Vegetarian Makizushi

If you went to a Japanese restaurant with my parents it wouldn’t be too long before they started telling you of the infamous evening when, as a young child, they took me to a friends house for dinner. The wife had spent hours lovingly preparing a meal of her native Japanese cuisine. I obviously didn’t…

Spring Vegetable Gyoza

Gyoza are the Japanese version of Chinese pot sticker dumplings and both make ideal canapes or appetisers.

In supermarkets now you can buy a variety of ready made gyoza, both meat, prawn or vegetable based to keep in the freezer until cooking.  Itsu  is a brand that you will often see. In oriental supermarkets you will get a much wider choice and you can also buy gyoza wrappers to make you own.

Summer Rolls

For todays canapé I’m going back to Vietnam and although these are served all over Vietnam, rather specifically in this case I’m thinking of the Mekong Delta. We stayed in a wooden homestead on the delta and were served on our first night, make your own summer rolls with pineapple and a fish which looked a little like a piranha! I’m not going to show you that but suffice to say the addition of pineapple to the rolls is now something I always do as it brings a lovely sharp, sweet tang.

Vietnamese Salad Cups

Some of you might be quite surprised by my day job which has nothing whatsoever to do with gardening or food other than I work for one of the UK’s largest supermarkets. One of the perks of my job however is to get to see the food that is going to hit the shelves before it comes out. In our food cascade this year the trend is going to be vegetarian and vegan party and Christmas food. This wasn’t much of a surprise but what was a surprise was that the food developers were having difficulty developing plant based party food that didn’t look generally brown. I suppose that when canapés are meat or cheese based we expect them to be brown, but are expecting a little more from a plant based canapé.

Scallops With Blue Corn Tortillas

One of my favourite activities is browsing through recipe books. Not necessarily because I’m going to cook anything in them, in fact I have a French Laundry recipe book which, as each recipe is about 5 pages long has never been anything other than a coffee table aspirational decoration. Why I like recipe books is for ideas and inspiration and to find out about new and unusual ingredients or food history and is where I first saw a photograph of  blue tortillas. They looked amazing, a rich blue green colour and I thought I really had to have a go at that.

Chargrilled Asparagus with Parmesan

It’s time to put my asparagus to bed for the year but there is still time for one last meal and to take advantage of the box of free range eggs given to me by a friend from his own chickens so what could be better than asparagus dipped in to a a freshly boiled Legbar or Plymouth brown rock egg?

Falafels

Falafel can easily be bought from the supermarket and you seem to be able to buy them in an increasing array of flavours from sweet potato to beetroot. Interesting as they may be, nothing beat the taste of freshly cooked hand-made falafel.

Sweetcorn fritters with mango salsa

You may have heard of “Stoptober” and “Movember” but the buzz word this month is “Veganuary” where many people are become vegan for a month as a New Years resolution. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian but I am trying to eat a mainly plant-based diet for most of the week, partly because I…

Roasted Pumpkin and Chorizo Soup

The weather is definitely on the turn.  We had our first hard frost a few days ago and I’m typing this up in front of a roaring fire. On nights like this there is nothing as warming to body and soul as soup and crusty bread with lashings of butter.

Now is the season for British squashes and the allotment supplies plenty which are slowly ripening in the cool shed to be used over the next few months so Autumn and winter is an ideal time to use this seasonal vegatble.

Singapore Noodles With Crispy Tofu

Over the last few months the chef Jamie Oliver has been the centre of a “cultural appropriation” twitter storm over his Jerk Rice. Slammed, firstly because the spices he uses are not traditional jerk seasoning and secondly no one in Jamaica would consider jerking rice at all. But Jamie is not the first.

Singapore noodles, spicy stir fried rice noodles, available in nearly every Chinese restaurant and take away in the UK Singaporeans would regard you with horror if you even suggested it.

Tabbouleh

There aren’t many children in the UK lucky enough to grow up with quality Lebanese/Armenian food on their doorstep. I was one of the lucky ones and there are numerous stories of me as a small child refusing to eat something that my long suffering mother had cooked and instead “running away” to my best…

Hong Kong Omelet

I was made one of these omelets for the first time staying in a friends apartment in Hong Kong.   I’m not always the humble eggs biggest fan, boiled egg yes, fried egg no. Poached maybe, cheese omelet no no no no no.

Asparagus with hollandaise

 “Most cookbooks assume that if the reader follows the recipe to the letter, they’ll get a dish right first time. This is so wrong. If you’re making hollandaise for the first time, you will, of course, screw it up” Or so said Anthony Bourdain who was Gordon Ramsey before Gordon Ramsey and much much worse. Making…

Gigantes Plaki

Brits reading this site will remember the famous slogan “Beans means Heinz” and for over a hundred years we’ve been sitting down to baked beans on toast for breakfast or lunch, so much so we seem to have almost forgotten that baked beans are an American introduction.

Nộm Bò Khô – Dried Beef Salad

We first had this sitting on kindergarten sized chairs in a small street cafe in Hanoi old quarter with wail of mopeds horns buzzing by echoing in our ears. The place was so tiny that the owned produced only a handful of dishes, completely fresh, zingy and alongside the street bustle a wonderful assault on the senses.

Mujaddara

I’ve seen almost as many ways to spell this dish as recipes. Mujaddara is a middle eastern grain and lentil dish with fried onions. It is an ancient dish dating back to at least 1,226 although folk law says that this is the dish that Jacob used to buy Esau’s birth right in Genesis.

Bánh xèo

I first made these in Hoian in a local cookery school where we made modest little pancakes which you wrapped with salad in rice papers. Imagine my surprise when ordering the same in Saigon and a supersized crepe the size of a small baby arrived.

Wholegrain Pita

When you read the back of even “heathy” wholemeal bread the list of additives is shocking. Pita is great fun to involve the kids with, sticky kneading  and then watching the pita rise in to small balloons in the oven and they are also child’s play to make. These are great with Hummus Prep Time:…

Hummus

As the recent humus crisis has shown, the people of the UK who previously would have viewed a chickpea dip as foreign muck have wholeheartedly embraced the humble hummus and now find it hard to forgo their leguminous fix.

Chilli Squid

When ordering squid as a starter it almost is always covered in batter. Maybe it is because we sqeemishly turn away from the tentacles or because they assume that British people can’t eat anything other that battered or breaded fish.