Tuscan Kale and Saucisson Sec

One of the nice things about having a little vegetable garden is that it can give such a variety of produce – a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

This morning my harvest yielded a few radishes, earthy kale, salad leaves, chives, chard and a peppery ripe tomatoe.

The following recipe is very simple but makes good use of the unique qualities of each vegetable. A light lunch for a Sunday afternoon

Pickled Radish:
Slice thinly.
Cover with hot water (10sec), drain and dress with rice vinegar and seasoning of your choice.
Let it stand for at least 10 minutes, it will preserve the crunch yet add a slight vinegary sharpness.

Quick Kale.
Trim the thick stem ( note that you can boil the stems later, leave them whole and serve with a knob of butter – stunning!)
Finely shred the kale and chard, add to wok with roughly chopped garlic. Finish with a dollop of balsamic vinegar.

To assemble, quickly toast your ciabatta, dress with good olive oil. Add the kale, and sliced saucisson sec. Finish with chopped chives. Serve with the salad and pickled radishes.





Rocket Pesto with Baby Courgette, Chard and Broad Beans

With summer bearing down hard on my little garden, some plants have slowly gone to seed. My rocket is still producing well but hasn’t too long if this heat keeps up. Not that I’m complaining, the weather is perfect for the tomatoes!

I also wanted to bring the runner beans and baby courgette to the plate. I think this dish brings out the crunch of the courgette, the peppery kick of the rocket as well as the earthiness of the chard. The broad beans got a bit lost truth be told, but it tastes good anyway!

1. Blend big handfuls of rocket with good quality olive oil. Add grated parmesan and season to taste. This is a basic pesto, so no added pine nuts etc.

2. Lightly saute diced chard stems with slivers of garlic.

3. Boil pasta, add broad beans after few minutes – till al dente

4. At the last minute add the roughly diced courgette to the chard stems, don’t over do this – keep them crunchy. Add the roughly chopped chard leaves and wilt them (but leave them with a bit of chewiness, we don’t want them mushy.)

5. Toss with pasta, a dash of lemon juice and pesto – add extra grated cheese if wanted.

Best enjoyed with a glass of wine and interesting company.



Ingredient of the Week: Swiss Chard

Wow – a busy last few months, so no posts from me. However I’m now back. I’ve been trying my hand at gardening. So far so good. I’m finding it quite satisfying and even therapeutic.

As I’m a novice I’ve chosen vegetables and herbs that are easy, quick to grow and aren’t always available or are pricey in the supermarket.

For instance Swiss Chard is normally 50p for a pitiful few leaves. However a couple of plants can keep producing many times that amount each week.

Swiss Chard is easily grown in a container if need be and the neon colours of the Bright Lights variety is stunning. Give it a try.

Chard when young can be simply thrown into a salad, as the plant matures it is better to treat it the same way as one would mature spinach. Slice put the main stem – dice it and stir fry. Add the tender leaves just at the end. I prefer to just slightly wilt it.



Wow, I haven’t add anything for ages. Here is one of my favourites. This humble recipe of lentils, onion and pasta has been in my family for many generations. It is an odd combination, normally you would associate pasta with Italians, however this has Lebanese origins. However even amongst the Lebanese you will find it having rice, instead of pasta.

Exactly how this combination came about I am not sure. What follows is a somewhat modernised version (the original, although somewhat tastier involves several fiddly steps, I only make it occasionally)

1. Get 250g of green lentils on the boil with plenty of water. Do not add salt.

2. Slowly fry four large onions until caramelized, salt them once done.

3. Just as the lentils are about done add a few handfuls of broken tagliatelle, add salt at this stage.

4. Drain and combine with onion. (keep some onion to garnish) Season.

Variations: Try with a bit of garlic and cumin. If possible, fry extra onion, let people add to their own dish.


Beef Bourguignon – Part II

I decided to revisit my beef bourguignon. After a bit of research I made a few adjustments:

1. I finely chopped the onion so that it melted into the sauce.

2. I seperated the ingredients, the bacon, mushrooms and carrot were cooked individually at the end.

3. I used corn starch instead of flour to thicken the sauce.

The outcome was a more refined dish. A bit more work, but a good way to wile away a lazy Sunday.


Grilled Squid and Potato Rostis

I love squid. However I must admit I’ve always been a bit afraid of prepping and cooking them – there seemed to be too many things that could go wrong.

I decided it was time to man up!

I followed the basic rule of prepping the squid by taking out all inner bits and stripping it of any membranes. I then scored the flesh and put it in a marinade of olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper.

A quick flash fry, a dash of lemon and it was done. All in all, a bit of concentration was needed, but repeatable.


Kinpira Gobo

Without doubt China Town is one of my favourite places in London. This weekend I went on a little went on a little raid. I came up with burdock root. It is almost a metre in length, has a nutty taste and the texture of carrot.

Kinpira Gobo is classic Japanese recipe for the root:

1. Peel and matchstick the burdock

2. Get it into a bowl of water with a tablespoon of vinegar added as soon as possible or it will discolour (like potatoe)

3. Do the same for the carrot.

4. Stirfry, add a dash of soy sauce (go easy on the soy, you don’t want to overpower the burdock) sesame seeds and sugar.

5. Splash a bit of water in to help it cook, serve it while still crunchy. Can also be eaten cold.

This makes good drinking food, so don’t forget an ice cold Kirin.