Tuesday 20 December 2011


Last year I made three jars of mincemeat, I chopped apples and stirred them together with dried fruit, candied peel, chopped almonds, suet, citrus zest, juice and a slug of calvados. I love these quiet processes at Christmas, the smells that permeate the flat, turning the jars, waiting. But every year, there is still mincemeat to use and this year, conscious of the two jars sitting at the back of the cupboard, two jars that have been merrily sitting in their calvados coating for over a year now, I spotted a recipe for cookies. Cookies that would use up a large jar of mincemeat in one go, cookies that taste slightly boozy, like mince pies without the heft. I rolled the dough into a log and popped it in the freezer, there were cookies at the weekend, cookies to take to work, I think I'll bake the last of the cookies today.

Now I just have to use up those eleven bananas currently taking a lengthy residence in the freezer...

Thursday 8 December 2011


November was a whirlwind. We went to work, came home, checked orders and emails, addressed envelopes (not to self: buy printer), wrote customs forms, filled out postage certificates, went to sleep, woke up, carried parcels to the post office, went to work, came home, checked orders... and, somehow, just over four weeks after launching the book it sold out. I can't really process it; how many times we went to the post office, the idea that it is now sitting in homes all around the world, that we did it.

In those four weeks we ate too many meals on the sofa but in the few days after the last parcel was sent we sat at the table again. And, when Sunday came, I pulled out a new book, went to the bowl that has been filled with clementines for a few weeks now, we both eat two, sometimes three, every day at this time of year, turned the oven on and baked. We had scrambled eggs for lunch, clementine and oat muffins in the afternoon and roast chicken for dinner.

Wednesday 2 November 2011


I can't concentrate today.

We woke up this morning to emails asking when the book would be available.

We drank coffee and added the stock to the website and now sales are coming in.

Thank you to everyone for your support, I get a little misty eyed thinking about the retweets, the facebook posts and the lovely congratulations card from our friend Claire, and now, seeing people from all over the world buying the book, well it's a little overwhelming. So, for now, I'll just enjoy this feeling, I'll stop, eat one of the flapjacks I made on Monday night and enjoy this moment.

Friday 28 October 2011


We've been working on something this year.

Once upon a time we thought we might open a bookshop, a beautiful space with open shelves. But then, we talked about the shop and we started to talk about publishing our own books to sell in the shop and, as time went on, we stopped talking about the shop and just talked about books.

For the past year most of the talking has been about this book.

We've been working on it with Brian for almost a year and now, even though it still doesn't quite feel real, we're ready. We have a website and next Wednesday, the 2nd of November, we'll start to sell the books. The first edition is limited to 500 copies. We love it, we hope you do too.

Tuesday 25 October 2011


We spent the weekend before last in London with friends.

We knew that dinner plans had been made, we knew we would have a chance to chat and walk and laugh and eat and see an exhibition.

What we didn't know was that the sun would shine for almost the entire time, that we would sit outside drinking coffee, that we would eat a Lebanese wrap on a park bench, an Ottolenghi cake on a street in Notting Hill. We didn't know that that we would eat some of the finest fried eggs we have ever tasted, that that doughnut would be talked about for the rest of the day. It was a grand way to spend a weekend.

And when we got back it was Chris's birthday. We drank coffee, ate lunch at Broughton Deli (ham, gruyere and onion marmalade crepe for me, ramen for him), walked into town. That evening we toasted to 32 with Chris's parents and with the promise that on Saturday we would do the same again with his parents, sister, brother-in-law and now almost two year old niece.

On Saturday I woke up, turned the oven on and started grating carrots.

I meant to use the food processor but sometimes tired brains and food processors do not go well together so I pulled out my fine microplane and I grated.

And grated.

And grated.

It took a little longer than I bargained for.

But, and this is crucial, I think I'll stick with it for future carrot cakes. Without the thick strands of carrot the texture was light and the sponge brightly orange. The cake cooled as I stirred the icing, tasting as I went and ending up with a pleasantly cream cheesy icing, slightly sour, not too sweet.

Carrot Cake
From Breakfast, Lunch and Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery by Rose Carraini

I used two 20cm (8 inch) tins instead of the one 23cm tin specified and found that the baking time and icing quantity were just right.

unsalted butter, for greasing
4 eggs
225g caster sugar
300ml sunflower oil
9 medium carrots, finely grated
300g plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
150g finely chopped walnuts

For the icing
125g unsalted butter, softened
250g cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
50-75g icing sugar, depending on how sweet you like your icing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Butter a 23cm (9 inch) cake tin and line its base with parchment paper.

Beat the eggs and caster sugar until they are light and fluffy but not too white and meringue-like.

Pour in the oil and beat for a few more minutes.

Fold in the carrots and then the flour with the cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Finally fold in the walnuts.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the tin before taking it out.

To make the icing, beat the butter with the cream cheese for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth.

Add the vanilla extract and icing sugar.

When the cake is cold, ice the top with the icing.

Serves 8-10.

Tuesday 4 October 2011


I had been meaning to make David Lebovitz's brownies for a while. I had printed out the recipe and stuck it in the pile that lives wedged into one of the bookshelves meaning to make them one day, maybe when friends came over, maybe to take to work, maybe just because I needed brownies. I finally made them last night. I lined a tin with buttered foil, I melted butter and chocolate, stirred in sugar and vanilla, beat in a little flour. I baked them for 30 minutes and left them to cool. And then, instead of sitting down with a brownie and a glass of milk I sliced them up, packed them into two plastic tubs, wrapped them up and sent them to my brother for his birthday. All I tasted was a corner that wouldn't fit into a tub, it was amazing, and now all I can think is 'brownie, brownie, brownie'.

Andrew, I hope you enjoy them but, damn, I wish I had kept one for myself.

Wednesday 21 September 2011


Painting my nails red on a Saturday morning and still not having any chips by Tuesday.

Picking out six sausages at the butcher and being given an extra one to try for free.

A vase.

Feeling a project coming together.

A book on my bedside table.

Heading to the park to sit on a bench and climbing a big hill instead.

Picking out some recipes for the week from a new favourite.

Quinoa with courgettes and onions
(From River Cottage Veg Every Day!, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

800g courgettes
a knob of butter
2 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
3 onions, halved and finely sliced
leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g quinoa
a good handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
a squeeze of lemon juice
50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the courgettes on the diagonal into 5mm thick slices. Melt the butter with the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, courgettes, thyme and some salt and pepper. Cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the courgettes are tender and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa well in several changes of cold water and put into a saucepan covered with plenty of cold water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the long white kernels are coming away from the seeds. Tip into a sieve and leave to drain and steam a little to reduce the excess moisture.

Add the drained quinoa to the courgettes, along with the chopped parsley and lemon juice. Stir well, then taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts.

Serves 4.

Friday 16 September 2011


We don't have dramatic shifts when the seasons change round here. No blazing summer sunshine to give way to bright reds and golds, no swimming in lakes and rivers, no endless days of sandals, skirts and suntan lotion. Instead there were a few glorious July days at the beach, daylight lingering until it was time for bed, an August of rain and sodden tourists and now September.

After weeks of trying to dress for summer with a side portion of 'and an umbrella and a jacket and a scarf just in case' it's almost welcome. I've bought new cardigans, a jumper dress and boots. We've fallen asleep on the couch under the blanket that we lugged back from Portland. I'm still trying to get by without socks but as I sit here typing my feet are cold and I'm about to admit defeat.

The food has changed. There are still the salads and pastas that we rely on almost every week but they've been joined by mince cooked slowly with grated root vegetables, poached chicken to keep us in broth and leftovers. I'm starting to think about shepherd's pie. It feels good, I'm ready to hibernate.

And this week, as the evenings started to get darker and the air cooler I wanted to bake, so, on Tuesday, while we pulled together dinner, I mashed and stirred and spooned into muffin cases and later, curled up under that blanket with a mug of tea and a muffin it felt like Autumn.

Chocolate Banana Muffins
From Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home, Nigella Lawson

3 very ripe or overripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
100g soft light brown sugar
225g plain flour
3 x 15ml tablespoons best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 x 12-bun muffin tin

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and line a muffin tin with papers. Mash the bananas and, still beating and mashing, add the oil followed by the eggs and sugar. Mix the flour, cocoa powder and bicarb together and add, beating gently, to the banana mixture, then spoon it into the prepared papers. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be dark, rounded and peeking proudly out of their cases. Allow to cool slightly in their tin before removing to a wire rack.

Makes 12.

Friday 19 August 2011


The hard drive died. Properly. As in nothing left. No music. No documents. No PDFs. No Photos. That last one hit me like a punch to the stomach. No Photos. No Santorini. No Chicago. No Boston. No New York. No Christmas when it was just the two of us. I need to stop writing before the ache comes back but suffice to say there were tears. I was off work that day, had been to see Harry Potter and had shed numerous good cinema-going tears but these were big bad tears. They were 'oh shit, I'm on George Street and my face is wet where can I hide' tears. Grim. So it's time to gather any that are left. The ones on CDs that came from film, the few that were printed and put into an album, any we emailed to friends over the years and here, a few from our trips. A few that I chose to share in this space. A few that I've just spent five minutes happily copying and remembering.

Tuesday 9 August 2011


I can't focus today. Last night we watched the live news from 7pm until about 12.45am. We watched the news and flicked between email, facebook and twitter while texting friends to make sure they were all at home and safe. Our old neighbourhood was only protected by the local Turkish shop and restaurant owners, so many others weren't as lucky. I can only shake my head at how this can happen and hope that it stops now.

Monday 8 August 2011


Have you read Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman? I bought it after reading this piece on Project Subrosa, starting it yesterday morning, sitting in London, drinking coffee, nodding in agreement, laughing. I finished it on the train late last night, trundling back to Edinburgh, thankful that I share my life with someone who doesn't assume that keeping the flat clean is my job (which is useful as I'm not terribly good at the whole tidiness thing), but still recognising myself in so much of this book, this conversation about why we make life so hard for ourselves and for each other. It reminded me why it is so important to say that we, each and every single one of us, men and women, are feminists, because if we say we aren't then we say we don't care about our rights, our rights to vote, to speak, to write, to think.

Tuesday 2 August 2011


There were chocolate chip cookies this weekend.

There were other things too. A visit from a friend, a picnic, a walk on a sandy beach, paddling, roast chicken, wine, beer, and hills. Leisurely morning cups of coffee, laughs, photos, sunburn on the back of my neck. But the chocolate chip cookies. These chocolate chip cookies. Those chocolate chip cookies. The ones that everyone made back when the recipe first appeared. The ones that sparked questions about whether it really helps to let the dough sit in the fridge for so long after it's made. The ones that were so good it made me a little sad when we ate the last of them sitting around the kitchen table at 2am. When they were warm they were rich, possibly too rich. I preferred them when they had cooled, still chewy, a tang from the sprinkling of sea salt before baking.

I should say now that I followed Molly's version of the original recipe, scooping the dough as soon as it was made, using plain flour instead of the mix suggested, dark chocolate chunks instead of hunting for anything fancier.

We ate them while catching up on Friday night, after a picnic on Saturday, cookie in one hand and strawberry in the other, and late that night after dinner at home and beers in our favourite bar. I made a half batch but now I'm wishing there were twelve little mounds of dough stashed in the freezer waiting to be baked.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite, and Jacques Torres

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour (or do as I did and use 17 oz. of plain flour instead of the mix)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content
sea salt

Combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Using a mixer cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. (To avoid flour flying everywhere I usually go slowly, adding the flour a bit at a time rather than all in one go.) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. Using a standard-size ice cream scoop (or a packed 1/4 cup) scoop the dough onto a tray or plate that will hold about two dozen dough portions in a single layer. Cover tightly with cling film, and chill for 24 to 36 hours - and up to six days.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Line a baking sheet with baking parchment or a nonstick baking mat.

Place six mounds of dough on the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.

Friday 22 July 2011


The computer drama continues and, on top of the grey screen/flashing folder/no entry sign issues, our hard disk is now apparently making the click of death. Oh good.

So, last night we dealt with the problem in the best, or only, possible way. We went to our local, we drank four large bottles of German beer, we ate pickled onion flavour crisps. It helped. Briefly.

But now it's Friday, we have an appointment with a genius on Sunday, there are Scottish strawberries waiting patiently to be made into jam and, with just an iphone photo snapped before dinner, this. A few small links and a very simple salad.

my favourite German beer

pickled onion crisps (a recent addiction)

pretzel m&ms (I miss them)

Fruit, the new River Cottage handbook

A Cook's Year in a Welsh Farmhouse

this potato salad which I will be making now that I have Old Bay seasoning in the cupboard

a green bean salad from David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke which we made for dinner on Wednesday night, eating vinegary beans alongside mustardy chicken breasts

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Shallots

3 large shallots
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 pounds small green beans, topped and tailed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon finely slivered chives

Peel the shallots and slice crosswise. Put them in a small bowl, season well with salt and pepper, add the vinegar. let sit for a half hour.

Boil the green beans in a large pot of salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until just past crunchy. Spread them out to cool. Just before you serve the salad, put the green beans in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Whisk the olive oil into the shallots and vinegar, then add the dressed shallots to the beans. Toss well, transfer to a platter or serving bowl, and sprinkle with chives.

Tuesday 19 July 2011


Our computer has died. Maybe. There's a grey screen and a no entry symbol. We're not sure what it's doing but we know it isn't good. And, in the midst of googling 'mac grey screen', this morning I realised that if I didn't write about this cake now and waited until we have visited the genius bar and handed over wodges of cash for aforementioned genius to fix the computer and return it to us with everything intact and no harm done (that's how it works, right?) then there was probably no point until I could try it with different berries or until strawberries come back and if I wait that long I think we all know that you will never hear about it so all that to say that I can manage a post but not photos, for those you'll have to look at the original recipe and trust me when I say that a slice of this cake with topped with double cream is a very pretty thing.

The day we got home from holiday (two weeks ago now, sigh) I spoke to Mum, we chatted about what we had done and what they had done and she asked me whether we had plans for my birthday, for turning 32. I would be taking the day off but as Chris needed to work I had planned a quiet day. Maybe a manicure, maybe a film. The next morning, as I tried to keep my eyes open at work, Mum texted to say was I still free, was I sure we hadn't made plans, did I think it would be a good idea for her to fly up the day before my birthday and stay until the day after, could she stay at our flat. Obviously I said yes, yes, yes and, of course, yes.

After a Saturday spent listening to thunder and watching the rain I woke up on Sunday with a plan for dinner and a plan for pudding and headed out. Mum arrived later that afternoon and we headed to a bar for gin and tonic and a chat. We walked home and I started to make dinner, the poached chicken I have mentioned before, its soft comfort perfect for days when the raindrops bounce and the thunder has made you jump. And then there was pudding, a sweet plain cake with halved strawberries placed, cut side down, on top and sugar sprinkled over. A cake to eat plain or, as we did, dolloped with thick Jersey double cream.

Strawberry Summer Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the tin
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) caster sugar*
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

*I reduced the cup of sugar by about a tablespoon following Deb's suggestion that the cake was a little too sweet for her

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and butter a 9-inch springform cake tin (you could also use a 10-inch pie plate or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate).

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add the dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into the prepared tin and arrange the strawberries, cut side down, on top of the batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the berries.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F/165°C and bake the cake until it is golden brown on top and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let it cool in the tin on a rack. Cut into wedges and serve with cream, either lightly whipped or double and dolloped.

Friday 8 July 2011


We arrived back home on Tuesday, high on life from 16 nights of Seattle, Portland and New York. In love with the Pacific Northwest and jealous, jealous, jealous of the markets, the restaurants, the skies, the water.

We started our time in Seattle with jet lag, oysters, cocktails, and pizza. We finished with pastries and a train journey. Along the way were lunches and dinners, strawberry shortcake and shrimp, a day on the boat, an unexpected wave, a moccasin full of water, a picnic, and, happily, more pizza. There were walks and cuddles with a small dog, time on the deck, around the table. There was a raccoon, a bald eagle, and even a dinosaur (can you spot it?).

I suspected that I would fall hard for Seattle.

I did.

Wednesday 15 June 2011


Well I did it. It took 7 hours and 15 minutes to walk 26.2 miles. Everything hurt and I slept for most of the day on Sunday but I did it and so far have raised £616.20 so a huge thank you to everyone who sponsored me. Now the aches and pains have subsided and I'm just left to battle a cold and get through the last few days at work before we pack our bags and head off for 16 nights to see Seattle, Portland and New York.

But until then I've been meaning to share a Summer list, some things I want to do over the next few months. I'm leaving anything holiday related off because it would be far to easy to fill a list with Stumptown coffee, trips (yes, multiple) to Shake Shack, pizza from Delancey, and pork buns from Momofuku (though that sounds like an incredible list). No, it seems only right that this should be a list for Summer in the UK.

turn 32
sit and eat lunch outside as often as I can
make jam
visit Little Sparta
drive to a Scottish beach with a picnic
make homemade pizza because I can't remember the last time I did
bake a cake with strawberry icing
send postcards
wear sunglasses and sandals
make friendship bracelets
eat pancakes for breakfast
take lots of instant photos

Friday 3 June 2011


The first time I hard from Rachel she commented on a blog post.

For a while we went backwards and forwards. I read about her life in Italy, she read about my life in London. I'm not sure when we realised that we probably had, have, quite a lot in common. All I know is that we now have a long standing agreement to someday, one day, meet up for a gin and tonic (although that may recently have morphed into a negroni at St John).

I've been reading, and watching as her readership (quite rightly) grows, as she posts stories from Rome always with a recipe which always have me saying that I must, must, must make that. But, maybe because I am forgetful, or maybe just because of recipe overload, all those musts have never translated into anything tangible.

Until yesterday.

Until we had asparagus in the fridge and a plan for pasta.

Until I left the office at lunch and suddenly remembered a dish of farfalle with peas and asparagus that Rachel had posted before peas and asparagus had appeared here, before we had had even a whiff of Spring.

So, yesterday, Chris and I met after work and sat in the sun for a little while. We bought some shopping, got the bus home. We sat at the table and podded peas, sneaking a few raw peas here and there. We steamed some asparagus, sauteed the peas added asparagus to peas and let them cook with a little water for longer than seems right in this age of al-dente. We smooshed some of the peas and asparagus against the side of the pan and, after about 12 minutes, stirred them through farfalle. We added basil, pepper, parmesan and, when all that was left was a greenish hue to the plates, we decided that we would make that again. Soon. While peas and asparagus are still here.

Thursday 2 June 2011


I just had to pop back to check that you're all reading Canal House Cooks Lunch? The idea of bacon and rocket on toast with a beer for lunch is killing me.


A top

To wear with nail polish,


these shoes,

and probably my current favourite jeans from here which used to belong to Chris and are now well and truly mine.

Monday 16 May 2011


Two weeks ago we walked for 13 miles on a sunny Sunday. We tok a bus to Balerno on the southern edge of Edinburgh and headed for a pathway that runs all the way to Leith.

Yesterday we walked for 16 miles on a soggy Sunday morning. It was breezy and a little damp but we kept going. Down the road, across a park, through Stockbridge, along a river, into the city, past the castle and over to the palace, around a windswept extinct volcano, through a park, back past the castle, and down down down and along to the flat. Then we made lunch, collapsed and watched seven episodes of Mad Men.

In two weeks we'll be walking for twenty miles.

Then, two weeks after that, on the 11th June, I'll be having a very quiet Saturday. I'll be eating porridge for breakfast and probably pasta for lunch. I'll be resting. I'll be slathering vaseline on my feet and pulling on my leggings, socks and trainers. And on top? Well on top I'll be wearing a bra. I'll have a fleece in case it gets cold but mostly it will just be the bra. The bra I have yet to decorate. The bra that shows that I, along with 10,000 others, will be walking either a half-marathon or full-marathon from midnight to raise money for breast cancer. I'm doing the full 26.2 miles. I'll be walking through the night and then, come Sunday morning, after Chris has collected me from the finish line and has helped me up the two flights of stairs to our flat, I will fall into bed and dream of the following weekend, of boarding a plane, of meeting up with friends, of holidays.

If you would like to you can sponsor me online here. Last time, in my felt watermelon slice bra, I raised £720 and, at 6am, when my body was giving up and my legs were on auto-pilot I reminded myself of that money and what it would be used for and it helped.

Friday 6 May 2011


I've told you before how much I love asparagus. How much I have always loved asparagus.

I usually drop the spears into boiling water for just a few minutes and eat them with melted butter. I have roasted it and grilled it but I would always find myself going back. But then, this week, we ate asparagus twice in two days, twice in two days after waiting until the first week of May to finally buy some, and both times I followed Nigel Slater's suggestion in Tender to preheat the oven to about 180°C, place a large piece of foil in a baking dish, put the asparagus onto the foil, drizzle over olive oil, some lemon juice, a sprinkle of sea salt, close the foil to make a loose parcel and bake, for about 15 - 20 minutes. And, while it baked, I focused on two new recipes, both from Super Natural Every Day, both keepers. On Wednesday we ate asparagus alongside white beans and cabbage, yesterday with a quinoa cake and fried eggs. If I wasn't going out for dinner tonight I would probably eat it again.

Wednesday 4 May 2011


We go through phases with salads round here.

First and for a long time there was a couscous salad. Couscous, olive oil, lemon juice, mint, red pepper, cucumber, spring onions, feta. It was easy, familiar, we made it a lot.

Next came chickpeas with roasted butternut squash, beetroot, feta. It took a little longer to make, a salad to warm rather than cool.

Then, last Summer, I bought Plenty and a quinoa, wild rice and basmati rice salad with sweet potatoes became the new favourite.

But, as time went on we found ourselves considering lighter options. Moving away from Winter roots. I read this on Gluten Free Girl and the Chef and thought, yes, carrots, fennel, kale, feta. Yes. So I chopped carrots and fennel, tossed them with a little olive oil, some caraway seeds, cumin seeds, and aleppo pepper flakes and roasted them for about 20 minutes. I added kale to roast for five minutes at the end. You just want it to crisp up slightly. I cooked the quinoa and the basmati and wild rice, chopped some spring onion, some fresh mint and parsley, feta. I tossed it all together, grains, vegetables, herbs, cheese.

Serves 4 (or 2 greedy ones for dinner with just enough leftovers for lunch the next day)

4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into large chunks
2 bulbs of fennel, quartered and sliced
½ tbsp of olive oil
½ tsp of caraway seeds
½ tsp of cumin seeds
½ tsp of aleppo pepper flakes
2 handfuls of shredded kale
150g basmati and wild rice mix
150g quinoa
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
a small handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
leaves from a few sprigs of fresh mint, finely chopped
sea salt

Use more or less of any of the spices or substitute, fennel seeds work well instead of caraway.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put the carrots and fennel onto a large baking tray and toss well with the olive oil, caraway seeds, cumin seeds, aleppo pepper flakes and a little sea salt. Place the tray into the oven to roast for about 20 minutes or until the carrots and fennel have browned slightly and softened. Add the kale to the tray, toss well with the other vegetables to coat the kale lightly in oil and roast for a further 5 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.

While the vegetables are roasting cook your rice mix according to the packet instructions. To cook the quinoa either throw it in with the rice about 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time (my method) or cook it separately.

Once the rice, quinoa and vegetables are cooked combine them in a large salad bowl and add the spring onions, herbs and feta and taste for seasoning, I usually add a small sprinkle of sea salt. Serve, enjoy, and, if you're anything like us, prepare to make once a week until the next salad comes along.

Tuesday 19 April 2011


We went to London for the weekend to see Brian, to look out of the window on the train, to drink iced coffee, to eat Vietnamese food, to go to the new St John hotel restaurant, to see the blossom, to do a little shopping, to kick off our shoes and eat a picnic from Ottolenghi. It almost felt like Summer and I wanted more.