Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Wednesday wishes

Recipes I'm pinning:

Cute: petite vegetable frittatas
Crispy sweet potato fries
Pear, walnut and ricotta crostini
What I'd love:
This kitchen - a dream!

Juice maker

What makes me laugh: 

When I'm out to dinner

Waiting for my food to arrive: 

When they put the food down in front of me: 

What are you pinning/pining for this week?

Monday, 28 May 2012

Simple dinner: lentils with bacon and feta cheese

Wondering how to start this post and trying to avoid jumping straight into the recipe (hey, that's just not my style) I decided to read a bit about the star of dish du jour: puy lentils. After a quick browse I came across David Leibovitz's enthusiastic article about these tasty beauties. He describes them as 'the caviar of lentils' and rightly so. They are a bit more expensive then brown or green variety, but, in my opinion, so worth every penny. Nutty and earthy, they keep their shape really well and don't go mushy. Call me crazy, but mushiness is not something I want in my salad. 
So, to cut a long story short, puy lentils are awesome and you have to try them. 
The recipe is slightly adapted from this one. I add a bit of bacon because a) it's tasty and b) it adds an extra dimension to the dish (i.e makes it more delicious :) If you're not that keen on bacon or meat you can definitely skip it!

To make enough for two you'll need:

180 g puy lentils
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3-4 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped 
1-2 pints of vegetable stock
80g of feta cheese
2 handfuls of rocket
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt, pepper
olive oil

Start off by frying bacon for 5 minutes until nice and crispy. 

 Transfer to a plate and set aside. Pop onion and garlic into the same pan and fry until softened. 

Now add lentils and most of the stock to the pan. 

Cook for 30-40 minutes on low heat, stirring a few times, adding a bit more stock until the lentils are soft (but still have a tiny bite to them) and most of the liquid has evaporated. Towards the end, stir in the bacon. Season with pepper and a tiny pinch of salt (or skip it if the bacon is really salty). Serve with rocket leaves, cherry tomatoes, some crumbled feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Let the awesomeness commence.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Weekend kitchen: tagine

I have a confession to make: I'm addicted to butternut squash. I professed my love for it here and I won't rest until I show you a few more recipes featuring this incredible vegetable. 
A big fan of simplicity (duh), I love all sorts of  'cook in one pot' recipes. A dish that cooks itself and involves three processes: chopping, dropping into a pot and stirring is bound to attract my attention. No surprise then that I was immediately keen to try out Jamie Oliver's beef tagine recipe. Butternut squash? Check. Lots of spices? Check. Coriander and almonds? Check. Jamie says that tagine is like a stew with attitude. What can I say? I trust the man and he's so right. The first time I made this dish I was waiting impatiently while it cooked, pacing nervously around the kitchen. And then I tried it, and man, was it delicious. All that flavour packed into one pot! The meat is tender and falls apart, there's a bit of sweetness coming from the prunes and butternut squash, crunchiness and nuttiness from almonds and finally some fresh vibrant coriander. Heaven. Don't be discouraged by the three hour cooking time. All you need to do is some stirring every now and then. This is a perfect dish to cook on a lazy Sunday or when you have friends coming over - give it a try! 

The line up of the usual suspects spices
To make enough for 2 very hungry people (with enough leftovers for lunch) or 4 smaller portions, you'll need:

500 g beef, diced (look for casserole steak)
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
100 g soft prunes
a bunch of coriander
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 pints of vegetable or beef stock
1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas, drained
olive oil

2-3 tbsps flaked almonds (lightly toasted in a dry pan)
Couscous, to serve
For the spice rub
1tsp salt
1tsp black pepper
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp powdered ginger
1tsp mixed spice
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp garam masala
1tsp all spice

The first step is to marinate beef: mix all the spices in a bowl, add the beef and massage all the spices in. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight (or for a few hours, the longer the better). 

Chop up all your veggies before you start cooking and prepare the stock.

 Heat about 2-3 tbsps of olive oil in a big pot and fry the beef for about 5 minutes to brown it. Don't worry about some of the spices sticking to the bottom of the pan - that's where all the flavour is and they are going to form a part of the sauce.

Once the beef is browned, add onion, garlic and chopped coriander stalks (leaving coriander leaves for later) and fry for 5-8 minutes on medium heat. 

Add chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and half of the stock, stir and cover with a lid. 

Simmer gently for 1.5 hrs on low heat stirring every now and then. After that time add cubed butternut squash, chopped prunes and the rest of the stock. 

Stir, cover with a lid and simmer for another 1 - 1.5 hours. Keep an eye on it, stir every 15-20 minutes and add a bit of water if it looks too dry. Serve with couscous, sprinkled with fresh chopped coriander and flaked almonds.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Simple dinners: Salmon

Fish is good for you. Fact. If you don't like fiddly bones salmon is a perfect choice. And let's face it - who wants to eat meat every day? Well, probably my husband whose idea of heaven would be to have Steak Mondays, Burger Tuesdays, Meatball Wednesdays - you get the idea. Since I'm doing all the cooking he has no choice but to accept Fish days - but he's a sweetie and there are no complaints so far! Because hey, fish is tasty. Fish doesn't need culinary fireworks. It's best when cooked simply with a touch of salt, pepper and a bit of oil or butter, served with some potatoes and veggies. Pretty ordinary, right? But add a little beetroot into the mix and you'll be in for a nice surprise. Mixed with a few tablespoons of creme fraiche it adds a little sweetness and livens up the salmon. Not to mention it's pink and pretty!
If you fancy something healthy and quick for dinner give this recipe a go. 'Cooking takes too much time and is complicated' excuses won't cut it here. So heat up your oven to 200 C and let's get started.

To make delicious dinner for two you'll need:

2 salmon fillets (smoked salmon works too - perfect if you're veeery lazy)
new potatoes/charlotte potatoes cut in half - enough for two people
1 bag of fine green beans
butter or olive oil
3 tbsps creme fraiche
2 small beetroots (you can buy them already cooked and vacuum packed)
1/2 lemon

While the oven is heating up, prepare the salmon. Sprinkle it with a bit of salt and pepper and place on a small baking tray lined with kitchen foil. Drizzle a little oil on top, cover with foil and seal the edges so that salmon steams and doesn't dry out - it's a delicate bugger! Pop the tray into the oven and start boiling a pot of water for potatoes and beans. Wash them and cut potatoes in half lengthwise - they will cook quicker meaning you get food in your belly faster - win win! As soon as the water starts boiling put potatoes and beans in, add a tsp of salt and cover with a lid. Grate beetroot into a small bowl, add creme fraiche, salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Salmon should be ready after about 15 minutes - it should flake away easily when poked with a fork. Once it's ready take it out of the oven and pop on the plates, then check and drain potatoes and beans. Finally, add a blob of beetroot creme fraiche and voila. You just added fish to your diet. And it only took 15 minutes. Easy peasy.

Oh, apologies for no ingredient pictures - I was ravenously hungry when making this! 
And when you're *that* hungry, every second counts:)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Instagrub (and more)

This post will be a bit picture poor - I had a busy week and almost no time to take photos!

Raspberries for lunch

Favourite dessert as of late: stewed apples with crushed mini meringues

more sweet treats!

yummy healthy salad

Never knew there was a name for this feeling!

Brilliant place in Brixton - I was so hungry that by the time I remembered to take pictures my plate was empty!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Simple lunch: bagels

Saturday lunch dillemma? Forget soggy sandwiches, cheese toasties and pasties. I've got something better. Promise. It has carbs. But is has veggies too! And not just any veggies, but two which were meant to be together. Paired together, they sing. They complete each other. You get the idea. Mr Avocado and Mrs Tomato. Wait, did I just do that? Started calling veg Mr and Mrs? End of silliness.

Show me an avocado and I'll start drooling. Shopping for one is a lot of fun. Very tactile operation. It needs to be perfectly ripe. Slightly soft but not mushy. Of course you can buy an unripe, rock hard one, wrap it in a piece of newspaper and wait for a few days. Yes, technically you can. Unless you are an impatient avocado lover like yours truly. That person gently touching and feeling up every single avocado pear in the box at the supermarket, entirely focused on choosing the nicest, ripest one, oblivious to people's stares? Yup, that's me. Pervert. (by the way, if you're the same please let me know - we can start a club or something :)
Anyway, once you get your paws on a perfectly ripe avocado you're a winner. Now get yourself a nice bagel, slice it in half and toast it. Slice the avocado. Slice a tomato. Slather some cream cheese on top of the bagel, top with tomato and avocado slices, sprinkle with salt, pepper and drizzle some olive oil on top. And that's it. You're in heaven.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Wednesday wishes

Inspiring recipes I want to try:

Buffalo chicken tacos

Low calorie greek yoghurt cheesecakes

Carrot salad

I'd love:


I'm watching:

Two greedy Italians
I absolutely love this show! Those two are such sweeties!

And, finally, this is me:



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