A sunny weekend

The sun has been shining and has certainly brought some restorative health and vitality to the French Thomas household.

A little shopping trip gave me all the ingredients I needed to add to my growing collection of pickles, preserves and liqueurs! Today I have made two rum based liqueurs, one with passionfruit, the other with my favourite, lychees and vanilla- I can’t wait to try them 🍷. Both from a Tessa Kiros book I haven’t spent enough time with.

And I wasn’t sure baking in such heat was a great idea but tomorrow at work we have a cake sale so I have made some strawberry cheesecake cupcakes (from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook) and a chocolate cake slab (Nigella). It only seems fair we try some after dinner…..!!!

So, off to make a mini end of a lovely weekend BBQ 🤗👍🤗

A Green Shakshuka 🥗

3399A1E1-9C2D-4A9F-95A9-F0BD0F5C8C1A-COLLAGEAfter a long stretch at work over the bank holiday weekend I am enjoying a lazy day off relaxing at home. I saw this recipe in a magazine and decided to give it a try…. with a couple of tweaks of course!

More cumin, added 🌶 and tinned 🍅 instead of fresh. It was really lovely, I’ve cleared a very large plate, and just the nourishing lunch I needed.

Now……. feet up or housework???

A Thoroughly Fishy Weekend

I never start my New Year resolutions until February…. it’s a little bit like starting a diet on a Monday, doomed from the start!!! Over Christmas I was looking back over this blog and thought its time to start writing again. I’ve missed sharing memorable, lovely  meals, some cooked by me, some cooked by others, and also some inedible offerings along the way! So I’m starting again today and may well share a few food memories from the past 6 months 🍽🍷

But for now……..

I’ve recently changed jobs and ended up with an unscheduled weekend off! Rest and relaxation have most definitely been on the menu following a fairly hectic week, but some food nourishment is a necessary medicine.

For Saturday lunch a Tuna Tartare.

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This is a new book to the library- I have another in the series all on Fries so couldn’t resist this. (I’ve never actually cooked anything from the Fries book, or indeed the book that only has recipes for Dal… maybe I need to!).
The tartare was really delicious and very easy to make. Firstly I sliced a red onion and popped in a bowl with lots of lime juice and a sprinkling of pink peppercorns and left them to steep for half an hour. In the meantime I diced a fresh tuna steak, a small avocado and a handful of cherry tomatoes, mixing them with some fresh mint, coriander, fresh red chilli and a spritz of lime. Mixed all together on a bed of some salad leaves (the last bag in the supermarket…) the tartare was fresh and vibrant, hot and sour, and quite delicious!

For dinner I made an adaptation of a recipe I’ve made previously from the Cinnamon Kitchen Cookbook. 

Crab and Cod Koftes with Lemon Rice

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There must be a theme for today’s food actually as this too was fresh and fragrant.
To make the koftas:

  • Chop 250g cod into tiny pieces. Mix with 150g white crab meat, a shredded kaffir lime leaf, half a chopped red onion, 2 chopped fresh green chillies with a little knob of ginger grated. Drizzle in a little olive oil, season and mix all together.
  • Shape into little balls, sauté on both sides until lightly browned, and then pop into the oven to cook through- about 10 mins.
  • The sauce is next. Saute the other half of the red onion, chopped, in oil and add some spices: tsp ground coriander, half tsp ground black pepper, tsp dried red chillies, and a star anise. Also pop into the pan a tbsp white wine vinegar, a chopped garlic clove and some salt. Mix in well before adding in a tin of chopped tomatoes. Stir and simmer for a few mins.
  • Add in a small tin of coconut cream to mellow the sauce and simmer until thick.
  • The rice is super easy- boil some basmati rice until almost cooked. Drain. In a pan heat some oil and add some black mustard seeds, a small handful of curry leaves, a chopped chilli and a tsp turmeric. Stir in the rice and squeeze in a lemons juice 🍋.

These gorgeous little koftes are not all that fishy in all honestly, but really hold the spices well and add a real fragrance to the meal with the fresh herbs. Really filling too yet modestly healthy- maybe perfect for a Fit February!!!

I had some white crabmeat left over so Sunday lunch became a Crab Linguine.

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Not a recipe really, I simply boiled some pasta in one pan whilst cooking some spring onions, chillis, crab in olive oil in another. To the crab I threw in a handful of chopped cherry 🍅 and a glass of Prosecco (bizarrely left over?!?) and cooked down. All tossed together and eaten in a flash!

 

 

 

So a restorative weekend to recharge the batteries, just what the doctor would order I am certain. It will end tonight with a toad in the hole!!!

A Fishy Dinner, A Tale of 2 Gnocchi, and a Sciatica Soothing Pasta!

Three really lovely meals this week, well worthy of a mention! I am writing them up now with the 3rd football match of the day on the TV…. I can’t blame anyone but myself as I have had the control of the remote control!!!

The first lovely meal is this….

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Marinated Cod with Spiced Aubergines

This is loosely based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe, but adapted as (a) I couldn’t buy any halibut, and (b) I really don’t like raisins in savoury food….. Instead I used cod, upped the spice and a little more aubergine. It was completely delicious, I could eat it every day! Here’s the recipe- (for 1 hungry person)

1 cod fillet

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 aubergine, cut into cubes

1 onion, sliced into half moon

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

squeeze lemon juice

  • drizzle the oil over the fish and rub in the turmeric with some salt and pepper. Leave for about half on hour to marinade.
  • heat the oven to 200.
  • toss the aubergine in some olive oil and salt and pepper, pop on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20 mins.
  • in a pan heat some olive oil and fry the onions until soft. Add the cumin and chilli, then add the tomatoes and cook down for 15 mins. Take the Aubergines out of the oven and add to the sauce. Cook all together for 10 mins.
  • fry the cod in a pan on both sides until cooked through and golden. Serve sitting on top of the sauce.

It was really tasty, filling and healthy too!!!

The following evening it was a tale of 2 gnocchi!!! (Not sure what the plural of gnocchi is?).

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The gnocchi were bought from La Tua in Borough Market, where I often buy fresh pasta and tortellini. First time for the gnocchi and they were good. On the left, for C were normal gnocchi, with a Carluccio wild boar sauce and some chunky pesto. On the left for me some gnocchi that were bigger and filled with walnuts and Gorgonzola, with a piccante tomato sauce and the same chunky pesto. Really nice, despite me not being a massive gnocchi fan, and a fairly light dinner after a long day.

Which leads me onto today. I have not been to work as I have a flair up of the sciatica I had nastily last year. Not as bad, but not pleasant, so looking after myself and being sensible Jo! So… A sciatica soothing pasta was called for!

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This was really soothing in so many ways, despite being a subtle way of using up bits and bobs of veg in the fridge! Whilst the penne was cooking I sautéed some onion, green pepper, asparagus tips and sweet corn in some olive oil. Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and added it to the veg. To it I added a tbsp of mascarpone and a handful of shropshire blue cheese, with some pepper. I stirred it all together on a low heat until all melded together and gorgeously yummy.

So my back is sore, but my tum is full and happy. Surely that’ll get me firmly on the road to recovery??

 

 

 

A Tuesday Day Off!

Firstly a very happy birthday to my lovely sister and Dad, both born on the same day, albeit several years apart!!!

Today, an unusual Tuesday day off, all domestics done so a day of pottering around and some tasty food.

For my lunch I have made something incredibly healthy, but super lovely! I will dedicate this to the birthday girl…. I think she’d love it.

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Tuna Ceviche with Charred Lettuce and Avocado

This beautiful plate of food comes from the Madelaine Shaw book ‘Ready, Steady, Glow’. The fresh tuna sat in a little bowl with some fresh ginger, lime juice, soy and sesame oil, while I charred some lettuce and mashed some avocado with some chilli. Sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds and spring onion for some crunch and red chilli for heat, this was a very vibrant and happy lunch.

I am currently writing a little book for a friends upcoming birthday and this will definitely make the cut, with maybe a few minor tweaks.

Tonight I am looking at some fish with a spicy aubergine mush….. fingers crossed.

Dinner, by Heston Blumenthal

  
When I found out that I was going to Dinner this Saturday I have to admit to being a little concerned…. I mean I love an adventurous menu but what an earth is ‘Meat Fruit’, or ‘Rice and Flesh’? I have never had a yearning for food from the 17th or 18th centuries, and am at times turned off by the formality of a Michelin Star ( and Dinner is one of only 11 London restaurant awarded 2 prestigious Michelin stars).

However, WOW, WOW, WOW, I 💞 it- the food, the service, the ambiance, the whole caboodle!!!

Heston himself was there having lunch with a group of friends. It must be a good sign when the creator of the concept is happy to have a relaxed Saturday lunch there.

I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was worried it wasn’t allowed…. However, I saw other people doing so and decided to do so from main courses onwards. So let me tell you all about it!

Starters

  

My dining companion had the famous ‘Meat Fruit’, pictured here. It is a chicken liver parfait within a mandarin concoction which I couldn’t quite figure out- not a jelly like substance, quite like the texture of a really fresh mandarin. It was really gorgeous, rich and savoury, with extra toast for the pate.

I had the Earl Grey Tea cured Salmon, which was utterly lovely. There was a salad of chicory and sorrel, a lemon salad, gentlemans relish and salmon roe. I thought it was so pretty and went so well with the vintage, rose champagne being consumed….

Main Course

  

I decided to try the Iberico Pork Chop as I have not had Iberco pork before, and it was really good. There was a little spelt and ham stew wrapped in Lardo on the side which was really amazing, made even more tasty with the Robert sauce. I loved it!

My dining companion decided to have the Spiced Pigeon with ale and artichokes, and (of course) triple cooked chips on the side. The pigeon was a real picture on the plate and was declared to be a great success. The chips were nice, but I have had crunchier, groovier chips I have to admit.

Dessert

We weren’t going to have dessert but the waitress told me that the Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple changed her life when she first tasted it 2 years ago- how on earth could I say no to that!!!

   
 The cake was like a brioche and dowsed in something lovely and boozy! I was watching the pineapples roasting on their spit and couldn’t have left without trying. On the other side of the table was the Chocolate Bar- with passion fruit jam and ginger ice cream. Mine was definitely the best!

So, a great lunch in a great restaurant with yummy food and delightful service. Would I go back? Definitely! Now to find someone rich to take me back…….

Bonfire Night

Before I write about any food tonight I must declare that I am in love with Nick Cave… Tonight watching a documentary/drama about him and so remember a night many years ago seeing him in Hammersmith with my Belgian friend Tineke. I so love his intellectual quirkiness… 

So, back to earth!

I’m having a few days off work and have done some relaxing and recharging of the batteries. Carluccios in Teddington for a nice lunch though, but a snooze meant early pjs and a pizza night.

  
I should claim I made these pizzas but must admit I bought them from M&S. Left hand Fiorentina for me. Right hand salami for C. 

I normally love these pizzas but there was meant to be a runny egg on the top, and it went hard even though I only put it in the oven the right amount of time. OK though, but a little disappointment. 

Tonight there are so many fireworks in Twickenham. You will know how much I adore fireworks so a happy night. 

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