Dill and Dijon Smashed Potatoes

Dill and Dijon Smashed Potatoes

Last week K went off to America for work, and I hatched the improbably ambitious plan of redecorating the bedroom and study to surprise him on his return. Fortunately, I had backup in the shape of my amazing mum, who came round most nights after I finished work to lend a hand and chivvy me along through my darkest moments of DIY despair! But with every spare minute after work taken up sanding, painting and varnishing, I’m not ashamed to tell you that cooking and eating properly went completely out of the window. In fact, dinner most nights consisted of a ham and cheese sandwich, eaten off a toolbox in the middle of the lounge floor, with only the weak glow of the streetlamps outside for light! My poor mum. Must remember to show her a better time.

Despite my atrocious hospitality, with her amazing help we were able to finish the two rooms in record time. But now recovering from my week of DIY madness, I’ve found myself craving proper food again. Something comforting but healthy. Something emphatically not a ham and cheese sandwich! So this weekend I fell back on an old recipe I’ve been whipping up for years. My dill and dijon smashed potatoes.

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Salt cod, new potato and Valencia orange salad

Salt cod, new potato and Valencia orange saladIsn’t it strange how you can sometimes go your whole life without encountering a certain flavour or ingredient, and then all of a sudden, it’s everywhere?! That happened to me last year with salt cod. It was as though it was trying to find me. My first taste of it was while working in Rio de Janeiro last Easter, where we dined on delicious fried salt cod balls called bolinhos de bacalhau that are hands down the best bar snack I have ever tasted. Shortly after that I discovered brandade de morue, a beautiful French dip of salt cod, whipped into a state of ecstasy with copious amounts of olive oil. And the final clincher was on a trip to Malaga, where they served up their local specialty – Malaga Salad, combining delicate salt cod flakes with sweet oranges, olives and potatoes to create a salad that completely blew me away. By the end of last year, after a whirlwind romance, I had to admit that I had fallen head over heels with salt cod. But it hadn’t always been that way.

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Quinoa Arancini (Stuffed Risotto Balls)

Quinoa Arancni

Yesterday our kitchen went from plasterdust-coated, totally-gutted hellhole to something that actually resembles a kitchen! I’d love to say that we got some professionals in to work their magic while we sat back and poured ourselves G&Ts, but the reality is that K and I slogged long hours into the night to do it ourselves. And I can honestly say that there was only one thing that kept us going, kept our spirits high and prevented us from throttling each other after 12 hours of shared hard labour, and it was these beautiful balls of joy – quinoa arancini!

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Cauliflower Olivieh Salad

Cauliflower Salad Olivieh

Last weekend was D-day for our kitchen. Ever since we moved in I’d been itching to get rid of the miserable oak units and battered and tired old appliances. But almost as soon as we started taking the old units down, it became obvious that whoever had originally fitted them must have been the only non-cowboy in town! With almost tear-inducing levels of fastidiousness, they’d carefully concealed every screw in the most inaccessible of places. Where one screw would suffice, they had used two. And just to be on the safe side, they’d slathered on some glue too.

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