (with Prawns)

Convenience isn’t always about using your store cupboard bits and bobs. Convenience, for me, is often about avoiding leaving the house. I know. I live in a big city about 10 minutes walk away from a supermarket and 2 minutes from a reasonably stocked corner shop, but some days I am so deep in cabin fever / cosy / lazy / attached to my pjs, I will do anything to just stay indoors. So, if I want a sandwich I may delay it so that I can bake the bread. Yes, I do that. Not often, but I do. That is also because I can’t stand the really processed stuff and the bakery is, well, 10 minutes away, but you know, I don’t want to leave the house (and I like baking). Or, if I need peanut butter to cook someone else’s store cupboard supper, I will make it at home rather than walk 2 minutes to the corner shop. The result is a much better peanut butter and the effort is not too great. …

Recipe: Hot Wings with Blue Cheese Dip (Because We Must)

Some days demand chicken wings. Today is one. The best bit of the chicken for snacking on, the skin to flesh ratio being somewhere in the region of can-solve-most-of-lifes-problems, chicken wings are also very reasonable. Even in my local posh butcher, a kilo of lovely free range wings costs just over £5. Everyone should have a recipe for hot wings in their repertoire. So easy and so gorgeous, spiked hot crisp wings dipped into a soothing cool blue cheese dip is all that you have ever wanted after a bad day. Or any day. Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce is what makes the wings sing, you could make your own, and it is the kind of thing that I often do, but in this case, truly, Frank’s have done all the work and made a great sauce. So, like every other hot wing fanatic on the planet, I use that. They take little work. I roast the wings until the skin is just crisp, prepare the hot sauce which takes, oh, 2 minutes, then douse the wings …

Baking, Yorkshire Rhubarb & a Recipe for Rhubarb, Pistachio & Rose Frangipane Tart

I am not an obsessive baker like many food bloggers. Certainly not in the sweet sense. I love salt, broth, tender meat, spritely vegetables and all the other things that make savoury sing. I have always loved confectionery, especially making it, and I am partial to a lemon meringue pie, victoria sponge, swiss roll and lots of old school classics, but that was it when it came to home baking. I simply wasn’t all that inspired to explore beyond that. I was happy with my salt. Then something changed. In the last few months I have developed a sweet tooth (which sits nicely next to my very happy salty one). In fact, I think that all of my teeth might be salty, and now there is one shiny sweet one in the mix. And then there is rhubarb. Lovely pink tender rhubarb. Slender and elegant, the rhubarb of January in the UK is Yorkshire forced rhubarb (also called champagne rhubarb), grown in the dark in long sheds in the Yorkshire rhubarb triangle, and harvested by …

Melbourne Eating: 9 Restaurants You Must Eat At in Melbourne

Don’t just brunch in Melbourne (although don’t miss it!), there are some fantastic lunches and dinners to be had too. I had a very long list of strong recommendations to tackle, Melbourne’s reputation as a culinary destination is hard earned and well deserved. The emphasis everywhere is on local sourcing, which isn’t a surprise. There is also some terrific fusion and Asian food. Melbourne has the second largest Greek population of any city after Athens, so there is some great Greek food to be had, from the humble post pub souvlaki to more refined fare. There is a lot of excellent Italian fare due to the large Italian immigrant population, but as we have great Italian in London too, I didn’t focus on that on this trip. This is the best of the restaurants that I tried when in Melbourne, and I tried many. Enjoy, and as before, if you have further recommendations, please leave them in the comments. Thanks! Cumulus Up Cumulus Up is a convivial wine bar and dining space above Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus Inc …

Melbourne Eating: 5 great places that you should to go to for breakfast / brunch

There are many things to love about Melbourne, but one big plus point is the density of independent restaurants and cafés. People are passionate abut what they do, produce is high quality and flavourful, coffee is locally roasted, if not in the cafe or restaurant, at one nearby.  I didn’t meet one jobsworth nor did I at any point get a coffee that was as hot as the centre of the sun (hello London, you could work on that, although you are getting a lot better). So, what was I to do? It was simple. If I was waking at 3am, I would need to embrace jet lag and have lots of breakfasts. One breakfast when WIDE AWAKE and jet lagged at 7am, and another at noon for lunch. I wanted to get under the skin of the Melbourne breakfast, and I did. Here is my list of the best places for breakfast (or brunch) from my trip, based on the three areas that I stayed in on my last visit. Enjoy and if you have …

Review: House of Ho [Vietnamese, Soho, London]

Bobby Chin is well know for his TV exploits, however, he also owns two very well regarded restaurants in Hanoi & Saigon. Now, a third in London has been added to the list in an impressive double fronted site on Old Compton St in Soho. The official opening day  was January the 6th, although they were operating in soft launch over Christmas. I popped in earlier this week. First impressions are good. The space is vibrant and buzzy and the menu looks promising. We started with cocktails, I had a horny devil simply because I can’t resist chilli anywhere, even in my drinks. With lemongrass vodka, Vietnamese devil’s chilli (floating menacingly on the top of the cocktail) and fresh coconut, it was fresh and sharp with a lovely gentle heat.

Thoughts On Dry January, Diets and a Recipe for Salmon Tacos

It won’t surprise you, but I don’t do dry January. Nor do I do diets. I reign myself in, become a little more pragmatic and try and restore balance by eating a little lighter but still in normal amounts. Or rather, I start eating normal amounts. Replacing sour cream with yogurt. Eating more fish and less meat. A bit more salad. Lots of avocados. Frying less, although still a little. Lighter Brighter cooking is what I shall call it. It is all about being aware that every little bit makes a difference but not killing the enjoyment of it. Food is sustenance and a source of great pleasure. The key to health is home cooking, moderation and exercise. And good sleep. With diets, I think a lot of people feel better not because they have cut out a food group (don’t get me started), but because they have started paying attention to what they eat, and what they cook. One very big thing is cutting out processed food. Some go from not cooking at all …