Sunday 30 June 2013

Summer spaghetti with cherry tomatoes, basil and crayfish

Life is full of unsung heroes - invisible people that make your life better in small ways and don't ask for anything in return. And food is the same. Normally, I don't blog about every little thing that crosses my lips, every ordinary pasta dish or pedestrian pasty, but sometimes you eat something so simple, so ordinary and it's just so bloody perfect that it would be a massive shame to forget about it. Perhaps it's the moment more than the actual dish: waking up after a nap on a hot Summer's evening, starving, still mildly euphoric from a beautiful, intense Saturday night spent getting to know someone new and quite special, having no idea what to eat or how to acquire that food in your dazed and sleepy state, then remembering a conversation from the previous night about simple pasta dishes, and realizing that this is exactly what you need. Then, making the said pasta dish, with love and care, creating something that fulfills all the unspoken needs and desires of that particular day... this is it
It's wholewheat spaghetti, cooked al dente. The sauce is garlic and good cherry tomatoes fried in olive oil, with fresh basil and ground, smoked crayfish, which I buy from the Wholefoods section at Tesco or in a Caribbean shop. Obviously, you need to season the sauce with salt and pepper, and I also added some Caribbean hot sauce at this point and squeezed in half a lemon. Finally, I transferred the spaghetti to the pan with the sauce and fried it all together for a few minutes, making sure all of the pasta was coated, before adding a bit more freshly ground black pepper. Super easy


Wholewheat spaghetti
Cherry tomatoes
Garlic clove
Big handful fresh basil, chopped
Handful ground crayfish
Half a lemon
Caribbean hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Thursday 20 June 2013

Jamaican Summer beer cocktail

This is the most refreshing cocktail I've ever had, perfect for a Summer evening, or even afternoon. It is only beer after all (with the tiniest bit of rum). I adapted the recipe from the one I tried at The Rum Kitchen a few weeks ago, which, incidently, is a really fun place for a night out in West London

1 part ginger beer to 2 parts beer (Red Stripe is obviously ideal)
1 teaspoon (or more) Spiced Rum
Few drops of Angostura Bitters
Lime juice (about half a lime per big glass)

Sunday 16 June 2013

Rummy coconut cake with a cream-cheese lime icing

Although I'm not a massive baker and probably never will be for the simple reason that I prefer savoury food, now and again baking can be really fun. Especially making up your unusual flavour combinations, I love that. Today, I was in a Caribbean mood so the cake was coconut with lime icing washed down with ginger beer cocktails. I will tell you all about the cocktails next time. Today is about the seriously boozy cake I made for my friend Anja's birthday. It's a semi-healthy one, having replaced normal sugar with coconut sugar. I was going to replace the butter with coconut oil, but in the end I got a bit nervous about that and settled on the normal stuff in the mixture, greasing the tin with coconut oil
First, pour the rum over the dessicated coconut to soften it. Melt the butter in a pan on a low heat, then add the sugar and turn the heat off. Beat the two together until they reach a creamy consistency. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence, then start cracking the eggs in. Between each egg add a tablespoon of flour and keep blending. Add the rest of the flour, keep stirring until you get a smooth paste at which point add the rum-soaked coconut. Bake this in a pre-heated over for 45min, on about 180C. Time for the icing: blend the cream cheese, icing sugar, lime juice and remaining vanilla essence until it has the right consistency - I'm sure you know what I mean by that. Once the cake has cooled, ice it and grate some lime zest over the top. It's pretty damn good, especially with the Caribbean-style cocktails I'll blog about in a couple of days. As I don't own a set of scales, the measurements down there are all approximates

250g plain flour, sifted
250g slightly salted butter
4 eggs
250g coconut sugar
200g dessicated coconut
100ml of spiced rum
2 teaspoons of good quality vanilla essence 
200g cream cheese
Juice of 1 lime
100g icing sugar
lime rind to decorate

Monday 3 June 2013

Spicy ginger, chocolate and coconut granola

To fully commit to "city-life" and live happily within in, you need to find your balance. For me, that sometimes means cancelling all my plans and mooching around my flat, having a bath, cooking something I really feel like and painting my nails. The important thing is not feeling pressurized to do stuff. This recipe is for one of those nights, it's super easy and fun to make (it's all about freestyling), and it'll give you tasty breakfasts for about a week if you eat it with fruit and yoghurt
Melt about 5 tablespoon of coconut oil on the stove, grate in an entire nutmeg seed and allow to heat gently for a couple of minutes. Mix in 400g of oats, 50g of toasted coconut flakes. Take off the heat and add the remaining ingreditents: 100g raw cacao nibs and 150g of cubed stem ginger (about a jar of the stuff you get in syrup), then bake in the oven for about 20min at 180 degrees C. Make sure you remember to grease your bakng paper - I didn't and it all got a bit sticky

Sunday 2 June 2013

Roast rhubarb and strawberry pancakes

Pancakes are such a Sunday food. Easy to put together, they're ideal for a lazy brunch or even supper after a hard day of playing on the banks of the river Thames, looking for hidden treasures as I've been doing today (this is not a normal Sunday activity for me by the way). And, of course, they give you that special pancake feeling, you know the one - like "today is a special day"
This is the season for British rhubarb, that strange vegetable-in-disguise that many people don't really know what to do with it. I think that strawberries are it's ideal companion. It's also a good way to use up less-than-satisfactory strawberries, which is what I've been getting a lot of recently. I roasted the two with plenty of good honey for about half an hour, before putting on my pancakes with dollops of yoghurt. I made the pancakes with coconut milk instead of normal milk, and fried them on coconut oil, which is both delicious and super-healthy