Cooling Summer Salad

This perfectly simple salad is exactly the sort of thing to eat on hot summers evening. It requires very little work and tastes spectacular. Why not give it a go try out this gorgeous recipe. Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts and what is your go to summer dish.

Beetroot, Feta & Basil Salad

Kitchen Banter

Here you will find a conversation, the type that you would perhaps have whilst preparing a meal, the informal jabber one has to ones self or to whoever maybe present in the kitchen at that time. That like, which we might have with a friend with a mug of tea in the kitchen. The conversation will most likely come to fruition, in my head whilst cooking and I will continue this conversation here. It could be about a particular pan that I think is great, Rhubarb may have come into season and it may be running through my mind recipes, parings what to do with it, leftovers and what to do with them?, those clammy long stares into the refrigerator trying to decide how I could put what is there to use.Who knows where this conversation will lead? or, just how delicious the recipes that form will be.

I think there is nothing more relaxed and casual than the conversations we have whilst our mind is partially occupied. I find that cooking not only lets me escape my day when it’s required, but also allows me to be more open than I could possibly be in a direct conversation. I have always felt any awkward conversation is much less so when you are partially distracted by what you are cooking. I’m sometimes unsure if it’s me that uses the distraction and relaxed atmosphere of cooking to lessen the severity of a conversation or if it is the distraction of offering the other party a comforting bowl or plate of what is being cooked. Whatever the answer this could be looked at as the offerings of a guilty party making amends in a way that means most to them or offering the deepest comfort and sincerest sympathy. People respond, people open up and is why in part the kitchen will always be the heart of my home. Offering a sense of harbor, security, warmth, comfort and safety.

This leads me to the reason I had to make my kitchen an open plan. I wanted to spend as much time as possible in this comfort zone, to live here. Whether it be eating, cooking or lazing about on the couch watching TV. I think it helps making friends or guests in my house feel comfortable. That there is not a whole ceremony made of the meal it is more informal and comfortable. Which makes me happy and makes friends/ guests happy.

Kitchen Tools & Hacks

These are really kitchen tools rather than hacks that I couldn’t live without in the kitchen.

Tools that can be used for multiple tasks and make my life easier. Some cut down on washing up some just make like easier. There wouldn’t be enough time in the day to talk about all my favourite kitchen gadgets and tools but the few below are my most used and favourites.

We will start with a microplane a usually long strip of grater that grates very finely. I do prefer, the type that have a fine grater and course grater part as this combines two tools in one for me. I’m always thinking about the washing up. It has a multitude of uses in my kitchen from zesting citrus fruits, grating cheese, mincing ginger and the thing I do most with it is mince garlic directly into pans and sauces. I push down on the garlic to crack it, makes removing the paper skin easy then mince it directly over a pan a wallop on the side of the pan releases all the pungent mush from the underside. This is much easier to clean than a garlic press and much more convenient than using salt, chopping board and blade of a knife to make a paste or getting the pestle and mortar out.

Scissors

I used to buy kitchen shears, essentially these were just scissor that cost a bit more. I have wised up when I realised just how often these went missing. You know how most people complain that they can never keep the house stocked with teaspoons this is how I am with scissors. Don’t ask me where they go. These make life much easier and again save on washing up. If you are concerned that they might not be as strong as kitchen shears let me reassure you that I have been using them for years for cutting the spine out of chickens when I spatchcock them, right through bones they chop with ease and I have never had a pair break. I find these particularly useful when cooking for myself rather than getting knives and chopping boards out I will snip bacon, chicken, herbs or whatever else needs it directly into the pan. One note on washing if using a dishwasher open the scissors wide so that the blades can be disinfected and place in the cutlery baskets.

Oil Pourer

I store all my everyday oils in bottles by the hob. I know people would be irate by this as the temperature fluctuates a lot right by the hob. I have never had a problem with any of my oils losing flavour or going rancid and I have been doing this for many years. I have garlic oil, olive oil, rapeseed oil, vegetable oil and extra virgin olive oil. Now handy as it is to have these oils by the hob the hack here is using bottle pourers the kind that bartenders have. This way you aren’t wrestling with screw caps when you need oil, which when you have hands covered in raw chicken or meat is a huge advantage. Besides, just like scissors do caps not seem to disappear the second they are left down?

Mezzaluna

These Half-moon shaped choppers are intimidating to look at but that is only to look at. You can feel reassured that it would be very difficult to cut yourself with one of these as both hands need to be engaged on the handles to operate it. These are fantastic for anyone that lacks confidence with their knife skills, it makes chopping items very easy. This is probably one of the hardest to find items on my list. However, thanks to Nigella Lawson’s influence these can be found in a lot of shops that sell kitchenware. Be careful when buying these as there is many cheap gimmicky one that are useless the two brands that I highly recommended are Victorinox which do one that is very sharp and a good size the only downside is the wooden handles. Although, I have had mine for years and the handles are still in pristine condition and the other I would recommend is Nigella Lawson’s Living Kitchen Mezzaluna it is a very heavy steel one handles and all. They are no longer made so you will have to pick one up second hand or through eBay/Amazon they are available frequently at reasonable prices on these sites. It is also worth noting that if buying the Nigella version that there is also a cutting board counter part which is excellent for using with this knife it is a simple oval shaped board with a hollow in the centre that contains the food being chopped. This knife and board are always what I pull out when chopping nuts or large quantities of herbs.

Summer Eating and the ingredients I can get enough of

I find certain times of year and weather have such a knock on effect

on my cooking. Cold dull dark winter evenings, I want comfort and cosiness. Rich beef stews everything with mash potato and creamy sauces. Currently with the heat, however, I just can’t get enough of salty cheeses such as Halloumi and Feta. At this time of year I want cooling, saltiness,spriteliness of citrus and pungency of mint. Thyme is my winter herb and without question mint is my go to summer herb.Just the aroma of a freshly cut lime or lemon even in bleakest mid winter can transport me to a sunnier climate without ever leaving the kitchen.

I have wrote two recipes this past week using these cheeses as the star ingredient.The first was my Mint,Halloumi and Pomegranate salad and the other my beetroot, Feta and Basil Salad. Both Recipes can be found in the recipe section or by clicking on their titles.

These combinations have not only had effect on my eating but also my drinking at the moment i’m just loving a Gimlet which is traditionally lime cordial, mint vodka and sparkling water I have altered this slightly and use fresh lime intead with a tiny splash

of sugar syrup to make up for the lost sweetness of the cordial. I cannot get enough of pink wine at the moment. I have been trying out some great finds from Aldi. Which are very reasonably priced. A relaxed afternoon in the garden with something salty, crunchy and light and a cold Gimlet or glass of rose wine and I mean cold so cold that it has condensation and little beads of moisture running down the glass.

What are your favourite summer tastes and flavour and what is your perfect summer evening?

Kitchen Jabber Beginnings

Here you will find a conversation, the type that you would perhaps have whilst preparing a meal, the informal jabber one has to ones self or to whoever maybe present in the kitchen at that time. That like, which we might have with a friend with a mug of tea in the kitchen. The conversation will most likely come to fruition, in my head whilst cooking and I will continue this conversation here. It could be about a particular pan that I think is great, Rhubarb may have come into season and it may be running through my mind recipes, parings what to do with it, leftovers and what to do with them?, those clammy long stares into the refrigerator trying to decide how I could put what is there to use.Who knows where this conversation will lead? or, just how delicious the recipes that form will be.

I think there is nothing more relaxed and casual than the conversations we have whilst our mind is partially occupied. I find that cooking not only lets me escape my day when it’s required, but also allows me to be more open than I could possibly be in a direct conversation. I have always felt any awkward conversation is much less so when you are partially distracted by what you are cooking. I’m sometimes unsure if it’s me that uses the distraction and relaxed atmosphere of cooking to lessen the severity of a conversation or if it is the distraction of offering the other party a comforting bowl or plate of what is being cooked. Whatever the answer this could be looked at as the offerings of a guilty party making amends in a way that means most to them or offering the deepest comfort and sincerest sympathy. People respond, people open up and is why in part the kitchen will always be the heart of my home. Offering a sense of harbor, security, warmth, comfort and safety.

This leads me to the reason I had to make my kitchen an open plan. I wanted to spend as much time as possible in this comfort zone, to live here. Whether it be eating, cooking or lazing about on the couch watching TV. I think it helps making friends or guests in my house feel comfortable. That there is not a whole ceremony made of the meal it is more informal and comfortable. Which makes me happy and makes friends/ guests happy.