I know I’ve talked before about necessity being the mother of all invention on this blog before but never is that more true than in a house filled with boys. Maybe it’s just mine but I’m never sure whether they exist on the same dimension as me. I’m not complaining; it has led to quite a few spectacular culinary discoveries in my house and last week has was no different.
I’m not really that particular when it comes to good food. I like most of it and I like a lot of most of it (moderation is a work in progress for me; serving sizes have never been my strong point) so perhaps it will surprise you to know that I also love lovely little plates of tapas. Possibly because it represents as good a reason as any to sample most of what the menu has to offer but that’s by the by. I’d find it hard though to condense down though to one or two of my favourite dishes; Spanish cooking always seems so undeservedly underrated to me. From the garlicky prawns to the Serrano hams served with various cheeses all the way through to the octopus salads, simple tortillas, anchovies, olives or padron peppers the choices are almost infinite. And hidden in there comes this dish. I couldn’t even dream of claiming this as one of my own as one of my own; even the briefest trip through Spain will reveal hundreds of variations on the theme but this is my take on it. So good that if you don’t fancy preparing the other bits or bobs for a true tapas feast you can serve a soup bowl full of it up rustic style with a hunk of crusty bread on the side. Make it in advance if you’re that organized and let the flavours develop then serve it a bit warmer than room temperature or stick it in an ovenproof dish and crack a couple of eggs into a couple of wells you made for just that purpose and bake for a different version of heuvos rancheros. Your choice. However you serve it it won’t matter. It’s always delicious.
There’s nothing like a summer holiday for making me feel like my body is a temple (and no, not to Bacchus). Who knows, perhaps you feel like that constantly if you live in a tropical paradise. Perhaps the urge to hunker down and survive off stews and stodgy puddings never comes. And conversely perhaps if you hail from colder climes lighter fare such as today’s fruity salad are an anathema to you. But the point is, I don’t. And I rather like the way the seasons change where I’m from (sometimes as much as all in one day in the UK but that’s beside the point) bringing with them endless opportunities to mess around with meals.
If you’re not Mexican or from the U.S. I suppose you could be forgiven for not knowing anything about the tomatillo. To be fair until I’d lived over there I’d lived a long and happy life not knowing anything of their existence. But times they are a changin’ and tomatillos are becoming far more wide spread and although you possibly won’t be able to pick them up on the shelves of your local supermarket once you know what you’re looking for you’ll be amazed at how much more often you’ll see them cropping up.
I love my herb patch. I wish I were better at growing vegetables, but as I’m not I take comfort from the fact that herbs are really good for you. As I have said before (and almost certainly) will say again, one of the easiest and most overlooked way to improve our diets, and indeed our health, is to add fresh herbs to our food. However it sometimes seems as if we understood their wide ranging properties better generations ago, and now only use them in the precise way a recipe calls for them.
There are various ways to get a variety of these green vitamin boosts into our diets, but I really like to make this paste, and I use it as a secret ingredient in a LOT of things. It is delicious on good bread with a bit of cheese, or cheese on toast, added to salad dressing, added to cooked beans for flavour, stirred through orzo as a delicious side dish and added to all sorts of sauces to add depth. Continue reading
So this is a good one. I love porridge. I’m sure, that apart from a poached egg, it has got to be one of the cheapest and healthiest breakfasts out there. The problem is, I absolutely never fancy it in summer. Which leaves me stuck with fruit and yoghurt, or resorting to highly processed (yes, even the healthy ones) store brought cereals. I love to take advantage of the gorgeous fresh fruit that is on offer in the summer but I need something a bit more to get me through the morning, and to feel like I’m getting enough fibre. However, when I eat porridge in the winter I do wonder whether I’m getting the right amount of calcium/ protein that I should be getting. It is a dilemma. Continue reading
Pesto is amazingly quick, easy, adaptable way to make a gorgeous, healthy meal. The problem is, we are all too attached to the pesto alla Genoese recipe. We all know the ubiquitous basil/ pine nuts/ cheese combo and somehow feel that we shouldn’t stray outside this store brought comfort zone. After I got a bad case of pine nut mouth (google it if you haven’t heard of it- you’d be surprised…) I decided to steer well clear in future. A jar of pesto will cost you nowadays between £2.50 and £5, depending on where you get it from, but will only feed around three. It should only contain around 5 ingredients, but the last jar I looked at contained 13. The word pesto comes from pestare in Italian, meaning to bash or pound, (same stem as pestle, as in pestle and mortar) so maybe everybody thinks that they have to pound and bash for hours to get the right result, but nowadays you can get the same effect blitzing it all in a food processor and the sauce is still ready whilst the pasta is cooking. Continue reading