All posts filed under: Food

cured lemons

My pickling and preserving ambitions have now exceeded the limitations of my fridge. There are jars of dilly pickled carrots. Homemade limoncello. Seville marmalade, of various sorts and peel stripes (grapefruit, lime, blood orange – oh my!). The old bars of my fridge shelves are sagging under the weight. And I can’t stop. There are too many things to make. One of my favourites, which has been out of commission for a while, are the cured lemons from The Palomar Cookbook, gifted to me a few Christmases ago by my brother and his girlfriend. The Palomar itself is a restaurant in London serving the food of modern Jerusalem, by way of North Africa, Spain and the Levant. And the book – a labour of love, with input, recipes, and techniques from different members of the team – is a collection of some of the restaurant’s great dishes. Some you might recognise, like labneh and fattoush, others you might not, but you’ll soon clamour to make, like the scallop carpaccio with “Thai-bouleh” (which swaps out lemon …

creamy pumpkin rigatoni

At this time of year, I invariably have odd half cups of pumpkin puree leftover from making pancakes, waffles, and the like. This year I even played around with a pumpkin pie ice cream, which was, in the end, really rather tasty. So a pumpkin overflow isn’t exactly the worst problem to have. In fact, come lunchtime, it’s often the best ingredient for a fast, seasonal and, most importantly (at least on cold, dreary days), warming meal. This takes about as long as your pasta takes to cook. While it bubbles away, you can hover near the stove assembling and stirring the sauce, and enjoying the balmy heat of the kitchen (a boon when your flat refuses to acknowledge that the heat is on full whack). You’ll notice that much of this is “to taste” – from the amount of nutmeg to the parmesan. Embrace that. Grab a spoon and taste as you go. After all, the oven’s on and it’s a nice warm place to be. Maybe you want your pasta extra cheesy today? …

duck and bulgur salad with feta

Packed full of herbs, earthy from the bulgur, with a slow sharp slap of creamy zing from the feta, this is a memorable salad that’s just right for this time of year. It’s been, as the Scots say, dreich for days now. Low grey skies and clumps of wet leaves as far as the eye can see. But I love this kind of weather. It smells good outside, fresh, like everything’s getting a good scrub. Getting right to the quick. Finding myself in need of a lunch for one, and a break from work, which was causing me not a little amount of stress, I decided to bring together a few ingredients for a nourishing meal. To take a proper break to make something that would taste good and make me feel great. The result is an autumnal meal, slightly nutty from the fine brown bulgur, and rich from the duck, but one that’s light and fresh nonetheless. A meal that makes the rest of your day feel full of promise. I don’t recommend cooking …

tahini toast with apple and cinnamon

This is one of my perfect autumn breakfasts. And although I’m writing about it here, it’s hardly a recipe. More of a suggestion of how to assemble a pretty cracking piece of toast. Basically, spread some good sourdough toast thickly with tahini, layer on some thin (thin) slices of fresh apple, and then sprinkle it all with ground cinnamon and crunchy Maldon salt. Eat with a hot cup of coffee alongside and just wait – everything in the universe will align in that bite, and everything will feel good, and warm, and autumnally-suffused with spice. This is a simple dish, and as such, you will taste all the elements involved. That’s kind of the magic. You get the crunch from the bread, and the savoury pop from the snowy flakes of good salt (hello, Maldon, you delicious beast). The warm freshness of the apple balanced by the smooth nuttiness of the tahini. And then cinnamon wrapping it all in scent and spice. So, pay attention to what you use. Starting with the bread: I would …

summer pea, pancetta, and parsley soup

This dish will henceforth be known as the “three ps soup” in my house, both because it seems fitting, and because it’s a sister dish to my “four ps pasta”. But the latter does require a little explanation, if you’ll allow for a small detour from soup to pasta. The four ps pasta is one of the most memorable foods from my childhood. My mum would make it, without a recipe (although I do believe it originally started with Claudia Roden), seeming to conjure happiness out of a few fridge and storecupboard ingredients. To my hungry eyes, it seemed like my mum was in possession of the most entrancing kitchen magic as the house would fill with savoury-scented clouds of sizzling bacon, the hug-like fug of simmering chicken broth. Served in big bowls, with a little bit of brothy sauce, it has all the charm and healing powers of chicken soup, but with pancetta. Yum. Peas give it sweetness. Parsley a little earthy grassiness. And the fourth p? Well, that’s parmesan – unleash a few …

buttermilk beignets

It’s my birthday this week, and it falls on a Sunday. First, this is incredibly exciting – I love my birthday. I love other people’s birthdays. I love them all. A day to celebrate the people you love with food and presents? And then a day to get food, presents, and love? What’s not to excitedly bounce up and down in anticipation of about that? But argument could be made that Sundays are also my favourite days. So it’s a double whammy. They speak of pjs and papers. Hot coffee and pottering about the house in socked feet. Brunch and, more specifically, beignets. Making beignets has been a revelation, born out of my recent obsession with the food of the American South. You make a dough the night before and the next morning, after a little oil heating and dough rolling, you’re in for crispy, fluffy, sugary perfection with your Sunday morning.   J and I have been known to make a platter of these, liberally snowed with icing sugar and plonked down on the …

almond, manchego, and green olive bites

There are few food rituals I love more than aperitivo. Cocktail hour. It’s the in-between time. The day is ending, the night is beginning. It’s a time for talk. For laughter. For food. Whether it’s a stiff G&T and peanuts in an English garden on a sunny evening, or a vibrantly-coloured Aperol Spritz and a few olives on a cobbled street in Bologna as the lights twinkle on, you can’t really go wrong. J and I have reproduced this ritual many a time. It’s a treasured holiday tradition, and an elegant everyday treat. We’ve enjoyed it with our families. In far-flung places. Sitting in a sunny patch on our living room floor, like cats stretching out in a puddle of sunshine. It’s not fancy – that’s kind of the point. You don’t need much to throw together a pleasing nibble feast. You need a good drink, something you love. Some radishes. A small bowl of nuts. Some rosy, languorous lengths of proscuitto. A few olives. And, in my opinion, these compelling little bites. They’re ridiculously …

lime and chicken rainbow salad

I‘d like to say I’m the kind of cook that never feels like ordering a takeaway. That fresh, nourishing (if indulgent) food is the name of the game in my kitchen. But that would be… an untruth. Having had a surplus of tired evenings when my brain was wrung out and rewards were necessary, the takeaway drivers of South Glasgow were indeed summoned to my door bearing hot, naughty aluminium- and cardboard-encased dishes from far and near. And, let it be said, I have no regrets. However, in the bright light of day, I’ve been craving something that sets the balance to rights. It’s all very well and good to yield to temptation on occasion (and doesn’t it just feel great?), but the body wants it wants. And mine wanted zing. That mouth-puckering freshness that comes from citrus. The cleansing crunch of fresh veggies. And chicken because, well, who doesn’t love chicken? Having some leftover Zuni roast chicken and an overflowing citrus bowl that boasted a whole host of gleaming globes – including limes – …

peanut butter crisscrosses

Peanut butter is a fairly new discovery for me. We’d circled each other warily for years. I’d seen jars of the stuff swirled with jelly and wanted to like it. Heard about the PB&J but just couldn’t get on board. But then, seemingly through sheer force of will, I started to like it. Now? Can’t get enough of the stuff. My favourite way to eat it: liberally spread in the crevasse of a celery stick and doused with hot sauce. I have been informed that this is something of a peculiarity of mine. An aquired taste, if you will. Happily, these cookies are not. They’re crowdpleasers if ever there were ones. Softly crispy, with a pleasing chew, and a really moreish mix of sweet and salty. While they won’t be as crispy on day 2 (cookies are always going to be best the day you bake them), as long as you keep them in an airtight container, the soft chew remains, and they won’t change much beyond that. Yum. The recipe is adapted from The …

courgette carbonara

Now, let’s get this out of the way first, the name of this dish is likely to cause consternation with Italians – Romans, in particular. Obviously, the only true carbonara is an actual carbonara. But I was faced with a dilemma: what do you call a pasta dish that utilises the basic components of a carbonara, but which actually uses courgette instead of pancetta (or guanciale)? Carbonara sans meat? Courgette pasta? Spring rigatoni? Nah. I’m just calling this like I see it – this is a courgette carbonara. By the way, you won’t miss the crisp chew of pancetta nubs in this. You can take my word for it – I have a true and lasting love for anything that even remotely resembles bacon. Lardons (yes). Pancetta (yes). Actual strips of bacon (hell yes). What I can’t abide, incidentally, are those freeze-dried bacon bits that somehow keep finding their way into jacket spuds. I mean, come on. There are so many better things to put inside a fluffy spud: baked beans and cheese, creme fraiche …