eat

Painted in Waterlogue

In the vein of Rosie and Freya, I thought I would share my week in London through numbers. So here you go.

2 | Celebrities spotted. I was in London all of 20 minutes when I walked past Bill Nighy in Soho. Then on Sunday I headed to The Wolseley for brunch (seriously love The Wolseley) and Samuel L Jackson was having some eggs.

20+ | Hours spent on buses, trains and tube. I stayed at a friend just past Hackney after I got into London got back to using the bus a lot. Definitely the best way to get around London if you aren’t in too much of a hurry. Plus a train from my Mom into London, to Cambridge and back and to the airport, plus the occasional zip on the tube. I have to say it was a little exhausting all the moving around though – I only take the bus once a week to go to one of my little tutoring jobs. And occasionally to the beach.

3 | Nights slept in my styled hair. Four days and it still looked decent! Very impressed

12 | Charity shops visited. I was looking for some bits for the wedding and was fairly successful. This was split between one near my mum in Bracknell, Crouch End and Cambridge.

At least 10 | Number of jugs in said charity shops that I eyed up longingly. I have a thing for them.

18 | Friends caught up with. Not everyone but glad that I got to spend some quality time with a bunch of my special friends.

1 | Photo shoot. Had to some work (although always so fun).

2 | Pairs of shoes bought. A smart move with the Tom’s but got massive blisters from the cheapo high street purchase. Oops.

gazillion | Calories consumed. In case you are interested this included meals from the following: The Vintage Tea House with my mum (great cake!), a late dinner at Maeve’s Kitchen (a simple menu but lovely cosy feeling), Tibits (a great central vegetarian restaurant which is great for a bite with a friend for lunch), Rosa’s (to get some Thai food fix), Beam (still thinking about their salad), Franco Manca, a little caf’ in Cambridge where I had a full veggie English (yum), The Wolseley (always brilliant), an amazing Turkish falafel wrap from Dom’s Place (a hipster kebab joint basically. It has been there since the 1970s but recently refurbished. Super good wrap too). So many new places had popped up in favourite neighbourhoods and exploring new areas meant I was keen to try 10,000 more but afraid my stomach and wallet could not handle that. Time for a detox now!

eating italian | legumes

legumes chickpeas chickpeas in a bowl chickpeas and long shadow

I asked a little while ago what people were interested on seeing around here and I hope I am delivering (with more regular posts about Trieste and some more photography tips). Another thing that people have asked about is what I am eating in Italy. Honestly, this has changed a lot. With more time available to me I am cooking more – which I love. On top of that though is the fact that a lot of foods that I used to buy regularly in London just aren’t available here so I have had to change to cooking more ‘Italian’ – although I am sure most Nonne would argue that my food is far from Italian!

One thing that I have been buying a lot more are legumes. Beans were an important food source in the typical ‘cucina povera’ (poor kitchen) because, well, they are cheap and the same remains true today. Currently, as a one income household and in a country where there aren’t as many vegetarian protein options this is great.

I go between canned and dried depending on time and what I want to use them for. The most popular beans available are borlotti, cannelini, chickpeas (cece) and lentils (lenticchie) (normally the green variety). Here are a few of my favourite ways of eating them:

>>> Borlotti are great for homemade baked beans.

>>> I love a cannelini bean spread which is great on ciabatta or crisp bread. All you need is one can of cannelini, a glug of extra-virgin olive oil, zest of half a lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice (or more to your preference) and some fresh salt. You can also add some fresh herbs if you have to hand. Blend with a handblender or masher. You want a ‘rustic’ spread with some solid bean bits still.

>>> I also love to throw cannelini beans or chickpeas in smooth soups to add protein and make them creamy without the cream!

>>> Roasted chickpeas! Better than crisps!

>>> Lentils are perfect for veggie lasagnes and stews and in summer they are a great gluten free alternative to add to salads to bulk them up. I made this abundance bowl this week but didn’t use any rice and just used lentils. I suggest you make it soon because it is delicious.

>>> Lentils are also pretty delicious just with some olive oil and salt.

So do you eat legumes? What are some of your favourite dishes?

[Excuse all the pictures of chickpeas. The light this afternoon was just gorgeous.]

eat | carnevale

bugie-carnevale-1-mycreative bugie-carnevale-mycreative

In so many ways (particularly for me) tradition is food. Yesterday my streams were filled with pancakes and I had one myself to mark Shrove Tuesday and the beginning of Lent. There is comfort in these traditions, nostalgia, familiarity. As I am new to Italy I am keen to explore the traditions here, including what you eat and when. Perhaps become more ‘Italian’.

I suppose you don’t realise until you live somewhere what a big deal certain occasions are to cultures. Up until a few weeks ago I thought Carnevale was a weekend in Venice where people dressed up. But it is far more prolific than that. The Venice Carnevale goes on for about three weeks itself! Each region has their own traditions and even here in Trieste people have been dressing up for weeks and kids have been going to the main square and throwing confetti like it is the most fun in the world. Yesterday I went to watch the floats which included every sort of costume from pirates to pigs, young and old and a lot of men in women’s clothing. It is certainly one way to end winter and start welcoming the spring.

As with most events in Italy there are several food traditions associated with Carnevale. The name itself means farewell to meat. Being traditionally the time that you would also give up eggs and sugar there are a lot of ‘sweets’ that have been doing the circuit. Most of it is deep fried and coated in sugar (which equates to delicious right?). Pictured here are what are alternatively called chiacchiere (gossip), bugie (lies), cenci (rags) and guanti (gloves), depending on which region you are in. There are also a variety of doughnut looking things and I tried a Venetian frittella on the weekend which was custard filled and delicious.

Next year, I am definitely going to get involved in more festivities including going to Venice and perhaps trying to bake one of the traditional sweets.

Do you have a tradition outside of the pancakes?

eat | ode to peanut butter

an ode to peanut butter

Peanut butter is one of my favourite things in the world. They don’t really do it here in Italy. You can find it but it is over priced and normally some over-sugared American style. I like mine with one ingredient: peanuts. So when I was in London recently I picked up a big tub. Sadly it is almost finished, but I am luckily heading back in April.

Peanut butter has a sort of nostalgic comfort, perhaps that is its biggest draw. It works well with so many ingredients and as both sweet and savoury, although I do lean towards the former.

Here are some of my favourite ways to consume this wonder:

peanut butter biscuit

As the primary ingredient in my go to cookies that I make for a quick birthday present or take along to a party.

1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. Mix together and form into small balls. Use a fork to press down and bake for 6-8 minutes. Bam!

peanut butter mousse on a pancake with banana

As a speedy and easy pancake topping. Especially with limited access to sliced brown bread and no toaster. If you want to make it a bit more interesting how about this peanut butter mousse and banana.

peanut butter banana smoothie

The perfect addition to a smoothie. My favourite is 1 small banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and a milk of your choice. It feels like dessert. In fact I sometimes have it as dessert.

peanut butter on apple

A great snack on apple.

How do you like your peanut butter?

eat | homemade baked beans

homemade baked beans

I am trying to eat less carbs of late. By carbs I mean the obvious kind – potatoes, bread, pasta, etc. I still eat them but just trying to cut back a little in my day to day eating so that when I go out and devour a whole pizza I don’t feel guilty. I’m doing this by halving carb portions in some meals and replacing them all together in others.

The problem comes with breakfast time (my favourite meal of the day). I like pancakes, porridge (though I have yet to find the jumbo rolled oats in Italy at a reasonable price) and such. So I am experimenting. Trying to get in more protein and vegetables at breakfast time while still making it feel like breakfast. Perhaps the obvious choice is to turn to baked beans, not the simple canned variety which kind of needs to live on toast, although I have to admit to loving them – don’t all British and commonwealth citizens? (On a side note why are they called baked beans, at what point are they baked?) This homemade variety is a bit more saucy and is great on its own or with toppings. We also eat it for a ‘lazy’ dinner sometimes.

I don’t use precise measures and am likely to use what I have around so I don’t know if you can call this a recipe per se, but here you go…

pomodorini

Firstly, the ‘secret ingredient’ are canned cherry tomatoes. I don’t know if you get these in England as I never noticed them but we have had at least a can a week since I discovered them. They are really sweet and so super delicious – great for all sorts of recipes.

beans for breakfast

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • can of borlotti beans
  • red pepper (the thin skinned variety if you can find)
  • can of cherry tomatoes
  • pasta sauce, however much to get to the consistency you like
  • salt to taste
  • optional: onion, garlic, herbs

Method: finally chop the red pepper and fry with the lid on until the skin is softened. If you are using onion cook in the same way. Add garlic if using and lightly fry. Add all other ingredients and cook until heated through. Serve on own or with a poached egg and feta.

On a side note: Have you seen the new hole&corner magazine. Another new magazine lust for me with beautifully written and photographed articles about craft, beauty, passion and skill.

Second side note: If you creep up really close to the space where a window and glass door are adjacent to each other on a cloudy day you will get double shadows in your photos. Consider this lesson one for a post series I am working on about food photography.

cauliflower chickpea soup cauliflower chickpea soup One of the things I have really enjoyed with the move and having a lot of time (perhaps more than I had planned) is that I am really getting back into cooking. In London the commute and maybe just a cooking fatigue meant I hadn’t really played around with cooking for a while.

We are being quite sociable here and been going to people’s houses and having friends come over so that has been a push factor. But also just having the time to experiment a bit. At the same time there is some frustration at not being able to find ingredients that were easily available in London. I am working at moving towards a different way of cooking though I think visits to London will have me coming back with a bag full of ingredients.

Anyway, I thought I would share some recipes from around the internet that I had tried recently as well as a soup recipe I came up with myself. A lot of these recipes are great for pot-luck festive celebrations you might be attending.

  • Mushroom and chickpea ragout from The First Mess. I’ve made this with some variations on two occasions already. It is delicious on polenta – like supreme comfort food.
  • Butternut squash potato salad from The Minimalist Kitchen. I took this to a Thanksgiving pot-luck but think it would be great for a Christmas one too. Seasonal vegetables, pumpkin flavour, easy to throw together and super delicious. I just used yoghurt with no mayonnaise and would definitely make again.
  • One occasion I made a heap of dips as the group coming over had mentioned they were really missing them. I made some babaganoush, this easy salsa (although without peppers to hand I just threw in some chilli flakes) and hummus (which I still need to work on with my blender – I like mine a bit more easy to dip and I didn’t quite get the right consistency)

The cauliflower soup was inspired by this but I wanted something diary free and after a brief search didn’t find any alternatives so just made up my own thing. It is simple but always nice to have another soup option in the winter. I am pretty sure cauliflower tastes different here than it does in England. It is much sweeter and doesn’t have a bitter taste that I always associated it with in England. As a bonus it is low in calories and I figure if you made it a bit thicker you could use it as a ‘carb’ replacement (polenta, rice, mash potatoes).

cauliflower chickpea soup Cauliflower Chickpea Soup

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • approx 200g chickpeas (I had some prepared from dry chickpeas but you could use canned)
  • tsp mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. roast the chopped cauliflower and garlic cloves until tender – mine took about 40 minutes because I am still trying to understand how a gas oven works
  2. Once cooked throw in pot with chickpeas and cover with stock (I had to defrost frozen chickpeas so I left it for a few minutes but this isn’t totally necessary)
  3. Blend until smooth
  4. Add mustard and stir through
  5. Garnish with some extra chickpeas and oil if desired
  6. Serve with crusty bread

Have you tried any new recipes lately? I’m on the prowl for tasty new dishes. You can also visit my pinterest eat board if you want to see what else I am interested in eating.