There is something about a bag of frozen peas that open up endless Halloween related, utterly delicious dinner options. My favourite last minute Pea & Mozzarella Soup is actually adapted from the 'Slime Soup' in Nigella Lawson's fantastic book Feast (my favourite of hers, closely followed by Simply Nigella), and today I have another quick and easy pasta dish (it should only take 15-20 minutes start to finish, and you'll probably already have most of the ingredients if you keep a basil pot by the kitchen window) that is perfect to bring a bit of spooky seasonality to your weeknights: Slimy (in look, not in taste!) Pea Pesto Whole Wheat Penne.
Monday, 31 October 2016
Friday, 28 October 2016
Busy, busy, busy. What is it about Autumn proper where we're all dashed off of our feet? Perhaps it is because we're all playing catch up because we all seem to have been sick this season (get well soon if you're curled up reading this with a mug of tea, a hot water bottle feeling dreadful), but while I've had excellent fun, it feels like I can't remember the last time I had the chance to just stop and do nothing. I've tried to carve out time to sit down with some new cookbooks, but it has been rather short lived. I'm making up for it instead with a weekend of comforting and exciting Asian food: Japanese inspired mackerel from Simply Nigella last night, a trip to Thai Time this evening, I'm cooking a beef brisket stew from Our Korean Kitchen tomorrow, and then I'll make one of the Vietnamese chicken recipes in Diana Henry's brilliant chicken bible A Bird in the Hand.
1. Herding escaped sheep back into their fields on a misty Sunday morning. | 2. Pulling carrots to accompany our Slow Cooked Gin & Tomato Beef Brisket. | 3. Stunning Autumn foliage out and about on the campaign trail for local elections in Dover. | 4. Delicious (and totally spooky/ adorable) Halloween truffles from Charbonnel & Walker. | 5. Spending a lot of time in Parliament recently and marvelling at how iconic the spaces I get to pass on the way to the office are. | 6. Instagramming our achievements before we eat at the Jamie Oliver Cookery School.
Wednesday, 26 October 2016
It is well documented that I have a long held belief that the Great British Sunday Roast needs a serious upgrade. Last month to celebrate Organic September I gave the classic roast chicken an upgrade with a black bean and tomato salsa, watercress and some fajita spiced potato wedges, and now it is the turn of your Sunday beef. I'm using a piece of brisket here, one of those great cuts of beef where you get some beautiful marbling on a good quality piece of beef, there is no bone and therefore no carving to worry about, and is best cooked low and slow so you can put it in when you get up and just forget about it until it is time to eat.
Monday, 24 October 2016
One of the things about being a home cook rather than being someone classically trained, I've always got something to learn. Okay, that could be said of every cook, experienced or not, but my cookery knowledge seems a little mad. I can make a creme patissiere one handed while scrolling through Instagram at the same time, but on the other hand my fish filleting skills leave a lot to be desired. For everyone of every skill level, there are some great cookery courses and one off classes out there, and on Saturday I grabbed Sherin for our latest 'girl date' and headed over to Jamie Oliver's new cookery school in Shepherds Bush to learn how to make a North Indian Thali: something I had no idea about, and something Sherin eats at home, but has not been confident enough to attempt to make herself (she's my usual cookery class partner in crime, as a total novice!)
Friday, 21 October 2016
You know those meals you have where every single bit of food is exciting and new, and you just want to order every single thing off of the menu over and over again? There is a reason why The Palomar in Soho is the restaurant everyone is raving about at the moment, and why their cookbook is now at the top of my Autumn wish list (along with Diana Henry's Simple and Molly Yeh's Molly on the Range, obviously!) While it feels like Middle Eastern inspired food has been done half to death, The Palomar's take on modern day Jerusalem (heavy with the influences of some of my favourite Jewish cooking) is one of the best recent meals I've had in London.
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Here in Britain, I don't think we make enough out of the nibbles that go with our pre-dinner drinks. We may open a bottle of wine or mix ourselves a gin and tonic, but the accompaniment is a packet of crisps, if we're lucky, or indeed nothing at all. I'm more used to the French way of doing things, where it would be unusual not to have something a little bit special and a little bit savoury to pick at while you're enjoying a pre-dinner drink. However, I think the surprising amount of traffic my recipe for Classic Cheese Straws outside of Christmas (they're the 7th most popular recipe on my blog of all time) shows that perhaps us Brits are hankering for something a bit more special before dinner like our European counterparts.
Monday, 17 October 2016
The last week I joined the team at Pinterest UK for an evening of inspiration, bringing together some of the UK's top Pinterest tastemakers to chat about how to build a Pinterest following and how to work together with brands and affiliates to make a bit of money from your profile. I was on a panel with Amazon and Boden getting into the nitty gritty of the affiliate network/ brand/ content creator/ pinner relationship, and afterwards I promised quite a few of the people who came up to me with questions I would break down everything we talked about on the panel (as well as everything we did not get a chance to cover) in a post.
Friday, 14 October 2016
Wow it has been a busy couple of weeks! You know those times when you simply have too much to do, you can't really see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it is getting so cold outside that you just want to snuggle under the duvet with a good book, cashmere bed socks and a hot mug of tea? Yeah, I don't really have time for that right now either, but can I recommend that you make a whole chicken cooked in milk with a mountain of brown rice and veggies for dinner this weekend as it is basically a hug on a plate? I know it sounds odd, but I made Diana Henry's version from A Bird in the Hand on Wednesday night and it instantly made my life better. Also, The Kitchn pulls apart, assesses and shares Jaime Oliver's cult version here.
1. Stopping to remember how truly awe-inspiring Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are as I run in and out of them for meetings. | 2. Rainbow blooms this week outside of Liberty's. | 3. A simply divine orange blossom ice cream at The Palomar in Soho - look out for a few review of our utterly delicious meal next week. | 4. Bringing all of the squash we grew that are too small to cook in from the cold to decorate the house. | 5. Lazy Sunday bath time tip: if you're throwing out an old bunch of roses, choose the best preserved rose, discard the outer petals, and the rest will still be great to scatter into your bath water. | 6. Speaking of roses, crazy that the miniature rose I was given this Summer has blooms that start out dark pink, but lighten as they open.
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
After a week solid of trying to push through the flu (I rarely get sick, so it is big for me when I do) through meetings in London, restaurant reviews and work, I finally crashed out and had to head home from work on Friday lunchtime to spend the rest of my weekend on the sofa with a hot mug of tea trying to recuperate. Thankfully, that afternoon probably the most welcome thing imaginable arrived: Riverford's collaboration meal box with delicious. Magazine, which meant I did not have to think or worry about the bright, comforting, veg heavy meals we all needed to be eating over the weekend to try and throw off our sore heads.
Monday, 10 October 2016
I've got a great new spot for you today with a lovely atmosphere, Instagram worthy interior, a killer bar and great food. If you have not already been yet, you need to get on down to Cafe Monico on Shaftesbury Avenue, recently opened by Soho House. Sometimes I like my food to be singing and dancing, packed full of new or unusual flavours, and sometimes I like to to be a 100% bang on authentic version of something else I like to eat elsewhere in the world. Cafe Monico falls into the third category of restaurants I like: somewhere comfortable and consistent, where I can rely on the food being what I've ordered, the wine is good, the cocktails are imaginative, and I'll get just as much entertainment people watching my fellow diners as talking to my date.
Friday, 7 October 2016
Usually I don't really do 'vegan' or 'sugar free' or 'gluten free'. However, when it comes to food stuffs that are usually loaded up with cheese (I can't eat most cheeses) sometimes a vegan option is how I know I'm getting a delicious favourite of a normally cheesy classic without having to worry. Nachos are usually a big one for me; I adore them, but if I'm sharing with people I usually only get to nibble at the few around the edges that have escaped the mass of melted cheese they're usually drenched in, losing out on all the other great toppings.
Monday, 3 October 2016
While most people on a lazy weekend gravitate to things like waffles and pancakes (essentially anything you can pour half a bottle of maple syrup over), I will always choose a savoury breakfast over a sweet one. My favourite breakfasts and brunches also are usually Mexican breakfasts and brunches. If you're after a big, indulgent brunch dish that it is a bit lighter than a plate full of carbs (and is dairy free), here is how I make my lighter take on Huevos Rancheros, with seeded avocado slices (inspired by brunch at KITCH in Canterbury.)