Involtini Addiction

Many years ago I tried a Nigella recipe for involtini. It was an immediate taste revelation for me, a totally addictive experience. 

Something about the melting combination of softly charred aubergines, sweet raisins, salty feta and the earthy, oily crunch of nuts and pine nuts hooked me immediately. It got transferred to my ancient, much thumbed personal journal of recipes and every now and then it emerges back onto the menu. 


Today I’m making it once again. After a weekend of festival food and too much meat and BBQ sauce, I’m ready for a vegetarian detox, and this is just what I’m in the mood for.

Serve with fresh green salad, or like me, spoon it straight from the pan with gluttonous glee. 

Cranks – a glorious institution 

Cranks was a small chain of vegetarian wholefood restaurants in the UK back in the eighties and nineties, and an institution in its own right. It did much to dispel the myth that vegetarian food was all lentils and brown rice, with its delicious, innovative, baked-on-the-day fresh produce.

Sadly financial pressures caused it to close its doors for good in 2001. We have never seen it’s like again, despite the rise of healthy eating, vegetarian and vegan eating.

It’s remaining and fitting legacy is its cookbook. Unlike recipe books today it isn’t filled with glorious photographs of each dish. The recipes are in tight, rather dense print with no illustrations to break them up. But if you could only have one vegetarian cookbook, this is the one for you. It has everything. And all the recipes I’ve tried are easy to make, delicious, and have all worked without fail. 

My chestnut bake comes from here, without which family Boxing Days would simply not be the same. As does the worlds best nut roast, stuffed with a delectable layer of cheese and tomato for extra flavour. And their wine and nut pate has converted more stout meat eaters than I care mention.

Thankyou, Cranks. Still relevant and in my eyes still the best after all these years. 

Straight to my hips

I was meeting friends straight from work this evening, and knowing that quantities of wine would be involved, I decided that I’d better eat something reasonably substantial. Olives wouldn’t really cut it in the defence stakes tonight!

I popped into Patty and Bun in Soho, a small, rather hipster burger joint near Greek Street and ordered one of their crispy buttermilk chicken burgers. 

It was quite simply one of the best chicken burgers that I’ve ever eaten. It came loaded with lettuce, sliced pickles, mayo and a soft, sweet brioche bun, wrapped up in greasproof paper. Simple and totally , succulently, crisply delectable. 

Whenever I try and photograph a burger it always turns out, well, brown. And underwhelming. But take my word for it that this was in the “best chicken burger of all time” league, truly. 

It will go straight to my hips, obviously

Embrace your inner bagel

FullSizeRender Lunch is usually one of those meals taken on the run for me. I try to eat mindfully and ring the changes as often as I can, but to be honest a quick sandwich or salad is the most effort that I can muster on a busy day.

So a toasted, seeded bagel filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese and peppery watercress was a welcome change to the usual fare. And it made me wonder why I don’t eat more bagels?

Delicious, relatively healthy and quick to pull together, I’ve decided that  bagels are to be embraced in the Luffy household. I can feel myself whipping up unusual combinations for fillings as we speak…

There’s nothing like a bit of bagel love

Gorgeous gazpacho

Partner and I had supper out in London one night last week, and we were served a gazpacho that was so overloaded with garlic that nothing else could be tasted at all. It got me to thinking that I could do much better at home.

A good gazpacho, in my book, should be zinging with freshness and flavour. Cucumber, tomatoes, and peppers, a touch of garlic and a slight chilli kick.  It’s appeal is in it’s velvety freshness and vinegary smack.  Best served chilled to within an inch of its life, spooned and scooped up with crusty wholemeal or sourdough bread.

Guess what we’re having for dinner tonight..😊

Furry globes of lusciousness

As a child I loved cereal. As sweet and radioactive as I could get it. And if the box contained hidden plastic treats, all the better.  As an adult, however, I went through a bit of a “wilderness years” period where I hardly touched cereal, preferring toast, fruit, or eggs for breakfast instead. 

But now I seem to be experiencing a bit of a renaissance. I’ve taken to eating muesli or branflakes, soaked in almond or rice milk by choice as soon as I wake. I will often be found of a morning sitting around in my big pants eating a bowl of cereal topped with whatever fruit I can get my hands on. I’m clearly going through some sort of second childhood.

This morning the fruit to hand was flat peaches, glorious little furry globes of sweet lusciousness. So delicious. I gorge on these when they come into season; for me, there’s nothing sweeter. I may have to have a second bowl…

Too hot to cook

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London doesn’t do extreme heat well. Despite the occasional respite of a shady park, the concrete and tarmac in the city intensify the heat and pollution until it’s almost unbearable at temperatures over 30C.

When it’s like this, it’s salads at best. The oven won’t get touched again until we’re back to reasonable temperatures. Lord only know how chefs cope when it’s this hot!

I’m like a pale, perspiring grub in this weather, slow and uncomfortable, hopping from shade to fan and moaning horribly. My pale, Scottish origin does not equip me for heat in any degree.

So, salads it is! I shall be at my most inventive until the weather cools in an attempt to keep our meals interesting. There’s only so much lettuce that a girl can eat…