Monday, 25 May 2015

May 2015 Favourites List

Nearly everywhere you look in England, you can see the flowers blooming and the colours of Spring. We are heading, full steam ahead, towards Summer. It is joyous.

My students are working on their final assessments right now. These are their last four assessments and hopefully, come results day in July, they will be Called to the Bar. Brand new Barristers, of 2015 Call.

They’ve come a long way. Learning how to turn the raw knowledge of the law into practical judgment so they can solve the problems of their clients in the future. They’ve built up their confidence. Many have not spoken in public before, and now they are capable of court room advocacy. They have learnt skills through hard work and lots of practice.

They have blossomed as people and professionals. From nervous, tentative green shoots, they are now in full bloom. Some will practice in the UK, others will work in finance or other sectors. Many will go back to Commonwealth jurisdictions to practice or become the future politicians of their nations. I wish them all the very best of luck, and every success in their future careers.

It seems fitting therefore that this month's pictures are some of my Spring flower pictures from my Instagram account. You can find me by looking for “snigskitchen”. I always follow back. More flower pictures will follow as the season progresses.


But now, onto the other business of my monthly favourites list posts – the wonderful stuff I have been enjoying this month. Enjoy!

Recipes:

Monika Galetti (Michel Roux's right hand woman at Le Gavroche) makes a Springtime dish of asparagus with pearl barley and bacon: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/asparagus_with_pearl_43154

Legendary Vogue editor Joan Didion's favourite recipes (including risotto, devilled crab, borscht): http://www.brainpickings.org/2015/02/11/joan-didion-cookbook-recipes/

Weekday salad supper dish with prawns, parsley, barley and saffron for a touch of something special: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/healthy-recipes/11583082/Shrimp-saffron-and-barley-salad-recipe.html

Creamy and indulgent... A veggie soup made from an old Waitrose recipe card. Creamy Cauliflower and Stilton soup at Karen Burns-Booth's Lavender & Lovage blog. http://www.lavenderandlovage.com/2012/02/soul-food-soup-creamy-cauliflower-stilton-cheese-soup-for-random-recipes.html

Avocado stuffed with shredded chicken, served with mixed pepper and roasted corn salad http://thelifestyledirectory.com/fit-and-healthy-recipes/ 

A quick and easy alternative to pulled pork; Indian style spiced mince lamb in a bun.  http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/keema-pav/6680.html

Rich pasta bake for treating yourself (layers of lasagne with porcini, mushrooms and parma ham baked in a creamy sauce):

Articles/Know How:

Olive oil polyphenol backed by research for selective anti-cancer potential www.foodnavigator-usa.com/R-D/Olive-oil-polyphenol-backed-for-selective-anti-cancer-potential

Myth busting. How some of our given wisdom on food is just plain wrong or confused. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/04/28/7-of-the-biggest-facts-about-unhealthy-food-that-actually-arent-facts/


Vietnam's Hoi An is one of the country's must visit destinations. Evocative food and travel writing. http://www.natgeotraveller.co.uk/destinations/asia/vietnam/eat-hoi-an/


First "Hello Kitty" Chinese restaurant opens in Hong Kong. Kitty shaped dim sum? Yes, please! http://metro.co.uk/2015/05/15/the-worlds-first-hello-kitty-restaurant-has-opened-and-the-food-is-adorable-5198637/

Fiona Beckett reminds us that the South of France's white wines deserve far more of our attention: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/may/14/white-wine-south-of-france-fiona-beckett

Found through the brilliant Kavita of Kavey Eats blog: Life lessons by Anthony Bourdain, on food, cooking and life generally: http://airows.com/travel/23-brilliant-life-lessons-from-anthony-bourdain


How many of you are trying carb free eating? Have you been making spiralised "pasta" (courgetti spaghetti)? Have you explored cauliflower's carb free potential as "rice", "couscous" or cauli flour pizza base mix? http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/carbfree-meals-were-going-crazy-for-courgetti-spaghetti-and-cauliflowerbased-pizzas-10233530.html

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

For fans of sharing food and good times, my review of Inamo St James http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/inamos-sharing-asian-tapas.html



Film:

Paddington

Interstellar

TV:

Indian Summers

Kate Bush At The BBC

Music:

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – I’m In Your Mind Fuzz

Blur – The Magic Whip

Aziz – From Lahore To Longsight


Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Inamo's sharing Asian Tapas

I am a grazer at heart. Much as I love sitting down for dinner or eating the occasional extremely extravagant "tasting menu", I love nibbles and I love sharing my food. 

And why not? You get to sample far more of the menu, you don't need to worry whose dish comes out ready first and you get the excuse for a highly informal evening. "Sharing is caring", as they say. I couldn't agree more.

So when Inamo St James asked me to try their Asian Tapas dishes, I was very keen to give it a go. 

Inamo want to give their diners a unique experience inspired by Japan and the far east which is both ancient and modern. At St James, there is a large Zen water feature and green plant wall among large bamboo rods making up the seating areas. These calming traditional features are juxtaposed against modern technology. As a result, our dishes were ordered using their special interactive tables. These tables have a little mouse pad built in; you can have a full size picture of the dish beamed onto your empty plate before you order, so you can truly see if the look of the food appeals to you first. 



Once we had checked out the menu, in particular focusing on some of the new dishes added to the menu, we started ordering. They describe their food as "Asian Fusion", but I would say that Pan-Asian might be more accurate. 

First up was this dish:

Korean chicken wings6.95)
Fried chicken wings, glazed in Korean BBQ sauce, with a sprinkling of baked desiccated fine coconut.


Some people love wings, others do not. I remember talking about these little hand held pieces of heaven to someone who looked at me strangely and simply said "I don't know why you bother with them; they're too much work, they're so fiddly."

I find that the flavour you get from the meat is worth the faff. Thankfully the staff at Inamo gave us each a finger bowl of hot water to deal with the inevitable mess. 

These wings were small but delicious. The sauce was bold, spicy and full of heat. There has been no dumbing down of the typical flavours and reliance on chili expected from Korean food. This was a very promising start!

Sweet Mango Pork Belly (£7.50)
Crisp fried slices of pork belly, glazed in Korean BBQ sauce. Served with sweet mango and fresh daikon.


These slim slices of pork belly appear insubstantial at first. Meat loving Him Indoors who accompanied me was a little disappointed at the size of the belly pieces at first. However, the slices are intentionally slim; to allow the outside to achieve some caramelisation without the middle remaining completely raw. The pork was cooked skilfully and we enjoyed the contrasts of sweet, sour and spicy. The other contrasts present were of texture; the slightly chewy meat against the soft mango and delicate crunch of the daikon. If the portion isn't enough for you, you can always order another!

Seared yuzu scallop7.95)
Succulent seared scallop in miso, served with cress and yuzu.


Sometimes I fail miserably in my task as a food reviewer, because I honestly have no idea what was in the sauce for these scallops. A wonderful balance of strong flavours, there was a gutsy sour tang with gentle heat and some sweetness to top it all off. If I'd had bread, I would probably have mopped it all up. It is often thought scallops need mild flavours, but this dish worked very well indeed with its bold approach. 

Squid & Spring Onion Dim Sum (£5.00)
3 pieces of delicately steamed dim sum filled with tender squid & spring onion, served with tangy Thai mango & chili relish.


The dumplings had a thin skin with good bite. I find that sometimes dumplings have a thick skin which can be a bit cloying and over filling. The squid filling was a good amount, and only just cooked, which is how I like it. The dipping sauce "relish" was something of a disappointment, since it didn't add to the dish. The flavours were too similar to some of the others experienced during our meal. Perhaps going for a more old school approach and simply serving with good quality soy sauce or a Chinese style warm dipping sauce would bring out squid's tenderness better. 


Beef tataki (£7.50)
A classic Japanese dish. Beef lightly seared on the outside, left rare in the middle, then thinly sliced & served with Ponzu sauce.


The picture is obviously not a very helpful one. But if I had taken the picture after removing the topping, I would have ruined the presentation. I enjoyed the pinky rare middle of the beef, only lightly cooked and shown the pan. The sauce had acidic tang from vinegar, citrus fruitiness, and salty soy. Don't trust my photograph, trust my opinion, this is a tasty dish which isn't finger food, but perfect to share with chopstick at the ready!

Nigiri Set (8 Pieces) 14.95)
Chef’s selection of the freshest fish served on sushi rice with wasabi and soy sauce. 8 pieces in total. 


I find sushi hard to resist, hence our ordering of this dish. Our selection included salmon, mackerel, sea bass and tuna. We had generous slices of fish on top of the sushi rice. The fish was fresh and delicate.

Korean Lamb (£15.45)
Fresh lamb, bathed in a sweet and sour marinade, then grilled. Served with tangy sauce and kimchee salad.



A good sized portion for the money, generous sized cutlets trimmed for ease of eating; just pick up and nibble! There could have been a little more chili heat to this dish, since the marinade and sauce were very mild. The lamb was flavoursome and grilled with care.

We had a very enjoyable meal and found that even though food is ordered using the interactive tables, this is not a device to skimp on good service. The staff were still happy to offer information and recommendations on food and drink, and they were attentive to the needs of diners. Definitely not the same thing as the self checkout in the supermarket! 

The restaurant has a fun atmosphere, and the sharing concept means that there are chatty little gangs of people sitting around tables enjoying chat and food. It makes for a friendly vibe. 

I would definitely return and bring friends for an evening out. I would intend to sample more of the "Inamo Classic" dishes from the menu, as so many of them seemed very interesting and innovative, but I had simply run out of tummy space. 

Inamo St James
4-12 Lower Regent Street
London 
SW1Y 4PE
020 7484 0500
http://www.inamo-stjames.com/

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed 12pm - 3pm & 5pm - 11pm
Thurs 12pm - 11.30pm
Fri-Sat 12pm - 12.30am
Sun 12pm - 10.30pm

Snigdha and Him Indoors dined as guests of Inamo. We have received no payment in return for this review. 

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

April 2015 Favourites List

Slowly the true joy of Spring has been revealing itself as we people here in England have enjoyed returning to Spring hours with our clocks going forward, the slow lengthening of days and retreat from the long nights of Winter. Spring flowers are bringing colour and joy to us all. 

As a very big music fan, I find that good music and amazing musicians also bring a ridiculously large amount of happiness into my life. Strange how these inexplicable sound waves can have such a unique emotional response. Perhaps one day we will be able to understand and explain it. 

This month my pictures are of a truly inspiring music hero and guitar legend. I was lucky enough last month to see the iconic songwriter, guitarist and super-producer Nile Rodgers play one of my most favourite London venues; Camden's Roundhouse. As Nile said himself; I guarantee you will know some of my songs. And what songs he has worked on! From the most magical songs of Sister Sledge (We Are Family, Thinking Of You, Lost In Music) to David Bowie (the Let's Dance album with its dalliance into funk), Madonna's Like A Virgin LP and the immortal sound of Chic (Everybody Dance, Le Freak, I Want Your Love, Good Times). There was a particularly touching moment as he told the story of his diagnosis and treatment for aggressive prostate cancer and his eventual declaration of being clear. Every phone (because we aren't allowed to use lighters now) was lit up for a poignant version of the mega hit he co-wrote and performed with Daft Punk and Farrell; Get Lucky. 


It is reputed that Nile's "Hitmaker" Stratocaster (a 1960 model with a 1959 neck) has been responsible for 100 million record sales... in other words the guitar has generated $2billion and counting. 

Nile Rodgers is a consummate musician, an influential figure and a force to be reckoned with. He has had to deal with the passing of his musical partner in Chic, Bernard Edwards as well as his own trials. Nevertheless he has come out of it all with creativity, positivity and joie de vivre. And in this fickle world we live in he has stayed relevant, such is the power of his unique musicianship. 

I hope you enjoy my pictures from his live show with Chic. It was a complete privilege to even be in the same room with such a hero.


Recipes:

Springtime packed lunch ideas for leftover lamb, leftover asparagus pasta, tortilla, crab salad and open sandwiches on rye: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/12/packed-lunch-ideas-recipes-asparagus-wild-garlic-tortilla-lamb-pitta

Loads of you wonderful foodies are macaron mad, I know. But how about a Chai Masala Macaron? Let Angela of Patisserie Makes Perfect show you how... http://www.patisseriemakesperfect.co.uk/masala-chai-macarons-jour-du-macaron-macaron-day/

Speedy vegetarian supper: pappardelle pasta with cavolo nero, orange, chilli and garlic by Diana Henry:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/11522938/Pappardelle-with-cavolo-nero-orange-chilli-and-garlic-recipe.html 

"Monastery style lentil soup": a soup fit for an austere monk... until you whack in dry sherry. (Vegetarian). http://food52.com/blog/12740-a-very-sensible-genius-lentil-soup-until-the-sherry

Kavey's Black Garlic, Mushroom & Cream Penne Pasta with a full bulb of black garlic (ooh!): http://www.kaveyeats.com/2015/04/black-garlic-mushroom-cream-penne-pasta.html


Simple supper dish which is quick to rustle up, a Cinnamon chicken bulgar wheat pilaf: http://www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/cinnamon-chicken-bulgar-pilaf/3831.html



Articles/Know How:

How to make dumplings and expand your cooking creativity! http://food52.com/blog/12764-how-to-make-dumplings-without-a-recipe

Getting the best out of vegetables: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zty2xnb

"Still or sparkling?" Unless it's not safe in the country in question, my answer is always "Tap, please". http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/21/bottled-water-multinational-companies-environment-consumers

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

My roasted vegetable salad recipe is my attempt at bridging the gap between Winter and Spring. Sustaining and substantial, but without the stodge factor. http://snigskitchen.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/roasted-vegetable-salad.html


TV:

Father Ted (Season 2)

Music:

The Charlatans - Modern Nature

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Chasing Yesterday

Tori Amos - From The Choirgirl Hotel


Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Roasted vegetable salad


his dish was an attempt to create a fairly healthy meal with vegetables and fibre that was appropriate for the days before typical salad produce become available. Be honest; most of us have salads in Summer because the produce suits it, right? 

I find this time of year challenging. No, it isn't Winter. But there are still cold days, and rain and grey skies are pretty commonplace. Being motivated can be difficult. I also appear to have an almost permanent set of frozen digits from Autumn right up until late Spring. So for me, eating the same light salads from Summer is just not happening. 

These early Spring salads have to have some substance, or you feel shortchanged, and you crave Macaroni cheese or something else which is heavenly but stodgy! 

In this dish the "substance" is provided by some oven roasted vegetables, cooked very simply in a little olive oil, salt and honey. The honey adds sweetness to the veggies, adding to the comfort factor. 

So, my intention is to bring colour, texture and goodness back into my eating. It could have included some seeds and wholegrains, which perhaps I will experiment with another time. 

I hope you will give this recipe a try, and of course, I'd be delighted to hear how you get on!

Roasted vegetable salad
(Serves 2)

You will need:
Baking sheet/tray/oven proof dish
Oven
A small pan
A jam jar with lid

Ingredients:

Roasted vegetables:
6 carrots, peeled and cut in half lengthways
1 parsnip, peeled and cut in half across, then in quarters lengthways
1 pepper, cut into long slices
(optional) 100g pancetta cubes
Olive oil
Salt
runny honey

Salad:
4-6 cherry tomatoes, cut into slices
4 red radishes, cut into slices
4 handfuls salad leaf, of your choice
1-2 handful of dried fruits, whichever is your preference; raisins, sultanas, currants, cranberries etc
1 handful of mint leaves, cut into strips
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160 deg C (fan oven) or 180 deg C (no fan).

2. Place the vegetables (and pancetta if using) in an oven proof dish or baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, honey and salt, and mix well.

3. Cook the vegetables in the oven for 40 minutes overall, mixing and turning occasionally. If not brown and tender, then do extend the cooking time by 5 minutes at a time.

4. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. Layer the salad leaf, tomatoes, radishes on your serving plates/bowls. 

6. Top with the roasted vegetables, then sprinkle the roasted pine nuts on top, finally the mint.

7. Put all the salad dressing ingredients into a jam jar, shake well and drizzle onto the salad.

8. Serve immediately.

Monday, 23 March 2015

March 2015 Favourites List

This month's pictures are from the Penang Peranakan Mansion in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. The home of a fabulously wealthy "Straits Chinese" family built in the 19th Century, but later abandoned, it has been restored into a museum to the classic era of Peranakan culture. 

In the 19th Century, people came from China to settle in Malaysia and the Malacca Straits, and they formed relationships with indigenous people; Peranakan culture is the blending of these two cultures. The men were called "Babas", the women "Nyonyas". As a result, the culture is referred to as either "Nyonya" or "Baba and Nyonya". 

The Peranakan Museum is full of exquisite exhibits from the mundane to the sublime. It isn't just about the luxury lifestyle items the wealthy Nyonyas were able to own... kitchen items and clothing are among the treasure on display. 

The grand marriage beds, inlaid furniture, delicate china all draw from Chinese and Peranakan style. However, European sophistication was also valued, as the "Mod Con" appliances and glassware attests. 

I particularly enjoyed the wonderful rooms set aside for jewellery.... The proliferation of glittering diamonds and intricate gold work was utterly arresting.... as I would have been had I attempted to pinch one of the items I had my eye on!

It's a wonderful step back in time to an age filled with romance and grace.... as I hope my pictures capture.  

However, Peranakan culture is still alive in Penang. Nyonya people are proud of their heritage, and maintain their traditions. For visitors, the best way of discovering this heritage is through the fabulous Nyonya food, a wonderful combination of flavours, technique and ingredients drawing from Chinese, indigenous Malay, Thai and Burmese culinary traditions. In Penang, seeking out a Nyonya restaurant to sample this unique cuisine is a must. 




Recipes:

Winter beetroot salad with soy beans, carrot and purple cabbage: http://maisoncupcake.com/winter-beetroot-salad-edamame-soy-beans/

Him Indoors and I struggled to work out how to make Vietnamese pancakes... The internet gave us the answer! Banh Xeo; a very helpful, well explained recipe: http://www.theravenouscouple.com/2009/12/banh-xeo-vietnamese-sizzling-crepes.html

Chicken, Apricot, Ginger & Rosemary Tagine - some warming flavours for the tail end of Winter... http://www.alanabread.com/chicken-apricot-ginger-rosemary-tagine/ 

Speedy pressure cooker Dal Makhani (creamy/buttery lentils) by Miss Masala, Mallika Basu: http://www.quickindiancooking.com/2007/03/13/dal-makhani/

A herby, nutty rice salad, great as a side and possibly a packed lunch at work: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/02/salad-recipes-the-groundnut-cook-residency

Kolkata style chicken and egg kathi roll with coriander and mint chutney. http://chilliandmint.com/2015/01/19/chicken-and-egg-kathi-roll-a-kolkata-speciality/

Vegetarian recipes which Nigel Slater says will satisfy even hardened carnivores: Feta with spinach and blood orange, Baked eggs and vegetables, Aubergine chermoula, Freekeh with peppers and Baked dal and sweet potato. http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/mar/15/nigel-slater-five-vegetarian-recipes

Spiced rolled leg of lamb by The Curry Guy, Dan Toombs: http://www.greatcurryrecipes.net/2015/01/19/spiced-rolled-leg-lamb/

A vegetarian/vegan diet day soup by Fiona of London Unattached: http://www.london-unattached.com/2014/09/diet-butternut-squash-and-sweet-potato-soup/

Apple and blackberry pudding cooked in the slow cooker - surprise! http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/blackberry-and-apple-roly-poly-pudding

Love moussaka but feel a bit guilty about all those calories and fat? Here's a skinny moussaka by the lovely Emma. https://supperinthesuburbs.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/skinny-moussaka/

Shukto is a classic Bengali veg dish. Here's how to make it: bengalicuisine.net/2009/shukto/ Cook Like A Bong is a great place for Bangla food fans 

Articles/Know How:

Coconut oil and rapeseed oil are becoming more popular. Here Annie Bell investigates the health issues and cooking practicalities of a few brands. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/features/which-is-the-best-cooking-oil-from-extra-virgin-olive-oil-to-coconut-10057838.html


Stewing or braising - a practical and helpful "how to" guide for everyone, regardless of level of experience. http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/how-to-braise

Food and travel; how food can be an international language by Tamasin Day Lewis.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/travel/life-well-travelled/11408261/language-food-helps-us-travel-well.html


What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:


Over at Snig's Classroom:

Efficient revision techniques and how to retain more per hour of revision spent: http://snigsclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/revising-how-to-get-more-bang-for-your.html 

Go With The Flow.... or: Flow charts - Magical Procedural Memory Aid: http://snigsclassroom.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/go-with-flow-flowcharts.html 


Film:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 

Salting The Battlefield

TV:

The Casual Vacancy

Cucumber 

Music:

Chic - C'est Chic

Alt J - This Is All Yours

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead


Please note: as with every monthly Favourites List, all of these items have been selected by me simply because I love them. I do not receive any money, benefits in kind or other incentive for posting these links or recommendations.