Category Archives: sides

Pan-fried Broccoli Stalks

Pan-fried Broccoli Stalks (8970)

Since we were on the subject of sides, a.k.a. accompaniments but I hate that word! I wanted to write a little post about something J and I picked up while watching an episode of Food & Drink. If I remember well, that episode was called Every Last Crumb. I have missed some episodes here and there, which is a pity, but I really wanted to catch up on this one. Apart from inviting Mary Berry as a guest, the baking queen herself, the topic was of course, food waste.

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Carrot and Raisin Salad

Carrot Salad (7001)

Non-lovers of dried fruit look away now. Before pointing a finger at you, please let me tell you that I have the other four pointing at me. Yes. Me. I remember hating any form of dried fruit even as a child. And sultanas and raisins were a fiend. The real enemy though was and still is candied peel. I always say that if James Martin ever asks me (not that he ever will btw) what’s my food hell, that would be my answer. Absolutely revolting stuff.

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A simple Greek salad

Greek Salad (6873)So lately I have been reading a number of food and travel books. It’s my new thing. There are times when a recipe book just doesn’t cut it, meaning that you need stories or real-life events behind the food. To me at least, memories make the foodie world that tiny bit extra special. I tend to buy books by the bucket load (this blog is *such a good excuse*) and when I travel I tend to read a lot more. No distractions on the plane, except of course when you have a drunk crazy lady sitting next to you, ranting to the cabin crew about changing her seat because she doesn’t want to sit next to her husband…or when they spill boiling hot tea all over your trousers…yay. Fun. And I don’t sleep much, so I read.

Some time ago I read Amore and Amaretti by Victoria Cosford. I liked it in my first read-through. It was good though I kept it mainly for the recipes. How could I give away a book with Italian food in it? Inconceivable. A real gem I think is Elizabeth Bard’s Lunch in Paris. Loved the whole thing – her writing, the recipes – everything. I think it will feature in a future post, so I’ll leave it here for the time being.

The one I just finished is Falling in Honey by Jennifer Barclay. I was browsing the shops before a flight, feeling hot and bothered after passing through security (they almost undress you these days but anyhow), in a hurry. I just grabbed the first book I saw with an attractive cover, paid for it and rushed off to the gate. In case I didn’t tell you yet, that’s totally wrong when it comes to purchasing books, so please don’t do that. I’m so bad I know; I’m ashamed in fact. I liked Falling in Honey – it’s a good read. Missing the Sun in Surrey (almost sounds like a book title right there) makes the book more enjoyable. The book is home to only four recipes at the back, which is a bit of a disappointment, but hey, I can live with that. I will definitely give them a try.

Greek Salad (6876)I don’t know much about Greek food but J tells me it is delicious. Nothing fancy, exactly how I like things to be and tasty. I do have a Greek recipe book back home in storage; it’s not here with me and I could kick myself for that. However I figured that if the lovely J would tell me about what he ate in Greece I could come up with some very simple Greek-inspired food at home. J doesn’t say much, bless him; he prefers eating. To be honest I didn’t break new ground with the following concoction but I don’t care. I love the following salad. It’s fresh, refreshing and it reminds me of the Mediterranean sunshine that we lack so much of right here. It’s summer on a plate. I chop everything in cubes. If you want the make this like they do it on those beautiful islands, simply slice the tomatoes and cucumbers, and add a sliced red onion. Also you could include sliced green peppers, which to be honest I don’t like much. Serves 2 in a mezé.

  • 1-2 cucumbers, weighing about 400g in total, peeled and chopped
  • 100g feta, cubed
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 40g kalamata olives
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons, and some, good extra virgin olive oil
  • Mint (fresh is better than dried if you have it, oregano and dill will also work well, and sometimes I also use thyme)

All you do is mix everything well in a bowl and have a little taste. Add seasoning if you think you need it. Eat. It. Now. Or take it with you on a picnic. That’s what we did. Enjoy! R xx

For a couple more Greek salad ideas you might want to visit Jamie’s recipe or Deb’s take on this. You will love both.

Refried Beans

Mexican-Dinner-(6424)

This is a very easy recipe I make whenever I plan a Mexican-inspired supper. It takes minutes to prepare from start to finish and for me it’s well worth it. I must confess I prefer something like a guacamole than mashed up beans and was quite averse to it when I first tasted it. (Reason behind this: kidney beans are not one of my favourite things!) However I grew to like it; it complements the freshness of guacamole in texture and taste. And it’s pantry-friendly. You don’t really need to go out and buy any special ingredients for this. You might have all the ingredients right now. The traditional recipe calls for pinto beans but I use kidney beans instead, just because they are easier to find. All you need are:

  • 1 x 400g can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (you might need a little bit more as the beans cook)
  • salt (preferably coarse and crushed) and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh coriander (or parsley), to sprinkle over the beans in their serving bowl
  1. Set aside around a third of the kidney beans and in a bowl mash the rest with a fork. Don’t fuss around with this. A rough mash is more than enough.
  2. Place a pan over the heat and when it’s hot enough add the olive oil and the shallot. (If you don’t have shallots or onions, you could even use a couple of spring onions. Just add them straight with the garlic to avoid any burning.*) Let the shallot cook until it turns a light golden colour.
  3. Add the garlic (if you didn’t add it before*) and the spices.
  4. Give everything a good stir and immediately add the mashed kidney beans and half the amount of stock. Let the mixture thicken slightly for around five minutes, and tip in the unmashed beans. Loosen the mixture now by adding the remaining stock slowly, and just enough for the beans to loosen but still stay somewhat thick.** This might take up to two to three minutes.
  5. Season with the salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and add more if necessary.
  6. Place the beans in a serving bowl and sprinkle with fresh coriander.

Before I go I must apologise for the lack of a proper photo for this, but in the so-called chaos of my kitchen I totally forgot to take a close-up picture of the finished thing! I hope you can see it clearer in the picture!** Also, don’t let the number of steps put you down. It’s one of the easiest recipes out there. Enjoy!

Rob x

Kale.

Kale-Salad-(5420)

I really like kale. Pity that I only discovered it a few months back. I’m really not a vegetarian at heart but veggies are good for you, or so they say, so I make an effort. Especially when it comes to salad options. Too much of a good thing is…well…not good. You know what I mean. I grew tired of the same old salad leaves that I bought a bunch of kale on a whim without knowing what to do with it. When I opened the fridge I had the answer. I chopped up some garlic, one shallot, a few grams of cured chorizo, a red pepper, a yellow one and tossed them in a pan with some olive oil. I washed the kale, added it to the pan, heated it up with the rest of the ingredients, placed everything in a large salad bowl, seasoned it with pepper and added some toasted almond flakes. It makes one good side dish, and it’s so quick that you can make it while you chat to your friends in the kitchen.

Ham-and-Kale-(5423)

Enjoy!

Rob x