How to make peanut or any nut butter

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Breakfast, Food Techniques, Recipes, Spreads & Dips, The World of Food

Homemade peanut butter
Peanut, or in fact any nut butter is so incredibly simple to make, it’s a joke. It’s one of those things that when you discover how it all works, you feel like letting out a Machiavellian cackle, akin to some kind of heinous villain plotting to take over the world, due to it’s fiendishly simplicity. The main ingredient of any nut butter is nuts, something I’m sure you could have guessed. However, there are no other requisite ingredients, nothing else is required to make this work. And the process? You simply blitz it all up in a food processor and you’re done. It’s also utterly non specific regarding quantity or type of nut. They all work the same and can be whizzed up into a smooth and creamy or rough and chunky peanut butter. You could make almond butter, hazelnut butter, mixed nut butter, or add spices, seeds, chocolate, salt.…

Traditional Italian pesto

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Recipes, Spreads & Dips, Vegetarian

Traditional Italian pesto
There are many, many recipes on the internet going under traditional names which can only be described as bastardised. This comes in various guises, such as dairy, gluten, sugar free examples that I confess to having created on occasion, where you could argue the essence of a dish is compromised by the very removal of that element. Alternatively, people take a traditional recipe and affect some kind of alternative, contemporary slant on it, whilst retaining the hallowed name to describe it. “For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” Douglas Adams Of course,…

How to make great labneh and avoid the mistakes I made!

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food

Mango, labneh and pistachio on a plate
Do you get food obsessions as well? Mine are so whimsical that I can rapidly shift between favourites regularly, not hanging around too long before a new gastronomic sensation passes my nose and sucks me in. It’s like fashion, how quickly foods or flavours can become the next big thing, yet before you know it, they’re gone again. Labneh was a ‘thing’ that I’d come across in the past, so you might ask why my interest wasn’t piqued already? I’ll hold my hands up and admit the reason for this was because I had been doing it wrong. The process of making labneh is incredibly easy, you merely take a pot of normal yoghurt and strain it. Simple, non? But how you strain it is important and has a big impact on the final product. I had put my faith in the internet, but sometimes, the internet lets you down.…

How to make preserved lemons

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food, Vegan, Vegetarian

Jar of preserved lemons
When life throws you lemons There’s a saying “When life throws you lemons, make lemonade”. I find it a peculiar saying, because lemons are pretty desirable objects to me. Although I understand the concept behind this idiom, that we’re supposed to see lemons as sour, sharp and unpleasant representations of life, I just can’t do that. They’re such bright, joyful fruit that it just doesn’t wash. I’m someone who has a bowl in the kitchen which is just for lemons and limes to nestle in, so if someone started throwing me lemons, I’d be out there filling up my bowl and shouting ‘thanks’. The lemon preservation society I keep on discovering these little techniques and basic preparations that when I try them out, discover they’re incredibly simple. For example, making yoghurt, who knew it’s so easy? Sun dried tomatoes made in the oven? Simple. There are lots of straightforward…

Spinach and walnut pesto

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Spinach and walnut pesto with wholemeal pasta
Hello folks. Another straightforward recipe for you today, one whose big, powerful flavours bely it’s simplicity. This is something that you can whizz up in the time it takes your pasta to cook and tastes a million times better than anything you might pour from a jar. You just need a blender and your ingredients to hand and you can have this pesto ready to eat in minutes. It also falls into a theme on my blog, something that’s popped up a few times over the most recent recipes. Simplicity. Keeping the ingredients list short and the preparation straightforward can be a winning combination, compared to the easily muddled complication of complex flavours. It allows the ingredients that are in the dish to find their own places and shine through, without getting lost in the fray. Now, the keen eyed among you might have noticed that I don’t include cheese…

Homemade yoghurt recipe with cow’s or goat’s milk

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, The World of Food, Vegetarian

Homemade yoghurt with cow's or goat's milk
Blogging rituals. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a bit more time to work on my blog and have discovered that I’m a reclusive blogging creature of routine and ritual. I can’t write unless I’m at my desk, and it’s the morning. Take today as an example. Woke at 6.15am, showered, then started writing on the laptop in the bedroom. I managed to write a depressing rant about the ‘dark side of the blog’. It wasn’t enjoyable to write and doubtfully entertaining to read (and we never will, because I’ve deleted it). I had breakfast, made a coffee, moved to my desk and then, suddenly, a peace and clarity fell upon me. I had found a little space in my world where something positive can happen. And as for afternoons, they are utterly useless, full of distraction and anxiety. After lunch, I might as well just stick my feet…