56 doggy years old. Who’d believe it!
Summer in Scotland has, thus far, looked like this.
My vegetable garden is protesting. So much so, there is only one thing growing successfully: rocket. It’s a hardy wee bugger. The other plants are hunched and shrivelled and staring sulkily at the cold, grey sky; the rocket, though, is just getting on with the job of being all green and tasty.
Well done, rocket, well done. Take centre stage for once…
Rocket and Walnut Pesto
60 g walnuts, toasted briefly
60g parmesan cheese, grated
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, chopped (Not two, David. Not two!)
Extra virgin olive oil
- Whizz together the walnuts and chopped garlic in a food processor. Remove to a bowl.7
- Add the rocket and a good glug of olive oil. Whiz until just chopped. Add the walnuts, garlic, cheese and lemon juice. Whizz until it looks like pesto.
- Stir in salt, pepper and possibly some more lemon juice to taste.
A really beautiful dish. It makes everyone go “ooooohhhh” both when it’s brought to the table and when they try it. Best served slightly warm rather than hot.
Spring Greens Spanakopita (adapted from A Modern Way to Eat)
1 large leek, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
400g spring greens (stalks removed and roughly chopped)
Zest of ½ lemon
200g feta (crumbled)
3 large eggs
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
1 heaped tblspn chopped dill
6 sheets of filo pastry
Olive oil for brushing
- In a large pan over a medium heat, sauté the leek in little olive oil until soft and silky. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.
- Add the spring greens to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of water. Cook for two minutes until the greens have wilted then add the spinach. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until all the greens are wilted and tender. Remove from the heat and drain in colander lined with muslin or a large sieve. Leave to cool then squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the greens. Don’t skip this step. Soggy spanakopita is not good.
- Add the eggs, crumbled feta, lemon zest and some salt and pepper to a large bowl. Add the cooled greens and mix well to combine.
- Lightly oil a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each sheet of filo then place it in the tin, gently pushing it down (take care not to rip it!) The filo should rest in the bottom of the pan and hang over the sides. Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo, changing the angle of the sheets so they don’t lie perfectly on top of one another.
- Once all the filo is in the tin, add the greens mixture, again, using a wooden spoon to gently push the mixture down.
- Use your fingers to pull the filo over the top of the mixture, scrunching it to create pretty layers on top. You shouldn’t be able to see any greens once you’re done. If you can, tear up another filo sheet and block the holes. Brush the top with a little more oil.
- Bake in a 200oC oven for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and push the pie out of the cake tin. Return to the oven and cook until the pie is golden all over (another 10 mins).
- Leave to cool for 30 mins then serve warm.
One week ago it was 21°C (70°F). We had a BBQ, David got sun burnt on a bike ride and I fell asleep in the garden.
Yesterday it snowed.
We spent Easter weekend in Barcelona. Despite me being horribly ill the entire time, we still had a wonderful time and fell in love with the city.
I took part in two cooking courses last summer: one in Vietnam and one in Laos. Despite preferring Vietnamese food generally, it’s two Laos dishes I’ve found myself making most at home. The first is stuffed lemongrass. It’s a cracker of a recipe and I’ll share it very soon. The second is Jeow Mak Keua – a very spicy aubergine dip/paste. It’s one of my favourite things right now. I like to eat it with brown rice and nothing else but it’s very nice as a side dish for grilled meat.
Jeow Mak Keua (As learnt at Tamarind cooking school)
1 medium aubergine
1 large red chilli
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 spring onion, chopped
Small handful of coriander. chopped
- Prick the aubergine all over then thread it on to a skewer along with the garlic and chilli. Cook under a hot grill or on the BBQ until charred on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Peel the garlic and chilli and pound to a paste with a pinch of rock salt using a mortar and pestle. (Remove the seeds from the chilli if you don’t want it too hot)
- Peel the aubergine and cut into rough chunks. Add to the mortar and pound with the chilli/garlic paste until combined.
- Stir in coriander and spring onion then add fish sauce to taste.