Thursday 19 August 2010

My favourite sandwich - avocado, cheese and red pepper

God, I deserve a holiday. And perhaps even a medal. Moving house is really hard. And I hate packing. And buying is extremely stressful. I have someone moving in literally on top of me on Saturday, and  anything could still potentially go wrong with the sale, leaving me homeless. On top of all this hassle, there's been work, which has been a bit challenging of late (this is a good thing, I know, but I'm tired), and we can't forget the emotional fallout from the disastrous break up of a five year relationship... I can't wait to be just that little bit too hot all the time, to stay up too late drinking wine and listening to crickets, then sleep in, knowing I have nothing to do on any particular day except read, eat, walk and swim. That's except on Wednesday, when I have to be very aggressive with some tomatoes. Yup, we're going to La Tomatina. I am just not sure how I feel about being covered head-to-toe in tomato pulp

There's been a few blogs recently that have talked about toast and sandwiches, so I decided to join the club, and share my favourite sandwich recipe with you. This was introduced to me by my friend, Simone, who's mum invented it. Now, the original is toasted, and that version is better on ciabatta. The one up there is rye bread with avocado, garlic salt (this is non-negotiable), gouda cheese and marinated peppers. Ideal for an easy work lunch, or snack, though you will get sticky fingers so it's best eaten away from the computer!

Monday 16 August 2010

Pork chops and sweet potato mash with black-eyed beans and leeks (for a girly lunch)

There are few things better than clothes swapping and a girly lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Now some girls may be satisfied with a chicken salad or something equally dainty, but me and Rubes just ain't those type of girls. I needed to make something warm, comforting, full of flavour, and a bit different. I saw a recipe for black-eyed beans and leeks on 101 cookbooks, which I adapted slightly to go with the pork chops I really fancied. I decided to go for sweet potato mash, as sweet potatoes are so good for you, and I thought they would work with all the other flavours in this meal (which they did)
Pork chops
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Sweet potato
Garlic salt
Dried thyme
Tin of black-eyed beans
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

I marinated the pork for a couple of hours in a mixture of olive oil, paprika, garlic, ginger and salt and pepper before baking for about 40 minutes in total. For 35 minutes the oven was on at 180 degrees, and for the final 5 minutes I put the grill on full blast, to crisp up the fat. The mash needs plenty of salted butter, garlic salt and pepper, to balance out the sweetness of the yams. You have the recipe for the black-eyed beans and leeks on the 101 cookbooks website - I simply replaced the butter with olive oil, and added fresh sage at the same time as the leeks. Then replaced marjoram with thyme. We drank a delicious, light prosecco from Treviso that my dad bought me in Borough Market

Saturday 14 August 2010

Cherry-peach oat and yoghurt pot

So these little oat and yoghurt pots are my favourite breakfast at the moment. I am one of those people who is hungry every two hours, and oats are one of the few things that really fill me up. And as it's too warm to be eating porridge, this is an ideal alternative

In my previous post, I made a raspberry and almond pot, whereas today, it was peach and cherry. I poured boiling water over the peaches, in order to peel them easily, and blended them along with the cherries, greek yoghurt and honey

I then combined the yoghurt mixture with the oats (to soften the oats and make them less dry, soak them overnight in oat milk/water/fruit juice) and divided it into little pots - now I have breakfast for the next three days. I have also been eating plenty of salads throughout the summer, and have done recipes on YouTube for Salade Nicoise and Goat's cheese and mushroom salad - enjoy while the sun is still shining, something tells me it's not going to be for much longer!

Wednesday 11 August 2010

More berry recipes

I am almost satiated with seasonal berries. I have been eating them in different forms almost every day - I miss them so much throughout the year, that I have to get my fill in the summer months. And I'm so nearly there... but before that happens here's a couple of berry recipes from this week, starting with another pasta one. I realize that  people can't quite get used to the idea of sweet pasta (here's an earlier blueberry pasta recipe) but just look at rice pudding - it's a very similar concept. Except this doesn't have to be eaten as a pudding... Anyway, it's an incredibly simple recipe - you just cook the berries with the sugar and vanilla essence for about 5min, until they turn into a sauce consistency. Cook the pasta separately, in plenty of salty water. Combine the creme fraiche with the berry mixture, and warm gently. And finally combine the two!

Berry pasta - ingredients

Pasta shapes
Creme fraiche
Vanilla essence
Caster sugar

And this is a berry breakfast, which is just natural yoghurt, blended with raspberries, honey, a little vanilla essence,  then mixed with oats (soaked in juice or milk before to make it even better) and some toasted almonds

I made a few of these, so I could have breakfasts waiting for me in the fridge in the mornings, and not have to worry about whether we have milk, or tea, or bread in the flat... we're not very well supplied. However, when I move into my new flat, sometime very soon (I hope), it will be a completely different story. I am seeing masses of various sizes of pots and pans, sharp knives, a clean, non leaky, well-stocked fridge and an ice-cream maker...

Monday 2 August 2010

Delicious berry desert

I went fruit picking in Oxford at the weekend and ended up with masses of berries in the fridge, so I had to figure out something to do with them all. I also had some gelatine staring down at me from the shelf in an intimidating manner. I bought it by accident and it's been sitting there for a while now, just staring at me every time I open the cupboard. I'm always intimidated if I haven't used an ingredient before, but it's good to push yourself, and it turned out that gelatine is stupidly easy to use


Punnet of strawberries (aprox 500g)
Punnet of rasberries (aprox 250g)
170-200ml sweetened condensed milk
2 gelatine leaves

Blend the berries with the condensed milk. I used a 170g tub, and ate a bit of it (I couldn't help myself I LOVE THE STUFF) so it was probably closer to 150g what went in. And they did turn out a little tart, therefore I recommend using more. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bit of water, drain and melt over a hot stove. Add it to the berry blend. Now, it's ready to pour into ramekins and cool in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating. There are infinite varieties of this kind of mousse, and I still have quite a few of those leaves left - I feel an era of gelatine-based deserts coming on...

Sunday 1 August 2010

Basque garlic soup

I learnt this dead easy garlic soup recipe when I posed the question at work: "what dish can I make with stale bread?". My friend from the Basque country suggested garlic soup, and it was by far the best sounding option. In fact, it sounded so tasty that I wanted to rush home immediately to make it. However, when I did get home I discovered that all my stale bread had been thrown away by my zealous flatmate in a kitchen clearout. It feels, therefore, like an eternity until I finally got the chance to make garlic soup (this time I hid the stale bread away in the back of the cupboard, not wanting to risk any further disappointment). The recipe down there makes about 4 portions, give or take, you know how I am with measurements


4 chicken thighs
5-6 cloves of garlic
Stale crusty bread - I had 4 small rolls
2 tsp paprika
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

First, you make stock from the chicken thighs - I boiled them in a saucepan of water for about 2 hours. Take the chicken out and allow to cool so that you can handle it easily, without burning your fingers. Pull the meat off the bones. Discard the skin and keep the tasty bits. Tear the bread into chunks, or just cut it if it is too hard. Fry the garlic and bread chunks in a small amount of olive oil, until brown, and for the last couple of minutes, add the paprika. Finally, add the bread mixture and the chicken bits back into the broth. Flavour with salt and pepper, and squeeze in the lemon juice. The last bit was my own addition, as I felt that the soup needed something else, and the lemon cut nicely through the other flavours. You may want to use a little bit less lemon, as I like things pretty zingy