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i’d not heard about hugos until summer arrived in frankfurt. apparently this is a drink with an italian heritage but everywhere i go, i see it on the cocktail list, so it has obviously been enthusiastically adopted here in germany. it’s lovely and refreshing – a combination of sparkling wine and water plus elderflower and a hint of lime and mint.

to make your hugo, over ice, in a wine glass, pour 50ml sparkling water, 85 ml sparkling wine (we used a dry cava), 15ml elderflower syrup/cordial (we used bottle green) plus a slice of lime and a sprig of mint. stir and serve.


za’atar chickpeas and flatbread

regular readers of this blog will know how much i love fennel. having been obsessed with anna hansen’s method for roasting it with strips of lemon zest and adding crunchy capers, i’m now back to experimenting with it raw. thinly sliced as part of a salad always makes me happy and i loved it in my version of this roasted chickpea with za’atar salad.

as far as the salad goes, the thing i take from this recipe and will use again is the dressing for the chickpeas – olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, za’atar plus salt and pepper. in the recipe the chickpeas are tossed with this and then roasted. i don’t think the roasting has much of an impact other than to kind of “dry on” the dressing (despite me forgetting about them in the oven for over twice as long as the recipe stated, the texture didn’t change much) so next time i think i’ll just heat the through in a saucepan until the mix dries out, rather than use the oven.

i kept my vegetables raw and loved the combination of za’atar chickpeas tossed with shredded carrot and mint plus thinly sliced fennel and cabbage; i also added a little extra olive oil and lemon juice to oomph the flavour. it’s well worth making extras if you try this as leftovers kept well in the fridge for almost a week.

i’ve been eating this for lunch with flatbreads, the easiest of which are these ones made with a 1:1 mix of plain yoghurt and flour (about 75g of each is enough for two), plus bicarbonate of soda (to create a little bit of a rise) and spices/seasoning. seasoning the dough is quite important – salt is the most important thing but i’ve also liked it when i added spices. ground fennel and coriander. or, today, za’atar in the mix and sprinkled on top as the breads started to cook. the flatbreads are rolled out and cooked in a dry pan and really remind me of when i was little and went camping with brownies. i’m sure we didn’t use a flour/yoghurt mix but the flavour is similar and would be even more familiar if i made these over an open fire, i’m sure!


cod with tomato dal


dal is much-loved by me and i recently had a craving for it. sadly i was out of ginger which meant i didn’t just freestyle it, but decided to look up a few recipes to see if there was anything in particular which caught my eye. i ended up adapting a madhur jaffrey recipe – which did call for ginger but never mind!

it’s very simply put together – red lentils are boiled with turmeric and then chopped tomatoes, fresh coriander and cayenne pepper, plus a bit of salt, go in. plus baby spinach leaves. towards the end onion, garlic and curry leaves (or basil, which i never would have thought to substitute but worked really well) are fried together and added to the dal just before serving, along with fresh coriander and some lime juice.

the resulting flavour is nice and light and worked really well with some fried cod which i seasoned lightly with salt and a bit of lime juice as it fried in the same pan i’d cooked the onions and garlic for the dal.

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strawberry shrubtini

since making strawberry shrub last month we’ve been experimenting with it in various cocktails. it’s not an easy ingredient to use and while the fresh strawberry flavour is present so too is a very distinctive vinegar edge (it has softened over the past four weeks but is definitely still there). in fact i’ve found it easiest to drink with sparkling water – a small amount of shrub gives a lovely fresh fruity drink.

however, we have been diligent in trying different options and last night david came up with something that i really liked. in this drink i think it is the campari which really helps balance out the shrub. obviously you could also make a version of this brink using the strawberry juice that i created for our strawberry bellinis (this is also nice with sparkling water, which is why we have none left so i can’t experiment further just yet!)

shake with ice, 4 basil leaves, 20ml campari, 50ml vodka, 15ml lemon juice, 25ml strawberry shrub and 10ml sugar syrup. strain and serve in a martini glass.

if you can think of a better name for this – please let me know!


tahini slaw


i’ve never liked the traditional coleslaw that is often served at bbqs, buffets and delis – shredded cabbage and carrot with a creamy dressing, usually mayonnaise of some sort. despite liking the idea, it’s yet to get past being disappointing. i’ve tried making my own, thinking that last minute assembly and homemade mayo might be the key – it wasn’t. lightening the dressing with yoghurt or crème fraiche also failed to win me over so i stuck to slaws with non-creamy dressings.

however, this tahini and greek yoghurt combination really hit the spot. i think it’s the nuttiness of the tahini, which also creates a really nice texture to the dressing - its not grainy but its definitely not silky smooth either. the lemon and herbs also help keep things fresh.

i based this on a recipe that proposed using it to top a chicken “burger” but given i was feeling nervous about how it would be, i kept mine on the side; and then went back for seconds. delicious.

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