I’m well aware that asparagus are no longer in season but I’m hoping that you’ll forgive me. I’ve been working so hard at eating in season but a couple of weeks ago I was overtaken by an overwhelming desire for asparagus. They were talking to me loud and clearly and I felt uneasy turning down what they had to offer. I mean who says no to a bunch of glistening green asparagus claiming they would do mind-blowing things in your mouth if you roasted them in a pan or roast chicken drippings with chickpeas. I think you would have picked up a bunch too.
Continue reading ‘Lemon & thyme roast chicken with asparagus & chickpea salad’
Topado is the famous dish of Livingston on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala. A mild but rich stew made with coconut milk, coriander, tomatoes, plantains and full of just about everything in the ocean. In fact eating it was rather like diving into the ocean- uncovering new crustaceans with every spoonful- and there were even a few surprises that I’m sure are placed at the bottom for maximum effect. Served with garlic bread for dipping this is not what I would typically choose to eat on a sweaty Caribbean day but it was certainly worth the bumpy boat ride to get there.
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….
Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Fruity farro salad with lemon chicken’
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.
Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Tuna meatballs’
Since moving to New York, I have not once visited either of the two city-renound British food shops Myers of Keswick and Tea & Sympathy. This is not for lack of fancy for Heinz Baked Beans, Marmite, PG Tips and Digestives- it’s just that since moving we’ve had rather a lot of UK visitors who only receive a towel and clean sheets on presentation of the such favoured items. Nothing is free in this life, even for friends and family looking for a bed.
The summer heat however, seems to have put off further hotel-avoiding visitors and our supplies have nearly all but dried up. Fortunately, New York has a rather strong British contingent and the demand means that the most basic English goods can be found in just about all the main New York supermarkets. I even read recently that there is a campaign for a “Little Britain” in the city- although if this has any resemblance to the TV show, then I think I might be forced in shame to adopt an American accent after all. Continue reading ‘Myers of Keswick and the Calling for Sausages’
If there’s one thing that food stylists excel at, it’s supermarket bowling. That is to say being able to fight through (and survive) the jammed-to-the hilt, not-fit-for-a-sardine-in-a-tin conditions that one is subjected to when food shopping. Next to the importance of seeking out the most beautifully wonderfully gorgeously perfect bunch of basil- it’s an essential skill of the trade. Without this skill- I would not discount the possibility that one day you should find yourself sat in a circle on a plastic chair stating your name and why you require anger management. Regardless of whether or not your dream vocation is to be able to spot herbal perfection- you may still find some use from this lesson. If, however, you’ve spent time in New York city- food stylist, restranteur, microwave dinner enthusiast or otherwise, I’m sure that you can mutually commiserate with me on the frustrations of overpopulated supermarkets.
I broach the subject of supermarket bowling with an air of caution. This is not for the faint hearted- more hard-hearted, if you will. I do not classify myself as a nasty person- I’m an efficient person and when the supermarket entrance is barred by the sweet little old lady who has paused inconsequentially to remove her woolly hat and gloves – my efficiency levels drop. I dream of Supermarket Sweep- sparkling clean obstruction-free aisles that one can rush freely down tossing the necessary dinner components into a trolley in seconds. I spent my last blog bemoaning the fact that obviously nobody in New York cooks based on the size of their kitchens. But according to the number of people loitering in the supermarket aisles- they all cook. And I wish they bloody didn’t.
An undoctored picture of my local supermarket is enough to lead any normal person to the gates of insanity. There is consistently an unhealthy array of wailing toddlers challenging the nerves of their frantic mothers (and everybody else’s). Dumpy menopausal women crowd the fridges as they optimistically compare the calorie contents on the backs of each and every low fat yoghurt. A clean up team rushes to mop up a spillage (usually something sticky) and two shoppers try to disentangle their trolleys after attempting to pass side by side down one of the narrow aisles. Meanwhile, at the fish counter two men will heatedly debate who had been waiting longer as two young kids playing tag, rush past screaming bloody murder. Combine this scenario with the sweet little old lady who has now stopped dead (no pun intended)- overwhelmed by the choices of olive oil and you have more chaos brewing in this small upper west side supermarket than at Marilyn Manson concert. A situation that can only be resolved by bakram yoga- or supermarket bowling.
Supermarket bowling is a head-down, don’t look back, every-man-for-himself, survival of the fittest approach to getting through crowds; quickly. Imagine it as a game of chicken. Your trolley is your 1959 Mustang, you’re Danny Zuko and you’re not turning off the road for nobody. Stare through the competition – this is your Zen, adopt a look of dangerous instability, shop in pairs, one stands with the trolley as the other ducks and dives through the crowds. In extreme circumstances, consider more aggressive actions. For instance the trolley-to-ankle strike or the release of unfriendly wind- but remember to avoid arguments with other competitors as this will only serve as a time waster and the key here is to getting in and out quickly. As with all things- practice makes perfect. With that in mind- I’m off to find dinner. May the best man win.
Continue reading ‘Supermarket Bowling’