Friday 28 September 2012

Butternut squash congee with crunchy radish and spring onion

I'm getting into this whole congee thing. Just as there are infinite varieties of porridge, it's the same with congee. This is a vegetarian one I made, by cooking white jasmine rice and butternut squash for about 3 hours in loads of water. I also added some chilli, sea salt, garlic and paprika. When it was ready I added crunchy bits of spring onion and radish,  then soya sauce for flavour
You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days, warming up little bit, with some extra water, in the mornings. Which makes it a really practical breakfast too. So yeah, I think I might be becoming a bit of a congee bore. Sorry, I will cook something delicious and un-congee-like this weekend and tell you all about it. I just had to mention this one, because I was so surprised at how well it turned out without any meat, and look how pretty it was too

Saturday 22 September 2012

Anchor & Hope in Waterloo

The table at Anchor & Hope looked as if it was set for a Medieval feast - figs with parma ham, slices of what I believe was wild boar with grapes, cod roe and my favourite - chicken liver and fois gras parfais. This was followed by that fish down there, sticky rabbit ribs and runner beans with almonds (another favourite)
And yet this is the only photo I have. And it wasn't even taken by me, as mine was too dark (I really need a new camera). I've read crazily mixed reviews of this place. The funniest one I read was the guy who talked about waiting for an hour for a table and approached "a senior-looking member of staff who was idling his time away talking to a cluster of peasants about some table they were waiting for... Amazingly, I was IGNORED until he had finished his conversation", he signed his hilarious review "a regular" and gave the place the full 5 stars. The thing is, even if you know someone who works here, you always have to wait for a table. So just have a pint or two and enjoy your (presumably lovely) company until they are ready to sit you. If this is going to stress you out, then don't come here. But you will be missing out because the food is fantastic and very reasonably priced, and the place is just a bit special. Not in a pretentious way, like some random person who you bump into on the street and starts a monologue on a Chekov play they happen to be working on, but in that real, confident way where the quality speaks for itself and needs no gimmicks

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Spicy sweetcorn congee

I've decided to get my not-so-healthy butt on a massive, Chinese health kick. I've been on many Western health kicks and detoxes but I'm ready to try something different. To say I am unhealthy does not feel completely accurate, I am much healthier than I was a year ago, two years ago, but I have one persistent health problem and I would like to know I tried everything before I need to undergo a rather intrusive and wholly inconvenient procedure. So I am giving myself and Chinese medicine 6 months to sort it out. You know how I like my experiments, especially when they involve plenty of food
It's difficult to understand the intricacies of Chinese food rules from simply reading articles on the internet. The rules are different for each individual and it's a whole new way of thinking to get your head around. But congee is something every expert agrees benefits everyone. Congee reminds me of something that we ate in Poland when I still very young and sick in bed - rice soup with cooked apples. It was called "kleik" - little glue. Sometimes it was all I'd be given to eat for days on end, which eventually ruined it for me, unsurprisingly. But now, after rediscovering congee in Thailand, I am ready to eat this rice soup once more. However, I prefer the spicier, Asiatic versions to the Polish one. You basically cook the corn on the cob and the chicken, ginger, chilli and lemongrass with the rice and water for about 3 hours. Add a little sea salt to get the minerals out of the chicken bone. About half way through, take out the corn and chicken, allow to cool and take the meat off the bone (discard the skin) and the corn off the cob and add back into the rice soup. After another half an hour, take out the lemongrass. After 3 hours I found that my congee was the perfect consistency. Eat it straight away and allow the remainder to cool before putting in the fridge. I am now keeping it in there and just warming up a little each day, with some extra water for breakfast. I believe it can keep for about 5 days, but I will try and eat it in 3, just to be on the safe side. What I really love about congee is that the variations are infinite. I will keep you posted on my ones, of course


Cup full of rice and 7 times as much water
Lemongrass - 2 stems
2 inches of fresh ginger - peeled and chopped
Organic chicken thigh on the bone
Fresh chilli
2 corn on the cob

Soya sauce and chopped spring onion to serve

Monday 10 September 2012

Tomato salad with mint salsa

I don't know how familiar you are with the saga of my garden. I started off optimistic, then I realized a few things about myself, which was promptly followed by an overly pessimistic phase. Now, I am trying a different way, which does not involve growing vegetables. Basically, the only that seems to grow in abundance here is mint. I have masses of it
After talking to my friend Petey on Saturday, who told me all he's been eating lately are San Lorenzo tomatoes, I was inspired to make this salad for my BBQ. These aren't San Lorenzo tomatoes, but they were the best I can get, and this is really important in a dish so simple. The salsa is a large shallot, half a red chilli and plenty of mint, all finely chopped and covered in some virgin olive oil and sea salt. I allowed it to stand for an hour before covering the tomatoes in it a moment before serving. You could leave it for much longer if you have the time
This is not all we ate of course, there were BBQ spare ribs and sausages from Ginger Pig, as well as home made hummus and raw vegetables, but this salad, along with the spare ribs, was the highlight for me

Friday 7 September 2012

Curried aduki beans

Look, some meals, like people, just aren't that photogenic
And we all know this doesn't make them any less worthwhile. Sometimes, in fact, it's the opposite. Just as you wouldn't want all your friends to be models, it would also be unhealthy to be too concerned with how photogenic your food is. I have nothing against models, of course, a close friend of mine used to be one and she's an incredibly interesting person. However, she is not your average model, or person, in fact, and I still believe that if all your friends were models, your life may be a little dull. More often than not, the camera doesn't capture the more important qualities in life and is all too easy to trick with superficialities. It's like parties where everyone looks amazing on the photos aren't usually the best parties. Or the way a beautiful landscape can look a bit flat once you've tried to immortalize it... I think I've proved my point now. So I do hope that you try my new recipe, because even though it may not look like the most beautiful meal out there, it was one of the most delicious I've made in recent weeks and probably the most healthy too...


Aduki beans (soaked overnight and cooked according to packet instructions - aprox 300g
Half an onion
Garlic clove
1 green chilli
2 inches of ginger root
Handful coriander
Juice of 1 lime
Coconut oil
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes or more
1 tsp turmeric
1 tblsp garam masala
Tin of coconut milk
Sea salt

(Handful cooked brown rice to serve if you wish)

Blend the ginger, garlic, onion, turmeric, chilli and a bit of lime juice, either in a blender or by hand with a pestle and mortar like I do (or get LT to do), then fry with the coconut oil. After 5min add the cooked aduki beans and a splash of water, then very soon after, the cherry tomatoes. Cover and allow to fry for about 5min, stirring occasionally. Add the coconut milk and chopped coriander, then cover again and continue frying for 10min. Add the garam masala and salt and keep stiring. Finally, add the lime juice. Either serve this on top of the rice or stir the rice in at the end. Make sure you save any leftovers for lunch the next day, this tastes great at room temperature also