Friday, 9 March 2012


Although my first love is Thai I seem to be leaning towards Italian this weather.  Perhaps I'm being influenced more than I think by my current choice of reading material, Anthony Capella's Food of Love which is in part, a modern take on Cyrano de Bergerac.

 In Capella's reworking of the tale, Tomasso is a waiter who in an attempt to woo the object of his affection, Laura-an American art student-enlists the help of his best friend Bruno-a chef- after overhearing a telephone conversation in which she agrees with her friend she will only date someone who can really cook.  Unbeknown to Tomasso, Bruno has already fallen in love with the same girl after seeing her at the market in Rome.  Bruno's trips to the markets and to purchase fresh seafood at the shore and meat from local farmers have me salivating.  His insistence however is always that fresh and simple produce maketh the dish.

A lot of people assume risottos take too much time and are difficult to cook.  Not so.  As Bruno says they only rely on simple and flavourful ingredients. My favourite risotto is alla Milanese.  An authentic Italian Milanese dictates the use of bone marrow to add depth of flavour but it's omission makes it no less delicious.  The inclusion of saffron gives the dish an amazing colour and it's satisfyingly filling without being stodgy.

This my version but you can play around with it.  Prawns and scallops taste fab in this dish or add some wine, replace the saffron with garlic and use pork and asparagus.  Sage and squash is another delish combo.  See what I mean?  Get experimenting!



1 1/2 cups of risotto rice
1 onion chopped finely
15g butter
750 ml chicken stock
300g chicken breast diced into small pieces (you can use cooked/leftover chicken if you prefer)
few threads of saffron
chunk of Italian cheese, grated.
zest of 1/2 a lemon.
frozen peas (optional)


Sweat off the chopped onions in butter.  Once translucent add rice and stir to ensure it's coated in butter.
Now begin to add your stock, just a ladleful at a time, and continue to stir until it all the liquid has been absorbed adding more and repeating the process until the rice is almost cooked.  If you feel you need to add more stock then do so.

At this stage add your diced chicken breast, a few threads of saffron, the lemon zest, grated cheese and frozen peas if using.  Fold in to risotto.

For serving you can grate some more cheese on top.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


Whilst out for dinner, many moons ago, The Fabulous Baker Girl, another friend and I ordered antipasto and spurred on by the urban legend 'if you eat something seven times you will begin to enjoy it, or at least stop hating it' we steeled ourselves and began our battle with the olives on our dish.  Only minutes later, following much groaning and pulling of ridiculous faces, we accepted defeat and collectively consigned olives to our food room 101.  On balance however, my sister, conducted the same experiment with mushrooms and can now tolerate the funghi.

So as I sat one day watching Nigella conjure up another amazing dish-Calabrian Lamb Cutlets-it was with trepidation that I tried out the recipe and with great surprise, mopped up every morsel on the plate, including the offending olives.

Reading a friends post about her pesto and olive crusted cod had me slabbering but being ovenless at the mo (which is, really beginning to get me, but I refuse to give in until I have enough money in the pot to treat myself to a proper range) I'm unable to try it out.  Thankfully with an abundance of delicious spring lamb in markets everywhere I can treat myself to this Calabrese delight.



  • 12 lamb rib chops
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra for frying
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small lemon, zest and juice only
  • 1 tsp sea salt/kosher salt or ½ tsp table salt
  • 15 black olives, stones removed, sliced
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped, to serve (optional)

Preparation method

  1. Place the lamb chops between two sheets of cling film on a work surface and gently flatten by tapping them with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Remove the chops from the cling film and place into a large dish in a single layer.
  2. Pour over the four tablespoons of oil and sprinkle over the garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, lemon zest and juice, salt and olives. Turn the chops in the marinade so that both sides are coated.
  3. Cover and leave the lamb to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature before cooking.
  4. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Scrape any excess marinade off the chops and reserve in the dish, then fry the chops for 2-3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden-brown.
  5. Turn the heat down to medium and pour the reserved marinade into the pan over the chops. Add about two tablespoons of water so that they cook in a little liquid. Cook for about five minutes for rare cutlets, or a little longer if you like your lamb well cooked (this will also depend on the thickness of the chops).
  6. To serve, place three lamb chops onto each of four serving plates. Pour over the juices from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped red chilli, should you feel like enhancing the dried chilli with the pep of fresh.

Friday, 2 March 2012


Still makes me laugh.


Lastnights' show had me reaching for my passport.  With advances in technology more of us are enjoying programmes in high definition and 3D but I'm championing smellavision.  Imagine inhaling all those herbs, spices and just in general, the awe inspiring produce that the contestants were able to get their hands on.

I'm definitely in John Torode's camp in that I find Thai/Malay/Indo food to be the most exciting and delicious of all cuisines.  It's light, fragrant, surprising and inventive.  For anybody who has ever watched Chef Wan Islaim (think of a male, Asian, Rusty Lee) you can't fail to be enthused.  Other ambassadors including Bobby Chinn and the inimitable Keith Floyd who gifted the residents of Phuket with their first celebrity chef establishment-Floyd's Brasserie in the Burasari Resort, extolled the virtues of Thai cooking.

I'm getting behind Tom the plasterer to take this years title, his pork and mango sorbet dish hit all the right spots for me and his use of fish and cockroach paste earlier on proved he's not afraid to go out on a limb.

I reckon that even the fantastic Seewoo wouldn't have fish and cockroach paste on their shelves and I don't know if I'm quite brave enough to try it but a dish that I eat frequently is Rendang.  Here's my own, simplified version.


     Lemongrass (stalk or Lazy)
     6-8 Shallots 
    1-2 Red chillies (deseeded if you don't want too much heat)
    Thumb size piece of Galangal (thai ginger)
    Thumb size piece of Ginger
    1-2tsps turmeric
    4 tablespoons of cashews

    Pack of frying steak
    Fennel seeds
    Coconut milk

    As this is my version, it's a bit slap dash and not an exact replica.  All you have to do is pound the first half of the ingredients in a pestle and mortar or processor till you're left with a paste then add to a hot pan with a little oil and cook off for 2-3 minutes.  Now add your beef.  Once your beef is browned add the coriander, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves and cook for a further few minutes.  Season with salt and sugar.

A good tip to balance too much heat is to add a touch of golden syrup.  I make it without the chillies for Finlay, but still with a dash of the syrup and he loves it.  It's also great with chicken and I like to serve it with rice noodles.


Thursday, 1 March 2012


I've had a few lew leaks in my house of late, but with a little gentle persuasion (some would call it nagging-such an ugly word) J has finally did the repairs.  I daren't bring up the missing bit of skirting again, which have I told you I have been asking for since T-Mobile launched their first smart phone? (3yrs ago-yes really)

Anyway, today being St.David's Day, Prince Charles presents the Welsh Guard with leeks which he probably tells them are straight from his organic Duchy estates *clears throat*.  TBH Charlie I think they'd much prefer a bonus.

For those who plan to do something with them here's a wee recipe that my kids love and in which, the presence of  vegetables, doesn't resort in them pushing said offending articles round with their forks. 



  • 30ml/2tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
  • 350g/12oz baby carrots
  • 450g/1lb turkey
  • 30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 10ml/2tsp freeze dried
  • 100ml/4floz dry white wine
  • 300ml/1/2pt poultry gravy
  • 60ml/4tbsp half fat crème fraiche
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh tarragon to garnish, if liked
  • serve with rice or mash

  • Directions

    1. Heat the oil in a large pan, brown off turkey and set aside.  Add the leeks and carrots to pan and sauté for 4mins. Add the turkey, tarragon, wine and gravy and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 6mins.
    2. Remove the lid, and simmer for a further 5mins. Stir in the crème fraiche and season to taste. Remove from the heat. Spoon into a serving dish, scatter over the parsley and serve with rice or mash.
    This can be frozen and reheated in the popty ping or microwave to the non Welsh. :)


    Snapped up another crackin wee deal on today.  For just £18, two can dine and enjoy two starters, two mains and a glass of house wine each or for just £13 can enjoy two mains and two glasses of wine at Greek Taverna Athena on Argyle Street.

    Been dying to see the Descendants, so this will be a perfect wee pre cinema treat for me and J.  Won't be going on Tuesday 13th though, did you know that it's the equivalent of Friday 13th for Greeks?