Tag: vegetarian

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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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.

Market Day

For the last few Sundays, I have been waiting for Spring to be at the market to meet me. I am waiting for there to be baskets of fresh peas in their pods and fava beans to be shelled, asparagus and green beans, sweet and delicate new season fennel and spiky artichokes. Instead, there are still piles of citrus fruits and bundles of winter greens.

So here is a last of the winter’s market put together for a lunch. Finger’s crossed for Spring to be there next weekend.

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Green Winter’s Lunch
Serves two and a half

A big bunch of sprouting broccoli
A ball of fresh mozzerella
A handful of fresh basil, torn
The juice of a lemon
A handful of pine nuts
One ripe avocado
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh bread and butter to serve

Simply steam the sprouting broccoli- the young and tender kind, not the old woody kind- until it has lost its crunch but has maintained its dignity. Lay on a plate and cover with half an avocado, half a ball of mozzarella, the torn basil leaves, the juice of half a lemon, a generous glug of olive oil, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Repeat on the other plate and add some fresh bread to mop it up. Then remember the baby and distribute some of the food onto her plate.

Enjoy at the table while you watch people out the window and debate whether all three of you should have an afternoon nap on this overcast and stormy Sunday.

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And I’m Back

I have spent a while considering Flowers in my Hair and whether I should get back into it, going back and forward trying to decide if it is something I want to do. I have been reading far more of other people’s blogs recently, and with that, I have been made aware of the over saturation on the internet. I mean, is it really necessary to have another food/this is my everyday (rather mundane) life for you to read about? I feel it is rather narcissistic for me to believe you would even want to read about what I have been doing and cooking in my little San Francisco apartment.

But I have had some words of encouragement from good friends, a few writing projects started and planned for the coming months, and it has got me wanting more. I have a gap to fill being at home with Lilias and not working. Plus it feels like spring here, the blossom is coming out, the air feels soft and warm and the days are getting longer, just the right time to resurrect the blog and make a fresh start. Isn’t that what this season is all about?

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I will begin with dinner last night- a risotto made with really good chicken stock from the carcass of the chicken used for pollo alla cacciatore the night before. It comes from Jamie’s Italy, with a few alterations because I am the worst at following a recipe.

Fennel and Ricotta Risotto
Serves two with leftovers, or four as a starter

1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 big bulb of fennel, or 2 small bulbs
2 celery stalks
1/2 onion
1 large cup of risotto rice- about 200g
1 glass of white wine
Chicken stock – about half a litre
chilli flakes
4 tablespoons of ricotta
1 lemon
parmesan
olive oil
salt and pepper

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Start with a couple of splashes of olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic until softened, then add the fennel seeds and sliced fennel (save the feathery tops for later). Add a pinch of salt and pepper, pop the lid on and it turn down low. Now gently fry the finely diced onion and celery in olive oil for about 10 minutes. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and fry until it is slightly translucent. Next add the glass of wine and stir until the smell of alcohol has disappeared and the wine absorbed.
You can now start adding the stock (I used chicken stock, but you could use vegetable stock if you wanted a vegetarian recipe) bit by bit, little by little. The more you stir, the creamier it gets. Continue until the rice is soft, but still has a bit of bite. Remove from the heat and stir in the ricotta, zest of the lemon and lovely, sweet fennel mixture. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This lets the rice get really creamy and thick and all the flavours will jumble up together. Check the seasoning and balance the flavour with as much lemon juice as you feel it needs to work with the fennel. Divide between your plates, sprinkle over your finely sliced fennel tops and dust with the chilli flakes and grated parmesan.

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.

The first asparagus of the season

When I saw that the asparagus man was back at the market on Sunday, along with the strawberry man and rows of beautiful fresias, tulips and daffodils,  I knew it was Spring. I also knew that I would have to make something delicious to do the first asparagus of the season justice. And somehow my mind went to eggs- the one food I don’t like and never have. Despite this, I think the baby inside me does like eggs because I have found myself wanting to eat them throughout the pregnancy. So here is a way to eat eggs without tasting them- a rich and creamy asparagus tart, especially good for thin, young asparagus that hasn’t been left to get tough and woody.

Asparagus Tart

1 packet of filo pastry
3 eggs
200mL cream
Small handful of Italian parsley
Freshly grated parmesan, about a handful
Salt and pepper
A big bundle of fresh, new asparagus

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Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and discard them. Then chop off about the same again and boil until tender. Whiz them up in a blender with the egg, cream, parsley and parmesan and then pour into the filo casing. Par boil the remainder of the asparagus (the long slim stems) and arrange these across the tart. Pop in the oven for about 35 minutes and voila! A beautiful looking and tasting asparagus tart best enjoyed with a fresh green salad with a lemon, olive oil and grainy mustard dressing.

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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Happy Fall Y’all

The changing season may not be as evident here in San Francisco as other parts of the US, but leaves are turning, darkness arrives earlier every day and there is new autumnal fruit and vegetables at the local farmer’s market. Blushing apples, pears, pumpkins and squash. Leading up to Halloween the pumpkins started taking over- pumpkins in piles at the market, in window displays, carved or whole on doorsteps. Pumpkin spiced everything appeared on menus, as well as in coffees and other places pumpkins don’t belong. But it made me start thinking of ways I like to eat pumpkin and decided to have a few friends over for dinner to celebrate pumpkins and the arrival of autumn.

 

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I bought four different pumpkins and squash at the market to see what they were all like and made two meals out of them. (I love it when you can prep once, eat twice- speaking of which, my favourite blogger has just done a series for The Guardian which is about exactly this. She is an English woman living in Rome and her recipes are so fantastically Roman. I love them and whole heartedly recommend the braised lentils two ways.) Anyway, from these pumpkins I made ravioli di zucca for the autumn dinner with friends and then a spicy Thai pumpkin soup for Ollie and I to have on the Sunday night. PLUS I put the off cuts from the pasta in the freezer and we had these with a beef sugo a week later.

 

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Ravioli di Zucca

For the filling
A variety of pumpkin/squash (I am still trying to work out the difference and how this compares with our NZ naming of this family of round orange vegetables) enough to cover a roasting dish
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Half a grated nutmeg
Butter
Salt and pepper
A splash of cream
6 sage leaves, finely chopped

For the pasta
5 cups of flour, tipo 00
5 large free range eggs

For the sauce
A big lump of butter
A handful of sage leaves

Peel, seed, cut into cubes and roast the pumpkin at 180 for about 40 minutes or until it is well cooked.  While this is cooking, finely dice the onion and garlic and  fry in plenty of butter until very tender. When the pumpkin is ready, add it to the onion and garlic with the grated nutmeg, finely chopped sage leaves, cream and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Mush it up with a fork so you have a smooth filling with all the flavours combined.

Now start with your pasta dough- you just need 1 cup of flour and 1 egg per person. Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs. Whisk the eggs with a fork, and when they are mixed, slowly bring in the flour until you have a dough. Now you can take out and unwanted anger on the dough as you knead it for at least five minutes. You’re aiming for a smooth and silky consistency. Cover with flour, glad wrap and leave in the fridge for half an hour.

This now gives you time to realise that your guests are due to arrive, quickly clean up the apartment, open a bottle of wine, and pretend that it was your intention all along to be rolling out pasta when they arrive rather than be organised beforehand.


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Making pasta is best when you have two people involved, one to do the rolling and one to do the ravioli making. The roller wants to work the dough through the machine down to the smallest setting, making sure the pasta is well dusted so it is easy to manipulate and doesn’t stick. The ravioli maker wants to put about a teaspoon of mixture evenly spaced down half of a sheet of pasta- you should be able to fit two across. Then fold the other half over top and tuck the little pumpkins into bed, pressing down so that all the mixture is sealed in. You can now cut them with a knife or use a ravioli or cookie cutter to make them into ravioli. Keep on doing this until you have used all your pasta and you have a plate of beautifully dusted ravioli ready to cook. The dusting part is really important, there is nothing more frustrating than all your hard work sticking together.

 

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These will only need 4-5 minutes in boiling, salted water to cook. While they are doing this, melt down a big hunk of butter and fry the remaining sage leaves until they are nice and crispy. Drain the ravioili, plate up and pour over the burnt sage butter. Buon apetito!

 

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And then the next day…

Thai Pumpkin Soup

Olive or sunflower oil
One onion
Four cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
2 carrots
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1Tbsp of chilli flakes
The other half of the roasted pumpkins that you didn’t use for ravioli
200mL Coconut milk
100mL stock or water
Fresh coriander and natural yoghurt to serve

 

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Coat the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot with plenty of oil and add the spices so that you have a delicious paste to start your soup. Add the roughly chopped onion, garlic, carrot and celery and cook on a gentle heat for about 15 minutes. Add the pumpkin coconut milk and stock and simmer for at least 15 minutes to combine the different flavours and textures. Use a mixing stick to blend it all together, or if you don’t have one, transfer to a blender. It is up to your personal preference whether you like to keep this chunky or blend until it is smooth. Simmer for ten minutes longer to make sure they flavours have all mingled together in a delicious way and then serve in deep bowls with fresh coriander (and natural yoghurt should you wish) and toasted bread or naan breads.

 

 

A perfect Sunday night dinner for when it is cold outside. Happy fall y’all.

 

And I’m back… with some midweek spaghetti

A couple months back, I finally found myself a job and started working. As well as being busy during the day again, I was a little under the weather and I didn’t feel like cooking much. Uninspired, I fell back on old favourites. I stopped blogging. Things got busy, new habits developed and in this case, they didn’t involve blogging. Life ambled on.

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I hadn’t really thought much about the blog until a few days ago when I received a beautiful email from a wise student who inspired me, kind words from another friend about how she misses my recipes, another wanting to know what I have been reading. And so I’m back. Back to the blog and looking forward to it. I’ve been talking with a very-talented-certain-someone about making it look prettier and have been thumbing through new and old cook books getting excited.

I thought I would start with a quick and easy pasta dish that is perfect for a midweek, after work dinner. It’s quick to throw together, and can be used by scrounging around at the back of the fridge- there always seem to be half eaten jars of olives back there. I think it is great because of my love of anything that is either salty or vinegary. Don’t worry about chocolate or cakes for me, but salt and vinegar chips are a winner. Pickles, olives. fries and mustard are also good options. This is slightly healthier than the items on that list, but tastes just as good.

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Midweek Spaghetti 

1 handful of olives, I used a mix of green Sicilian olives and black Kalamata
3 diced tomatoes – I used Early Girl
1 big handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 red onion very finely chopped
1 Tbsp capers
Salt and pepper
Big, big glug of olive oil
Small glug of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 handful of rocket
1 handful of fresh basil and Italian parsley
Spaghetti

In a large bowl, add the destoned, halved olives, capers, tomatoes, red onion, tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic. If you leave these for half an hour, they will slowly marinate in their own goodness and the bite will go from the red onion. While the spaghetti is cooking, add the rocket, basil and parsley to the bowl, then toss in the spaghetti. You want to eat this immediately, while the spaghetti is still hot, and it tastes great with some slithers of parmesan over the top.

DSCF3983It’s fresh and tasty and perfect for a summer’s evening.

It’s good to be back.

Anna x

Easy Sunday Lunches

Sunday dawned grey and dreary, the ground was damp outside from the light drizzle that never seems to turn into rain. We met up with some family friends to eat toast and drink coffee huddled against the wind and fog at the Mill, went to the farmer’s market then mooched around the apartment with the heater on. I wrote some cards (I love snail mail), finished reading Room by Emma Donoghue and then made us some pasta for lunch. It was ridiculously easy and was perfect for a Sunday.

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Zucchini Sunday Pasta

2 cloves of garlic
Half an onion
2 zucchini
A few leaves of basil and parsley
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
A sprinkling of pine nuts

Throw the garlic, onion and zucchini into a blender and pulse until finely chopped. In a pan, heat plenty of olive oil and then add the mixture seasoned generously with salt and pepper. Put on a pot with plenty of water for the pasta and by the time the pasta is cooked, so is your sauce. Add the pasta to the pan with some grated  parmesan, the lightly toasted pine nuts and swirl it all together until each piece of pasta is coated. Check for seasoning and then dish up.

Just in time, the sun came out. We opened the windows, greedily scraped our bowls clean and then ventured out to explore around the headlands by the abandoned Sutro baths in the sunshine. A perfect Sunday.

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