Bye Bye Facebook

I have always had a love / hate relationship with social media. I’ve always had a slightly forced relationship with anything terribly social for that matter. On one hand I relish privacy and a quiet life and in the same breath I am deeply curious about people, trends, communication and the world around me. Which is why, I suppose, I write a blog (social) yet live in the countryside (not very social).

I wasn’t one of the first to join Facebook but I did fall for the powers of Twitter in the very early days. I tired of Pinterest much more quickly than I thought I would but I absolutely adore Instagram and think it is winning as my front runner in the social media race. Obviously I like blogging but that comes from a love of writing and a love of magazines and the printed word. I’m not sure it’s down to a love of being social….although I admit that I do certainly consider who might read my posts before, whilst and after I’ve posted them, but I do try desperately not to let it stop me. It comes more from a desire to share what I think might be interesting or useful or perhaps strike a cord with any like minded people. It allows me to be my own editor of my own magazine.

Anyway, for the past few months I’ve started to really dis-like Facebook. It was beginning to take up too much time – mainly because I manage 5 different company “Pages” – and whilst I was posting work related things, I couldn’t help but get sucked in to the News Feed. Some of the “status updates” and photos and news posts were interesting but they always became tangled amongst the “friends of friends” who I really didn’t need or want to know about. Also, Facebook trips people up all the time. Little white lies or innocent misunderstandings get completely out of control and it just stops being fun. No one can really be themselves. Plus, if I was to see one more status asking to copy and paste Facebook’s new privacy settings, I think I might have screamed. Whilst being hugely important, it also just kept reminding me over and over again that nothing on the internet is private. Nothing. So if you want to be private, posting your life on Facebook isn’t the way to do it, however many boxes you tick.

So I did it. I cancelled my Facebook account. Mel Burridge married to Jay Jay Burridge is no longer. Instead I have an alter ego who shall manage my company pages (I agree completely to the importance of Facebook for businesses) but she shall have no friends, photos or walls on which to post. It feels very good indeed. Lets just see how many friends remember my birthday.

Cauliflower Pakoras – Ottolenghi

After a recommendation from an ANTW reader, I made these last night and they were wonderful. Should have perhaps made half the amount of mixture but it means we can enjoy them for a second night. Plus they have no dairy which is good for all kinds of people and the vegetables stay really crunchy and delicious. I didn’t use nearly as much oil as it says in the recipe, it doesn’t need it, and I used Rape Seed Oil rather than Sunflower. Great with plain yoghurt and mango chutney.



Cauliflower pakoras

Although fried, these snacky treats are light in texture. Makes about 25.

150g chickpea flour
100g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
100g green beans, cut into 1cm pieces
1 medium cauliflower head, roughly chopped (400g net weight)
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
30g ginger, peeled and chopped fine
30g coriander leaves and stems, chopped
30g spring onion, trimmed and sliced thin
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
10 fresh curry leaves (or 20 dried ones), finely chopped
300-400ml sunflower oil, for frying
200g Greek yoghurt

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in 350ml cold water, stirring just to combine; the batter can be a bit lumpy. Add all the other ingredients bar the oil and yoghurt, plus a teaspoon and a half of salt. Stir gently to combine and set aside.

Pour oil into a large frying pan to come 1.5cm up the sides and put on medium-high heat. Once hot, scoop in a large spoonful of batter and fry for 90 seconds to two minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest in batches. Serve warm with yoghurt.


That thing called Fashion…

I’m going to say this very quietly and I may be wrong but I think I might be missing that thing called Fashion, just a little bit. It generally happens around this time of year, show time. I didn’t even really enjoy the shows that much, well not at the time anyway. When I was a young magazine fashion assistant I despised being made to stand right at the back where I couldn’t see anything but the odd pony tail swishing down the catwalk. Even worse than that I absolutely dreaded being made to sit in the front rows – to fill a space for a missing editor I might add – as I felt like a complete fraud and was always always wearing the wrong shoes / outfit / sock and shoe combo / hair style / coat….you name it, I got it wrong.

Then, when I crossed to the other side and was faced with the dreaded seating plan, I would spend days and nights and weeks pouring over the same row layout, wishing for more seats and feeling sick at the prospect of being screamed at. And always by a journalist in row 5 or 6. And generally from the Daily Mail. Not mentioning any names obviously.

So why would anyone in their right mind miss it? Well quite frankly, I’d like to put on a dress and some heels (even if they were the wrong ones) and I’d like to go to a show (I’ll decide which one in a minute) and not give a shit who was sitting next to me, in front of me or behind me. I’d like to take the goodie bag home because it really is supposed to be for me and I’d like to eat whatever might be on offer because I now know it’s absolutely fine to actually eat. And, I’d like to write notes in my notebook of all the things I think are lovely and not have to do anything about it but go home safe in the knowledge that fashion is still alive and well. And most of all, I’d just like to be reminded that there is definitely more to life that Breton stripes and Toast.

That’s better. I think I’m over it now. What? There are fashion shows happening right now in NY? Really? I hadn’t noticed.


Be true to those who trust thee

My Mum sent me this reading and I love it.

It was read as part of a Christening and rings true for so many reasons.


“Be true to those who trust thee”, Anon


Be true to those who trust thee,

Be pure for those who care.

Be strong, for there is much to suffer,

Be brave for there is much to dare.

Be a friend to all – the foe, the friendless.

Be giving and forget the gift.

Be humble, for thou knowest thy weakness.

And then, look up and laugh and love and live.


Not just another Ottolenghi blog…

Ever since the wonderful Wilderness Festival, we’ve become a little bit addicted to the various culinary delights from Ottolenghi and Moro. I always like to think of myself as being a little bit behind the trends, someone once told me I would never be a visionary and so I’ve taken this on board and now store any ideas and discoveries and release them to the world when they think it’s all over…..well that’s what I like to tell myself anyway. So, with that in mind, I am very aware that these two restaurants / cookbooks / deliciousness won’t necessarily be new to many, but if like me you haven’t yet attempted them at home, may I suggest that you do….immediately.


Favourite books of the moment


We started with The Moro Cookbook and both Ottolenghi’s, Plenty and The Cookbook and most recently we’ve moved on to the wonderful new Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. We’ve re-stocked our spice cupboard with things such as Zatar and Sumac and made sure there’s enough Cumin, Turmeric, Corriander and Cardamon to see us through every recipe we may attempt. To begin the feast I chose something relatively easy : Chilled Red Pepper Soup and Cauliflower Fritters, both from Ottolenghi followed by Aubergine and Tomato Pilav from Moro. Not all in one sitting, that would be ridiculous….although very very tempting.


Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters – Ottolenghi


Roasted Red Pepper Soup – Ottolenghi

And then last night came the best of the best, both from Jerusalem : Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar and Butternut Squash and Red Onion roasted with Tahini and Za’atar. It was ridiculously good and so easy and really annoying that we had no one over for dinner to show off to share with.


Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi Jerusalem


Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

6 medium beets trimmed
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, seeded and minced
250g plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Date syrup (or pure maple syrup works too)
1 tablespoon Za’atar
Handful roasted, crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash and trim the beetroot and wrap each one individually in silver foil. Place in a baking tray and cook for about an hour – until you can pierce them with a sharp knife.

Once cool peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, chilli and yoghurt and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, date or maple syrup and za’atar and puree. Season with salt. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter the hazelnuts, goat cheese and spring onion on top and serve.


Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar


Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem 

1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.

To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.