Friday, 31 August 2012

Quinoa and Salmon Salad.

At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged, middle-class, food neurotic, I made Quinoa today and liked it!

I have been keeping a food diary (neurotic) recently and it has sparked a real interest in nutrition and the like. Its really fascinating and quite complicated once you start picking it apart. NB I still firmly believe that, for the most part, eating what you want when you fancy it is the healthiest rout to take with food.

for the Salmon
* Salmon fillet
* Olive Oil
* Garlic, 1 Clove
* Parsley, a handful
* Black Pepper
* Lemon
* White wine

for the rest
* Quinoa
* Stock Cube
* Courgette
* Celery
* Avocado
* Cherry Tomatoes
* Spring Onions
* Feta Cheese
* Seed Mix (Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame, Golden Linseed)

Having sung Quinoa's praises I have this to say- its fucking hard to cook. Or rather its hard to cook 'right'. It should be light and fluffy (and aldante, like pasta) and not, as mine was, mushy gloop. I followed these instructions and I think it must be me, rather than the instructions, that are at fault. Apparently the trick is to use a 1:1 ration rather than the more popular 1:2 ratio suggested on most packets i.e. use less water.

* Soak Quinoa in cold water for around 15 mins.
* Drain using a fine mesh sieve, run under cold water until the water runs clear (it stops foaming).
* Place in Quinoa in a pan and add the same amount of water as you have Quinoa, in my case 2 cups Quinoa and 2 cups water. Add stock and seasoning.
* Bring to the boil, then place a lid on the pan and turn the hob onto a low heat. Apparently it ought to take about 30 mins. but mine was one in a flash (10 mins. max)
* Once cooked set to one side.
* Everything else goes in raw so all you need to do is chop, dice, cube etc and add once the Quinoa has cooled a bit.
Celery and Spring Onions
Avocado and Cherry Tomatoes
I have been meaning to try raw Courgette for a while, and so purchased myself a peeler and gave it a while. I have to say the results were damn tasty!
The fish is super easy and super quick.

* Get yourself a longish piece of tin foil and fold in half (so you have a double layer).
* Dribble some olive oil onto the foil and smear around a bit.
* Put Salmon (or fish of choice) in the centre of the foil.
* Chop up a clove of Garlic (or more if you like it- I do) and sprinkle over the fillets.
* Chuck a handful of parsley over the lot
* Squeeze half a lemon over the fish
* Add a few tbl. sps. of white wine, and a little Olive oil
* Bring the sides of the foil up and roll down, pinch up sides of the foil and fold round to make a parcel.
* Whack in the oven for about 20 mins. You'll know when its done- it smells delicious! (should take about 15-20 mins. depending on the oven temp and the type of fish).

To serve:
* Spoon Quinoa into a bowl/plate
*Add other ingredients (Obviously in an ideal world (where Quinoa is fluffed to perfection) you would already have added these bits).
* Add fish- pour on the juices left in the foil
* Add an extra squeeze of lemon, and a fuck load of black pepper.
* Sprinkle on seed mix, Parsley and Feta

I meant to add petites pois to this meal but totally forgot them! I added them to my lunch, which brings me to another point; this recipe works fabulously well as a packed lunch the following day- YUM!

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Autumn 2012 Wish List

After a lovely few weekends (with only a smattering of rain) it looks as if Autumn has arrived. I am really excited about this as autumn and winter as they are my favorite seasons. Already I have seen a million beautiful things. I find dressing for the cold much more interesting than dressing for Summer, there's much more to it and I prefer the colours involved.

To kick things off these are the shoes that are currently the objects of my desire. Sadly they are WAY out of my budget (£145!), it will probably be Spring before I can afford them.
They remind me of a pair Isabel Marant Dicker boots. I found a brilliant blog discussing ankle boots of this ilk that suggest some fabulous substitutes.

As for troose...
These Olive bad boys will set you back £38 (or £34.20 if you happen to have a student card to hand) and you can find them in Topshop. They look a little bit like a darker version of the Givenchy and at only a smidge of the designer price tag.

On to tops...
I am a sucker for a collar less shirt, you can find this one in the blokes section at Hennes for a mere £19.99. It comes in White too.

Jumpers! I reserve a special place in my heart for a really tasty woolen jumper. There are so many out there to be had but this one from Mango gets my vote. I have also seen a couple in Hennes (men's wear again) that look pretty cosy.
This one comes in various colours (including White and Mustard) and is currently in the sale at £9.99.

Also this Merino number from UniQlo, £19.90 in Dark Grey
Or this lambs wool one, also from UniQlo at a mere £14.90!

As for coats I am, as yet, undecided. I am tempted by the idea of a parka preferably with a sheepskin lining. Alternatively something Navy with buckles (old faithful).


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Stuffed Flat Breads

A recipe from the weekend as promised:
Making Dough.
We were inspired by Nigel Slater.  If you got the Observer last Sunday (26/08/2012) you can find the the original in the supplement. Ours were subject to ingredients restraints and the usual kitchen disagreements- both combined to make a number of different versions of the original (all with varying degrees of success).

for the dough (makes c. 6 flat breads)
* Strong, white bread flour 500g
* Salt 10g
* Instant yeast 10g
* Unsalted butter 30g
* Water 300ml

for the filling
* Roasted veg- Butternut squash, red pepper, onion, garlic, courgette, tomatoes (this is just what we had but you can use pretty much anything you like).
* Cheese- We used Blue cheese but again you have a particular liking for. If I make them again I'm going to give goats cheese a bash.

* Put the flour in a large, warm mixing bowl, add salt and dried yeast.
* Add the butter and most of the water.
* Get your hands involved and bring the mixture together.
* Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour has been mixed in.
* Knead for about 5-10 mins. until the dough feels smooth and silky.
* Pop it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise. 1 hour is about long enough but we were hungry so we used a hair dryer to speed up the process (I'm not sure this had any real effect...) ANYWAY the dough should be about double its original size when its done.
* Tip the dough onto a floured surface and 'fold' until all the air has been removed. We found that tearing it onto smaller pieces and squeezing it removed the air faster- you can actually feel the bubbles popping!
* One the air has gone form the dough into 6 rounds.

* Chop what ever you are using for the filling into small pieces- cheese and 'other' filling should be about the same size.
* Make a hollow in each round and add the filling.
* Pinch the dough together around the filling sealing it in (a bit like a pasty).
*  place the ball of dough on a floured surface and flatten with a rolling pin (some of the filling might make a bid for freedom at this point, just pinch it back into the dough and roll again if this happens.
* when you have finished rolling your flat breads should look a bit like fat pitta breads (c. 16cm ovals).
*Place your ovals on a piece of baking parchment and leave in a warm place, and leave for 10-15mins. We put ours in the oven on a very low heat.
*Warm a thick based frying pan over a moderate heat.
* Trickle a tiny bit of olive oil in to the pan, and move it around until the base is lightly oiled.
* Place your flat bread/breads (depending on the size of your pan) in the pan and cook.
* Nigel suggests cooking for 3-4 mins. each side. We didn't find this was long enough... both sides should be browned (blackened in places) and the sides should have hardened up a bit. Give them a prod with your fingers to check how they're getting on, and a taste if your still unsure.
* The dough should be cooked through but a little sticky.
* Remove and eat immediately.
Fat little flat breads sizzling in the pan.

To Serve:
We had ours with leafy salad, a few cheery tomatoes and some delicious marinaded pan fried Salmon. I added some additional roasted veg and a good chunk of blue cheese too. Oh and a bottle of wine- naturally. :)


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bank Holiday Plus

Bit of a hodge-podge today as its been a while since I last wrote. Having said this, id be surprised if you can tell the difference between this weekend and last, as we are BBQing in almost every shot.
The weather was just so lovely- sunshine absolutely everywhere!
Went a bit mad with the old light leak. Incidentally if you're interested in Apps and the like check out Lumi (iphone & Android)
Stayed in the sun till the cows came home
Picnicking on Devil's Dyke.

Steiner throw back...
We made some proper buff food (recipes to follow).

My absolute favorite flowers, a present from The Boy.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Kick Start!

My Grandma came to visit today and in true Grandmotherly style she showered me in wisdom and went to great lengths to ensure my continued health and well-being.
yes that is a Hawaiian shirt.
Health giving swag.
new running shoes!
Went for a jog with my new running shoes this evening. What a treat?! It was like running on springs I can't believe the difference. I had my feet 'analyzed' on this thermo stuff, apparently I have 'neutral' feets... I also learned that you should get new trainers every 3-9 months, or more frequently if you run more than 3 times a week.

I also got round to getting a rail card (finally). My have things changed since the last time I used a photo booth! It tells you to do all the usual stuff 'place head in frame', 'adjust seat' etc etc then it says: 'Do NOT smile'!!! Can you believe it?! what if your natural face is smiling? total rubbish! I smiled anyway. Fuck you Photo-Me photo booth!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Pad Thai!

Last night we made the long awaited Pad Thai. It was delicious despite the facet that (predictably) it didn't quite taste like the real thing.

Phee and I spent Sunday pretentiously swishing about Brighton shopping in 'authentic' markets in the hope of recreating a realistic Pad Thai. The saddest thing is we found almost everything we needed in that bastion of middle class virtue- Waitrose...
For a meal that is supposed to be quick to make, not to mention made at lightening speed, quite a lot of preparation is needed.

Thought I'd share the recipe with you guys. Enjoy!

1. First off (cooking for veggies) meant replacing meat with tofu, which had to be pressed then heated to draw out all the moisture. this took fucking ages! If you're a vegetarian, or cooking for one, here are some decent instructions on how to prepare it before Pad Thaiing. (I advise doing it otherwise it all falls apart when you get down to business).
Warm on low heat, turning tofu every 8 mins. or so. ours took about 45mins.
marinade ingredients: Salt, Garlic, Soy Sauce.
I made a marinade for our tofu and left it soaking over night. A Thai women we met on our ingredients buying excursion told us to add salt to soy sauce to replace fish sauce. I often use coarse salt to pulp garlic if I'm adding it to a marinade or dressing- in this instance I just added a little more.
You will need: coarse salt, 1 clove garlic and enough soy sauce to cover your tofu. finely chop garlic then smosh it over the salt with the flat of your knife until pulped.

I used a recipe for Pad Thai that I found on this brilliant Blog. its the best I have found so far, check it out.
3. Soak the noodles: for Pad Thai use luke-warm water and soak until they are pliable but not fully cooked. Ours took about 25 mins. drain and add oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.

4. For the Sauce: the marvelous Chez Pim has this to say on Pad Thai sauce: "lead with a salty flavor, follow by a mild sourness, then just a gentle sweetness and a soft caress from the chilli at the back of my throat at the very end." so this is what I went for. Mine didn't turn out quite like this (too sour) but was tasty non the less.
You will need: 1/2 cup Tamarind Paste, 1/2 Soy Sauce (I added the left over marinade to the concoction), 1/3 Brown sugar (melted over a low heat in water) and a good pinch of chilli powder and chilli flakes. Heat the Sugar first then add the others and simmer gently.

5. As I mentioned earlier, you have to be super speedy once you actually start cooking so its best to have all your ingredients ready to go.
Soaked Noodles, Bean Sprouts, Tofu, Spring Onions, Pickled Beetroot, Lime, Chinese Cabbage, Chillies. We had grated carrot too but it doesn't seem to have made an appearance here.
You can add pretty much what ever you like to Pad Thai but we used- Bean Sprouts, marinated Tofu, Spring Onions (we couldn't find Chinese Chives), Pickled Beetroot (we couldn't find pickled turnip- and beetroot made it all pink which was fun), Lime, Chinese Cabbage, Chilli (de-seeded and chopped) and illusive grated Carrot.

 6. Heat your wok until it starts to smoke

7. Add oil (we used Sesame)

8. Add Tofu and a table spoon or two of your sauce (add extra garlic if you fancy it). Cook tofu until crisp and golden.

9. Add noodles and 1/2 cup of warm sauce. (best to have your sauce to hand and warming on a hob throughout).

10. Stir all vigorously making sure to keep everything moving until the noodles are soft. (if you find the sauce is evaporating too quickly add a bit of water. Again, its good to have this to hand as everything happens pretty quickly. Add more oil if your noodles are clumping.

11. Push noodles to one side and crack an egg into the wok. I found that the egg cooked too quickly and sort of disappeared. Next time I' going to try adding it last- I'll let you know how it goes. Toss all together.

12. Add bean sprouts, pickled beetroot, cabbage, spring onions and toss all together. Add more sauce if things are looking a bit insipid and pale.

13. whack it all on a plate sprinkle liberally with Peanuts, chilli and carrot.

14. Serve with booze (any you like but dry white wine and cider go particularly well). ENJOY!


Thursday, 9 August 2012


It has been a hectic few days, and the next few are set to follow the trend.

On Tuesday I cycled for 2.5 hours to purchase a wok in preparation for the date night Pad Thai. Saw some pretty bangin' views of the white cliffs.
the aforementioned wok.
Regular readers will have heard of Betty- the office hound. She has been staying at the Penthouse the last few days and in that time I have transformed into one of 'those' people. So, without further ado, here is a glut of dog related imagery.
Desperate for walks
Excitement on the beach.
Riding the open top bus on our way to the Downs (for MORE walks)
Mid-walk tipple at the Royal Oak
Never ending steps that went on and on...
...and on. I was told at the top by a well informed 7 year old that there were 154 steps (it felt like more).

The view from the top was pretty good.
The day started off really hot and sunny but then this strange sea mist set in and took over. Everything looked all Pirates Of The Caribbean and spooky. On the way home we saw this ship, mentally close to the old pier. It looked like a ghost ship but I have since been told that it was doing some 'buoy maintenance'. Much less exciting.
Look how close it is to the shore!
More walking. Phee and Betty.
Hope everyone is having a gorgeous week. Only one more day then its the weekend! Yippee!