Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Snig's Kitchen: Now on Facebook and Twitter!

Just over a year ago, I started writing this blog. I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas with my friends and family, so I expected a tiny handful of loyal readers. I also thought that my current and former students might have a passing curiosity, dipping in and out every now and then, but not having more than a transient interest. To be honest, I didn't think I'd get many readers at all. I just thought it would be great to do something creative involved in one of my interests. And it would keep me off the streets! 

So, I've been surprised and delighted to find that I've had people read this blog from all over! Blogger gives me a map showing my weekly readership, which I wish I could share with you here. Obviously, most readers are in the UK. That's where the majority of my family and friends are based. But it has been a great joy to discover that I have readers in Europe: thanks to all of you in Germany, France, Spain, Ireland and Russia! Also, I've found that I have readers from further afield in the USA, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, New Zealand, the Philippines, China, Malaysia, Mauritius, Canada, Australia and Cambodia! Phew! I'm out of breath setting out that list!

Food is something which brings us together. On its simplest level, we all have to eat. It is part of the human condition. But we humans are unique in that we can prepare our own food and can use techniques to make it more palatable, safe and digestible. We are the only animal with the ability to cook. Mostly, across the world, we share the same techniques (grilling, baking, steaming, frying, stewing). Although we give them different names culturally, we use very similar implements the world over. Perhaps the prevalence of certain products and techniques change as you travel across the world, but people's passion for good food is universal. Also it is in sharing food and food experiences with each other that we show ourselves at our best and friendliest. It is for very good reason that human bonding revolves around 'breaking bread'. 

Cheered and motivated by the wide range of nations that my readers come from, I've decided to reach out even further. So I am now running "Snig's Kitchen" pages on facebook and twitter. I hope you will join me breaking bread in a virtual way. 

You will be able to find Snig's Kitchen on Facebook: 

My twitter account is at: @snigskitchen

See you there!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Quick Lunch - Salmon, wasabi and creme fraiche open sandwiches on rye bread

When you are trying to eat healthily and look after yourself, it is lunchtime which I think is the most challenging meal of the day. breakfast you can have at home, and since we nearly all at least have a fridge at work, having muesli or cereal at work is possible. At lunchtime at work it is so very tempting to head out to the nearest fast food establishment to tuck into some warm and comforting fried food. Who can resist chips on a cold and grey day? Alternatively, there is the local sandwich parlour. Recent revelations about the levels of fat and salt in shop bought sandwiches prove they are not always a healthy option.

Most of us do not have cooking facilities at work. If we are lucky there is a kettle and a microwave oven. But many people don't have that option. So you want something sustaining, energy giving and SIMPLE. Preferably a dish which involves assembly only.

With that in mind, I'd like to share my idea for wholegrain rye open sandwiches. These are healthy, tasty and exceptionally simple to make.

All you need is the following;
1. A tube of Wasabi paste - this light green Japanese radish paste is now available in UK supermarkets. If you can't find it, most Oriental grocers stock it. A word of warning: Wasabi has a very strong flavour. It is extremely hot. It can cause watering of the eyes, burning of the mouth and a tingling sensation in the sinuses. That may make it sound like it tastes unpleasant, but as long as you don't overdo it, it has an intensive and strangely addictive quality. 
2. Sliced rye bread either with or without seeds. I used rye bread with sunflower seeds. This is because I particularly like the texture of the rye with the nutty flavour of the sunflower seeds. 
3. Sliced smoked salmon. Please keep this cold if you are transporting it from home to work, and keep it cold until you eat it. Fish and meat products can, if allowed to get above 5°C (41°F), cause food poisoning (for more advice please see my previous post:
4. Small tub of creme fraiche. OK, you can try to tick me off here that this is an unhealthy ingredient, but I am not using any butter or margarine here. And you need something creamy to provide moisture and a change of texture to the sandwich. 

Rye grain is high in fibre, because it is difficult to refine, unlike wheat which can be refined into white flour, used to make white bread. Rye can help weight loss because the polysaccharides in it help trap water, making you feel full. Rye has been proven in several studies to reduce cholesterol. Also, like all wholegrains, they take time for the body to break down, meaning a gradual release of energy. This is unlike white bread which can lead to a rush of energy followed by a slump. And it has more flavour and a more substantial texture than ordinary bread.

Salmon contains Omega 3 oils, and vitamins A, B and D. As I have set out in my previous post (, these nutrients are good for memory and brain maintenance and development. Salmon also speeds the metabolism, which since I have reached a certain age, is very good news indeed.

Wasabi is thought to be anti-microbial (eliminates bacteria), anti-inflammatory and has anti-cancerous effects in that it helps the body to deal with substances which can potentially be toxic and cancer causing. These reasons are thought to be behind why it is served with raw fish in sushi.

Whilst creme fraiche may have some fat in it (the tub I bought was 30% fat), it has some benefits. Firstly, its rich and slightly tart, tangy flavour. This means it provides taste, but without salt, since creme fraiche is very low in sodium. Also it is low in sugar and high in calcium. Children and women must ensure calcium levels are maintained for bone development and maintenance. 

Makes 2 open sandwiches, enough for 1 person for lunch.


2 slices rye bread
3 tbsp creme fraiche
1/4 to 2/3 wasabi paste (it may be better if you try the smaller amount, taste, and add if necessary than to put it all in at once - this is powerful stuff!)
2-3 large slices of smoked salmon
(optional) Dill to garnish


Put the creme fraiche in a small bowl and measure out the wasabi. Mix up the creme fraiche and wasabi, tasting as you go.

When you are happy with the strength of the flavour, ensure the wasabi is mixed thoroughly.

Put 2 slices of rye bread onto your serving plate.

Spread the wasabi and creme fraiche mixture on the slices of rye bread.

Top with smoked salmon. Add a sprig of dill, if using.


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Countdown to Food Revolution Day - 19 May 2012

Saturday 19th May is Food Revolution Day. The brainchild of Jamie Oliver, it is a day for increasing awareness of global food issues. Known for his very public campaigning for healthy food in Britain's schools, Jamie Oliver is hoping for widespread support. The trigger for this event is the rise of obesity levels around the world. Jamie Oliver is hoping everyone wants to do something to curb this worrying trend, and that they will support his brave new initiative. However, in his article in The Sun on 1 May 2012, he was aware that he may have his detractors. He says, with typical frankness:  "Some of you may like and trust me, some of you may find me annoying, but whoever you are, and wherever you’re from, I hope you’ll identify with what I’m saying."

So what is Food Revolution all about? 
It is about getting people together with the purpose of spreading the message of nourishing yourself and your family through food which is nutritious and, if possible,, we homemade. Jamie Oliver wants people to "share information, talents and resources; to pass on their knowledge" and "to inspire change in people’s food habits and to promote the mission for better food and education for everyone." This sounds like a mission which is up the street of any food loving individual in Britain, doesn't it?

Let's be honest, many of us are busy, hardworking and with our busy schedules, we are tempted to cut corners. I remember when I first started working, the idea of coming home and cooking a whole homemade meal seemed like too much to ask. So Him Indoors and I ate a lot of pre-prepared oven and microwave meals and we relied on a lot of take-aways. Eventually, however, we got bored of what we were eating. The flavours of the pre-prepared food seemed bland and muted. The takeaways started to all meld into one. And we started to realise they were expensive and not particularly healthy.

So we made a promise to ourselves to have, wherever possible, homemade dinners. We resolved to share cooking and preparation duties to achieve that aim. We found that this was a great shared experience; it encouraged us to co-operate, to chat whilst working, with the reward of a tasty meal at the end of the process. 

I know what some of you are thinking: "Tasty? That's arrogant!" Well, it may sound that way, but honestly, almost ANY homecooked meal tastes better than pre-prepared. Whatever your level of skill, it is using fresh ingredients and cooking just before the time of eating makes such a difference. Pre-prepared food and ready meals have been knocking around for a while. As a result, the flavours are already dulling. And often, preservatives have to be added, causing even more muting and degradation of the taste. 

It's true, when we first started our personal home cooking revolution, we weren't always turning out fantastic meals. To be honest, we have the odd 'kitchen disasters' even today. But a small amount of perseverance will pay off amazing results. Our cooking evenings have turned into a regular bonding experience, and it comes as no surprise that many workplace 'teambuilding' events are based around cooking together.

Now is the time for us all to start really thinking about what we eat.As yourself some of these question:
Is what we eat as healthy as we would like? 
What simple changes could we make to improve our diets? 
How much are we spending on food? 
Is it too much?
Could that be because we are spending too much on takeaways and ready made food? 
How can we cook at home more often? 
Can we share the tasks involved?
Is it time to make sure the whole family has the skills to prepare a simple meal?
How can we make sure the next generation eat healthy, homecooked food and use takeaways and eating out as a treat?

If you want to support Food Revolution Day there are lots of things you can do.
You could:
Have a dinner party on Saturday 19th May.
Ask you company to pledge its support.
Ask your children's school to pledge its support.
Hold your own food event.
Support a local food event.
Make a donation to the Jamie Oliver Foundation (visit, check the top right hand corner, click on 'donate' and then select where you are in the world to make your donation).
Follow @foodrev and #foodrevolution on twitter.

If you are in London:
There is an Indian Street Food Supper Club at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen. 
The apprentices of Fifteen Apprentices will be running a stall at Borough Market and selling flatbreads from 11am. 
You can book at place for the following:
Community Feast: Eat Better, Waste Less Event at St Marys (Secret) Garden, 50 Pearson Street, London, E2 8EL
The Cake Table bake sale at Hackney Homemade FOOD market at St John's Church Gardens (off either Narroway or Lower Clapton Road)
Stoke Newington Farmers Market Taster Event 10am to 2:30pm in front of St Paul's Church, Stoke Newington High Street, London, N16 7UY

What are you doing for Food Revolution Day?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Happy birthday Snig’s Kitchen! One year old today!

How quickly a year goes by! I can hardly believe that I’ve already been running this little old blog for a whole year already. So I think it’s time to look back at the most popular posts of the year.

Top 10 most popular posts:

1.       29th June 2011 - Recipe Road Test: Atul Kochhar’s Parsi Lamb Curry
Atul Kochhar is the most innovative Indian chef operating in the world right now. His Michelin starred Benares restaurant serves superb ‘Indian-food-with-a-twist’, influenced by the best of Europe. My number one post is my testing of his recipe for Salli Ma Karu Gosht, a northern Indian lamb curry with matchstick potatoes. A great recipe, full of flavour and easy to follow, it hardly surprises me that this is as popular as it is.

2.       14th October 2011 – Recipe Road Test: Ching-He Huang’s Nutty Chicken Cool Noodle Salad
Ching-He Huang has been behind a resurgence of interest in cooking Chinese food at home. This wonderful recipe requires cooked chicken, and I’ll confess we often have roast chicken on a Sunday just so we can have this amazing salad later in the week! A spicy peanutty dressing, crispy vegetables and exotic mango makes this a delicious meal which will convert anyone who still believes salad to be ‘rabbit food’.

3.       10th May 2011 – Review of Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape Part 1 – Cambodia
This review of Ramsay’s TV ‘Travel-cum-cooking’ show has been stumbled upon by many, many people. It would appear that ‘anger wat’ or ‘anger wat cambodia’ are the search terms which have led far and away the most people to my humble little blog. Others were interested to know about food shortages in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge years and were drawn in by google recognising they might want to see pictures of deep fried tarantulas. Whilst Ramsay might not have captured all the myriad faces of this amazing countries, his journey of discovery of Cambodian cooking was nevertheless fascinating.

4.       22nd March 2012 – Back to School: Leluu’s Vietnamese Cooking Class
Writer, food blogger, supperclub host, photographer and film-maker Uyen Luu (nickname Leluu) manages to fit in Vietnamese cooking classes into her busy schedule (she is currently writing a book on her native flavours and cooking techniques). I thoroughly enjoyed my time learning about Vietnamese ingredients and dishes. It would appear that my readers were also very interested too.

5.       7th May 2011 - How to make baked camembert
Posted on my first day as a blogger, this was actually a recycled piece I had originally posted Facebook on Monday, 28 June 2010. It is a gastropub classic, and is one which can easily be recreated at home. Perhaps it was cheeky to ask the Cirencester chef how to make it, but aren’t you all glad I did?
6.       20th June 2011: Review of Taste of London 2011
Taste of London is one of the premier foodie events of the year. It was a superb day out, and it isn’t surprising that many readers have wanted to know all about it. 2012’s event will again be in Regent’s Park from 21st June to 24th June and is booking now. I was chuffed to meet some real food heroes: Atul Kochhar, Richard Corrigan and Jun Tanaka.

7.       31st January 2012: Italian Style Barley Salad
Everyone wants to eat a little healthier. But I think many of us find it difficult to find the right combination of healthy, tasty and simple to prepare. Italian food, with its ripe tomatoes, flat leaf parsley, lemons and olive oil, seems to lend itself to flavourful healthy eating. The addition of wholegrain goodness is, I hope, what has made this recipe so well read. Thanks everyone!

8.       21st May 2011: How to make Thai Inspired steamed fish
This was another recipe I had first posted on facebook on Tuesday, 17 August 2010, long before I ever thought of having a food blog of my own. This is a triumph of taste and simplicity. The use of steaming as a cooking technique is very forgiving – the fish does not lose any of its moisture and hence does not overcook. An simple one to try at home if you’ve never tried cooking a Snig’s Kitchen dish before.

9.       25th November 2011: Reggae Reggae Litigation: The High Court Verdict
Levi Root’s High Court defence of his Reggae Reggae sauce was always going to attract attention, particularly after his public triumph in the Dragon’s Den. In the end, Levi was not found to have infringed Tony Bailey’s intellectual property rights to the famous sauce. Not that it was a complete victory; both were criticised by the judge, who felt neither had really been up front. A thrilling legal battle, for foodies as well as those with an interest in all things legal.

10.   7th April 2012: Brain food
I wrote this post very much with my students in mind. In the midst of their revision, I must admit I was perhaps being a bit of a ‘Mother Hen’ worrying about them, but I wanted to be sure they were looking after themselves. This piece seems to have struck a chord, with many other people wanting to know if  you can improve your acuity, memory, stamina and intelligence through diet. Yes, you can, provided you are looking after the rest of you.

I’d like to express my gratitude. Firstly, to all of you who read this blog. Whether you read regularly or dip in and out, thank you. It is you readers who keep me writing. Big thanks go to all of you who email me, send comments via the blog, facebook or twitter about my various posts. It’s great to have a dialogue with you, so please keep doing what you are doing. My king-size gratitude goes to Matt Seys-Llewellyn and Uyen Luu for their fantastic guest posts and to Karin Struyk and Raymond Medhurst for their recipe posts. If any readers have any ideas for guest posts or recipes, I am always receptive to new ideas – email me!

I will be doing my best to keep blogging for another year. I hope to keep you all interested with more reviews, food thoughts and original recipes. If there is anything you think I should cover or you would like to see, do let me know!