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Posts Tagged ‘herbs’

Last week my mum and I went on a last-minute city break to Avignon where we indulged in sunshine, shopping and lots and lots of beautiful food. Since coming back I’ve been on a Provençal cooking kick having been overloaded with inspiration on our mini holiday. Just wandering around the wonderful indoor market is enough to make you want to sell up and move to France: the stalls were overflowing with all manner of heirloom tomatoes; tiny, round green and yellow courgettes; plump purple- and white-flecked aubergines; strings of garlic; fat bundles of fresh herbs and about 20 types of onion. The delis had big bowls of ratatouille to take home and reheat alongside stuffed tomatoes, rabbit stew, individual egg and vegetable flans and roasted meats. Hams and whole salamis hung above mountains of olives and the boulanger oppostie sold crunchy, fresh sourdough bread, fougasse studded with nuts and apple tart by the slice. Other displays contained jewel-like candied fruits, macarons and iced, almond-shaped Calissons from nearby Aix. (more…)

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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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If I could jet off anywhere in the world I think near the top of my list of destinations would be Vietnam. I’d love to ride a scooter around Ho Chi Minh City and take a boat trip around Ha Long Bay. Unfortunately it’s going to be a long time until I can realise my dream so I’m making do by trying my hand at Vietnamese style cooking. This week I’ve been preparing lots of summer or salad rolls for my lunches; they are not only delicious but light, healthy and refreshing: perfect for a hot, muggy day. You can use any vegetables you fancy to make up the little bundles of salad wrapped in delicate rice paper but something raw and crunchy is preferable along with fresh herbs. You can also add meat such as spicy roast chicken and shredded pork, prawns or even tofu or nuts for a protein boost.  (more…)

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For several years before I got married, my mum and I took summer holidays together, sometimes inviting my brother or my now husband to join us for a week or two. Our holidays always went along the same lines, observing our family traditions. We would rent a gite somewhere in rural France – Lac d’Annecy, Brittany, Normandy, Corsica – and spend our time visiting nearby markets, walking, having long relaxed breakfasts in the morning sun and cooking the sort of dishes that she and I love. Stuffed tomatoes is one such dish and would appear at least once or twice per holiday in various guises.

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Whilst sounding like a simple meal to prepare, roast chicken can often turn out to be more of a challenge than first thought. It can be hard to achieve a perfectly cooked balance of moist, tender white meat and properly cooked thigh despite the countless methods and recipes there are floating around the ether. Butter under the skin, lemons in the cavity and bacon bandages are all helpful and add lots of flavour but a sure-fire way to keep your bird juicy is to pot roast it in a pool of flavoursome ingredients. While the chicken wallows in a nice warm bath it soaks up the flavour of any seasonings and vegetables you add and it’s bath water turns into fragrant stock, perfect for a good gravy or soup. (more…)

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Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and fruitful 2012!

New year brings with it a fresh round of resolutions and a recommitment to healthy eating after all that festive indulgence. I’d like to shift the few pounds I’ve gained over the last fortnight but I’m in no particular hurry to dive into salads and raw veggies whilst I’m still in duvet and snuggly hoodie mode. I want comfort food that’s guilt free and tasty to warm and fill me up after I’ve been out in the driving rain playing with my shiny new running watch. I have five months to train for my first ever half marathon but my dedication to yummy food is not going to waver.

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This is a cracking little recipe from the one and only David Lebovitz. A chef renowned for his sweet dishes, he’s also a dab hand at making simple, savoury ingredients shine. I frequently whip up a jar of feta marinated in olive oil, fresh herbs and chillis to consume over the course of the next few days in salads, on bread or, my current favourite, over baked sweet potatoes. At this time of year you can give it as a gift or keep it on hand for an impromptu nibble when friends come knocking.

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