Tomato Tarte Tatin

This recipe has been making the rounds on the internet and it’s easy to see why. Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you really can’t go wrong with this late summer dish (I’m a little late posting this — it’s currently about 14 degrees and raining here in London).

I’m a tomato fiend and love anything on puff pastry, so this was really up my street. It’s not as simple as throwing a bunch of tomatoes on pastry and baking it, but it’s worth it. The combination of honey and balsamic vinegar really works.

My pastry really puffed up a lot, so it didn’t lie flat when I turned it over. Doesn’t matter — still tasted delicious. All you need is a side salad with this one!

 

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Fish Tacos

Greetings from sunny and hot Nova Scotia. I am playing catch up on a few posts I’ve had sitting in drafts for a few weeks now.

Ever since my visit to Toronto’s Grand Electric in May, I’ve been craving fish tacos again. I finally decided to give homemade ones a go, and I am so glad I did because these were easy to make and will become a new staple. I am hoping to recreate them here in Nova Scotia.

I made up my own recipe but based it loosely on a combination of these three from Wit and DelightFood52, and delicious magazine. The components were:

  • Fish – I used North Sea haddock, fried in butter with a little sea salt
  • Guacamole – avocadoes, lime juice, salt, tomato, garlic
  • Slaw – red cabbage, red onion, coriander, fish sauce, sugar
  • Tortillas
  • Sauce – plain Greek yogurt, chopped coriander, garlic, salt

I didn’t measure anything, just mixed it up as I went along. These were delicious and will be even better with local NS haddock!

 

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Slaw

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Cauliflower & Cheese Croquettes

They had me at croquette. And cheese. This recipe appeared in the May 2017 edition of delicious magazine and it immediately appealed to me. And boy was it good. The texture was perfect — crispy on the outside, soft, creamy, gooey on the inside. Sooo tasty. Serve with mayo or Greek yogurt dipping sauce. Serve with a side salad.

Here’s how to make them. This makes enough for 2 people for 2 meals, so quite a bit.

  1. Chop a head of cauliflower into florets. Preheat over to 200C, and roast florets with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, for 20 minutes.
  2. When the cauliflower is roasted, whizz half of them, with 150ml milk, using a food processor or stick blender. Roughly chop the remaining cauliflower and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: melt 50g butter in a saucepan and stir in 75g plain flour [I found I needed a bit more better]. Gradually whisk in 350ml milk and stir to make a smooth, thick sauce.
  4. Add the following to a mixing bowl: the sauce, 100g grated cheddar, a pinch of nutmeg, 2 spring onions (chopped), and 2tbsp olive oil, and all of the cauliflower. Cool, and then chill for 2 hours. The magazine recommends using cling film and allowing it to touch the top of the mixture to prevent a skin forming.
  5. Get ready to form the croquettas: in bowl 1, beat 2 eggs; in bowl 2, mix 150g Panko breadcrumbs with 30g Parmesan. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly, and then roll in egg and then breadcrumbs. I did this as I went, batch by batch.
  6. Time for frying: the recipe recommends 1L sunflower oil. I did not use that much (probably about half). You want the oil hot — 180C on a digital thermometer (or until a piece of bread turns golden in 30 seconds).
  7. Fry the croquettes for a couple of minutes on each side. Leave to dry on a paper-toweled plate.

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Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Bark

When in Toronto for work at the end of May, I stocked up on snacks. Now that I have a “normal” 9-to-5 job, I need good desk snacks daily. Some of my favourites include fried corn and sesame sticks, but I also discovered a new (to me) company Barkthins. (Sidenote: snacks are way better in North America. UK, you could really do with upping the snack game!)

After devouring the bark in about two days at work, I decided I would try to recreate it. I used this recipe as a base. I experimented a bit with the ratio of seeds to chocolate: in the end I used 300g dark chocolate and about 200g sunflower seeds — you really do need quite a bit of chocolate if you’re going to make a big batch.

This is really easy to make. I only used sunflower seeds — make sure you lightly toast or roast them. I was a bit nervous that it wouldn’t set, but it did (make sure to refrigerate at least an hour). It is delicious, especially with the added sea salt. I’d encourage everyone to give this one a go! 🙂

Sorry, no photo this time!

Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheddar Bake

Soon after I posted saying I’m not cooking much new…I have a couple of posts in the pipeline.

This is like a mac & cheese except solely with vegetables. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but cauliflower rice is everywhere here: even in tiny shops it’s available, pre-chopped. I picked some up on a whim and for a couple of days mulled over what to do with it. Since we all know that I love cheese…it had to be something cheesy in the end. I loosely adapted this recipe.

I didn’t have buffalo sauce (it doesn’t seem to exist here? Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough), so made the recipe a simple “mac and cheese,” with bechamel sauce, cheese (mature cheddar and Parmesan), and “pasta” (vegetables). The original recipe is with shrimp, but, again, I omitted this.

I won’t lie: this was not the tastiest or most thrilling dish I’ve ever made. In hindsight I would have added some sharp blue cheese to it, and if I make it again I think I’ll do that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t dull or bland — I had it with a side salad and they worked well together. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of mincing the cauliflower by hand to make this though — some shortcuts are worth it.

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A New Normal, part 2

In my last post, I reflected on a “new normal” that I’ve been living since the beginning of this year. In this post I want to talk more about what that means in terms of cooking and eating. You’ll notice that posts have declined quite a bit since January, and that’s because I simply don’t try many new recipes anymore (that being said, now that we’re moving into summer months, I hope to change that).

My requirements for food during the week are as follows: meals must a) be fairly easy to prep, b) healthy, c) require a minimum amount of ingredients, d) within budget, and e) as leftovers, be able to be taken for lunch the next day. I don’t have a huge pantry of staples condiments/spices to turn to, so anything too complicated or time-consuming is out.

I try to follow a stringent meal planning system because without it I would waste a lot of food (and money). As I am hardly ever in Liverpool for more than 5 days at a time, I need to plan carefully to make sure I don’t leave a lot of perishable food that will be off by Monday evening. I’ve found this to be tricky because I want to eat as many fresh vegetables as possible, but this is also the stuff that goes off quickly.

I’ve found that I eat more vegetarian meals now than I did when living full-time with H., just because they’re often less complicated to prep and meat is of course pricier. I also have eaten more pre-prepared food than before, simply for the convenience factor (this was especially true during the first few chaotic weeks). I try to keep to a rough budget of £25-30/per week, though some weeks will be more if I am stocking up on basics. Some staple meals include risottos, pastas, fresh ravioli, salads, fish, and curries.

I miss a lot of my “London life”, including more adventurous meals and the luxury of cooking out of only one kitchen(!). But, things were always going to change post-PhD, as I am no longer able to set my own schedule as much as I once was. I also really miss cooking with H. regularly (though not necessarily having to plan around his schedule! 😉 ). When it comes down to it, I doubt I’ll ever have as much time to cook as I have over the past 6 years since I started the blog. Life gets in the way! But I hope to continue to share what I can until posting feels like a chore. 🙂

“Ravioli” with Cavolo Nero & Goat’s Cheese

This recipe caught my eye because it simply looked good in a recent edition of my delicious magazine. It also falls into a category — vaguely healthy-sounding pasta dish — that usually appeals to me. This one was unusual because it uses fresh lasagne sheets as the pasta — the “ravioli” aren’t really ravioli.

The sauce is made in a food processor with a combination of cavolo nero (boiled for a minute to make it soft, then water squeezed out), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. The accompanying paste is soft goat’s cheese, walnuts (I used toasted almonds), sage, lemon juice, and oil, again made in a food processor. To assemble, you cook the lasagne sheets, and then “layer” the three components, beginning with sauce, then noodles, then goat’s cheese paste. Repeat. Top with Parmesan or Pecorino.

This unfortunately did not pack enough of a punch taste-waste for me. The sauce was a bit bland and watery. The recipe says to squeeze out as much water from the cavolo nero as possible, which I did, but I still found it lacking. I also found the noodles too thick. It was an experimental meal I guess — not a bad one, but one I won’t be making again.

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Early Spring Favourites

I missed February favourites, so thought I’d do an ‘early spring’ roundup. I hope to return to more frequent posting very soon. Happy spring! 🙂

◌ Two of my favourite things.

◌ Goop’s spring fiction guide.

◌ Seems very, very impractical!

What an experience. Take me there!

◌ I can’t stand the term ‘clean eating’ either.

◌ My cultural consumption has plummeted over the past few months with the exception of podcasts, which I have been listening to on my way to work: I’ve really enjoyed the short, fictional podcast Homecoming, starring Catherine Keener & David Schwimmer, among others. The Babysitters Club Club has really made me laugh, and I recently began  season 2 of Undisclosed, and I’m hooked.

◌ Love this feature on Alaskan fisherwomen.

Meal planning for one.

WOAH.

Leonard Cohen’s Montreal neighbourhood was also mine. Makes me nostalgic.

Amazing.

◌ Happy that Broadchurch and Line of Duty are back.

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Sea Bass with Ginger & Garlic

Current meal standards and expectations are very, very low. This is the only ‘new’ thing I have made in the past 7 weeks — I think that’s a new record for me, even in all of the craziness of the PhD. I started a new job in mid-January, which had meant a complete change in my personal and professional life. I’m lucky now if I manage to eat an evening meal, let alone make one from scratch or try a new recipe.

Most weekends, I travel back to London. I leave work around 3:45pm and arrive back home in the capital by 7:45pm. However, on the weekend that I made this, H. came up to visit me. The recipe had caught my eye in the Guardian magazine and I set out especially to make it — to try something new.

Regular readers will know that I don’t make a lot of seafood in the UK. I decided to make an exception for this and got the fish at a local fishmonger. This dish was, to put it simply, wonderful. Aside from the fact that the fish fell apart a bit– too much handling — it was spot-on. The tastes were wonderful. Ottolenghi is known for his big punchy flavours and this didn’t disappoint. Both H. and I agree we’re going to make it again. I followed the recipe carefully and would recommend doing the same. It is essential to have everything prepared before you start to cook.

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Kate, Lately

I have no food-related updates for you , so I thought I would try something different. Hopefully I will be able to share a recipe soon.

Relishing any moment I have to read for pleasure. These moments have been few and far between since I started my new job, which is a big change for me.

Remembering that this isn’t forever.

Reading George W. Bush’s memoirs (a little odd timing) and on page 2 of this novel.

Delighted that I have made two genuinely fantastic friends since my move up north — I live with one and one is a colleague.

Recommending the second season of the CBC podcast Someone Knows Something. Start from episode one. It is without a doubt one of the best podcasts I have ever heard, possibly the best.

Eating a lot of meals that require a minimum number of ingredients.

Grateful to have a new job that challenges me.

Loving that I am teaching feminism for the first time next week.

Checking Donald Trump’s Twitter feed almost obsessively. It’s a problem.

Choosing life. (Ha). Positivity & gratefulness.

Listening to (back episodes of) CriminalThis American LifeMatrimoney. I’m one ep in to the Babysitters Club Club and it is hilarious and so nostalgic.

Laughing with my sister, whenever we can. I miss her. We can always make each other laugh.

Looking forward to Saturday, the first day I will be taking off since I started my new job.

Planning lecture after seminar after tutorial after lecture.

Running 2 mornings a week before work. This is a new routine and I am proud of myself for sticking to it so far.

Working like I have never worked before.

Finding that H. & I are rock solid — as if there was ever any doubt!

Dreaming of summer in Nova Scotia.

Still thinking about donating blood — something I wanted to do for the first time at Christmas and haven’t done yet.

Ending my student life. My PhD corrections are officially approved. My full-time job is now teaching undergrads. My first paycheck arrives in 12 days (not that I’m counting or anything). Apparently I’m an adult!