Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Norfolk

Again, I've been neglecting this blog. I've got lots of photos and things to update over the next couple of weeks, but I'm going to start with my holiday in Norfolk. Sorry, no photos this time.

My boyfriend and I went to a cottage in Norfolk for a few days r & r, after a manic term. It was lovely to get away from it all, and have some time out. Luckily, he loves food too, so he was happy to plan lots of nice meals with me. We'd intentionally chosen self-catering so that we could cook and not just eat hotel food every night.

The first night we were using some of the things from an M & S meal deal, which was a meal for 2 for £10. I'd bought two at the weekend, one for Saturday night, before we went, and then another for Monday, our first night there. We had a whole chicken, which I roasted, along with M & S roast potatoes, which I think are pretty good, but ours are better! We bought some parsnips to roast too - I love them - and we had some green beans. We were far too full for dessert after that.

Tuesday lunch was fabulous. We went to a place called The Pigs, and had their 'Norfolk Tapas' to share: mushy peas (one of my favourites, and these were really good), little pork sausages with honey and mustard (pork was evidently a specialty), herrings, and cauliflower fritters. We also shared a portion of mussels and chips, which was just the right amount of food.

After spending the afternoon shopping in Norwich, we went hope, and my boy made a dish he's always talking about: pasta with squash and bacon:
Roast one large/a couple of small squash, then cube when soft enough
Meanwhile, cook pasta
Add to cubed squash a couple of rashers of bacon per person and cubed feta cheese and return to oven
Combine! So simple, but so good!

Wednesday we headed off to Sheringham and Cromer for the beach, but it was miserable weather! We found fish and chips in Cromer - it was recommended by the tourist information board, and was good, although we were the youngest people in there by about 20 years! I had haddock and chips, with mushy peas, and he had scampi.

We didn't last long at the beach, but we did take two dressed crabs home for our starters that evening. We had those first, with some champagne (we each had been given a bottle as a present and we decided to take them with), then we had left over baked salmon and potato salad (from home) and a green salad.

Thursdays lunch was all left-overs, with some bread and some M & S cheese from our meal deal.
Thursday dinner was a Thai beef and aubergine curry with rice.

So it was a pretty good eating week, all in all. We managed to drink two bottles of champagne, and two large Tiger beers, but we only got 3/4 of a bottle of red in the whole week!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Theatre Eating

Wow, everyone's blogs are full of lovely Thanksgiving recipes. I'm currently craving things related to cranberry and turkey! Thankfully, Olives, my favourite deli in Oxford, had a Thanksgiving special yesterday: turkey, cranberry, brie, stuffing and rocket. It was quite good, but I wasn't convinced about the stuffing. Or the turkey. Next time, I may just get brie and cranberry, which I think is an awesome combination (see M & S brie and cranberry parcels for further details!).

Last week was a week full of sandwiches and eating out, in fact, as I was stage managing West Side Story at the Oxford Playhouse. It was a great show, but as usual, left me completely exhausted, and with zero chance for cooking. In fact, pretty much every meal last week was in a restaurant, or some kind of take away.

I had at least three different baguettes, the winner probably being tuna with sundried tomatoes, tomato chutney, rocket and roasted vegetables. I had soup, I had pizza, I had bad pub food, I had meals that weren't really meals but snacks when I could fit them in, or were purely made up of biscuits and sweets (cookies and candy if you prefer!) and I had meals that I can't even remember.

I had great Chinese food at Sojo which Giles Coren adores. The boy and I shared a beef and aubergine dish, a spicy prawn dish, some duck and egg fried rice. It was good - but not cheap.

I had a great sag paneer at Chutneys where we all ordered more food than we needed to make sure we got free poppadoms!

On Friday night I went home for part one of mum's 50th birthday, and had more Chinese food. But this was Chinese for 25 members of my family - including lots of very hungry teenage (or grown up) boys. There was more food than you can imagine, a whole table groaning with it. And I loved being able to sit down and relax during a meal! Plus, the boy survived the introduction.

On Sunday I went back for part 2, a catered brunch, entirely made up of canapes. The food was amazing:
Shots of fresh orange juice
Shots of smoothie
Tiny expresso cups of porridge
Tiny cocktail glasses of granola and yogurt
Welsh rarebit
Blintzes
Fritatta
Bagels
Quails eggs on toast
Kedgeree
Croissants
Lemon cake
Muffins

Lovely. But this week I've been cooking finally. More on that to come...

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Oxford madness - and some pasta

In the holidays I forget how crazy term time is here in Oxford. I think I'm going to have tons of time to do all these fun things, like cooking and blogging, and then term just runs away with me. This week I met my thesis supervisor and he reminded me how much work I still have to do my thesis (30000 words at the end of April!), and he set me some much more urgent deadlines to get me going. Plus, West Side Story is about to start. I'm the Stage Manager and the past week and the one to come are just filled with theatre time. Oh, and I have another class that requires lots of reading, I have college things to do, I have friends to see, and a boyfriend who I want to spend all my time with. So, it's busy.

But, I still have to eat. Occasionally, I still have time to cook. Even more ocassionally, I remember to take photos - with my iPhone these days, as my camera has died :( and on Thursday night, I did.

In my freezer I had some salmon baked with pesto on the top. I love this when mum makes it at home, but often by the time I get it back here and heat it up again, it's fairly dry. So, in preparation for this, I opted to turn it into a pasta sauce.

I roasted a red onion, whole cloves of garlic, a courgette and some broccoli. It's amazing how much vegetables shrink down when you roast them (especially when you over-cook them slightly because you are not paying attention).

I combined all those veggies with some pasta - I'm currently on tubes - and the pesto salmon. I then added lots of Parmesan cheese and black pepper, as both of those make (almost) anything taste better! And it really was pretty good.

I ate it curled up on my sofa watching TV and drinking wine with my housemate, which was the perfect way really, even if it meant I failed to do any of the job applications I had been intending to work on that evening. Never mind...

I'm going to send this to this week's Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Kait of Pots and Plots. It's one of my favourite blogging events - there are just so many things you can do with pasta!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Repetition

One of my housemates eats the same thing every day, pretty much. Same breakfast, same lunch, and one of about three dinners. I couldn't do that - I'd just get bored. I love thinking up new things to cook all the time.

But when I look at the things that I've cooked recently, there doesn't seem to be much that's new. I frequently return to things that I know I've mentioned on here before. So my aim for the second half of term (we are half way through now!) is to cook different things, and to blog about them. So watch this space!

Meanwhile, here are some photos of some old favourites that I've made recently:


Couscous with spicy harissa dressing, roasted veg, chicken, apricots and pine nuts - yum!


Thai green veg curry
Cheesecake - decorated with witches hats for our Halloween Party

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Roast Lamb



Until this year, I hardly ever cooked meat for myself at university. In my first two years I lived in nominally kosher places and therefore could only buy and cook kosher meat, which is both expensive and hard to get hold of. Most of the meat I ate was part of leftovers brought up from home. And then after that, meat was still expensive, and I like vegetarian food. And a lot of my leftovers from home were still meat. But this year things have changed. And the key to that change is the boyfriend. We eat together a lot of the time, and he likes meat. So, I eat more meat. There is also the fact that I have a smaller freezer, and can rely less on mum's cooking!

This weekend, Marks and Spencers were doing a £15 deal - a meal for four involving meat, a side dish, a dessert and wine. There were 5 of us for dinner - including 3 hungry boys (well men, I guess) - so we opted to get two. We bought two shoulders of lamb, with roast potatoes, mixed veg, chocolate pudding and an apple and pear tart. And wine, obviously. I actually thought that, whilst most of it was good value, the side dishes were a bit lacking - we needed more vegetables. But anyway, it was a lovely meal - and all of my housemates were in for the first time which was particularly nice. And we definitely got through more than those 2 bottles of wine!

We had a decent sized piece of lamb left over, and I decided to use that up last night. I had some mashed roast butternut squash as well, left over from home, so thought I'd so some kind of vaguely Moroccan style curry.

Chopped leftover lamb - apologies, photo is from my iphone


First I chopped and fried an onion, some garlic and some ginger paste.
I added some cumin seeds.
Then I added mushrooms (a handful) and the squash.
Then tomato puree (two tablespoons) and some water
Then I added spices: ground corriander, paprika, salt and pepper, ras-al-hanout, cinnamon and some honey.
I cooked that for a few minutes before adding the lamb, because I didn't want the lamb to be over cooked - I like it quite rare.
It was really good, but needed some more squash I think.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Hooray for cooking time

Sadly I can't make my camera talk to my computer at the moment, but I'm working on that...

Anyway, tonight was designated cooking night. It was very satisfying to be in the kitchen again, and to sit and eat a nice meal. However, I spent most of the day completely uninspired as to what I wanted to cook. I literally had no idea, but I knew it needed to involve vegetables. Eventually, I just went to Sainsbury's (now my nearest supermarket - I prefer Tescos) and hoped to be inspired there....

First stop, reduced to clear veg. I found leeks and mushrooms, two of my favourites. My immediate thought was miso soup, but an intensive search of the supermarket proved miso-less. New plan....

Looked for reduced fish. Nothing...

Went to meat. Bingo! I found four huge chicken legs for 1.25 pounds (I still cant find a pound symbol on my mac!). The plan was formulated: honey mustard chicken with mushrooms, butternut squash mash and creamed leeks.

So, my first step was to roast the squash. I don't bother attempting to cut it while it's raw, I just stab it all over with a sharp knife, drizzle with olive oil and stick it on a baking tray in the oven. It always takes ages! As soon as it's soft enough, cut it in half so it cooks quicker. And when it's very soft, remove and discard the seeds, then scoop the flesh out of the skin and mash. No need to add anything, it's soft enough already. (And the crispy skin tastes pretty good too!).

Meanwhile - the chicken. First I made the sauce in a pan: I combined honey, grainy mustard, and some spices - normally I use curry powder but we didn't have any so I settled for paprika and ground cumin. Heat until it bubbles. I then chopped an onion and some mushrooms and put them in a large oven-proof dish, and laid the chicken on top, before covering with the sauce. It just goes in the oven for about 45 minutes - check the chicken is cooked.

Lastly, leeks. Very simple. Chop, and saute in butter in a pan, When cooked, season and add a tablespoon or two of mayo.

I made far too much tonight so have at least two meals left over. I may even produce a photo eventually!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Normal Service....

.... Will be resumed once Fresher's Week is over and I have time to cook again!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Rosh Hashannah Cooking

I'm back in the UK! My last week in the US was really busy, and I'll fill you in on some more US restaurants next week. But this weekend is Rosh Hashannah, the Jewish New Year, and here are our menus for the weekend.

Tonight, for the start of the festival, there are 13 of us for dinner at our house. We are doing starters & mains, and our friends are doing dessert.
We have made our favourite roast butternut squash, sweet potato and ginger soup to start with, and we will have homous, chopped liver, challah and various other dippy things to go with it.
Main course will be roast chicken, roast sweet and normal potatoes, roast cauliflower and broccoli, and green beans.
There seem to be an excessive number of desserts - chocolate brownies, lockshen pudding (a traditional Jewish dessert made of noodles, sultanas, raisins and things. I don't like it), lemon meringue pie, ice cream, and something called apple snow.

Tomorrow there are 25 of us for lunch and dinner - we expect the party to go on all afternoon. It will be my family, cousins and grandparents, and my grandpa's sister's children and grandchildren, although my great-aunt died last month. We are all contributing different things. Lunch will be meatballs and a chicken casserole type thing, dinner is cheese and smoked salmony things.
We are making: sausage rolls, a corn salad, chopped liver, egg mayonaise and egg and onion for lunch, brownies, caramel shortbread and crumble for both desserts, and then a baked bri for later.

Sunday will just be my immediate family, plus my sister's boyfriend, although sadly not mine, as he has family things. We will have bagels for lunch, then pesto salmon for dinner.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

My weekend in DC

Three of my best friends came to DC this weekend - we all interned out here a couple of years ago and it was great to have a catch up. I hadn't seen two of them for a whole year, since they visited London last summer, and the third I hadn't seen for two years! My travel blog details what we did and saw: http://lostjules.livejournal.com/

In terms of eating, it was definitely a bit all over the place. Thursday, when the girls arrived, we had nachos for a late lunch, tortilla chips with our drinks and then take-away food after drinking.

Friday was better mainly because we had sushi for lunch. For less than $10 I got miso soup, 4 different fish nigiri and 6 spicy tuna maki. It was very good - I may return before I leave the US. We then shared some pizza for dinner, and made quaesadillas when we got home after a lot more drinking!

Saturday we had actual meals! We went to a place called Tunnicliffe's Tavern down by Eastern Market. It's an old favourite of ours, and their brunch is very good. I had poached eggs with spinach and hollandaise, along with home fries, which I'd never had before my previous DC visit. I think they are pretty good, particularly when they have some pepper and onion in them, but french fries are better! We wanted to go somewhere nice for dinner so we picked Cabanas, a Mexican place by the waterfront in Georgetown. We shared tortilla chips with guacamole and mango salsa to start which were great, and two of my friends thought their food was good, but mine and my other friend's fish tacos were very disappointing!

On Sunday we went to Chadwicks for brunch. Their Georgetown branch does all you can drink champagne with brunch for $20, which we were hoping for, but instead their bottles of champagne were $9, which is actually still pretty good. We managed 5 bottles - although I really sat the last one out, I can't drink that much! For dinner we went to Chipotle, which is a US chain of Mexican restaurants that I really like. I actually think their $7 tacos were better than the ones I had for twice the price the day before!

Our weekend of eating ended Monday at a place called Pho 75 which serves big bowls of Vietnamese soup for $7. They were lovely and very filling!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Boston Eating

There will be photos to add to this post once I'm back home. Annoyingly, I left the cable for my camera in the UK, so I cant upload any photos yet.

Boston was a couple of days of mainly disjointed eating, and lots of rushing around, as I was interviewing Professors at the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard.

On Monday, after my first interview, I went to Au Bon Pan for lunch, which was not bad - it's a chain, and I had a decent goats cheese and mushroom sandwich. It was after 3pm by the time I had lunch, so I wasn't that hungry in the evening and I went to one the little Japanese places by my hostel for some Tom Yum soup, before meeting a friend from Oxford for a couple of drinks.

The hostel provided bagels for breakfast - and all day free coffee which is one of the best things about it! I went to another Japanese place for lunch, and got their lunch special: Japanese aubergine with brown rice, plus a couple of different types of spring roll and a salad all for less than $10 which is pretty good!

I was travelling all evening (for 9 hours in the end!) and I bought a salad from Whole Foods to eat on the way. Unfortunately, I forgot to pick up any kind of fork, so then had to attempt to eat my lovely, not cheap, salad with my fingers! Not easy!

Now I'm in DC and need to explore food options around here.

Monday, 31 August 2009

A weekend in New York

I am in the US! This is semi-officially a research trip, but it's also my first return to the US since I lived in DC back in 2007, and a chance to catch up with my friends and do some shopping - always essential!

I landed at JFK on Thursday night, and went straight to my friend Annie's house. The food on Delta was actually not too bad - I had pasta, rather than chicken, because I hate chicken on planes! I was too tired to eat when I got there, having been up early to see my sister who had just come back from Mexico, I somehow managed to stay up until midnight New York time - which is 5am in London!

So, Friday was my first day in the US, and I largely spent it in Brooklyn, which is where Annie lives. We didn't do too much, which was good because I was tired, but we did go out for a rather yummy lunch at a Vietnamese sandwich place. The UK doesn't really do Vietnamese food in the same way, so I was particularly pleased. They have a choice of about 6 sandwiches - 3 pork, 2 chicken and a tofu. I opted for chicken, and choose medium spicy, which was definitely the right decision! The sandwiches had lots of salad in them, particularly carrot and radish, which gave it a good crunch.

Friday evening, after buying my new macbook (yay!) we went to Annie's mom's restaurant, The Green Table. I'd highly recommend it! Their focus is on ethical and sustainable food, which also happens to be very tasty! We shared a crudite platter, and then I had halibut cheek tacos, which were so good. I love Mexican food! For dessert I had cheesecake with strawberries and a blueberry sauce. Needless to say I was very full after that! Another Oxford friend, Anna, came to dinner with us, and then I went back to her apartment, which was where I was staying for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was a particularly unhealthy eating day, but I think we made up for it by walking across New York! We had waffles with maple syrup for a late breakfast, and then sandwiches and fries for a late lunch after a few hours at the Met. They at least came with salad. We didn't really want dinner, but before going to see the September Issue at the cinema, we got Cold Stone ice cream, which is soo good! I had their peanut butter cup creation, but with vanilla ice cream, so it was ice cream, peanut butter, reeses pieces and fudge. Yum! But lucky we walked from the Met to Time Square!

We were healthier on Sunday, and we did a ton of walking again. We had mango for breakfast at Anna's, the salads for lunch (we'd hoped for brunch but it was a miscommunication). We spent the afternoon in downtown New York, mainly South Street Sea Port, and then we wandered up to Chinatown in the evening, where we went to a veggie dim sum place, because Anna is veggie. Then it was back home so I could do a little preparation for my research which started Monday.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Two meals to make up for the lack of posting

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Not having my own laptop is making things very difficult, although I am very excited about buying a Mac when I go to New York next week!

It's been a busy week. My parents went away last Wednesday, and so I spent most of the week with my boyfriend, which involved seeing quite a few of both his and my friends. We spent Saturday evening and Sunday at his grandparents' house in Suffolk, which was really very pretty. We had dinner there Saturday night and then Sunday lunch, and although it was lovely, it was fairly simple - salmon on Saturday, chicken on Sunday, with new potatoes and veg. On Monday I really fancied something a bit different.

After work on Monday the boy and I drove up to Oxford, to his new house, which he'd collected the keys for on the Friday before. As I have a car, we could take the first round of things up, and started to move him in. It also meant that I could see Emma, who is one of my best Oxford friends, and he could see two of his friends. We decided to join forces, and invite them all over for dinner, which ended up involving me cooking for everyone! I'd raided the fridge at home and taken all the veg that needed using plus some thai curry paste. I made two thai currys, one with chicken and one with veg and tofu. Emma just had veg, but everyone else had some of both, with rice. Whilst I do like making my own thai curry paste, using the shop bought stuff is very good and much easier!

On Tuesday night, I was on my own at home for the first time in a while. I had a craving for pasta, so I decided to make on of my favourites. I fried a red onion and garlic, and then added mushrooms and tomatoes, stirring until lightly cooked. Then I added a little chilli, anchovies, marinated artichokes, some pecorino, parmesan and pasta. I still love that pasta!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Good cooking but bad news

On Monday night, my mum and I cooked an amazing selection of Indian dishes. We made a dhal, sag aloo, chilli paneer and baby corn korma, with pilau rice, naan and poppadoms. It was really lovely, and it was nice to have a meal with the family that wasn't eaten quickly before going to prayers.

However, in a break during the cooking process, I went upstairs and discovered my laptop had switched itself off and wont turn back on again. I'm going to have one more attempt to repair it, but I've already taken the hard drive out, as a computer man told me it's doomed :(

So no photos, as I don't have a computer. I'm also definitely interested if you have any views on what I should buy to replace it. I'm heading to the US (New York, Washington DC and Austin Texas) in two weeks time so I will probably being taking advantage of the exchange rate and buying it there.

My sag aloo recipe comes from Mamta's Kitchen which is great for Indian recipes:
Mum made a chilli/garlic/onion paste, and I fried tablespoon of that with a tablespoon of cumin seeds and a pinch of asteofoetida, and then added cubed potato.
I added ground corriander, turmeric and chilli powder and some water to cook the potatoes.
I then added most of a bag of spinach, and some garam masala, sugar and salt, and left it all to cook.

I definitely added a little more spice then Mamta as I like my curries hot and I wasn't measuring the quantities of veg I was using!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Very Jewish Cooking

When someone dies in the Jewish religion, we have a very set mourning procedure. The funeral takes place as soon as possible, followed by a week of mourning, where the mourners (parents, siblings, spouse and children) spend a week sitting on low chairs, with torn clothes, and being visited by family and friends. There are prayers held every evening and the mourners don't cook, and don't organise or serve their own meals. This week is called shivah, and it takes place at a shivah house.

Whilst I was in France, my great-aunt died. This was not unexpected, in that she was very ill, but it happened a little sooner than we all thought. So this week has been a week of mourning for my grandfather, who is her brother, and her three children. My mum has had the job (along with a family friend) of being in charge of the organising of all the meals, although the Jewish community is wonderful at cooking meals for everybody. There are a lot of people to feed, as my great-aunt's children have families of their own who also need to eat at the shivah house, which is my great aunt's house.

The prayers are suspended for the Sabbath, so Friday evening and Saturday. Instead, you follow the rituals of the Sabbath, which take precedence over everything else. We always have a nice family meal on Friday night to welcome in the Sabbath, and so this week, we invited the family. There were 18 of us altogether, mainly adults, one child (the other children are on summer camp) and several of my generation: over 18, but still counted as children. We had my grandparents, who are my mum's parents, and my mum's sister and her husband; two of mum's cousins, plus their husbands, and three of their children; we also invited the friends who are helping with the meals. I'm very lucky to have such a close family.

Here is our very Jewish Friday night meal. We had a buffet because there were so many of us so we combined the first two courses rather than doing starters and mains:

Challah (Jewish plaited bread)
Egg mayonaise
Egg & onion
Chopped Liver
Pickled cucumbers
Sausage rolls
Salt Beef
Latkes (fried potato cakes)
Viennas (Little kosher sausages)
Corn Salad
Green Salad
Coleslaw

Fresh fruit
Apple & blackberry crumble
Flourless chocolate cake (we made two because there were so many of us!)

Friday, 7 August 2009

A week in France and Pink Couscous

Sorry for the lack of posting, things are very different in the holidays and taking photos of cooking is hard.

I spent the past week in the South of France with my new boyfriend and his family. We've actually only been going out for 6 weeks, so it's pretty fast moving, but we had a lovely time. There was lots of sitting in the sun, and swimming, and even some table tennis and crazy golf:



We had lots of lovely food, lots of good cheese and wine, and the boy and I cooked dinner one night: goats cheese bruschetta, lamb chops with garlicy potates and roast veg, and then grilled peaches. We went out for dinner a couple of times; the first time I had foie gras pate, and then sea bass on oriental-style veg, with sesame seeds around the edge, dessert was sorbet, fruit and macaroons. It was all really lovely! The other meal out was a late lunch, and I had steak and chips, then tarte tartin, before getting on the plane.

Last night I made dinner for dad and I, that was also lunch for mum and I today. One of my favourite things about it was that the couscous turned amazingly pink. Here's a photo of the leftovers:



Pink couscous salad:

I roasted one cauliflower cut into florets for about half an hour, and three fresh beetroot, wrapped in foil with some salt and olive oil in for about 45 minutes.
I double podded fresh broad beans - removed them from the big pods, then boiled the little ones and popped them out.
I cooked about 400g couscous (probably a bit much, actually) by adding boiling water, stock, cumin, corriander and paprika, and covering until the water was absorbed.
I combined all the veg and couscous, and then added some toasted pine nuts, and cubed feta cheese.
I made a dressing with crushed garlic, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, and just whisked it together with a fork and dressed it all.
We served the salad with the leaves from the fresh beetroot, and some little cherry tomatoes.

It was great last night, and probably even better at lunch time today.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cooking with Lentils

In amongst the chaos of the last week, which I mentioned in my previous post, I have done some cooking. I've done less blogging, partly because most of my time has been taken up by the new boy, and partly because of the continuous shuttling between houses!

Last week when I was at home, mum was planning what to make for her departmental party, which was being held here. She decided on a mozarella, tomato and avocado salad, and a couscous and roasted veg salad to use up some left overs.

I also made her a lentil and squash salad, that we found in the Good Food magazine

Unfortunately, they haven't posted the recipe online, but I shall summarize it here for you:

Peel butternut squash and chop into wedges. They think this hsould take about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 hours
-I cheated and peeled it once it was partly roasted, because once the squash was quite soft, it was easier to get the skin off. I also considered chopping it once it was softer, but actually my squash wasn't too bad.
-In the recipe they used 2 squash, which they reckoned were 800g or 1lb 12oz each. Our squash were about twice that size!

Also roast a couple of red onions that have been thinly sliced. You may want to add these part way through the squash cooking as they take less time.

Cook 200g green or puy lentils (or 400g if you have giant squash like I did!) according to the packet instructions and drain.

Mix squash, red onions and lentils together, and add salt.

Combine equal quantities of harissa, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, and dress when you are ready to serve.

The magazine suggests serving at room temperature or hot. It also suggests that you combine the salad with lamb's lettuce.

It would equally be good with added cheese, probably goat's cheese (always good with squash) or parmesan, and in that case, using balsamic vinegar to dress.

It was a very good salad - I didn't get to eat it at the party, but I was very pleased to have left overs when I got back from Oxford a couple of days later. So I'm submitting it to My Legume Love Affair: MLLA-13 conceived by Susan of the "Well-Seasoned Cook" and currently being hosted by Sunshinemom of "Tongue Ticklers". My Legume Love Affair is a great event! If you haven't already discovered it, I highly recommend it!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

A Celebratory Dinner

Apologies for the lack of posts for the last week. At least I can't blame work this time! I've been back and forth between my parent's house in London and my student house in Oxford about five times in the past week! It's the end of term, so I have to come home, but I've been delaying it because of the new boyfriend. Things are going pretty well at the moment, and it's been nice to be able to spend some time together in Oxford without the pressure of essays.

So I wanted to write a post about my middle sister's graduation dinner. She graduated from Magdalene College Cambridge last week, with a 2:1 in Law. We are of course very proud of her! We all (my parents, little sister, grandparents, and my middle sister's boyfriend) went up to Cambridge for the day. We started with official photos in her college, then, after lunch, we watched all the students from her college process to the building that they graduate in, and then went back to college for a champagne tea after the graduation.

Here is a photo of the procession:



We stayed for the afternoon, and then went back home, where we were serving dinner for 10 - two of my sister's friends came too. So here is our menu:

We started with champagne, and what we refer to as 'bits'. As usual in our house, we had crisps, raw carrot sticks, a sour cream and chive dip, and olives. We also served smoked salmon and sour cream on black bread, and some cheese and walnut biscuits that mum had made.

The starter was homemade gazpacho, a cold tomato soup, that we served with chopped cucumbers and peppers, and croutons. It's one of my favourite dishes.

The main course was sea bass with chive creme fraiche, baby potatoes, and artichokes. Mum found it in Gordon Ramsay's 'A Chef for All Seasons', but it's also here. Mum was a bit worried about it, because we didn't want to prepare the artichokes or sea bass in advance, but it wasn't too complicated, and tasted really good. We just served some green beans with it, as it didn't need anything else.

We did a trio of desserts: a little piece of cheesecake, After Eight ice cream in chcolate cups, and a short bread with summer berries and creme fraiche.

We then finished up with port and cheese. We drank my port from college, which I mentioned here.

All in all a lovely dinner!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Freezer Potluck

I had even more good news today. I found out that I got a scholarship from my college for next year, which, while it's not a huge amount, will make a good start at making sure I stay afloat next year. So I'm very happy.

Last night we went to our last college dinner of term. Monday night is an extra nice meal for grads in college, if you book in advance, and we dress up and wear our gowns.

This is me, in our college dining hall. You can see the black down over my brown top. Our dining hall is very old and traditional, it's lovely. We had a pretty good dinner last night. We had Cava, in our common room, then our starter was pea soup, with a piece of cod in the middle of it. It was very good. Main was lamb chops, with a stack of crushed potatoes, roasted tomatoes and ratatouille. Dessert was summer pudding and clotted cream, which I'm not so keen on. But we had port and chocolates afterwards back in the common room. I was sitting with a big group of my friends, and it was a lovely end of term dinner.


Unfortunately, I had to spend a large part of today packing. I hate packing! At least packing up to go home is easier, because everything has to go. I need to completely vacate my room. But it's going to take lots of trips between my Oxford house and my London house, so I still need to figure out what I will need and where. I'm not making my first trip home until Thursday morning.

In order to move out, I'm also eating up the food from my freezer, hence freezer potluck tonight:



I had a whole rainbow trout in the freezer that I'd bought reduced to clear a few weeks ago, so I baked that with herbs and flaked almonds. Trout and almonds are a great combination!

I had some roasted sweet and normal potatoes in the freezer, so I made them into a potato salad. As they were cooked already, I crushed them, and added lots of crushed garlic, paprika and some mayonaise. Potato salad always needs a bit of a kick.

I also had creamed leeks - leeks saute'd and then mixed with mayo, and a couple of roasted parsnips. I added some roasted broccoli too. It was a pretty good dinner to interupt my packing - although that had already been interupted by my going out for a long gossip with a friend...

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Pot Luck Cooking

On Friday nights I like to go to the Oxford Graduate JSoc (Jewish Society). It's a pot luck meal, so brings something with. You can bring a homemade or bought fish or veggie main, or dessert, or wine. We don't coordinate before hand, so anything can happen. They recently introduced a rule that the host has to provide a main dish, to avoid a repeat of the time when they only had desserts.

This Friday, the meal was very successful. There were about 10 of us, which is a good number: lots of people to talk to but you can probably talk to everyone. And the meal made sense: the host had made a roasted vegetable and feta tart, and there were lots of salads, and some desserts.

I wanted to use up left overs, as it's the end of term, so I made a couscous salad:



I used about half a packet of my wholemeal couscous, which made a huge amount! Couscous is so easy, you just add boiling water, and cover, and it cooks itself. I always add some stock to the water to improve the flavour.

I added to the salad:
Roasted cubed aubergine
Chopped dried apricots
Raisins
Toasted pine nuts and sesame seeds

I then made my tomato dressing, which I kept quite mild, as I didn't know the people who were eating it, but I like with lots of spice. It contains:

Tomato puree
Olive oil
White wine vingar
Paprika
Chopped garlic
Ground cumin
Ground corriander
Ground cinnamon

That all gets whizzed with a hand blender, and I mixed it into the salad.

I also could have added chick peas or halloumi, or other veg, but, as I said, I was using leftovers, and trying to avoid buying things!

It went down really well, and today for lunch I ate some left overs with spicy homous.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Blog Award

I've been nominated for a 'One Lovely Blog Award' by City Girl! This is particularly exciting for me as I'm currently planning a trip to her home of Washington DC in a few months. I've got some funding, and now I'm looking at flights, finding somewhere to stay and making plans!


She posted six reasons that she is happy today, so I'm going to do the same:

1. I've made it through my first academic year at Oxford.
2. I have complete support for my thesis from the tutor's whose opinion is most important.
3. I'm going to Washington to do my research in September!
4. I've just started dating a lovely guy in my class.
5. I'm really looking forward to this weekend's garden party and wedding.
6. I signed the contract for next year's house today.

And now I'm going to pass it on to:

Eats Well With Others
Burp and Slurp
Once Upon a Feast
Jenn Cuisine
Larder Lout.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Lovely Week in Oxford

It's been a really lovely week in Oxford. I handed in my last essay on Tuesday afternoon, and after collapsing on my bed briefly, I went out for a girly dinner with one of my best girl friends. We went to Zizzis, which I think is a decent chain, as they had a good offer on - buy one main, and get the second for 10p. I had a calzone, which was pretty good, and some really nice wine. We were joined by another friend in the evening.

Wednesday evening was college wine tasting. The tasting events are one of the most amazing things that college offers us. They are completely free, and include 20 bottles of wine for 20 people. We also get lots of information about what we are drinking, and the chance to discuss it with a really knowlegeable guy, which is so interesting. We managed to get through most of the wine during the evening, sitting in our common room and having a nice, relaxed evening.

Thursday I went back to Zizzis! It was unintentional to go twice in the same week, but we were having a course dinner there. The second time I had their ravioli, and I thought that was really good.

Today was another lovely day. We had our MCR Pimms and Strawberries event, which was literally that. The weather was perfect, and we sat in the sun in a lovely garden for hours, drinking pimms and eating strawberries and cream. Pretty good way to spend the day!

This evening I wanted something full of veggies for dinner, so I opted for a nice salad.


I had some roast chicken in the freezer, which I'd defrosted, so that went in, along with some crutons that I made, and some roasted big portobello mushrooms. The salad also had mixed leaves (bought rtc in Tescos!), strawberries, avocado and cucumber. It was lovely!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Looking back, looking forward

I don't seem to have much time for cooking at the moment. It's because I'm busy having fun, but it's a shame, becuase I love cooking. At the weekend, Friday night was a quick bowl of pasta before the pub, and Saturday and Sunday nights both involved dinner at the pub. I did get to have another bowl of my pea and broad bean soup for lunch on Sunday, which was very good cold.

This week looks like it's going to be much of the same. Tomorrow I'm planning a girly dinner out with one of my best Oxford friends. Wednesday night is meant to be a pot luck dinner with the girls on my course, and I'll probably make my cheesecake, as I have some custard powder. Wednesday night is dinner for the whole course, out.

So a post about my fish pie from last week:


It's something that I've been experimentign with throughout the year, and this was a good one.

The base is leeks sautee'd with some garlic in a pan, then mixed with defrosted frozen spinach, and creme fraiche.

The middle section is smoked haddock, poached in mackerel.

The top is mashed sweet potato, mixed with horseradish sauce, for a good kick.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Where did the summer go?!

Last weekend was so beautiful. The sun was shining, it was hot, and all I wanted to do was sunbathe. Unfortunately, I had a research project to do, and had to spend too much of the weekend in the library. So I had nice plans for this weekend, including croquet today, and punting tomorrow. And what happens? Rain!




Here are a couple of pictures of me playing croquet, before the rain started!






Amazingly, there are just two weeks left of term, and so two weeks left of the academic year. Hard to believe that I've nearly finished my first year at Oxford. That's five years at university, but who's counting! I'm so glad I chose to do my MPhil here. Oxford is an amazing place.

Anyway, that means it's time to start emptying my cupboards and freezer in preparation for moving home. I decided to make some pea and broad bean soup last night, using frozen peas and beans from my freezer. I'd thought it would be a nice thing to eat cold in the warm weather. In the event, when it got to lunch time today, it was cold and miserable. So I ate it warm.



I chopped and fried an onion with a few cloves of garlic, and lots of dried mint. I love mint in pea soup.
Then I added frozen peas and broad beans, boiling water, and vegetable stock. I seasoned, and simmered for about half an hour, before blending.
I served the soup with homemade croutons, using the crusts from a loaf of bread that's been living in the freezer.
The first bowl had a dollop of creme fraiche in, the second bowl had some slivers of goats cheese. Yum.

I'm going to send this to Weekend Herb Blogging, and event that I love, which is being hosted this week by Halo of Cook (Almost) Anything.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Another creamy pasta dish

I'm still experimenting with creme fraiche in pasta dishes. I think I really want to make something amazing, but everything just comes out ok. This week, I added lots of lemon, which gave it a bit of a kick.

This dish also used filled pasta. That's another thing I always want to taste better than it does. I think it's because I buy the Tesco own brand one, not something fancier. I also think that the best thing in filled pasta is squash or pumpkin, and they were out of those when I went shopping.

Anyway, this was pretty good, so I'm blogging about it anyway!


I started by chopping an onion, some garlic half a leek and some mushrooms. I'd used a white onion, not a red one, so it looked fairly white!

I added some broccoli too, so slightly better!

I cooked it all in a pan for a bit, before adding lemon juice, zest, seasoning and creme fraiche


And it was pretty good... Just not my favourite thing ever.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A light dinner

Sunday night needed to be a light dinner, as I had spent a few hours in the afternoon eating homemade scones at a girlfriends house. It was a lovely afternoon, amazingly sunny and warm, and although we had a big piece of work due in the next day, three of us decided to spend some time together, relaxing, and enjoying the sun. My friend Anna made scones, which were fabulous, and I whipped some cream, to go with the jam. Nothing like a cream tea in the sunshine!

In the evening I knew I'd be working late. I decided to roast some veggies to go with salmon and artichoke pesto, which I'd bought to try. It was interesting, but I think I prefer green (basil) or red (sundried tomato).

I chose to roast red onion, garlic, leeks and broccoli. I love the combination of broccoli and salmon, and I love roasted broccoli. I simply chopped and roasted the veggies, and then grilled the salmon the George Foreman. I combined everything with the pesto, which had an interesting flavour.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Summer!

Oxford has been beautiful this week - well towards the end of it anyway. The sun is out, and everything is lovely. Apart from the big project due in tomorrow. Never mind, then it will be over.

I made a lovely salad for lunch this week to celebrate the warm weather


It has romaine lettuce, big tomatoes, cucumber, pickled beetroot, avocado and crutons that I made out of my favourite walnut bread. It's dressed with my homemade dressing:

1 tbsp mustard - grainy or french
1 tbsp sugar - caster
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper
1 part vinegar to 2 parts oil: I usually use white wine and balsamic vinegars and olive and walnut oil, but a bit of sesame oil is nice, as is red wine vinegar.

Blend with a stick blender.

To take to my pot luck dinner this week, I made a cheesecake, as it was the Jewish Festival of Shavuot. Shavuot celebrates the Jews recieving the Old Testament from God, and it is traditional to eat dairy at this festival, as until we had the Old Testament, we didn't know the rules about eating meat. So cheesecake has become traditional.


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Theatre is over, work and cooking are on!

So I made it through to the end of my theatre week, and I'm back onto cooking, and lots and lots of work. I have to submit my thesis proposal next week, so I'm entirely focused on that (it's about Bill Clinton).

Dinner on Sunday night was partly cooked, partly from the freezer. The freezer part was mum's date and sherry chicken, which I think I've mentioned before. I love it. The sauce has lots of garlic in, nuts, dates and sherry, and it's really, really good. I decided couscous was the best thing to go with it, but I fancied doing something a bit different, so I defrosted some frozen spinach, which I cooked with lots of garlic and spices, then added the couscous to that. I had a corn cob in the fridge, so I cooked that, and took the kernels off, to mix in with the couscous. I did some green beans too - you can never have too many vegetables!

Then on Monday night I did some actual cooking! I had bought some reduced mackerel fillets during the week, so I defrosted a couple of those to grill. I wanted something interesting to go with them, so I found a recipe from Tom Norrington-Davies in Delicious Magazine for aubergine curry to go with mackerel:

Ingredients:
Four large fresh mackerel, gutted
Two medium aubergine
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small bunch corriander, with roots
1 red chilli
3 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
400g can toms or 2 large fresh toms peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2tsp ground cumin
Pinch saffron
2 heaped tsp Greek yog (not low fat)
Lemon wedges to serve

Method:
Preheat oven to 200C/fan 180C/Gas 6
Season mackerel
Dice aubergines & cook in oven with some oil for about 25 mins, until tender
Then turn oven up to 240/fan 220/Gas 9
Separate corriander leaves and reserve
Chop stalks, chilli and garlic into a paste and cook over a low heat for about 10 mins
If using canned toms, drain in a colander and squeeze out excess juice
Add toms, paprika, cumin, saffrom & 200 ml water to pan and summer for about 2o mins, stirring occassionally
Add aubergine & some more water and cook for 10 mins

Meanwhile, make 2 or 3 diagonal slashes on one side of the mackerel and put on a baking tray in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the flesh comes off the bone with the back of a fork, rest for 10 minutes.

Put aubergine on a plate, then fish, then top with corriander and serve with lemon.

That recipe serves four, and obviously I was only making it for me, so I reduced it accordingly. I also found that the spice mix cooked faster than predicted. Plus, I added some ginger, as I had some, and left out the saffron, as I didn't have any. Oh and I didn't use yoghurt. And I had fillets not whole fish.. So I mostly followed the recipe! It was lovely though. Last night we had a really amazing formal dinner. It was our MCR (Middle Common Room, so all the graduate students in college) Summer Dinner, and we all got very dressed up for it. We had a group photo, then pimms in one of the prettiest gardens in college. Our starter was fillets of sea bass on a basil sauce with a cooked cherry tomato on top, served with white wine. The main was venison, in quite a peppery sauce, served on a potato rosti, with little silverskin onions, and mixed veg - including some asparagus, served with good red wine. Dessert was an amazingly rich chocolate pot, in a coffee cup, with a white foamy topping, with a chocolate dipped strawberry, served with college ruby port. Then we had our post-dessert savoury, which was a crouton of some kind, with blue cheese on the top. Pretty good dinner, really!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Snacks and Lunches

I'm doing a play this week - you can see photos and things here if you have facebook - but that always means I don't really have time to eat. And I have been skipping dinner all week, relying on eating a little more during the day, and then usually having some crisps in the pub after the play, or eating chocolate (it's a prop!) during the play. Not so healthy really. As long as I don't eat too much junk or drink too much after each night, I'm hoping to drop a few pounds in time to get into a dress next week...

Anyway, I've had a couple of good snacks this week. At the weekend I made some lovely wedges of white sweet potato. White sweet potatoes look weird but taste good! I had some left over sour cream in my fridge, so I made a yummy sour cream & chive dip to go with them.

Yesterday's lunch was a fabulous salt beef and red cabbage sandwich. The salt beef and red cabbage both came from home via my freezer. It's such a good combination, almost as good as the ultimate: salt beef and chopped liver. On rye bread of course.

And today, I had some rtc salmon, so I made a wrap with avocado, salad and cubes of raw salmon. I put the whole thing on the George Foreman for a minute, so the salmon was lightly cooked, but I love raw salmon.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Speedy Pasta

Oxford life is incredibly manic. Most of the time I seem to be running all over the place, with 10 000 things to do.

This was a quick pasta which followed one of my more manic days: up by 07.30 to do some reading and finish an essay in time for my 11-1 class. Quick lunch with my class mates, followed by a brief meeting for a tutor to sign a form (he wasn't there!). Then from 2.30-4.00 we were looking at houses for next year. 4.30 I had a meeting on the other side of town for a play, then another straight after, for the same play. That meeting turned into a rehearsal, which went from 6-9, although I left in the middle for a physio appointment.

So, by the time I got home I was tired and hungry. Pasta was the obvious solution:



Luckily, I had mushrooms and leeks in the fridge, which I sauted, then added some creme fraiche, seasoning, mustard and parmesan. If only it was a prettier colour!

I'm submitting it to this week's Presto Pasta Nights, hosted by Patsy of Family, Friends and Food.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A Slightly Eventful Evening (with a good dessert)

I'm a little shaken up by last nights events.

I had a lovely evening at a pot-luck dinner with friends, and some new acquaintances. The host was an old friend so I stayed to chat after everyone had gone, and didn't leave until 1.30. I'm allowed to have fun every once in a while. I was sober, so I decided to cycle home - it's less than 10 minutes, not far at all, and on one residential road (his road) and one main road (my road).

About two minutes from home, a car seemed to be slowing down beside me. This was odd, as there were no cars going the other way, so it wasn't like it couldn't get around me and was waiting to overtake. As they pulled up beside me and an arm appeared, I realised that they were trying to grab my handbag out of my bike basket. Incredibly, I had at one point had the bag hanging off the handlebars, but luckily I moved it otherwise the bag, with my wallet, keys and IPhone, would have been long gone. I screamed and pulled away, and they sped off, leaving me and the bike having fallen on the pavement, but luckily generally unscathed.

Combined with the fact that things with the boyfriend have hit a rocky patch, and I'm having to give him some time to figure stuff out, it's been an eventful week. Not in a good way.

But anyway, back to food.

I thought I'd take a dessert, thinking that people were more likely to cook main course. But of course, people tended to buy dessert, so next time (this is a Jewish event that happens every week) I'll take main course.

This one survived the bike fall!

I made Lemon Chiffon Pie. The recipe comes from my grandma, and I don't know where she got it from!

Make a biscuit base - which is just digestives and melted butter.
Put the base in your serving dish, this dessert isn't cooked.

Whip 5 fl oz cream, and then add 1 tin condensed milk, and the rind and juice of 3 lemons.
Add to the base and chill.

Very easy!

I made double, and did one big and one small dish. The big one disappeared, but the small came home with me. Miraculously it survived the bike fall!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Cooking for Friends

On Sunday night I had dinner with the three people (one girl, two boys) who I'm living with next year. I'm very excited about it. It will be nice to be more of community in a house again, this year my housemates are all very separate. I think we will all have a lot of fun.

My friend Lesley made tabbouleh and salmon, so to go with it, I made homous and an aubergine dip:
They were lovely.

The next night, for my dinner, I ate the leftovers of Delia's Moroccan Chicken and Rice with some roasted Asparagus:


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Asparagus

Sorry for the lack of recent posting. Last Thursday I had a massive exam, so lots of time was devoted to that. Luckily, I found out yesterday that I passed (the pass mark is 60%). We are still waiting to find out our actual marks, however. Once that was done, term kicked in almost straight away - my first class was Tuesday, and I had lots of Cold War history to learn very quickly!

Yesterday, just before finding out I'd passed that exam, I went to the market in the centre of Oxford and got lots of lovely English asparagus. I had some of it as a mid-afternoon snack yesterday:I just steamed it for a few minutes, then ate it with some garlic butter. Lovely.

Today's lunch was largely based on asparagus too:

I steamed the asparagus again, to dip into a soft-boiled egg. I had some avocado and tomato on the side.

Monday, 20 April 2009

After Pesach Eating

The end of last week was very busy. Wednesday was the last day of Pesach, and also my 24th birthday. We had a tea for about 12 people in my house, with smoked salmon on matza, a couple of Pesach cake mix cakes, some fruit, and bubbelahs, which are similar to donuts, only made of matza meal. They are very good! In the evening we went out for a non-Pesach dinner to a restaurant that used to be a very good Thai, which had just turned into a pan-Asian buffet. Still pretty good and there was the major bonus of sushi.

Thursday I went out with some friends for drinks to celebrate my birthday, so Friday was our first proper non-Pesach dinner. We also had some friends coming, and it was my last dinner at home before heading back to Oxford. Mum and I spent some time planning a good non-Pesach meal, with no potatoes!

Our starter was:

Little Moroccan flat breads, which are basically pitta cut into strips with a mixture of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, cumin seeds and olive oil, bashed in the pestle & mortar, then spread on top. They then get baked in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Homemade homous: a can of chick peas, drained, but liquid reserved, and a couple of tablespoons added to the food processor, combined with a couple of tablespoons of tahini, a few cloves of garlic, lots of lemon juice fresh corriander, garlic salt and paprika. Adjust to taste and add a splash of olive oil at the end.

Aubergine dip: I chopped a few cloves of garlic into spheres and stuck them into three aubergines, then roasted in the oven until fairly black. I put the garlic and the flesh of the aubergine in the food processor, and added a little lemon juice and corriander, and blended.

This was served with tabbouleh, which mum made, garlic mushrooms, and bought taramasalata.

The main course was Delia's Moroccan Chicken with Chick Peas and Rice. It was such a good recipe, and I got to bring the left overs back to Oxford with me.

Dessert was little chocolate souffles served with berries.

A very good meal, over all!

Monday, 13 April 2009

Eating during Pesach

Eating in my house usually involves a lot of veggie food (my sister used to be veggie, and kosher meat is expensive), a lot of pasta, and a lot of homous. Meals during Pesach need a lot of planning, and are quite different from what we normally eat. So I thought I'd note them here, following Ruth's example.

Lunch on the day of the Seder must have no chametz (bread) but no matza either. We had gefilte fish balls and salad.

Dinner for the first seder night, as I said before, was:
Eggs in salt water
Chicken soup with egg noodles and matza dumplings
Chicken in coca cola sauce, with roast sweet and normal potatoes, mashed roast squash, an aubergine and tomato dish, and cabbage
Apple and almond pudding, chocolate ice cream and fruit

Breakfast in our house is either matza with jam, homemade lemon curd, chocolate spread or cream cheese, or fruit and yoghurt. Or both.

Lunch on Thursday was salad with smoked salmon, herrings, gefilte fish and some cheese. Or, for my little sister, who doesn't like fish, matza-bri, which is essentially scrambled egg with added matza, which has been soaked in water and then squeezed dry. I don't like it!

Our second Seder dinner was:
Eggs in salt water,
Leek and potato soup
Chicken in a lemon and herb sauce, roast potatoes, squash and mixed veg
Ice cream, fruit and a chocolate mousse pie

Friday:
Lunch was left over chicken or leek and potato soup.

Sabbath dinners are usually quite elaborate, but after all that eating, I limited mum to no starter, and just fruit for dessert. Main course was roast lamb, garlic mash, and roast veg.

Saturday I went out for lunch (to another kosher friend) and mum made more veggie soup. My sister's boyfriend attempted to make a curry with the leftover lamb for dinner, but it wasn't great. Next time, I'll do it :)

Sunday's lunch was a big salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomato, avocado, tuna and hard-boiled eggs. That was lovely. We also made some mini matza pizzas, mainly for my little sister who doesn't eat salad (!) but we all enjoyed them too.

Mum had 8 people for dinner, plus my sister, her boyfriend and I ate separately so we made:
Chopped liver, egg mayonaise and egg and onion, with gherkins and matza
Salt Beef (also known as corned beef in the US), viennas (little kosher sausages), latkes, red cabbage and coleslaw.
Orange cake, and flourless chocolate cake, both of which were great!

Monday's lunch was fish goujon, which are pieces of haddock fried in matza meal, with salad.
Dinner will be fish wrapped in newspaper, crushed new potatoes with spring onion, and purple sprouting broccoli.

Dinner tomorrow will be Shepherd's Pie.

Lunches on Tuesday and Wednesday will probably be anything we have left over.

I'm looking forward to it being over, to be honest, and to some veggie food!

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Pesach Chicken Recipe

This is a recipe that we started off using at Pesach, but is good all year round. It came from a friend of mums, and I don't know it's origins. We call it coca-cola chicken, and it sounds weird, but it tastes great!

Quantities given are for one to two chickens. I doubled the amount for 3 chickens, and that worked perfectly. It's the sort of thing that you want lots of extra yummy sauce to spoon over your chicken. I make the sauce in a pan, and then pour it over chickens that are cut into 8 by our butcher. You could of course pour it over a packet of chicken legs or thighs too.

5oz Apricot Jam
5floz Coca Cola or Diet Coke
1 Cup Ketchup
1 Packet dried onion soup
A few cloves chopped garlic.

Trust me, better than it sounds!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Pesach/Passover

Our seder table, set for 15


I've been home (at my parents' house, in London) since Friday afternoon, to help with the preparations for Pesach, and to stay for the whole festival.

Pesach, the Hebrew word for what is often known as Passover, is the Jewish festival where we remember the story of the Jews being slaves in Egypt, their escape from Egypt, the 10 Plagues, and Moses parting the Red Sea.

Food-wise, it's one of the most demanding of all the Jewish festivals. The rules are based on the story that the Jews were in such a rush to leave Egypt that they did not have time for their bread to rise. To commemorate this, we do not eat bread, flour yeast, or anything that rises or swells in water. We also don't eat the five grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt. We also avoid a group of foods called kiniot, which are things we are less sure about. In practical terms, this means we dont eat: any kind of bread, crackers, rice, pasta, couscous, beans, pulses, chick peas, and corn.

However, in Judaism, we have a tradition of 'building walls' around our customs, to protect them, during the week of Passover, we only eat foods which are certified by a Rabbi as 'Kosher for Pesach'. In this day, sometimes it seems over-cautious, as health and hygiene laws these days tend to prevent people eating food over production lines, and risking contamination, but we do so nonetheless. This extends to drinks too - even our milk and diet coke is certified. Fruit, veg, and eggs are ok though.

We also have special sets of cutlery, plates, pans, utensils for this week. A kosher home has two sets of everything: we do not eat dairy and meat together, and thus we have one set of things for all meals involving dairy, and another for meals involving meat. A meal can't involve both: so no ice cream after chicken, no lasagne, no chicken in a cream sauce etc. We also have two further sets, that are used for Passover, and not the rest of the year. Because Passover involves lots of cooking, particularly as we wont eat out anywhere during the week, we have to have all sorts of things, like a food processor and a whisk.

Starting on Sunday, my family began the process of cleaning our kitchen, removing all traces of chametz (bread), and emptying cupboards so that we could bring in our Pesach things. We keep everything the garage for the rest of the year. We worked section by section so that on Monday and Tuesday we could cook for Passover during the day, and still have lunch and dinner as usual.

Tonight there will be 15 of us for dinner. We follow a service called the Seder, which means order, and we retell the story of the Exodus. We eat Matza, unleavened bread, and we have a special plate containing 6 symbolic foods:

Salt water, to represent our tears in Egypt
Horseradish, a bitter herb, to remember the bitterness of slavery
An burnt egg, to remember the sacrifice in the temple
A bone, to remember the sacrifice of the pascal lamb
Charoseth, a mix of apples and cinammon, which looks like cement to remind us of slavery
Parsley, a herb to remind us that we are now free


Our Seder Plate, you can see the egg, the bone and the horseradish root. We eat grated horseradish.

We start our meal with hard boiled eggs, which symbolise new life, in salt water

Tonight our meal will be:
Chicken soup, with matza meal dumplings and egg noodles
Chicken in a sweet and sour type sauce that I made earlier, with roast normal and sweet potatoes, mashed squash, and cabbage
Fresh fruit, almond and apple pudding, and homemade, dairy-free ice cream


Our matza cloth

Monday, 6 April 2009

End of term pasta

Thursday was my last night in Oxford for a couple of weeks, and I was cooking for two again. I felt that I'd had a lot of meet in the last week, and was in need of a veggie meal.

To start with, I roasted all the veg left in my fridge, red onions, brocolli, mushrooms and leeks:

Then I made a puttanesca-type sauce.

I fried an onion and some garlic:

I added some olives and anchovies to the pan:


I then added tinned tomatoes, and some seasonings, and cooked the sauce for 10-15 minutes.

I then added the final ingredients: chopped anchovies, green and black olives, and capers:

All that was left was to cook the pasta, and combine:


I think I might have almost convinced him that veggie food is ok!

I'm going to send this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is hosted this week by Marye at Baking Delights.