“Too Hot Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

IMG_7302Looking at this picture reminds me again why I loved this salad: Isn’t just a gorgeous collection of colourful virtuousness?

It also was delicious.

A London summer is a mixed blessing of weather at best, and this summer is no different. But over the past weekend, we had a very hot day on Sunday, which begged for the “Too Hot Salad” to be made. Anna Jones said she makes it when it’s too hot to cook, and this was one of those days. (Indeed it was too hot to cook in the kitchen, but perfect weather for a barbeque in the garden, which is what we did.)

The Vietnamese influence is easy to taste: cold, fresh vegetables (especially carrots) coupled with a sweet soy sauce dressing. The leaves of coriander gave it a very nice kick. I was dubious about the inclusion of watermelon, but it worked. It’s also an excellent vegan recipe, which is always a good thing.

To be sure, making those beautiful vegetable ribbons takes some time. I wish I could be as quick as the estimate to make this (it took about double the time), but I do think it looks lovely, so perhaps the extra time was worth it. I’m also getting better at making vegetable ribbons, so perhaps that will come up in a job interview sometime and I can impress them with my unusual talent.

Would I make this again? I would indeed. And I might even do it on a day that’s not hot.


“Too Hot Salad” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Pan-roast Lime Feta and Chilli Greens Burrito” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

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Kirstin: So we’ve both been very quiet as we start to eat this. I think that’s because it’s so very delicious! Or it could be because it definitely took longer than half an hour and so we’re starving!

Tom: Oh there’s some crunchy kale there!

Kirstin: I couldn’t find any spring greens in the shops today. So I cheated! And the wholemeal tortillas are alright too. I was a bit worried they would be like sawdust, but they’re not!And I refuse to use coconut oil because I don’t need reminders about hair products from the 80s in my food.

Tom: And once again, a meal without meat in it and it tastes rather good!

Kirstin: It tastes alright, doesn’t it! This is supposed to make four, which is two each. But you’ve had three! That’s definitely a good sign!

“Pan-roast Lime Feta and Chilli Greens Burrito” from “A Modern Way to Cook”

“Coconut Thai Curry with Chickpeas” from “Deliciously Ella”

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Tom: Is this a vegetarian curry?

Kirstin: Yes.

Ella: It’s like a curry without all the good bits.

Tom: So the aubergines are like the meat.

Ella: Aubergines are not like meat. They are like water.

Kirstin: You haven’t even tried it yet, Ella!

Tom: This is really tasty.

Ella: Well it’s still not going to taste like pork, is it?

Miles: Where is the meat?

Kirstin: Why don’t you try it?

Ella: *sigh*. Or should I just curry on complaining?

Miles: I tried it and I didn’t like it.

Kirstin: Well I do! I love the way it just sits in the oven for a good long while, brewing the flavours.

Ella: I like the rice!

Tom: What’s this stuff that isn’t aubergine?

Kirstin: Butternut squash. And chickpeas.

“Coconut Thai Curry with Chickpeas” from “Deliciously Ella”

“Root Vegetable Pies” from “Plenty More”

IMG_6508Beautiful pie, right? I like to think so. It tastes even better than it looks.

The problem is I can’t look at this picture without thinking about the THREE HOURS, that’s right THREE HOURS [and yes, I am shouting] that it took to make them from start to finish.

In those three hours, I could have made six 30 minute meals from Jamie. I kid. Anyone who’s read this blog knows that we completed none of the 30 minute meals in 30 minutes, let alone cleaned up from them, so that’s an exaggeration. But still. Three hours is a long time to prepare one dish. I’ve done a three-course meal for eight people in less time than that.

I’m not sure what my problem was, or if that’s just how long it takes to make a decent pie. It’s a good thing I had set aside some time to make them, though as it was we didn’t sit down for dinner until 8 p.m.

I started at 5 p.m. to make the pastry, which was easy enough as you do it in the food processor. To be fair, I did get a call that took 15 minutes at 5.45 p.m. while I was chopping up the vegetables, so that set me back a bit. But it takes time to peel and chop (in uniform sizes no less) all of these root vegetables. It also took time to roll out and then cut the pie pastry (not to mention finding a pot top that was 14 cm in diameter, and another that was 8 cm in diameter.)

Don’t get me wrong. The pies were delicious. Good meals take time, attention and love. It’s just the next time I hope it’s quicker.

Believe it or not, and frankly I think this is a miracle, Ottolenghi made these very pies in an 8 minute segment on This Morning on ITV. He says it’s perfect for “Monday night cooking,” which I would agree, provided you have three hours to do it. To be fair, he had all the chopping and making done ahead of time. Television magic and all that. But he’s still incredibly charming, so you should watch for that.  You can either watch the clip, or read the recipe, which is also provided on the website. Click through to see it.


“Root Vegetable Pies” from “Plenty More”

“Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano” from “Plenty More”


We are big fans of orzo. We are big fans of pasta bake. I figured putting them together would mean I’d have an automatic hit on my hands. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out that way.

To be fair, the family was divided: the adults liked it, the boys were ambivalent about it.

While it wasn’t at all like the baked ziti we love– there wasn’t enough tomato sauce– I still thought the unusual addition of aubergine, carrots and celery made it interesting.

The boys on the other hand, we’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The verdict from both of them was “Meh.”

Would I make it again? Unlikely, given the mixed reception.

If you would like to make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe in The Guardian, where it originally appeared.


“Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano” from “Plenty More”

“Mixed Vegetables and Yoghurt with Green Chilli Oil” from “Plenty More”



This is a delightful dish.

Is it a bit of a faff? Of course it is. Consider the source. But is it worth the effort? Absolutely.

To be fair, it is not the healthiest of dishes, with all the deep frying of the vegetables, which were aubergines, courgettes and red peppers. But perhaps this is why it was so delicious. Deep frying makes EVERYTHING better. Even Mars bars (especially when buried under a mountain of ice cream. But I digress.)

The minty yogurt and chilli and herb oil over the top elevated it to a new level of deliciousness.

Just writing about this again is making my mouth water. When I discovered at the end of the meal there was tiny bit left over, I can’t tell you how happy I was thinking about what my lunch the next day was going to be.

Yum. Highly recommended.

If you would like to make this yourself, and I strongly recommend that you do, find the recipe in The Guardian by clicking through this link.

“Mixed Vegetables and Yoghurt with Green Chilli Oil” from “Plenty More”

“Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf” from “Plenty More”

IMG_6303(Apologies for the light in this picture. It is winter, after all, and we’ve had grey skies here in London for a record 3,178 days* )

((*This may be a guess.))

I decided to make this dish for the sole reason that I wanted to cook with giant couscous. I know the recipe calls for fregola, but Ottolenghi says you can use giant couscous instead, so when I saw it on the supermarket shelf, I grabbed it knowing it was destined for this dish.

The other major difference between what Ottolenghi wanted me to do, and what I actually did, is I did not prepare the artichokes myself. Even though he included very helpful directions as to how I could go about doing that, in the end I decided that life was too short and I used the pre-made ones instead. To his credit, he does say that you can do that. (Otherwise, this dish might have wandered into Faff-Olenghi territory.)

It was typical Ottolenghi: delicious and an interesting blend of flavours I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I easily could see this being sold at his deli and taking it away for a pretty yummy lunch.

As it was, we had it on Fish Friday to go along Gwenyth Paltrow’s roasted fish, baked clam style, which is in the regular rotation of our Fish Friday favourites, although this time I used trout rather than sea bass. Everyone at the table gave the entire dinner at thumbs up.

Would I make this again? Most definitely. I don’t know if the giant couscous trend is here to stay, but it certainly is delicious.

If you would like to make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe in The Guardian.


“Fregola and Artichoke Pilaf” from “Plenty More”