Pies have never really been my thing. I’m sure this makes me un-American, and now that I’m living in the UK — another pie-obsessed nation — it probably makes me un-British as wellness. It’s not the pies themselves, I think it’s the pastry. Although something made with flour and butter should, by its very nature, be high on my list of likes. I really don’t understand it. All of that aside, I decided to make a pie. And if you’re going to make a pie, you may as well make an award-winning pie, right? A pie that beat out 400 other sweet and savory pies in seven categories. I mean, if you’re going to do something, you may as well do it right.Continue reading
If you’re like me, you look at every opportunity to cook for other people as an opportunity to create, experiment and just generally flex your culinary muscles. Not necessarily to show off, although I will admit to the odd twinge of pride when things work out how I hoped, but just because the thrill of creating – and then devouring – something new is almost as exciting as getting to share it with people you love. Knowing me as he does, my husband usually prefaces announcements of expected guests with, ‘Just keep it casual. Make something simple. Don’t go overboard.’. But sometimes keeping it simple is exactly what you need to do to create a masterpiece.
I know I seem to be banging on about Jerusalem a lot lately, but if you have flicked through its beautifully photographed pages, enjoyed its history and relished its ‘foreignness’ like I have, you find it hard to think of much else when dinner time rolls around. This risotto is another complete cracker of a recipe; utterly beautiful in its simplicity.
Chili pastes are all the rage these days with the Asian varieties like sriracha taking the biscuit for most people. And I can’t disagree, sriracha has depth of flavor rather than just pure heat and makes the best. chicken. wings. ever. But stepping a bit further west to the Middle East, the condiments stashed at the back of Jerusalem are full of interest and intrigue and there’s more plenty of spice for chili lovers too.
This dish is sort of baffling. It’s filling and satisfying, but not heavy. It uses dried lentils which have probably been sitting in the cupboard since winter, yet it has a summery freshness. It’s healthy, but feels extremely indulgent. I think we can agree that all those things are very, very good.
Bread is a funny thing. It’s the stuff of life and the one thing I probably couldn’t live without, but the thought of making it at home fills me with dread. Maybe it’s the time and effort you have to put in which, in an instant, can all be for nothing – a minute too long in the oven, a forgotten pinch of salt, so many little things that could be fixed in cooking are irreparable when you’re baking.
So apparently, the difference between gammon and ham is that gammon is cured as part of a side of bacon (and then smoked or not) and ham is removed from the carcass and smoked or dried. I have never heard the term ‘gammon’ in the US, but I guess it must exist. Here in the UK we quite often buy small gammon joints and roast them in the oven, covered at first and then uncovered to brown the fat. It’s pretty standard fare, but it’s always tasty. This ham was different. I wanted to cook it differently, flavor it differently, do something so that it would be a bit more special. A bit of a treat. Enter the barbecue.
Pinterest has supplied me with a couple of cracking recipes. It’s like looking through an online magazine and I love to be able to see what something looks like before I cook it, it’s part of the inspiration process. This one was a doozy though, I couldn’t believe me eyes. A one pot pasta dish? No separate sauce to make? Bring it to a boil and leave it? No way.
Baked beans are a British institution. They’re served on toast, on baked (or to give them their proper English name: jacket) potatoes and, of course, they are a vital part of the one meal no Brit can live without: the full English breakfast. By why should they be bland and full of preservatives? Why shouldn’t they be coated in a thick, rich sauce full of spice and smoke? I think they should.
Sometimes I make a list of what we’re going to eat throughout the week; sometimes we abide by the list, and sometimes we don’t. On this particular day we failed to plan for our planned dinner and had to make due with what was available, which turned out to be sweet potatoes, onions and eggs.