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.


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:

"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


Father Ted (Season 2)


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
A small pan
A jam jar with lid


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
runny honey

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

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp Dijon Mustard

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.