A different take on lamb shoulder

Like many weeks, this Ottolenghi recipe caught my eye in a December issue of the Guardian’s weekend Feast magazine. The description and picture of this lamb dish looked divine. I finally got around to trying it last weekend.

Normally my approach with roasts is to do as little with the meat as possible, so this is quite a departure from that. It’s a “long and slow” weekend dish – advance preparation is necessary, and it’s also in the oven for 5 hours. I made the marinade the morning of and found it fine.

I did serve eggplant with it, but not the way Ottolenghi suggests. Instead of steaming it, I just diced it and put it in the oven for the last ~25 minutes of the roast, after removing most of the liquid to form a separate ‘gravy.’ I simmered the gravy and served it on the side — worked absolutely fine.

It was a change to have rice and eggplant in place of more ‘traditional’ accompanying vegetables with a roast lamb, but a nice one. The lamb was delicious — the combination really works. I don’t think this will become my “go-to” roast but it was certainly a worthwhile, tasty experiment!

lamb shoulder 2 (2)

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Donostia/San Sebastián

A couple of weeks ago, during half-term/spring break, we spent a few days in the Basque country. I had heard so many good things about this part of the world and it did not disappoint.

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Calamari & txakoli – best combo

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Pintxos!

We spent a good portion of each day wandering from pintxo bar to pintxo bar (our faves were Bar Txepetxa and Bar Sport), trying out small plates and drinking dirt cheap wine (I loved txakoli, a local sparkling wine). It was terrifyingly unseasonably warm and we spent at least an hour each day on the beach (in jeans and T-shirts, mind you, but still crazy for February). This is a city that takes food and relaxation seriously. We loved it.

Wings part 3: Buffalo (we have a winner)

It’s been almost a year since I last updated on my wings project and I am pleased to say that after a lull, we have a winner: Smitten Kitchen’s baked buffalo wings. Damn these were good! (Coincidentally, the first ones we made were also SK).

Buffalo style = vinegar-based hot sauce + butter two of my favourite things

I shouldn’t be surprised that this is the winner. H & I had a long tradition of Wings Wednesday at our former London local (sniff!), and the wings there were Buffalo with blue cheese sauce. We were obsessed.

The main difference between this method and the two I’ve made before is that the wings are baked without any sauce; it’s added at the end. This means that they crisp up in the oven really nicely. I followed the recipe exactly and found them a bit too salty — I will reduce the salt next time. I will also blend the sauce, as I prefer this to chunks of blue cheese. Otherwise these were great; very moreish, as the Brits say! They will become our standard wings from now on.

buffalo wings

January 2019 Favourites

Happy February! (A bit late). January, I am not sad to see you go. A rather chaotic month of illness (x3) and all new teaching for me at work. A very short list for you this month.

◌ Like this — NY resolutions based on your Myers-Briggs type (I’m INFJ).

◌ The best skin-care trick!

◌ Very cool.

◌ Making my way through this book, and it’s excellent.

◌ Listened to the Bear Brook. WOW. Just wow.

Beautiful. Especially in these crazy days of division and hostility.

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Scottish Highlands – early January. Feels like a lifetime ago!

Two Chickpea Stews

It’s the end of January and despite good intentions, I haven’t managed to post anything all month. It’s been a not-so-great month of sickness and a very busy start to the semester for me.

Today I have two chickpea-based stews to share. I love chickpeas. I love their taste and also how versatile they are.

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The first one is this chickpea and chorizo stew from Nigel Slater. I was a bit sceptical that this stew wouldn’t be full of flavour, because all it has for seasoning is smoked paprika. (I actually added some salt & pepper). I needn’t have worried. This was rich and very flavourful. It was my first time cooking with chorizo (I used regular cooking chorizo from Brindisa) and I was really happy with this. I will make it again.

The second one was brought to my attention by my dad: chickpea, coconut, and turmeric stew. If you Google “the stew,” this is the third result. It has a 5* rating on NYT recipes, so I decided I had to give it a go. I’d rate this 4/5. I really liked it, but for me it needed more salt and more acid. It was slightly cloyingly creamy. Not so cloying as to be bad — far from it. But if/when I make this again, I think I will only use one can of coconut milk. The turmeric is really nice, and the it manages to be very healthy and delicious at the same time.

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December 2018 Favourites

Last favourites of 2018. It’s been a while!

◌ Inspired by these teens.

◌ Really quite liking the Pantone colour of the year.

◌ Simply stunning. Holy cow. (via A Cup of Jo)

◌ Enjoyed this.

◌ Some year-end book lists: New York Times, CBC (non-fiction), Brain Pickings.

◌ Nice comprehensive guide to essential oils.

◌ Amazing wildlife photography.

◌ Podcasts: UncoverUnravelSlow Burn, season 3 of Serial.

◌ Like the meal prepping tips from The Kitchn.

SO GOOD.

2018 in culture

Book – fiction: Preparation for the Next Life. (Honourable mention: Home Fires)

Book – non-fiction: Seven Fallen Feathers

Dish: In terms of making it onto the regular repeat list, eggplant larb, which I’ve made several times since the spring. In terms of conquering a long-term goal, it has to be pierogies.

Podcast: So many. But CBC’s Someone Knows Something takes #1 spot for me.

Online essay: It’s old, but Neil Gaiman on libraries is so good.

Poem: “Cento Between the Ending and the End,” by Cameron Awkward-Rich

TV (non-fiction): “Wild Wild Country” is the most shocking, bizarre, incomprehensible story I’ve seen in a long time.

TV (fiction): “Peaky Blinders” and “Ozark.”

Instagram account to follow: Nitch

Meal out: Two meals in New York stand out – Beauty & Essex, where we ate the night after we got married, and Root and Bone, where we ate for H.’s birthday, which had amazingly good food and cocktails.

Movie: I rate all of the movies I watch (surprise surprise) and so far I haven’t given out any 10/10 for 2018. I did give a 9 to Spotlight and Tallulah.

Music: There have been many dark moments for me this year. This song always lifts my mood:

 

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Cheddar & Spring Onion Biscuits

Hello again. It’s been 2 months since we moved, and I only now feel that I am slightly closer to  pausing to take a breath — sort of. The blog’s been quiet, for many reasons. Life has been chaotic, sad, and tumultuous lately. Perhaps for that reason as well as others that I can’t quite pin down, I haven’t really felt like cooking or baking much at all. I’m even less excited about cooking in my new (much better!) kitchen. Weird. Many nights I don’t even feel like making supper, which is odd for me.

I’m not putting any pressure on myself to make new stuff, or share it, so I can’t guarantee what updates will look like over the next couple of weeks/months. But I can assure you I’m not finished blogging.

Not feeling like cooking or baking doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not doing it, but it’s more haphazard. A couple of weeks ago I bought buttermilk with intentions to make something completely different (an apple and cinnamon loaf). I never made it, but didn’t want the buttermilk to go to waste. Instead I used it for these biscuits.

I made these an extremely lazy way. Instead of rolling out the dough, folding it, and then cutting out biscuits, as the recipe suggests, I simply mixed all of the ingredients together, but scooped out globs of the dough, flattened it slightly, and baked it as-is. They look messier, but taste the same.

Verdict: These biscuits were not as good as the amazing zucchini ones. In fact I found the inclusion of the spring onions didn’t quite work as well as I thought it would. They were fine, especially toasted with some butter, but in comparison didn’t wow me as much.

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New beginnings

Hello friends/readers! A LOT has happened since my last post in mid-September. The big one is that we’ve moved. We said goodbye to London after 6 years and are now living in Norfolk. It’s a huge life/lifestyle change that I am excited to document and share here on the blog. Expect more frequent updates to start soon. For now, here’s a little “check in.”

Relishing space.

Reading River Thieves. Slowly.

Delighted that my new walk to work is mostly through a park.

Recommending Peaky Blinders.

Eating a lot of not-so-healthy meals, since I have been on the go so much. That’s about to change, I hope.

Grateful for everything. Gratitude is very important to me.

Loving that I now live and work in the same city!

Listening to the radio a lot more, now that I finally have space to have one in my kitchen.

Laughing with my sister — usually over Whatsapp.

Looking forward to a weekend with no plans. 1 & 2 December, I’m looking at you. Don’t come too soon though.

Planning my next research project.

Working hard. Too hard?

Finding time to just “be” and do nothing very difficult.

Dreaming of dinner parties in our new dining room(!).

Still thinking about two great parties — and one of the best surprises of my life — over the last 6 weeks.

Ending big-city life.

Polenta-Crust Pizza

Hello everyone. You might notice that after a couple of years, I’ve changed the look of my site! It felt like it needed a fresh start for fall, so I decided to update it a bit.

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I mentioned in a previous post that the past few weeks have been extremely chaotic. Here’s the news: we’re moving! After 6 years in London we are moving outside of the city. More details coming on that soon. Although it’s several weeks away, I’m trying to be strategic in my food planning/prep so that we have to move as little food as possible, especially heavy stuff like cans. I’m also meal prepping like mad, as we are spending a lot of time on the go at the moment, and eating without planning = expensive and unhealthy meals.

On this occasion I decided to use up the 250g of polenta we had lying in the cupboard. How did I come up with the idea of a pizza with polenta base? I’m also trying to go through all of my old magazines at the moment — mostly delicious, which I’ve had a subscription to since 2013. I’ve detailed this process on the blog before; I try to cull magazines every two years but tend to do it seasonally. I’m determined not to take any magazines with me in the move, so I’ve been going through them and tearing out recipes I like (yes, I know there are numerous ways to sort digitally, but I’m not there yet).

This one caught my eye. The base is 250g polenta, plus 1L of liquid (400ml stock and 600ml milk). Unlike making pizza dough from scratch, this comes together quickly (make sure to keep stirring otherwise the mixture will clump). You can experiment with the toppings. I used the vegetables that recipe called for just because I happened to have that around and not much else. Cheese-wise, I only used mozzarella on top with a bit of cheddar in the base.

I don’t think it tops our regular homemade pizza, but it was certainly tasty, and very filling. It’s particularly good for gluten-free eaters.

polenta crust pizza