May, 2011


25
May 11

Greek fire

I’ve just been fortunate enough to spend a few days in sunny Greece.

It’s many a moon since I’ve been here. A fleeting visit to Mykonos last year was the last time and before that a childhood trip to Crete, so long ago that all I remember is remote beaches, the azure Mediterranean sea and a bee, buzzing around me as I drank something probably far too sweet.

This trip brings me to Thessalonica in the North-Eastern tip, known as the ‘fingers’ of Greece – three giant spits protruding out from the country’s side.

The food here is exquisite, living up to all the high hopes one has when you think about Grecian food – beautiful grilled fish, fresh salads, creamy tzaziki, stunning salty olives, fried aubergines and courgettes and feta, plenty of creamy, tangy feta.

The Greek salad is a glorious invention – a meal my sister and I often share when we visit each other’s houses, but a dish that tastes best in its country of origin.

My great friend Yianni, who runs the infamous burger joint The Meat Wagon and is now turning out cracking food down at The Rye in Peckham, hails from Greece, and he taught me his version of the classic salad, commonly known as ‘horiatiki’ or ‘peasant salad’, while cooking together the other day.

Click here for the recipe for Yianni’s horiatiki (peasant salad)


17
May 11

Sweet and savoury

A thing of exquisite beauty is the sweet potato. A versatile friend in the kitchen, it lends itself to a number of different cooking methods and a variety of different cuisines.

It fits, nestled amongst other vegetables, into a fiery Indian curry – or even a Thai version, rich with coconut milk. Baked whole, it makes a quirky alternative to a jacket potato, split open and garnished with a dollop of sour cream and chives.

Cut it into wedges, toss with olive oil, ground allspice, cinnamon and salt and pepper and roast until the edges go dark and chewy. I do this and pile the wedges high before drizzling over yogurt mixed with garam masala and lime juice. I finish the dish off with zippy green chillies and chopped, aromatic coriander.

I do a hybrid of these when I’m in a rush – a cross-cultured dish I would be loathe to call fusion. It feels somehow Spanish – fried sweet potatoes with North African spices, chorizo, coriander, chilli and topped off with two soft yolked fried eggs. A frugal, fridge found supper for a speedy weeknight supper.

Click here for my recipe for sweet potato hash with chorizo and fried eggs


6
May 11

Green spears

British Asparagus and Pea Risotto - 560.jpgThe ever so short asparagus season is in full swing now, coming to a close later in May when the versatile veg is replaced by foreign cousins, pretenders to the throne of this great British vegetable.

The finest spears come from Norfolk and if you’re lucky, they’ll come thin as your little finger, ready for the briefest of baths in boiling water and plunging into whatever luscious sauce or soft, golden egg yolk you have to hand.

They’re a quick weeknight fix, a simple supper rustled up in a jiffy, blanched, slapped onto a hot griddle and dressed quickly with olive oil, lemon juice and grated parmesan.

A piece of rustic sourdough underneath and we’re talking five star dining – the sort of plate you pay the big bucks for in high end eateries. We should be proud of their slender stems that sit perfectly in a risotto – a weeknight supper staple if ever there was one.

Click here to read the recipe for asparagus and pea risotto


3
May 11

Potato royalty

pancetta_a.jpg

There are few ingredients as versatile as the potato. It lends itself to all manner of dishes, from the spice-filled curries of India like Aloo Gobi to the simple, unctuous French classic, pommes dauphinoise, rich, creamy and decadent and pairs well with so many dishes.

There are few more delicious things than a perfectly cooked chip – both fluffy and crunchy – or indeed a roast potato, shell broken and gravy spilled in. And mash – surely, the ultimate comfort food – a veritable hug on a plate.

There are several contenders for the title of King of the Spuds but first place must go to the Jersey Royal. Cooked in minted water, tossed, still warm, with a generous knob of butter and sea salt they make the most royal of accompaniments to any number of dishes.

Simple preparations are best for the potatoes – try these delicious Jersey Royal recipes by clicking the links below.

Jersey Royals with pancetta and asparagus

Honey-roast Jersey Royals with yoghurt and mint shoulder of lamb

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