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…

How to make vegetable stock

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

How to make vegetable stock
Vegetables boiled in water. Yep, that’s all it is, easy peasy. Making your own vegetable stock at home is one of the fundamental kitchen processes that you just have to do now and again. It’s so easy, it doesn’t use up much time and it’s basically impossible to overcook. And if you have left over vegetables, peering over the edge of the compost, it’s a super efficient use of them before they go. Now, although there are some traditional staples used to make vegetable stock, such as carrots and onions, you can actually use whatever you want. Just remember that the vegetables you use will have an effect on the flavour, colour and clarity of your final broth. So beetroot and potato will give you a red, cloudy stock, whereas onion and carrot gives you a relatively clear stock. However, the basic principle remains the same, whatever you use, you…

Smoking Tofu: A beginners guide to smoking

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

Hot smoked tofu BBQ on Weber Go Anywhere
So, first take a pack of King-size Rizlas. Ooops, wrong kind of smoking! Ignore that. Let’s start again. Underage Smokers When I was growing up, smoked food meant a couple of things to me. Firstly, it meant smoked salmon, those luscious pink slithers of rich flavour, associations of good times and parties; Christmas, family birthdays and the like. Also kippers, those stinky, smoked breakfast fish that my Dad ate and I also grew to love. As a young lad on a family camping holiday in Suffolk, we once stopped at a small smokery, where I saw a cupboard full of herrings hung out, being smoked into kippers. We bought some, and had them for breakfast the next day, I still remember the overpowering charred wood flavour of these just-smoked fish. But seeing that cupboard of fish pegged up like laundry taught me exactly what this smoking process was, how it…

Spelt rough puff pastry

Gavin WrenBaking, Basic Ingredients, Food Techniques, Recipes, Spelt & ancient grains, Vegetarian

Spelt rough puff pastry ready for oven
Can I tell you a bit of a secret? This recipe got me really excited. Yep, a recipe for plain spelt rough puff pastry and I was over-the-moon excited. It’s not even a recipe that you’d eat on it’s own, it’s just a gateway to other kitchen delights, but for some reason, basic ingredients and techniques get me really excited. A bit like the oven dried tomatoes that were the subject of my first published recipe on this site. In that instance I turned a load of regular tomatoes into rich, sweet, nuggets of concentrated flavour by doing something pretty damn simple. And here’s that excitement again, but with baking there is something slightly magical about the metamorphosis that occurs. It seems so transformational, to take a few simple, pale ingredients like flour, water and butter, combine them, add heat, and the end result is a rich, flaky, crispy morsel…