Feb 052016
Product: Planeta (Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla, Cerasuola) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Italy)

    The Planeta olive grove is set in the south-western Sicilian district of Capparrina. The location was carefully selected both aesthetically and ethically in order to protect the beautiful landscape of the area from over-development and to create employment for the local inhabitants.   Planeta currently produces three types of extra virgin olive oil, all of which are made from manually harvested olives are are DOP Val di Mazara (Designation of Protected Origin). The olive oil I am looking at in this post is their traditionally pressed oil (which includes the stones in the pressing). It uses a balance of three olive varietals traditionally cultivated in Capparrina: Nocellara del Belice (50%) – notes of artichoke, tomatoes and almonds, with light spiciness and bitterness Biancolilla (30%) – notes of grass, almond and fruitiness, with light spiciness and bitterness Cerasuola (20%) – notes of freshly cut herbs, artichokes and tomatoes, with bitterness and medium spiciness (due to the high [Continue reading…]

Feb 012016
Seasonal Snacks: February - Clementines and Persimmons

  February is the month to top up on the last of the season’s clementines and persimmons. These bright orange fruits bring sunshine into my kitchen through the winter months and this is probably the last month that you can get a good supply of them before they disappear for the next nine months (in the northern hemisphere).   These bright orange coloured fruits get their sunny pigment from an antioxidant called beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has many benefits, but it is especially helpful in maintaining beautiful skin and healthy eyes and vision.       The above fruits are in season in February in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, February seasonal fruits include kiwifruit, mangoes and strawberries (lovely dipped in dark chocolate for a Valentine’s treat!)     Follow Me:

Jan 262016
Recipe: Puy Lentil and Salmon Salad Bowl

  Two of the big food trends predicted for 2016 which I’m really excited about are: Increasing the effort to reduce food waste, and The rise of the ‘bowl’   Wasted food is a huge problem and it’s great to see it being increasingly acknowledged. Recipes which use up leftovers are a big help in reducing food wastage and I’d like to do my part by showing you some of the salads which I make at home using leftovers. Up until now, these salads have not quite made it onto my blog – mostly because there is no real recipe (just pulling together leftovers). But they are utterly satisfying, delicious and super easy to make.   Using a bowl for these salads rather than a plate has several advantages: it’s easier to toss a mixed salad in a bowl than in a plate when eating a chopped salad, bowls are easier to use because [Continue reading…]

Jan 192016
Recipe: Roast Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Salad with Pakistani Yogurt Dressing

  Having spent a lot of time roasting various types of vegetables for salads using different oven temperatures and combinations of spices, I have come to one very easy and convenient conclusion:   Practically all vegetables can be very successfully roasted at 200C/400F tossed in nothing more than extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.   If I want to add certain flavours to my salad, I have better luck putting them into the salad dressing rather than trying to incorporate them with the roasted vegetables. Firstly, the spices sometimes burn during roasting (especially if you want to get a real chargrilled finish on your veggies). Secondly, it can be hard to control the flavour as you can’t really taste the vegetables until after they are cooked at which point you might belatedly realise that your spice proportions are all wrong. And lastly, by roasting my veggies with olive oil and salt I am able to use them [Continue reading…]

Jan 132016
Recipe: Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad

  Strictly speaking, a recipe for ‘Tuscan Kale and Bread Salad’ should be made with Tuscan kale. But I bent the rule with this one by using Curly kale instead as it is the only type of kale I have come across in Dubai. However, in keeping with the Tuscan theme, I have used other traditional Tuscan ingredients in this salad such as dried bread, cannelini beans, tomatoes and cheese.   Tuscan kale (also called lacinato kale or dinosaur kale) is a variety of kale which has long flat dark green textured leaves and is slightly less tough and bitter than the more common Curly kale.   As with all kale salads, make sure that you remove the stalks and massage the leaves with your hands for 2-3 minute to soften them and release their flavour (technique described in step 2 of the recipe directions below).         TUSCAN KALE and BREAD SALAD (Serves 4-6 as a [Continue reading…]

Jan 012016
Seasonal Snacks: January - Winter Apples and Nuts

  Apple season runs from late August until early spring and is divided into three harvests – early, mid and late harvests. Winter Apples (late harvests) are the last of the season to mature and are best to eat from December until early spring.   With over 7,000 varieties of apples in the world, some examples of common winter apples to look out for in January include Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith and Pink Lady, but there are lots more varieties which will vary from region to region. Try a few different apple varieties to get to know which ones you prefer.   Remember that two-thirds of an apple’s fibre and a lot of antioxidants are found in it’s peel, so it’s best to buy organic when possible as pesticides can cling to the peel.   Nuts pair well with apples, making a slightly more hardy snack for the winter.     The above fruits are in season [Continue reading…]

Dec 222015
Recipe: Ruby-Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble (Nigella Lawson)

  Plums, amaretti biscuits and Nigella Lawson. Need I say more?   This recipe for ‘Ruby-Red Plum and Amaretti Crumble’ was emailed to me by my mother about a month ago. Just reading the ingredients I knew that I was going to love it. It’s fruity and almondy, sweet and tart, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside – everything you would expect from a Nigella recipe. Like most crumbles, it is easy to make and perfect for the hesitant baker (ie. moi).   For me, the amaretti biscuits make this feel like a dessert one would make close to Christmas time but I am sure it would be equally delicious on a summer’s evening. Whichever time of year you decide to make this Crumble, make sure that you choose plums grown in the correct location for that season. Plums are in season in the Northern hemisphere from May to October [Continue reading…]

Dec 042015
Recipe: Fudgy Date-Cocoa Balls

  I am not a huge fan of baking so I am always looking out for easy sweet treat recipes which I can make and put on my table during the holidays. And if it’s easy enough to involve kids, even better!   Recently, I’ve seen a lot of recipes for healthy no-bake nutrient-dense sugar-free Bliss Balls (also called Energy Balls) and I thought it was probably time for me to try my hand at them.   There are many recipes for Bliss Balls online, some of them better than others. A few things I have learned from making batches of Bliss Balls: Soaking your dates not only makes them more fudgy but also mellows out their flavour so that other tastes can come through. There must be at least one dry ingredient to balance out the sweetness of the dried fruit and to help bind it. I want my child to be [Continue reading…]

Dec 012015
Seasonal Snacks: December - Citrus Fruits

  In December, make sure you fill up your basket with the a wide variety of citrus fruits for a quick and healthy snack: Clementines – Clementines are sweet and juicy and usually seedless. Because they are easy to peel and break into segments, this small citrus fruit is the perfect snack to grab when you’re on the go. Navel Oranges – Navel oranges are seedless and tend to be larger than the average orange. On the blossom end of the fruit, you will find a navel-like circle which gives it it’s name. Because they do not have seeds, they are one of my favourite fruits to cut up and put into fruit salads. Blood Oranges – Blood oranges are sweet with a hint of raspberry flavour. Their skin is either orange-coloured or has a slight reddish blush. It is only when you cut into a blood orange that you see the beautiful hue of its [Continue reading…]

Nov 252015
Recipe: Oriental Brussels Sprout and Clementine Salad

  This crunchy Oriental-inspired salad is full of flavour and can be made with either raw Brussels sprouts or cabbage. If the idea of raw Brussels sprouts fills you with dread, try slicing them up and blanching them by covering them in some freshly boiled water for about a minute to take off the raw edge.   I had intended to make the salad with traditional green Brussels sprouts but in the run-up to Thanksgiving there were only purple ones left in the supermarket. Luckily, it turns out that purple Brussels sprouts are meant to be sweeter than their more famous green brothers, ostensibly making them a better option for salads.   Join the conversation: Have you tried purple Brussels sprouts yet?       ORIENTAL BRUSSELS SPROUT AND CLEMENTINE SALAD   Dressing Ingredients: 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 Tbsp rice vinegar 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari 1/2 [Continue reading…]

Nov 232015
Recipe: Brussels Sprout, Pecan and Cranberry Salad

  Inspired by the plethora of raw Brussels sprout salad recipes I’ve seen floating around online, I decided to try making one myself.   Up until now, Brussels sprouts in my house have always been roasted, boiled or sauteed and I was finally feeling brave enough to try them raw. Or was I? For some reason, the idea of eating raw Brussels sprouts is more worrisome than the idea of eating raw cabbage or kale even though they are from the same mustard family (brassica oleracea).   Undeterred, off I went to the supermarket to buy some nice green Brussels sprouts which I was going to shave thinly. But with it being Thanksgiving week, all the traditional green ones were sold out and there were only beautiful dark purple Brussels sprouts left.   I got home and tasted a sliver of raw Brussels sprout and it was actually okay. Similar to [Continue reading…]

Nov 212015
Recipe: Roasted Carrot, Chickpea and Kale Salad

  Autumn is all about roasted vegetable salads for me. Most vegetables can be roasted successfully at 200°C/400°F tossed with olive oil and sea salt. You can really grab any vegetable and roast it – carrots, turnips, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, radishes, and the list goes on. The roasting time will depend on a variety of factors including the type of vegetable you use and the size it is cut, and can be anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour.   Since they are all cooked at the same temperature, you can put several dishes of different vegetables in the oven at the same time so that in one go you have enough roasted vegetables to make several different salads. I find most roasted vegetables last well in the refrigerator for three days. And if you by the end of three days you find that you haven’t used up all your roasted vegetables, simply blend [Continue reading…]