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
Salt
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.

 


Just peachy

I’ve been a little lazy with posts recently but if I don’t write this down now, I’m worried I might forget it.

We’re in the South of France at the moment, having a wonderful time with family and friends and eating delicious things. These holidays always very much revolve around food. Conversation at breakfast is generally about what’s on the menu for lunch and dinner and everyone is keen to offer their own contribution to the table. Last night was my turn and so baked peaches with Roquefort and Parma ham for 12 was on the menu. With my trusty sous chef looking over my shoulder by my side, we managed quite a spectacular plate of food and one I’ll definitely be making again….but perhaps in smaller quantities.

So here’s what we used and how we did it :

Peaches – we used a mixture of big round ones and the little flat ones all stoned and quartered. Allow about 4 pieces per person.

Roquefort

Parma Ham

Mixed leaves

Honey roasted walnuts

Thyme roasted almonds – or you just as easily use plain

Thyme

Salt

Pepper

Sugar

Olive Oil

First we baked the peaches on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Just all huddled in a tray and sprinkled with sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil and some fresh thyme.

 

 

Once done, leave them to cool a little – the salad is best served at room temperature.

The nuts – we bought a bag of walnuts and thyme scented almond. The walnuts we drizzled with honey and put in the oven for 15 minutes or so until the became sweet and crunchy. Once cooled, smash them all up in to little pieces with a rolling pin – the almonds too. Set aside to use later.

 

 

We cut the parma ham in to small strips and crumbled the roquefort….more about this later

Dress the leaves with a little bit of olive oil and vinegar. It doesn’t need a strong dressing as all the flavours are to come.

Place a small pile of leaves on the plate. Set the peaches on top and lay the strips of parma ham across them. Not too much. Sprinkle the crumbled roquefort – again, you don’t need too much – and drizzle some of the juices from the peaches pan over the salad. Lastly throw some of the crushed nuts around the plate and that’s it!

 

 

 


I want to join the circus….but only if it’s Giffords.

I want to play the accordion, I want to wear Victorian bloomers and over the knee stockings with high heel ankle boots. I want a Shetland pony and I want to learn to dance, properly. I’d like an enormous circus bell tent and a wagon serving fresh cooked pizza. I might even like a tea tent with a never-ending supply of chocolate brownies. Oh and I’d also like a goose, a real one, who follows me wherever I go.

I haven’t been to the circus since I was small and have always been hesitant to go as an adult in case I might spoil the memory. Giffords is just about the best circus experience I could have imagined. I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning, or anytime of the day for that matter, on any day of the week.

The circus will be touring until mid September and wherever you may be, it is more than worth the trip…and the pennies.


Absolutely Nothing To Open : Cotton Mailers and Indian Quilts

I wasn’t going to tell a soul about these quilts and I’m still not sure whether to part with every detail but they are too lovely not to share – in picture form at the very least.

They were bought online and arrived this morning in the most exquisite hand sewn cotton mailer bag I have ever laid eyes on. It was almost enough on its own.


Absolutely Nothing To Smile About : Our New Yellow Teapot

My Mother In Law really does have the very very best teapots. This one is an absolute treasure. It shall never live in a cupboard but shall be out and seen and used daily.

The perfect tonic on a dreary Tuesday.

 


A Very Retro Modern Easter

Well thank goodness that’s all over. My children are only just coming down from the sugar high and can apparently still see “rabbit foot prints” all over the house. It would seem their minds have been addled by chocolate.  I was determined to have a happy but frugal Easter. One filled with daffodils, country walks and perhaps the odd mini egg, rather than lashings of lamb, masses of eggs and rainy afternoon movies. Obviously it was the latter that won out. Although I did manage to limit the chocolate and began the weekend with gifts of egg cups for boiled eggs and soldiers and a home made chocolate rabbit (my 2012 triumph). These were soon superceded by my husband’s thoroughly modern take on the traditional egg hunt – one where all clues were held on an iPhone – with what seemed like hundreds of mini eggs and went on for days.

First the home made chocolate rabbits. When I say home made, I just melted some chocolate and poured (scraped) it in to a lovely old tin mould we found at an LA flea market, squashed it together and shoved it in the freezer. I would have put money on it not working but it did! I used cheap chocolate which made the whole thing a little less delicate than it perhaps should have been and therefore the rabbits were a solid mass rather than hollow and airy but who cares, the kids certainly didn’t. But then neither did they care that I’d made them. I suppose it was one of those win win situations – I was allowed to feel like a really great Mum by creating something by hand and they just thought I was a really great Mum because I was willingly giving them chocolate.

And here they are, before and after. Hugely satisfying.

 

Rabbit Mould

 

Homemade chocolate rabbit

 

Then on to the Easter egg hunt via iPhone. It’s actually a rather brilliant way of ensuring younger children can find the treasure. Especially when there are older brothers who know exactly what they’re doing and have already formulated a plan to get as many eggs as they possibly can, by whatever means. It works like this, hide the eggs and take a photo of the hiding place. Then, simply show them the photograph, one at a time, and off they’ll charge to find the prize. The only downside is that all good things come to an end and if they’re anything like my children, they’ll still be looking through your phone a week later convinced that behind every single photograph hides an egg.

 

Egg Hunt