Moroccan Baked Eggs

Moroccan Baked Eggs

They say necessity is the mother of invention. That may be true, but I’m inclined to believe that laziness is just as powerful a motivator. Take the inventor of the wheel. Nobody needs a wheel. Oh no. No, I’m betting that the wheel was invented by some paleolithic paragon of laziness, who was so idle that they couldn’t even be bothered to carry things around with their own two hands and decided to seek out a better way. Ditto Archimedes, who so could-not-be-bothered to transport water around that he invented an ingenious and very elaborate screw to do the job for him instead. No wonder he went around shouting ‘Eureka!’. That is the exclamation of a man who has spent his life not wanting to do things, and coming up with inventions so he doesn’t ever have to.

That’s what I think anyway. And the reason that I am sharing these pearls of wisdom with you is because I’m quite keen to convince you that being lazy is something noble and profound. You see, I’m about to share a story about my own laziness, and without that preamble I’d fear you would think I was just… well, just plain lazy.

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Dark Side of the Spoon: Chocolate Chai Spiced Polenta Cake

Chocolate Chai Spice Polenta Cake

As a general rule, I love food that’s full of bright, healthy flavours that make a plate sunny even when it’s grey outdoors. But we can’t be angelic the whole time, can we? Sometimes it’s good to be bad…

That’s why I’m excited to announce the arrival of Dark Side of the Spoon, a new recurring monthly feature on the blog, where I’ll post a devilishly indulgent recipe based on dark chocolate…

This month it’s chocolate chai spiced polenta cake.

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My version of Itsu’s amazing ‘green sauce’

Itsu green sauce recipe

I don’t know if you have the Asian-inspired healthy food chain Itsu where you are, but if you do you’ll already know all about their magical green sauce (aka green herb dressing). I am in love with that sauce. For the uninitiated, it’s actually not so much a sauce, more of a salad dressing, but it’s just about the tastiest salad dressing that I’ve ever tasted. Honestly, I would eat twigs if they were slathered in this sauce. It’s herby, limey, zingy, sweet and slightly mysterious tasting too. It’s so popular that my nearest branch has started selling little ‘extra shots’ of it in case the rather sizable pot that comes with your salad isn’t enough (it’s never enough! how could it be enough?!). And if I’m totally honest I often have to restrain myself from bypassing the salad delivery system altogether and eating it straight from the pot.

Unfortunately, my bank statements now read something like this: ITSU ITSU ITSU ITSU and my addiction to green sauce is leaving a sizeable hole in my wallet. But having eaten it about a billion times, this weekend it occurred to me – hey, maybe I could reconstruct this…

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Sausage and Lentil Casserole

Sausage and Lentil Casserole

Hey guys, sorry for the radio silence this week. It’s been a teeeny bit manic! In between having a big deadline at work, and arranging completion on my new home (woop!), in my spare time I’ve just, you know, casually decided to embark on a battle with retail giant B&Q, in a debacle that’s become known to my family and friends as #paintgate. If you’re curious, head over to twitter to see what’s been going on, but basically this has kept me fairly busy, and involved me doing things like reading ‘the Sale of Goods Act 1979′ on my morning bus journey to work – nice!

In all the midst of this, my evening meals have been a bit, um, deconstructed (read: lots of ham and cheese!). So this weekend, with K jetting off to America for work and me in desperate need of a rest, I decided I’d dedicate two whole days to completely chilling out. And in my world, a weekend like that starts with a trip to an amazing market.

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Persian Spiced Hot Chocolate

Persian Spiced Hot Chocolate

When I think of what the past few weeks have been like, a French expression comes to mind: métro, boulot, dodo. Translated, it means subway, work, sleep.. that wheel of perpetual motion that keeps the western world turning. Add in long hours of DIY as we attempt to get the house in order, and I’d say that gives you a fair approximation of what my life has been like over the last few weeks. It certainly doesn’t feel sustainable. Last night I got home and realised I couldn’t remember the last time I had a spare moment to myself. And yet, all around me I could see jobs that needed to be done, emails that needed to be written, walls that needed to be painted. So I made myself stop, the only way I know how, by rustling something up that I knew I could lose myself in – my Persian spiced hot chocolate.

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Saffron Sizzled Chicken

Saffron Sizzled Chicken

If I had to name my favourite ingredient in the kitchen, it would have to be saffron. I mean, what’s not to love? There’s the fact that it comes from the strangely edible stamens of my favourite spring flower – the crocus. And then there’s the reverence it demands from those who cook with it – I still remember my scientist dad preparing saffron for rice with the same meticulous method he’d use to transfer chemicals in the laboratory, to make sure not even the tiniest fleck would be wasted! But of all the things I love about saffron, most of all, I love what happens when saffron is introduced to chicken.

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Gluten Free Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

Gluten Free Pasteis de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tarts)

People always ask me what I miss most since going gluten free. They assume I’ll say pizza, or beer maybe. But I’ve had spectacular gluten free pizzas, and I mostly just swapped beer for delicious, refreshing cider. No, what I really miss most are things like profiteroles, and baklava, things that seem uniquely designed to take advantage of the transcendent qualities of glutenous flour. Or at least that’s what I thought. But tonight I made another pastry off the ‘things I miss most’ list, and it forced me to think again. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you gluten free pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts)!

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