Thursday, 30 January 2014

Peanut and Ginger Stir Fry

We had a lovely weekend, cycling to the beach with some friends of ours and chilling out in the shade after a gorgeous swim in the ocean. When we got back we hung out some more for a nice lunch and a little 6 Nimmt. Our friends served us a really nice warm salad which inspired me to try a different take on my usual stir fry. Served over plain white rice, this gorgeous combination of peanuts and ginger really warms the tastebuds and sets off the fresh greens.


  • a ladle of plain white short-grain rice
  • two spring onions
  • a large thumb of ginger
  • a few handfuls of mange-tout or sugar snap peas
  • a generous handful of  roasted salted peanuts
  • a big handful of sprouting seeds or alfalfa sprouts
  • soy sauce
Cover the rice with two ladlefuls of boiling water, and simmer for ~10 minutes, or until cooked. Finely chop the spring onions and peel and finely grate the ginger.Slice the mange touts or peas in half lengthwise. Roughly chop the peanuts. In a large wok, get a little vegetable oil nice and hot, then fry the spring onion and ginger for a minute, turning constantly. Throw in the mange tout or peas and stir fry until the peas are cooked and bright green, but before they wilt. Stir in the alfalfa sprouts and peanuts, then turn off the heat. Serve the stir fry over the rice, with soy sauce on hand to add if you need it.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Walnut and Parsley Pesto (with Beetroot Pasta)

We have soooo much parsley this week. I picked up a huge bag for just a dollar, and now we're eating it with everything :) This was a yum and cheaper version of the classic basil pesto. We used it to jazz up some cooked beetroot and al dente pasta.
  • A large handful of walnuts
  • half a bunch of parsley
  • 25-40g of Parmesan
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
Toast the walnuts either under the grill, or in a dry frying pan, until crisp and fragrant. Clean the parsley and discard any tough stems. Finely grate the Parmesan, then whiz it together with the parsley and walnuts in a blender. Drizzle in olive oil until it takes on a pesto-like consistency, and season well with black pepper.


Niki Segnit tried to convince me to add more parsley to my tabbouleh. She likes a 5:1 ratio of parsley to everything else. I tried.... but it just tasted too much of parsley to me! My preferred proportions are below:

  • 75g cracked wheat
  • 1 large bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 small bunch mint, chopped
  • 5 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped (I'm not a big fan of onions)
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • salt to taste
Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over the cracked wheat; cover and allow to rehydrate for 10-15 minutes. Combine everything else together, then add the cracked wheat when it has cooled. Best served topped with a couple of BBQ'd lamb chops!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Nigel's Lemon and Demarara Cake

Almost every year, I forget to celebrate my own birthday. It's just so close to Christmas and New Years, but not close enough that everyone is still on holiday. This year I finally got round to baking a cake only three days late. Just like the last birthday cake I baked, I once again wanted a lemon cake. This time I used Nigel Slater's recipe from his excellent Kitchen Diaries II, and at first I was a bit nervous about the topping of simmered lemons, but after trying it I'm a total convert. Every lemon cake I make from now on will have this topping.
  • 2 large lemons
  • 200g butter
  • 200g plus 4tbsp demerara ("raw") sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 90g plain flour
  • 90g ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • extra demerara sugar
Line a loaf tin (about 25x11x7cm) with baking parchment. Finely slice one of the lemons and put it in a small saucepan with 4 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp demerara sugar. Bring to the boil, then watch closely for 5-10 minutes, until the water has almost evaporated, and the lemon slices are sticky.

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Beat the butter and 200g of sugar together (Nigel has a fancy food mixer; I have GOOD ARMS), until they are light and fluffy. Zest the other lemon into the mixture, and beat the eggs in one at a time. Combine the dry ingredients, then fold them into the butter mixture, keeping the air in it as much as possible. Scoop the mixture into the lined tin, then lay the simmered lemon slices on top. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

In the saucepan in which you simmered the lemons, add another 2tbsp of demerara sugar, and the juice of the zested lemon. Stir until dissolved, then pour over the finished cake.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Corn Bread Tamale Pie

Happy New Year! Champagne and oysters for everyone!

I didn't post much toward the end of last year because I was away for almost all of November and December. Now that I've recorded most of my usual meals, and all the discoveries I made in 2012-2014, I find myself using the blog more as a resource and inspiration rather than a daily recording. So I think I can probably manage a weekly update from now on, and that more achievable target will hopefully inspire me to cook at least one new thing per week.

In late December I stayed with some friends who live in the US South-west and they kept talking about  Mexican food, which really made me miss the food of my childhood. When I got back I figured that The Joy of Cooking would be able to help me out with some ideas, so I tried out its corn bread tamale pie. It was really good! I think it was thoroughly Americanised Mexican food but I just love corn bread, and this one had ingredients I could actually find, as well as feeding us for days.


  • 450g ground beef
  • 1 finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin red kidney beans
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup of hot beef stock
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • a green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3/4 cup polenta/cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
In a large oven-safe casserole pot (e.g. a big Le Creuset), fry the ground beef and onion together until the beef is browned and the onions are translucent. Let them rest occasionally to get a bit of colour, but don't burn. Tip in the tomatoes, sour cream, sugar, stock, spices, beans and green pepper; stir to combine; cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C.

Sift and mix all of the remaining dry ingredients together, then gently fold in the egg, milk and vegetable oil. When the chilli has been simmered through, give it a generous season, a stir, and then gently pour over the corn bread toping. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the topping is risen, golden and set. Let rest a few minutes before serving with buttered corn or salsa.