Quick and Convenient Fresh Pesto Cubes

guindilla chilli pesto
There’s not better topping for pasta than fresh pesto, it’s a whole lot better than the stuff you get in jars that the Italians call ‘dead pesto’. Unfortunately, it can be a hassle to make and tends to only last for a few days in the fridge, and you hardly want to eat it for several days in a row… A great tip is to make a quantity of fresh pesto (or any intense pasta sauce) and put it into an ice cube tray.  When it’s frozen, pop the cubes out and keep them in a plastic bag. When you need one, take it out of the freezer and throw it in the still warm cooked pasta. Stir round the pan a little to help it melt, and voila, fresh pesto in no time at all! The flavour is retained by freezing, and you can toss in as many portions as you require. Continue reading

Spring Asparagus

Asparagus

Tender, juicy and full of flavour, the UK grows asparagus that is some of the best in the world. 

There is perhaps no greater ringing endorsement of spring than the bunches of asparagus that start popping up in farm shops around the country in late April.  Even the supermarkets get in on the act, and the miserable little South American tips are replaced by fat bundles of green spears emblazoned with the Union Jack.  But there is good reason to put in more than the usual effort when seeking out this British champion.  Asparagus contains natural sugars that start to deplete as soon as it is harvested; it is this troublesome characteristic that have led many to take the kitchen to the field, allowing them to cook it immediately over a portable stove.  Such effort is probably beyond most of us (unless you are growing your own), but with a little local research you can get close to this ideal. Continue reading

Hello Kitty Cupcakes

Hello Kitty Cupcakes
These are from a while ago, but I couldn’t resist putting them on here. They were made using a *Sanrio ‘Hello Kitty’ vegetable cutter on *roll out icing, icing tubes (*normal and *glitter), and any light and fluffy cupcake recipe with butter frosting that you fancy. If you want to make them, here are the Amazon links:

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

The first show of these cheery green stalks with their flowery purple heads is the sign that summer is on its way, and the stubborn root vegetables that have been squatting in the vegetable drawer all winter will soon be replaced with an array of brightly coloured and richly flavoured British produce.

Purple sprouting broccoli reaches a peak around mid April – it’s available from March but the stems can be a little woody and may require some rather fiddly peeling.  By April, they’re tender all the way down to the end, and require delicate treatment and careful cooking, followed by eating with much gusto and slurping. Continue reading

Wild Garlic and Nettle Soup

Nettle and Wild Garlic SoupThere’s an obvious factor that discourages most people from snacking on nettles, but be assured; once cooked, the sting has gone and all that remains is a pleasant spinach like vegetable rich in vitamins and taste.  Spring is the best time to pick nettles when the new growth has appeared, so they make an ideal pairing with the wild garlic that appears around the same time. Much of the wild garlic will be getting a little old now (try to avoid flowering plants), but if you reach through the large outer leaves you’ll find some small young leaves that are perfect. Continue reading

Cold Smoking

Home Smoked Cheese

As far as I’m concerned, everything tastes better smoked.  Meat, fish, cheese, chillies, salt (weird but true), shoes, car, cat, smoke it all I say.  From a handful of woodchips chucked on the barbecue, to a tea smoked chicken breast, I’ve always loved finding ways of adding smokey flavours to food.  But this only covers cooked or ‘hot smoked’ food.  What about reproducing the delicate flavours of smoked trout, or smoked cheese?  These foods are produced through ‘cold smoking’, whereby smoke is produced away from the food and funnelled through so the temperature of the food remains low (usually less than 30 degrees C).  As it sounds, this usually requires complicated and expensive equipment, but not always… Continue reading

Quick Gluten Free Pizza

Gluten Free Pizza
This gluten free pizza recipe is a variation on my five minute gluten free flatbread recipe, essentially just adding pizza toppings after partial cooking, then finishing it all off under the grill. It’s a quick meal to make, and you can even keep the pizza base dough in the fridge for those sudden urgent pizza cravings. As with the flatbread, use any supermarket gluten free flour with xantham gum (Doves Farm in the UK or Bob’s Red Mill in the USA), I use my quick and easy gluten free flour blend here. Continue reading

Gluten Free Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart
This recipe is based on a combination of sources, but was mainly inspired by Heston Blumenthal’s recent recipe on his recent Channel 4 series.

Despite previous posts where I have been critical of adapting something to be gluten free when the results are never going to match the gluteny equivalent, there are some recipes where it’s worth giving it a go (rather than avoid them entirely).  Gluten Free Lemon tart is one such recipe – zingy lemons, smooth rich filling, biscuity pastry – yes please. It looks like a fiddly affair, but it’s reasonably simple and can be done in stages (e.g. make casing first).  If you’ve got access to a pre-made gluten free shortcrust pastry (e.g. Genius) I’d definitely give that a go. Continue reading

A Life in Food – Ingredients – Salted Anchovies

Salted Anchovy next to an anchovy in oil

An unhappy brown anchovy in oil next to it’s bigger, pinker salted Bay of Biscay cousin

Opinions on anchovies are pretty much polarised – either loved to the point of obsession, or reviled and grimace-inducing at the mere mention.  I fall firmly into the first camp, but I really believe that most people can enjoy anchovies at least as an ingredient to bring out the flavour of other foods. Continue reading

A Life In Food – Recipes – Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes with Beetroot & Radish Salsa

salmon fishcakes with beetroot salsa

Gluten Free Salmon Fishcakes with Beetroot & Radish Salsa

Better late than never!  Here is the promised second beetroot recipe, not exactly focused on beetroot but nevertheless, the little purple chaps are definitely in there somewhere.

This a variation on several Italian themed fishcake recipes using polenta.  I have seen a version that uses salt cod, also soaking the polenta in hot water and including in the main mix (in Maxine Clark’s Flavours of Tuscany). Nigella Lawson’s recipe recommends the use of tinned salmon over fresh fish, and let’s be honest, we should be grateful for some way of using the otherwise inedible pink tinned mush (though I’ve found it goes well on rye bread with watercress if you use just the first 6 ingredients below)… Continue reading