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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Dark Side of the Spoon: Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Cookies

Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies

I love thinking about what I’m going to make for Dark Side of the Spoon – my monthly feature about all things devilishly indulgent, and laced with dark chocolate. I frequently go into whole reveries about the magical qualities of dark chocolate, and the flavours it works so well alongside – from tart raspberries to fragrant lavender and salty but sweet caramel. But it wasn’t until I got a delivery of beautiful nibbed pistachios from my wonderful local Persian deli that an idea began to form itself in my mind. And over time, it grew to become these amazingly moreish Dark Chocolate and Pistachio Cookies.

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Gluten Free Hot Cross Scones

Gluten free hot cross scones

This year the arrival of spring took me completely by surprise. Last week I was scurrying home in the dark after work, and dreaming of hearty winter stews. This week, there are buds on the trees, spring bulbs as far as the eye can see, and it’s not only still light when I leave the office – it’s sunny!

To top it all off, Easter has suddenly appeared on my horizon. And with it the promise of a long weekend of delicious treats..

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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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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: m├ętro, 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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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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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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