Archive for January, 2009

QUICK FIX: Guacamole

guacamole

With the Superbowl this weekend I figured that providing you with my guacamole recipe might come in handy. I don’t want to toot my own horn but it’s seriously the best guacamole I’ve ever eaten. Handsdown. The Best. No questions asked. It is a little more detailed than most recipes but I figure if you’re going to the effort of making guacamole you may as well make it right! Even if you don’t need my recipe, please whatever you do- don’t buy it pre-made, it’s just doesn’t taste the same. I’ve provided the recipe using 1 avocado but you can easily double, tripple or quadruple depending on how many guests you have at your part. Me? I’ll be working (what a suprise).

Guacamole
Serves 1-2

Peel and de-seed 1 avocado. Mash half of it and chop the other half into rough cubes. Gently fold into the mashed half

2 Tbsp diced red onion,

1 seeded and diced tomato

2 Tbsp diced red pepper

1 large diced garlic clove

1 Tbsp lime juice

3/4 tsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp diced jalepeno (optional)

pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)

1 Tbsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro)

and the remaining chopped avocado.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust the heat. If you don’t intend to serve immediately press plastic wrap directly on top. Serve with crunchy chips or vegetables.

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Quick Fix: Brie & prosciutto grilled cheese

briochebrie&proscuittosandwich

I have a new toy which has made me just a little bit overexcited. Actually I have two new toys and the best part about my toys is that you are going to benefit from them. Those are the only gifts I really like after all- the one where giver and receiver equally benefit from said gift. It brings a whole new level of joy to the actual giving of the gift- like giving yourself a present every time you give someone else a present. It’s a policy I firmly stand by and it works in several ways. I give Don a shirt because I want to see him wear something other than a polo with his school logo on it. I give my sister a weekend in New York because it’s really like giving myself a fun weekend in New York. If I go to a dinner and I’m asked to bring along something- I bring something that I know I want to eat. I give my doorman cookies because I want him to hold my keys when I go running. Some may call this bribing, I prefer to call it gifts with benefits.

My little gifts with benefits are a new camera- the Canon Rebel EOS and a photo studio light so I can snap away at all times of the day. Gone are the days where I have to worry about the lights or the sun and Don will be given a deserved rest from sun blocking duty. And for you, my dearest readers- it means a new series called quick fixes. It’s what I’m cooking on the weeknights, which means it’s quick and easy because like most people I can’t face much time in the kitchen after work. Most of the recipes will keep the ingredients flexible and I’ll keep the recipe format simple. This week it’s a brioche grilled brie and prosciutto sandwich- something that I made in ten minutes for Don when he thought he was dying of the flu (it was actually just a minor cold but he’s a sensitive soul, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt).  This is trashy gourmet at it’s finest.

Continue reading ‘Quick Fix: Brie & prosciutto grilled cheese’

A RECIPE: Sweet potato, apple & cheese tart

sweet potato apple & cheese tart

I feel like a bit of a jet-setter or late- a tour around the UK followed by a jaunt to Naples, Florida before heading to Miami for the marathon. It hasn’t been a glamorous trip- travel in piggery class, dinners on a budget, nights slept on various friends/family sofa beds and of course the marathon on Sunday will be no jaunt in the park. I did have five glorious days in the UK though. Sure, the sun only came out on day four, I worked my way through an entire box of kleenex tissues having picked up a cold from some germ-riden plane passenger and Don and I ran around from village to village making sure that everybody who needed to be seen was seen, our wedding was planned and to restock on the necessary staples. It has been a holiday of endurance testing- the way a Helm holiday always is. If it weren’t for a few days relaxing in Naples the marathon might have become the most relaxing part of the whole trip.

And whilst it has been glorious not to be at work, I’ve found myself missing my home kitchen (the leaky tap and temperamental dishwasher, not so much) but the cooking I’ve missed. Eating on the run, in the car and on planes out of Tupperware with plastic forks has such limited appeal to me. No scrap that, it has no appeal to me. The nostalgia has only been made worse from the many food magazines that I picked up in the UK all dog-eared for my return. In the meantime I leave you with a recipe from before I left, which I know sounds rather mean but after the marathon on Sunday I will be back on full blogging form.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Sweet potato, apple & cheese tart’

A RECIPE: Wintry red wine lentils

wintry red wine lentils

These lentils have become a firm resident in my fridge at home. I make a big batch up at the weekend enjoy the aromas of bacon rosemary and red wine wafting around as I potter about the apartment; satisfied that a week of good meals awaits. Not only do I love this way to cook lentils but I have started somewhat of a love affair with these little pebbles and even Don seems relatively content despite the lack of a big steak or chop on the table. It starts with the smell of pancetta filling the air as it renders it’s fat. Then the holy trinity of carrot, onion and celery meddles in the mix- that homely smell that always leads to random visitors peeking into the kitchen and then an enthusiastic glug of red wine a spoonful of dijon and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme carry the party through until the lentils are satiated. You may find it hard to believe that it’s not a beef stew simmering on the stove.

I confess, it was only recently when I,  post-run and collapsed on the sofa, that I was lazily grazing my eyes through Nigella’s Feast cookbook that I thought to cook them. This was one part curiosity, one part already having all of the ingredients and one part knowing that I wouldn’t have to leave the sofa and stand on my aching legs for very long. That’s the irony of all this running- I spend half my day Saturday running and the other half unable to move. Talk about balance.

I always knew that I liked lentils- the way they could absorb flavours, the fact that they could be saucey or dry and the way that they comfortingly fill a hungry belly. I’d always been happy to order lentils off the menu, and there was that one lentil salad recipe that I made back in cooking school that still lingers in the back of my head itching for recreation; but I’ve never actually hunted down the recipe. I guess they just never screamed make me as loud as rib roasts and chocolate cakes do. Now all they do is scream.

Lentils are far from the timely, cancel your weekend plans and plan far ahead category that I had previously placed them in. In fact lentils arrive in a whole different category of cooking and one that I assure you is quite pleasant and not half as time consuming as one would think. The beauty of this recipe is that it can either serve as the base for a more complex meal or you can eat them as they are. I’ve turned them into soup by adding extra broth and blending half of them, I’ve made salads with roasted sweet potato and feta, stirred through caramelised onions and walnuts- you get the idea.  But be warned once you start making them- they won’t stop screaming.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Wintry red wine lentils’

Resolutions- to be or not to be?

January has this habit of making me feel blue. The big festivities and general air of jolliness that Christmas brings abruptly wither and die as I discard the last scraps of dust-gathering tissue paper and bite the head off the last chocolate Santa. And then with all the clean-up over, a food coma subsiding and a liver on the road to recovery I’m faced with perhaps the biggest outlet for partying of the year- New Years.

New Years has a lousy habit of making me feel inadequate-and what I don’t understand is why I feel like I’m the only one who objects to the notion of forced enthusiasm? I understand the well meant wishes of Happy New Year, champagne is always an appropriate beverage and any given day I love to wear crazy hats and set off party poppers- but being forced to do it? And how can one evening require us all to get so drunk that we kiss a stranger and stay up into the wee hours only to go on extreme weight loss programs, crowd the gyms and resolve to be better individuals the next day? Oh, if only bitterness was a smell that translated through cyber space. Perhaps this needs further explanation.

My revulsion begins in the days leading up to New Years Eve. Everyone seems to think resolutions should be made a public matter rather than a private one, which you can quietly tuck under the bed until next year as soon as you’ve had enough of it.  And there are always undoubtedly those few smug friends who have never had a love-handle poke over the top of their skinny jeans in the first place and are too self-righteous for resolutions. On the other end of the spectrum, there are the people like me. Those of us, who have been making the same resolutions for the past five years and are reluctant to discuss them having foreseen the stamp of failure looming around February first.  Only that five-years-running list gets longer rather than shorter as each year comes by. Take last year in instance, my additional resolution was to make more of an effort in my appearance and come December, look what happened.

I imagine a certain colleague of mine would refer to this as typical Type-A syndrome behaviour. Type-A personalities being those loathsome overachievers of this world, never satisfied with their seemingly small successes and couldn’t possibly find use in practices such as: closing their eyes and counting to ten in times of stress.  I mean, who really does that anyway?! If I find out who I acquired this Type-A syndrome from I’ll be sure lend a catastrophic blow to the persons head.

Failed resolutions aside, January is also my birth month and this brings melancholy in of it’s own right.  Somewhere around my twenty-third birthday I found myself screaming at the clock to stop and dreading the thought of becoming an adult, hangovers and sleep deprivation. In two weeks I will turn twenty-six and instead of taking pleasure in (the ever decreasing number of) people saying: but you’re still a baby– for me twenty-six is closer to thirty and that scares me more than vampires, critters with more than four legs, and food poisoning.

Which leaves me with a decision to make: do I 1/ scrap all existing resolutions and start anew 2/ make no resolutions whatsoever screw the skinny jeans and idea of perfection all together or 3/ resolve to accept myself and the fact that I really only like celery sticks when their slathered in peanut butter or pimento cheese. I’m resolving to make peace with the month of January and all the reasons why it’s not such a bad month. January is the birth month of my blog (now two years old) and the month that four years ago I decided to give the geeky balding guy in glasses who kept appearing in my apartment a chance (and never looked back).  In two weeks I will be going to my first wedding dress fitting (need I say more- eek!) and catching up with old friends in London.  In three weeks I will be running my first marathon, something that I’ve wanted to do for ten years but never had the nerve, or knee strength for and at the end of the month I will spend a weekend galavanting with my sister (who I have just about forgiven for not coming home for the holidays this year.) Oh, and in between all that, I’m embarking on a one hundered push-up challenge with Don (and let me assure you, I will win) and of course I will be cooking and eating, blogging, wedding planning, making more time for friends and family and getting back into those skinny jeans (some things never change).  A new year has never looked so positive. Let the good times roll.

How to look like a chump 101

New Years resolution # 1: Make more of an effort in your appearance so that your colleagues don’t do this to you….again.

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2008 Kitchen faves

2008 has been a busy year of preparation for me. Planning a wedding, planning a future with my soon-to-be husband, training for a marathon and constantly working on my next blog entry and meal. In lieu of such a year of planning I thought I’d leave you with simply some of my faves from this year past. The only thing you have to plan is when you’ll get around to making them. Happy eating for 2009.

pumpkin mini cakes

Pumpkin Mini Cakes

fennel&lemonrisotto

Fennel & lemon risotto

whole grain tomato tart

Whole grain tomato tart

carrot cake

Carrot cake with citrus icing

vegan chocolate chip cookies

Vegan chocolate chip cookies

tuna with avocado

Marinated tuna with avocado & black sesame seeds

squash,chorizo & feta wonton tartlets

Squash chorizo & feta tartlets

glutenbiscotti

Gluten free biscotti

israelicous3

Sweet & savoury Israeli couscous

nut&seed granola

Nutty granola


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