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"I have done a quick calculation and decided that: You can reasonably expect 76,650 meals during your life, but to die only once. We can look on these everyday events as nourishment, sensual gratification, conviviality, cultural expression and, in accumulation, a commentary upon society and life. Surely that's enough for any intellectual."

Michael Symons

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Entries in lemon (12)

Monday
Jan212013

Smoked salmon dip with dill and capers

Email from Mum this morning: "Just went to your blog to look for your smoked salmon dip recipe. It's not there. Can you email it to me? Or why not put it up? It would be an easy one for you to add."

She's right. This is a really quick and simple dip that always gets a thumbs up. It is great as a sandwich filling, on toast or with crackers or oatcakes. I often make it to take to work for lunch, for picnics or as a something to serve as nibbles before a meal. It also makes a great filling for quesadillas (see below).

You can use light cream cheese if you prefer but the consistency will be a bit thinner. This is ok if you are using it as a dip or spread, but not great for quesadillas.

Oh, and Mum - it's not my smoked salmon dip. It's Dad's. Credit where it is due. He won't mind though, I stole it years ago.

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Wednesday
Jan182012

Pear and ginger chutney

A few days before New Year’s Eve I took my friend Tina, a chef who is visiting London, on the obligatory foodie tour of Borough markets. This, of course, necessitated a visit to Neal’s Yard Dairy. I didn’t actually need any cheese but it is one of my favourite things to do and, if you are going to try everything in the store, you have to purchase something. So I decided to do some sort of cheese canapé as part of the New Year menu.

I started out with grand plans – a pear, Stichelton and walnut salad on chicory leaves – but I decided that a) chicory might be too bitter b) radicchio, my preferred alternative, would be too hard to find and c) it didn’t go with my other Asian themed canapés. I then thought I might try my hand at making oatcakes, which I’ve never done before, and make them really thin with a slice of Stichelton, a slice of crisp pear and a walnut on top. This would work well at the end of the meal, I thought, alongside the dessert canapé. In the end I couldn’t be bothered making oatcakes (I already had plenty to do) and I couldn’t find any ripe pears so I decided to make a chutney.

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Wednesday
May112011

Middle Eastern mezze no.7: Fattoush

For those of you who haven’t heard of this delicious salad, Wikipedia offers a detailed explanation:

Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread (khubz 'arabi) combined with mixed greens and other vegetables ... To make fattoush, cooks use seasonal produce, mixing different vegetables and herbs according to taste, while making use of pitas that have gone stale ... Sumac is usually used to give fattoush its sour taste.

As you can gather this is not an easy dish to write a recipe for since the only constant ingredient is bread, and even with that there is a choice, albeit an obvious one. Toasted stale bread versus crispy, crunchy, shards of golden goodness; you know which gets my vote. 

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Thursday
May052011

Middle Eastern mezze no.6: Baba ganoush

 

Back to the Middle East for a few days and then onto new things. The boyfriend will breathe a sigh of relief (a rather garlicky one); he does love a bit of mezze, but everyone has their limits.

Next on the list is baba ganoush, which I have just discovered means "My father is spoiled like a child by my mother". And I thought the Turkish version was a mouthful! I have also always called it a dip, but according to Mark Hix, in Turkey it is considered a salad,

You might think this is a dip, but I'm insisting it's a salad because that's what my local Turkish restaurant calls it. Their aubergine salat is more roughly chopped. My smoother version is one of my favourite mezze dishes, and forms part of a salady selection to start a meal with.

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Tuesday
Apr122011

Middle Eastern mezze no.4: Tabbouli

I read the Saturday Guardian magazine religiously, my favourite sections naturally being those on food and drink, although Tim Dowling’s column comes a close second. So I was very pleased one Saturday morning a few years back to find that Yotam Ottolenghi had dedicated his column to this favourite salad of mine. The subheader had its desired affect, drawing me in with the following statement:

There's a right way and a wrong way to make this brilliant Middle Eastern salad, says Yotam Ottolenghi. Here's the right way...

Had I been making it the right way all these years? A perfectionist through and through, I was very pleased to find that I had. 

The most common issue is the proportions – far too many cooks do not realise that parsley is the star of the show here, not the bulgar … Another biggie is the way the herbs are chopped, and in this instance I'm afraid I must side with the purists and shun the food processor. Chopping the leaves with a razor-sharp, heavy knife, although a lot of work, prevents bruising and gives the parsley its light and dry texture.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” my Australian readership is probably thinking, “talk about stating the obvious."

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