Happy New Year!

Cooking, Recipes

Firstly a very Happy New Year, I hope you all had a wonderful time over the festive season and have exciting plans for 2014. Secondly I want to apologise for the long silence…

In the time between now and my last blog post I’ve had the official launch party for my first book “Cooking Without A Kitchen”, become newly single and moved in to a lovely flat in East London.

Photo © Jonathan Rose

So swings and roundabouts seems to sum up the last few months. Whichever one of those is better (swings in my opinion, roundabouts make me feel a bit queasy) then that’s where I currently find myself as things are definitely looking up.

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For starters I flippin’ love East London. Ok, so there are quite a few people with complicated moustaches who seem incapable of smiling or wearing socks with their brogues (what’s that about?!). But, there are cheerful organic grocers everywhere and I can go for long strolls along Regent’s Canal whenever I want, ooh and on Sunday I can wander down to Columbia Road and buy flowers! London Fields station itself smells like malt loaf all day long because there’s an independent brewery at one end of the road and a sourdough bakery at the other. It’s brilliant. You get the picture.

shopping Broadway Market London Fields Regents Canal

2014 can’t be all about eating and skipping along flower markets though I’ve got to get some work done too. I have promised to help out with those on New Years resolutions diets by coming up with a fun healthy vegetarian or vegan recipe once a month, watch this space. At the moment I’ve had a request to provide recipes which are free from oil, sugar, meat, fish and dairy but please do get in touch if there is something you are also trying to cut out or eat more of, I’d love to hear from you.

Now for a recipe! As part of settling in to my new neighbourhood I spent the morning sussing out the local shops and with my purchases whipped up this tasty warm salad. If you haven’t cooked little gem lettuce before I strongly recommend you give it a whirl it’s delicious; surprisingly nutty and the bitterness you often get from the leaves in the centre is mellowed by the cooking process.

Panfried Little Gem and Garlic Crouton Salad

Pan Fried Little Gem and Garlic Crouton Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
Small Bunch of chives (finely chopped)
2 tablespoons of Greek Yoghurt
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
2 little gem lettuces
100-150g of marinated anchovy filets
1 ripe avocado
1 garlic clove (crushed)
Salt and Pepper

Method

1) Cut the bread into large cubes and fry in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until golden.

2) Throw the crushed garlic into the pan with the croutons just briefly to soften it and take the rawness out.

3) Take the pan off the heat and tip the croutons onto some kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.

4) In a small bowl mix the yoghurt, lemon juice and chopped chives together. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside in the fridge until later.

5) Wash the lettuces but keep them whole and slice any muddy or discoloured ends from the stalk. Cut the prepared lettuces into quarters and fry in a non-stick pan without any oil until they start to brown. Pop the cooked lettuce onto a plate and drizzle over a little olive oil or better still use some of the marinade from the anchovies.

Pan fried little gems

6) To serve arrange spoonfuls of the yoghurt dressing onto the plates, top with the little gems, slices of avocado, anchovies and then scatter over the croutons and season everything with a generous amount of black pepper.

Little Gem Salad

Jubi-picnic!

Cooking, Events

My Jubilee Weekend

I am slightly ashamed to say that with all the meetings, recipe testing and business planning I almost entirely forgot about the 4 day weekend of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Luckily I was prompted just in time when my good pal Helen asked if I would like to go to a street party on Sunday.

Still keen to stick to my healthier ways I whipped up a light, wholesome Jubilee Picnic ready to share at whichever East London bash that would be willing to let us pull up a plastic chair.

I made coronation chicken skewers using free range chicken breasts, yellow peppers and dried fruit, served with a dip made from Greek yoghurt, curry powder, coriander and lemon juice.

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For a more whole-food cucumber sandwich I used rye bread filled with quark, cucumber and dill.20120605-163416.jpg

And as a sweet treat I made some Lemon & Lavender Drizzle Cake & Portmary Scones (both from Harry Eastwood’s book) which were lovely.

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I felt a royal picnic would not be complete without a little Pimm’s but instead of Lemonade I used Perrier to mix which isn’t half bad and much kinder on the teeth!

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We decided to head to London Fields as we thought that there was a good chance that Broadway Market or Columbia Road Market (both pretty much side by side) would be having some kind of shin dig. No such luck. Broadway Market was empty and Columbia Road had it’s usual Flower Market, which is always nice (and one of the flower sellers made a fuss of Helen’s bowler hat) but it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for. Just as we were about to give up hope we heard the “thud thud thud” of some exciting music and tried to work out where it was coming from. This was the final nail in the coffin that was our street party hunt as the music in question was coming from the boot speakers of a parked car next to an unmanned barbecue and a small bouncy castle complete with a single kid. I’m sure this street party livened up later on but at this point we were cold and damp from the drizzle so lugged our picnic back to Helen’s flat.

This turned out to be the best decision; Helen’s flat has bunting, hot coffee and a TV on which we could watch the live broadcast of all the celebratory boats sailing down the Thames and all the rain was outside 🙂

Happy Bank Holiday x

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