How does my garden grow? Very well. Too well, sometimes. Some plants just don’t know when to reign it in. YES: I am looking at you sprawling tomatoes, and why all so green?! I see one that looks like it might blush soon. Continue reading
How does my garden grow? Very well. Too well, sometimes. Some plants just don’t know when to reign it in. YES: I am looking at you sprawling tomatoes, and why all so green?! I see one that looks like it might blush soon. Continue reading
Some things are just good. Some surprising things. Cucumber has never been a veg that I have rushed out to buy. It has its place in pickles and raita and other lovely things, but cucumber has never been a shining star for me. Cucumber has been a soothing calming addition to other dishes.
Courgette flowers continue to be a joy. Cheering my mornings with their generous wide open petals reaching for the sky with happy abundance. Greeting bees and then once the bees have had their turn, they come into the kitchen for me. Such a versatile ingredient, cooked until wilted just so and still retaining texture, they taste a little of courgette and mostly of themselves. Continue reading
Gojuchang Meatballs on Tortillas with a Fried Egg. Because, JOY.
Fusion for many is a dirty word, because it is often done so badly. But most days are a fusion day for me as I combine my favourite ingredients to make breakfast, brunch or dinner. Continue reading
Courgette flowers were a key reason for my fierce desire to plant a kitchen garden. They were always so unavailable and expensive, when I found them they would never last very long. Many times I would trundle home from the farmers market with a tiny expensive clutch of them, only to discover them wilted and sad the next day when I went to cook with them. Continue reading
There is a tired and jaded notion that cooking over fire is the preserve of the male, and that women are neither interested in or inclined to BBQ, preferring instead to be at the stove indoors. This is nonsense, of course. There are people who love to cook, indoors and out, and it is in no way gender specific. Why are people so obsessed with gender when it comes to cooking, anyway? We all eat, it is the one thing that unites us, and so many of us love to cook too. Why be divisive?* Continue reading
When I was in Dublin last week I cooked with Lily Ramirez-Foran. I have known Lily for years online and met her at Electric Picnic, an Irish music festival with a fun food stage, the Theatre of Food. Lily is Mexican, from Monterrey, but based in Ireland with her Irish husband whom she met in Japan. Ireland is very lucky to have her and her gorgeous Mexican shop and kitchen Picado, in Portabello in Dublin. It is a joyful place where Lily serves the best Mexican produce (food and other bits like handmade Mexican pinatas!). She also has supper clubs and cooking classes there on a weekly basis. Continue reading
My friend Luiz is a terrific cook. He is also a blogger and food writer, that is how we are friends. He runs a wonderful supper club in his house (one of the best in London and in the most beautiful space). Last year his first cookbook was published, on Nikkei cuisine called Nikkei, Japanese Food the South American Way. Continue reading
I remember when I first had prawn toast from a Chinese takeaway and I was mesmerised. Just how do they make this, and how do they get the prawns to stick to the toast? Very much a guilty pleasure, I can’t actually order it as the supermarket bread used turns my guts into knots (real bread is no problem, as for most!), so I turned to my stove as I always do, and figured it out. Continue reading
I try with bananas. I buy them and then I leave them there and next thing I know they are brown. Very brown. Almost oozing out of the skin. Collapsing with sweetness. Bananas in the supermarket are never ripe, so you have to wait and then, kabam, too late they are gone! No longer great for eating but nectar sweet and perfect for pancakes and baking. Continue reading
This recipe is the fourth in a series of four that I developed in partnership with the Big Green Egg who sponsored this post. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl). Previously in this series: BBQ Teriyaki Pig Cheeks, Miso Pork Aubergine and BBQ Clams with Gojuchang and Sake.
One of my friends, a fellow food writer and blogger (Luiz of The London Foodie and author of the wonderful book Nikkei) presented me with a little cool bag for my birthday. I peeked in side and shrieked, thrilled to discover that he had gifted me Uruguyan picanha, a cut of beef which we would call rump cap, undervalued and misunderstood here but valued all over South America. With good cause. It is a perfect BBQ cut.
Chimmichurri is a perfect steak accompaniment. From Argentina, and fitting for this South American cut of beef, they usually serve it using dry herbs, I prefer the liveliness and texture of fresh. I also wanted this to be super summery, and looked at my new kitchen garden, particularly my gorgeous aromatic window sill, fragrant of bergamot, lemonbalm and lemon verbena. I chose lemon verbena and mint as the stars with some parsley to tone it down. I also add some Aleppo pepper, another gorgeous food gift from my friend Ailbhe. Adjust the quantities below to your taste, or if you prefer to go traditional, substitute oregano for the lemon verbena and mint. Really traditional means using dried herbs, but I much prefer the bright flavour and gentle texture of fresh.
Picanha is a great value cut and goes far. It is tender and flavourful, it is quite lean too with the fat coating on top. The fat protects it as it cooks and gives it terrific flavour. Fat is flavour, let’s stop demonising it.
If you are celebrating father’s day this weekend, this is perfect for your family lunch. Enjoy!
This recipe is the third in a series of four that I developed in partnership with the Big Green Egg who sponsored this post. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl). Previously in this series: BBQ Teriyaki Pig Cheeks and BBQ Clams with Gojuchang and Sake.
Well this is a cracker. Aubergine is a vegetable that loves smoke, and loves meat too. The deep sweet rumble of miso blends in seamlessly, and chilli gives everything a lift. Because everything does need a lift, every now and then.
This is deceptively simple. The deep flavours come from the fermented miso, the whole thing start to finish cooks in less than an hour. Miso is a great store cupboard ingredient, for quick miso soups and great marinades. Miso makes a great steak marinade with a little mirin, sake and rice vinegar to loosen it out ant balance it. Some chilli too for me, because I can’t resist it. Mix it with butter and a little citrus (yuzu if you can get it, if not some lemon or lime) and rub a chicken with it before sticking it on the grill.
I start this dish with an onion, as most good dishes start. It gives lovely sweetness and texture. Onions, like most simple everyday things, are deeply underrated.
I can’t get enough pastry this week. I just can’t. Sweet tarts, savoury, small little leftover bits crisped with peanut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup, to have on top of sweet raspberries mixed with coconut cream. That was awesome. Today, I decided I wanted a tart for lunch, with a whole meal in it. Pastry as a plate, a crisp flaky gorgeous one.
I have made puff pastry before, but not today. And not often. It is a faff. (I respect, admire and worry about home cooks who frequently make it). I used shop bought which made this speedy and not very challenging at all. One of the first of the seasons bright tomatoes, a joyful yellow one bursting with sunshine. Some stout asparagus spears in pancetta straight jackets, crisped to submission, a pert egg and a light cover of cheese with the intention of gently covering the yolk so that it didn’t blister in the heat and giving it an extra layer of magic. A little chilli just to wake it all up. On top of that some crisped kale, because you have to.
Very simple and it looks impressive. Give it a blast!
The perfect summer tart!
This recipe is the second in a series of 4 that I developed in partnership with the Big Green Egg who sponsored this post. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl). Previously in this series: BBQ Teriyaki Pig Cheeks.
It is a bank holiday weekend and the sun is shining, I bet most of you had your barbecues out. I sparked up my Big Green Egg this evening as I do often now, and I used it to do something a little different. I wanted something quick and fresh and spicy, and I wanted it to be a little smoky too. I had some wonderful clams, bought explicitly for the purpose. Perfect little clams that I had soaked in a few changes of water just to make sure that they had relinquished all their grit.
When you think of the BBQ, you probably think of kebabs, burgers and steak, beer can chicken, meat in marinades, low and slow cooking so that the meat falls off the bone. But cooking over fire doesn’t need to be just like this, there is so much pleasure in cooking in cast iron over an intense flame. For this purpose I wheeled out my small cast iron frying pan.
I love clams in sake, it is a combination that works so well, the dry sake combining with the clam brine. With the smoke I wanted some spice, and I reached for my pot of gojuchang (Korean red pepper paste), a favourite cupboard ingredient, deeply flavoured and hot. A little does a lot, and the flavour it lends hints at much longer cooking. A little brightness to finish with some finely chopped spring onion, and some coriander would be lovely too if you had that.
Enjoy and have a wonderful Bank Holiday! (And if you are in Ireland, line this up for your bank holiday next weekend!).
I do good brunch. Forgive my hubris, but I do a bloody great brunch. This is one thing I know for sure. I devote a lot of energy to it. It is my favourite meal of the day and I have it most days. It is one of the perks of working from home (there are a few downsides too, trust me). I have never been one for eating straight out of bed in the morning. I have a coffee and a couple of hours later I turn my attention to the stove. It is often egg based, eggs are one of the most magical things in the world.
When my brunch is egg based, I think about what I want to dip into it that day. Earthy marmite buttered toast soldiers, bright asparagus wrapped in bacon or ham, something dippy, something firm, something that tastes great. I have made soldiers of sesame crusted tuna and salt and pepper tofu, shaped into perfect egg soldier size, perfect for dragging through a glorious runny yolk.
This Sunday my first thoughts went to a simple sourdough soldier, quick and earnest, it would get the job done. I also spied my tub of yeast flakes, something I love since my university vegetarian days (YES, really!), something used as a cheese substitute by vegans, but loved by many for the joy it brings on its own. I had a cauliflower too, and all I could think about was how awesome that would be cut into steaks and fried in butter with an egg on top and a yeasty crumble. I would baste the cauliflower gently with butter as it cooked. And, what about crisp sage leaves, to bring it to the next level?
Cauliflower is having a moment. It is everywhere right now. Carb avoiders love it and turn it into cauliflower rice and cous cous (which are pretty much the same thing, just blitzed cauliflower, and they taste good), and even make pizza bases from it, stringing it together with cheese. This makes sense, cauliflower and cheese covered with pizza toppings, and more cheese? What is not to love? (Although don’t ever give me one instead of real pizza, please). I still love it as a simple cauliflower cheese, I love it spiced and fried to dip into a runny egg (turmeric, cumin and chilli work really well).
Yeast flakes? Cheesy joy and a complete protein packed with vitamins and minerals. It is not a surprise that yeast flakes are favoured by vegans for the cheesy nirvana they deliver, they are a wonderful ingredient which should be embraced by all for their wonderful unique and intense flavour. Yeast flakes an umami bomb, they have such intense flavour they taste like they could not possibly be good for you. Yeast flakes are also loved by exercise fanatics as they are a dense with nutrients. (Someone please save me if I ever start eating powdered protein or something similar. Where is the JOY?!).
A big tub of yeast flakes will go a long way. Combined with butter and chilli they make a terrific spread for toast. Like try and have just one slice of that, I had four. Combined with nuts they make a terrific crumble topping for anything savoury. Pounded to a powder and mixed into a béchamel or beurre blanc you get something deeply addictive. And they are very good for you too, packed with vitamin B.
Note – don’t confuse yeast flakes with bakers yeast and brewers yeast. They are different animals! I use these yeast flakes from Engevita enriched with extra B12.
You can knock this one up super speedily, shop bought pastry, a quick frangipane whipped together with almonds, brown sugar, eggs, butter and punch fabulous cardamom. A perfect bright tart for any day, particularly for summer. It transports super easily too.
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Blueberry and Cardamom Frangipane Tart
This recipe is the first in a series of 4 that I developed in partnership with the Big Green Egg who sponsored this post. (Read more about sponsored content on Eat Like a Girl).
This is the first in a series of recipe posts that I developed for the Big Green Egg. The iconic ceramic BBQ is a terrific piece of kit that I have really enjoyed working with at home. It The Big Green Egg has a domed lid which makes it an all weather BBQ but also allows very precise temperature control (combined with air valves at the top and at the bottom). The enamel coating ensures that it doesn’t rust and it is ready to use within 15 minutes of sparking up. I thought that I would go through a lot of charcoal but it is surprisingly efficient for such a big beast.
There is such satisfaction in cooking over fire. The smells and flavours of smoke permeate the food and the results vary hugely depending whether you cook over a flame or smouldering coals. I like to use flame for steaks and then stick something on low and slow to cook gently. Something like wings, ribs or these pig cheeks.
A hugely underrated and terrific value cut of meat, pig cheeks are a dream to cook on the BBQ. They have a deep porky flavour and firm texture, and they are often cooked so that they yield and fall apart, functioning as a glamorous pulled pork. I don’t know why people don’t stop them before this, I love them cooked until before this point, still firm but rich and moist, and glorious coated in a dark glaze as I have here.
Pig cheeks BBQ very well when marinaded overnight in a soy based teriyaki marinade which functions not just in terms of flavour, but also as a brine. After an hour of gentle cooking the cheeks are tender and moist, and full of flavour. A gorgeous bite. Glazed with a reduction of the marinade cooked on the hob once the cheeks hit the fire. Like this with a slaw, or in a Japanese style taco with sweet Japanese mayonnaise, some sriracha, some sesame seeds and fresh coriander.
Enjoy! And do share what you think of them, and any ideas that you have for BBQ season.
Prep time is only 10 minutes, but try and budget for an overnight marinade also. You will get much better results.
Hot avocado seems a misnomer. The joy of avocado is its effortless smooth creaminess, always cold. I first saw warm avocado on the menu of a rural Italian restaurant when I first moved to London. It was roasted with a light covering of gorgonzola. I thought it curious and not offensive but I wasn’t inspired to replicate it at home.
Lately, baked avocados have erupted all over this internet. Paleo folks love them (did the cavemen really eat their avocados this way?! Ahem!). I was curious. I decided to have a go. An egg simply roasted inside an avocado didn’t appeal, I felt it required something else. Something porky, or spicy, something that would give it a little edge. I opted for sobrassada, a gorgeous spreadable pork sausage from the Balearics (and in my case specifically, Menorca), very gently spiced. ‘Nduja would be ace here too, as would some chorizo or some chilli and tomato if you wanted something vegetarian.
To fit a whole egg in half a hass avocado is a challenge that requires removing much of the avocado flesh, so I opted instead to put in a quails egg. Fiddly, yes, but straight forward when you gently pierce the shell with a sharp knife and remove enough shell to coax the quails egg out without breaking the yolk. I did remove a little flesh (which I ate immediately and with glee). Some sobrassada first, raw quails egg on top, and salt and pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil on top, before roasting in the oven under a cover of foil to protect the egg from crusting.
The verdict? Yeah, these are good! And even better with some toast. Spread some of the avocado and sobrassada on, and top with that gorgeous egg.
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Yes, I know. Now, lets sit right back down and get on with business. You need to make these.
Crispy parmesan eggs are a joy and they are so easy. Can-make-with-a-hangover easy. Will bring a rainbow to your breakfast table joyful. Rich deep crisp parmesan, and an egg on top. Now, finish that with some wild garlic pesto and take it to the next level. Have a seat and congratulate yourself before you inevitably make another one.
Wild garlic pesto is a perfect fridge ingredient. So versatile, have it with pasta, on toast, your morning eggs. Spoon some on some tomatoes and add more parmesan before you roast them. Drizzle some on top of potatoes, or put a little in between layers of potato dauphinoise. If you are lucky you will have a free source which no doubt you keep secret. I managed to find some in Cardiff on the weekend near a friends house. Gorgeous tufts of wild garlic huddled in tight beside a stream. It is early in the season there and so most of the flowers had yet to breach their husky cocoon and the leaves were small and tender.
With wild garlic pesto, you can look to the traditional ligurian pesto and make a version similar to that. Parmesan, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and wild garlic. I like to make some changes. This time, I used hazelnuts instead of pine nuts, I love the flavour but almonds work very well here too. Instead of extra virgin olive oil, I use a cold pressed rapeseed oil. It feels more appropriate and works very well. Taste and adapt yours if you need to, some patches of wild garlic are more pungent than others. I don’t blanch the leaves as I want the full blind force of the wild garlic.
The parmesan eggs are very straight forward, you just need to make sure you are using a non stick pan or a well seasoned cast iron one. I like to start mine in bacon or guanciale fat, why stop with parmesan underneath, but you can use an oil of your choice too. Extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed or groundnut are what I generally use.
First things first, American readers, wild garlic is the same as ramps :)
I always wondered why I didn’t know about wild garlic when I was growing up in the Irish countryside, and why the surrounding hedgerows and fields weren’t full of it. There was 3 cornered leek, slender and more grassy with a longer season, but still with gorgeous oniony flowers. But no wild garlic at all. The answer became clear as I investigated, rural areas which have lots of dairy cattle don’t have much of it because cows eat the wild garlic and it makes the milk very pungent. So the farmers dig it up. Once it takes root, if conditions are right, wild garlic will take over and spread. You will find it in the shade and with moist soil, you will often find them near patches of bluebells. Once I discovered this, I realised that we had had wild garlic all the time.
In an old abandoned stately home at the end of my road (not uncommon in Ireland), there was a beautiful wood which would be carpeted by bluebells and what we called white bluebells in Spring, and which I now realise was wild garlic. I loved that place and dreamed that one day I might own it. A big old house facing the Atlantic, it had a large wood on either side where we would go for conkers and fruit in Autumn and flowers in Spring. It had a walled garden with apple trees, cherry trees and gooseberry bushes. It was a secret garden that we would play in, the green door still intact and the white wall still high. There were abandoned old stables and a big house, still fully furnished. We found diaries, skis and a wedding dress when we investigated one day. There was a gorgeous small lodge at the entrance outside, which by now was a field full of cows. It was demolished to make way for a golf club, and I was devastated to discover it. Most of the local community were.
We spent much of our childhood wandering around here. The house slowly degraded and became dangerous so we weren’t allowed go there but we still always would. The cows moved in from the field outside to the woods and the ground, and one day we were chased by some bulls (although I fear actually timid bullocks) and we spent hours up a tree waiting for them to go, having to dash across at one point and climb a thick briar, to be rescued from on top of the high external wall by my friends visiting cousin when he wandered past and heard us wailing. We brought a ladder another day to access the house from the first floor now that the downstairs was barred (remember: dangerous!) only to discover a hole in the window and a dead crow splayed on the ground. I took that as a sign and turned heel, with everyone else yelling chicken after me. Chicken maybe, but I just saw a dead crow!
This wasn’t the only old abandoned house that we played in but it was by far the largest and the most magical. When people left Ireland in poverty, they left their houses behind to crumble with the weather and time. Woodhouse became one of their number and there are no photos that I can find of this gorgeous place. Likely it was much smaller than my child’s eye remembers. Fond memories remain only.
Harvesting wild garlic as I was all those years ago, although with no idea, just to put in vases all around the house. I loved their pretty flowers. Now, I treasure the flowers and the leaves and do all I can to get my mitts on them in season. The flowers have a gorgeous sharp flavour, the leaves too but more sour. I buy it at the farmer’s market, my friend Danny has a garden full and recently donated a plant to my cause, and last weekend I was in Cardiff and went foraging with my friend Abi. We found a riverside carpeted with it, it was more of a stream really. Tender small young leaves and mainly unopened flower buds, which I will pickle like capers.
With Danny’s plant, I made a wild garlic porchetta. I had porchetta in my head since my last trip to Rome and I had to make it, if only to exorcise it from my brain. I adore porchetta when it is well made. At home it is tricky, you really need to seal the porchetta as well as you can so that you can retain the fat within, the fat is key to moisture and flavour and there is much of it in the meat. The best way to do this is to stitch the porchetta closed all round. You can seal the ends with tin foil too. I didn’t have a butchers needle (although I have ordered one now) but I did have butchers twine, and so I wrestled my slippery porchetta just before midnight on a night last week and closed it as tightly as I could manage.
For porchetta, you want the loin and belly still as one joint (with the ribs removed). Ask your butcher to do this for you, one of my favourite butchers in London Turner and George prepared it expertly for me (they have an online shop and deliver too). I then blitzed some wild garlic leaves with some oil (rendered pork lard would have been better but I didn’t have any), and rubbed it on to the flesh inside. I rolled it tight and tied it as best as I could – not terribly well if I am honest, I need to work on it – but the results were still gorgeous. I started it bright and furiously, then covered it with foil to roast overnight at a lower temperature. In the morning, my flat smelled gloriously porky with a perky sharp edge of wild garlic, I removed the foil and blasted it again until the skin was perfectly crisp. Roasting it slowly overnight will always give perfect crackling once you dry the skin before you put it in.
This was such a gorgeous dish. I recommend getting some friends around and serving it as you would a roast, or for a picnic in pizza bianca or gorgeous crusty bread. If you want to serve it for dinner, put it in first thing in the morning, it doesn’t need to be overnight.
I have so many ideas for my wild garlic but I would love to hear yours too. Or do you have any favourite recipes that you could link me to? Thanks!
Other wild garlic ideas from Eat Like a Girl:
Gorgeous wild garlic recipes from elsewhere:
Wild Garlic Pesto, Soup, Bread etc etc etc from Food Urchin
Wet & Wild Garlic Lasagne with Creamy St. George’s Mushrooms & Fresh Egg Pasta from Ramson’s & Bramble in Leeds, UK
Hello! I’m Niamh (Knee-uv! It’s Irish).
You are very welcome here. Eat Like a Girl has been my place to scribble online since 2007. That’s 14 years of recipes and over 1000 posts to explore.
Eat Like a Girl? It’s simple, we love to eat too. Anything else you’ve heard about women and only eating salad? It’s noise and misogyny.
But, we really love an excellent salad too. Shouldn’t everyone?!
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