you can do it too

I’ve been in a cooking rut lately. Potential reasons are plentiful, and include the usual suspects of laziness, winter, quarter life crisis etc. Bottom line is that I hope/believe the following dish represents my departure from said rut.

Many moons ago, I watched Michael ‘Chef At Home’ Smith make a barley risotto with asparagus. The restaurant where I work recently featured a seafood barley risotto, which reminded me of Smith’s dish which had been at the back of my mind/intentions. I decided to combine the two dishes into a sea bass, green bean and kale barley risotto which satisfied deeply.

I used: 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 2 sea bass fillets, 2 bay leaves, approx 1.5 cups each of left-over white wine and milk, 4 cups of chicken stock, 1 cup of barley, 2 handfuls stemmed and sliced green beans, 4 large chopped kale leaves, a few lemon wedges, and as much black pepper and red chili flakes as you enjoy.

Heat 4 cups of chicken stock in a saucepan on the hob. Meanwhile poach sea bass in milk with a splash of chicken stock, black pepper and bay leaves in a large frying pan with lid until just cooked through (this takes hardly any time, 5-7 mins). Once it’s ready, remove the fish from poaching liquid.

Fry the onion in extra virgin olive oil in a large, heavy pot on medium-high heat. After approx. 5 mins add garlic along with chili flakes and black pepper. Once all is translucent, add barley and fry until the grain is toasted and begins releasing a lovely nutty aroma. Pour in wine (*vodka would be a delicious substitute). Keep an eye on the mixture and stir occasionally. Once the barley soaks up all the wine, add the fish’s poaching liquid (bay leaves included) and again, watch/stir until all liquid is absorbed. You will now need to, in rounds, add several ladles of stock and periodically stir until all liquid is soaked up by the barley. The little babies will expand and soften as they drink up the liquid/love you add. It will take several rounds of stock/water until the barley has the density/texture you’d like (I believe the grains should be fairly al dente). To ensure my dinner was not too salty, I alternated rounds of stock and water. This may not be necessary if you use a nice/good stock instead of the bouillon cubes I had on hand at home.

Once the barley is suitably cooked, add the green beans and flaked fish, and stir until all is warm. Finally add and stir in the kale, and hit the whole mess with squeezes from lemon wedges until it tastes bright and delicious.


r/s-unny yolks

While I thoroughly enjoy going out for breakfast/brunch with my love or friends, I very rarely enjoy what I eat. I typically find myself more interested in what I do to, and combine with eggs than what is available in restaurants. I die for a protein-y, cholesterol-y runny yolk, so my creations always involve eggs that are poached or over-easy. True to my British roots, my fave companions to sunny yolks are spinach, mushrooms, fried tomatoes and baked beans.

Oyster mushrooms are a new major fave for me. On the depicted occasion I broiled them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for 7-10 minutes, and then laid them over some baby spinach. I combined this ‘salad’ with bacon, a runny yolk and a seat in the sun on the deck off my bedroom. Bliss.

favourite thing

I love eggplant very much. I also love Indian food very much. Baingan bharta combines these two loves and is one of my favourite things to eat.

– 2 med eggplants

– 1 diced onion, 2-3 minced  garlic cloves and 1 tsp of minced ginger

– diced fresh red chiles (optional)

– 1 tsp each of red chili powder, tumeric, ground/crushed cumin seeds

– 2 tsp garam masala

– equivalent of 2 med tomatoes (I used canned but you could use fresh)

– approx 1/2 cup plain yogurt

– fresh coriander leaves and lime wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut eggplants in half, rub with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place eggplant in oven and bake until skin is browned and flesh is totally softened. Set aside.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat. Add onion and fry until beginning to soften, add garlic and all spices except for the garam masala. Lower heat to medium and fry stirring frequently, until onion is well softened and translucent but not browned (5-10 mins).

Meanwhile, scrape pulp from the eggplant and into a bowl. Mash it up a bit with a fork and set aside (I include some skin in here because I like it but it is optional).

Add chiles and either crushed or chopped tomatoes, fry and stir for a couple mins. Add yogurt and stir thoroughly.

Add eggplant and garam masala. Allow to cook for a while. You can cook it covered or uncovered if you’d like a thicker texture.

When serving stir in and/or garnish with fresh cilantro to your liking. I served the eggplant with a chickpea pulao, raita and mango pickle.


I made lamb tartare. It was crazy good and a lovely protein-y dinner. Just wing it re: amounts of stuff and taste as you go. Be confident. Don’t be scared. It will turn out great. Promise.

You will need:

– lamb loin (a good cut for tartares and/or carpaccios because it is lean and clean)

– fresh mint and chilies

– cornichons

– mustard of some kind (I used Grey Poupon)

– orange and lemon

– a great olive oil

– some nice sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning

Chop lamb finely and put aside. Chop a little handful of mint leaves and cornichons and some de-seeded red chilies. Mince them all together. Add a reasonable amount to the lamb. Stir in a tablespoon or so of mustard. Squeeze in juice from the orange and lemon (I used 1/2 a blood orange and 1/2 a lemon). Season with salt and pepper and stir in some glugs of olive oil.

Taste it! Add more of whatever you feel is lacking. I used a lot of chilies but I like stuff hot.

We ate the tartare with some pickles from my canning experiment, a spinach and red onion salad and bright bottle of Sassella. Total success.

new toy

Look what I got:

Le Creuset! My lovely friends gave me a gift certificate to William Sonoma for my birthday many many months ago. To be thrifty, I waited for the January sales to use it. Turns out this was a brilliant idea as I bought a forest green enameled cast iron grill pan for a song. Beauty.

For its christening I made some truly plain but truly delicious burgers. I used to do all kinds of things to ground beef when making burgers. I’d add egg yolks, grated onion, garlic, nutmeg, chilies and I’d massage it all like crazy into the meat. I now touch it as little as possible. I shape the patties by breaking pieces off the mound of ground beef, then I season with some salt and a lot of pepper and (this is the important/delicious part) brush them with melted butter. That’s right, I melted some butter, brushed it on the patties and then put them in the fridge so the butter could harden up.

They were delicious, especially topped with some classic American cheese.

I like to go sans bun:


We also had a little blood orange salad. They are just so pretty – you should make it too! Peel and slice oranges, lay out on a plate/platter, season with a bit of salt and a good grinding of black pepper, drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil, and top with sliced red onions and some chopped/torn mint leaves.

this exists

oh. my. god. i. die.

it’s not just for pasta

Since its been cold it seems like all I cook is things in tomato sauce using my dutch oven.  I love love love lentils and really want to eat more. So I bought some nice de Puys and whipped up this little gem by combining recipes from my two favorite Englishmen: Jamie Oliver and Nigel Slater.

– Cut 2 small onions and fry in some olive oil until tender/transparent, then add some thinly sliced garlic

– Add tomatoes of some form (in hindsight I should have used canned tomatoes, but I hand blended about 48oz worth of a mixture of grape and Romas that I already had), some fresh rosemary and thyme, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, fresh or dried chilies to your liking/tolerance, 150g of washed lentils and 250ml water.

– While doing the above, fry up some sausages. You needn’t cook them through, just get a bit of a char on them. I used some nice lamb merguez sausages but any kind will work.

– Bring the tomato mixture up to a boil, lay the sausages on top, throw the lid on your pot and put it into an oven heated to 375F.

– I left it in the oven for about 45 minutes then took the sausages out and put the pot back onto the stove to boil off some excess water.

This meal is rustic, super easy and truly lovely. I’ve made it without the lentils using whole mixed organic tiny/cherry/grape tomatoes. When I did that I also poured some good balsamic vinegar into the bottom stewy tomatoes.