It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of yoghurt. Lidl sells thick Greek yoghurt by the 1kg bucket (literally – the pot has a handle), and I’ve been known to devour one in an embarrassingly short amount of time.
Part of yoghurt’s appeal for me is in its versatility – it is equally at home in both sweet and savoury dishes. If I’m going for sweet, my yoghurt toppings often extend to honey (or if I’m feeling extravagant, date syrup) and some sort of nut, usually flaked almonds. Recently, I’ve started experimenting with using yoghurt in more savoury dishes as a topping or sauce, often combined with herbs.
This recipe is a shameless knock-off of a meal my friend Heather cooked for me. The earthy root veg, roasted with honey, cumin and fiery harissa, is topped with a thick sauce of natural yoghurt, tahini and parsley. I use flat leaf parsley here, as I have no patience with the curly stuff. The herby yoghurt elevates this dish beyond humble roast veg, giving it a freshness that compliments the spice really well. It’s so good that you’ll be buying yoghurt by the bucketful in no time….
What I love about Bristol is its vibrant, constantly changing food scene. New restaurants are constantly popping up all over the place. There’s always a new street food craze or pop up restaurant just around the corner. I live near a pretty incredible string of independent restaurants serving food from every corner of the world, as well as many promoting fantastic local produce. The most exciting and eagerly-awaited restaurant opening (at least for me) is Katie and Kim’s Kitchen. Katie and Kim’s Kitchen started life as a food blog (www.katieandkimskitchen.blogspot.co.uk). Through being an avid reader of their blog since I moved to Bristol, I have followed the exciting developments in the duo’s life. They won the British Street Food awards last year, serving cheddar and rosemary scones out of a converted horsebox. Katie and Kim’s Kitchen is their latest venture – a permanent residence in Picton Street, Montpelier.
For the sake of food blogger networking, and general curiosity, I thought it was high time I checked it out. I wandered down with my housemate, Izzy. We were initially just going for coffee and a bit of cake, but one glance at the daily changing menu chalked up on the blackboard and we ended up having lunch. We went for the cheese and rosemary scones that put Katie and Kim on the map, served warm with bacon, poached eggs and spinach. The scones were absolutely incredible: rich, buttery and crumbly, with a tangy undercurrent of cheese and a delicate whiff of rosemary. Combined with salty bacon and perfectly cooked, oozing poached eggs, it was a pretty sublime experience.
But we didn’t stop there. There were freshly baked chocolate éclairs and wobbly custard tarts piled high on the counter. For the sake of research, we had to try both. The chocolate éclairs were delicious – just the right ratio of cream, feather-light pastry and smooth chocolate ganache. But it was the custard tarts that won it for me: buttery pastry with a rich, trembling custard filling. We were given an extra one each to take home too, and they were just as good the next day. Katie and Kim are both lovely – naturally welcoming and generous, with a gentle wit and an infectious passion for food and local produce. They have already built up a loyal following, having only been open for a few weeks. I know it’s a cliché to say this, but I will be coming back again and again, as much for Katie and Kim’s welcoming spirit as for their delicious food.
I’ve recently had two of my housemates from university come to visit. Food is one of the things that cements our friendship, having run a student food blog together (www.chocolatebudget.wordpress.com, if you’re interested). We had something of a dip extravaganza, making several different ones including baba ganoush, guacamole and this butternut squash one. All accompanied by pitta bread, olives and a great deal of reminiscing.
This spread is something of a revelation. It’s from one of my favourite cookbooks – ‘Jerusalem’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. If you haven’t heard of Ottolenghi then please get to know him. Amy first introduced his recipes to me while we were at uni, and I promptly bought a copy of ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook’ for myself and several others. His first cookbook details the salads, pastries and other amazing things sold at his London based delis, incorporating his influences from all over the world. Whereas Jerusalem does what you’d expect: focuses on Middle Eastern food. I’d recommend getting both.
One of the things that pops up a lot in Ottolenghi’s recipes is date syrup. Although it’s usually quite expensive, I’ve found a cheap source of it in my local Middle Eastern food shop. Other delights that they stock include massive tubs of tahini, pomegranate molasses, fig jam and dried sour cherries. The date syrup is not essential for this dish, but makes it a sublime experience, rather than merely an intensely pleasurable one.
There is a lengthy description about how this dip should be served, something about spreading it onto a plate, making swirls in it with your knife and drizzling over the date syrup. The suggested amount is 2 teaspoons, bearing in mind that the dip is already very sweet just from the squash, but I found it difficult to be so restrained and drenched the whole lot in something approaching 2 tablespoons.
Food is my main motivator for travel. That, and taking photos: of the scenery as well as the food. The thing that excited me most about my trip to South-East Asia and Australia last year was the different tastes that awaited me in the five countries. From paad thai on the streets of Bangkok via smoked duck in Singapore to kangaroo in Adelaide, South Australia, it was a pretty epic range of tastes. One of my favourite destinations in terms of food has to be Italy. Italian food is so much more than just pizza and pasta – although the pizza and pasta are, usually, excellent.
I first had farro in Florence, in a tiny café nestled somewhere in the city’s ochre-coloured, labyrinthine streets. We took refuge from the baking hot sun in the middle of the day, and had several platefuls of a very memorable salad: farro with cherry tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. When I first tried it, I thought the mysterious grain was simply pearl barley, but that for some reason it tasted so much better than the dowdy English variety. Farro is in fact Italian pearled spelt, very similar to pearl barley but with a nuttier taste which makes it altogether more likeable. It’s great cold, in refreshing salads, or warm, with unctuous layers of tomato sauce poured over it.
It seems I’m not the only one who is a fan of farro: there was an Ottolenghi recipe in Waitrose Magazine this month for grilled lettuce with farro and lemon. Here, in keeping with Italian simplicity, I decided to combine my new favourite grain with some chicken baked with lemon, and some gently fried courgettes. A spray of roughly chopped parsley and an extra squeeze of lemon finished it off. This dish could work as well warm as cold – more suitable for lunch cold and dinner hot, maybe. But for the purposes of needing good midday light for the photos, I had it warm for lunch, rendering that previous claim somewhat redundant.
I’ve recently got a new camera. I finally took the plunge and upgraded to a full- frame model. I found it a bit intimidating at first. For the first few days after I got it, it just sat in the corner of my room, and I would give it little nervous glances now and again, as if it was suddenly going to jump out of its box and quiz me on my photography knowledge. But eventually, I bit the bullet and took it out of its box, charged it up and attached my macro lens.
This is my first blog shoot with the beast. I used a wooden crate turned upside down as a background, to create a (cringingly food styling word alert) ‘rustic’ feel. I used a black plate, to make the bright orange of the carrot and the vivid green of the coriander leaves stand out. I spent what felt like a ridiculously long time pushing the ribbons of carrot around with a fork, trying to tease them into an attractive shape, but they didn’t seem to quite want to behave themselves.
I sometimes really enjoy making a meal that is just for me. To put lots of effort into making something taste delicious and looks attractive, even though it’s only you that’s going to eat it, is quite satisfying. This salad was born out of a whim to make something simple, healthy and refreshing, to antidote a period of creamy overindulgence, demonstrated by the preceding tiramisu. Carrots, orange and coriander is a textbook combination. I’ve recently started experimenting with using spices in salad dressing – here I’ve used cumin, another of carrot’s best friends.
Even though throwing dinner parties for my friends is one of my favourite things to do, I also look forward to cooking a meal that is just for me. I can decide exactly what I want to eat. I don’t have to worry about whether any of my dining companions are allergic to prawns, dairy, onions, or something else that they haven’t discovered yet, but will be present in the meal I cook.
For those of you to whom Manchego means absolutely nothing, it is a Spanish sheeps’ milk cheese that is something of an obsession of mine. It is just the right balance of nutty and sweet, with a firm texture. And, as I discovered while making this omlette, it melts. Which is always a plus.
I decided to team it with chorizo to make something approaching an authentic Spanish omlette. Also, if we’re being authentically Spanish, it should be pronounced ‘horitho’, with an over-exaggerated Spanish accent. Maybe put some loud flamenco music on too.