I’m in a recipe book! I’m in a recipe book!

Hi gang. Apologies for the lack of recipes recently. I’m struggling to get any cooking completed to a Taking Lovely Photos stage before the light fades at the moment and there just isn’t anything I’m happier shooting food in than natural daylight. Any tips from other foodie photo fans and recipe writers greatly appreciated. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram for over-processed low light mealtime fun and fancy footwear.

I’ve also been terribly busy having a birthday, celebrating my brother’s engagement and prepping to start my new job. All exciting things.

Now the REALLY exciting bit. A while ago I posted a recipe for crispy baked tofu dippers. I was over the moon when people started sending me photos of them trying it out. Friends all over the country and even an old school friend who now lives in Canada gave it a bash (check out the Wall of Fame I made in their honour). The best result, though, is that my recipe was chosen for the Cauldron Street Food Recipe Book.

Lauren Geisler street food recipe bookCreated in celebration of their sponsorship of the snack category in this year’s British Street Food Awards, the books is full of awesome recipes by food bloggers around the UK and street food vendors. But best of all… it’s totally free!

You can download the entire book as a PDF by clicking here – you just need to fill in your email address.

Then quickly whizz to pages 36-37. And look at the rest of it I suppose.

Lauren Geisler recipe book

Eep! Thanks to Gareth for taking my photo, which was ridiculously difficult. I made a quite expensive professional choice about 13 years ago about which side of the camera I wanted to be on, y’see…

Writing some sort of recipe book has been a goal of mine for about 6 or 7 years now. Feels pretty great to be one little step closer, just as I’m about to start working on foodier things full time.

 

A ‘dam good time! 8 great Rotterdam travel tips.

Pardon the pun but I suspect it is preferable over any ear-worm-inducing alternatives. (You’re probably humming That Song to yourself now anyway so whatever…)

Rotterdam skyline old harbour evening

My love and I have been to Rotterdam and damn, it was great. I initially wanted a little UK hotel break to kick off my extended birthday celebrations (it’s this Thursday, fact-fans). However, as neither of us drive, finding a nice place to visit and paying for rail travel in the UK means it is actually kinda cheaper and better value for us to hop over to Europe. Confusing mathsy economical things and good Dutch value means hanging out and eating in restaurants on the Euro costs less than a Big Weekend in London may have, anyway.

We managed to pack loads in without feeling rushed or too exhausted, in spite of huge torrential downpours – including the biggest thunderstorm either of us have ever been caught in.

Luckily we don’t really mind the rain (which… well, yknow. Londoners…) and sometimes you just hit the point where you can’t actually get any wetter and all you can do is laugh and get on with it…

We’re not too keen on planning city breaks too thoroughly, but maps and vague ideas are great and what we missed when planning our trip was any sort of guide. We had this great book for our holiday in Budapest and it was really handy. Other than the hard-to-find Wallpaper city guide, there isn’t much reading for Rotterdam so I thought I’d do the decent thing and provide some for anyone thinking of visiting. It also doubles up as a neat little diary of our trip (peppered with iPhone-only snaps due to my shoulders needing too much of a rest for SLR-lugging). So. In no particular order…

8 great tips for visiting Rotterdam

1 – Erasmusbrug

We set off on a long old self-guided walking tour, marveling in the incredible architecture and attention to careful design and Town Planning on every street and found ourselves stranded half way across this stunning 1990s cable-stayed bridge. Rather than your average panoramic landscape of the swan-shaped structure, here’s a photo of me stuck waiting to cross as the bascule (upsy-downy) section – the biggest and heaviest of its kind – opened, revealing an Inception-style sight we wont forget in a hurry.

2 – Water Taxi

The best five minutes of our trip by far (that’s what she said etc). Forget hour-long harbour cruises and sightseeing pancake boats (although still kinda wish we’d gone on the pancake boat). When your feet are fed up of walking and you want to whiz back to your hotel in a hurry, take your life in your hands and clamber on to what is essentially a terrifying cross between a jet ski and Crazy Taxi. I spent the entire time laughing hysterically with my mouth wide open in terror/delight, reminding myself that it’s OK because I know how to swim.

3 – Boijmans Van Beuningen and Museumpark

Fantastic collection of paintings and art, including an amazing selection of Eduardo Paolozzi collage prints (one of my faves) and the greatest cloakroom of all time:

We didn’t make it in to the Het Nieuwe Instituut (architecture & design) further than the bookshop, but the building itself is incredible.

4 – Euromast

Even if the cheesy touristy stuff isn’t really your bag, Rotterdam is flat, green and watery enough for the view from the top of the Euromast to be worth a go, even if just to help you get your head around the sprawling landscape.

Euromast lunch Rotterdam travel photos Dutch tomato soup

We rushed up there as the clouds had finally (briefly) parted and enjoyed the most delicious tomato soup with tarragon cream, enjoying the view, interrupted by frequent abseilers stopping to wave through the windows…

Euromast Rotterdam lunch salmon sourdough

I also tried this fresh delicious raw salmon salad open-faced sourdough sandwich. Completely delicious and so filling that we ended up skipping dinner in favour of a late night room service mini-bar raid instead.

5 – Cube Houses

Rotterdam Cube Houses

Put London’s Barbican residences through a 1980s Picasso/Mondrian filter, fill with plants, angles and colour. I would move in to one of these in a heartbeat. One is open as a museum and is well worth the minimal entrance fee to spend time pretending you live there (and wondering why your house is full of nosy tourists).

6 – The Hague

20 minutes by train out of the impressive new Rotterdam Central station, The Hague ticks the history boxes Rotterdam’s architecture misses out on and is full of fresh, sweet air blowing in from the coast.

antique market in The Hague - top 10 Rotterdam

vintage kitchenware tins Netherlands market The Hague

The Hague Gemeentemuseum Mondrian DeStijl

Our Sunday visit included a stroll around the big brilliant antiques market and a tram out to the Gemeentemuseum to gawp at the impressive DeStijl and Mondrian exhibits.

7 – Lunch at Hotel New York

mussels lunch at Hotel New York Rotterdam

Fresh hot steamy mussels to share with Proper Chips and garlic mayonnaise, in the huge space formerly occupied by the Holland America Line. History, stylish decor, dramatic views out to the Maas (although possibly due to the aforementioned impending thunderstorm) and helpful staff made this the perfect first meal in Rotterdam.

8 – Delft

Despite arriving after the museums and ceramic fun had closed for the day (we stopped off on our way back to Rotterdam from The Hague – same train line and no extra ticket cost), we both absolutely loved it here.

Delft shop windows retro vintage barber shop

Gorgeous shopfront of an old-style barber shop in Delft

The craft and creative spirit of the place is obvious as soon as you arrive.

Delft windmill restoration

Delft windmill travel photos

We got to climb right up to the sails of the recently restored windmill and had a gorgeous evening stroll around the canals, spying on perfectly designed canal-side living-rooms and gardens.

delft doorways front garden Rotterdam travel photos

Delft canals Netherlands travel photos

 

Huge thanks to Frankie for sending us her excellent Rotterdam tips, reviews and general wanderings which was our only real attempt at ‘planning’ for this trip – a real help. Yay for Twitter!

 

Do you say “scone” or “scone”? Seeded tahini rye scones recipe

seeded savoury scones

This is the first recipe I’ve posted on here which has taken loads of attempts and experimenting. I’ve mentioned before that we rarely have or make Actual Bread in our house, due to me having absolutely no self control around it, resulting in mild wheat intolerance. (Bread/stuffing-my-face intolerance, really).

We were having some sort of light spring-time dinner earlier this year and I thought I’d experiment with making a light savoury scone instead of pitta/garlic bread for the side.

rye scones recipe

This is about the 5th generation of these and flavour and texture-wise, I like to think I’ve totally nailed it. I’ve come to accept the fact that they don’t rise like regular scones, but that’s OK.

They go great with hummus or salady lunches, on the side with a lamb dish or any Moroccan-inspired flavours and spices, and are best enjoyed fresh, warm, and slathered in real butter. And do slather that butter on because there is NONE in the recipe. The tahini replaces the butter in the scones, and they are packed with seeds which means you’re getting a hit of fiber, feeling fuller and baking a boost of vitamins, protein and gut-balancing alkaline (obviously this depends on the seeds you use).

Seeded Tahini Rye Scones

tahini scones

seed and tahini rye scones

Ingredients

300 grams flour (I used a mix of 2/3 organic wholemeal rye flour 1/3 plain flour)

3.5 teaspoons baking powder

100 grams golden caster sugar

4 heaped tablespoons fresh tahini (I use a whole tub of this)

6 tablespoons mixed seeds, nuts, fresh herbs (I use The Food Doctor savoury seed blend)

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

160ml milk

savoury scones recipe

1 – Heat the oven to 190 degrees C.

2 – Sift the flours, sugar, salt and baking powder in to a large mixing bowl.

3 – In a separate bowl, mix the egg and milk together (reserve a little in the bowl)

4 – Add a spoonful of tahini at a time in to the dry ingredients, mixing with a balloon whisk to form breadcrumbs.

5 – Once all the tahini has been combined and the whole mixture resembles breadcrumbs, mix in the seeds. I added chopped fresh rosemary too but this is optional. I’ve added a teaspoon of pesto on occasion which is nice too, although be wary of adding too much oil.

6 – Unlike regular scone pastry, this stays quite wet because of the tahini, so no rolling pin or cutting rings. I just dollop a spoonful or two per scone on to a lined baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. I hadn’t tried this before, but this time I brushed the little bit of leftover egg and milk wash on top of the scones half way through baking, which gave them a nice shine and a little bit of a crusty bite on top.

seeded tahini rye scones

seedy tahini scones

Best served fresh out the oven (after cooling a little on a wire rack), and perfect for cosy, rainy grey evenings.

Ooh – and as so many people mentioned that plant in the background when I snapped these on instagram, fresh out of the oven yesterday, I thought I’d give it a special mention. Since handing in my notice at work, my current colleagues have completely been completely spoiling me. One gave me a plate from the Ridgway Homemaker set, and another took me to the most fabulous plant nursery full of my favourite cacti and succulents. This is just one of my new friends, in the little Hornsea Saffron pot my friend Steven donated to me.

succulant cactus Hornsea pottery Saffron pot

You flippin’ narna! Two ingredient flourless pancakes

two ingredient pancake recipe

Here’s my vague attempt at third in the series I’m calling Stick It To The Man – one woman’s approach to use up a ridiculous stock of wooden skewers.

I’ve been whipping up these two-ingredient banana pancakes since my old flatmate decided to go ‘Paleo crazy’ a couple of years ago. Cutting out flour, grains and added fat and the milky buttery batter you’d use for normal pancakes or crepes makes these a Pinterest-friendly favourite if you’re after an easy wheat-free brunch.

banana pancakes

Pancakes? With only two ingredients? That’s right, chum. All you need is some over-ripe bananas and eggs. A little ground cinnamon is nice if you’re that way inclined, but this is just eggs and bananas. So you can have your (pan)cake and eat it.

banana egg pancake recipe

Despite having made these for ages, they tend to be a bit hit or miss depending on a few factors – the heat of the pan, the cooking agent (butter works better than coconut oil), how mashed your bananas are and the thickness of the pancakes themselves. My biggest problem has always been the flip. The lack of flour means these don’t hold together in the way you’d expect ‘regular’ pancakes to. Then, one rainy, thundery dark Saturday morning I suddenly realised that they don’t have to be too big for my spatula. They can be cute and diddy! And fit on skewers!

banana pancake stack

Two-ingredient wheat-free banana pancakes

Ingredients

3 bananas (plus extra for serving if desired)

4 eggs

That’s it! This is the ratio which works best for me – I’ve experimented with it a lot. This made 15 diddy pancakes. Perfect for sharing and best served with some other fresh fruit and a dollop of plain yoghurt. And maybe a drizzle of honey if you’re feeling righteous having already shaved a bunch of wheaty calories off…

1 – Mash the bananas really well. The best fruit are the ones turning quite black – the ones making you think you need to either quickly make banana bread or throw them out.

banana pancake batter ingredients

2 – When all lumps are mashed out, whisk in the eggs one at a time and combine well. Don’t beat them too much – this isn’t scrambled eggs with a bit of banana in (although it sort of is, technically). The mixture will have the texture and colour of pancake batter.

banana pancake instructions

3 – Heat a small knob of butter in a hot frying pan. Once the butter has melted, add a dollop of pancake mixture in. They can be as big as you like but I really do recommend making small baby pancakes as the mixture cooks nice and evenly and they are easy to flip without breaking or catching. Cook 4 or 5 at a time, depending on the size of your pan. The best time to flip is when you can see the wet uncooked side starting to cook around the edges.

4 – When golden brown, remove and blot on paper towel to remove any excess butter.

no carb paleo two ingredient pancakes

When you’re done cooking them all, arrange in stacks and serve with some chopped banana over the top.

Enjoy! I’m loving how many people are sending me photos of their versions of recipes from here. Keep it up! I’ll do another Wall of Fame soon to show them all off. And I’ve just heard that our replacement oven has been delivered which means I can make all of the things I’ve planned to this week. Hooray!

 

The Cauliflower Chronicles: Cauliflower and broccoli ‘tater tots’.

Here’s what you’ve definitely all been waiting for – the second installment of The Cauliflower Chronicles: my attempt to conquer my most-hated vegetable by any means necessary.

After the popularity of my cauliflower rice recipe last time, I was bombarded with suggestions. Which was awesome! We were all geared up to make a cauliflower crust pizza this week when tragedy struck and our oven door spontaneously exploded. Fortunately I was already out of the room (eating, obviously), but it smashed to smithereens and has yet to be replaced.

Luckily, just a few hours before it decided to break itself (and my heart), I had whipped up a batch of tots! But not tater tots…. cauliflower tots. Mmm. I cannot confirm whether or not these will make your oven explode too. The glass didn’t actually crack until about 2 hours after cooking but I don’t want to be held responsible for any glass-related mishaps you may encounter. Really.

Actually I cheated a tiny bit and made cauliflower and broccoli tots. I couldn’t think of a way to reduce the cauliflower-ness of these without just adding a load of cheese. And after ranting on about eating on the healthier side of things, I didn’t think that would be the greatest approach. Although I did use a little bit of light cream cheese.  Apologies, as ever, for my freestyle approach to measurements…

Cauliflower and broccoli tots

cauliflower broccoli tots recipe

Ingredients

300g of cauliflower and broccoli florets (small)

1 tablespoon light cream cheese

2 eggs, beaten

100 grams (apprx) dry polenta (or rice flour)

50 grams breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper

olive oil

 

cauliflower tater tots recipe

1 – Heat the oven to 180 degrees. See? It’s not even a crazy enough temperature to test it to any sort of exploding limit. Honestly.

2 – Steam the vegetables for about 5 minutes. They don’t need to be mushy for mashing but they do need to be cooked. Drain well.

3 – Chop up the steamed veggies in a fine meal. Or, like me, get bored before you hit the “fine meal” stage and decide that a choppier texture would be more ‘rustic’. Continue to kid self.

broccoli cauliflower tots recipe4 – In a large mixing bowl, add the beaten eggs, cheese and seasoning and mix to combine.

5 – Add the polenta a few tablespoons at a time, stirring until a stickier mixture forms. Not entirely dough-like, but stiffer. Repeat with the breadcrumbs.

6 – Lightly oil and line a baking tray and dollop a spoonful of mixture at a time. I used the spoon to create the shape I wanted just by gently nudging the mixture straight off after lightly shaping and compressing it on the spoon with my hands.

broccoli cauliflower tater tots

7 – Bake at 180 for about 12-15 minutes, or until the tots start to look golden brown.

baked cauliflower totscauliflower and broccoli totsServe as a side or a snack! Great dipped in barbecue sauce or ketchup. And best eaten fresh and hot, otherwise they do tend to turn a little bit rubbery. And almost certainly not for saving in your pockets for later, Napoleon.

An ode to Kilburn High Road

Apologies for the lack of recipes but our oven door exploded and I’m still torn between feeling grumpy about not making the things I wanted to this week and seeing it as a stove-top only challenge. However…

I was delighted to be asked to review The Kilburn Passion for West Hampstead Life last night. Kilburn was the first part of London I ever rented in. I won’t say “lived in” as the distant reaches of Zone 4 I grew up in did still have tube stations and was technically London, but that’s where I lived with my family. Kilburn was the first corner of London I chose for myself and made my home in.

I started writing notes on my phone (annoyingly, sorry) as I walked along Kilburn High Road. Perhaps knowing that I was about to watch a highly-regarded performance focusing on the vignettes of life along this stretch of tarmac, (review coming soon), but it’s not the first time Kilburn has moved me to poetry. I once turned up late for a friend’s birthday at the North London Tavern because I had started recording a sort of spontaneous history documentary in to my phone as I walked from Willesden Lane to the pub.

But I’ve moved away. Walking along my favourite high road now feels foreign and strange and unwelcoming – like it knows I betrayed it by moving to the other side of Hampstead Heath. Where I once strutted confidently past hoards of bargain-hunters pouring out of Poundland, knowing where to avoid loose paving stones or bus stop build-up, I now stumble along getting stuck shuffling behind slow-walking shoppers with tartan trollies, feeling disorientated.

When I arrived in 2009, I instantly loved this busy, thriving bustling high street full of late night fruit and veg shops and uniquely-named takeaways of every cuisine imaginable. I even started a project of my own dedicated to my love of its history and buildings. But now – as I make the once regular pilgrimage from the Overground up to the Jubilee line – instead of feeling part of it, I feel like an outsider. I’ve escaped the calm quiet clean boulevards of Muswell Hill to find myself wondering what all the noise is for, why there are so many pubs and what on earth that smell could be.

kilburn high road pizza from Casareccia

Then somehow, by the time I pass the Good Ship, sighing when I catch sight of the window where mine and Juliet’s comedy posters were once pressed against the glass, I notice my hands are mysteriously dirty despite not actually having touched anything. And instead of reaching for a tissue in my handbag, I smile and realise that of course my hands are dirty – because it only takes that short walk before Kilburn High Road becomes part of you again, before it shakes your hand to welcome you back. It is a place where things happen – where they keep happening even when you’re gone. Despite not knowing any of the staff now, my favourite pub is still there, draped in the bunting I hand-stitched for my 30th birthday party. The first place I practiced stand-up comedy has had a bonkers-looking graffiti-style makeover and the live music venues remain empty and boarded up like the day I left.

Instead of stumbling home after too many cocktails with a belly full of Persian food, we sit outside and share a pizza at the consistently lovely Casareccia, who let us use our theatre tickets to get a discount on the bill, and enjoy a night of culture before making the long trek back to the relatively bucolic calm of N10. I’m left unsettled by the idea that Kilburn High Road hasn’t changed. I have.

Sunday soufflé – beigel-less smoked salmon and cream cheese

Yes I spell beigel like that because my family roots are in Europe not America, because as a teenager my Saturday job was at a small north east London/ south west Essex family-run Jew-ish deli called The Beigel Bakery, and because beigels and bagels are definitely different. I’ll get in to that properly some other time. I’ve already said enough about something that is 100% not involved in this light and fluffy tasty brunch.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese is such an evocative combo for me. My favourite beigel filling and ultimate comfort food. A special treat from childhood, when it was reserved for special family lunches or bought hot and fresh on the way home from one of the many late night bakeries around the Far East of the Central Line. Delicious on toast and easily fancied-up with a squeeze of lemon juice and some freshly cracked black pepper.

This is a lighter, non-bready stodge free way to enjoy one of the best brunch combos of all time.

Smoked salmon and cream cheese soufflés with dill and chives

salmon souffle recipeIngredients (serves 4-6)
25g plain flour
300ml milk
40grams unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
85g cream cheese
100g chopped smoked salmon
Grated zest of 1 lemon
A few sprigs of chopped dill
2 chopped (bits of? Blades of?) chives

1 – Melt the butter gently in a pan and add the milk and sift in the flour. Stir as the butter melts and the ingredients combine. After about 4-5mins the sauce will thicken until you can just about trace a line with a spoon.

2 – Heat the oven to 180degrees c. Grease and line some ramekins – a note on this – I used 4 of my white dishes (the ones I keep photographing) which were definitely a bit big. Better to share less mixture between 6 dishes.

salmon souffle instructions

3 – Once the sauce has thickened, gradually add the cream cheese, and most of the herbs and beat to combine. Kill the heat. Reserve some sprigs to garnish at the end.

4 – Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl. I cannot tell you how life-changing it was when my mum told me to use a big bowl to get more air in to stiffen up egg whites quickly if whisking by hand. (This was about 2 months ago, for the record. Heh.)

salmon souffle5 – Stir the egg yolks and salmon in to the cheese sauce mixture. Season with salt and pepper, then carefully and gradually fold in the stiffened egg whites. Be careful not to mix the whites in and to just gently fold it all together.

salmon cheese baked souffle recipe

6 – Share the mixture between the lined ramekins, and arrange them in a deep oven-proof pan half filled with cold water. Carefully put in the oven for about 15-20minutes, until the soufflés rise and the tops are golden brown.

salmon souffle brunch recipe7 – Remove the ramekins from the water dish and allow sit on a rack until they’re cool enough to handle. Carefully lift the soufflés out of their ramekins and on to a lined flat baking tray. Be brave. They will wobble and feel loose and fluffy but they will hold their shape. If they seem a little tricky to remove, loosen the edges with a knife to pull the soufflé away from the ramekin.

8 – Bake on the flat sheet for a further 10-15 minutes, until puffy. Serve with fresh sprigs of dill and chives on top.

salmon cheese baked brunch souffle

Now, a note. Do as I say, not as I do. I turned mine upside down on the baking tray as thought it would help them keep their shape better. They mostly did, but would have been better left right-side-up.

salmon and cream cheese souffle brunch recipe

Serve with a little simply dressed salad. We had rocket, tomatoes and red onions with lemon juice and olive oil, and a dollop of creme fraiche on top of the soufflés.

salmon cheese souffle recipesalmon souffle recipes

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