Lunch

labna and char grilled vegetables
Breakfast, Brunch, Canape, Condiments, Desert, Gluten Free, Lunch

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
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood

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 […]

chickpea and broccoli curry
Gluten Free, Lunch, quick meals, Vegetable

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
Lunch, Meal

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 […]

miso mustard salad dressing
Condiments, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Salad, Seafood, Vegetable

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 […]

polenta fish in chips
Brunch, Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

Smoked Fish in Polenta Chips

Today I have a new take Polenta – an old staple with a surprising new twist.  Inspired by a recipe in The Guardian by one of my great food hero’s Yottam Ottolinghi.  This is the real deal in comfort food – smokey, fishy, spicey  (if thats what you want – I do! ), a little cheesey and to finish  some fresh herby goodness.  It involves infusing milk with aromatics from your pantry and garden, then gently poaching smoked fish in this before straining and adding the polenta to cook, then once thickened returning the flaked smoked fish cheese and herbs to the thickened polenta. Cooking like this for me allows moments to step away from the busyness of life and focus on simpler things, to take it a little slowly – be patent and let the milk infuse – go outside and find a few simple herbs tucked in the corner or sheltering from the winter under the weeds – this is not about the perfect ingredient list, just taking time to bring it together with what you have to hand.  In the end you will have something that can wait until you are ready to enjoy on your own or share with the few or the many. This recipe can be halved , doubled or tripled to suit – make it an put a slab in the freezer for later or make a great big batch for hearty snacks or dinner for a crowd. Polenta has always been a […]

carrot and white bean falafel
Canape, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Snack

Carrot and White bean Falafel

Spicy little “falafel’ that hold together well and can be made to what ever size suits in the moment – pan fry them bake them or waffle them.  Make them into little snack size balls and serve canape style with chilli sauce and or a citrus tahini, wrap them in a tortilla, a lettuce burger or on top of a salad,  waffle them for a power breakfast, or maybe even try them with a curry sauce or dahl and some naan breads or chapati and a cucumber raita…. I am of course waiting to be struck down by the middle  eastern food gods for calling these falafel – no chickpeas? carrots? …madness!  In my defence – I do feel that these capture the feeling of the falafel I know and love and offer something a little bit same but different to try. As I was making these and thinking about flavours, I got a little distracted, wanting to share my thoughts on caramelising onions.  The humble onion is the perfect, affordable, accessible, non seasonal vegetable for creating unbeatable umami flavour.  Herbs and spices hit the high notes of flavour but the caramelised onion base in anything you cook with onions gives a balanced, comforting, deep flavour base.  It gives what ever you cook – soup, meat sauce/ragu, frittata… the unmistakable feel of something cooked with patience, skill and an understanding of flavour. I’m not talking about anything tricky or requiring great skill – all the caramelising of onions requires is […]

okonomiyaki
Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Vegetable

Okonomiyaki

My *”Oh-My-Goshi “pancakes today are based on the traditional Okonomiyaki Japanese cabbage based pancakes.  The name comes from Okonomi meaning “how you like it” or “what you like” and yaki meaning “grilled”.  Served most often with a variety of umami laden condiments,  most photos will show them presented with sweet Kewpi mayonnaise, brown Okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes. This is my version of these pancakes loaded up with lots of vegetables and then loaded again with tasty condiments. Sometimes I choose to add prawns to these for their delicious seafood crunch, complimenting the seafood flavours from the bonito flakes and seaweed, but they are equally delicious without.  Although its very hard not to love the Kewpi mayonnaise and brown sauce, it is fun to play around with other possibly healthier, probably heretic, options such as a cashew or avocado cream and kimchi.  For the rest, the toppings add to the fun and complexity – they can be as simple as a few ingredients sprinkled over top, or built up like a salad on top of the Okonomiyaki.  Try some baby greens, finely chopped spring onion, shredded nori, bonito flakes, seaweed seasonings such as this Citrus Furikae and maybe some Togarashi the Japanese seven spice mix to fire it up a bit, some avocado would be great to when in season. The most important thing to remember when cooking these dense pancakes is to allow time for them to to cook slowly so that the batter is cooked through.  Doughy pancakes […]

pumpkin feta fritters
Autumn, Breakfast, Brunch, Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Winter

Spicy Pumpkin and Possibly Feta, Fritters

The chill in the south continues to deepen and with the forecast temperature at -7’c this morning, the kitchen is a great place to be. That chill coupled with an amazing vege lettuce burger I had a couple of months ago has certainly encouraged my quest to create a simple and tasty winter vegetable fritter at home.  Having now settled on my favourite version, I think their uses are far from limited to burgers. Stacked up for breakfast or brunch with an egg, some spicy tomato salsa and greek yogurt or as an alternative to fritters make the mix as one or two whole rosti style pancakes and serve with some hot or cold smoked salmon, sour cream capers and lemon…….. With all these options I am still excited about the lettuce burger today.  Not a new idea at all but still a really good one – put together one, two or three Iceburg lettuce leaves to make a great vessel for your favourite burger, refreshing, crunchy and amazingly sturdy. Couple this with a tasty vege fritter, simple salad or slaw, a spicy salsa or some kimchi, maybe a little creamy dressing or yogurt and possibly a few potato crisps or tortilla chips inserted at the last moment for extra crunch. Delicious! I am making these today and plan to put them in the refrigerator ready for “tired and can’t be bothered” night, because on those nights I can’t be bothered to go out and get food either. SPICY PUMPKIN […]

dal and roast vegetables
Gluten Free, Lunch, Meal, Sweet

DAL AND ROAST VEGETABLES WITH A CRISP AND SPICEY TOPPING

Dal, dhal, daal or dhal, these are all Indian words for lentils or split pulses, they can and will be be cooked differently according to region and personal taste.  This recipe is my favourite at the moment. With the days here drawing in and the thought of long evenings around the fire, bowls of comforting, flavour rich food like this Dal are starting to sound like the answer to the dinner question.  This is the first comfort food meal for the season and has left me enthusiastic for more.  I love the way these simple ingredients with warming spices make for such easy eating – almost soup like at times, or as I have made it now – more like a risotto. In this version I have made my Dal into a satisfying meal topped with a layer of seasonal roast vegetables and finished with mustard seeds, chilli and curry leaves sauted in coconut oil and poured – sizzling – over the top, then a final flourish of fresh coriander or mint, and finely sliced spring onion. The basic Dal recipe I have been making stays the same, as do the the tempered spicy topping, but the roast vegetables in-between change according to what is in my refrigerator. This is great eaten as is, but if you want more – add some naan, other indian bread or poppadoms on the side, pour a little yoghurt or cashew nut cream over top and add a cooling yoghurt, cumin seed and cucumber […]