All posts filed under: Food

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 …

seville orange marmalade

Okay, it might be a little late in the Seville Orange season to be taunting you with marmalade. Actually, it’s passed. But taunt I must. It’s just that good. After all, you can always ignore me now and come back next January and February armed with kilos of those marvellously golden-orange globes. I got so excited when I saw them in the market that I gathered them up by the armful. I think I made it home with around 4kgs, not to mention a few blood oranges and ruby red grapefruits for good measure. I love making marmalade. I’ll just say that now – it will explain everything that is to come. There’s just something so soothing about peeling oranges. The bright, sunshine-scented oils mist in the air, making everything smell hopeful and happy – including me. When making the Seville batch, I wafted about on a orange-scented cloud for days. And then there’s the slow, meditative process of boiling, and stirring. It’s just the perfect activity for when it’s freezing cold, with flurries of …

bread baking

More often than not nowadays, there is a smudge of flour somewhere on my person. Usually it’s on the cuffs on my favourite baggy blue cardigan. Sometimes it’s on my face. I’ve gone out with it splashed down my front, like a walking Rorschach test, and with handprints on my butt from where I’ve hastily brushed off the snowy white dust before dashing off a few lines on my laptop, or darting to the oven to check on whatever is currently making my kitchen smell like heaven. You see, I’ve been baking a lot of bread. I’ve made bagels and wheaten bread. Challah and cornbread. And one of my happiest achievements to date – sourdough. Sourdough is a tricksome beast. The first time I tried, it was completely off. More like a dense wholemeal loaf than the chewy, crispy, airated bread I was aiming for. All was not lost, however; the brown doorstop made a pretty decent bread salad (once liberally doused in olive oil and introduced to the grill). The problem – I surmised, …