Spring has sprung… well, almost!

Another week has gone and with it the start of Spring.  I must say that my shared garden looks more colourful and verdant every day.  Now, the Victoria Plum tree is full of blossom which is just fabulous! The first dwarf beans have started germinating and my cabbages are back in production–much to my surprise, I thought that would have been the end but no sign of the plants bolting, great!

Last night saw hubby and I meeting our pals Alessandra–baker extraordinaire and great friend–and Tony to watch the 4K restored version of Roberto Rossellini’s Roma Citta’ Aperta… what a wonderful movie, and the face of Annarella Magnani, unforgettable and unique, not to mention Aldo Fabrizi’s Don Pietro, well… wow!  for more info on showings (the film is doing the rounds in the UK these days) check:http://www.bfi.org.uk/whats-on/bfi-film-releases/rome-open-city. Don’t miss it!

On Friday, I took the opportunity to offer hubby a taste of cod cooked as we do in my family (well, one of the ways, but this is a favourite by far, or so my Dad says! :))… with onions, tomatoes and sultanas! I know it sounds odd but the sultanas’ sweetness cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and the onion and chilli pepper bring all to the perfect T! 🙂

So here we go… for 1

One 150 g piece of cod loin

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

400g chopped tomatoes

50g sultanas

1 pinch chilli pepper

salt to taste (you won’t need much)

1 small dash white wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the onions til translucent; add the fish and fry on both sides a couple of minutes each side just to colour; add the sultanas and tomatoes, the chilli and leave to simmer for about 10/12 min on a medium heat, til the  fish is thoroughly cooked; add the vinegar and adjust seasonings; up the heat to allow the sauce to thicken (another 3/4 min will do).  Serve at once. 

This is lovely served with some steamed potatoes, sliced and dressed with olive oil and fresh herbs like oregano or parsley.

Have a good week all!



Dining adventures… lunch and dinner! :)

And so, the first week of Lent is over. We’re doing well, here, I am pleased to say… the soup-making skills are very handy when the order of the day is “light and penitential meals”! Barley is an exceptional ingredient, so I was only too pleased when the BBC Scotland Programme the Kitchen Cafe’ spoke about it… and even more when I saw that they re-tweeted my very unscientific recipe of barley minestrone!


It is a great way of consuming leftover veg… and most of all, an easy and nutritious, yet simple dinner idea!

Anyhow, this week also saw me going out for a meal not once but twice. Tuesday lunch was spent with my dear friend and fellow Geek Blythe, for an Indian meal. This is a novelty for me–Indian is food for the evening!–but proved to be a pleasant surprise. Blythe had been telling me great things about Bindi, the restaurant on St Patrick Square–which is a stone’s throw from my workplace.  Hence, we agreed to meet for a lunch bite and a wee chat… except that we found that the restaurant was closed 😦 … I should have known better, in hindsight, though–several Indian restaurants I know close on Tuesdays.  However, we were undeterred and we therefore crossed the road to Kalpna… which was open for business and most welcoming… especially to me, as it is 100% vegetarian! So, we were ushered to our table by a very attentive member of staff who explained to us that lunchtime was buffet fare… and what a good one it was.  Mixed salads galore, including my favourite, spicy cabbage and carrot with nigella seeds; a mix of aubergine and potato pakoras and then a dahl dish and two mixed vegetable dishes.  Rice and hot chapatis rounded off the offer.  The food was wholesome and good and freshly made–I could witness first hand trays being brought in and out twice in the short space of time we were there.  I enjoyed the plentiful salad mixed with dahl (proteins are important for a girl that works and runs like me! :D) and mopped up by the occasional chapati quarter.  Blythe seemed also pleased–the man is an expert so I am sure he’ll update you on the great website that is http://lunchquest.co.uk/!

Wednesday, instead, was a completely different dinner… it was for work, and in very different surroundings.  I visited for the second time in a relatively short space of time, Timber Yard, just off Castle Terrace (more info here: http://www.timberyard.co/).  I know that the place has a great reputation for meat, game and fish… and my fellow diners seemed totally pleased by the offer.  However, I wish to spend a few words saying that they also cater exceptionally well for vegans like me!  Even without any notice, the chef was able to serve me a lovely “bite” of beetroot roasted and served with seasonal herbs and thereafter a main of wild ramps, root vegetables and mushrooms, which was absolutely delicious.  I shall go back again, this time with my hubby or my parents, because the place is really worth its reputation and made me feel, once in a while, not the odd one out! 🙂 Thank you all at Timber Yard!

And now, time for more paper reading… hubby is travelling for work so it has been a working afternoon for me, but never mind, good times all around!


Pancake Tuesday… for leftovers and happy combinations!!

I know, this comes a day too late… however, I couldn’t leave Shrove Tuesday without my contribution on pancakes! We had ours on Sunday though–I had more time and so on, hence hubby and could enjoy a special treat!!

In Italy Lent follows Carnevale… a period of dressing up, partying and eating rich foods… especially sweet things! In Rome we eat frappe, which is a kind of biccie that is fried and then dusted up with icing sugar… delicious! and also castagnole, little dough balls also fried and made usually with honey and egg in the dough. However, pancakes on Shrove Tuesday are just as good in my opinion… This year I made savoury pancakes–hubby had normal ones, classically made with egg, milk and flour and fried on the non-stick frying pan, whereas I made vegan pancakes made with oats milk and gram flour… an experiment which was overall successful, although I think these work out better savoury than sweet.

So, now you may ask what I served my savoury pancakes with..,. well, we had two fillings, one of roasted peppers with tomato sauce and the other, in honour of the Feast of St David, patron of Wales, was masked potatoes mixed with steamed and creamed leeks! I just made my pancakes and then proceeded to fill each with a spoon or so of the mixes, one for each pancake. I rolled them up, a bit like you would do with cannelloni, and then put them snugly in a baking tin.  I then covered those going to hubby with grated Gouda cheese and grilled them for a few minutes.  Mine, instead, were not topped with cheese but with the leftover peppery mixture, yum! This way of making pancakes is something I learnt from my Aunt Emilia… and is a fab way of using up leftovers, because you can wrap in a pancake pretty much what you like, from Bolognese sauce to leftover chilli or curry… it will taste good, trust me! 🙂 Which brings me back to the transition from a period of “riches” to the simple joys of Lent. Pancakes have been traditionally seen as a way of emptying the cupboards, a bit like I just described… and what a way! OK, off I go now for my one meal for this Ash Wednesday–it is got to be ‘light and penitential’, so it will be minestrone for me!

Before I go, though, herewith a couple of links to reliable recipes for frappe and castagnole, just for next year though, ok? 😉


and for the castagnole…