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"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Wednesday
Jul042018

Preserved lemons

I’ve been eagerly anticipating today for two months now. Birthday? Holidays? No! My preserved lemons are ready.

I love Love LOVE preserved lemons. They transform any dish into something special. I mostly use them in Middle Eastern inspired dishes – tagine, cous cous, Ottolenghi-style salads. They also add an interesting twist to fish dishes, dips and seafood pasta.

I used Amalfi lemons from Natoora for this batch, so I am especially excited about them, but any unwaxed lemons will do. You need to leave them for at least two months before using and they get better and better with age. These ones are still yellow, but my Dad used to have some so old they had turned brown. You can still use them, just be aware that their flavour intensifies with age so you don’t need to use very much with very mature ones.

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Monday
May282018

Short & Sweet: Darjeerling Express

Style: Indian (Bengali)

Budget: Mid-range 

Venue and atmosphere: Just looking around you can tell that this is going to be a different kind of Indian restaurant. Garish colours, white tablecloths and religious iconography are replaced with modest tones, wooden furniture and tasteful black and white photographs. The dining room, which opens onto the top balcony of Kingly Court, is light and airy, the summery feeling amplified by splashes of colour from the blue tiled sections of the floor and pot plants, which are dotted around at different levels.

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Wednesday
Apr252018

Dad's Empanadas

The best thing about making Dad’s Mexican mince is leftovers. Leftovers = empanadas.

These aren’t really traditional Argentine empanadas – the ‘Mexican’ is clue there – but I grew up with them, so they are my fave.

I ate my body weight in empanadas twice over when I visited Argentina in 2009. Empanadas vary hugely from region to region. The best I found were in Cordoba, where they were beefy, salty, juicy and fried. Further North they start adding more sugar or fruits, like raisins, which I am not a big fan of in savoury foods.

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Wednesday
Apr112018

Dad's Mexican mince

I had a craving for my Dad’s Mexican mince recently. We used to get so excited when we were little and came in the door to that unmistakable smell of stewing meat and spices.

Before I moved to the UK it was one of several recipes I made my Dad make in front of me so that he couldn’t “forget” any ingredients. To this day, I still haven’t quite managed to master his “benchmark aioli” and I have always thought that maybe there is something he is not telling me. The Mexican mince, on the other hand, I watched him make step-by-step so there was no room for items to be lost in translation.

Apart from the optional ingredients, this is to the letter. That isn’t to say that it is traditional – I have no idea, my Dad isn’t Mexican – but it tastes damned good and better than any I’ve tried elsewhere, but I have to admit that I haven’t been to Mexico so, until then, I will reserve judgement.

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Friday
Mar302018

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are probably my favourite festive food. The smell of the cinnamon toasting and the taste of them – lightly toasted, thickly buttered – makes me feel all warm and cosy. They are one of my ultimate comfort foods.

I agree with Oliver Thring that “Buns are some of the best things to have emerged from English kitchens”.

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