Saturday, 22 August 2015

August 2015 Favourites List

I hope you are all enjoying the Summer. It has not been wall-to-wall sunshine here in the UK, but I was shocked to hear a woman in town complain “We haven’t had our Summer yet, have we?” to her friend in the street. I didn’t think we had done too badly! Perhaps it is just one of those very British reactions to the weather. We seem to store stronger memories of the rain and chilly days than the long, beautiful, balmy ones!

Results and resit season are upon everyone who is either in education or working in education. GCSE results were out this week, A level results the week before. My students have had resit assessments and exams the last couple of weeks. There is so much pressure on children and students these days, I wonder how I would cope if I had to live those days over again. I hope that either you, or those close to you have received the results hoped for, or that if you have had a resit to take,  I wish you the very best of luck.

This month's pictures are from my Summer flower pictures on Instagram. The bright and vibrant colours always cheer me up and put a smile on my face, come rain or shine.

Now here is my collection of lovely stuff I have been enjoying this month. Dig in and enjoy!


If you're getting a little bored with Mojitos, why not go back to an old classic, the Moscow Mule?

Tony Singh's Strawberry Sunday with "Monkey Blood" (don't worry, it's only made out of raspberries!):

Cyrus Todiwala's Parsee Kolmi Ni Bharaei, Stuffed sea bass with tomato Patia.

Love mussels, love pasta? Here's an Italian/French fusion which combines the two!

Great avocado recipes from chefs and foodies:

Quick and easy Indian: poha, "variety" rice, upma, bhurji, aloo chaat, masala French toast.

Articles/Know How:

Food myths, the truth about sell by dates and how to avoid throwing precious food in the bin:

Very disappointed to see leading chain restaurants take money intended for waiting staff as tips into their own pockets. Please complain if you can to stop this unnecessary practice:

Sadly, the great service charge rip off continues. I like Cote Brasserie, but I don't like its policy of taking all of the service charge for itself.

So, this new chilli being stocked by Tesco is meant to be 400 times hotter than a Jalapeno. Yep, 400. My only question is why? Aren't regular chillis hot enough?

What you might have missed at Snig's Kitchen:

My brilliant friend Linda returns to Snig's Kitchen with another authentic Neapolitan recipe, so you can cook like Mamma!

My review of Amy Riolo's Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, a well thought out, thoroughly researched book with some great recipes. Read my full review!

Inside Out

The Returned
Singer Songwriters At The BBC 2

The Who Sell Out – The Who
Harvest – Neil Young
Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake
Alt-J – This Is All Yours

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, 15 August 2015

Pasta with Broccoli (Guest post by Linda Poulnott)

At the beginning of the year, I was fortunate enough to host a "residency" of guest blog posts by my friend Linda Poulnott. Linda has lived in the Bay of Naples in southern Italy for over 20 years. Through her total immersion into the language, life and culture of this exciting and vibrant part of the world, she has learned how to cook the food of this region authentically. It is with great pleasure that I am happy to say Linda has returned to Snig's Kitchen with a new recipe for us all. 

Linda Poulnott, your brilliant post author

You may have missed Linda's residency, but fear not, here are the links to her three brilliant and helpful posts:

How to cook like a Neapolitan Mamma (food and cooking advice):

Risotto con Funghi Misti (Risotto with mixed mushrooms):

Parmigiana di Melanzane (Neapolitan Baked Aubergines):

The key thing which you will realise from Linda's writing and recipes is how unfussy good Italian food can be. I have found this to be a revelation. I have, like Linda, tried to cook cheffy and complicated Italian recipes from cook books. Linda has previously described how on her arrival in Italy, she tried to replicate these overly technical and fussy dishes, only to find that the real food of the Neapolitan region could be appealing, flavourful and satisfying without the hassle. 

Linda's approach is refreshing, simple and delightful. This recipe, her fresh trofie pasta with broccoli, is entirely in keeping with her philosophy on cooking. Who would have thought you could rustle up something tasty, healthy and authentic so rapidly? Perfect for a weeknight or a speedy weekend lunch. 

So I hope you will read and try to make this recipe and if you didn't have the chance to catch her previous posts, that you will travel back in time to the start of 2015 to read them!

My thanks to Linda for her lovely recipe, another wonderful guest post that I am proud and happy to include here. 

If you have any questions or queries, please feel free to post in the comments below. Alternatively, I am sure you can ask Linda on twitter. Or perhaps you just want to say hello and thanks to Linda, as she is a friendly and fun person in the twitterati. Just look for @nnamorata. 

Buon appetito, my readers. Over to Linda!

The finished dish: fresh trofie pasta with broccoli


This dish is very simple and ideal to make when you get home after a busy day. It should take you about 15mins to prepare. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

People in the Gulf of Naples eat it in winter when broccoli is in season. It’s a Neapolitan “comfort food” dish. If you can get it, try to buy fresh pasta for this dish. In the photo you’ll see I use Trofie shaped pasta.

Fresh trofie pasta

If it’s hard to find, orrechiette or cavatelli shapes work well too.


A large frying pan
2 Medium saucepans
A wooden spoon
A sieve to drain the pasta


About 300g of Broccoli
150g of Pasta
1 clove of chopped garlic
Couple of glugs of olive oil
A handful of grated pecorino cheese (parmesan is fine to use too)
A few dried chilli flakes or some fresh chopped chilli to taste.(Try not to go too hot if you want the original dish)
Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Wash and cut up the florets of broccoli and boil in a saucepan until softened. (Don’t bother adding salt to the water.)

2. Put a couple of glugs of olive oil into the frying pan and put on a medium heat. Add the chilli and chopped garlic,taking care not to burn them.

3. Drain the broccoli, keeping some of the water to add if needed. Add the broccoli to the frying pan and a little of the water. I like the dish creamy so I mash most of the florets with a fork. At this point I add the salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking the broccoli

4. At this point you can start cooking the pasta in a saucepan.

5. Once the broccoli mix is creamy in texture (remember if it gets too dry, you can add the “broccoli water” that you kept earlier!), you add it to the cooked and drained pasta. Mix well and throw in a handful of the grated pecorino cheese.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Amy Riolo - Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook - Review

Amy Riolo will be better known to readers in the USA than in the UK, because of her many appearances on Fox TV, CBS TV and The Travel Channel. The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is her fifth published title. Educated at Cornell University, Riolo is a restaurant consultant with a passion for food and cooking. She speaks many languages and has immersed herself in the food and culture around the Med by living and working in Italy and the Med’s other surrounding countries. In fact, one of her books centres on the cooking of Egypt and the Nile. Food stylist, food writer, tutor, guest speaker for noted organisations like Les Dames d’Escoffier and The Smithsonian Institution, she is much more than your average “celebrity chef”.

I was eager to see how her Mediterranean Diet Cookbook would measure up. Some diet cook books are preachy, overly keen to convert you to a “philosophy”. Others feature bland recipes which lead you to call out for a cheeky take away. Then there are the diet cookbooks so extreme in their bid to feature healthy recipes, you head for the fridge, still hungry, ready to eat anything that may be left there…..

Riolo does have a philosophy, but she describes it with a lightness of touch. Her main point is that what you eat can have an enormous effect on your mood and your health. As a result, one’s overall sense of well being (physically, mentally, spiritually) can begin with food. She is realistic about most people’s relationship with food; that we tend to love what isn’t good for us. So she does not chide us for our preferences. She simply suggests a balance where we strive to eat healthily as often as possible, saving the “bad stuff” for an occasional treat.

Riolo notes three key factors which differentiate the societies of the Mediterranean. Firstly, she says “food is treated like medicine”. Secondly, “moderation is key”. Finally, “an active physical and social lifestyle is mandatory”. In relation to that third factor, Amy suggests meals are eaten as a family, at the dinner table with no distractions.

Although Riolo suggests that seafood and poultry should be eaten more frequently than meat, the three recipes I tried from the book were all meat based. My husband, Him Indoors, is a confirmed meat lover, and if the meals were intended to be eaten at the table, then his tastes needed to be catered for! However, I will be exploring the other recipes in the book in due course.

The Libyan lamb couscous from page 34 of the book was the first dish I tested from the book. The lamb was stewed  in tomatoes with chick peas, and chunky carrots and courgettes. 

The turmeric and cayenne brought spice and colour to the dish. Because the carrots and courgettes were left in large cubes, they did not soften too much in the cooking time, retaining much of their nutrients. 

The chick peas provided texture to the dish and much needed fibre as most of us do not get enough in our diet. The tomato base was rich in vitamins and nutrients, such as lycopene. The recipe was uncomplicated, involving simple cooking techniques, although is rather time consuming. A dish for weekends rather than weeknight cooking. 

The indulgent couscous gives a luxurious touch. This dish was a definite hit; the lamb came out tender and aromatic, and the overall flavours melded together well. I will be making this one again, for sure.

Next I tried the Greek cinnamon scented lamb meatballs from page 170 of the book.  The accents of cumin and cinnamon gave them delicate flavour, lifting them from being bland workaday meatballs. These tapered Greek style meatballs are called “keftedes” and were cooked by grilling, rather than frying, keeping the fat content down. 

They were browned all over before being cooked in tomato sauce. I found the sauce, flavoured with cinnamon and garlic, was very easy to make. 

The Keftedes of minced lamb was a simple and achieveable recipe, well within the capabilities of the novice cook. We enjoyed this recipe, and believe that if you made extra for a second meal, it would taste even better the next day.

Corsican garlic laced beef (as found on page 169 of the book) is a one plate wonder of pasta and beef, although lamb or goat meat could be substituted (which would lower the fat content of the dish overall). 

This dish does not look as good in my photos as it tasted. Although garlic is used generously as an ingredient, it does not overpower. The dish has influences of both France and Italy, as you would expect from a Corsican dish. The use of fresh tomatoes rather than passata or tinned keeps the flavour light and summery. 

Served with a spelt Maccheroni, this dish was healthy, simple to cook but big on flavour. I loved this dish.

I get the feeling from this cookbook that a lot of time and care has been taken over the recipes and its creation overall. I say this because of the small details. The ingredients list is set out clearly and cleanly. I particularly like that amounts are precisely defined. Where they need to be divided and used twice, that is stated. There are indications on preparation of the ingredients, especially the sizes the vegetables should be cut to. These simple details mean that the cooking times work. There is nothing worse than not knowing how large to cube your potato pieces and then having to greatly increase the cooking time as they are still rock hard! 

I also approve of the indications on seasoning. Recipes too often suggest adding seasoning, with no assistance on the amount. Similarly, the instructions are precise and well expressed. 

Riolo’s exceptional attention to detail is something all cook book authors should aspire to achieve. There once was a cookery title I found where an ingredient was mentioned in the title of the recipe, but after that, never again; not in the ingredients or the method. The name has been withheld to protect the truly guilty party who did not proof read their recipes properly! Although an extreme example, such errors can creep into cookbooks which are rushed through the publication process.

What strikes me about this book is that if you exclusively cooked from it, you would not feel like you are on a diet at all. The word “diet” could be omitted from the title, and you’d have a perfectly wonderful and varied collection of recipes from the Med. It doesn’t feel like denial, grumbling hunger gnawing away at you in the background. Him Indoors can’t abide by “low fat” cookery and loves big flavours, and enjoyed all of the recipes we tried. There are a hundred recipes in all in the book, and I will enjoy trying out other recipes in the weeks and months to come.

Snigdha was sent a copy of The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook to review. She has received no payment or incentive for posting this review.