I have maintained relative silence on here for a little while, mainly because I have been distracted by a new job and move to London. Having said that, my new job includes the added perk of access to a kitchen garden so I have been pilfering lots and cooking lovely things to be blogged about later. In recent weeks, the garden has exploded as everything comes into bloom. Most exciting for me was the flowering of all the different herbs that punctuate the garden. I had never tasted chive flowers before but the punch of onion in these tiny purple flowers really surprised me.
Another great thing about being back in London is the amazing green grocers that is within walking distance of my house. If you are anywhere near Newington Green and searching for a particular ingredient, head straight for the imaginatively named Newington Green Fruit and Vegetables, the range will astound you. I chose from their vast array of mushrooms, to go with my chives, but unfortunately had to steer clear of the girolles as a whole week’s salary spent on mushrooms seemed a bit of a waste. Those that I did get were delicious in any case, served simply on some crusty bread with ricotta, olive oil and the chive flowers.
Now we are nearly three weeks into January, New Year’s resolutions are being abandoned left, right and centre. Bar and pub owners around the country breath a sigh of relief as people realise just how meaningless their lives are without alcohol, drop the “dry-january” facade and neck a double whiskey on the way home from work. Likewise those friends whose instagram feeds were overflowing with smug pictures of brightly coloured salads, meat substitutes and the veganuary hashtag have gone conspicuously quiet. After all it is hard to type with fried chicken grease all over your hands.
But fear not my will-power deficient friends, here is a recipe for something veganish that is actually pretty tasty and may just restore your faith. Also, you may not believe me but, much like the proverbial puppy, veganism is not just for January. Yes that is right you don’t just have to be a vegan for a month then go back to gorging yourself on steak for breakfast. You could make this recipe all year round, and (and here’s the big one) you don’t even have to be a vegan to cook it. The only real difference from a normal risotto is that it doesn’t have any parmesan in it but the courgette pesto means it still tastes creamy and delicious. After all, most of us do very little for the environment except throwing the odd wine bottle in the recycling, so skipping the grated cheese on a couple of dinners is the least we can do.
For most of us, exams are finally over. It is such a relief, not just because I can throw out the ridiculous amount of useless dates, facts and quotes I had attempted to cram into my brain for a week but mainly because I had completely run out of clean clothes. The end of exam season means a return to sanity (to some extent). I no longer have to spend every waking moment, and a disturbing number of sleeping moments, reading or noting or listing everything I have ever leant over and over in my head until I go insane. I can wash my clothes, my bathroom no longer looks like a scene out of a horror film and best of all I have time to cook!
When you are attempting to procrastinate, as all good third year students with dissertations currently are, the best thing to do is bake a cake. It takes a good long time, requires minimum concentration and allows for the spontaneous appearance of delicious baked goods. Unfortunately I am pretty rubbish at baking cakes but this recipe below is fool proof and the end result is delicious. Proof of this is in the lack of photographs of the whole cake; I couldn’t wait long enough to take a photo before I had some. It is a bit pricey with the polenta and ground almonds so I would only suggest making it if you already have one or both of these items or you are feeling particularly flush! Continue reading
Scroll down and you’ll see my review of my recent holiday to the beautiful city of Barcelona. One of my must-visit places is the Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas. This tourist hotspot remains a fantastic place to get fresh produce and is where I sourced my ingredients for the recipe below. I understand that clams are pretty hard to get your hands on but if you ever come across them buy them!! They are delicious and, as shellfish go, they are not the most expensive. They are also pretty easy to handle if you buy them clean.
I can definitely attest to the simplicity of this recipe. I cooked it in the Airbnb flat I was renting. The kitchen was basic to say the least! This can be cooked entirely on a two hob stove using two pans. It is a bit nerve racking cooking something for the first time, especially when that something is alive when you start cooking it. Trust me if you follow this recipe it will work out fine!! This is the perfect holiday night-in recipe, especially if you are in Barcelona. The clams are easy to source as is the Cava, it is so so cheap and you can buy it anywhere. If you are not in Barcelona, as I imagine most of you aren’t, then a cheap wine will do the job, we were just feeling a little decadent.
Recently I made plans to meet a friend for dinner, unfortunately neither of us had much money. I hate eating out or searching for restaurants when I have got no money. The food always sounds great but any enjoyment is hampered by knowing that you can only afford half the things on the menu. After being underwhelmed by everything in my price bracket I thought why not just bring the pub to mine. I provided the food and she provided alcohol in various shapes and sizes. ( I apologise for the quality of the photos- many beverages had already been tested at this point!)
For ultimate pub-grub I decided to make us burgers. Everywhere seems to have their own view on what makes the best burger and I thought I would add my voice to the mix. I go simple normally with burgers, I stick to original beef but with all the trimmings. In my opinion both cheese and bacon are essential as is a good base of salad. All in all, I can confirm this recipe is the quick and easy way to make the perfect Friday night-in burgers that will rival any pub’s.
This week, it has felt like summer is finally here. You might say summer has been here for a while but that heavy, grey, mugginess that has been surrounding us for the last few weeks, and making me want to spend every second in a fridge or a cold shower, is not my idea of summer. For me, summer is sunshine, long walks, drinking in the day and eating dinners outside on sultry evenings. Thus my first al fresco dining experience of the year marked the beginning of my summer.
My first summer dinner had to be a salad. Salad’s are as synonymous with summer as orange airoplanes rammed with lobster skinned Brits and rain. This is a shame because, like the aforementioned, they don’t fill me with enthusiasm. I don’t particularly like salads, a bowl full of tasteless leaves and half a tomato does not a meal make. Food is supposed to make your heart sing and your stomach full, for the most part salads fall short on both counts. This, however, is not to say that salads have no potential. A few years ago they were in their gawky teenage years, they had glasses and braces and shaved carrot and oily, flavourless dressing. Now perhaps they are in their mid-twenties, a few mistakes have been made but they are growing into themselves and starting to look and taste good.
The people who know salads are really the italians, they realise the importance of proper flavour. This tomato salad is inspired somewhat by a Jamie Oliver recipe but I have switched it up a bit and added some mozzarella because I love cheese, I can never make a salad without cheese, it’s a real weakness. I think this is great on its own for a light dinner or starter, or equally brilliant as a side for fish or anything barbecued. Cost wise I splashed out a bit on this one because I wanted loads of different types and colours of tomato and I am lucky enough to live very near to an amazing fruit and veg shop. If you don’t have access to this kind of ingredients don’t fret, normal tomatoes are just fine, however, I would advocate buying the posh ones from the supermarket as they have so much more flavour. What you lose in terms of cost efficiency with this dish, you more than make up for in time saved, it is so easy to make but still looks impressive if served to friends. Continue reading