Wednesday, 27 April 2011

crosswords and april sunshine

How many Aprils in Old Blighty have we had the pleasure of a guffawing heatwave...AND on a bank holiday weekend? Well not many! So as you can expect I was damn excited. Therefore, a lazy Saturday wearing shorts and sitting in the garden was absolutely necessary, as was the Ottolenghi sauteed chickpea and Greek yogurt for lunch.

Details after jump...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

the scraps

Take a sweet potato and put it in the oven...

Use some left over ingredients (my vegetable drawer was starting to look a little lack lustre) and make a salad. I had lettuce, cucumber, sweetcorn, feta, mint and coriander. I dressed it with just a little balsamic vinegar and a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and then I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Et voila! An easy quick meal. I find sweet potatoes a little too sweet and rich sometimes and so the feta really adds a much needed sharpness to it. Sun dried tomatoes are also a really good companion.

Monday, 18 April 2011

party party

After gyrating in a Jessie J fashion the night before, it took a serious amount of willpower to wake up the next morning energised and ready to prepare food for a group of friends coming over that evening. I had promised home made burgers. Why did I promise? Promise is a big word and one that you can't get out of, even on a hangover. Nonetheless I did promise, so...wake up at 10am and yes oh yes, start with a trip to the tip! That's what good time girls like to get up to on a Saturday morning...and swiftly moved onto the supermarket, narrowly avoiding a car parking ticket. This is a penny saving partaaaay and is incredibly cheap and easy to prepare. In fact the money mostly goes towards the drinks (but you can get your guests to bring that!). So with this blasting out on the tv...
...the sun blazing and Charlie Sheen's mantra running in my head I only had 'one speed, one gear. GO!'

Home made burgers
The burgers are easy. I used 3 x 500g packs of beef mince, and you literally just use a fork and mash it up with lots of chopped spring onion, chopped coriander, chopped mint, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and more mixed chilli/onion spice. 2 egg yolks to bind it all together and then roll into balls of your desired shape. Nothing else involved. You can use anything you like and put it in there, whatever flavour you want. I left them chilling in the fridge, ready to cook later.
Take them out when you're ready to eat and cook both sides in a frying pan until rare, medium rare or well done.

Roast potato and sweet potato
These would have been more like chips if I had divided into two pans. I rather overcrowded them so they came out a little more roasted style. Chop up potato and sweet potato and lightly coat them in a bit of oil, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin. Let them marinade until roasting. They took about 40 mins in the oven.
more after the jump...

Friday, 15 April 2011

comfort food

I was feeling a little sorry for myself. The weather was 20 and now it's 12 degrees celsius and my womb was crying out for some love. Oh it's good to wallow in ones own misery sometimes isn't it? Really settle into it. Try and catch a glimpse of your glum face in the mirror and it might just make you laugh again. However, we don't want that just yet, this feels kind of good for one night and it allows for movies like 'Eat Pray Love' and comfort food like mushroom risotto.

What I wanted was mushrooms. I had a huge craving for mushrooms. I was planning to have them sauteed with white wine, butter and parsley. In the fridge I had left over white wine and I also had butter, but no blooming mushrooms...

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

snack attack

Vita Coco
I am currently glugging on a bottle of refreshingly hydrating Vita Coco coconut water! You can find it in specialist stores or supermarkets. Try drinking it and not getting hooked! It is packed with lots and lots of electrolytes which restores the balance if dehydrated and especially good for those weak muscles during/after training. It also has more potassium then 2 bananas. You can get 100% pure, peach & mango, tangerine, pineapple, acai & pomegranate.

P.S. It's 100% natural. No sugar. No yuck.
I am also snacking on these crunchy roasted broad beans! These are seriously filling to eat (you must know that beans are naturally slow release carbohydrates?) so you will eat less than a bag of cashews. I much prefer these to snacking on nuts and far less fattening.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

a day in food

Have you ever done a food diary? Well I can probably guess that you might have missed half the things you ate that day. We like to forget the little things. 'They don't they?' Well they do and they all add up. This isn't for the purpose of a food diary, but I thought it would be a rather good idea wouldn't it? To photograph everything you eat in the day? Then you really can't get away with it...
Scrambled egg on toast with green pesto

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. My very good flat mate told me of this tip. A dollop of green pesto. Added at the end of cooking really livens it up. I use 2 eggs and I always cook in a little bit of butter.

Friday, 8 April 2011

supper with...

...Sarah Fox, London W6.

It's always nice going over to a friend's for supper. Food (like a cup of tea) always tastes better cooked by someone else, assuming that they can cook in the first place!

The drink: red wine
The snack: The Food Doctor roasted beans
The meal: spaghetti bolognese
The side: salad
The afters: ice-cream with (flash back) 'Askey' sauce

The boys: On the sofa. Why? To watch the football of course (apparently a couple of teams called Chelsea/Man U were playing).
The girls: In the kitchen. Well it's our place isn't it?

Spag bol made with (according to Sarah) L.O.V.E plus the usual offenders. Garlic, onion, minced beef, tinned toms, mushrooms, herbs, spices, Heinz tom ketchup etc.. Salad with mixed rocket/watercress leaves, avocado, cherry toms, spring onions. Cheese, grated by moi.

Can I just say on a side note, how amazing the The Food Doctor roasted beans were. I got them from Waitrose, but I'm sure any other large supermarket will sell them. You can also buy them online.

A non food related tip: Caudalie Eau de Beauté
I stayed over and used this amazing facial spray that Sarah had. I am like single white female when it comes to products. All my favourite foundations, moisturizers and lipsticks come from friends' suggestions. The spray is to be used after washing on a clean face like a toner. It has grape, rosemary, orange blossom, rose, myrrh and organic balm mint. It's so refreshing and it smells heavenly. The fragrance helps you drift peacefully into sleep and it also does WONDERS for your skin. Facial gold. 

a year in my kitchen

Australian head chef at Petersham Restaurant/Cafe (based by Richmond Park) and food writer Skye Gyngell says 'My kitchen is my garden. Everytime I step outside, I am inspired.'

This is food I love. She uses locally sourced, seasonal produce. Everything changes month by month, and is always bursting with colour and flavour.

Meatballs with a twist. Recipe below...

They taste sooooo good. Regular meatballs are extremely dull in comparison. The sour cherries are a brilliant touch to add a tangy sweetness to the spicy mix. Delicious with anything you fancy. We had polenta. They are a little time consuming to make, so perhaps best left to a saturday!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

sunday lunch @ brunswick house

Brunswick House, 30 Wandsworth Rd, Vauxhall Cross, SW8 2LG

Another Sunday and what a great one. A special celebratory day, organised by a great guy for a lucky little lady (he obviously also organised for the amazing weather). We were requested to gather ourselves at the listed Georgian mansion, Brunswick House (acquired by LASSCO), located in Vauxhall...

Blink and you'll miss it. It's strange how such a magnificent house, could so easily be missed. It must be on one of the busiest roads in London, but somehow manages to hide away in 'the lion, the witch and the wardrobe' kind of way, standing peaceful and still. Once inside the gates, the world behind is forgotten!

We started outside, soaking up the sun with oodles of prosecco, and then we made our way inside for lots of little sharing plates. 

Thinking about it now actually makes me salivate a little!

Wild garlic, barley & mushrooms. Spinach & goat's curd frittata. Black pudding, bramley apple & maple cream. Pig's cheek, fennel & lentils. Confit Old Spot bacon, beaten eggs & apple chutney. Blood orange & Zucca jelly.

My god, the food was good. Ravenously hungry after all those bubbles, we all wolfed into it, hardly pausing for breath. The crackling on the pig's cheek was to die for. The bacon was melt in the mouth and more like generous tearings of ham hock and most surprisingly, considering I haven't eaten it since I was 8, the black pudding was my favourite, and amazingly accented by the sweet baked apple.

Here's their ploy though. As you tour the nooks and crannies of the house, decidedly happy on food and drink, there is some serious danger of spending some serious cash. Brunswick house is awash with antiques and artifacts and it takes some major coaxing to leave the place empty handed!

heartbeet superfood

It was 22 degrees out today, so I took the opportunity and treated myself to 1 hour sitting in the sun. I bought my lunch today from pod and it was crunch tastic.

Easy enough to make yourself. The ingredients are below...

Sunday, 3 April 2011

market love

Borough Market
Le Marché du Quartier
Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday and located in London Bridge. I'm such a fan of this place. Once in a while, I used to walk here on a Saturday. A big walk, a big lunch! But now I have the pleasure in being able to eat here on a work day. SO much better on a work day.  Little gatherings of crowded suit wearers getting their teeth into a lamb burger, and snap happy tourists flittering from stall to stall. It's people coming together all in the name of food and drink. Word of warning: Saturday is very overcrowded.
Borough Wines

There are so many parts, too many to cover. So here are a few of my favourites...

A family run business, Le Marché du Quartier sources fine French food and wine. Large jars of cassoulet, confit, goose fat and bunches of lavender. I'm all for everything French. Heavenly.
Arabica Food & Spice Company
Arabica Food & Spice Company
Arabica Food & Spice Company
I've tested the tortelloni, the falafel wraps, the lamb burger, the beef burger, the chicken burger, the thai green curry, the melon/mozzarella salad and much much more, but I ALWAYS end up coming back to the Arabica Food & Spice Company. This Eastern Mediterranean delight has plenty of amazing dip tasters. The best taramasalata in town (p.s. proper taramasalata is white), delicious smoked courgette. The salad box is £6 for a choice of 3, but I try and fool them and ask for half and half and get 4. So full of flavour and moreish. Simply the best.
Still running after 20 years, and with some superb restaurants in SE1, SW7 and W1, Brindisa is still one of the best importers of high quality Spanish foods. Their shop is something of a treasure trove. Delicious membrillo and excellent for snacks in the form of padron peppers and salted marcona almonds.
The Cinnamon Tree Bakery
The Cinnamon Tree Bakery
The Cinnamon Tree Bakery
Baked in Camberwell, The Cinnamon Tree Bakery has fast become my favourite seller. High quality ingredients and many things wheat and gluten free. They won me over with the 'tweet tweet' biscuit. Using rye flour, raisins, dates, tahini, seeds and cinnamon, they are INCREDIBLE. To be honest they're filling enough as a breakfast! I tested their rocky road last November, but they took them off the stall to refine. They are now back and are chocolatey rich with vegetarian marshmallow.

Go there and see what takes your fancy!

Friday, 1 April 2011

simple supper for one

Goats cheese and beetroot salad
Whilst waiting for a friend to get ready, I dawdled about in the kitchen where my oldest and dearest friend was just sitting down to supper with her boyfriend. On her plate, beautiful colour and temptation, on his plate, a microwave shepherds pie (he insisted!). I couldn't help but fork it and tonight, I couldn't help but make it myself...