Showing posts from September, 2011


Here's a simple yet flavoursome tagine that is easy to make and delicious to eat. It's perfect for early autumn, with its sweet and smokey hints of cumin, saffron and turmeric, yet light too. Quick to assemble, it can be put in the oven and forgotten for an hour. It even makes its own sauce while cooking. Serve with fluffy couscous or rice, and plenty of chopped fresh coriander. A tagine cooking vessel is not essential - though it does lend a certain authenticity to the dish!

Simple chicken tagine
1 chicken thigh (bone in) per person
1 large onion, finely sliced
About 1 tsp chopped fresh ginger, or bottled ginger. Or failing both, ground ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
1 tsp chilli flakes or harissa paste
A couple of garlic cloves, chopped
A couple of carrots, cut into batons
A tin of chickpeas
Salt & pepper

Optional extras:
Half a preserved lemon, flesh removed and finely chopped
A handful of dried apricots or dates, chopped
A handful of olives
Chopped, fresh coriander

Put ever…


In anticipation of my forthcoming long weekend of gastronomy in Liguria, I cooked Italian sausages and polenta for supper last night. Italian sausages are made from the ham/bacon parts of the pig (i.e. different to traditional English pork sausages), and are often seasoned with fennel or aniseed. The very high pure meat content makes them particularly delicious. They are stupidly easy to cook, and are traditionally served with lentils on New Year's Day in Italy (recipe here). Because I was serving them with fluffy polenta (also stupidly easy to make, despite the 'food mystique' which seems to surround it), I made a rich tomato sauce, spiked with fresh chilli and garlic. The sausages were baked in the oven, while the polenta was bubbled and whisked on the hob 5 minutes before serving. I use instant polenta - just follow the instructions on the packet and be aware that polenta has a habit of expanding during cooking!

To make the tomato sauce, fry a couple of cloves of peeled…


I've sent Other Half off to Twickenham to buy buffalo milk coffee ice cream from Laverstoke Park Farm shop. This ice cream really does have to be tried to be believed. It is truly the most deliciously creamy and wonderful ice cream I have ever eaten - and I'm not normally a fan of shop-bought ice cream, even the most upmarket kind. Its strong coffee, almost espresso, flavour makes it a wonderful accompaniment to a rich chocolate cake or chocolate brownies. To ring the changes, because I am always making chocolate brownies as a pudding when people come round for supper, I've made chocolate amaretti biscuits. These are not those crunchy almond biscuits you sometimes get with a cappuccino in your local Italian cafe. No, these are amaretti morbidi, or soft amaretti, and I have blogged about them before, in a different form (Sour Cherry Amaretti). People often think that such sweetmeats are difficult to make, but they are not. In fact, I knocked out these biscuits in 5 minutes…


Padrón peppers hail from Spain (pimientos de Padrón), which is where I first tried them about 20 years ago while on holiday in the hills of Andalucia, north of Malaga. They were served simply: fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Most are sweet and mild, about every one in twenty is fiery and spicy. They are often served as a tapa. For many years, I could only buy them at Garcia and Sons, a Spanish supermarket down the grotty end of Portobello Road in W11, but recently Waitrose has started to stock them (presumably because they have become fashionable amongst middle-class foodies thanks, doubtless, to some TV food "sleb"). As they are seasonal produce, Waitrose will not always have them, so when they do, I always buy several packets. We often have them as a tapa with chilled white wine (or very cold fino sherry), or as an accompaniment to a Mediterranean or Indian meal. I have also recently come across a recipe for Padrón peppers in tempura batter on the Cook Eat…


Oxtail with chorizo and Rioja

I saw this dish being prepared in an episode of Rick Stein's recent, excellent tv series on Spain and its cuisine, though I had read the recipe in my copy of Casa Moro: The Second Moro Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, and thought I would like to make it. Seeing it being made convinced me it was my kind of dish: slow-cooked, aromatic and hearty.

The dish originated in Cordoba where it was made from the tail of a bull recently killed in the corrida. It is often served in bars near the bullrings all around Spain, and was apparently a favourite dish of writer and bull-fighting fan Ernest Hemingway. Like all good stews, it benefits from being made in advance, if possible. Despite the long list of ingredients and two stages of preparation, it is very easy to make.

I have always liked oxtail and remember eating it fairly regularly as a little girl. It fell out of favour during the 'BSE Years', but has come back into vogue with the popularity of "f…