Archive for March, 2009

A RECIPE: Tuna meatballs

tuna meatballs

When Don and I first started dating, his desire to cook was infectious, if not entirely appetizing. The first meal that he ever cooked for me consisted of green pea & mint soup, and Thai green curry- I’ll never forget it. He was obviously inspired by the colour green and it coated the kitchen splash back, floor and his right incisor as he worked his artistic kitchen magic. In the years to follow the amount of time Don has spent int the kitchen has decreased dramatically. These days it’s mostly for a bagel or to heat up leftover take-out, which he ordered because I was out the night before. I can’t really blame him, he has been spoiled rotten by my fit-for-a-King leftovers from work. In any case I can’t claim to have encouraged his kitchen exploits with much enthusiasm- my new kitchen is my baby, afterall and cooking with Don is similar to a  Jackson Pollack painting.

It’s not that Don is a bad cook- in fact he has quite a few gooduns up his sleeve- when he so chooses to bring them out. One of these such gooduns are his tuna meatballs, which have become a Sunday night favourite after I’ve been at work all day and he’s left by himself to the kitchen. In our four and a half years of dating it did not take him long to realise that cleaning up before I got home would ultimately determine my mood and stress levels. He’s quite clever, really.

The meatballs started with a Jamie Oliver recipe in the Jamie’s Italy book. After managing to follow the recipe successfully several times he started to get imaginative with the ingredients. The first time he went a little overboard and couldn’t even remember what had gone in them but overtime they have developed into something truly wonderful. It’s not that Jamie’s weren’t good enough- we just found them a touch rich and so we lightened them up- made them a little more waistline-friendly without them losing any depth of flavour. I know it seems ridiculous to take an expensive piece of fish, like Tuna, hack it up and squeeze it into balls but trust me it’s worth it. I like to use up scraps of tuna, and because it’s cooked through, it doesn’t need to be sushi grade- what’s more you don’t have to worry so much about the overcooking part. You can easily buy your own tomato sauce (or make your own recipe) and feel free to omit the fennel, anchovies and capers- they’re just Don’s gourmet touch and they add a certain je ne sais quoi to what are otherwise just plain old tuna meatballs.

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A RECIPE: Banana loaf cake

banana loaf cake

There are some things that everyone has an opinion about. Who should win American Idol, Mac or PC, how I should plan my wedding (that’s a whole other story), and of course, bananas. For starters, do they taste better unripe, just ripe or going black, and can it really be called bread, when it’s obviously a cake? Oh, and then there’s what should go into the bread/cake.  Raisins? How awful. There’s no chocolate in this? Scandalous. No cinnamon? What were you thinking? Margarine?!?! Now you’re really pulling my leg!

I’ve tried them all sorts of variations over the years, even one from BBC Good Food that was studded with chewy toffee sweets. It was delicious- one of those cakes where you find yourself picking the best bits out and saving the plain parts for last. I’ve gobbled and enjoyed most of the though- and then I went to stay at my lovely Auntie Nicky’s house and she presented me with a very plain looking cake in a large tin saying: “you must try this”.  I stared at it from all angles, prodded it with a kitchen knife, took a sip of tea and thought, oh what the heck, don’t judge the poor mite just because it looks so plain.  And it was plain- plainly delicious. So simple- you could actually taste the banana in all its unadulturated glory. No spices or nuts or chocolate were getting in its way. And it was so moist! Even the outer crumb was squidgy and soft, not dry or cumbly. Of course I had to ask for the recipe and when she presented me with the Orchard cookery school book, lo and behold there it was again- margarine. And I thought things only tasted good with butter.

banana loaf cake

I forgot at the time to jot the recipe down, perhaps I was too horrified by the second occurrence of margarine in so many weeks. I can’t remember. But I did remember how good it tasted and when I came home I tried to replicate it, in some form.  I based the quantities on Nigella’s banana loaf recipe and the one in the Art & Soul of Baking– taking elements from each that I liked, but mostly just for guidance on quantities. You could view this like a blank canvas recipe to work from- but I would highly recommend opting for the plain version first.

But before you get started lets just get one thing straight – there’s nothing bready about this mix, it’s pure cake. Got it?

banana loaf cake

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A RECIPE: Tabboulish chopped salad

tabboulish salad

I’ve just returned from a week in the Dominican Republic- poor me, I know.  If it’s any consolation I did manage to come home with a sun burnt scalp, which resulted in the embarrassment of dandruff-esque peeling but as with most trips I take I came back desperate for vegetables, and lots of them! Gluttony seems to take its toll on my system and a detox is always in the cards for the week following.  With a feeling of spring in the air in NYC I decided to stray from my typical cooked salads for this time of year and go out on a limb. Okay, so I skipped Spring and headed straight for summer with this salad based on tabbouleh. One can only dream, right?

Tabbouleh, because I love it and tabboulish because I didn’t have any bulghur wheat- plus I took some creative liscence. To stop it from becoming just a mouthful of herbs I added spinach into the mix, along with orange segments and pinenuts. Oh, okay so I got a bit carried away and tossed in some pancetta and celery too. It’s great on it’s own or with a grilled chicken breast but my favourite was stuffing it into a whole wheat pita with hummus. The orange segments and mint keep it tasting fresh, the pinenuts and feta add a creamy element whilst the onion and lemon keeps your mouth on high alert; preventing you from day dreaming off to warmer days. It’s a win win combination.

Enjoy.

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A RECIPE: Molasses & ginger cupcakes

molasses & ginger cupcakes

Some weeks are harder than others. This week I was in a rush to get my wedding invitations completed before I head off to the Dominican Republic for a week of sun and general slothery. It also happened to be rather manic at work (so tedious) and then I was off for a girls weekend in Philadelphia at the weekend. There just aren’t enough days in the week sometimes.

This recipe isn’t just a throw-away it’s just that this week lacks an accompaning story highlighting my witty rapport. The cupcakes are bloody marvelous- deep and rich in flavour with a teeny tiny kick of ginger right at the end. They are also multi-functional because not often do you find a cupcake that’s so well suited for breakfast and tea? Rarely, me thinks. The recipe is adapted from one by Joyce White who knows a thing or two about the perfect cakes for tea. Enjoy.

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