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Archive for the ‘Side dish’ Category

It’s been a busy old few weeks round here, especially the weekends which have been full of sanding and varnishing floorboards and a day-long haul to Ikea where we finally ordered a shiny new kitchen! We’ve been working like the clappers to get everything ready before the cabinets arrive on Friday (Ikea’s lead time is ridiculously quick). Doors have been hung, skirting board painted and worktop samples ordered; my kitchen is finally starting to come together but rather than feeling excited I’ve been immersed in a sense of blind panic. Foreboding questions are doing laps round my mind. What if it turns out I’ve chosen the wrong combination of cabinets? Is the worktop really going to be too low? Where is all the food going to live? How will I ever find a sink I actually like and can afford? Or a tap? When I find it’s all getting a bit too much I head into my temporary kitchen 1) to remind myself that even if the final product’s not perfect, it’s better than what I’ve got at the moment and 2) to get stuck into some baking which, in the most part, is my favourite way to relax.

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When you have good butter you really need some good bread to enjoy it with. In such cases bread and butter becomes a real treat. When I was little Mum would feed my brother and I bread and butter as a snack if we said we were hungry – it’s good wholesome food for growing kids but not exciting enough that we’d ask for it when we weren’t really hungry. I used to love having a piece of hot buttered toast with a glass of milk before bed and, although I’ve long since given up bedtime snacks, I still enjoy my bread and butter. I spoiled myself to some wonderful raw butter from Isigny-sur-mer, it’s so creamy, almost a little farmy in flavour, and is flecked with big, crunchy grains of sea salt from Guérande. I’ve been happily spreading it on the lowliest of bread including the scraps of crust leftover from my blackberry and sloe gin puddings but I can’t help but feel it deserves something more. Something with a little more sophisticated than a slice of Hovis. (more…)

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At this time of year where late summer drifts into early autumn and warm, sunny afternoons are punctuated by misty mornings and a slight chill in the air I find myself feeling very happy and content with my lot. I’m looking forward to snuggly winter which will bring a family wedding, my birthday and, hopefully, a finished kitchen. But I’m jumping ahead; there’s so much to enjoy in these harvest months. The squirrels I can see from the window are busy scampering about preparing for winter. Veggie boxes are brimming with goodies and the hedgerows are laden with hazelnuts, sloes and blackberries which I need to hurry up and pick before the Devil spits on them on the 29th!

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It’s been a crazy few weeks around here with lots more work happening to the house (unfortunately not in the kitchen) and a big helping of overtime to help afford some of the new cabinets we need to order. Who knew that taking a week off work would actually entail more work than the office job? With all that’s been going on I’m afraid I’ve let my cooking go by the wayside reverting to simple, slightly boring dishes and whatever’s left in the freezer. So please forgive me for posting something I’ve had lurking around on my PC for a little while. It’s a lovely little recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s column in the Guardian which goes perfectly with barbequed meats or some simply baked fish, no fuss required. The only reason it’s been lurking so long is the frankly, pretty pathetic photos which do this salad no justice.

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I love cooking vegetables on the barbeque and, even though I’m an omnivore, I’m quite happy to stick to vegetarian options when we get the grill out. The tendency (for me at least) is to make the most of the occasion and overeat so vegetable based options seem the way to go since they are usually a bit lighter than a slab of meat. I also love throwing halloumi on the BBQ, it’s texture transforms from tough to soft and  pleasently chewy and it’s salty flavour goes so well with charred veggies. It’s worth tracking down good halloumi made with sheep or goat’s cheese which has a much better flavour and texture than the stuff made with cow’s milk but, should you stuggle to find any, the marinating step makes even the mass-produced cheese taste good.

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This recipe was one of those off-the-cuff type things which I threw together one evening when I spent a little to much time wondering what to do with a bag of dinky little Chantenay carrots. Happily enough it turned out to be rather nice and I have repeated it since turning my salad into a lunch dish by mixing the sticky-sweet roasted carrots with a heap of lentils and topping them off with a crumbling of salty feta. The earthy flavour of the carrots is lifted by a sharp mustard and lemon dressing which also serves to cut through their concentrated honeyed sweetness. Toasted hazelnuts lend a some textural interest and their buttery taste plays along well with the rest of the dish. (more…)

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When I lived in Italy I shared a flat with my good friend from university and two lovely Italians. Over the year there was a lot of cultural exchange as the Italians introduced us to the best of their country: gelato, good coffee, piadine; and the Brits tried to dispel the myth that our food is terrible. We baked hearty cottage pies and stuffed our suitcases with crumpets, cheddar, Marmite and all the necessary items for a proper cream tea. For her birthday our Sicilian flatmate wanted a taste of home and decided to make arancini, deep-fried rice croquettes, a speciality from her home island that often feature at special occasions. She called her mother to get the family recipe and then we gathered round our dining table for the afternoon while she patiently taught us the correct method to make them. (more…)

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