July, 2010

Jul 10

Going Greek



It was with a smile that I alighted in the tiny airport on one of the Greek islands where I’ve just spent a few days. Somehow the islands and indeed resorts all round the Mediterranean have this same beautiful smell that just says ‘holiday’ to me. Maybe it’s the scent of hot pine and herbs that fill the air, or the hot earth itself.Either way – you can probably guess that food is why I’m there – or at least forms one of the cornerstones of any international break I make. The med is home to some absolutely fantastic nosh – simple and pure, unfussy and for the most part eaten al fresco – a Greek friend I was visiting told me they ate outdoors at least six months of the year.

I’d forgotten quite how exquisite it is to eat a piece of fish grilled over wood, a wedge of lemon on the side, aromatic and juicy; a basket of fresh bread and a salad of tomatoes that have seen sun every day of their lives and cucumbers that have texture and flavour, more robust than their English cousins. All this eaten a stone’s throw from the turquoise Adriatic where after you’ve eaten your fill you can go and soak your toes. Eating doesn’t get much better than that.

Click here for our recipes for char-grilled halloumi, nectarine and prosciutto salad, for crushed new potatoes with mint and feta and lamb kebabs with cucumber and feta relish

Jul 10

Off with a bang



I worked once for Vivek Singh, chef of the Cinnamon Club and Cinnamon Kitchen and regular on Saturday Kitchen. He’s a brilliant chef – we’ve run coverage of his excellent cookbooks on the site previously and his recipes (link to a recipe). A friend recently told me that he had been developing a new range of Indian-inspired sausages and being a banger fan I couldn’t resist. Bangra bangers (I kid you not) are perfect for the barbecue and well worth checking out – they should be in your local supermarket.

To go with them I cooked up a crunchy, spicy treat taking advantage of delicious Jersey Royals.

Here’s my recipe for crushed potatoes with chilli,
coriander and tomatoes.

Jul 10

Stored away


I love finding an old recipe I thought I’d lost. It’s a constant struggle in the kitchen when developing recipes to write everything down as you go along – it rather interrupts the creative flow and natural rhythm that one finds – the little dash of this, the little hint of that.

It happens more often when I cook at other people’s houses – as happened last weekend. I threw together a few salads for a barbecue and then got an email the next day asking me for the recipes. A splash of this, a handful of that, a half inch worth of lentils in the bottom of a saucepan – approximations from intuition rather than anything else – and, I suspect, the way most of us cook at home.

The point, though, is sometimes it is rather nice to scrawl something somewhere – on the back of a postcard, on the lid of a cereal box or in a little black book. Given the age of digital media, I often email myself a recipe and quite often forget about them, until a year later they turn up for some reason or other. This is just one of those recipes – delicious served at room temperature with a barbecue or as a light lunch with good, toasted sourdough rubbed with garlic, as in Alice’s recipe last week

Click here to read my recipe for Runner bean and chorizo stew, perfect with the barbecue

Jul 10

Subtle Spanish style


I love the Spanish approach to food and their ethos – choose great quality ingredients and serve them in as simple a way as possible. It’s a practice that many a UK chef could learn a lot from. A little deftness of hand, a little seasoning or greenery here and there and you’re away.

I’m a little biased but my favourite Spanish chef happens to be one of my great friends, Jose Pizarro – and as such I frequently get to eat incredible Spanish food. Quite often he’ll serve something and I’ll ask how he’s made it; he smiles knowingly and says “I opened a tin”. Indeed – Spanish tinned fish is often more expensive than the fresh stuff and is regarded as something of a delicacy.

That is not to say that he isn’t also a brilliant chef – some of his recipes are astounding in taste, simplicity and creativity. I made his gazpacho Extremadura on a boiling day recently, cooled down with ice cubes and it was bliss. This recipe, for his salad dressing, is probably the most incredible dressing I’ve ever tasted. Seek out the ingredients (which are readily available online) and make it – you’ll be hooked.

Click here for Jose Pizarro’s Moscatel vinaigrette with orange blossom honey

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