Archive for April, 2009

A RECIPE: Fruity farro salad with lemon chicken

Fruity farro salad with chicken

I am about to head off to the Hamptons for a month! I’m thinking long white sandy beaches, warm sea water, sunshine and one of those coconut drinks I sipped in the Dominican last month. And somewhere in between the lounging and galavanting, I’ll fit in the work that is the reason why I’m going and realise that it’s still only April and yesterdays rise in temperature was only a teaser. April showers are not over yet. So there may not be any swimming but I will be near the beach, albeit a cold one- and that has me thinking of eating summer foods. The kind you eat on your back deck, looking out over the ocean as the sun goes down sipping on a glass of pinot grigio….and there I go again- must have been yesterdays injection of vitamin D that has me dreaming. Amazing what a little sun can do for one’s mood.

This is my kind of salad- a bit of protein, some crunch vegetables, some fruit and a few grains for fiber to keep you going until tea time.  Farro is a wonderfully wholesome, nutty grain that makes Don raise an eyebrow and ask if I’m feeding him squirrel food again. You can swap it for absolutely any grain but I think something with a bit of texture is nice- Israeli couscous would be great. All in all it’s just begging to be packed up with a bottle of bubbly in a cooler bag and taken to a picnic. Now if only the sun would come back again….

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A RECIPE: Hot cross buns

hot cross buns

I thought I’d better sneak this post in a day early than usual- who after all wants to even think about sweets and chocolate the day after Easter?! Of course, in the UK one can buy perfectly reasonable hot cross buns in most supermarkets but over here, alas you cannot. And in any case what I have failed to find to date are hot cross buns the way I like them- minus all the dried fruit and mixed peel. As one of her favourite treats, I can just hear my mother guffawing at my blasphemy. But I do not see the joy in raisins and currants in my hot cross buns, which is why I decided it best to take matters into my own hands. These delicately sweetened soft buns hit the spot- doughy balls with a touch of malted flavour that comes from using malted grain flour. These are unembelished hot cross buns, stripped of their offending fruits, perfect for toasting without the fear of a burnt raisin and then slathering in butter and honey with a wedge of cheese. If ever there is a day to indulge, it is Easter.

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A RECIPE: Strawberry banoffee mess

strawberry banoffee mess

I have a reputation amongst my family and friends for having a bit of a sweet tooth. It shouldn’t matter to me – but it does. It’s not that it should matter to me- except that it does. I associate sweet toothed people as those who sprinkle sugar on their Weetabix, spoon honey into their tea and who turn their nose up at the thought of cheese for dessert. I’m not in denial- I’m just not that person.

I know where it’s roots lie- the way my eyes light up when I’m presented with a pudding menu, the way I go soft and gushy at the offering of chocolates, my constant baking for therapy, the way I stop to gaze into the windows of bakeries oh and my habit for eating ice cream alone for dinner really throws people a loop. I get it. Most of Don’s friends and colleagues know my cakes before they know me. I had a proposal for marriage last night in a roomful of 1,000 people, by a woman whom I’d never met- all because I sent Don to school with some of my rocky road. Every time I go home my family moan that they’re going to get fat from all my treats.

With those kinds of credentials, this sweet tooth rep is a hard one to brush away (pun intended).  And I know that my recipe index alone has a bias for sweet endings but I assure you this is nothing to judge me by. I actually have a surprisingly sensitive sweet tooth- not only is it fussy in it’s selections and mostly disappointed in restaurants but it also hates things that are too sweet. The only things I crave are red meat and cheese. I prefer my chocolate bittersweet, my cream, yogurt and porridge unsweetened and most cookies and cakes I buy make my tongue feel like it’s burning. It’s true that I adore to bake- it’s like therapy with a tasty reward at the end of each session; but, if you’ve tried any of my sugar-laden recipes then you’ll know that most of them don’t taste all that sweet.

Banoffee pie (made correctly) checks all the criteria for my ideal pudding. The salty/sweet mix of digestive biscuits, a light creamy filling sweetened with fruit and a little caramel and topped with a dusting of chocolate. Most of us are familiar with Eton mess, broken meringues mixed with cream and strawberries and this is just a a take off of it and it couldn’t be simpler. It also happens to be perfect for any level of sweet tooth- sweeten the cream and add more caramel if you want, or go with less. Either way its a bowl full of happiness. And it’s perfect for someone like me with semi-sweet tooth (just for the record).

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