Sunday, September 22, 2013

Whoops - forgot to go to the shops this weekend!

Come Sunday eve a quick peek reveals that Mother Hubbard is alive and well and has ransacked my pantry.

I actually find it strangely thrilling to be able to feed a family of four with a couple of potatoes and afew pieces of ham retrieved from the depths of the fridge. It makes me feel that I could protect my brood if things turned grim. 

There was little complaint as the kids and husband gobbled their way through these tasty little morsels. So, if you are scant on ingredients, cashola or a spot of inspiration, give this quick chip chopped potato and corn fry up a whirl.

Crunchy potato rosti.

3 large potatoes peeled and coarsely grated

1 small egg lightly beaten

2 Tbs corn kernals (I use frozen)

80 grams of grated cheese

 chopped parsley

Salt and pepper


2Tbs olive oil.


Place grated potato in a colander and squeeze out as much liquid as possible from potatoes. (I know this sounds like a phaff – but it really does make a difference and really isn’t that hard).

Lightly whisk egg and combine with potato, corn, cheese, parsley and seasoning.

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan. Working in batches drop rounds of the mixture into the pan. Fry for at least 4 mins or until base is golden and crunchy. Flip and cook remaining side.

Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a low oven. Serve with assorted remnants from the crisper of your fridge and a Sunday night movie.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Spring Fling

Spring is a series of double edge swords. Sunny days are delightful but the horror of having to reveal legs that have been enjoying a fuzzy winter hibernation is enough to cancel out some of the magic.

Then there are the jolly little blossoms, bursting forth to declare good times ahead, seems such a shame that many of them make me sneeze and wheeze.

Mother Nature has a curious tendency to keep us on our toes.

Undeniably the best bit about spring is the reappearance of bright green veggies. I nearly wept with joy the other day when I spied iceberg lettuce at a reasonable price. However the poster girl for spring veg is unquestionably the asparagus.

The temperate crop only pops up its pointy head after the winter chills have passed. Its pencil thin spears require just a mere steam, and for my preference retain a subtle crunch. Only in season for a short window it creates a giddy sense of luxury to feast upon on it.

In the spirit of celebrating seasonality I can’t help but notice that the tomatoes haven’t quite hit their stride yet, still looking a tad pale and appley.  It seems a shame that these 2 splendid vegetables should not grown in greater unison.

I have taken it upon myself to bring them together and have employed a dash of perky piquancy from a jar of shop bought harrissa to make the whole thing sing.

This is the sort of lunch skinny people eat, and I can’t help but commend them for the restrained deliciousness a plate like this delivers. Yes indeed afew more days of lunches of this calibre and I may well be feeling fit and foxy enough to reveal my winter legs.


Harrissa tomatoes with Asparagus and Haloumi -

Serves 2 would be skinny ladies for a glorious sunny lunch.


I bunch of jolly spring asparagus

2 tomatoes

1 block of haloumi

A wedge or two of lemon

A teaspoon of harrissa paste

A glug or two of olive oil

1.        In a small bowl combine the harrisa, juice of ¼ lemon and a tsp of olive oil, whisk about then tumble through the chopped tomatoes.

2.       Snap off any woody bits from the base of the asparagus and pop the remaining stalks into a steamer and give them the sauna treatment for 4-6 min. They should remain firmish and definitely not droop.

3.       Whilst the asparagus is cooking fry the haloumi in a frying pan under a thin film of olive oil. Aim to have it beautifully brown and crunchy on both sides.

4.       Divide a slender bundle of asparagus, a hearty blob of tomato and pitched rooves of haloumi on each plate.

Tickled pink

Whilst recipes are all fine and dandy, a large part of this blog is meant to illustrate the progressive growth and development in my meagre photographic skill.

So let this be the official starting point where I free myself from the trainer wheels of the AUTO function of my new fancy camera.  Hold on to your hat's folks I am experimenting with aperture. There is a whole new world of artsy fartsy focusing now at my beck and call.

Flouncy flamingos somehow seem the perfect backdrop to the lurid pink vibrancy of the salad. Actually they were the accidental heroes of this sunny Sunday photo shoot, but some how they capture the slight hysteria beetroot always brings to the kitchen.

Stained fingers and astringent pickling juices are not my cup of tea. So this is the route I tend to take to weave the beautiful earthy veg into the mix. I prefer not to peel the beetroot, a good soak and scrub does the job and then the raw beetroot is grated along with a carrot or two to form the base of this addictive and refreshing spring salad.


Beetroot salad

1 large beetroot

2 carrots

1 orange cut into dainty segments

A handful of green herbage (optional)


For the dressing

2 Tbs good quality white wine vinegar

100ml extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

1.       Give the beetroot a good soak, and peel the carrots, grate coarsely and combine all of the grated goodness.

2.       Make the dressing by popping all ingredients in a jar and shaking like mad.

3.       Pour the dressing over the carrot and beetroot then artistically slot in the orange segments and sprinkle about the green herbs.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cooking Joyfully and Beautifully

One of my all time favourite gadgets would have to be my mandolin slicer. Whist the actual mechanics of the device cannot be faulted it is the kooky packaging that thrills me most.

Long lost sisters perhaps?

It promises that puffed sleeves and a wealth of shaved vegetable matter could be your ticket to kitchen harmony. Look closer and you will see turnips; cabbage, radish and onions also seem to be part of the equation. Mercifully there is a word of caution to: thrust slowly with great care of your fingertips.

It may be a lethal weapon but it has broad appeal, boldly declaring it’s self to be ideal for everyone from professional cooks to housewives. Phew, glad I qualify. 

It’s a big call that food cut from the samurai blade will be both beautiful AND joyful, but being a sloppy old harridan most of the time I am prepared to give anything a go.

 I suppose you could always try this salad with a plain old knife. That being the case, chop along with one eye closed to up the zen quotient and keep the thrill of chopping off your fingers a greater possibility than normal.  

Crunchy apple salad

3 fat juicy apples apples

½ bulb of fennel

2 radishes

A handful of chopped parsley

A handful of pistachios


Juice and zest of one lemon

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

A decent pinch of salt, pepper, castor sugar and dill.


1.       Very finely slice apple radish and fennel,

2.       Combine salad dressing ingredients in a screw top jar and shake vigorously to combine.

3.       Pour dressing over sliced vegetables

4.       Moosh everything together and artistically sprinkle with parsley and nuts.

Best made close to serving.