Monday 15 September 2008


When you've stayed up until 4am drinking, chatting, and dancing, a certain type of food is called for. Hangovers usually induce very specific cravings, sometimes a full English, sometimes pizza, yesterday it needed to be something in a bun. We started out debating a trip to gourmet burger kitchen but then remembered Bodean's. We questioned whether we could cope with the bus to Soho but the lure of the pulled pork was too much to resist and it was so worth it.

We pushed open the pig themed door and took a seat. After inhaling our sandwiches, a boston butt (pulled pork with coleslaw) for Chris and a plain pulled pork for me, fries, and pickles, Sunday looked a lot brighter.

Friday 12 September 2008


In July, for my birthday, I was given 'Piri piri starfish' by Tessa Kiros. As with all of Tessa's books the writing and photography are beautiful and, even better, the book panders to one of my aesthetic weaknesses, a good ribbon, in this case a wide blue and white (if you're wondering what my definition of a good ribbon is then it includes colours that work with the book, material not likely to fray too easily, and preferably more than one in a cookery book. The winners so far are the triple colour co-ordinated ribbons in Skye Gyngell's books but this Portuguese flag ribbon comes in close behind).

Despite having the book since July and mentally marking more than a few recipes I only got around to do anything about it earlier this week when I picked out a dish of peas with chorizo and on a whim decided to make chorizo cake to go with it. The book uses the Portuguese 'chourico' throughout but I'm guessing that, unless you are fortunate enough to live near any Portuguese shops, you will be using chorizo as I did.

For the peas you just need to caramelise a finely chopped onion in two tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan, then add a whole garlic clove, a tablespoon of chopped parsley, and about 50g of chopped chorizo. Leave it for a minute or two and add 400g of fresh or defrosted frozen peas, give it a good stir and season then pour in a cup of hot water. It needs to simmer for about ten minutes until the peas are cooked and most of the water has disappeared. Fish out the garlic clove and make two (we had three eggs left in the house so I made three) gaps in the peas and crack an egg in each gap, leave to fry until the white is set and the yellow still soft and serve.

While I was preparing this the cake was cooling. We cut a few slices to have with the peas and it was delicious but almost too much, too cakey, too rich, really the peas don't need anything. We wrapped it up and the next day I took a slice to work and, as sometimes happens, the next day it was so much better. Delicious eaten on its own with no other competing flavours, less dense than the evening before when it had still been warm, just a great desk bound snack. We decided to finish it off alongside some small pots of home made soup that had been living in the freezer, fab.

CHORIZO CAKE from 'Piri piri starfish ---Portugal Found---' by Tessa Kiros
Serves 8-10

5 eggs
100g of melted and cooled butter
5 tablespoons of olive oil
185ml of milk
310g of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
100g of presunto, prosciutto or similar ham, in one thickish slice (I could find none of these so bought some pancetta, fried it and used this instead)
100g of chorizo sausage

Heat the oven to 200˚ C (400˚ F/Gas 6). Butter and flour a large ring tin (the sort you'd make a creme caramel in) or a loaf tin (which is what I used).
Beat the eggs with electric beaters until very fluffy and creamy. Add the butter and oil, whisking in well. Add the milk and flour in alternate batches, mixing the baking powder and salt into the flour. Whisk until you get a smooth batter.
Chop up the ham and chorizo, crumbling it through your fingers to separate any pieces that are stuck together, and stir into the mixture. Scrape into the tin and bake for 35 minutes or so until puffed and golden (if you're using a loaf tin, cook it for 5 minutes longer). Cool a little, remove from the tin and then slice into thick chunks to serve.

Tuesday 9 September 2008


So, I bought a new camera but due to my Amazon one-day delivery taking a few days more than expected I do not yet have the 'plain English' manual that the man in the camera shop recommended and without this, as a dslr virgin, I really do not know where to start so fully automatic point and shoot mode it is. Even in fully automated mode it is so much more fun than using my compact, just the noise is more satisfying. Anyway, stop wittering on about the camera and back to the point at hand, dinner...

Anyone in Britain will know that September has plunged us into Autumn without mercy, the temperature has dropped and it is rain, rain, rain. But am I miserable about this? Actually, I'll say this very quietly, no. I'm actually enjoying the feeling that soon it will be Winter. True, I don't mean I'm looking forward to those cold days that are dark and damp but those that are crisp and clear when your breath is visible and everything sparkles with frost. We aren't there yet but I can feel them coming and am looking forward to digging out my thick jumpers, pulling my Danish felted mohair slipper on, and curling up to anticipate walks in the cold, cooking hearty meals, baking, and, most importantly of all, Christmas (I have already started reading the Christmas sections in all my cookery books).

This wintry feeling drew me to The Kitchen Diaries and the entries for September. On the year in question Nigel had a slightly more Indian Summer but still found himself making a warming courgette and lancashire cheese crumble on a cold September day. I followed in his footsteps with only one change, I used a mix of plain and sweet potato. It's a stress free dish to cook after work and tastes like you are eating a hearty bowl of soup with a cheesy walnut bread but obviously in different, solid, form. I'm sure it would work with other veg too, parsnips, beetroot, swede, turnip, and leeks spring to mind, maybe a scattering of bacon if you are inclined (which I think I will be next time), and I think a strong cheddar would be yummy instead of the lancashire if that's what you keep in the fridge. In Tamasin's Kitchen Bible she says that Nigel Slater is someone who seems to know instinctively what we want to eat. She is so right, on a damp day when Summer in turning into Autumn this is just what you, well I, want to eat.

Tuesday 2 September 2008


Yesterday while taking a little stroll through blogland I found reference to a butternut squash and halloumi salad and thought yum but decided to do a bit more digging via a google search for those same ingredients and very quickly found a butternut squash, beetroot, chickpea, and halloumi salad - oh yum yum yum, all ingredients that I love and a warm salad that moves away from my usual standby of couscous salad. Unfortunately raw beetroot is not the easiest thing to find in the Covent Garden vicinity on a Monday evening, what with the local supermarkets being more geared up to tourists buying packed lunches and workers buying microwave meals, so I had to compromise with buying some cooked beetroot. I know people who have a deep hatred of precooked beetroot (I assume it's a little too close to school dinner beetroot but having never suffered school dinners I manage to avoid these associations) but I like it, granted it isn't the same and granted your salad may be a little less fuschia if you actually roast your own beetroot but it was good with the precooked stuff and if that's all you can find and you want to try this salad (which you should) then go ahead.

The precooked beetroot and my preference for warmed through chickpeas meant that I made a few alterations to the cooking instructions. The fact that two old friends phoned at the exact same time, one for me and one for Chris, meant that everything stayed in the oven slightly longer than necessary but this didn't matter at all, the onions were more caramelised, the squash more softly roasted, the beetroot and chickpeas properly warmed through. If you want your salad a little less enthusiastically pink then maybe try and keep the elements (and by that I mean the beetroot) separate until they reach your plate. I just popped it all into a bowl, dressed it in the oil and spices, added the parsley and served. You can do it your way but if I'm eating at 10pm I tend not to worry too much about pretty, although it's pink and when I was ten everything pretty was pink.


1 butternut squash
4 uncooked beetroot (or precooked and cubed), quartered
1 large red onion
250g halloumi, cut into 1cm cubes
1 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
1 small bunch of parsley, chopped
Olive oil for cooking
Extra virgin olive oil for dressing the salad
Ground coriander

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Peel and dice the squash. Peel the red onion and slice into as many thin wedges as you can manage while keeping the end of the root intact so that the layers don't all fall apart. Quarter the beetroot and wrap them in foil. Put the onion and squash on a baking tray with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast for approximately 40 minutes or until the squash is cooked through and the onions have caramelised. Put the wrapped beetroot in at the same time to roast. When the veg are almost done add the chickpeas (and diced precooked beetroot if using) to the oven to warm through and place the halloumi on top of the squash to soften and turn slightly golden. After about 10 minutes everything should be cooked/warmed through. Add all of the ingredients to a salad bowl, stir in some extra virgin olive oil, some salt and pepper, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and 1-2 teaspoons of ground sumac depending on how much you like it (2 for me). Finally add the chopped parsley and serve. If you want to keep your salad a more normal colour then keep your beetroot separate and add to the plates at the end.