Sorry if I am being too technical, but I just can’t help myself. You know me – such a tech head. Joke. Continue reading
For the most part my digestion does not cope well with fried food. “Does not cope well” is a euphemism by the way. There are exceptions though.
Although it is eye-searingly bright here in Edinburgh, the temperature has dropped and I have treated myself to a morning of central heating. I don’t usually keep the heat on for myself (even though the cats stand by the gas fire with pleading, unblinking eyes) but I have got so used to the ‘balmy’, ‘warm’ upper 40s/low 50sF of the past few weeks that I have tripped the switch and am currently basking in its invisible glow.
Elsewhere in the UK towns and villages are submerged under flood waters, and further afield there is the horrendous sounding polar vortex sucking heat from air and life from an economy. So, if there is any time of year when we really need good healthy, energy-giving food to cheer us up, it is dark, frigid apologetic January. Though we tend to think of January as a barren month for food, or one legitimately given up to slow cooking, much of its frosty offerings are of the healthy and fresh kind. Continue reading
Do you want/need extra brownie points this Christmas? Have you forgotten anyone on your list and are scratching your head for ideas? Even if you aren’t in the doghouse for something or other, and you have been as organised as I have not, these wonderfully-easy preserved lemons will be most welcome.
If you have never had preserved lemons before, you are in for a treat. If you have had them – bought ones – these are many times better. Of course, if you make your own I won’t convince you that these are any better. I’m positive your preserved lemons are the bomb. But if you think that preserved lemons have to be made in two stages – stage one: let the lemons release their juice over several days; stage two: top with salt and spices – this is a one stage, make and seal recipe. I make it frequently; it always works.
The only (teensy) drawback is that you need to tell your recipient to hold off taking out the golden glistening lemons and tearing away the succulent skin for about a month. Three weeks at a minimum to soften the skin and make it delectably edible. Let them know that good things come to those who wait. That applies to you too. Wait patiently and you will be rewarded with an absolutely blissful addition to many, many savoury dishes. They keep for a year, but I truly doubt this statement will be tested.
If you and your loved ones love Middle Eastern, North African or Mediterranean food, preserved lemons are the ideal accompaniment. Although this makes one quart jar’s worth, this is of course easily increased. Or you can do as I do and make it up in two smaller, wide-mouthed jars. One to keep and one to share.
As a side thought, if you have everything but the coarse salt don’t bother struggling through traffic or battling it out in the grocery store, just use table salt. Ordinary table salt. It will taste just fine.
This is my last proper post this week, unless I have a sudden brainwave that I feel compelled to share. Have a wonderful Christmas all of you. Enjoy every day of the festive season, whatever your faith.
8-10 unwaxed and well-scrubbed juicy-feeling lemons (unwaxed is very important) – 4-5 juiced and 4-5 quartered but still attached at the tip
8 heaped tbsps coarse/rock salt (or 5 heaped tbsp table salt)
4 or 5 fresh bay leaves or 2-3 dried ones
2 heaped tbsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed OR 1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 lightly crushed green cardamom pods (optional)
Special equipment: 1 quart jar or two smaller wide-mouthed jars – sterilised. With vinegar-proof lids if possible, but I use a tear of parchment paper to act as an acid barrier. I place it over the open jar and just screw the lid on tightly.
1. Stuff each quartered lemon with some of the salt and push it back to its original shape. Pop each into the sterilised jar(s), squishing the lemons to release juice. Add the remaining salt, the bay leaves, peppercorns and the cardamom.
2. Top with the squeezed lemon juice, adding a little water if needed – just to cover the lemons. Seal and store for a month, turning a couple of times a week if remembered. These will keep up to a year without refrigeration, but I like to keep the in the refrigerator anyway. They are too perky and pretty to stash away out of sight!
To use: with a small paring knife, separate the skin from the flesh and use the skin only – the flesh is really too salty, although I have used a smidge in salad dressings to no ill effect. Take the skin and chop it rather finely. Add sparingly as a seasoning into North African (especially any tagine), Middle Eastern and even many Mediterranean dishes. Perfect in salsas, dips, bean and grain dishes, as well as a snappy garnish/flavouring for soups, plain and exotic. I love a crafty sprinkle onto hummus as well as omelettes and vegetable-topped soccas.
This recipe first appeared in my Quinoa Bowl With Citrus, Avocado and Edamame. I have also used it in the recent Lemony Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad. Look out for another super simple recipe using preserved lemons in the very near future.
This will be the quickest, most minuscule of posts from me. Like you no doubt, this week and next see me hither and thither as a whirling dervish of activity. All pleasant, but frenzied nonetheless. Today, for example, was spent cooking and catering for a party at work, accompanying an elderly lady to a Christmas Carol party for people with dementia, getting lost twice in the car (once was definitely Google map’s fault!), and now out to a late supper with Mr A’s parents. This will probably sound lame to some of you, but to little old homebody me it is busy enough.
But I did want to just pass along my Fresh Cranberry Vinaigrette to you, in case you were stumped for jazzy ways to perk up any leafy greens or salads that might cross your path over the next week or two. I have served this at work on seasonal mixed leaves that have had either pomegranate arils, black grapes, and toasted whole almond on top (pictured), and with cross-cut clementines, dried sour cherries, toasted seeds and avocado. At home we like a luxury non-vegan salad of sliced pear, pomegranate arils, freshly crumbled Roquefort cheese and toasted walnuts. Simple stuff to act as a lovely sharp foil to richer foods. Green salads are just the start though: what about massaging it into some chopped kale leaves, in a coleslaw (instead of the dressing I put in this recipe), or even to drizzle over a leftover turkey/ham pie? I will make sure to keep a jam jar of this vinaigrette on standby for those inevitable times when a restorative whole-food salad is in order.
Without further chit chat from me, here’s our favourite winter salad dressing. Enjoy! K x
Dress your winter leaves in this pretty pink dressing made with fresh cranberries. Use fruit vinegar if you have it, or apple cider vinegar. I prefer a neutral oil like rapeseed rather than olive oil here – let the cranberries be the star. If you like, substitute 2 of the tablespoons of rapeseed oil/canola oil for walnut oil.
Cranberries – 30g (1/3 cup)
Raspberry or other fruit vinegar OR apple cider vinegar – 2 tbsp
Rapeseed/Canola oil – 6 tbsp
Dijon Mustard – 2 tsp
Water to thin as you like (I add about 2 tbsp)
Honey or Maple Syrup– 1-2 tbsp (to your liking)
Salt and Pepper – to taste
After the excesses of last week’s ingredient-fest that is gado-gado, we are down to earth. Quite literally. You can’t more down to earth than beetroot, can you? Continue reading
Is it a bit chilly where you are? Have you pulled on a sweater yet? Here in Scotland the cautious flirtation with Autumn has ceased: we are now in a committed relationship. Continue reading
I’m having a bit of a rough day. Relatively speaking. Although I am sitting here with two purring cats vying for attention (read: my lap), what I really want to do is go for a wee lie down. Maybe have a wee cry. Do you ever feel that way? Continue reading
What’s the first thing that springs to mind when I say/write ‘vinegar’? In Britain it would definitely be ‘fish and chips’. In an eco-warrior’s house it might be ‘cleaning spray’. I don’t think many people would say ‘fruit’.
I may be showing my age but I wouldn’t be without a bottle or two of fruit vinegar. Just as I like to see a sticky shelf lined up with mismatched bottles of homemade jams (very Little House On The Prairie), I now like to see a few bottles of brightly-coloured, sharp-sweet fruit vinegar alongside. I used to think they were only good for drizzling over fancy salads, but I have come to find that fruit vinegars are as useful to me as ‘regular’ vinegar – just in different ways. In fact, it is a very inexpensive way to make lots of things more special. Continue reading
Can I get a bit personal for a moment: do you have a culinary crush? Are you mad for Malaysian food (it’s right up there for me)? What about kale: has it jumped the shark, or is it still fanning the flames of your heart (still fanning away here)? Or have you freaked out on freekeh (yet to fully explore, but watch this space)?
Is there an ingredient, cuisine or style of cooking that you love above all others? Continue reading