Food and cooking has been the centre of my existence for years now, and not always in a good way, if I am honest. But it is now fiercely centre stage in an excellent way, providing colour and interest in a time that is lacking in stimulation. Are you feeling like you are going stir crazy? I am. I feel like I have been walking the same circles for months now, because I have. And, I am sure you have too.
When I started blogging I was working in a demanding job that didn’t allow much travel, financially as I was still paying student debt, but also in terms of time. I find myself back in a similar place now, as we all are, with the pandemic. With stacks of cookbooks from my travels and inspirational cookery writers closer to home, I am again travelling vicariously through my kitchen and my plate. As I always used to. Travels with a pot, pan, stove and wooden spoon.
Travelling vicariously through my kitchen and my plate
Mealtimes are not just for sustenance, although that is key. I have fond memories relived in a bowl, and a moment of time to savour them as I eat. My travel memories are many, I am lucky. Rich and colourful and steeped in inspiration. A bright fish soup I learned to make in Borneo will make an appearance soon, and memories of Sarawak laksa and the best satay I have ever eaten will drive me to create similar. Hot and smokey laal maas from Jaipur last year woke my taste buds up on a raging hot day. A coconut sorbet to soothe all sharp corners from Langkawi lied to us that it contained dairy. A bright fresh river fish cooked in garlic chips and butter in Austria is something I desire deeply now, and all of the wonderful life-affirming soups there.
Easing our pandemic summer
Not just cookbooks and travel memories rich with colour. My phone has lists of recipes from over the years that I have yet to share here. In progress, complete and ready to publish. Lots of ideas gathered from travels, walks in the park, even shops as I peruse the shelves. Surely in the thousands. Notebooks too. Books worth, whole blogs worth, so many to share with you. I am keen to tidy up Eat Like a Girl so that recipes are easy to find and that it is less cluttered. It needs a whole redesign. Once Bacon is published (soon, soon!) that will be my focus, for me and for you. Until then I will share some favourite recipes with you here as it is now, to brighten this weird pandemic summer we are having.
I will start with a recipe that I shared at the London Seafood Festival last year that I demonstrated live. It is my favourite kind of food. Fierce, feisty and unapologetic. Easier than it seems, different to anything you might have had before. Favourite ingredients clams and ‘nduja, comforted by a punchy and soft garlic aioli. Perfect for a pandemic summer, I think.
- ‘Nduja Clams
- 500g palourde clams (or similar)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 75g ‘nduja
- 125ml good white wine (like Muscadet Sur Lie which is great for seafood, and great for the cook to drink also!)
- Fresh (2 tbsp) or dried (1 tbsp) oregano leaves
- 1 tbsp olive oil or extra virgin rapeseed oil or lard (this is a porky dish and lard works super well)
- Garlic Aioli
- 2 large egg yolks
- 3 fat cloves garlic (crushed or finely chopped and then made into a paste with the back of a cooks knife)
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 250-300ml olive oil or extra virgin rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp sherry vinegar
- Sea salt
Make your aioli first. Easiest done in a blender. Put your egg yolks in and give them a whizz, then add the mustard and garlic and slowly add the oil drop by drop until about half way through, then you can add more quickly (but still gently). Don’t despair if your aioli splits, a teaspoon of water added slowly can rescue it. When at the desired thickness (the amount of oil you use will depend on the size of your egg yolks - some large are bigger than others!). Add your sherry vinegar to taste and season with sea salt. Leave to the side.
Prepare your clams by giving them a quick rinse (don’t soak them) and checking that they are all closed. Tap any that are open, if they don’t close that means they are dead and you should discard them.
Fry the garlic in the oil for 30 seconds over a medium heat, then add the ‘nduja. Stir through until softened and mixed through. Add the oregano and the clams and stir until well coated. Turn up the heat to medium-high and add the wine. Stir gently. When all clams are open you are done. If any remain closed, discard them.
Serve with crusty bread and the aioli. Enjoy!
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