Fruit love

As soon as I awake, my first thought is for food. Maybe I’m a glutton, maybe it’s a primeaval thing, but I always wake up hungry. My usual craving first thing in the morning is for carbs.

I normally reach for toast and butter, croissants or cereal as a breakfast of choice in order to quell those hunger pangs before the day starts.

However, in the summer months if we have fruit in, there’s no competition. A breakfast bowl of Tim’s honey yoghurt, a few strawberries, a handful of succulent blueberries, some walnuts and a scoop of mixed seeds and I’m in heaven.

Soon it will be cold enough for oatmeal again, so I’m making the most of the last of the fresh fruit and the light, warm mornings.


Griddled aubergine, mint, nut and feta bake

I had plans to make a nut roast for dinner tonight, but my loaf tin was in another apartments kitchen and there was no easy way of getting it back in time. I was really in the mood for nuts this evening, so I figured that I could improvise with what I had.

What I had was a bag of mixed nuts, two plump aubergines, glimmering balefully at me from the vegetable bowl where they’d sat for the last week, feta, mint, onions and tomatoes.

I sliced and griddled the aubergines and layered them into a baking tin. I sauted the onion and garlic, chopped the nuts and some fresh mint, and mixed these with a handful of hastily made breacrumbs. Moistened with vegetable bouillon and some chopped feta this came together as a loose, nutty ‘stuffing’ mixture which I layered twice more with the griddled aubergines and tomatoes like a lasagne.

All topped off with a final scattering of sumac and feta (well ok, more of a smothering.. I love feta) and behold! The birth of a new Luffy creation!

It’s true what they say that necessity is the mother of all invention…

The perfect cheese butty

There has always been much debate about what constitutes the perfect cheese sandwich, that beloved lunch of most Brits.

Sliced bread, doorstops from a whole loaf, white, brown or malted? Do rolls or baps count as authentic? (Apparently not).

What type of cheese works best, cheddar, Leicestershire, Camembert, Gouda? Hands down for me it has to be cheddar, sliced thickly, never grated. Life is too short to chase tiny parings of cheese around a plate.

Is it acceptable to add mayonnaise? And tomatoes, cucumber or pickle? Absolutely, say I, pile them on as you wish. A good, tangy mature cheese can hold its own with whatever else you care to throw at it. I personally always add a slick of mayo if I have it; something to do with the nostalgia of salad cream from the sandwiches of my childhood.

Let the debate rage. I’m going to be too busy munching on my butty to worry about who agrees or disagrees 😊…

Gnocchi with courgettes, fresh tomatoes and peas

We needed a simple supper tonight, one that would use up the bowl of fresh tomatoes that had been sitting for slightly too long by the cooker. I was ashamed that I hadn’t used them sooner and was determined that they wouldn’t go to waste.

I’m always astounded by the acidic sweetness that adding fresh tomatoes to a dish creates. I really don’t know why I don’t cook with them more.

This was a simple coming together of roughly chopped tomatoes, slightly charred courgettes, a chopped and sautéd red onion, some garlic, a scatter of lemony sumac, fresh coriander and a handful of peas. Simmered gently for a few minutes in order to allow all the flavours to shine through.

Then tumbled together in a bowl with the gnocchi and a handful of freshly grated Parmesan, and served with a smile that hinted at the many hours of cooking in a hot kitchen it had all taken….

Duplicitous culinary behaviour indeed. I am without shame…

Bravely unusual breakfast

Husband and I stayed at the Lalit Hotel at Tower Bridge, London a few nights ago.

It’s a glorious riot of Indian loveliness, with sumptuous embroidered fabrics, rich textile art and contemporary Indian style. The staff are simply delightful. 

Breakfast was in the vast Baluchi restaurant in the hotel, originally the grand vaulted hall of a grammar school. 

Feeling brave, I abandoned my usual toast and oatmeal, and ordered the Indian breakfast (although I was a little dubious about spiciness first thing in the morning as the pale, wilting northern flower that I am). 

The resulting giant dosa, filled with gently spiced potatoes and served with masala and Indian scrambled eggs was a revelation.

Crispy and feather light, with a rich and filling potato interior, any concerns I may have had about eating curry for breakfast were soon dispelled. 

I need to wear my big girl pants and be brave with my breakfast choices more often.


Fishy Pie

A good fish pie is a thing of beauty.

Throughout the year I buy fish when it’s plentiful or reduced and freeze it, ready for the day that all that will do for supper is a fragrant, lemony, comforting fish pie.

Over the years I’ve refined how I make this. It’s usually a mix of salmon, smoked haddock and prawns, all chopped chunkily and tossed together.

I no longer make a bechamel sauce, which other than moistness doesn’t seem to add much in terms of flavour to the dish, even using the poaching liquid from the fish as I used to.

Instead, I water down a few spoonfuls of sharp, creamy feta with lemon juice and water, and drizzle that over the raw fish mixture before adding the mashed potato, cheese and breadcrumb topping and baking to crispy, volcanic perfection.

Served with a glass of dry white wine, and nothing else, it’s the perfect warming comfort food on a weekday.

Fast food – charred vegetables with lime tahini

The fridge yesterday was littered with bits of vegetables left over from the last few meals – half a red pepper, a few sprigs of purple sprouting broccoli, a heel of butternut squash. All looking a little sad for themselves.

Channeling Frugal Queen I decided that it couldn’t all go to waste, and that there was enough for a good lunch with a little imagination.

Onto the roasting tray went the bits of sweet pepper, cubed butternut squash, a few quarters of red onion and a few cloves of garlic. A generous drizzle of olive oil and a grind or two of salt and it was roasted for fifteen minutes, adding the brocolli for a final fifteen minute blast.

Tahini, maple syrup, the juice and grated zest of a fresh lime and seasoning were whipped up together and scooped onto the now charred and softened vegetables from the oven.

Fast food at its best. Thirty minutes, and fresh, healthy and prepared with minimal cost.

What’s not to love.

Fabulous fougasse

Provence specialises in olive bread called fougasse, and our morning trips to the boulangerie always resulted in our coming home with a freshly baked one in the basket alongside the croissants.

This was a life saver, as our two teenage vegans couldn’t eat the other breakfast pastries, which were all baked with butter. They did devour these beauties, however, pulling them apart warm and fragrant from the oven.

Prepared and baked with olive oil, heavily layered with pungent olive paste and black olives, and scattered with local Camargue salt crystals and fresh thyme, these fougasse were remarkably delicious.

I’ve never tasted anything quite as good out of Provence.

Sweet potato, chickpea and brocolli Buddha Bowl

Spiced toasted chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, kale and broccoli, all drizzled with a lemony tahini dressing.

I added a base layer of wholemeal rice as we were hungry this evening, but in fact the sweet potatoes and chickpeas were incredibly filling so it probably wasn’t necessary.

All in all this was a glorious mixture of crunchy and soft, spicy and citrus fresh flavours and textures.

Thankyou, Minimalist Baker! Your recipe was perfect. Supper sorted in thirty minutes.

The Egg Meister

You have to love a man who can scramble eggs to perfection. There’s simply no other course of action possible. And my husband is indeed the Egg Meister.

Breakfast in bed with scrambled Burford Brown eggs, feta cheese and sliced spicy Turkish sausage, with toasted sourdough on the side. Deliciousness itself.

What’s not to love 😍