Friday, 31 July 2009

Shepherd's Hut

I cannot think of anything more romantic than a night in a Shepherd's Hut - with smoke coiling from a pot-bellied stove.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Gudrun Sjoden

Embroidered smocks from Gudrun Sjoden

Monday, 27 July 2009


I already own more tea towels than I would need for a lifetime of washing up - but still I hanker for these crumply, frayed vintage linens from Pale and Interesting.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Aubergine salad

I'd happily eat aubergines every night: slow roasted and pureed into a spiced babaganoush, simmered in a ratatouille, sliced and deep fried and dressed with red-wine vinegar and garlic... Last night I adapted an Ottolenghi recipe (substituting pine kernels for shavings of pistachio; and basil for mint) and I have to say it was the most darned delicious mouthful of aubergine that has ever passed my lips.

Aubergine with saffron yoghurt, pistachios, pomegranates and mint
Serves two as a light supper - alongside some really good humus (I spruce up the shop-bought stuff with my best olive oil, a handful of rinsed capers and some chopped fresh coriander) and steaming-hot flatbreads

1 aubergine
Olive oil
Pinch of saffron strands
Greek yoghurt
One garlic clove, crushed
Maldon salt and black pepper
large handful of shelled, chopped pistachios
the seeds of half a pomegranate, all white pith removed
Fresh mint leaves

Wash the aubergine, cut the stalk of and slice length-ways into long, thin strips (about 2cm thick). Brush with plenty of olive oil, scatter with salt and roast in a medium-hot oven for about 20-25 mins. Meanwhile, drop a pinch of saffron stands into a bowl, and slosh over a few tablespoons of boiling water from the kettle. Allow to infuse for 5 mins. Scoop two large spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt into a mixing bowl, drop in the saffron infused water (and strands), a good slosh of olive oil, one crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper. Whisk well into a creamy dressing.
To serve, allow the aubergines to cool slightly, arrange on a plate (not overlapping). Drizzle generously with the dressing, and then scatter liberally with the nuts and pomegranate seeds and decorate with whole mint sprigs.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Les Indiennes

I can think of a million ways to use these beautiful hand-blocked prints by Les Indiennes. I'd like to make the top one into a dressing gown, for padding about barefoot in the kitchen. The middle one would be a fine and breezy bedsheet for nights when it's too hot for a duvet. The bottom one I'd make into a billowy sundress - to wear with a big straw hat and flat leather sandals - for a day on the beach in Corsica.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Supper for a balmy evening

Brown rice and herb salad, roasted beetroot and goat's cheese, cold cold beers

So simple it's not even a real recipe.

Wash and trim the beetroot, cut into quarters, tip into a baking tray and toss in olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and roast in a medium oven for 30 minutes until tender. Turn them often. Allow to cool slightly before dressing with olive oil and pepper and tearing over goat's cheese. Boil the brown rice according to the pack. Meanwhile quickly, briefly boil some very finely sliced broccoli and frozen peas. Finely chop any green herbs you can get your hands on - I used flat-leaf parsley, mint and coriander. Combine the rice with a good slug of olive oil, the juice of a lemon, the zest of the lemon, the herbs, the broccoli and peas.

Supper for Amy - part two

Wholemeal linguine with anchovy and broccoli

Wholemeal linguine
Olive oil
two handfuls shallots, or one small white onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tin anchovies, drained and rinsed
Parmesan to serve

In a heavy saucepan heat a few glugs of olive oil. Tip in the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon until they disintegrate, becoming a sort of anchovy mush. Chop the onions and garlic finely and tip into the saucepan. Turn the heat down and cook slowly for 8 or 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the linguine (according to pack instructions). Next, slice the broccoli. Chop away almost all of the stalk, leaving just the perfect, bite-size green posies. If you think that's too rustic, chop down the broccoli to thin shards. Turn the heat up and add the broccoli, coating it in the onions. Add a slosh of water and allow the broccoli to steam/simmer for a few minutes, until tender but still with bite - most of the water will have evaporated. Season with black pepper. Drain the pasta, and immediately tip in the sauce, tossing to combine. Bring to the table with a hunk of Parmesan for people to grate over, and a bottle of best olive oil for extra drizzling.

Supper for Amy - part one

Broad bean salad with dill and feta

Small bag frozen broad beans
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
large handful Greek feta cheese
Bunch fresh dill

Tip the frozen broad beans into a large pan of vigorously boiling, salted water and simmer for a minute or two, until thawed and tender. Drain under running cold water - this will stop them cooking. Using your thumb and forefinger, squeeze the beans out of their papery shells - it might help to make a tiny nick in the skin to ease the shelling. This process takes ages but is strangely therapeutic - share the chore with a loved one, or do it in front of the telly, or sitting on a sunny porch. Tip the bright green beans into a mixing bowl and dress liberally with your best olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, Maldon salt and pepper. Roughly chop the dill and combine. Crumble in the feta and lightly mix again. Slide the salad out onto a large, wide serving platter - it will look lovely. Zest half an unwaxed lemon and sprinkle this over the salad. Drizzle again with olive oil and serve.

Scones with rose petal jam

Nothing says summer more to me than homemade scones, proper clotted cream and strawberry jam. But we were out of strawberry jam last weekend so we tried it with rose petal preserve instead - it was delicious: a bit tart and sour. Yummy.

My recipe for homemade scones

8oz self raising flour
pinch of salt
2oz butter
1oz caster sugar
150ml milk
Heat the oven to 200c. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of grease-proof paper. Sift the flour into a bowl, throw in the salt, and - using your hands - rub in the butter. Tip in the sugar, and then drizzle the milk in gradualy, mixing until you get a dough-like consistency. Scatter your kitchen table with flour and knead the dough lightly for a minute or two. Break of pieces and gently pat them into flattish disc-shapes about 2cm thick, 5cm across, and place on the baking tray. Brush the scones with a little milk and bake for about 12 mins - they will rise and turn golden brown. I prefer to let them cool, but you can eat them warm of course.