Monday, 21 December 2015

December 2015 Favourites List

Last month I shared my pictures from the beginning of 2015 where I found enjoyment and inspiration in the street art of Penang, Malaysia. 

(If you didn't see it before, you can see that earlier instalment here:

But the energy, free expression and beauty of their heady and superbly creative art scene cannot be encapsulated in just the one set of photos. 

As a result, I am going back to Penang to bring you some more amazing street art images, encompassing humour, romance, whimsy, technique and soul.


Lentil and apricot pilaf with spiced cauliflower:

Crap at baking like me? How about making a mug cake! With either a creme egg or Lindt choc ball melty middle?

Fantastic collection of the key dishes of my parents' amazing culinary heritage. Remember many of these dishes with great fondness.

Sprouts are not just for Christmas. Don't take my word for it, here's Cookwitch Lisa with a mushroom and sprout salad for Winter:

Comfort food vegetarian supper from Nigel Slater - butterbean mash with sauteed mixed mushrooms:

This Chinese style stir fry recipe is vegetarian, using cauliflower. I might add some king prawns.

For Christmas dinner accompaniment or just a side for Sunday lunch, the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean make this original and exotic:

Hot rum punch - Rum, cognac and sherry, with cinnamon

Angela from Patisserie Makes Perfect posts a gorgeously festive Christmassy bake recipe - Raspberry and white chocolate kugelhopf:

Articles/Know How:

Baking hacks and tips, for those of you who are baking competent:

Food, drink and cooking Christmas present inspiration from Kavita:

Good Things magazine selects its top restaurants for the Winter; Sexy Fish, Orange Elephant, Smith & Wollensky, among others.

The best new restaurants and bars in London according to the Telegraph:

The best cookbooks for Christmas and the New Year as selected by Kavita at Kavey Eats:

Obviously the *only* (ie my way!) is white br
ead, lightly buttered, tartare sauce (mayonnaise if you've run out) and a slice of cheddar cheese. The fish finger butty is a British food classic!

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

Planning for 25th December? Let Waitrose wines help you choose your wines for Christmas:

Recipe blog post - creamy pork and mushroom pasta for cold Winter evenings, "Woodland Pasta":


Les Revenants (The Returned) Season 2

Sounds of the 70s


Pet Shop Boys – Actually
Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will
FKA Twigs – LP1
Billy Bragg – Tooth and Nail

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.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Woodland Pasta

We have almost made it to the end of the year, and we are well and truly in the big run up to Christmas. It's a hectic time. Shopping needs to be done, plans made for the big day, presents to be wrapped. Some of us who still bother to send Christmas cards have to get them written out and sent in good time. Then there's the Christmas party season, work shingdigs with employers old and new, the spouse's work party that you HAVE to go to, the overdue catch up with friends "before the New Year starts". It's easy to fall into the takeaway and microwave meal pattern of evening dinners when life is so chaotic.

What I have here is a simple dish which is relatively quick to make. It is warming and rich. Although I dislike Autumn and Winter weather, something I put down to feeling the cold very intensely, the food of the late seasons I enjoy very much. And I love cooking them as much as I enjoy eating them. Winter calls for comfort food, and this is comforting and satisfying.

This is food which should reassure and relieve the lack of sunshine and complete lack warmth of the season, providing the necessary "central heating" for the body when not indoors.

Pasta provides the base to many simple dishes for post-work suppers. The immense versatility of pasta, its ease of cooking make it perfect for quick and easy dinners. It is also perfect for Wintry dishes, whether served with a simple sauce or baked into a sumptuous, hot, bubbling comfort dish made in heaven!

My "Woodland Pasta" is inspired by the Italian dishes Pasta di Bosco (pasta of the forest) and Spaghetti di profumo di bosco (spaghetti with the smell of the woods). The common thread between these dishes being mushrooms, raw pork or ham and cream. Mine is luxuriant and indulgent through the addition of beautiful and fragrant fresh herbs, grated parmesan cheese (for extra rich umami flavours) and truffle oil for richness.

This is a simple dish, despite the list of ingredients, and as long as you soak the porcini as soon as you get in from work, is a very achievable worknight supper dish.

Woodland Pasta

Serves 3 people (or 2 very hungry/greedy people)


350g Minced pork

5g Dried Porcini mushrooms

3 Chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced

200ml White wine

150ml Double cream

3 cloves Garlic, very finely diced

1.5-2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

3 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

5 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

150g pasta (I used De Cecco fusilli)

Olive oil

Truffle oil


You need to rehydrate the porcini first. In a large mug, soak the porcini in boiling water for at least 20 minutes to half an hour. 

Put a large pan of unsalted water onto the heat for cooking the pasta.

Drain the soaked porcini and chop finely.

Cook your pasta in boiling water until al dente. In the meantime, you will need to work on the steps below.

In a non-stick frying pan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and mix for one minute.

Add the rosemary, sage, porcini and chestnut mushrooms. Stir occasionally and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from pan and put aside on a plate.

Heat pan, and fry the pork until it has changed colour. Drain away excess liquid.
Put the mushroom mixture and pork back into the pan.
Add the white wine, parsley, salt and pepper, turn up the heat until you cannot smell the wine strongly. (Until the harshness of the alcohol has gone). About 5 minutes.
Now add the double cream, continue cooking for about 5 or so minutes, as you are trying to get the sauce to thicken a little.
When the pasta is cooked, drain. Reserve 3-5 tablespoons of cooking water, just in case.
Mix the pasta with the sauce, combining thoroughly.
Serve up into bowls. 
Top with a drizzle of truffle oil, adding as much as your taste prefers. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Enjoy immediately.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Waitrose Wines - Christmas picks

It is the first of December, the first day of the Christmas season. It's the first day you can put your Christmas decorations up, open the first door of your advent calendar and generally start feeling festive. 

Some of you might be beginning to plan your Christmas dinner, and so I thought that it might help you to identify some fab wines for the big day.

I recently attended a tasting at Waitrose's Cookery School in London for Waitrose's seasonal drink selections. There was a bewildering array of booze available. I knew I would need some help. 

Thankfully, Cat Lomax, an experienced, knowledgeable wine buyer for Waitrose specialising in Bordeaux, Rhone, Alsace, Austrian and Sparkling wines noticed my confused expression and decided to give me a guided tour of the selections.   

I was very lucky that Cat took me under her wing to help choose these wines, they are the pick of the wines I tried with her help.

Sparkling wines

Most of you are likely to kick off the shenanigans of Christmas day with some bubbly and a toast to a fabulous day of celebrations. Fortunately, there are ample choices for varied budgets and varied party sizes.

San Leo Prosecco Brut, NV, Italy, 1.5l £20.99

Prosecco is a word fast becoming synonymous for party. You'd also be hard pressed to beat the "wow factor" of a Magnum, a full double size bottle! But is the wine inside any good? Cat, my guide to the new range is so enthusiastic about this Prosecco, she had it at her recent engagement party. That's quite a big endorsement. I tasted it and thought it was wonderful frothy fun; highly drinkable, round, soft, yet fresh. Cat highlighted the fresh tones of pear as another standout feature of this Prosecco. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010, West Sussex, England £31.99

Cherie Spriggs grows her grapes on the Lee of the South Downs, in the shelter from the coastal winds. The chalk seam in West Sussex falls deeper underground, leading all the way to the Champagne region across the Channel, a clue as to why England sparkling wines made by le method traditionelle are giving bona fide Champagne a run for its money. This wine won a prestigious IWC Silver Medal, proving its quality and refinement. Good sparkling wine, particularly Champagne, needs acidity in the grape alongside ripeness, which our climate is ideal for achieving. Made of 51% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay and 13% Pinot Meunier, the Nyetimber is crisp and clean with toasty brioche flavours.

Pol Roger Vintage 2004 Champagne £56.99

Still a family run concern, Pol Roger is different from many of the other Champagne houses. It is a far smaller producer than its better known rivals.  This Champagne consists of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Cat advised me that 2004 was a good year, which is why Pol Roger considered it worthy of a single vintage. I would describe it as an elegant and fine Champagne with lemony citrus flavours, well above the level of ordinary supermarket Champagne. This wine is for a special celebration. Cat noted freshly made bread dough, yeastiness and praised its refined, precise character and crisp, refreshing flavours. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

White wines

The early courses of your Christmas dinner are likely to be seafood or fish. Dressed crab, smoked salmon, lobster, pan fried fish. You will want white wines which go well with food, but are not too overpowering. Cat guided me towards white wines which, whilst having different characteristics, are great for food pairing.

Domaine Saint Amant La Tabardonne 2012, Cotes du Rhone Villages, France £14.99

Made from 90% Viognier and the relatively unknown Rousanne grape (making up the other 10%), this wine is made in the Phone region, not known for their white wines. Made by a husband and wife team, grown on small chalky clay terraces, this wine deserves notice. Hand picked, the grapes are crushed by gravity and fermented on oak barrels. I thought after 1990s New World hyper-oaking that I didn't like oaked wines. I avoided them wherever I could. I have learned that you can't hold rigid opinions with wine; techniques change, seasons, weather and geography xast their spell. This wine had richness and body with a long plead finish.

Le Crocher d'Amelie 2014 Sancerre, Loire, France £17.49

100% Sauvignon Blanc as all Sancerre should be, this is a wonderful wine for food.  Sancerre has long been a go-to wine for me when food matching owing to its brilliant balance of flavour, sweetness and acidity. Jean-Max Roger and his sons Thibault and Etienne grow the grapes in the village of Bue and hamlet of Amigny on clay-limestone soil of Jurassic origins. But don't worry, this wine is no dinosaur; it is elegant with herbaceous garden aromas. The flavour and finish are refined and restrained. A fabulous wine for all palates. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Red wines

Some people eschew the traditional turkey dinner for something more substantial, demanding the depth and fruit of red wines. There were plenty of great red wines available in the Winter selection, these being my favourites. 
Domaine Lucien Muzard 2013 Santenay, Premier Cru Maladiere, Burgundy, France £19.99

Burgundy, France is the home of the iconic beef stew Boeuf Bourguignon, traditionally made with Burgundy wine. The region is not as reknowned as other French wine regions, and can be intimidating for the wine novice because there are so many small appellations. This wine, made by brothers and small producers Herve and Claude Muzard is 100% Pinot Noir and is aged for 12 months in oak barrels. This wine is for the Pinot Noir sceptic (as I indeed am). I found it aromatic and earthy, with red currant fruit. It is not too high in tannins and has a slightly gamey flavour. I enjoyed this wine as it was balanced with a fresh finish. I sometimes find Pinot Noir harsh, so this was a real find. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Villa Antinori 2012, Tuscany, Italy £14.99

Made from a blend of Sangiovese grapes with small quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, this wine is made by a respected producer in the trade. The post-picking treatment of the grapes was devised to give good colour and aroma. It smells fruity, full of black cherry and red fruits. The 12 months spent in oak barrels gives a spiciness. The finish was fresh and balanced. Cat recommends this as an ideal wine for complementing fatty, rich dishes, owing to its soft, ripe tannins and fresh acidity.

Sweet/dessert wines

It may well be that you make it through the grazing and snacking of Christmas morning (with ritual present opening!), the rigours of a full Crimbo dinner and have some space left for pudding. If so, you might be looking for a dessert wine to finish a memorable day with. Cat has a doozy for you!

Crociani 2010 Vin Santo di Montepulciano Tuscany Italy 37.5cl £19.49

With its attractive Medieval label, this Vin Santo would round off Christmas dinner a treat! Made of 90% Malvasia and 10% Pulcinculo (Grechetto Bianco) grapes by Susanna Crociani. Deep coloured, this wine has flavours of caramel and honey. Cat encouraged me to taste the subtler toasted almonds and slightly burnt marmalade tones she found. If you're generous, you might leave a wee glass for Father Christmas to have with his Christmas Eve mince pie. Otherwise, it would be great with Christmas cake, or with the cheese board after dinner. It goes particularly well with hard cheese served with dried fruits and apricots. Comte cheese is a fabulous partner!

If you are interested in any of these wines, you can check them out at the Waitrose Cellar website:
You can order wines to collect from your local branch if you do not want to order for a full delivery. 

I would like to convey my heartfelt thanks to Cat for her time and trouble in helping me find these wines. These are only a small selection of the wines she picked for me. Her knowledge and expertise is truly impressive and inspirational.

I would also thank Waitrose Wines for inviting me to their tasting event. I attended as their guest. 

Snigdha has not received any incentive, financial or otherwise for writing this blog post.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

November 2015 Favourites List

Hello readers!

Those of you who are regular readers will be aware that at the beginning of the year I went to Penang in Malaysia. (If you are a regular reader, thank you so much for your kindness, attention and support!)

As we near the close of the year, I thought it might be fun to look back on that trip to the street art (and street food) nerve centre of the world. 

When walking around Georgetown, you need to have your eyes peeled and your camera ready. There is street art in the most unexpected of places; in shops, above doorways, on stairs, on doors. The scene is vibrant and dynamic, so new works are appearing with no notice, no fanfare. The tourist authorities produce a brilliant map detailing where many of the works can be found, but it is possible that there are gems which are beyond its scope.

I am sharing with you a small collection of photographs of my favourite street art works from Georgetown. I hope you like them as much as I enjoyed exploring the city in search of them!


Mushroom, potato and chorizo fry-up, for Autumn days:

Melitzanasalata and borlotti bean "last minute" mash. Fab recipe post at Cookwitch Creations blog by Lisa:

Cold salvation in a mug... just made me some whisky hot toddy thanks to Jac's recipe!

Some food and drink ideas for Bonfire night... and a heavy dose of foodie realism from 

A simple one-pot dish made of chicken thighs for Autumn nights....

Low calorie, low carb chips made from butternut squash... One of my favourite vegetables.

Soak and cook one big batch of chick peas over the weekend. Get four dinners you can make for super efficiency!

Peanut butter butternut squash soup, an African recipe from Sierra Leone:

Vegetarian parsnip and paneer pastry recipe and the chance to win £50 in Waitrose vouchers with Deena Kakaya:

Articles/Know How:

Book review on Diana Henry's Bird In The Hand with a recipe for chicken with pumpkin, cream and gruyere cheese, from the fantastic Kavey Eats blog by Kavita:

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

Brand new blog post - Wor Tip Dumplings with pork and Chinese leaf by Ekachai - Easy dim sum recipe for home cooks!

I was very lucky to try some great beer and great food at L'Anima restaurant - because my fantastic friend Kavey let me tag long with her.

For anyone feeling under the weather - a Winter Warmer to deal with colds and flu... EVEN MAN FLU!

J20 Midnight Editions, Christmas Cocktails and a Winter Garden in Clapham:


The Sixth Sense (honestly – you notice much more when you revisit it!)


Adele at the BBC
Better than the Original: The Joy of the Cover Version
Cover Versions at the BBC
The Nation’s Favourite Beatles Number One


Adrenalin Baby – Johnny Marr
Dusty In Memphis – Dusty Springfield
Purple Electric Violin Concerto – Ed Alleyne-Johnson
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.