Skip to content

Mieux vaut tard que jamais

Due to major renovations in my flat in London and my new found freedom in Switzerland, I’ve found it quite hard to settle down, both to write for the blog and generally. I’ve been distracted by skiing (on very little snow and in glorious weather), running (up and down a few rolling hills), flying back to London (to see my gorgeous niece and nephew and manage ‘Project Flat’), and cooking (some experimental mishaps with a few minor successes thrown in for good measure).

I’ll be back soon. I have Coconut Panna Cotta to tell you about. It’s worth the wait. Honestly.

Advertisements

For Japan

Japan. 11th March 2010. An earthquake. The subsequent tsunami. As the news unfolds day after day, we have witnessed the horrific impact of this disaster on the Land of the Rising Sun. More than 4,300 people have died, thousands are missing and many many more are now homeless. If you do one thing this week, please donate to the Red Cross Tsunami Appeal

Thank you.

Mon petit chou-fleur

It is about this time of year that I start to long for longer days and a glimpse of sunshine. Winter, be gone! In the kitchen, although I am still looking for comfort food as we slowly ease out of the darkness of this dreary season, I am also keen to try some fresh new tastes and to add some bright colours to my plate.

Well, I have just the thing for it. A comforting cauliflower, combined with juicy tomatoes, some spices and some citrus juice. It’s fresh, it has warmth and it is very different to any curry you will have ever tried before. Plus it’s all made in one pot so less washing-up!

Cauliflower & Tomato Curry
Adapted from Orchards in the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby

Ingredients
1 medium to large cauliflower, cut into florets
500g plum tomatoes, peeled and quartered (method below)
4 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black onion seeds
4cm ginger, peeled and chopped
1-2 chillies, seeds and core removed, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of ½ lemon
Chopped coriander
Salt

Method

Heat the oven to 160 degrees.

Place the tomatoes in a pyrex bowl and cover them in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. Remove and peel. Cut into quarters.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof pan. Once hot add the spices and fry for about a minute, then add in the chilli, garlic and ginger. Fry for another minute. Add the cauliflower and coat with the spice mixture. Once the cauliflower is smothered in the spice mixture, remove from heat. Place the quartered tomatoes amongst the cauliflower.

Add the orange and lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt. Put the pan back on the heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and place in the oven for 50 minutes. Serve with some brown rice.

This post is dedicated to my Grand-Mamy Read more

Done deal

So there you have it. I resigned from my job last week. I am stepping off the treadmill. After six years, nine months, two weeks. Most people leave for another job. I have decided to move to another country. To be with my very patient man and support him in his new business, The Ski Alternative, to start a new life, to discover my true path career-wise. I am going back to my roots, to the country where I was born, where I was brought up. It’s gone full circle.

Years ago, when I first moved to the UK, I never imagined that I would go back to Switzerland. My love affair with London was tumultuous, bank-breaking, yet rewarding, mesmerising, addictive. I was young, enthusiastic, restless. I am still young, but I feel calm now, wiser and realise that, after this amazing rollercoaster of a journey, where you are is not so important, who you are is.

I am incredibly excited by the new direction my life is taking, not least because I’ll be able to contribute to this blog far more frequently (I have to tell you about this amazing Cauliflower & Tomato Curry I discovered!), explore what makes me tick, pursue my interests, learn new skills. I also have a big project, very close to my heart, which I will be working on till the end of the year.

My daily commute will be in a cable car, going up the mountain. 10 minutes. At most.

Tell me about big decisions you’ve made. What made you take the plunge? Did it fulfil your expectations? Do you have any regrets?

Because I can…

I am a creature of habit. I’ll be the first to admit that I like certainty, security, knowing my path… then 2010 changed everything. It cascaded into my life like the most terrifying and unexpected tidal wave. It cut me short, took my breath away, broke me. I was underwater tumbling, overwhelmed by the huge rush of white noise. The darkness of grief, the heartache of someone lost and the resilience I had to find within myself to get through those gloomy hours have changed me. Life is short and from darkness, pain, hurt, can emerge something better. A reinstated vigour for life. And hope. Because without hope, we are nothing. It’s no longer dusk, it’s finally dawn.

2011 is about breaking free, moving out of my comfort zone, finding my true calling and living every day as fully as I can. Because after all, this is it. One journey, no returns, no refunds.

Changes are afoot. Big changes. They’ve been brewing for a while. Slowly. Surely. I promise to tell. Not long now.

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Smokin’

Smoked haddock. Whenever I cook it, it reminds me of my Granny’s house. Westbury Road: with the ominous sounding doorbell, the blue and pink hydrangeas, the patterned carpets, the familiar smell of home, the verdant garden and the badminton matches played on the lawn on balmy summer afternoons. I still dream about that house from time to time, it makes me feel happy and safe.

Whenever Granny made smoked haddock, poached in milk, it felt like a treat. The flaky texture of the fish, the smokiness combined with the saltiness, it is quite simply magnificent. The perfect winter fare. I like it in risotto with leeks: gratifying, nutritious, comforting, just how food should be at this time of year.

Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto
Adapted from roast figs sugar snow food to warm the soul by Diana Henry


Ingredients

10g butter
1 medium leek, sliced finely
125g smoked haddock
450ml of chicken stock (plus some for poaching)
75g risotto rice
20g parmesan, grated

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the leeks for about 15 minutes. Remove any skin from the fish and poach in the stock (make sure it covers the fish). When it’s cooked, leave covered with stock so it stays moist.

Add rice to the leeks making sure it is nicely glazed with the juices. Have your stock simmering on the side and slowly add it, one ladle at a time. Always make sure the liquid is fully absorbed before adding any more. Stir constantly during this process, which should take about 20 mins. Near the end, use some of the stock the fish has been poached in, not too much or it could be too fishy and salty!! Taste as you go along.

When the 20 minutes is up, add tbsp of parmesan and delicately break the fish into chunks and stir into the risotto. Add some black pepper if you wish.

Serves one generously.

Back to basics

Recent times have shown how adversity can bring people together, you recognise you are stronger than you thought you were and from the murky depths you found yourself in, you re-emerge feeling like someone new, a better version of the one who came before.

It has been a dark journey, interspersed with moments of delight, quiet contemplation and learning. It is one journey which I cannot imagine myself not having as part of my life. It is part of who I am, it has shaped me.

This has prompted me to take everything back to basics, to crave simplicity, clean lines and tastes. To start from scratch with solid, plain ingredients.

This soup is all of those things. The first time I made it, I fell in love with it. The texture of the different ingredients, the clean yet comforting taste, the subtlety of it all. It’s all there. It is where I am at now.

Lemon & Spinach Lentil Soup
Slightly adapted from Cook in Boots by Ravinder Bhogal

Ingredients
225g split red lentils
1.5 litres of water
1 knob unsalted butter
Sea salt & ground black pepper for seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic gloves, chopped
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
150g baby leaf spinach

Method
Rinse the lentil until the water runs clear, then put in saucepan with the cold water, butter and the seasoning (be generous). Bring to the boil, cover the pan and cook the lentils for about 20 minutes. You might find foam from the lentils comes to the surface, this is normal, just scoop it out.

Heat olive in a frying pan and cook onion and garlic until soft. Add the lemon zest, cook for a further minute, then set aside.

Once the lentils are tender, put the onions & garlic in the pan and add the spinach. Add the lemon juice and take off the heat.

Serves four.

Love at first bite

You know that recipe you are not quite sure will turn out well, or, in fact, at all. The one which could be quite dull. Or a failure. Or make you curse under your breath. And then out of the blue it comes and blindsides you with its almighty success. BAM! It’s a roaring and cheering crowd, it’s like winning the 100m at school, it’s love at first bite. People, I bring you polpette di spinaci alle nocciole, found on an Italian food blog recommended by a work colleague. The fact it was in Italian wasn’t going to stop me (thank you Google Translate). Don’t let it put you off either. This fabulous blog, Mozza In Carrozza, is a must if you are serious about your food.

Polpette di spinaci alle nocciole
Adapted from Mozza in Carrozza

Ingredients
1 egg
Salt, pepper, oil
A handful of breadcrumbs
100g potatoes
500g spinach
15g chopped hazelnuts
30g grated parmesan

Method
Put the spinach in a colander (you might have to do this in batches) and pour boiling water from the kettle over it. Drain and carefully squeeze out the water. Spread out on kitchen paper if need be and soak up the excess water by patting it with more paper.

Wash and peel potatoes, then cut it into pieces. Cook in boiling water until soft. Drain. Mash the potatoes and mix with the spinach. Add in the parmesan cheese, egg and hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper.

Lightly grease your hands (I use spray oil) and shape the mixture into balls the size of a walnut. Place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the spinach balls with breadcrumbs and then place in a preheated oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

Serves two generously as a starter.

A retrospective: summer of 2010

Yesterday was the last day of summer. Through the lens of my camera, this is the story of the past few months.

English Countryside: Beautiful Oxfordshire

South of France: Restful Provence

London suburbs: Dulwich

Stillness and peace: Switzerland

Statuesque: Greece

Tell me about your summer. Did you see new places? Take up new hobbies? Discover new eateries? Fulfill your goals?

Sweetness & Light

Food is my favourite way to show my love and appreciation of my family and friends. It is all about pleasure; it has always been that way for me and I hope it brings a little bit of happiness to those I cook for.

I also think that making something for someone, if you are able to, is so much more thoughtful than buying it in a shop, ready-made. I’ve made cakes, cupcakes, chocolates and pain d’épices for friends as gifts, and it’s always been well received.

It was my sister-in-law’s birthday at the weekend and I really wanted to make her something bite-size and tasty. Who could resist a combination of dates, pistachios, almonds and honey?

Dates Stuffed with Pistachios & Almonds
Inspired by Food & Travel Magazine

Ingredients
25 dates
100g shelled pistachios
1 tbsp good quality honey
1 tsp good quality rosewater
50g ground almonds

Method

Stone the dates by making a slit lengthways to remove the stone.

Save 25 whole pistachios for decoration. Put the rest in a food processor along with the honey and rosewater. Process until well combined but still with little chunks of pistachios in the mixture so it retains a bit of crunch.

Put the mixture in a bowl and combine with the ground almonds. Carefully stuff the paste in the pre-prepared dates and top with a whole pistachio for decoration.

Place in petits fours cases. Make someone happy.