Author: Niamh

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Vietnamese Summer Rolls Two Ways: Chilli Salmon & Samphire Rolls and Pork Belly & Crackling Rolls

I am summer roll crazy right now. When at home I have made them at least twice a week, and always with different fillings. Sometimes prawns, sometimes tofu, and yesterday, with chilli and lime salmon and samphire, and then the ultimate pork belly & crackling. Crunch, swoosh, zing.  A summer roll is really just a beautifully packaged noodle salad. And  a very portable one. Hello, lunch? Rice noodles (vermicelli) and friends, all neatly packaged in a water softened rice paper wrap. They seem complicated but they are not all that difficult to roll, with practice. After 3 or 4, you will have the knack, and they will take over your summer. I keep the noodle content low, as I find they get a bit rubbery if there is too much. I like to keep them packed with colour and freshness, grated carrot, fresh coriander and mint, and the zing of a fresh fruity not-so-hot chilli.  The wraps are fairly easy to source, I buy them in Chinatown usually but my local health food shop and supermarket …

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Walking Piedmont: Roddi to Grinzane Cavour & Dinner at Al Castello

Sunday morning was the day of my first Piedmont walk. And it was HOT. Italy is experiencing a heatwave right now. I gathered my bags and had my briefing with the Headwater team before they dropped me at my first stop. A little about the Headwater setup first. As you will have read in my last post on Piedmont, my trip to Piedmont was part of the #30activedays blogger project with Headwater Holidays. 5 bloggers were involved in Italy, France & Austria, each doing an activity holiday. Not my usual travel style, although I am keen to be more active, I love slow travel and I love to walk. Headwater make it easy, the walks are already detailed in notes and maps which they send you before you go to Italy. Every morning that you walk, the team move your bags to the next hotel, not just that, they have a wine delivery service and will pick up any wine that you buy too, delivering it to your final hotel for you to collect before …

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A Postcard from Piedmont, Italy: Walking Hilltop Towns, Hazelnut Groves, Truffles, Wine & Pasta

I was in Italy this past week to walk it. Yes, I was walking in the country that is shaped like a boot. Specifically, Piedmont in the North, and its UNESCO protected vineyard terraces, castles and gorgeous hilltop towns and villages.  This was quite the workout, ensuring that I earned every bite of pasta that I ate. And there was a lot to eat. And yeah, I did. Of course, I did! Italy is one of my favourite countries for food and I love the culinary education that I get with every visit. This wasn’t my first trip to Piedmont but I still discovered new pasta shapes and sauces, each enthusiastic forkful fired my brain and filled my head with ideas and plans for kitchen adventures.  I love slow travel, I wish that I could do it more often. Walking, boats, trains, time by myself where I can tune out and just be. Time to get to know the place that I am visiting and soak it all in, at pace. Piedmont is perfect for this. Piedmont is rich, green …

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Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in Menorca

I bumped into a friend on my flight back from Menorca recently. I was very tired and so I squinted, but no, sure enough it was Will. And he reminded me how much he loved Menorca, and how he had got married there. He visits all the time, and all I could think was, yes, of course you do. It is such a lovely place. Surprisingly so, and not because it isn’t lovely, it is, but because it feels so untainted by tourism. Aren’t all of the lovely places already very busy?

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Cook This: Chorizo, Tomato, Almonds, Basil & a Poached Egg

What? You never thought of having almonds with your eggs? Well think about this: how good would a fried almond slick with chorizo oil be dipped into a runny egg yolk? Yeah! Lets get cracking. This is so simple and you will have your breakfast of champions on your table within 10 minutes. First, lets tackle what is likely at the forefront of your mind. THAT poached egg. Let me let you in on a secret, I poach eggs all the time and my first poached egg for this dish was a disaster. I created my whirlpool as I always do, I even added vinegar as I knew my egg was not as fresh as I would like. I would need a very fresh egg for a great poached egg but vinegar helps tighten a tired white and pull it all together. My poor egg couldn’t handle the whirlpool and the yolk bolted away, the white clinging on only just. The yolk poached perfectly and it is the best bit anyway, but you know, that …

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Cook This: Chicken Rice Noodles with Peanuts, Chilli & Coriander

You know how it is. You have leftovers, and you need to use them. Or you are tired, and all you want to do is use the leftovers. Either way, this is leftover city and we have to use them up. Leftovers get a bad rep but they are the best thing in a kitchen. Flavours are usually at their best the next day, at the very least they can be livened up quickly and you can have a terrific meal in minutes.  Take a chicken. Say, leftover roast chicken. So good on its own, wonderful with mayo and stuffing in a sandwich, but what about looking East and giving it a little heat, then pumping it awake with some aromatics, some nuts for texture (I am putting peanuts in everything at the moment) and you have a dish that will make you want to roast a chicken and not eat it, but save it for this. Of course you can just roast a chicken thigh for one person to order, which I also did today. Plus, …

Caldereta de Langosta at Es Cranc in Menorca

A Perfect Sunday Lunch: Caldereta de Langosta in Menorca at Es Cranc (Traditional Lobster Soup + a Recipe)

On a quiet street in Fornells in Menorca is an unassuming restaurant, Es Cranc. Es Cranc has a large menu, but most come here for the Caldereta de Langosta, a popular lobster soup from Menorca made with the native blue spiny lobsters which Es Cranc is particularly well regarded for. Caldereta gets its name from the pot that it is cooked in, a caldera. Traditionally this was a fishermans dish, cooked with the broken lobsters that they had caught. Now, it is a luxury and an indulgence, cooked at home for special occasions and at specialist restaurants like Es Cranc in Fornells. Behind a side door next to Es Cranc is a path that meanders to a room of large water baths, and these are full of spiny lobster. Spinning and weaving, large and small, these lobsters are mostly destined for the caldereta, some will be served simply grilled on their own. This is where the fishermen deliver their catch, for Es Cranc that is 5 different day boats that go out up to 7 …

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Hot and Sour Chicken (In Partnership with Brita)

This is a carefully selected sponsored post, and is the fifth of five in a sponsored series that I am working on with BRITA as part of their Better with BRITA campaign. In this post, I share my hot and sour chicken recipe. For more information on sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl, please have a look here.  I call this hot and sour chicken, not because it is following a hot and sour recipe from a particular place, but because I am using hot and sour flavours, and some of my favourites too. It is my hot and sour chicken, from my kitchen. Chilli, garlic, tamarind, some savoury light fish sauce and lime make this chicken sing. A sprinkle of coriander lifts it right up before you serve it. Some fried or roasted peanuts for the texture, because you can, and because they are awesome. A little shredded spring onion (or scallions as I once knew them) freshen everything again. That says summer to me. The flavours sprinkle and mingle and dance as you eat …

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A Postcard from Myanmar (aka Burma)

I am deep in jet lag and ache in most places, but my spirits are light after 9 days on the road. I went back to Asia just 10 days after I returned from Borneo (I know, I would have stayed in between but I just didn’t have the time). It was a short intense trip as I zipped around Myanmar (aka Burma) via Singapore, to experience the food culture there. Myanmar, Burma? Well why the two names anyway, right? Which is correct? There are two theories for the Burma name, one that the British couldn’t pronounce Myanmar when they arrived in 1824 and so renamed it to Burma, the second that Burma relates closely to the name of the predominant Bamar tribe. There are 135 ethnic groups in Burma, Bamar form 68% followed by Shan at 9% so they are significant to the culture at large. Myanmar was the original name and it is the official name now so I will stick with that.

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A Dal to Stay at Home For (with Curry Leaves, Mustard, Chilli & Tomato)

I adore a spiced breakfast. I indulged as much as I could in Malaysia recently, from curries to laksa to curry mee to nasi lemak to roti canai with dal. When I am in Asia, breakfast is my favourite meal. It has so much flavour, so much variety and is always an adventure. I love a good dal, an Indian spiced lentil soup, cooked until tender but still with texture, just so. Mostly lentils, sometimes beans, my favourite is made with the small moong dal. A bowl of sunshine, dal is bright and cheerful with turmeric, a culinary equivalent of the best duvet on a cold night. On top, spice dancing on tip toes, some herbs, whatever I have got. This is called the tarka (or tadka), the spice mixture that gives dal character and zing. And in my experience, while it is great to be authentic, variety is very interesting here, the dal can take any flavour. I sometimes add ginger and garlic to my spices for an extra flavour punch, I sometimes add …

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Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo [Video]

I spend a wonderful 4 days in Abruzzo earlier this year cooking and eating with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo. I was working on a recipe based project with the tourist board, and we put together a video of my trip there. Enjoy!  See my previous Abruzzo post: Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat I visited Abruzzo with Visit Abruzzo to explore the region and shoot a video with them, which I will share shortly. Londoners can fly to Pescara in Abruzzo from London Stansted, or you can drive (or get a bus) from Rome.

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Speedy Summer Supper of Rice Noodles with Chilli Pork & Peanuts

Jet lag hit hard and so did a salmonella relapse, something that I didn’t even know could happen. Roll on Sunday morning where I finally felt nearly human, and decided to embrace the world by heading to gorgeous Columbia Road Flower Market in East London with a friend. If you have not been, Columbia Road Flower Market is a joyful place and a London landmark in the East End. It is a small street, lined now with caf├ęs and restaurants, and packed with flower sellers known for their enthusiasm and high spirits as they attempt to engage the heaving mass of passers by. It gets very busy. Thronged.

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Dispatches from Kuching and Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo

So where were we? Oh yes, the blog turned 8, I got salmonella poisoning (separate incident!) which unfortunately is still lurking, and then I had a birthday too. A significant birthday, no guessing, lets just say it warranted a very big celebration and a long one. What better than to skip off to Borneo and spend my last day of the year before the significant one (a-hem) with orangutans, then spend my birthday itself eating laksa and satay and all sorts of other wonderful Malaysian things. Sarawak is the other Malaysian province of Borneo. You will remember that I have already been to Sabah, and I loved it. I liked Brunei a lot too. I especially fell head over heels for long haired ginger men of the forests (gasp! no, that means orangutans whose name literally translates as that). I was so lucky this time, I saw so many, which is very unusual. This is because it isn’t fruit season so they tend to come to the feeding platforms to eat.

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Recipe: Passatelli in Brodo (AKA Parmesan Noodles in Wonderful Chicken Broth)

My first taste of this dish in Emilia Romagna awoke a hunger in me that I didn’t know I had. A new desire was immediately satisfied. Spoonfuls of broth, some gorgeous textured parmesan noodles, and repeat. Until the bowl is empty and the world feels sad. But, then you have more, and the cycle starts again. Passatelli in brodo is rich and light, sustaining and so satisfying. I adore chicken soup but this is so much more. This is chicken broth with noodles made from parmesan, nutmeg and breadcrumbs coasting inside. Why aren’t we all obsessed with this? Why isn’t it one of those dishes that every one talks about? Deeply flavoured and rich in umami, passatelli bring this chicken soup to life and soothe unlike any other. I first learned to make this in a hands on pasta class at La Piazzetta del Gusto in Nonantola, a gorgeous local restaurant in a pretty small town near Modena. The town square is full of elderly men chatting and passing the time jovially. Just beyond it …

The morning view over  the Maiella from Agriturismo Caniloro in Abruzzo

Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat

Have you been to Abruzzo in Italy? Do you know of Abruzzo? It is surprising that given the vibrance of the region, particularly in terms of food, and that it is only a 2 hour drive from Rome, that only a few are blazing the tourist trail from outside Italy, when you compare it to other regions. Abruzzo is where Italians go on holiday and it is a gem. I visited on a whistle stop tour to shoot some video with Visit Abruzzo in the early Spring. All I could think on my return was, I wish that I had brought a bigger suitcase to bring stuff home (Abruzzo has wonderful wine, pasta, truffles and saffron, just to start), and it must not be long until I return again. Abruzzo has seaside villages, snow capped mountain top towns (with only half an hour between them), and small towns threaded by winding country roads in between. There are cities too, but they won’t overwhelm you. Pescara, where I flew into, is small, buzzing and friendly. I …

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Recipe: Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken

I have an unusual and very tasty recipe for you today, ripe from the shores of Grenada. Grenada is known for high quality cocoa and spice, and they meet here in this lively Coconut & Chocolate Chicken Curry. Do you consider chocolate a sweet or savoury ingredient? For me dark chocolate is intensely savoury, and a brilliant secret addition to many dishes, enhancing with a deep low rumble. It is perfect with chilli and spices, which of course Mexicans have known for a long time. Mole, a savoury Mexican dish rich with chocolate, is a superb example of this.  Recently in Grenada, I had the pleasure of doing a cooking session with Esther and Omega at True Blue Bay. I cooked with them last time too. They are fun, and know exactly what to do with the vibrant ingredients available in Grenada. So many spices, and the chocolate which Grenada is rich with.  This time we made a Coconut & Chocolate Curried Chicken. A small amount of chocolate enriches the spicy sauce, with the creamy …