*Please note that the time for this recipe does not include 4-8 hours resting time for the dough!
I am approaching that horrifying yet wonderful time; my last 2 weeks in yet another country.
In 2 weeks, I’m moving from the stifling, exciting, wonderful Panama City to the freezing, exciting, glorious Edinburgh (yes, in Scotland), and it’s all starting to hit home that my cab drivers will no longer play merengue at deafening levels and my rice and beans lunch will longer cost $1.50. It’s time to go, for sure, but that doesn’t make the going any easier.
When I leave a place, I always do the “why didn’t I” dance. Why didn’t I learn salsa? Why can’t I speak more than barely passable Spanish? Why did I never go to Las Tablas on Carnavales? Another, worse one occurred to me this weekend: why have I never made empanadas?
When I’m putting together a menu (which is a fancy way of saying “when I’m trying to decide what to make for friends”), I’m a big fan of sticking to one cuisine for several courses. Or, if that’s not possible (or preferable), taking the best out of similar cuisines and serving them up in a way that complements each one.
Last night, I had my wonderful friend Sofia of Beautiful Imperfect and her partner over for a rooftop dinner, and I couldn’t help myself; it was going to be 3 courses. A sesame salad / slaw thing, Vegan Laksa (always) and…something else. Something using Malaysian flavours, something coconutty but fresh. Something simple that would go nicely with the intense flavours of the Laksa.
This recipe was it.
When it comes to baking, less is often more.
When you’re whipping up a tasty little something, you can add chocolate or cream or icing or cinnamon or caramel or more cream ’til the cows come home, and sure, it’ll be some sort of delicious sensory overload in the end (maybe) – but the true test of a good baker is making something with simple ingredients that ends up being perfection. Lemon drizzle cake is that thing.
The origins of this cake aren’t clear, although it is often referred to as a French tea time favourite (of course it is; the French have wonderful taste in desserts) and us Brits absolutely adore it too. The combination of the sweet sugar and the tart lemon within the fluffy, light sponge is the very definition of subtlety, and there’s nothing better to enjoy on a light afternoon with a good bit of gossip from a friend.
You may have noticed that I’ve been on something of a soba noodle kick lately. This is because I’ve suddenly found a place to buy them in Panama, and this is a huge deal for me; I LOVE soba noodles. Not only are they ridiculously healthy for you, they’re also ridiculously tasty and ridiculously easy to cook.
Sometimes, you need something with a hell of a lot of energy. Sometimes, it’s because you’re planning to hike up Ben Lomond (even if rain and fog stops you halfway up and you end up going for a pint and some chips). Sometimes, you need it to be super delicious too.
For those times, you need these No-Bake Raspberry Coconut Energy Bars. They’re frozen, meaning that they’re a nice kick of cold when you’re hot from hiking, and it also means that they’re super easy to make as you don’t need to do any baking or any cooking at all.
I’ve been in love with soba noodles since the first time I had them in Toronto several years ago. Any Torontonians that frequent the incredible Fresh restaurant know the pure joy of getting one of their Buddha Bowls on top of soba noodles, but the truth is that they are far more versatile than that.
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which as well as being fantastic for you is very easy to cook. Dried soba noodles take just a couple of minutes to cook in boiling water, meaning that they’re a great inclusion for a quick lunch or dinner like this one. There’s nothing I love more than quickly whipping together something stunning, because it makes people think you’re the culinary version of Mary Poppins (I am English, after all).
As you might know if you’re a regular reader of this website, I’ve spent the past 3 months travelling around the UK, my home country, and the rest of Europe. As of today, I’m back!
It’s been a great summer – not least of all for the food. I’d defy anyone to say that the UK isn’t at the forefront of amazing cooking these days, and of course, continental Europe is a food-lover’s dream; from the fruit we bought at farmer’s markets at the side of the road in France to the cheeseless pizza we got from the local pizza window in Duino, absolutely everything was phenomenal.
As I’m back home in the motherland, it seems only right that I should be baking some British classics – albeit with a bit of a twist!
Flapjack is, for me, a reminder of home. My mum makes the best flapjack in the world (IN THE WORLD I tell you!) and there’s always a cake tin full of it whenever anyone’s coming over. It’s all butter, sugar and golden syrup usually, although she has taken to making a vegan version because Putin and I love it so much (thanks, Mum!).
However, you know me. I can’t leave anything alone; everything needs to be spiced up a little! I’m currently in Edinburgh housesitting for my newlywed friends, and I noticed that I still had some almond butter and coconut butter left over in the fridge. These two seemed to be the perfect companion for oats and a little sweetener – and why not throw in the rest of the cherries that are sitting in the fruit bowl?
When I come back to the UK, I always tend to go back to more traditional recipes – mostly because my mum and dad’s kitchen is a lot more traditional than mine!
I still can’t help playing around with flavours, however, and this soup was made when I had a bunch of mint that I needed to use up. The peas – well, I would put peas in everything if I could. Peas are the miniature kings and queens of food.
It sounds strange at first but the subtle taste of the mint and the extra heartiness of the peas add a little more to this already fantastic soup. A new favourite in my house and a 30-minute week night dinner!