Wednesday, January 23, 2013

food-lover's cleanse 2013: best recipe roundup

After my last post I suddenly decided that updates every two days detailing what I'm putting in my gob might be a bit naff. Although it does occur to me that I love reading that sort of thing. But what if I'm the only one? Anyway. At some point I decided that what actually may be more useful for readers is a little round-up type list of this year's cleanse recipes that I know I'll make again. So this is it.

Here are the dishes from the 2013 Bon Appetit's Food-lover's Cleanse that I'll gladly revisit during the rest of the year. From left to right, top row:

1. Sake-steamed clams with soba noodles Although one of my resolutions this year was to get better at cooking for myself, I couldn't cope with the thought of steaming clams for a meal for one. So my dear friend Nicole joined me for this Japanesey dinner and we both really enjoyed it. The meaty diamond shell Cloudy Bay clams I bought were simply steamed quickly in a broth of sake and ginger, then garnished with chopped spring onions and mixed with soba noodles (we used green tea type). It was a clean but tasty and satisfying dish. 

2. Yogurt-marinated chicken with fresh coriander, coconut and ginger chutney I loved grilled chicken with salsas and fresh chutney, but I haven't cooked much of it since moving into my little, BBQ-less apartment. This dish reminded me that it is worth doing, especially when you marinate the chicken to pack in extra flavour, which can help make up for the lack of black, smokey grilledness. And this fresh chutney - holy fark! If you like big spritxy punchy fresh flavours, you need to make this ASAP. And so easy. I'm looking forward to trying it with a meaty, full-flavoured fish, too. 

3. Chicken with fresh cranberry agrodolce  Another sauce for chicken that makes me want chicken. This is like a sweet and sour fresh cranberry jelly with chunks of apple and golden apple syrup. There's still some of this in the fridge and I'm planning to use it in a really great sandwich. 

4. Raspberry hazelnut muesli A lovely Bircher-style muesli that was a cold, soothing treat on hot summer mornings. Also, a reminder that I love Bircher muesli and the inspiration for a new recipe I am now making all the time (forthcoming shortly). 

And on the bottom:

5. Oatmeal with blueberries, almonds and sage I used steel cut oats here, which I can't get enough of. But the new touch was the combination of ripe summer blueberries and fresh sage. A surprising and welcome savoury note in my breakfast that day. 

6. Miso-marinated steak with purple cabbage, beet and apple slaw I bought a freaking beautiful Angus grass fed steak for this dish and worried insanely about slathering it in ginger-spiked miso. But holy heavens, it was outstanding - even overcooked, as it was. It seasoned the beef beautifully without taking over and the result was an umami-bomb that I will gladly rig up for explosion again. And the slaw - fantastic in both colour and texture, and a lovely side for that insanely good boof. 

7. Salmon with Swiss chard, olives and lemon & quinoa with pistachios The Swiss chard side for the first day's fish dinner made me close my eyes and nod lots and lots. Maybe it's my Greek genes, but sometimes there's nothing better than a bowl of super-fresh sweet greens with salty and tangy accents. This recipe included an unusual technique for the citrus: it had you boil a whole lemon up until soft, then chop it roughly to add to the chard. I think some people found it still too lemony, but I loved it. I imagine you could use preserved lemon to speed the prep up a little. And the quinoa? Nothing unexpected, but a well-timed reminder that using a good stock, and adding something crunchy and something fresh can really spruce up a grain-based side. 

8. Day four, left overs! This was leftovers of the chicken and chutney in number two for lunch the following day, with the genius addition fresh, juicy pineapple. I include it here because it reminded me how much I love chicken and pineapple, and fruit and meat in general. Suggestion noted!

Special mention also goes to the smoky lemon tahini salad dressing. I love tahini and the convenience of having a delicious homemade salad dressing ready to go in the fridge was really very exciting. 

One of the reasons I do the cleanse each year is because I end up with a handful of new recipes to go into the new year with, so 2013's didn't disappoint. Is there anything you know you'll be cooking lots of this year?


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

step by step, on a piece of string

I disappeared for a minute there, in more ways than one. But I'm rematerialising now, molecule by molecule. More slowly than I'd like, but still.

Last year ended with a double-shot of scotch at about two in the morning. This one began with a bowl of oatmeal with apple and blueberries and walnuts. It's a tricky balancing act, life.

I'm spending the first two weeks with those peeps all over the globe who are doing Bon App├ętit's annual Food-Lover's Cleanse. You can follow all the almond milk-fuelled action here, or by following me on instagram @lexicooks. Happy New Year, all.x
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