Ah the make-ahead lunch, how I love thee. I’ve not stayed in the same place for more than 3 weeks at a time since March, which plays havoc with food shopping, so lunches you can prep in bulk and in advance have been instrumental in keeping me away from bacon and cheese paninis. It’s mostly worked. And when it hasn’t, well, I can comfort myself with the fact I’ve learnt to do pretty decent eyeliner flicks on a moving train and now know platform 4 of Lancaster station like the back of my hand.
The second important thing? Those lunches being made up of things that you can keep in a cupboard until you need them and won’t spoil.
Enter Moroccan-inspired cous cous. I actually tried this for the first time when I spotted a reduced portion in M&S and decided to recreate it at home. Slim risk of the ingredients spoiling, easy to make in bulk, and interesting enough in flavour that you won’t get bored after the first day. Job’s a good’un.
Stripped-back meals are the order of the day here at TDB HQ. It’s the best time of year to have that kind of constraint, with produce tasting good enough on its own that all it takes is a decent pairing and a sprinkle of salt.
That’s not to say that we’ll be without treats. You may have already noticed a new name around here – Sophie‘s recipes will be popping up regularly, and there are some beautiful bakes in the pipeline. I hope you all like chocolate!
Why so little time? Well, next month I’m leaving London. After nearly five years of sweaty tube rides, balanced out with access to gorgeous food and never being more than five minutes away from a coffee shop, I’m getting a train outta here. And then getting another train via London a couple of weeks later, but that’s not the point. Read More
I held back on the alliteration in that title – after all, I used brown bread, and British vegetables, and considered some bonus bacon. But I figured just the four Bs would be cheesy enough.
Having the time and space to make a proper breakfast feels like a funny little luxury to me. It’s the pottering around in a quiet kitchen, coffee brewing on the table while I whisk ingredients. It’s the joy of keeping one eye on what’s cooking and your mind on how the day might unfold. Breakfast is the reason I dream of having a big kitchen with lots of natural light – as much as I love the challenge of a layer cake or the satisfaction of making a complicated dinner, it’s those mornings sipping sweet tea and flipping pancakes in pyjamas that I fantasise about.
There’s a possibility it’s the wrong week to suggest making breakfast in your oven, but I’ll say this: at least it isn’t waffles. I spent Monday morning sweating away in the kitchen making waffles for breakfast, stood over the iron and in front of the oven keeping them warm and occasionally putting my head into the fridge. Worth it? Yeah, especially when I realised I had leftover crumble topping to throw on them, but I can’t say I’ll be repeating it while the weather is so warm. This recipe means you can pop it in and leave the room to avoid overheating.
It makes the most of leftovers – the half pack of mushrooms, a handful of spinach, a few slices of bread, however much cheese you’ve got kicking about – and uses the vegetables that are in season right now.
We do it like this.
Serves four, or three quite hungry people.
100g mushrooms, sliced
12 asparagus spears, woody ends removed and stems cut into thirds
3 large eggs
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
6 slices old bread, halved diagonally
A generous handful of spinach
Chunk of cheese (as much as you like! I did not get these thighs by measuring cheese)
Butter, for greasing
Preheat your oven to 180C, and grease a medium sized baking dish.
Over medium heat in a large pan, cook the asparagus pieces and mushroom slices until just softening. As they cook, whisk together the eggs, milk, and mustard.
Remove the mushrooms and asparagus from the heat. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, transfer to the baking dish, almost-standing, and layer with mushroom, asparagus and spinach, and repeat. When all the bread and vegetables are arranged in the dish, grate as much cheese as you fancy over the top. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
Bread is a bit of a weakness of mine, in two ways: I love eating it fresh…but I’m not great at making it. Enriched dough? Fine, no problem. Pizza dough? My nemesis.
I’ve tried, truly. I’ve spent hours looking at flavour combinations I’d like to try and dreamed of jammy balsamic toppings. I’ve put the hours in. Pizza doughs that take a whole day: failed. Pizza dough that’s quick: failed.
Cheaty pizza dough made from a supermarket ciabatta mix? Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
There’s something about making pizza at home that means you can overlook the mountain of cheese because, well, at least it’s not Dominos, right? It’s a pizza recipe you can make on a work night, without faffing about with yeast. That, my friends, is my kinda meal. Read More
“I’m sad that you’ve already blogged the recipe for that stew, that means you can’t write a post about cooking it for us.”
“That’s what you’d like? You’d want me to write about cooking for you pack of weirdos?”
Because that’s the thing about food – it’s 90% about the people. This recipe was about the people the first time round, and now, as a dish that’s on semi-regular rotation, it’s got it’s own whole history, with in-jokes, knowing which people to leave the olives out for, and a couple of tweaks.
The history has informed the recipe itself, not just with the olives, but also in that I have to admit that despite Delia’s original assertions, if your buddies are anything like mine, this recipe does not serve six. More than that, I can now say that I no longer have cans of Stella sitting around to put in food, but have instead upgraded to white wine.
Can we be super honest? I’m a lazy cook. When it’s not bashing out a batch at the weekend, cooking means evening meals, and that window of time between work and bed is one that I cherish. It’s for reading, or baths, or mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. It’s not the time to create a masterpiece in the kitchen.
But there’s room for not-quite-recipes: the food you can prepare with one knife and one pan, making the most of seasonal veg at its simplest. This is one such throw-these-things-together plan, which allows you to prep tomorrow’s high-protein breakfast frittata(ish) while you eat dinner.
Go forth and exercise that scrolling thumb. Read More
That’s right – vol au vents. We’ve done some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff and landed squarely in the ’70s.
Maybe it’s because I wasn’t around for their orange-tinted heyday that I have a soft spot for a bite-size foods. Or it could be that they leave your other hand free for a drink. The actual reason I like canapés? There’s a lot of scope for using cheese, in more ways than you could with one of those cheese boards that only feature as many varieties as cheese knives in that long-abandoned box (four).
It’s the tooth-squeak of a grilled halloumi skewer. The tongue-tingle of a good quality cheddar paired with pineapple. The nutty quality of an aged Comté. The soft ooze of burrata. If it came to it, I could give up steak, or bread, or pasta. Just don’t torture me, alone(y) without torta mascarpone.*
The cheese of the hour is goats cheese. To some people, it tastes “like a farm”. (When and why and where have all these people been licking barnyards?) But truly, it delivers an unbeatable tang that sits so wonderfully alongside sweet fruits and honey. Here, a soft goats cheese nestles with lightly honeyed caramelised onions and jammy fig to make a vol au vent that’s very much for the modern age. Read More
Today, we’re nearly halfway through the Idiot Challenge for Idiot People. Set and voted upon by a group of university friends, the challenge forces us (the idiots) to work out in some way every day for the month of April. It’s less stupid, now, than it otherwise might have been – we’ve negotiated “lighter” exercise, like yoga, in, in an effort to give our bodies a little rest. Two weeks in, and a few people have dropped days, but thanks to a refusal to give in, most of us are going strong, despite aches and the necessity to wake up before the sun to squeeze things in. We’re all exercising more, and better, for it – I guess it’s the way we support each other. This is what I left university with: one degree, and several stubborn, idiot friends.
And then, sticky dancefloors and counting coins in the half-dark. Bubbles up my nose and a too-strong fruit taste. Half-carrying my friend’s dad back to his house after too many “mystery strength” Somerset varieties. These are my memories of most ciders.
It was university, of course, that did that too. May we never drink cider and black again.
Quite understandably, I shy away from cider a little these days, lest I get caught out by something overly sweet and too full of bubbles; still, when given the opportunity to try the new ciders from Aspall, I leapt at it because, well, I have faith in Aspall.
Did I add those ingredients just so I could have a fun title? I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t part of the equation — but mostly it’s about the snuck-in secret veggies, because there’s something weirdly satisfying about being able to tick off your five a day very swiftly by whipping up spinach and pea pesto.
What can I say? I lead a thoroughly rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.
Honestly, this week we’re all craving green things, whether it’s because we’ve acquired a lot of chocolate or just down to the brighter skies that come with switching the clocks back, (although that always seems to mean losing an hour’s sleep).
But it’s time for fresh starts, again, and rediscovery — the “tomorrow” we were awaiting the arrival of before it’d be sensible to look to getting in shape is here. And so we shake off the darkness of winter, peeling it away like soggy shoes after a rainy commute, and we dig into recipe books, reminding ourselves what vegetables look like, and we chuck in some extras. Read More
s a kid, I was a super picky eater. Not in the way that’s shown by TV shows which decry the state of the nation’s nutrition – I don’t remember being particularly enamoured with chicken nuggets and I didn’t eat chips till the age of 17 – but in a “give me cheese or give me nothing” way.
At 24 years old, I’m still finding things that I’ve never eaten, things that are totally normal and cause people to look at me like I’ve come from another planet.
I had baked beans for the first time a couple of months ago.
I had no idea what I’d been missing out on all this time. Easy, tasty food that can be tarted up without much hassle and is a great hiding place for secret veg! That’s my favourite.
So, this quick sausage and bean casserole is now my go-to, just a matter of whacking things into a pan in a few rounds then curling up with a warming Spanish-tinged delight. And as Beyonce no doubt meant to say, if you like it then you shoulda put an egg on it. Silky yolk running into comforting, spicy casserole? Yes please. Read More