Sunday, 31 May 2009


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:

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

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: