Category: Salads


Watermelon Salad with Labneh

July 12th, 2013 — 11:48am

Don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat don’t mention the heat arghhhhh it’s just been so freakin HOT. All the time I’m walking around in a fug of lethargy and sweat thinking, ‘be grateful it’s sunny be grateful it’s sunny be grateful be grateful be grateful’. It’s been really hot though. I haven’t had the oven on. At least not every day. What I did manage was to strain some yoghurt and chop a watermelon; a watermelon that had been in the fridge and so made a glorious respite in the form of my lunch. The cool, sweet melon on top of creamy labneh, tickled through with a little red onion and mint. A lazy trickle of olive oil. I managed to toast the pittas, by slotting them into the toaster and backing the hell away for 2 minutes.

I’d eat this again and again. It’s a lovely thing to have around at BBQs too; a good little starter or side with grilled meats. It’s actually really damn good wrapped up in a kebab.

Watermelon Salad with Labneh (serves 4 as a side dish, or two as a starter)

500g full fat natural yoghurt
Salt
1 chunk watermelon, about 1.2-1.5kg (that’s not actually very big – heavy, innit)
1/2 red onion, very finely chopped
Handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Squeeze of lime juice
Toasted pitta, to serve

Make labneh as per this recipe.

Skin, seed and finely chop the watermelon flesh. Mix it with the finely chopped onion, mint and a squeeze of lime juice. Spread the labneh on a serving plate and season with salt and pepper. Pile the watermelon salad on top and add a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with toasted pitta.

17 comments » | Barbecue, Salads, Salsa, Side Dishes, Snacks

Date, Feta, Pomegranate and Marigold Salad

June 7th, 2013 — 10:37am

When moving to a new flat recently I envisaged the shiny new, mahoosive balcony as a lush urban garden, flourishing verdant green with bush upon bushy bushel of salad leaves, herbs, courgettes, beans, basically anything I could get to grow vertically; anything that would crawl, climb or thrive in a pot. The only flowers I’d allow would be my favourite sweet peas, the odd geranium, a clematis or four and and…okay so I wanted everything.

I’ve managed to cultivate the sweet peas, the geraniums (already here) and a dying clematis. Some herbs are flourishing, albeit left field ones, like wormwood (absinthe) which is bitter but rather tasty in many things including, surprisingly, hollandaise. The vegetables, well, not so much action on that front. Some lettuces are doing well. Ummmm. Hmmm. So as I sat pondering this state of affairs from my makeshift office/boot camp (I’m currently working 12 + hour days – get the tiny violins out), it struck me that there was one more thing that could be eaten – the marigolds. I was damn well going to get a meal out of this balcony.

The basis of this salad is herbs. Recently I’ve been taking the approach to herb usage seen in countries such as Iran and Georgia, by which I mean I’ve been using them basically like salad leaves. See below a salad of mint, parsley and dill with asparagus. We ate it with lamb chops rubbed with za’atar, Turkish chilli and garlic, sprinkled with radishes.

For the marigold salad I used mint and parsley, tossed with pieces of fried flat bread, red onion slivers, sliced dates, pomegranate seeds and feta. The marigold petals have a slight peppery heat, but mainly they just look gorgeous. It’s a festival of sweetness from the fruit, against salty feta. The dressing has it going on too – olive oil mixed with viscous date syrup, balanced with acidity. It’s a lesson in the power of contrasts basically, and darn if it doesn’t look purdy.

Date, Feta, Pomegranate and Marigold Salad (serves 4 as a side salad, 2 as a main)

1 handful of mint leaves, picked, although leave some in sprigs
1 handful parsley leaves, picked,  same as above
A few crunchy lettuce leaves like little gem or romaine, shredded roughly
150g feta cheese (proper feta cheese)
8 dates, pitted and each cut into a few pieces
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 small pomegranate, seeds removed (the easiest way to do this is to halve it, then smack each half on the skin side with a wooden spoon, working your way around until the seeds come out. Wear an apron. Pick out any white pithy bits)
1 flatbread, or one large pitta bread or similar
The petals from 1 marigold (optional, obviously), picked and really, really thoroughly washed (the bugs LOVE them)

For the dressing

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons date syrup
1.5 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Cut the flatbread into squares and fry it gently in a little oil until crisp. Set aside on kitchen paper.

On a large serving plate arrange the lettuce, mint and parsley leaves. In another bowl, combine the dates, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese and red onion. Add the flatbread pieces and mix well.

Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the cheesy fruit mixture on top of the herbs, and drizzle with the dressing. Sprinkle over the marigold petals, and serve.

17 comments » | Cheese, Edible flowers, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables

Cold Roast Lamb with Anchovy Sauce

May 9th, 2013 — 1:37pm

Leftovers are, for me, almost always better than the original dish. Even as a child I always wanted everything cold; steak and kidney pie being my favourite. I remember the highlight of holidays away with a friend’s family being these pre-packed, jellied treats, an anti-dote to the PURE EVIL that we were given to drink (that’s hot Ribena for those who don’t know). Again, I preferred that cold.

This is a rip off of a Simon Hopkinson recipe for cold veal with anchovy sauce and sliced boiled eggs. The salty anchovies work just as well with cold lamb as they do when jimmied into crevices with garlic and rosemary and roasted in a hot oven. Instead of melting away however, here they retain their flavour which, for me at least, is a very good thing.

Cold Roast Lamb with Anchovy Sauce

For the sauce (makes enough sauce for 4 people) 

6 tablespoons mayonnaise
8 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
Splash of water

Plus the rest…

Sliced cold roast lamb
Lettuce leaves
Finely shredded spring onions
Capers, rinsed

Lay the lettuce leaves on a plate and sprinkle with some finely shredded spring onions. Lay the sliced lamb on top.

Put all the sauce ingredients in a small blender and whizz them up. Taste and adjust the quantities, you may want a little more white wine vinegar for example. Drizzle the sauce over the lamb and dot with capers.

13 comments » | Meat, Salads

End of Summer Panzanella

September 7th, 2012 — 1:41pm

The best thing about buying fruit and veg in Peckham is that everything is always properly ripe; granted it’s often a bit too so, but since all the shops on Rye Lane sell essentially the same things anyway, it’s just a case of finding the best stuff on the day.

As I was walking past Khan’s the other day I got a waft of ripe tomato scent, something which does not happen very often, let’s face it, unless you’re blessed with a greenhouse or a holiday to Puglia; a tomato at its peak is a wonderful thing. Goodness’ knows where they’d been imported from but frankly, I couldn’t care less. I had half a loaf of excellent E5 Bakehouse sourdough going stale in my kitchen and all I could think of was panzanella.

This is one of my favourite salads but I know that many people don’t dig it, thinking that the bread will surely turn to mush once dressed. Not in a good panzanella. The key is to make sure the bread is about 3 days old and cut into large chunks. The skill then is in adding just the right amount of dressing so that the bread is moistened but never sodden. Think of the joy of mopping up plate juices with a crust and you’ll get the idea of panzanella.

Most recipes recommend dressing the salad, then leaving it overnight before eating. I disagree. Leave it for half an hour to an hour and it’s perfect. The next day it’s passable but past its best, the day after that you’re into mush territory…

Panzanella (serves 4 people)

The quantities here are approximate. I mean, it’s a salad.

15-20 very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes, chopped roughly)
2 of those small cucumbers (or 1 large normal one) de-seeded and sliced
Half a small red onion, thinly sliced
Handful green beans, just cooked then cooled under cold water and cut into inch long pieces
Half a small loaf of stale sourdough bread, cut into large chunks
Small handful capers, rinsed
Small handful basil leaves, torn

For the dressing

1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper

Mix the bread with the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Mix really well. Mix together the dressing ingredients then add about half to the bowl. Mix really well again and see if you want more dressing. I used all of the dressing in the end. The bread should be moist but not wet and should keep its structure.

Leave for about half an hour to an hour before eating at room temperature.

14 comments » | Bread, Salads

My Favourite Recipes (& Guilty Pleasures) of 2011

December 31st, 2011 — 12:00pm

Food Stories has been predominantly recipe (not restaurant) focused this year. Creating is what makes me feel happiest inside, it turns out. So here are my favourite recipes of 2011, followed by the most memorable guilty pleasures; it would be terribly neglectful to exclude the latter, I think, as it’s surely clear by now that I’m quite partial to a filthy (probably pork-based, definitely artery-shuddering) snackette, or four.

1. Egg Yolk Ravioli (top photo)

It took three attempts, but I eventually nailed this recipe and was rewarded with some of the most decadent pasta I’ve ever eaten; a quivering yolk coddled by a ring of spinach and ricotta, ready to ooze headlong into a sauce that is made almost entirely from melted butter. Crushed pink peppercorns and purple basil made it one of my prettiest plates of 2011, too.

2. Piri Piri Chicken

2011 was the year I got even more into BBQ. Come drizzle, hail or sunshine, I was out there guarding that Weber, tongs in hand, bucket of meat on standby. We worked our way through jerk; brisket; brats cooked in beer; pulled pork and an obscene amount of wings (more on those later) but one of my favourite recipes was this piri piri chicken, inspired by a local takeaway. The combination of charred chicken (for piri piri must be charred), feisty chilli and tangy vinegar sauce made this one of my hits of the summer.

3. Boston Baked Beans

These rich and smoky Boston baked beans are thick with molasses and packed with nubs of smoked pork belly. They’re about as different to regular baked beans as you can imagine and they rocked my world.

4. Baghdad Eggs

I first came across Baghdad eggs in Jake Tilson’s brilliant cook book, ‘A Tale of 12 Kitchens’. This combination of  onions, sharp yoghurt and spiced butter on eggs is now my favourite weekend brunch.

5. Daim Bar Ice Cream

I visited Sweden this year and re-discovered Daim Bars. They went straight into ice cream. I watched my boyfriend devour the remains of this, straight from the tub with a spoon, after which he lay back, clutching his stomach, moaning “I feel siiiiiiick”. In a good way, you understand.

6. Ham Cooked in Coca Cola with a Rum and Molasses Glaze

The only way to make this sticky-sweet ham any better would be to pull great big hunks off it, stick it in a sandwich with some deep fried pickles and…oh, wait a minute.

7. Hickory Smoked Hot Wings 

After my first batch of home made hot wings, I wanted to do a variation and decided to smoke them using hickory wood chips, before dousing them as usual in Frank’s Hot Sauce and melted butter. Come to mama.

8. Smoky Aubergine and Lamb Pide

Pide are like a pointy Middle Eastern version of pizza. I based the recipe on my ‘Peckham Pizza’ (based on lahmacun). The topping is an intense paste made from spiced, minced lamb and the flesh from a charred aubergine. Garnished with chopped pickles and herbs, they’re lovely eaten as is, or wrapped around some salad.

 9. Pork Pibil Tacos

This pibil was made with pork knuckles and smothered in achiote paste – a wonderful ingredient which simply has no substitute. The tacos were spicy, drizzled as they were with a sauce made from orange juice, onion and scotch bonnet chillies.

10. Sausage Rolls with Apricots and Whisky-Caramelised Onions

And finally, a seasonal entry at number 10, my new favourite sausage roll recipe. Onions were slowly, slowly caramelised then bubbled furiously with whisky before going into these sausage rolls along with some dried apricots. The sweetness worked so well with the sausage meat and I’ve had great feedback from people who’ve made them this Christmas.

For the guilty pleasures, I’ve exercised some restraint (most uncharacteristic) and narrowed it down to five:

1. Baked Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and Spinach

Sneaking in on 3rd Jan was this rather naughty dish I made for my boyfriend’s birthday dinner. Home-made gnocchi baked in a sauce of Gorgonzola and cream, with a little spinach thrown in to ease the guilt. The gnocchi goes crispy on top while remaining gooey and soft underneath. A cardiologist’s nightmare.

2. Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing and Candied Bacon

Candied bacon is definitely one of my top guilty pleasures of the year, so much so I wrote a whole post about making it and using it. I have fond memories though of this ‘salad’ garnish, chopped candied bacon sprinkled over a river of blue cheese dressing and crunchy iceberg.

3. Deep Fried Pickles

Everyone went mad for these in 2011. I stuffed mine into a sandwich with coca cola ham and hot sauce. Then I had a lie down.

4. Meatwagon Burgers

I’ve followed Yianni’s journey from his van in Peckham, through #Meateasy in New Cross and now to Meat Liquor via The Rye. The latter has to be the most convenient and dangerous burger vending situation ever in existence if the state of my waistline is anything to go by. The Rye pub is opposite my house you see and for a few glorious months I needed to do little more than hop over the road to get my fix. Now they’re gone and Meat Liquor is in central London. I could cry.

5. Eggy Bread and Candied Bacon Sandwich

In at number 5: the sandwich of shame. I had candied bacon to hand and I’d just made eggy bread. It had to be done, see? We felt the guilt after eating this but damn, it was good. Sick, but good. If you’re into sandwiches, I’ve written a post about my top 5 here.

Phew. No wonder I need to lose weight. The diet inevitably starts er, tomorrow but until then I’ve got a Ginger Pig rib eye with my name on it. Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for reading and here’s to a tasty 2012. Cheers!

 

36 comments » | Barbecue, Brunch, Burgers, Christmas, Desserts, Dressings, Eggs, Gnocchi, Guilty Pleasures, Ice Cream, Main Dishes, Meat, Peckham, Round-ups, Salads, Salsa, Sandwiches, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads, Vegetables

Roast Fennel & Bread Salad with Anchovy Dressing

October 13th, 2011 — 6:49pm

 

“It’s not a salad if you put bread in it” someone once told me. What a load of tosh. Have you ever heard of croutons? Hmmm? Although regular croutons depress me; rock hard squares that shatter to dust once bitten. I like to make bread more of the main event by getting some really good quality sourdough or a similar sturdy loaf, charring it and and tearing it into rough chunks (an idea I fell in love with after making this). It sponges up the dressing, leaving you with half juicy, half crisp pieces which really bulk out a salad in the most obscenely delicious manner.

Last night I wasn’t in the mood for meat, so I roasted some fennel and cherry tomatoes, added some fat kalamata olives and coated everything in an anchovy rich dressing – 10 really large, plump fillets which pumped things up a notch or twenty. Chilli, garlic, parsley, olive oil…you can imagine it all soaking into the bread. Go on, imagine it.

Deep-fried croutons, be gone.

Roast Fennel and Bread Salad with Anchovy Dressing (serves 2)

2 bulbs fennel
10 cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
About 8 kalamata olives
2 slices sourdough bread

For the dressing:

1 red chilli, finely chopped
Small handful parsley, finely chopped
10 plump anchovy fillets, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Remove the tough outer later of the fennel and trim any stalky bits at the top. Cut each bulb into quarters and then cut each quarter in half again. Arrange in a roasting dish and sling in the garlic (unpeeled) too. Drizzle with oil then give everything a good mix around to make sure it’s coated well. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes.

Arrange the tomatoes in a separate dish, coat with oil and season as you did with the fennel. Once the fennel has been roasting for 20 minutes, put the tomatoes in the oven too. Cook for a further 15 minutes.

To make the dressing, put the chilli, parsley and anchovies in a pestle and mortar and pound to a paste. Add the lemon juice, a good slug of oil to loosen it and season with black pepper. Give everything a really good mix to emulsify the dressing. Once the vegetables are ready, remove the garlic and squeeze that into the dressing also. Mix well again.

Toast the bread, tear it into chunks and put into a large bowl. Add the fennel and tomatoes followed by the dressing. Give it a really good mix. Arrange on plates with the olives scattered over.

18 comments » | Bread, Fish, Fish and Seafood, Main Dishes, Salads

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses

September 22nd, 2011 — 8:07am

I saw this recipe by Stevie Parle in The Telegraph back in July and fell in love with the idea of combining figs, hazelnuts and pomegranate molasses. It’s just beautiful, in case you haven’t tried it. I’ve ramped up the sweet/sharp thing already going on with the pom syrup and figs by adding a little feta and some pomegranate seeds, for fleshy pops of juice. I also did away with the edible flowers because, unsurprisingly, they’re not that easy to find at 7pm on a Wednesday evening.

This took a few minutes to assemble and although it’s not filling enough on its own as a main meal, it is one of the most perfectly delicious ways to begin; a total triumph in the contrasts department.

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses (serves 1) (adapted from Stevie Parle’s recipe for The Telegraph)

3 ripe figs
1/2 a pomegranate
A little feta
Small handful blanched hazelnuts
A few leaves of lambs lettuce
1 scant teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon light olive oil

Mix the pom molasses and oil together in a small bowl. Arrange the lambs lettuce on a plate. Halve the figs and add them also. Break the hazelnuts slightly in a pestle and mortar and scatter over the figs, along with the feta. Hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and bash the skin with a wooden spoon until all the seeds fall out (remove any white bits that fall in). Sprinkle a few seeds over the salad and eat the rest. Spoon over the dressing. Serve.

16 comments » | Cheese, Fruit, Gluten-free, Healthy, Salads

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