couscous- meh?


i think people tend to either love or hate couscous. i used to hate it, finding it tasteless and stodgy. then, oh happy day, david cooked me some shortly after we met. he was following a recipe of some sort which dictated that he add herbs and other flavourings (i can’t remember exactly what) and it was a completely different experience. i’m now of the opinion that people who hate couscous haven’t had good couscous.

i have to admit to being lazy and using quick couscous which requires little more than the addition of hot stock (the easiest way to add flavour, don’t just use boiling water) and leaving it to sit, covered, for 10 minutes before fluffing up the grains with a fork.

this week we had some gorgeous couscous that required a little more effort, but not much. i mixed the couscous grains with finely diced red chilli and shallots plus shredded mint, basil and parsley before adding the stock, into which i’d stirred the juice and zest of a lemon plus a pinch of saffron. when the couscous was done i stirred in some pomegranate seeds and it was ready to go.

if you’re not a couscous fan, give this a try (or get experimenting with your own variation) and let me know how you get on – i think you might be converted…


january foodie profile: joanne fry


as i mentioned last week, this year i want to make space on my blog to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist and how they affect the way that people cook and eat.

i’ve spent many an evening thinking how i could integrate my love of food with my work and i expect that a lot of you have too. who knows, maybe one of these profiles will be the first spark of inspiration for a career change…

first up is joanne fry, pictured above, who works at the hotel school, norwich city college.

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mackerel pate: take two


mackerel pate is a favourite of mine. pile it on some warm toast, add a mug of tea (with refills supplied by a willing david) and a book or the weekend papers, and i’m wonderfully happy.

recently i’ve been very lazy though. i’ve not been managing to do much more than place a few chunks of mackerel on the toast and half-heartedly crush them with a fork. not really what you’d call cooking.

however, a suggestion by my friend hels saw me making a bit more of an effort, adding horseradish and cream cheese to the pate mix. the combination of flavours works really well and feels quite indulgent – thanks for the tip hels!

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winter salads: poached pear, toasted walnut and blue cheese


despite the cold and chilly weather i still have cravings for the vegetable freshness of salads. inevitably my summer favourite of rocket with tomatoes isn’t going to work unless i slow roast the unseasonal tomatoes to imbue them with some flavour.

however, instead of trying to recreate spring and summer favourites it’s much easier to create wintery salads full of seasonal flavours.

pears, walnuts and cheese are a favourite combination and this version, with its red-wine poached pears, toasted nuts and rich gorgonzola (or a creamy goats cheese if you prefer) make this a bit special.

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happy new year!

well, i’m not quite sure how that happened but it’s 2008 – happy new year everyone!

inevitably it’s a time of contemplation, both looking back over the past twelve months and forward into the coming year. i’m always more interested in what’s around the corner and have particularly been thinking about how i want to develop my cooking in 2008.

healthy eating is a theme of eat the right stuff and this will continue, particularly in the early months of the year as i start on a health kick. i also want to continue exploring the incredible variety of foods that different cultures create. i had this as a resolution last january and am ashamed at how little i achieved, so this year i shall redouble my efforts.

i want to make better use of my collection of cookery books. the final months of last year were very busy and i got into a bit of a rut, cooking old favourites or dishes rooted in familiarity. this year i want to broaden the way i approach cooking and learn new ways of putting dishes together, particularly different ways to use herbs and spices.

i want to visit as broad a range of shops and restaurants as possible and regularly have “how to” cooking sessions, hopefully some of which will be shared with friends (this is in lieu of expensive cookery classes as 2008 is also going to be a year of increased frugality! if you want to get involved, let me know). my participation in the daring bakers will also help, pushing me to make dishes i wouldn’t otherwise consider.

i also want to explore the huge range of food-related careers that exist, giving us all a peek into the many ways that people integrate their love of food with their work. the first profile will go live next week, if you know anyone who should be featured, let me know.

finally, and this is specifically related to blogging, i want to broaden the range of things i write about. you’ll know that i regularly contribute to the daily tiffin, focussing on nutrition advice and i want to build on this as i continue my studies in nutritional medicine.

i’m feeling really excited about 2008, i hope you’ll have fun exploring these ideas with me.