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Cabbage and corn slaw

15 Oct

cabbage and corn slaw

Cabbage and corn slaw is an excellent accompaniment to Mexican dishes like enchiladas and burritos, providing a welcome crunchy contrast. Continue reading

Hasselback potatoes

9 Mar

Crispy on the edges, soft and buttery within, hasselback potatoes can make any meal feel a bit special. Continue reading

Japanese sesame spinach (horenso no gomaae)

20 Feb

spinach gomaae

This dish of blanched spinach in a sesame seed dressing takes me straight back to my time living in Japan. Tokyo was (and is) an expensive city, and we ate in most nights — Japanese food mainly.

The local shops didn’t sell anything else, and anyway, it was fun to buy unfamiliar ingredients and figure out what to do with them.

Continue reading

Sweet potato fries

24 Aug

Sweet potato fries

When the girls were small, I’d usually have a bag of oven chips in the freezer to serve alongside fish fingers and peas when they had friends round for tea.

Now that our fish finger days are behind us, I almost never make chips (oven or otherwise), but I’ll occasionally rustle up a tray of sweet potato fries. Continue reading

Jollof rice

5 Jul

jollof rice

Jollof rice is an excellent dish to bring to a buffet or barbeque.

Moderately spiced, with layers of flavour from the pepper-tomato paste and mix of spices, it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.

I usually keep it vegetarian so that everyone can eat it, but any leftovers reheat very well. Continue reading

Orange and olive salad

25 Jun

orange olive salad

I love this classic Moroccan salad. Sweet orange slices and salty olives are a winning combination in my book.

Also in its favour, it takes minutes to make and looks beautiful arranged on a contrasting platter. Continue reading

Garlicky aubergine dip (mirza ghazemi)

15 Jun

mirza ghasemi

This garlicky aubergine and tomato dip is the most moreish dish I’ve eaten in a long while.

Rich, deeply flavoured and velvety soft, it is delicious spooned onto warm bread.

I had visions of taking the leftovers for my work lunch. However the rest of the family fell upon this dip like a pack of starved hyenas.

I’ll be doubling the recipe next time. Continue reading

Tomato salad with pomegranate molasses

11 Jun

This tomato salad with pomegranate molasses is a recent happy discovery.

Someone brought it to a friend’s barbeque buffet, and only good manners stopped me from eating an unseemly amount.

It turns out freshly sliced tomatoes and pomegranate molasses do very good things to one another.

Continue reading

Sweet potato, chorizo and red pepper

2 May


Sweet potato, red pepper and chorizo tossed in a simple vinaigrette is a very satisfying combination of ingredients.

I usually serve it as a simple, weekday dinner over couscous, but it also works nicely as a warm salad. Continue reading

Green beans with toasted almonds and lime

4 Feb

green beans with toasted almonds and lime

I love green beans, and have some great ways of preparing them – flash fried with garlic and chilli, steam-fried with mustard seeds and ginger, or tossed in an Indian-inspired dressing – but these green beans with toasted almonds and lime stands up to any of them.

The idea comes from my friend Debbie, who remembers being served delicious green beans dressed with lime when she was a student in Paris. Continue reading

Winter slaw with poppy seed dressing

15 Jan

winter slaw with poppy seed dressing

With its bright, contrasting colours, and pomegranate seeds twinkling like little gems, winter slaw is a pretty salad.

I can find pomegranate seeds annoying. The amount of fibrous pit you grind through to release the juicy flesh detracts from my eating enjoyment.

But those pits are of no consequence in this crunchy riot of texture and flavour. Continue reading

Beet, bean and bulghur salad

5 Dec

Much of the pleasure of this salad is in the contrast of textures — chewy bulghur wheat, crispy beans, juicy beets.

Adding a hard-boiled egg makes it more of a meal…

Continue reading

Itch (Armenian bulghur wheat salad)

30 Sep

Itch (Armenian bulghur-tomato salad)

I’d want to make this Armenian bulghur wheat salad for the name alone…

While itch is similar to kisir, using tomato sauce to hydrate the bulghur wheat places itch more in the realm of side dish than salad. Continue reading

Lobio

22 Sep

Lobio

Georgia is a country I would love to visit. A friend traveled there a few years ago, and came back raving about the scenery, the people, and the food and wine.

Until I get the opportunity to visit Georgia myself, my taste buds will have to do the traveling.

There’s a good local Georgian restaurant we visit occasionally in the winter months for their rib-sticking fare like hachapuri (cheese-filled flat bread), hearty soups and casseroles.

(I haven’t tried a Georgian dessert – we’re always too full to consider even sharing one.) Continue reading

Roast cauliflower and chickpea salad

6 Jun

Roast cauliflower and chickpea salad

This salad is a happy marriage of textures and flavours. Both the cauliflower and chickpeas are transformed by their time in the oven – the cauliflower becomes nutty in flavour, and the chickpeas acquire a wonderful crunch.

Then the yogurt-tahini dressing arrives to bless the union – and two distinctive, individual ingredients unite in salad harmony…;-) Continue reading

Rosolli (Finnish root vegetable salad)

14 Dec

Rosolli salad

Rosolli is a Finnish root vegetable salad traditionally served at Christmas. What I enjoy most about it is the satisfying mixture of textures, from soft potato to the crunch of gherkin.

Crème fraiche and vinegar bring a sharpness to the dressing, balancing out the natural sweetness of the beets and carrots.

Continue reading

Roast carrots with pomegranate molasses

8 Dec

roast-carrots-with-pomegranate2

In January my friend Margaret sent me a copy of the gorgeous “A Taste of Haida Gwaii” by the Canadian writer Susan Musgrave.

This wonderful collection of stories, recipes and photographs documents Musgrave’s life in the islands, where she is proprietor of The Copper Beach bed and breakfast. Continue reading

Roasted pumpkin seeds

31 Oct

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Along with pumpkin soup, roasted pumpkin seeds are a Halloween night staple. As soon as we’ve scooped out the pumpkins for the jack-o-lanterns, I get digging through the slippery pumpkin innards to collect the seeds.

Tossed with oil and seasoning then roasted in the oven, pumpkin seeds are great to snack on while carving the jack-o-lantern. They are also almost certainly the healthiest thing the kids will eat all day. Continue reading

Tabbouleh

22 Oct

tabbouleh

“I’m sorry I called you worthy, tabbouleh, I was just infatuated with kisir…”

Now that I’m working more hours at the office, tabbouleh is becoming a weekly staple around here. I’ve been putting it in packed lunches with olives, cucumber slices and maybe a piece of feta on the side.

It’s also featuring in serve-yourself, mezze-style dinners on evenings where conflicting schedules prevent us sitting down together for a family meal.

Measurements aren’t that important with tabbouleh – I like mine to have roughly equal amounts of bulghur wheat and chopped herbs, but have eaten versions that were 90% herbs – find a balance that works for you.

Avoid the possibility of worthiness by seasoning generously (and seasoning again to brighten it up before serving if made in advance.)

Continue reading

Bean salad with smoked paprika dressing

6 Aug

Bean salad with smoked paprika dressing

Having made many a bean salad over the years, I’ve pretty much settled on this version.

I love the combination of smoked paprika, honey and vinegar in the dressing, which elevates the prosaic bean salad to unlikely heights. Continue reading

Grilled pepper salad (salada de pimentos assados)

7 Jul

Grilled pepper salad

A simple salad of grilled peppers is the traditional accompaniment Portuguese grilled sardines. While some recipes dress the salad with red wine vinegar, I prefer to allow the flavour of the vegetables to come through.

The peppers and onion can either be grilled on the barbeque, or roasted on a baking sheet in a hot oven. If you make grilled pepper salad in advance, be sure serve it at room temperature (or even warm) to bring out the flavours. Continue reading

Croatian cucumber salad

4 Jul

Croatian cucumber salad

I served this simple Croatian cucumber salad to accompany the prawns alla busara we had for dinner last night. The recipe seemed so simple, I hadn’t intended to post it.

But it was so crisp, cool and refreshing that I changed my mind. Continue reading

Romanian marinated mushrooms

23 Jun

Romanian marinated mushrooms

I grew up eating what we Canadians called antipasto – a mixture of fish, vegetables and olives marinated in a sharp tomato sauce – and these Romanian mushrooms reminded me of it.

While I really liked them, the rest of the family had their reservations. Lyra hated the mushrooms but loved the sauce, Nova found them too spicy, and Adam thought they were too acidic. Continue reading

Cheese saganaki

1 May

Saganaki

I can still remember the first time I tasted cheese saganaki (pan-seared Greek cheese). Having finished university, my then boyfriend and I were spending the summer travelling round Europe before moving from Vancouver to Toronto so he could start a law degree.

Woefully misled by a guidebook called something like Europe on $10 a Day, we’d spent a lot of nights sleeping rough or on overnight trains, and buying cheap food in markets and bakeries to make our money go further. Greece was the first country we could actually afford to eat out.

Continue reading

Beet borani (borani chogondar)

20 Apr

yogurt with beets

Borani are Persian dips or side dishes of thick yogurt combined with vegetables and herbs. I’ve come across aubergine, spinach, and courgette before, but beet borani was a new one.

Beets are so often paired with sharp flavours like vinegar or lemon, which masks their flavour, but that’s not happening here. Just the mild tang of the yogurt, and woodsy dried mint to play against the earthiness of the beets.

Beet borani is most startlingly gorgeous fuschia colour – the girls adored it on sight. Having made it with both raw and cooked beetroot, I’m surprised at how little difference cooking makes to the taste or texture of the finished dish. Continue reading

Cacik

21 Oct

Cacik

I’m not going to wax authoritative on the difference between cacik and tzatziki. One is Turkish, the other Greek – reason enough to stay out of it right there.

The similarities are more apparent: both are made with yogurt, cucumber and garlic, both are typically served as a dip or with grilled meat. Given that cacik is pronounced “ja-jik”, they even sound pretty similar.

Continue reading

Celeriac remoulade

24 Jul

Celeriac remoulade

Celeriac is generally considered to be a winter vegetable. Velvety celeriac soup, sausages with celeriac mash, beef stew simmered with carrots, celeriac and shallots – comfort food at its best.

Celeriac remoulade has opened my eyes to its warm weather possibilities. A fresh, lighter alternative to potato salad, we’ve been eating it all summer long. Continue reading

Kachumber

16 Jul

kachumber

Kachumber is a simple, delicious Indian chopped salad that takes just minutes to make. It provides a welcome freshness to any Indian meal, and works particularly well with kebabs and grilled meat.

Kachumber is so straightforward to make that a recipe isn’t really necessary. But for the record, here’s the way I make it. Continue reading

Champ

9 Jun

Champ

Champ – mashed potatoes with spring onions – is the most comforting of comfort foods. Apparently, it’s still sometimes served as a main dish in Northern Ireland, which would work for me…

Continue reading

Aloo achaar (Nepalese potato salad)

2 Jun

aloo-achaar

Where have you been all my life, aloo achaar? Waiting quietly on page 50 of my well-worn copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking, that’s where. I must have flipped past you a hundred times on my way to the very spicy delicious chickpeas or diced potatoes with spinach recipe. Continue reading

Hong Kong green beans

14 May

Hong Kong green beans

Last November in Hong Kong we ate the most delicious stir-fried green beans one evening. Finding ourselves without dinner reservations on Saturday night, we were turned away from several places before finally landing a table in one of the many restaurants in the iSquare building on Nathan Road.

Continue reading

Green beans with mustard seeds and ginger

31 Mar

Green beans with mustard seeds and ginger

These Gujarati green beans with mustard seeds and ginger make a lovely side dish to an Indian meal. The combination of stir frying and steaming results in vibrant green, crunchy beans. Continue reading

Carrot raita

19 Feb

carrot-raita
This carrot raita is a real favourite of mine. I love the way that gently cooking the carrot gives the yogurt a golden colour, and the earthy taste of the asafetida. It pairs really nicely with diced potatoes and spinach. Continue reading

Comté and rosemary crackers

17 Feb

Comté rosemary crackers

Still working my way through the dregs of the Christmas cheese, I decided to make these comté and rosemary crackers. (Why I thought we’d eat our body weight in cheese over the holidays, I now have no idea. Perhaps all those cocktails I was imbibing clouded my judgement…)

The crackers went down a storm with the girls, who had been a bit sniffy about the Comté, despite my efforts to pass it off as “French cheddar”. According to Lyra, they are “even better than Goldfish crackers”, which is high praise indeed coming from her.

Continue reading

Hijiki no ni mono

23 Nov

Hijiki no ni mono

“It smells like Japan!” Lyra said when she walked into the kitchen. And so it did, that inimitable simmering dashi smell. We ate hijiki no ni mono pretty regularly when we lived in Japan. It was one of the only dishes Adam cooked and his main contribution to house meals.

Hijiki has a slightly liquorice flavour that works well with the carrots, and the chewiness of the fried tofu provides a contrast to the softness of the vegetables. It looks so pretty too… Continue reading

Sautéed potatoes

7 Nov

sautéed potatoes

I used to make sautéed potatoes quite regularly, but until recently I’d fallen out of the habit.

When one of the girls has a friend round after school, the accepted thing is to feed the child some dinner before they are collected at 6pm. Our family normally eats quite late, so for playdates I’ll usually cook a separate kids’ meal.

I play it safe on these occasions, ever since I made a little girl cry by serving her a bowl of chickpea pasta soup. Schnitzel, meatballs, pesto pasta, fish fingers and chips, sausages and mash are all good bets. Continue reading

Chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic

12 Oct

Chargrilled broccoli with garlic and chilli

I’ve looked at this Ottolenghi recipe for chargrilled broccoli with garlic and chilli a number of times, but have never summoned up the enthusiasm to grill individual broccoli florets before today. Blanching, chilling, drying, grilling – it seemed a lot of trouble for a bowl of broccoli.

I don’t know what tipped the balance, but I’m really pleased I finally gave this dish a try. It turns out that chargrilled broccoli is delicious, especially tossed with sautéed garlic, chilli and slivers of lemon. And because I halved the quantities, it wasn’t as time consuming as anticipated. The original recipe comes from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook. Continue reading

Spaghetti squash bake

30 Sep

Spaghetti squash bake

Tucked into the corner of my birthday veggie bag was something heavy, oval-shaped, and pale yellow. I lifted it out and laughed in happy disbelief – a spaghetti squash!

I adore spaghetti squash, and cooked with it all the time when I lived in Vancouver. But since moving to the UK, I’ve had it exactly once. When I arrived almost twenty years ago, it was very difficult to get any type of squash in the supermarkets. Over time butternut, acorn and kabocha squash have found a regular place in the produce section. but there have been less sightings of spaghetti squash than the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Continue reading

Black bean salad

14 Sep

Black bean salad

This black bean salad has a bit of an identity crisis. Is it a salad? A salsa? A filling?

When I worked in central London, I’d regularly pack this black bean salad for my lunch. It travels well and the  flavours improve over time. I’d eat it as it is, maybe with some crackers,  or use it to fill a wrap. It’s also good mixed with an equal amount of cooked quinoa or other grain.

Continue reading

Asian slaw with citrus miso dressing

30 Jul

IMG_5808

I was going to steam some mange tout to accompany the salmon phyllo parcels, but decided to shred them into an Asian-style slaw instead. I just go with whatever vegetables I have on hand – cabbage, carrots, peppers, bean sprouts, celery, and daikon radish are all options.

I usually add grated ginger to the dressing as well, but I thought the fish had that base covered. Continue reading