Gravadlax is something that spells Christmas to me. Maybe because my grandmother was Scottish or the English traditions surrounding my Christmas’s growing up, but its the kind of thing that is perfect to eat around the festive season or serve as a starter with your feast. I’ve made a delicious salmon gravadlax cured with beetroot and dill in the past, so with this recipe for tuna gravadlax I’ve added juniper berries to give it a slight twist.
If you have spent any time observing a chef you will notice that one of the key things that differentiate them from your average home cook is the use of butter. They are not afraid of it and use it incredibly freely. They also use a lot of salt too but that is another story. With this recipe for rolled roast lamb, I wanted to make a flavour packed spicy butter paste to slather in and around the lamb, totally enveloping every possible crevice. I wanted the butter to be a critical component of the dish because I was using the best.
Located in the heart of the Tuscan countryside is a beautiful agritourism resort called Al Gelso Bianca and I was lucky to spend two beautiful days and nights there on my recent trip to Italy. Close to San Gimignano, Florence, and Siena, this is the perfect place set up a base and explore the region at your leisure.
This delicious dish of smoked salmon ribbons on potato cakes with a flavour packed herb creme fraiche was the starter in the UCOOK Christmas feast I posted about yesterday. Its the perfect small snack to serve your guests that takes the edge off hunger without filling them up before the main meal. The recipe comes from renowned chef Franck Dangereux from the Foodbarn and it will be a winner this summer or winter if you live in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is where the flavours of a glorious mince pie and a sticky cinnamon bun drenched in caramel get together and become one, and it all just makes so much sense. Since December is the month where calories don’t count or shouldn’t be counted, it’s a time to get tuck into in all things indulgent and Christmassy. These mince pie sticky cinnamon buns with cream cheese frosting are just what Santa ordered.
I waited until December to do this post because if you are anything like me you would have already started planning your Christmas feasts. I’m a fan of traditional food like roast turkey, gammon and Christmas pudding, but it’s also wonderful to mix it up. I also enjoy having the odd Christmas party for friends in the lead up to the 25th, and these occasions tend to be a little more relaxed. Here are a few of my favourite recipes for Christmas and the festive season in general. We are right in the mix of it already so happy party days to you all.
I wasn’t sure if this recipe would be interesting enough to do a whole post on but then I thought wtf and did it anyway. I grew up not liking coleslaw because all it was back then was overly mayonnaise-saturated cabbage and carrots and who want to be a part of that? It also got quite soggy which is another reason I wasn’t keen. I can kind of buy into this mayo-laden soggy slaw when its slapped onto an incredibly crunchy fried chicken sandwich or something similar and then the slaw almost forms a sauce, but I wouldn’t want to eat it on its own.
On my last day in Venice, I was lucky enough to attend a cooking class with Enrica Rocca at her home in the Dorsoduro neighbourhood. She is very well known and runs the best cookery classes in the city. They are intimate with a limited number of people attending and she runs them on demand. One of her classes is a full day excursion that includes a trip to the Rialto Fish Market and well worth doing if you can. I wasn’t around for that, but Enrica invited me to join her on her morning shop for our evening class and I jumped at the chance. Enrica, with her dog Soya in tow, navigated the back alleys of Venice at a startling pace and I struggled to keep up. She knows all her vendors and has lengthy discussions with them about the best product to go on her the menu. Being this close to the ingredients and living so seasonally is hugely inspiring and the essence of what Italian cooking is all about.
This recipe for Louise cake with plum and coconut comes from Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s incredible new cookbook called ‘Sweet’. This book ‘speaks’ to me in every way and not only because I published a book with the exact same name in 2015 – and obviously, I think its a perfect name for a book with this subject matter, but I adore baking and dessert making. This book, like all of Ottolenghi’s previous books – including the ones he collaborated with other people on are amongst my favourite of all time and are the ones that constantly inspire me. Flipping through the pages of ‘Sweet’ I wanted to make every single recipe.
I love zucchini and I love hummus so this combo made total sense. I’ve made so many types of hummus before including butternut, beetroot, pea & mint, and even pizza flavoured but this char grilled zucchini rendition might just be my new fave. I also discovered that Ottolenghi’s famous hummus is the best recipe if you are looking for a classic version and using dried chickpeas which you soak and then cook yourself is the better way to go. However who always has time to think ahead and plan to do this? Definitely not me. There is no shame in reaching for a can of chickpeas in your cupboard and whipping up a healthy and delicious snack right away.
I’ve recently returned from the most incredible trip to Italy, which was more of a food pilgrimage to one of my all-time favourite countries. I stayed in the Northern part of and did two lovely food tours in Emilia-Romagna (a walking food tour around Bologna and a visit to a Parmigiano Reggiano factory). I went to Venice for the first time and fell head over heels in love with this magical city. I knew that I would love it but I wasn’t prepared for just how much. It’s so damn pretty it actually hurts your eyes and I felt compelled to take photographs of every single thing. I also found some incredible food.