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top 20 fast food: huevos estrellados

last week the guardian published a top 20 of fast food recipes – food that’s quick to pull together and get onto the table. i’m always keen to be inspired with new options for this kind of cooking, so i’ve decided to try and cook my way through at least half of the recipes.

first up was a recipe for from omar allibhoy for huevos estrellados, which he talks about as follows “no visit to madrid is complete without eating these crashed or broken eggs, as we call them. we eat them for lunch or dinner but you could also have them for breakfast or brunch. a crashed egg is somewhere between a fried and a scrambled egg – it “crashes” because you crack open the egg some distance from the pan.”

so, how did i get on?

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pumpkin with garlic, chilli and thyme

this is the first week when the weather in frankfurt has felt properly autumnal. we’ve had several weeks of the leaves turning various shades of red and orange then starting to fall, but up until now the temperatures have been very mild. however, there is now a definite nip in the air and i’ve been enjoying looking at recipes better suited to colder weather.

pumpkin (and squash) is a favourite vegetable of mine and i’ve been enjoying pairing it with garlic, chilli (a bit too much chilli on occasion, now i’ve found a source for properly hot chillies!) and thyme.

this pasta was the starting point for this combination – while cooking the pasta i fried small pumpkin pieces in a mix of olive oil and butter with garlic and chilli. once i could smell the garlic i added a pinch of thyme leaves and a ladle of water from the pasta pan - the water helps the pumpkin cook quickly and creates a bit of a sauce. everything came together at roughly the same time, but i did add the pasta to the pumpkin pan, along with a bit of extra water, to help the flavours meld.

i used the same flavours in a risotto later in the week, using fennel in place of the onion that usually kicks off a risotto recipe (this squash and fennel soup reminded me what a great combination these two flavours create) and adding a ball of mozzarella at the end of the cooking period, to give a bit of extra richness. i’ve also used garlic, chilli and thyme to flavour some roasted pumpkin, which we ate with roast chicken.


cauliflower & sumac linguine with hazelnuts

this dish is the result of my efforts to use a bottle of white balsamic that i bought, in something other than salad dressings. white balsamic vinegar is similar to its darker coloured sibling but has a slightly milder flavour with quite a lot of sweetness – it’s ideal for creating a subtle sweet and sour contrast.

having said i wanted to use it in something other than a salad dressing here it is actually a dressing for the pasta dish, as there is no sauce other than that created by the white balsamic along with some browned butter and a little of the pasta cooking water. the rest of the flavours – cauliflower roasted until it has softened and started to brown in places, so that the flavour intensifies, crunchy toasted hazelnuts, crispy capers (i added these after i took the photo – sorry!) plus a spice combination of sumac and fresh nutmeg – are an unusual combination but one that works really well, i think.

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borlotti beans with anchovy and rosemary dressing

this borlotti dish is based on another recipe from my new favourite cookery book, a change of appetite. it was prompted by seeing fresh borlotti beans in the local turkish supermarket – i love these beans with their brightly coloured  pink and white marbled pods. i also love their nutty flavour and creamy texture.

the thing that really appealed to me about this recipe was the dressing – an anchovy and rosemary dressing made of finely chopped rosemary leaves, mashed up anchovies plus lemon juice and olive oil. i chose a really grassy extra virgin olive oil and it worked so well with the other flavours, creating  dressing that has oodles of flavour and really complements the beans.

the original recipe calls for kale but i’ve not seen any yet, so i just used spinach. i also used ate the dish in a  slightly different way to that described - having eaten one portion as shown, my next step was to lightly mash some of the beans and then use this as a topping for bruschetta. garlic-rubbed toasted ciabatta topped with borlotti beans and spiach ina rosemary and anchovy dressing – heaven on a plate with flavours that pack a punch.

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red lentil and carrot kofte

i have a new cookery book and have been cooking up a storm. the book is diana henry’s a change of appetite and i love it. i have a few of her books – crazy water, pickled lemons plus the wonderful salt, sugar, smoke – and love thes way her flavours pack a punch, whether they are fresh and zingy or softer and gentle.

cooking for friends was the first reason to get stuck in and we kicked off with these red lentil and carrot kofte, topped with pomegranate and drizzled with a tahini dressing.  they are perfect if you’re hosting a meal as they can be prepared in advance and are eaten at room temperature. i say that but actually mine were a bit cooler as they needed some time in the fridge to firm up a little. leftovers the next day were also delicious.

the other dishes i served, all from the book, were chicken shawarma served on on a bed of chickpea puree with flatbreads and a salsa of pomegranate, sumac and onion plus, for pudding, earl grey poached pears with greek yoghurt. i loved the chicken but need to experiment with the pears as the bergamot perfume of the earl grey was missing.

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