Today was a little bit rough. My sister suffers from depression and the last seven days have seen her feeling really low and struggling to cope with the everyday activities and chores that we all take for granted. One of those being taking the time to prepare and sitting down to eat a decent meal at least once a day. So having spent a very emotional day with her she has come to stay with me for a couple of days and I wanted to cheer her up this evening with my version of a superfood salad we both opted for the other week at The Riding House Cafe on Great Titchfield Street – a top notch joint a brief canter away from Oxford Circus for great lunch, brunch or in fact any kind of munch.
As Yotem will tell you, being a salad it’s a doddle to knock up and only uses one pan so easy to wash up afterwards too. Chicken breast fillets cut into strips seasoned and marinated in olive oil, tarragon and garlic for 10 minutes then chucked straight into a very hot griddle pan to which squash (cubed), zucchini (strips), cherry toms (halved) were all added in that order. The whole lot was tossed into a bed of watercress, baby spinach rocket, spring onion, chopped parsley and cous cous all liberally drizzled with olive oil. Finished with an extra pinch of rock salt and a l’il twist of black pepper. I’m pleased to say that the day has finished better than it started and my sister really enjoyed sitting down to tuck into a decent (and healthy) home-cooked meal for the first time in a while. I hope it cheers you up as much as it did us.
Yes indeed, pastry and pretty much everything is good with me. Meat and pastry is the king (I’m known for scoffing M&S sausage rolls on the train ride home – if 2 of 6 make it to my fridge they are very lucky indeed), but generally you can’t go wrong with anything and pastry – vegetables, fruits (especially, apples, pears and cherries), custard.
A recent favourite is pastry and salmon. It’s really easy to prepare and compelled my dinner guest into trying to pass me with a clunky two-handed backhand of a compliment – “I’ve noticed you’ve got much better at cooking over the last 2 years” – which was his way of saying “your cooking used to be pretty….. well…. meh!” Thanks Chris but I still remember your inedible curry at Uni.
Anyway, I add lemon zest to the seasoned salmon fillet and then cover it with baby leaf spinach before wrapping it in pastry, egg-washing (sounds like a euphemism) and baking for 25 mins. I served it with a salad of baby new potatoes, radish, spring onion, fennel, gem lettuce leaves and tomatoes with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, honey and mustard powder.
I’m a big fan of smoked mackerel and for dinner tonight I just added some lemon zest and baked it in foil. It was accompanied by San Sebastien inspired potatoes which I am calling Patatas Sebastien (my mate Steve calls his version Paprika Potatoes). The potatoes were baked in foil for 45 mins, then sliced and added to a roasting tin with heated extra virgin olive oil. Rosemary, pimenton and rock salt were added before returning to the oven and roasting for 20 mins.
This is a very quick and tasty favourite. Wholemeal spaghetti (wholemeal spaghetti has a delicious nuttiness to it) with black olives, toasted pine nuts, tuna and pesto. Liberal drizzle of olive oil and some fresh ciabatta.