Tuesday 28 May 2013

Cucumber salad for a rustic bluebell barbeque

I'm going to start by saying something jaw-droppingly controversial: I don't think the weather has been that bad this Spring. There, I said it. OK, it's been massively changeable, we've had rain, we've had sun, and now I've actually caught a cold... but actually when it really mattered, for me at least, it's been nice. Please note that both Bank Holidays have been lovely, with rain either side. During the last one, I decided to have a small barbeque among the bluebells in my garden. I baked bread buns made from a Danish rye flour, mixed with fluffy white flour, bought meat from Ginger Pig, including that sausage spiral down here, and little, multi-coloured peppers that we grilled along with slices of hallumi cheese
And finally, I made an unusual version of the Polish "mizeria' salad, which was pretty great, even if I do say so myself
You slice the (peeled) cucumber paper thin, and cover in salt. After 10min squeeze out any excess water. Chop the onion very finely also and add to the cucumber slices. Blend the sour cream with the chopped dill and pour over the cucumbers. Mix together delicately but thoroughly (you may have noticed that there is an art to this). Crumble a block of feta on top. This salad is good with all meats or just crusty bread, tzaziki-style
We bathed in the sunshine, marveled at the bluebells, drank sangria as usual and stuffed our faces with charred meats, saying how "rustic" it all was and how very sophisticated. Then Mike asked me for a napkin and I handed him the bogroll. Not quite there yet then...


2 Cucumbers
1 red onion
250ml sour cream
Handful chopped fresh dill
Black of feta (250g)
Sea salt

Thursday 23 May 2013

Spicy springtime buckwheat with crunchy vegetables

Can you miss yourself? Because that's how I've felt recently. Tonight was the first proper,  whole evening I've had just chilling by myself for what feels like forever. In the past few months there's been a lot of work, city-travel, late nights, early mornings of coffee and writing,  evening fun with friends and family... but not much quality me-time. Probably also something to do with the fact that my friend Petey was staying on my couch for over two months. So this was the night. I wanted to cook the sort of meal that I enjoy cooking the most; wholesome, spicy, light. Followed by an evening of doing whatever the hell I felt like
There was hardly anything in the fridge and cupboards to cook with and I didn't want to waste my precious me-time in a supermarket, so it was always going to have to be simple. What came out was a dish I've made various versions of in the past, with various grains, vegetables and sauces... but never quite like this. It became a perfected, polished, cookbook-worthy version of itself. Hence, I share it with you. This is not something you'd cook for a dinner with friends, unless they're close enough friends to just chill with. That down there will make about 4 portions. All the vegetables need to be roughly chopped, the buckwheat needs to be cooked according to packet instructions, and we're off


300g (untoasted) buckwheat, cooked 
Small red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot
1 packet cauliflower/broccoli florets or a bit of each, chopped up (could also replace one or the other with a bit of cabbage)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans
3 tablespoons of peri-peri sauce, or another chilli sauce
1 tin of mackerel fillets (in tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon mild curry spices
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat the oil on the biggest frying pan you can find and add the red onion. Fry while stirring. After a few minutes, chuck in the carrot, broccoli and cauliflower bits, then cover and allow to fry on a medium heat for about 6-8min, stirring occasionally. Add the mackerel and the spices. Stir together for a couple of minutes, before adding the tin of tomatoes. Now bring it all to the boil, then turn the heat right now. Cover and allow to simmer for 6-8min. Add the salt, pepper, honey, peri-peri sauce and buckwheat. Mix it all in very well, then cover and cook for a further 5min before serving

Saturday 18 May 2013

Quinoa blackberry porridge for the Spring/Summer breakfast in bed

During my long search for the perfect breakfast, I realized that my reasoning was inherently flawed. What is obvious to me now is that the perfect breakfast depends on the time of year, on where you are on the planet, and where you are in your mind. Whereas in the heat of Thailand the perfect breakfast might be a banana, some watermelon and pineapple with yoghurt and honey, in London in the midst of a long, damp Winter, nothing quite hits the spot for me on a day-to-day basis like congee. However, if you add a party night to mix, then my perfect breakfast suddenly turns into a BLT on ciabatta with mayo and a fresh OJ. As it gets warmer and the berries starting popping out, I start to crave red fruit with porridge or oats with yoghurt. In this in-between period that we have now, warm quinoa with berries is just perfect
The quinoa gives this a lightness that you don't get with oats, and the blackberries give it tang and that specific British flavour. You could just as easily replace them with another soft berry though. I cooked the quinoa in water, then when it was ready, added some goat's milk (I can't drink normal milk anymore), a pinch of salt, lots of honey and the blackberries. I cooked it all until the blackberries fell apart and the milk turned pink and frothy

Tuesday 14 May 2013

The controversial picnic salad

Back when it was Spring, last Monday, we held our annual picnic under the cherry blossoms. The tradition started a couple of years ago with the Japanese Sakura as a model. In Japan they get a day off to relax, eat and drink under the cherry blossoms and this year it worked out that way here, for us, with the perfect day being Bank Holiday Monday. I made a cauliflower and courgette spicy salad with raisins, having no idea how many people object to either cauliflower or raisins in savoury food. Luckily, so many people came that my salad found it's takers (and lovers), but be warned that though delicious, this is the controversial picnic salad. If you have issues with needing approval and wanting everything you do to be liked, then perhaps this salad is not for you
Break the cauliflower into small cubes and use a potato peeler to slice the courgette very finely. Pour some olive oil over both, sprinkle some sea salt and grill, turning occasionally, until nicely browned for about 6-8min (depending on your grill). You want the vegetables to be ever so slightly charred. Remove from the grill and immediately add a tablespoon of mild curry powder (I used the Jamaican stuff), some raisins and squeeze a lemon over the top. Eat in the sun, washed down with sangria. Hula hoop optional