Preserved lemon tapenade

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Spreads & Dips

Preserved lemon tapenade on a cracker and in a bowl
In my fantasy dream kitchen, the cupboards and fridge would be stocked at random by a stranger who chooses regularly changing ingredients, on top of the usual store cupboard staples. This kitchen would also be large, slick and cleaned nightly by a team who sneak in and shine it to perfection whilst I’m asleep, like little kitchen elves. Oddly, that makes my ideal kitchen sound a little bit like the set for ‘Ready, steady, cook’. The reason for this idea (the random ingredients, not the elves) is that great things can happen when you are forced to use unfamiliar ingredients. If I had to walk into a strangers’ kitchen and rustle up a good meal, there’s no doubt I’d end up using ingredients that I wouldn’t normally buy and get creative with what’s available. It’s an enjoyable, enthusing and liberating experience, because whatever gets created often feels triumphant and…

Sun dried tomato tapenade

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Spreads & Dips, Starters, Vegetarian

sun dried tomato tapenade
Tapenade used to be one of those ‘things’ that I didn’t understand. It smells and tastes beautiful, and evokes romantic visions of lazy mediterranean lunches, but I never really knew what to do with it. Showing a stereotypical Britishness, I was confused because it’s not a chutney or a pickle, it’s not a jam and it’s not Marmite. I would see it on supermarket shelves and in delis, but leave it behind. I’d see it with some mustards whilst at lunch but wouldn’t know where it goes. Then eventually, my tapenade maturity arrived and I realised it goes with lots of things, and it’s an ingredient that makes simple pairings spectacular. There are loads of ways you can use it, my favourite uses for tapenade are the following:
• With cheese
• Mini crostini with a dollop of tapenade
• Larger crostini spread with tapenade and topped with other ingredients…

Paprika sweet potato wedges with minted feta yoghurt

Gavin WrenMain Dishes, Recipes, Side dishes, Spreads & Dips, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Paprika sweet potato wedges with feta mint yoghurt
Back at the wheel. I’m back! Although you probably hadn’t noticed, I’ve been away for a little while. Not away ‘away’, but away from the blog. And what’s the event that has caused me to temporarily desert (mmmm, dessert) my beloved blog? Surely it must be something awful, heartrendingly terrible or existentially disastrous to pry my frantic fingertips from the surface of my keyboard? The good news is that nothing bad has happened. It was the arrival of a little creature, an 8 week old miniature poodle puppy who we called Bernard, that managed to get the better of me psychologically for a few weeks. That left little space up there to consider food, blogs or for that matter, anything else at all (apologies to my girlfriend). Just in case you’re interested, here’s the little bundle of joy in all his mischievous glory: I’d like to add a little footnote,…

Baba ghanoush – the food of the gods

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Spreads & Dips, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Baba Ghanoush aubergine dip
Ambrosia is an often overused word, hastily thrown around with levity to elevate the status of a particular food. It’s a very serious word (to me, anyway) which means ‘food of the gods’, and religious denominations aside I try to be reserved in it’s use simply out of respect. So, it’s with a certain amount of reticence that I’m considering using it in the description here. Baba Ghanoush, Mutabal or Moutabal, are some of the different names this aubergine dip goes under, with slight regional variations in both method and ingredients depending on where abouts in the world it is being made. It originates from the Middle East and I came to know it through multiplus trips to Lebanese restaurants when my girlfriend and I had just started going out. As a cook, it’s a delightfully refreshing dish to make, because I have never, ever, had anyone say “Hmmmm, I

Asparagus with preserved lemons

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Starters, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Griddled asparagus with preserved lemons
Today’s recipe is so simple, it’s hard to think of a reason not to try it. If you were already planning to cook some of the lovely fresh asparagus that’s in season at the moment, then this simple addition adds a cheery extra dimension yet almost no extra work. And if you can’t get preserved lemons, even though the ‘cooks selection’ at many supermarkets now stock, they’re incredibly easy to make, so you could have a go yourself. In fact, I can begin to feel a blog post coming on… Have you ever searched for recipes based on number of ingredients involved, working on the assumption that less = easier life? Well that’s what I wanted to do here. If this dish had less ingredients, it would only be asparagus left, and I’m not sure where the semantics of the word ‘recipe’ draw their line, before it no longer qualifies…