Tag: salad

The cool grey summer of San Francisco

As summer begins in earnest elsewhere in the country, the fog and wind arrives in San Francisco. Leaving the playground in the evening, Lilias and I battle our way through the blustery streets home to our warm apartment. The market is now filled with glowing red tomatoes and blushing stone fruit, warming the grey Sunday mornings. June and July in this city means eating summer while it feels like winter outside.

Here is a salad perfect with a glass of white wine that will make you feel like it is summer, even if the weather tells you otherwise.

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The Taste of Summer in a Salad

Three sweet, ripe peaches
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella
Six slices of prosciutto
Rocket
A handful of basil
Juice of a lemon
Olive oil
Salt

This really is as simple as slicing the peaches, tearing the mozzarella and lying them with the prosciutto over the leaves. Finish with a simple lemon, olive oil and salt dressing and you have yourself a meal! This would be lovely with fish or chicken, but we just had some fresh bread and butter and a glass of wine.

 

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Crunchy Market Salad

The weather has been crazy and spring like here in San Francisco. Just a few days ago it was stifling hot, still 28 degrees outside at ten o’clock in the evening. It felt wrong to waste it, so after a few glasses of wine with dinner, Ollie and I thought it would be a great idea to wake Lilias and go for a walk in the park. She thought it was the best game ever, crawling through the grass in the dark with the lights of the city surrounding us. A few days later though and the clouds and rain had rolled in putting us right back in winter. Thank goodness for the market full of green things to keep us feeling fresh.

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Here is the crunchy salad we ate after the market on Sunday. Making the most of all the good green things, especially for my sister in law who has come to stay and managed to land herself with the flu.

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Crunchy Market Salad
Feeds four 

1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 fennel bulb
1 green apple
1 avocado
A handful of sugar snap peas
A handful of snow peas
A handful of lettuce leaves
A couple of basil leaves
A handful of pinenuts
Goats cheese or feta to top
Juice of a lemon
Olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard
Sea salt

While you cook your quinoa, slice the fennel, apple, avocado, sugar snap peas and snow peas. Place these in a bowl with a dressing made of lemon, olive oil, salt and mustard – the lemon will stop the vegetables discolouring. Once the quinoa is cooked, leave it to cool and then mix it in with the vegetables, adding the torn lettuce and basil. Top with a sprinkling of pinenuts and some goats cheese. Enjoy!

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Saturday Morning in the Dogpatch

On Saturday morning we got in the car and headed across town to the Dogpatch, an area we haven’t explored yet. We had read about the opening of The Minnesota Street Project a couple of weeks ago,  and were keen to have a look. A old warehouse is now a gallery and studio space offering ‘affordable and economically sustainable spaces for art galleries, artists and related nonprofits.’ Check out their website to read more, or if you are in San Francisco, head on over. It is a beautiful space.

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I would also recommend going for lunch at Piccino afterwards, it was absolutely delicious and they have highchairs that screw onto the bar. Three happy Hewitts indeed.

Now a recipe, or more just an idea. We eat this meal a bit, especially in the warmer months. It is so easy and quick to put together, but packed with flavour and fun to eat.

Spiced Lamb Meatballs with Hummus and Salad
Serves two

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Mix together some ground/minced (depending on what country you live in) lamb with salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of garam masala. Roll into balls, about half the size of a golf ball. Fry in some oil on a hot heat, moving around every couple of minutes.

Chop one tomato, three radishes, half a peeled cucumber, 1/4 small red onion and some fresh parsley and mix in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and red wine vinegar.

Once the meatballs are cooked through- this shouldn’t take very long- place on a dish that has a thin covering of hummus and sprinkle some roasted pine nuts over the top.

I like to serve this with some greek yoghurt made better with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and fresh mint, plus some grilled pita bread, hot sauce and a cold beer.

Perfect for the balmy weather San Francisco has been having lately. Long may it continue!

 

A fresh look for spring

With spring in the air and finally at the market, plus our move into the new apartment and Lilias turning one in a couple of weeks (!!!) it feels like a everything is refreshing and new things are happening. So I cut my hair short again, and then followed up by redesigning the blog.

It is coming up two years since we moved to San Francisco and I started this blog. I felt like things needed an update so I called on a certain someone with some rather fabulous design skills, Catherine.  An old English student of mine and a good friend’s little sister, Catherine quickly became a good friend to me as well. After talking to her about the blog, she very kindly did the calligraphy for the header. Isn’t it gorgeous? Thank you Catherine x

I am starting off with a fresh, spring salad as per Catherine’s request. It is crunchy and zingy as well as being strangely comforting. We ate it warm, but I think leftovers the next day would be pretty good too. Pity there weren’t any…

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Spring Noodle Salad
Serves four

Soba noodles (according to appetite)
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame beans
Small bundle of asparagus cut into quarters
Four spring onions finely sliced
A handful of snap peas cut into thirds
A large handful of fresh coriander
1 lime
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt
A small handful of peanuts
3 tbsp of sesame seeds

Cook the soba noodles according to the instructions and put aside in a large bowl.

Gently fry the finely sliced spring onions in a little sunflower oil until softened, then add the parboiled asparagus and edamame beans to fry for a few more minutes. When these are cooked but still have some bite, add them to the noodles with the roughly chopped coriander, the juice of the lime, sesame and sunflower oil, rice wine vinegar, salt, peanuts and sesame seeds. Toss it all together and eat while it is still warm. I would recommend an accompanying cold beer for balance.

We added hot sauce to ours afterwards because we were eating with Lilias, but you could definitely add the chilli at the beginning when you are frying the spring onion.

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My next post is an easy rhubarb and strawberry cake because you have to enjoy both the sweet and the savoury sides of spring. Also because anything with rhubarb makes me happy, especially if you can eat it with a cup of tea.

The Best of the Season

Yesterday I went to buy food for dinner and my neatly written shopping list stayed in my bag. I just couldn’t walk past the bright and sweet smelling citrus. Grapefruit, pomelos, mandarins, satsumas, clementines, limes, lemons, and oranges lay bathing in the late afternoon sun. While Lilias enjoyed the free apple pie samples they were giving out, I quickly came up with a new idea for dinner. We would have a citrus salad and it would be fresh and zingy, both sweet and bitter. Maybe a piece of fish on top, in which case fennel would work well. And we would need something green with that, baby spinach? No, some sprouting broccolini would be perfect. And surely there is some coriander in a jar on the window sill…

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Citrus Salad with Pan Fried Fish
Serves two

1 ruby red grapefruit
2 mandarins
Half a big bulb of fennel, or one small one, plus the fronds
A handful of coriander leaves
1 spring onion
A bunch of sprouting broccolini
A good glug of olive oil
Salt
2 pieces of firm white fish (I used ling cod)
Butter for frying

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Blanch the sprouting broccolini and put aside to cool. Carefully peel the grapefruit and mandarins and finely slice them, the grapefruit cut in half and the mandarins as perfect circles. Finely slice the spring onion and the fennel bulb, leaving the feathery fronds to garnish the fish at the end. Put it all in a bowl with the olive oil (it will make a difference if you use good stuff for this recipe), a good pinch of salt and the coriander leaves. Toss to combine.

Fry your fish in some butter, and while it is cooking, arrange the salad on two plates. When the fish is just cooked through, add it to the top of the salad and garnish with the fennel fronds.

It is the perfect meal for a hot evening (thanks San Francisco for this mid winter heat wave) or to cheer up a dark and cold day. Especially with a cold beer or a crisp glass of wine.

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Living Small

We were recently featured on the amazing blog Living Small, where a fellow New Zealander interviews and photographs those who are making small apartments work for their families. In a difficult renting market such as San Francisco, these stories make up every day conversations at the playground, cafe or bar and it is fascinating to hear how many people you can fit in a small space (family of four in a studio apartment anyone?). Yes, it is difficult not having a laundry and having to carry a baby and stroller and groceries up nine flights of stairs. But I also think it is wonderful for our daughter to have this beautiful city as her back garden. You never know who you may walk past on the street or what may be going on in the park; there is always something to see or do.

Speaking of which, we have tickets to go and see Yotam Ottolenghi in a couple of weeks. I am so excited- he really has changed the way I cook and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. So after flicking through his cookbooks, I mixed a few ideas together and made this- an Ottolenghi inspired salad for your weekend.

Kumera and Eggplant Salad

Serves two with enough for lunches the next day, or four for dinner with a nice piece of meat.

1/2 cup of quinoa
1/2 cup wild rice
2 large Kumera (sweet potatoes)
1 large eggplant
1 large handful of baby spinach
1 small handful of fresh coriander
Feta
Pistachio nuts
Sunflower seeds
1Tbsp pomegranate molasses
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil
Salt

Cut your kumera into wedges and your eggplant into cubes. Put these in to roast with some olive oil and salt for about 45 mins at 180/350 or until they are beautiful and golden, a bit crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. Now cook your quinoa and wild rice and leave aside to cool. Finally, roughly chop the spinach and coriander.

The great thing about most of Ottolenghi’s salads is that you can eat them at room temperature. This means that you can make them when you have a minute and then come back to them when it is time to eat- ideal for entertaining or if you manage to get your baby to have a sleep during the day!

So, when you are ready, combing the quinoa, rice, vegetables and herbs in a big bowl with the dressing of pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Crumble some feta and sprinkle some shelled pistachio nuts and sunflower seeds on top for a bit of crunch. Voila! You have a delicious and satisfying dinner all ready to go.

A Sunday Salad 

Italy has been on my mind over the last couple of weeks. I bought Rachel Roddy’s beautiful cookbook, FIve Quarters and have been happily cooking my way through it. Peperonata, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, grilled eggplants, pasta and more pasta- making the most of the sweet, ripe produce lying in the sun at the market on Sundays. We watched this episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix which reminded me of the absolute love and respect Italians have for food. And I have been storming through Eleanor Ferrante‘s engrossing Napoli series as I sit and feed and feed this hungry baby. She is taking me in to 20th Century Italy with a woman’s eyes- political control, marital control, family control. Passionate and powerful writing I would definitely recommend.

Sometimes though, you need a break from Italian food. Here is a quick and easy salad I made for dinner last night – fresh and tasty but still satisfying. We had it as is, but it would be great with grilled lamb. 


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Herby quinoa and rice salad
Serves two for dinner with enough left over for two lunches the next day

1 cup quinoa
1 cup basmati rice
1 large eggplant or 2 small eggplants
1 lemon
A handful of each- parsley, coriander, mint and baby spinach
4 spring onions
A handful of pistachio nuts
100g feta
1 green chilli
Olive oil
Sea salt

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Cut the eggplant into small cubes and bake on a well oiled oven tray until golden brown. While these are in the oven, cook the rice and quinoa then set aside to cool. Chop the herbs, spinach, chilli and spring onion and put in a large bowl with the pistachio nuts, feta, a generous slug of olive oil, salt and the juice and some zest from the lemon. When the eggplants have cooked, combine everything together and serve. We had this salad at room temperature which worked well and meant the heat of the eggplants, quinoa and rice didn’t discolour or wilt the herbs. Perfect with a glass of cold white wine at the end of a busy weekend.

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Tonight for dinner? Pasta of course!

Make-Me-Better Citrus Salad

Since returning from New York, I have been holed up in the apartment moving from my bed to the sofa and back to bed again. Pregnancy seems to mean that a cold that would last a few days is stretching out over a whole week with no signs of letting up. With the extra time off work, we have been making hearty and wholesome meals, slow cooked lamb shanks in tomato with pasta, a Moroccan tagine with plenty of spices and chickpeas, and lots of fresh and crunchy salads in the hope of a miraculous recovery. This one is a zingy citrus salad using the best of the Californian produce- there seem to be at least twenty different citrus fruits for sale at our local shop. Please excuse the iphone photos- finding the proper camera seemed more effort than it was worth!

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Make-Me-Better Citrus Salad

Flesh of 1/2 a pomelo
2 small blood oranges, sliced
Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
1 bulb of fennel, finely sliced
Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
Rocket
1 cup quinoa
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil
Salt

For the chicken
2 chicken thighs
1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Olive oil
Salt

Start by making up a paste with the spices and oil. Rub this all over the chicken and pop in the oven for about twenty minutes at 180. At the same time, cook your quinoa- it should take about 20 minutes too. While these are cooking, you just need to combine the rest of the ingredients in a big bowl. It is just the pomelo that takes time as you have to get the flesh out of each individual segment. I waited for the quinoa and chicken to cool before combining with the rest of the salad and a simple lemon, salt and olive oil dressing. The result was fresh and tasty, an easy way to brighten a dark winter evening. Although, I imagine it would be even better with a glass of rosé in the summer sunshine…

 

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A Whiter Shade of Pale

It’s amazing how sometimes when you look in the fridge, it may seem like there is nothing and yet that is the exact time you will put that nothing together to make something you want to make over and over again. Today the fridge held some brussel sprouts, a cauliflower and a forgotten fennel bulb. This ended up being this rather pale but rather delicious salad. It matched the grey concrete sky out the window and also meant that I could play this while I cooked.

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A Whiter Shade of Pale Winter Salad

Brussel sprouts, woody end removed
1 cauliflower broken into florets
1 fennel bulb roughly chopped
2 tbsp cumin
Big pinch of flakey sea salt
Juice of half a lemon
2 spring onions
Big, generous handful of fresh coriander and Italian parsley
1/2 cup quinoa
Some garlicky hummus to garnish

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Heat your oven to 200°C while you prepare the brussel sprouts, cauliflower and fennel. Scatter in a roasting dish with plenty of olive oil and the ground cumin. These should take about half an hour to cook, you want them to still have a bite, but the fennel will have started to get lovely and sweet. You can cook your quinoa while the vegetables are roasting (half a cup of quinoa to a cup of cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer until all the water is absorbed). When you pull the vegetables out of the oven, squeeze over the lemon juice and add a generous amount of salt. This will smell delicious and nothing like over boiled, sulphury brussel sprouts from school lunches in England (especially that time when you sat in Alex’s brussel sprouts with mince and mashed potatoes that you then carried round on the back of your school skirt for the afternoon). Mix this in with the quinoa, finely sliced spring onions and the herbs. Although it doesn’t add any colour, garnishing with some hummus really completes the sweetness of the fennel, the earthy flavours of the cauliflower and sprouts, the fresh herbs, nutty quinoa and the spicy cumin.

Perfect to serve hot with lamb and pita breads, or to put in a container to take for a work lunch when your work has no microwave.

Happy grey day x

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The Sexiest of Salads

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Eating a fig always seems so indulgent, splitting open the skin to expose the fleshy inside; the taste so sweet, yet so earthy. They arrive on our shelves for such a short amount of time, so when I saw the table piled with them at the farmer’s market this week, I almost fainted in excitement. I bought a bag (for only $3!!!) instantly ate one, and then set about making the rest into a salad to do the beautiful bowl we had just been given from two very dear and very generous guests as a thank you present for having them to stay for a week (more on these adventures to come). When I sent a picture of the salad I made to my friend Courtney, she replied with “Oh just stop it. Fig porn”. And so this sexy salad was born.

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Sexy Fig Salad

Rocket
6 ripe figs – black or green is fine.
4 slices of prosciutto
About 30g feta
Thyme
Honey
Olive oil
Balsamic Vinegar

Spread the rocket onto a big dish and arrange the quartered figs on top. I used a mixture of green Adriatic figs and Black Mission figs. Next tear your prosciutto into smaller parts and arrange it around the figs. Finally, crumble the feta all over the top.

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I dressed this with honey, thyme, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The balance of the salty and sweet flavours is pure perfection and I have no doubt that you will love this salad. We ate ours with some walnut bread and a glass of rose. It was summer evening bliss.

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