All posts filed under: Light Dishes

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 …

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 …

Burnt aubergine with sweet peppers and red onion

I have a confession to make! I published this post last weekend, and a few hours later a trusted friend queried my photograph, thinking that it didn’t do the dish justice. I took a look, and sure enough, they were right. It was like going out to work hungover and slightly frazzled wearing something that you think looks ok, and realising slowly that it was a horrible choice, ill fitting, and irritating for the rest of the day. So I took it down. I made the dish again today, same recipe, and here’s the post. In my defence, I made this dish for a friend and drank lots of wine as I was cooking (as did they!). So, lesson learned, don’t take food photographs drunk, and don’t rush blog posts! One of my indulgences is cookbooks, I love them, and I have a ridiculous amount. Some are  very well thumbed with weakening spines, others are neglected, bought out of curiosity and never properly investigated. I love concocting my own food and creating recipes, but I …

Asparagus and Truffle Carbonara

Life’s simple pleasures are the driving force for getting through each day with a smile on my face. Food, wine, music, friends, jokes, laughter, a good book, some occasional trashy TV, all contribute towards a day I brand a success, and one that makes me want to repeat the experience when I fall out of bed the next morning. Some days need more than this, whether you’ve had a grim day at the office, are entertaining friends or simply require a dash of some decadence in your life, some extras are called for. When I have had a bad day I comfort shop and I comfort eat. The two are inextricably linked. I buy things that give me comfort: good food, new sheets, nice wine, something nice to wear. I am nice to myself, when for whatever reason, I feel the world is rejecting me or treating me with disdain. Bah! This particular occasion I was in fine fettle and entertaining a good friend who happens to be a vegetarian, so no need to picture …

Salsify & Roast Garlic Soup

Salsify is a most underrated vegetable. It’s ugly, and it’s awkward. It’s like a stroppy teenager that refuses to wash. It’s not much fun to prep and goes off colour really easily. Dark brown and holding onto every bit of dirt, I had some ground into my palms which took so much scrubbing, I  think I’ve lost some layers of skin. It requires a lot of TLC. Putting it mildly.  So, why bother? Once  you crack it and this shy vegetable shows you it’s smile, you can’t help but fall in love with it. Tender and delicate, it’s often referred to as the oyster of the vegetable kingdom as it’s reported to have a similar flavour. I find it a little nutty, and so I like to pair it with roast garlic, which I think compliments it well. Once you take the beast that is garlic with some firm roasting, so that it relaxes and releases a sweetness, it holds hands with the salsify in this soup, and they become the best of friends. They don’t overpower each other, it’s a very delicate soup. This …

GOOD Oil & good food, a great combination

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 …

Orzo with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Buffalo Ricotta

I wasn’t going to blog this dish. As I keep saying, and I am sure it’s getting dull by now, my cooking lately has been haphazard, last minute and subject to me destroying pots and sustaining injuries. This is fairly normal behaviour, certainly on the injury front, but you know you’re cooking too late when you put some rice and lentils on the hob and then walk away like it never happened, wondering 10 minutes later, what is that burning smell? Sheesh. Worry not, I have been eating well, and I am certainly not fading away. I am completely spoiled for choice at lunchtime, from Brindisa stews and sandwiches, to Moro’s spiced lamb, Sporeboys risotto, Gujarati Rasoi’s wonderful veggie curries and Ginnan’s chicken katsu curry. That’s but the tip of what’s available in Exmouth Market. The evenings are another story, they have been busy, and I am not complaining, it’s good to be busy, but I have been missing those stolen kitchen hours here and there poking in cupboards and making something new. So, to …

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon & Chives

It seems silly to write a post about scrambled eggs, maybe I am having a silly day (possible), but, I am sure that it’s more that there’s few things as bad as badly scrambled eggs. Ok, there’s lots of things worse, but when you only have two eggs left and are too lazy to go to the shop, it can screw up your morning. Like it did mine last week, when I overheated the oil accidentally and the eggs turned into an instant omelette whilst splattering and burning me at the same time. So, determined to redeem myself, the next day I went out and bought some lovely golden burford brown eggs, some smoked salmon and chives. I like my scrambled eggs simple, very simple, this is as a result of a discussion I had some years ago with a friend where I maintained you could put anything in scrambled eggs. I quickly proved that the results of such experimentation can be monstrous so, now, it’s only friends are tomatoes, herbs, smoked salmon and cheese. …

Burrata with heirloom tomatoes

Every now and then, I like to treat myself to something nice to eat from Harrod’s Food Hall. I really like Selfridge’s and Harvey Nichol’s also, but Harrod’s is so vast and decadent and full of treats. On a recent visit I spied a buffalo cheese that I hadn’t seen before – burrata – of which there where two types, one normal and one with truffle. I was so intrigued but I didn’t actually buy any, I was on a mission that day and was looking for borlotti beans. I went back the following week, but, to my dismay, there was no burrata to be had. It’s delivered on a Tuesday and always sells out on the day. So, the following Tuesday, I made sure I got down there to buy some of this intriguing cheese, but there was none there! I waited impatiently for the lady behind the counter, just to check, and happily they had a box of it stowed away in a fridge. They didn’t have the truffle one so I got …

Latkes with apple sauce

Another conspicuous absence and another apology! I have been keeping a low culinary profile recently but have dug out a dish I made some weeks ago and never had the chance to blog – latkes. As always there is some sentimentality attached, I first came across these many years ago when I lived in Amsterdam. I had just arrived, and, was staying in a youth hostel that a friend was working in. It was Rosh Hashannah, and, two Jewish girls from the US decided to make latkes. My interest was piqued, I had never heard of them before (I was relatively fresh from the Emerald Isle ;)), and a new way of cooking potatoes that involves frying sounded good, surely, this is a new posh crisp?! I was soon to discover it was much better, and, it’s a recipe that I make now with fond recollection. I most recently had latkes on my August trip to Paris on a visit to the Marais. I went to the famed Jewish deli, Finkelstajn’s, and indulged. It’s a …

Salmon Fish Cakes

I was at a BBQ at a friends house at the weekend and came home with lots of leftovers. These leftovers included a side of uncooked salmon and leftover boiled potatoes. I also raided their herb garden and came home with a bouquet of herbs including chives, mint, basil, thyme and rosemary. What to make? Could be fish pie but it’s not Winter (although it feels like it again today) and I wanted something light with some salad on the side. Quick and easy was also important. I had one of those days yesterday and wanted to sit down with a glass of wine, pronto. So, fish cakes it was. Perfect, ready in half an hour and before I knew it I was plonked in front of the tv browsing a stash of cookbooks while watching some food shows, Sanjeev Baskars India, and, dare I say it, Big Brother. Don’t judge me. I was weak. It wasn’t me, yer honour! ;) Food like this makes me think back to Home Economics class when I was …

Butter bean, red lentil & rosemary soup

Another quick lunch was required and I fancied some wholesome soup. I wanted something healthy so lentils and beans sounded good. I had also recently pilfered some rosemary from a friends garden so wanted to put that in. I toyed with the idea of making a chorizo, tomato, red pepper & butter bean soup but I’ve been eating so much chorizo lately that I thought that I should give those poor Spanish pigs a break, they’re probably having nightmares about me. I did use Spanish beans though, the giant Spanish butter beans – Judion de la Granja. These are huge white butter beans, quite creamy in texture. They can be hard to get and pricey so feel free to replace with butter beans, it will still be very nice, I just like using different ingredients and the drama of the large beans. If you do want them El Navarrico do them in jars and you can get them in most Spanish deli’s. You can also get them dry at Brindisa in Borough or Exmouth Market …

Samphire Tabbouleh

Following on from yesterdays post -Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes, I have another samphire post. This one is vegetarian and is based on the salad recipe from yesterdays post. I was looking at the 100g of samphire that I had left and wondering what I could do with it that would be tasty and suitable for lunch the next day. A quick fumble in the cupboard revealed a forgotten bag of organic bulgur. Bulgur is very healthy, it’s more nutritious than rice or cous cous so I always have a bag to hand next to the quinoa. There’s lots of forgotten random bits in my cupboards, it’s like a bunker in there! I have promised myself that I will empty them over the coming months and base my recipes on what’s in there so it should be interesting. For the samphire, I decided on a chunky samphire tabbouleh. I love tabbouleh, it’s so light and fragrant but can take really robust flavours. I decided that I …

Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes

Samphire is the ingredient of the moment. It’s on TV (e.g. Great British Menu), in the newspaper food sections (Independent last week, Guardian last month) and on the web (Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini for example). Samphire has many names, sea asparagus, sea beans & salicornia. There are two types of samphire – Marsh Samphire & Rock Samphire, the one you’ve been seeing everywhere is marsh samphire, found growing in the tidal zone and found all along the coast. The Norfolk coastline is particularly rich in it. You can buy it from most fishmongers and farmer’s markets. It’s not cheap, mine cost £1.50 per 100g, 100g works out at approximately a handful so I bought a couple. If you’re having it on it’s own with fish you’ll need about 100g-150g a person, maybe a bit more. I first had samphire two years ago when we went to the Salusbury Pub & Dining Room in Queens Park for my birthday. It was served with sea bream and roast potatoes and was absolutely delicious. I have been …

Prawns with chilli, garlic & parsley in cava

I am calling this a tapa but, in truth, I didn’t have something like this in Spain. But, Spain inspired me to make it. And, I am using cava. Can I get away with that? It seems like something you would get in Spain, perhaps with less chilli? Anyway, here it is. I love prawns. We eat them really often, preferably from raw. I don’t like buying the precooked ones – they’re too tough and overcooked. I can be quite lazy and frequently buy the ones that are uncooked but have been deshelled & deveined for you to save time. We usually have them in a curry or in pasta with the occasional breakout to piri piri or a fish pie. This time they’re cooked briefly in cava with chilli, garlic & parsley and served on toast.

Broad beans with ham & lemon

I am still on a Spanish buzz! I just can’t get enough of tapas. This dish was inspired by habas con jamon (broad beans with ham) that we had in Spain but using what I had to hand – bacon. We had it twice in Spain. The first time was very disappointing in Plaza Nueva in Granada, in a bodegas which looked great but unfortunately wasn’t. This, incidentally appears to be very rare in Andalucia! The beans were overcooked and I couldn’t even see any ham. However, we had it again and it was delicious, nice bright fresh broad beans amidst chunks of serrano ham, one for the notebook to try and recreate when I got back to London. It’s broad bean season so I had no problem getting these fresh. At this stage they’re quite large but still tender. To get the best from the broad beans be sure to double pod them. This takes a while but it is worth removing the rubbery skin, especially from larger ones (you can leave it on …

Pasta with potato, red lentil and pumpkin

It’s been a few days since I’ve posted anything but I’ve got a few things to post from the weekend. I’ll start with a pasta dish that I made yesterday, one of my comfort food favourites. I tend to make this by eye and by tastebud, adjusting it as I go so feel free to be flexible with the recipe. My mood also affects it, sometimes I like it very soup-y with alot of stock, other times I prefer the pasta to be the star of the show. Yesterday was a pasta day! I got the idea for it many years ago when I visited Italy with some friends, one of whom was a local. I got many ideas that holiday, we had some wonderful food, much of it cooked by my friends boyfriends Dad whom we were staying with. It was my first time having homemade pumpkin gnocchi and proper neapolitan mozarella di bufala. It was out of this world. You just don’t get that mozarella anywhere else and I have tried very hard …

Quinoa with soya beans, parsley, sesame seeds & red onion

Quinoa is one of those foodstuffs that is so nutritious that I try to include it in my diet as regularly as possible. I like the nutty texture and as the flavour is quite subtle it mixes with almost everything. You can use it in the place of cous cous for a healthier tabbouleh or as a side dish in place of rice. It’s one of the few non-meat, non-dairy foodstuffs that contains the full complement of essential amino acids. I am not vegetarian but I was for 11 years and still keep to a predominantly vegetarian diet, mainly because I really enjoy vegetarian food and it’s extremely healthy once you take care to mix your proteins. I hadn’t had quinoa for a couple of months so I thought I’d drag it out of the cupboard and make a healthy lunch out of it. I cook quinoa in a similar way to rice, twice the amount of liquid to grain. The only difference in the way I cook it is I like to fry/toast it …