an adventure into my cookbook collection: soul-searching, doing things differently & the truths I learn along the way...

deseeding pomegranates is feminine & erotic, unless you hit them with a wooden spoon...


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Lemon Thyme and Raspberry Summer Trifle

This isn't like any other trifle. With yogurt, honey and fruit instead of jelly, custard and cream, it is light, sharp, super delicious and somewhat guilt-free.

After making those fennel and pink pepper chocolates a few months ago, I became really interested in how herbs could be used in food in interesting ways. This recipe is a really great example of the versatility of herbs, and I have been so inspired by it – so expect lots more strange and herby things in recipes to come!

This recipe was given to me by the wonderful Elizabeth, who I met when we were both the civil witnesses at our mutual friends' wedding. Said friends later told me about this brilliant trifle Elizabeth had made, and I knew I had to investigate. I tried out the recipe, and am now sharing it with you lovely people (with her permission).


- Madelines, or salvatori (I used 9 madelines)

- 500g total yogurt pot, or fromage frais

- A tablespoon or two of orange blossom honey, according to how sweet you like things

- leaves of four lemon thyme sprigs

- 400g raspberries or other soft, sharp fruit (or dried fruit rehydrated to 400g*).

These are Elizabeth's words, I could not have put it better:

"Mix lemon thyme and honey with yoghurt and stick in fridge for about at least 30 mins or until set again.

Put 1 layer of madelines in the bottom of shallow dish.

Crush fruit with fork to release juice or heat rehydrated fruit gently and spread over madelines. Cover and set aside for at least 30 mins.

At least two hours before you wish to eat** blob yoghurt mix over fruit layer and then spread with the back of a spoon- the blobbing stage is important. If you don't do it you end up with a kind of cake crumb smoothie.

Most appropriate to eat standing over the kitchen counter by yourself at 3am rather than a pudding for company. If you've gone fancy with the fruit layer then stick a complementary topping on top of the yoghurt before serving. If not put on more honey and lemon thyme leaves. Job done. Serves 4 grown ups or 6 dieters."

* Note from Elizabeth: "[once made it by] rehydrating golden raisins in some more honey and sour cherry juice- to complement the Middleasten flavours I then drizzled pomegranate syrup over the top of the dish to serve."

**Note from Miri: I prepared this the day before, and it was set really thickly and lovely and gooey on the bottom.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Super speedy puy lentil, courgette and goats cheese salad

I feel like I probably give the impression of someone who cooks properly all the time, but in truth, like most of us, I hardly have the time. When I haven't got a lot of time to cook, my desire for healthy, balanced, unprocessed food quite often goes out of the window. To be honest, sometimes I quite like having the excuse to eat rubbish processed food. However after discovering Merchant Gourmet puy lentil pouches (thanks to Suze), it will be much harder for me to justify eating junk.

This salad is delicious, and balanced, and takes less than five minutes to make - perfect for when you need to throw something together really quickly, but don't want to compromise on taste or wholesome-ness.

Makes 2-3 big portions if having as a meal, more if serving the salad with other things too

2/3 cup cooked puy lentils
1 medium sized courgette
Cherry or pomodorino tomatoes - about a handful, sliced in half
half a small red onion, finely sliced (soaked for 5 minutes in cold water if they are really strong)
A little crumbled goats cheese (vegan option: about 5 artichoke hearts from a jar, sliced in half)
1 pack rocket leaves
1/2 pack fresh spinach

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons from the courgette.

And mix everything together!

*If you have a more time*, cut the courgette into thick-ish slices, toss in oil and give them a little colour with a grill or griddle. Toast a handful of pine-nuts and add them in too.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

(fake) duck, noodle and cabbage salad with spicy miso dressing

Here is another Southeast Asian style rainbow coloured salad - I can't seem to get enough of them. This one is much more substantial, a meal in itself.

Mock duck can be made of yuba (tofu skin) or wheat gluten, and it is actually pretty brilliant. The wheat gluten kind can be found in most health food shops. I used the yuba kind, and found it in the epic Chinese supermarket Wing Yip near Staples Corner. I had such a brilliant day out there with the fabulous Debbie, and I highly recommend a visit if you are a curious foodie like me.

serves 4-6

2 portions soba (buckwheat) noodles
pack or can of fake duck - or real duck, or chicken
half a red cabbage, shredded
Chinese leaves - about 5 big ones, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded - I used a julienne peeler
half a red onion, finely sliced
2 spring onions, white and greens, shredded
handful roasted, salted cashews, roughly chopped
Leaves from 2 stalks of fresh mint, shredded
small handful sugar snap peas or mangetout, thinly-ish sliced lengthways


1 level tbsp light miso
1 clove garlic, crushed
lump of fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (I took the seeds out)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp honey

Cook noodles for 1 minute less than packet instructions - stirring with a fork to make sure they don’t completely stick together. Drain and refresh in cold water. Work a little bit of sesame or flavourless oil through them to make sure they don’t try and stick together again (some still will).

Mix up the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or glass (or mug).

Cook, warm or crisp your chosen form of 'duck' in the oven.

If you wanted to be fancy you could have the noodles surrounded by a ring of veggies, topped with the 'duck' and cashews and drizzled with the dressing - on individual plates or a tasteful large plate, or a roofing tile or something. Or you could just mix it all together in a big bowl, which was what I did. And then eat pretty much half of it standing in the kitchen, contemplating your own brilliance. As I also did.