Zucchini/Courgette and Goats Cheese Butter

courgette and goats cheese butter

Zucchini/Courgette and Goats Cheese Butter

Zucchini – courgette whatever the name they are definitely a part of summers bounty, in the stores they are plentiful and affordable and if you have a garden chances are you have a constant supply of them.   This is one of my favourite ways of using them, it hits all those exciting flavour notes with chilli, garlic, lemon and basil.  It is great on croutons for a party or a snack, spread on flat breads with a bit of salad on top, or spread on your wrap as well as or instead of hummus or mayonnaise,  and, it is an especially useful way of using those crazy courgettes gone rogue that look more like marrows. It makes a little bit of good quality goats cheese go a long way and it can make a large quantity of courgettes aka the marrowlike version of courgettes shrink down to a more manageable volume when necessary. When you are preparing the courgettes for this, you can use one of two methods, firstly with young firm courgettes you can simply grate them and add to the pan, but with the larger or watery marrowlike versions, I grate them on to a tea towel and then twist the towel with the courgette well enclosed, over the kitchen sink to wring as much of the liquid as I can from them ( I am sure this liquid is very nutritious and would be great added to smoothies or soups).  This squeezing of water from the […]

white chocolate fruit muffins

WHITE CHOCOLATE, FRUIT MUFFINS FOR A PICNIC

Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time and energy coming up with aspirational recipes to share, recipes to channel my best self and to give ideas to maybe help you to do the same.  I love this and still want to continue this journey trying to live and cook for my best life. Moving on and a couple of weeks ago my son George sent a message from the other side of the world requesting a recipe for my muffins – I sent a quick recipe off the top of my head -forgot the sugar – doh….  Probably the best answer would be to think this through and put the recipe properly on the blog.  The stumbling block with this idea comes from a feeling that for my best self no white sugar or flour should appear on this blog, and because of this I have always discounted the idea of recording some of these home favourites here   Then over the last week or so I kept thinking about this and my reluctance to put the muffin recipe here on the blog.  Lots of wondering has bought me back to my original reason for the blog which was principally was to keep in touch and share with friends and family at home and around the world –  for me this means sharing my world as reflected in the kitchen.  So it seems that something I have cooked so often that no recipe is required, […]

labna and char grilled vegetables

Labna Yoghurt – Everyday Delicious

Welcome to 2019, I wish you all well and I hope it holds everything good for you. I did have a momentary panic as I sat down at the computer this morning, wondering if I would even remember how to open this blog — it feels it has been a long time since I have sat myself down and written anything, being busy and being creative it would seem do not go hand in hand for me.  Luckily life seems to be in some sort of order now (an optimistic view of my normal state of semi controlled chaos) and with the madness of Christmas behind me I am looking forward to some slightly more considered and creative eating and cooking. As always for me it is condiments that star in my cooking and the main player the last few weeks has been strained yoghurt called Labna or Labneh.   Labna is a Middle Eastern staple made by straining yoghurt to remove excess whey and resulting in a thickened slightly sour spread.  Inspired by both some delicious Turkish eggs eaten at a local cafe, and a recipe from Ottolinghi s new book – Simple – for “Hot charred cherry tomatoes with cold yoghurt”.   I was ready to make again that staple I have talked of before Labna/Labnah.   While both these recipes use greek yoghurt I wanted to make my own version of this thickened greek style yoghurt in order to control the thickness. With Labna you can choose how thick you […]

salmon gravlax and Te Amo pinot gris

Salmon Gravlax and Te Amo Wines Pinot Gris

This weekend I shared a day with my friend Ruth from Te Amo wines, matching food with her beautiful Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir wines.  It was also Ruths birthday and I was lucky to also be able to share food and wine with her amazing friends and family. The story of Ruth and her wine is all about the special relationship with family, friends, food and wine, and all of this was embodied in the spirit of the day I spent with her.  See the bottle in the picture above and her story is there – the drawing by her amazing daughter, a speech bubble with the name Te Amo,  meaning I love you, and on the back of the bottle a brief description of the wine giving you a feeling for the wine but allowing you to draw your own conclusions For this special occasion, and to match her Pinot Gris, I prepared  Scandinavian Salmon Gravadlax. This is a simple preparation that can happen slowly in the refrigerator over a few days. There are many variations on this traditional recipe that are also amazing, but for me I am happy to keep with the original simple recipe – no added spirits or beetroot today.  Most times I will eat gravlax as a pre prandial, canape or tapa, but today I wanted to make a seasonal salad to share as part of a birthday lunch, hoping to embrace fresh spring flavours for the party.  I have served the Gravadlax […]

simple and sophisticated bean sallad

Simple and Sophisticated Summer Green Bean Salad

Summers on its way and this simple salad is sophisticated enough to have with your Christmas turkey, a beautiful lemony roast Bostok organic chicken or your weekend barbecue leg of lamb.  Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, it reminds me of amazing traditional French cooking and it matches fantastically with the beans, the hazelnuts and the blueberries in this salad. Tarragon is not often seen in todays cooking but it is a beautiful and under used summer herb and not difficult to grow. If you have left over tarragon from this salad or a glut of it in your garden pop it in a sterilised  jar or bottle with some white wine vinegar and you will have tarragon vinegar for your next salad.  Leave the tarragon in the bottle with the vinegar for several weeks and then strain it off for delicious tarragon vinegar that will keep in a cool dark place for at least a year.  There are definitely more sophisticated methods for making tarragon vinegar but this has worked for me. Tarragon works well with eggs, potatoes, seafood,  poultry, and is great in creamy or lemony sauces, think about delicious hollandaise or bernaise sauces or a butter, white wine, caper and tarragon pan reduction over fish  ….. My favourite salad at work recently used tarragon vinegar, brown rice and a mix finely sliced and grated different coloured beetroot that I marinated in tarragon vinegar and then olive oil mustard and lots of seeds chervil and chives.  So […]

chickpea and broccoli curry

Chickpea and Broccoli Curry

This isn’t rocket science and it isn’t fancy but it has been on the menu at home this week and I have really enjoyed it and so wanted to share it with you.  It is another quick midweek meal requiring little in the way of forethought or planning and better still few dishes to clean up. In full disclosure I did soak and cook the chickpeas for this meal as I definitely prefer them this way, but having said that I know most people would simply prefer to use the tinned variety and that is great – no judgement either way. I have made this to feed two people but as always adjust the quantities to the number of people you want to serve or make more so you can have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. The Curry paste I used was a home made one gifted  to me by the lovely Angela, but I would happily have used any prepared curry paste.  Be prepared to taste for spiciness but the coconut milk and the broccoli help to soak up the spice so don’t fear if it seems a little to spicy. CHICKPEA AND BROCCOLI CURRY Quantities to feed two people Warm a large pan with a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil. Saute your onion until starting to brown. Add the chilli, ginger, garlic, curry paste or powder and kafir lime leave and saute carefully for a minute or so until aromatic taking care not to burn. Add your chickpeas and […]

ricotta gnocchi

Spinach, Lemon and Ricotta Gnocchi

These gnocchi are a slightly lighter and looser gnocchi than usual.They are quick to put together and, at a stretch, can be said to be made from store cupboard ingredients. Ricotta and spinach from the freezer, lemons, parmesan, eggs and flour. Anyone who knows me well knows I love food bargains and hate waste.  One of our extended family who lived with us for a while was known to to ask “what’s special for dinner tonight”, and he wasn’t referring to my cooking!  In fairness he always did seem to love the cooking as well. My bargain hunting means I always have a stock of short dated ricotta in my freezer ready for savoury or sweet treats. These little gnocchi are substantial enough to be the hero of your meal and will team well with any of the usual simple pasta accompaniments – simple brown butter is amazing, but for a lighter approach think about wilted spinach, peas and pine nuts, sweet summer cherry tomatoes and basil, a simple Puttanesca sauce, or a wintery dish of roast pumpkin and toasted almonds!(……Maybe some of the fresh asparagus and peas just starting to appear in the market,  topped with a few lightly toasted pine nuts – YUM!.) I have also wandered off track a little with these in the experimentation process and have enjoyed them in a curry sauce and used them as dumplings in a big oxtail stew.  I cooked them from raw in the sauce both times and very happily […]

scrambled tofu

Cafe Style Scrambled Tofu Breakfast

Today I feel like I am trying to channel my inner Yotam Ottolenghi – my flavour, food styling, all round food hero! I am collaborating with a friend on a project which involves a gluten free dairy free breakfast.  I have added my own challenge to this by deciding it was time to make friends again with tofu and hopefully make some new converts along the way.  I have definitely spent the week pondering my breakfast, wanting it to be something I would want to eat – and eat again – and be good enough to share with you… I am also hoping for my breakfast tofu to be a contemporary adaptation, not a fringe dwelling remnant of the sixties or a meal more reflective of other cuisines and cultures. So I sit here eating my breakfast at 1 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon in food heaven – (disclaimer -I did have a first breakfast so that is not just a matter of pure hunger!) This is a great cafe style comfort food combo which – I think – doesn’t involve quirky ingredients or time consuming procedures. It is simple to make for one person or easily extended to cater for a crowd. Like similar egg dishes – seasoning is the key, so think about and taste the tofu while adding the salt and pepper.  The asparagus and tomatoes are both umami rich vegetables and worked amazingly to bring this together, and when teamed with my seedy nutty daily bread, […]

miso mustard salad dressing

Miso Mustard Dressing and Black Bean Noodle Salad

Todays recipe forms the base for a simple weeknight meal for one, or a crowd, but can also be a delicious salad in its own right.  Miso meets mustard and comes together in this surprising and delicious dressing/sauce. Miso it seems is a very versatile ingredient which can be used in surprising and different ways apart from all the wonderful Japanese recipes we know and love.  With its strong umami flavour, its fermented gut health qualities and its very long shelf life, it is a great addition to the refrigerator.  Its longevity works really well for me – with my impulsive food buying nature, I like to know I don’t have to use it all now, and risk my family becoming thoroughly sick of one particular ingredient. No chance of that today though as I ended up making supper for one on this occasion as flight plans were unexpectedly rescheduled.  Luckily this is one of those meal plans that can easily fit around the needs of the moment for the masses or the few. I have been working on extending my repetoire for simple meal plans for weeknights. We have been making some amazing ready meals at work and I like the idea of extending this idea to some of my home meal prep.  I haven’t made this “one pan” – but still the dishes are not onerous with a blender or jar for the dressing, a pot for the noodles and vegetables and a pan or sheet tray for […]

carrot top pesto

Carrot Top Pesto

Todays pesto combines the mild flavoured, fresh green goodness of carrot tops, with some punchy flavoured Peccorino cheese, garlic, chilli, lemon juice, olive oil and toasted cashew nuts. Carrot top pesto was not my intention for the blog today, but having bought the lovely baby carrots to go in a salad it was immediately apparent that the tops were almost more vibrant than the carrots.  This reminded me of my frustration in seeing people throwing carrot tops like these in the rubbish bin and so here I am making peace with my own carrot tops and making pesto today.  I could just have easily have used these lovely greens to made a herb dressing, a salsa verde, or used then in another batch of last weeks sassy salsa / ravigote sauce. Carrot tops have a mild  slightly parsley / spinach like flavour making them ideal for my pesto today.  You can, of coarse, use this method and list of ingredients to make what ever pesto you like – basil, parsley, rocket …  This loose recipe offers another quick and tasty option to use up those spare ‘herb’ greens  that you have either taken the trouble to grow or purchased. I have used cashew nuts in my pesto as in this part of the world they offer a more cost effective option than the more expensive pinenuts.  The cashews will still give the same buttery texture, but as always you should feel free to use what you prefer. This pesto, or […]