This week, I’m craving…

This week I’m craving… simple food and an extra special seasonal treat.

After a week of microwave food, I’m getting a bit sick of shop bought soups and sliced meat/cheese/salad combinations. I’m looking forward to getting back to normality with my food and being able to cook whatever takes my fancy in a clean kitchen, utensils at the ready. I’m craving simple textures and flavours in contrast to overly seasoned ready meals. Plain but silky pasta dishes, fresh and crunchy salads and the simple perfume-like aromas of fruit are what I’ve been longing for. There have been no Christmas bakes from my kitchen this year, so as a treat I’m really looking forward to my favourite homemade mince pies.

My culinary inspiration for the week ahead:

Garlic and olive oil

Spaghettini aglio et olio
Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

As a child pasta was a staple in our household – everyone loved it and couldn’t get enough – so it’s no strange thing that it’s one of the foods I’ve been longing for most since my kitchen outage. The texture of plain, silky, well-made pasta has been my Monday motivation today. I’m always keen to include a vegetable or two to my evening meal so aglio e olio, the simplest of pasta dishes, is often overlooked. Not so this evening, this Nigel Slater recipe will be guiding me to pasta bliss.

Fresh and fishy

Tuna Nicoise Salad
Image from BBC Good Food

The first time I ever ordered a tuna steak I asked for it well done. A rookie mistake I will never repeat again. Tuna has such a lovely delicate flavour. Asking for it well done, I think you might as well eat it out of a tin because that’s what it will taste like. Now, I don’t like to snub tinned tuna. It’s perfect for a tuna nicoise. I like the salad to be crunchy, the new potatoes unpeeled, boiled and slightly firm, and the eggs on the soft side. With small, black, salty olives, this makes my perfect nicoise salad. This recipe recommends baking the potatoes, instead of boiling them, which makes for a deeper flavour in a mid-winter salad.

Exotic fruits

Melon rasayana
Photograph: Vanessa Courtier via Cooked.com

I’d never come across this recipe before searching for a dessert that would make melon the headliner and wasn’t a sorbet. Cue stage left a simple and not overly sweet Indian dessert that will make you rethink your preconceptions of south Asian desserts! This Charantais melon rasayana is a delightful mixture of melon and coconut, the exotic mouthful that my tastebuds have been craving.

A Christmas old faithful

Mince pies
Image from BBC Food

A couple of years I started making my own mince pies. I started slowly, just making the pastry from scratch and using different jars. I hit upon the perfect pastry recipe straight away and haven’t looked back. I love the slightly crumbly nature of the baked pastry due to the added almonds and the orange zest that works so well with the mince pie filling.

I’d tested quite a few different brands of mince pie filling but never came across any that I loved 100%. I decided to try my hand at making my own and came across this recipe. It doesn’t include alcohol, but you could easily add a glug of rum or maybe a splash of Cointreau to go with the zesty pastry. This is a mince pie filling I can definitely get behind. In fact I’m not averse to the odd spoonful out of the jar, just to test the batch of course.

What’s on your menu this week? Are any of these dishes making your mouth water?

Image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4

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2 thoughts on “This week, I’m craving…

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