Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another summer salad

Food blogging can be tough in the scorching heat. Apart from not having an appetite, it's unbearably hot in the kitchen so I tend to favour meals that I can prepare most of the ingredients in the living room where I can place myself in the direction of the air conditioner and minimise my time in the kitchen.

Inspired by a dish I had in Barcelona recently, I've created what, for me, has become the salad of the summer. It's one I can't get enough of at the moment. I've created it as sort of a un-recipe- it's one where the quantites can be amended to suit your own taste and number of servings. Try it with different leaves- I had Baby Gem lettuce the first time I made this but it also works with Rocket.

Goat's Cheese and Membrillo Salad
Serves 1


50g mild goat's cheese, diced or crumbled
30g membrillo (quince paste), diced
1-2 Baby Gem lettuce, washed and chopped
handful of salted almonds, if available use Marcona almonds

olive oil and sherry vinegar

Place the lettuce on a plate and sprinkle the membrillo and goat's cheese on top. Drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Top with the almonds.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A picnic by the river dahling...

I'm a few weeks late with my tales of another gorgeous day, another excuse for the London bloggers to get together. Better late than never! This time it was the 2nd annual Henley Regatta dahling! Of course anytime you get a bunch of food lovers together the morsels are gonna be good. This, however, was my first time out with this lot for a public viewing. What a laugh! We commandeered a large strip of grass along the river, next to the footpath. As the crowds walked past you could hear comments like "Wow now that's a picnic.", "Real food- I haven't had that in so long." to my personal favourite, "Salmonella waiting to happen." I don't know if people were more perplexed by the amount of good food we had or the fact that we spent about 20 minutes taking pictures of it all.

We ate, we watched the rowing, we drank many a bottle of Pimms and generally had a good time. My contributions on the day were an easy to make Moroccan Chickpea Salad (recipe below) and some Bakewell Tarts for a bit of a Bakewell Tart Smackdown against Andrew and Jeanne (the link will take you to Jeanne's recap of the event).

For a 'row by row'- cheesy I know but I'm in a cheesy mood today- account of the dishes and the day check out everyone else's blogs:

Andrew - Spittoon Extra
Jeanne - Cook Sister
Johanna - The Passionate Cook
Claire - Lemon Soul
Jenni - Pertelote
June - Bread, Water, Salt, Oil
Shana - Owlfish

Moroccan Chickpea Salad
(Credit this this yummy salad goes to my pal Toral at The Urban Kitchen)
Makes a large bowlfull - serves 6

For the salad:
1 x 400g can of chickpeas, drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and diced
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
15g coriander, finely chopped
15g mint, finely chopped

For the dressing:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed
5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. cumin seeds, toasted
1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses

For garnishes:
100g feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
coriander leaves

Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl.
Add all the dressing ingredients to a small jar and shake to mix thoroughly.
Pour dressing over salad and garnish with crumbled feta cheese.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Those of you who emailed were right- I was in Barcelona and this photo was taken in La Boqueria market.

I'm back after a week long stay in Barcelona compliments of my dear friend Mardon. What an amazing place- sort of a Paris on the Med but without the Parisians (no offence to Parisians- I have Parisians friends and have lived in Paris).

The architecture is amazing, the people friendly and the food filling. The weather was scorchio- anyone with a dislike for high temperatures should steer clear of the place in the summer.

Above - View from Park Guell

Right - La Pedrera

I'll keep the writing brief and let the photos speak for themselves. Addresses and more photos to follow. I'd like to thank everyone who gave me tips and advice for a first time trip to Barcelona but in particular Amy from Cooking with Amy who gave me an exhaustive list of gourmet shops to hit.

Between her list and my trusty Time Out guide, there wasn't a bad meal or food shop to be had (except for maybe one that wasn't my choice and resulted in my control over all meals for the rest of the stay).

My Barcelona address book:

Restaurants / Tapas-

Cinc Sentits

C/Aribau 58

tel: 93 323 94 90

Metro Passeig de Garcia or Universitat

Rated as one of the best restos in town. It's tough to get a reservation (I know- I couldn't get one) so call early.

Bar Pinotxo

La Boqueria 466-467, La Rambla 89

Metro Liceu

Located near the main entrance to La Boqueria, this little joint is run by an old man whom everyone calls Juanito. It was near my hotel and was where I went for breakfast everyday at a cost of 3 euros.

Taller de Tapas

Placa Sant Josep Oriol 9

tel: 93 301 80 20

Metro Liceu

Excellent tapas. Try the sausage with white beans dish- it was amazing and rustic- and the Membrillo and Rocket salad. Good value.


C/Palma de Sant Just 1

tel: 93 310 53 09

Metro Jaume I

Swanky cocktail joint with jazzy/loungey tunes (at least when I went). Great tapas and great drinks. One can easily pass the night away here.

Cerveseria Catalana

C/ Mallorca 236

tel: 93 216 0368

Metro Passeig de Garcia

This was our fave meal of the trip. If you're heading to Sagrada Familia, take a 15 minute stroll instead of the metro. Tasty croquetas, amazing grilled asparagus, perfect jabugo ham. We spent a couple of hours nibbling and drinking and gossiping without realising it. The Roscon de la casa (House cake - see picture) was to die for and worth every calorie. Two of us ate very well for less then 35 euros (and that included wine, coffee and dessert).

Left - figs at La Boqueria

Below - Hot Chocolate at Escriba. We tucked in so quickly that we almost forgot to take a photo. Rich and custardy, it is a meal in itself.

Above left - Cerveseria Catalana, well worth the 10 minute walk from La Sagrada Familia. Great tapas, great atmosphere and a great house dessert.

Above right - It was a sponge soaked in rum with a layer of Crema Catalana with caramel sauce

Left - Ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

Below Right - Pinotxo Bar (at La Boqueria), great coffee and breakfast and home to Juanito whom to whole town seems to know.

Bottom left - looking down the stairwell at La Sagrada Familia

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

On hiatus...

I have not deserted my blog- I'm just away for a few days eating my way round a delightful European city. See if you can guess where I am from the picture above. First person to guess correctly gets a high five.

I'll be back soon with tales of my good eats.


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Long live the Bakewell Tart

Andrew over at Spittoon issued a challenge, actually it was more like a plea, to hop onboard his Save the Bakewell Tart bus. It looks as if the Bakewell Tart is a dying breed- even a certain Mr. Kipling is having trouble flogging us his disgustingly sweet creation. I have to admit that I have never been a fan of the Bakewell, finding it too sweet, but hell how can I say no to a tart.

I am feeling a bit too lazy this morning to go into the history of the Bakewell Tart but these duelling sites have a thing to say on the matter (click here or here).

Since I've never made one before so I thought it best to seek the advice of professionals and after googling Bakewell Tarts, I settled on this version by Tamsin Day-Lewis from UKTV Food. It looked the part and I was looking forward to giving it a go. Then disaster struck. The washing machine decided to flood the kitchen and take me with it. Fortunately I wasn't badly hurt and once I knew I hadn't fallen onto one of my Globals, I endevoured to get on with it. I must have been more exhausted then I thought because I totally screwed up the recipe. If you look at the Tamsin Day-Lewis version and read my recipe below you may noticed that I added way too many eggs. This gave the top a slightly eggy-custardy taste and a lot of mix. This could easily make two large tarts. I also think I added too much jam. I added more since that was my complaint about them in the past. Perhaps I should have kept it to the original amount. Since there was so much excess filling I was feeling crazy and made one with fig jam but I gave it to Johanna. Hopefully she'll let me know how it was.

It wasn't a complete blowout- it was edible if a bit messy. I took it to Henley for a mini Bakewell Tart showdown but there was stiff competition. Not sure if I want to know how mine rated...

For a full round up (and most likely better versions including Andrew's tasty 'olde worlde' version made without almonds) go to Spittoon Extra.

Something that resembles a Bakewell Tart
Makes a lot- I got a tart and eight tartlets worth

1 shop bought shortcrust pastry case (you can make a second tart or use tartlet cases)

For the filling:
200 g. raspberry jam
110 g. butter
100 g. sugar
110 g. ground almonds
4 egg yolks
3 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
flaked almonds to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Spread the jam over the bottom of the pastry case.

Whisk the sugar, ground almonds, almond extract, eggs and extra yolks until well mixed.

Melt the butter and pour into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth.

Pour the mix over the jam, filling as high as possible.

Bake for 20 minutes at 180C then turn the heat up to 200C and bake for a further 15 minutes. The top should be lightly browned.

Sprinkle the flaked almonds on top 5 minutes before the tart is finished.

Let it cool before serving.