Tag Archives: Curry

Best friends, cookbooks and curry

16 Feb

Best friends who know too many secrets about you are worth holding on to. If they share a history with you going back to school days, consider yourself very lucky indeed. Especially if they also believe that you can never own too many recipe books. My best pal, Ria, does a grand job each year of fuelling my obsession with  cookbooks and Christmas or Birthday (and sometimes both…I’m not complaining) a new book will find its way to me and I’ll enjoy months and then years of experimenting with new recipes.

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We talk most days on the phone, which Big Man finds both incredible and hilarious (“what on earth were you talking about for the last half an hour?”…”oh, nothing much, this and that”). Our conversations invariably end with “so, what’s for dinner tonight?” and we’ll happily chat for a further 10 minutes about what we’re cooking, planning to cook, wishing we had the energy to cook, or what we took out of the freezer put by from when we were more organised with our cooking a couple of weeks back.

Lately, I’ve been cooking up a good few curries from my birthday present cookbook. Curries from all over the place and this chicken curry from Pakistan really was fantastic. Definitely dinner party quality, but also simple enough for a family meal. The description of the recipe explains that it was a Special curry because in the fifties and sixties,  if you were invited to dinner and served this, you would know the hosts had spared no expense in your honour because chickens were hard to obtain and expensive.  Luckily for most of us, this is no longer the case, but if your purse runs to it, buy the best you can.

Desi Murgh Curry – Special Chicken Curry (serves 4)

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp each of garlic and ginger paste
  • 4 tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped (or use tinned, as I did)
  • 50g plain Greek style yogurt
  • 1 ½ tsp hot chilli powder (or more or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 large cardamom pods (the recipe calls for black ones but I used green)
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 chicken approx 1.2kg, skinned and jointed (I used 8 skinned chicken thighs, bone in)
  • Chopped coriander to garnish

Heat the oil and fry the onions until golden brown, take your time doing this, it’s worth it. Remove the onions and when they have cooled slightly, grind them to a paste. I did this using my stick blender with a splash of water added to the mix.

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Add the ginger and garlic pastes to the oil and fry gently for a few minutes then add the tomatoes and next the yogurt. Cook for about 5 minutes then add the onion paste, the spices the bay leaf and a little salt.  Continue to cook gently until the oil separates out.

Put the chicken pieces into the pan, spoon the sauce over and add about 500ml of water. Cover the pan and cook slowly for about 50 minutes until the meat is cooked through and tender. You may need to add a splash more water so keep an eye on it.

Remove the lid, check for seasoning (adjust the salt if necessary) and continue to cook for a few more minutes without the lid until the oil separates out again.  Garnish with coriander, and serve. Don’t forget to call your best friend to tell her how good it was and you’re sorry there’s not a portion waiting for her in your freezer as you ate the lot…oops!

Mung Bean Dhal (9)

If a veggie curry is more your thing, hop over to take a look at my Mung Bean Curry.

Lemon Rice With Cashew Nuts

15 Dec

I made this lemon rice dish to eat with the Rendang Style Beef I made recently. A local Indian restaurant serves lemon rice, and I always order it but felt it was time I learned to make it myself. As a vegetarian dish it would stand pretty well alongside some vegetables, and is great with many other dishes, not just curries.

Lemon Rice (3)

Ingredients (to serve 4-6)

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1  tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (optional)
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 long green chilli (finely chopped and deseeded too if you prefer it less hot)
  • 10g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or chopped finely
  • About 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  • About 500g cooked and cooled basmati rice
  • juice of 1 large lemon plus the zest of ½ the lemonfinely grated
  • Optional – finely chop the remaining half of the juiced lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and add the mustard seeds, turmeric and asafoetida. Fry, stirring constantly, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.

Now add the onion, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves and the nuts and fry for a couple of minutes until the nuts take on some colour and the onion has softened.

Curry Night (9)

Add the rice into the pan and stir fry until hot (a few minutes) then add the lemon juice, zest and lemon pieces. Mix well and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Inspired by a recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Great Curries.

Chicken Thighs with Pomegranate Molasses

25 Apr

The Curry Monster came knocking at my door recently. Does he visit your house too? If I allowed him to, he’d take up permanent residence with me but I don’t think Big Man would be overjoyed. He likes curry, but doesn’t have quite the same love affair with it as I do. Fair enough, two’s company, three’s a crowd! Sometimes I come across a dish like this which presses all the buttons for a curry lover and a curry liker alike. If you’re still with me, I’m sure that makes perfect sense…

The Curry Monster told me that he also fancied the tang of pomegranate molasses. I know, it just gets weirder and weirder. None of my old favourite books could help, so I went a-googling and I came across not only a fabulous recipe (which I adapted a little) but also an amazing blog. Do pop over, there’s plenty to enjoy.

Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses (4)

Ingredients (to serve 2-3 people)

  • 6 chicken thighs, skin on
  • 200mls thick yoghurt/ Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp gram flour/ chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (or less if you want a mild flavour)
  • 110mls pomegranate molasses
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste

Add the gram flour and the yoghurt in a bowl. Mix well to get rid of any lumps to form a thick paste. Next add the ginger and garlic pastes, chilli powder, molasses and the garam masala powder and salt. Add the chicken and mix well making sure to coat them well in the thick marinade. Leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200c/ Gas mark 6. Line a baking tin with foil and put the chicken and marinade in. Roast for approx 40 mins (until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced) basting half way through cooking. I found that I had lots of lovely sauce which I love, Big Man less so. I drained the sauce off and gave the meat a further 5 minutes in the oven then served the chicken sprinkled with chopped coriander and the sauce on the side.

Serve with your favourite Indian bread, plain boiled rice and whatever else the Curry Monster tells you to cook.

Monkfish and Prawn Curry

11 Jun

Monkfish is an “oh so ugly but oh so good” fish. If you’ve ever seen it at the fishmonger before it’s been prepared it’s the one with the enormous gargoyle mouth and scary teeth and a body that looks a bit out of proportion with the head. It can also be an expensive fish, but like other luxuries such as fillet steak, you don’t need much.

Monkfish & Prawn Curry (1)

My lovely Bexhill fishmonger had some beautiful monkfish recently and I bought a tail. From this I made two separate meals for two people, so I really managed to make the most of it!

First up is a curry recipe I came across which I think is now going to be my “go to” curry recipe. It was so easy, it didn’t have a huge long list of ingredients and the flavour was amazing. If, like me, you’re a curry fan (and if you’re not, perhaps I can convert you – this one is about balancing delicate flavours rather than smacking you around the chops with burning hot chilli), do give this a try!

INGREDIENTS

  • About 250g monkfish cut into bite size pieces and about 10 raw, peeled langoustines or large prawns
  • The juice of two limes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon turmeric
  • 3 Tablespoons ghee or clarified butter (or use a light vegetable oil)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic smashed into a fine paste
  • 2 inch piece of ginger smashed into a fine paste
  • 1 chilli pepper finely chopped
  • 1 chilli pepper halved
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander powder
  • 12 cherry tomatoes – halved
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander – finely chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Place the cubed monkfish and peeled prawns into a bowl with the lime juice, salt and turmeric. Allow to marinade for about 30 minutes.

In a large pan or wok, melt the fat or heat the oil. Add the chopped onions and fry until translucent and lightly browned. Now add the garlic and ginger pastes along with the chopped chilli pepper and fry for a couple of minutes.

Monkfish & Prawn Curry (4)

Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a bubble then add the cumin and coriander powder and stir to combine then add the halved chilli. Finally, add the marinated monkfish, prawns and the tomatoes. Stir it all into the mixture. Allow the monkfish to cook gently in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Taste and season if necessary and sprinkle over the chopped coriander to serve. Perfect with plain boiled rice and/or naan bread.

Beef Massaman Curry

23 Apr

When I was in England last time I was able to stock up on some ingredients which are harder for me to find in Spain.  I took them back to make sure I was able to cook up a curry when the urge struck. It tends to strike quite often but sometimes I just can’t do anything about satisfying it if I don’t have the ingredients to hand.  This means that curry pastes are the best way for me to sort out the curry craving as the spices often linger unloved in the cupboard. Yes, I admit it.

Beef Curry (4)

The Caribbean Food store in Bexhill is run by a jolly character who sells a range of curry pastes (and I really should have taken note of the brand name) which contain no artificial nasties – perfect for someone who loves to cook but feels a little guilty that she is not blending her own spice mixes. I was not familiar with Massaman Curry – a Thai curry which gives a gentle heat, sweet, sour, spicy and is utterly delicious.

Beef Curry (1)

The recipe comes from the BBC Good Food site with just a few little tweaks, but I have given details here too. I omitted the peanuts because I didn’t have any, but I expect they add a delicious crunch to the finished dish.

Ingredients to serve 4

  • 85g unsalted peanuts
  • 400ml can coconut cream
  • 4 tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 600g stewing beef steak, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 450g waxy potatoes, cut into 2½ cm chunks
  • 1 onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm or soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced, and chopped fresh coriander to serve

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6, then roast the peanuts on a baking tray for 5 mins until golden brown. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop. Reduce oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

Heat 2 tbsp coconut cream in a large casserole dish with a lid. Add the curry paste and fry for 1 min, then stir in the beef and fry until well coated and sealed. Stir in the rest of the coconut with half a can of water, the potatoes, onion, lime leaves, cinnamon, tamarind, sugar, fish sauce and most of the peanuts. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 2 hours in the oven until the beef is tender.

Sprinkle with sliced chilli and the remaining peanuts, then serve straight from the dish with rice.

If you are a curry fan too, how about this one? Or this vegetarian curry? Or nip on over to Soup Guru’s great blog and check out this gorgeous Indian Minced Beef Curry….

Okra and Green Pigeon Pea Curry

22 Oct

Okra is not a vegetable I have ever seen in Spain and I´m determined to track down some seeds so that I can try to grow it next summer. Greg over at Rufus´ Food & Spirits Guide has great success with his crop, and some amazing okra recipes.

Our little temporary home town of Bexhill on Sea boasts a Caribbean food store and I often pop in for a chat with the friendly owner and a look around for new products. Recently he had fresh okra in store, so I snapped up a bag. In addition I spotted a tin of Green Pigeon Peas, something very new to me, so they went into the basket as well. Two final purchases of a small jar of Thai yellow curry paste (yes, I know I should have made it, but it was all natural ingredients with no additives, so I didn´t feel too guilty) and a can of coconut milk.

I planned on making a vegetable curry from a mix of fresh and store cupboard ingredients, and I have to say I was thrilled with the results. A great “cheat´s” curry for when you don´t have time to make your own paste or spice mix.

Ingredients (to serve four people with rice or noodles)

  • About two heaped tablespoons of your favourite curry paste
  • About 200g of okra, washed and sliced
  • One can of green pigeon peas
  • One medium onion, halved and cut into medium slices
  • One courgette, cut into medium slices
  • About 10 medium mushrooms cut into slices (not too thin)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed and cooked for about 5 minutes in boiling water then drained
  • A can of coconut milk
  • Fresh natural yogurt and fresh coriander to serve
  • Oil for frying

Start by gently frying the onions in a little oil until they start to soften then add the okra and courgette. Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes then add the mushrooms, potatoes and pigeon peas. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes then add the paste and fry off for a minute or two. Finally add the coconut milk and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender. If the mixture looks like it is getting too dry, add a splash of water. Just before serving stir in a couple of tablespoons of natural yogurt and some chopped coriander. Delicious with rice or noodles and the perfect dish to warm you up from the inside out.

Cortijo Curry – North Indian Goat (or Lamb) Curry and a Simple Raita

24 May

Without further ado, here´s the recipe for the beautiful curry we made recently when Best Buddy came to stay recently.

We adapted the recipe (just a little) from one in Anjum Anand´s book Indian Food Made Easy. She uses lamb, we used goat. We served it with roti, plain boiled basmati rice, tarka dhal, and poppadums. In the excitement I forgot to make a cooling raita to accompany it. As it turned out, the dish was not hot at all (I would add more chili next time, but that is just personal taste). However, this did allow all the beautiful and individual spice flavours to shine through.

Leftovers were to be for me, me, me. Unfortunately Big Man got in on the act and decided that it was really rather a fabulous tasting dish, so they ended up being for us, us us. This time without poppadums or roti, but with raita. Recipes for the tarka dhal, spinach and roti to follow soon.

Ingredients (the recipe says it serves 6-8 but we thought it was for 4, even with all the accompanying dishes we made)

  • 25g fresh ginger, peeled
  • 10 large cloves of garlic, peeled (to weigh about 30g)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 each black and green cardamom pods (we used all green)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 800g lamb cubes with bone in (I used goat with boneless meat from the leg and ribs, chopped into small pieces)
  • 1-2 whole green chilies (the recipe says optional – we used 1 but I would use 2 or 3 next time)
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala (we used a garam masala spice mix made for me which we then ground)
  • Salt, to taste (we found it needed quite a lot)
  • 4 medium tomatoes, puréed (we used conserva)
  • 500ml water
  • Chopped coriander to stir in when dish is cooked

Make a paste of the ginger and garlic, adding a little water to help blend.

Heat the oil in a large non stick pan or pot. Add the whole cardamom pods and bay and stir into the warm oil before adding the onion. Fry until the onion starts to brown, then add the lamb and stir until the meat is sealed. Now add the ginger and garlic paste, the spices and a little salt (you can adjust the salt at the end of cooking). Cook for a few minutes until the pan is dry.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the water, bring back to a boil then simmer (covered) for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.  We removed the lid for the last 5 minutes as there was a lot of liquid. When cooked, taste and adjust seasoning and stir in the coriander.

To make a simple raita mix together about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint, a finely chopped (small) red or white onion, a finely chopped piece of peeled cucumber (about 10cm long), 2 tbs lemon juice, a good pinch of salt and half a cup of creamy natural yogurt.

Best Friends and Favourite Foods

22 May

I am truly blessed when it comes to friends. I have some extra special best girlfriends who have been there for me through the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the youth and the wrinkles. Ria and I met at school, a wonderful convent in South London, and have been best friends ever since.

We laughed through our school days, she sent me stamps to write to her when I went to University as I was poor and she was earning. She also gave me a sewing box as a going away gift and still, to this day, gets me to adjust her clothes and sew on buttons. We even worked at the same company for a few years and mopped up the tears through tough endings to relationships in later years.

She invited me to a weekend with friends in Scotland without telling me we would be walking part of the West Highland Way. She knew I would have refused, but we had fun and I forgave her, eventually.  Then I told her she was doing a run to raise money for Charity and she didn´t complain once.

Hot, sweaty but very happy with what we achieved!

We know and love each other´s families like our own, and also know our way around each other´s kitchens. Very important indeed.

When we both hit 40 within a month of each other (not soooo long ago), we threw a massive party then went off on a Round the World Trip.  I have a lovely photo of us on our last day before we headed back to London. It was taken in Hong Kong on the Kowloon ferry. We don´t look glamorous, or made up. In fact we look exhausted, a little chilly, but happy. We had spent about 3 months in each other´s company 24/7 and not a cross word or row, just fun, laughter and quite a few adventures.

I moved to Spain permanently six years ago, and we had to find a new way to make things work across the miles.  E-mails, phone calls and of course, visits.

So, when your best buddy comes to visit you don´t want to spend too much time in the kitchen as there is talking, laughing, dog walking and wine drinking to be done.

We barbecued squid which we enjoyed in the sunshine.

We ate what we jokingly called a “deconstructed chicken salad sharing platter for friends” – cold cooked chicken, spiced cauliflower, a platter full of delicious vegetables and topped with blanched then grilled asparagus with a lemon dressing and mayonnaise. Perfect for sharing.

And of course, my best friend knows how much I adore curry, so several happy hours were spent in the kitchen cooking up a storm, or the “Cortijo Curry” as we called it. Goat curry, tarka dhal, spinach and tomato curry, poppadums and roti.

I´ll share the recipes with you soon, but now I´m tired, happy and sad, and rather full up, so I´ll leave you with a photo of the perfect dessert for friends who don´t have time to make dessert.

Curried Meatballs

13 Apr

A recent tidy up of my cookery books turned up two Indian books by Anjum Anand which I had hardly read.  Time to put that right I thought, and next thing I was in the butcher´s shop ordering pork mince.

Of course, pork would not typically be a meat used in most Indian curries for religious reasons, but this would be great with any other meat. For a fantastic recipe using minced beef, check out Frugal´s gorgeous Beef Kofta Curry recipe.

As ever, I had to make a few small changes, but not too many. I had no fresh coriander so substituted dried, ground coriander and the same went for fresh ginger. We can get it here, I just didn´t have any to hand and when the craving for curry strikes, you have to go with it!

This recipe is adapted from Indian Food Made Easy.

For the meatballs

  • 300g lamb mince (I used pork)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks (I used 1 teaspoon of dried coriander)
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger (I used ¼ teaspoon of dried)
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt to taste

For the Curry Sauce

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 small shard of cinnamon
  • 2 ½ medium tomatoes (puréed) – I used 1 ½ cups of my conserva from last summer
  • 800ml water (I used about 300ml)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ – ¾ teaspoon of chili powder (to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped coriander

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together plus 3 tbs of the onion you have chopped for the sauce.

Heat the oil in a deep pan, add the bay leaves, cinnamon and remaining onion and fry until the onion is golden brown.

Add the tomatoes, ginger and garlic and cook gently for about 8 mins then add 200ml of water and cook until thickened.  Add the spices and salt and any remaining water (I didn´t add much as I continued cooking with a lid on my pan) and simmer. Meanwhile roll the meat into walnut sized balls and drop them into the sauce.

Cover and simmer, turning the meatballs gently half way through, for about 20 minutes. Add the coriander and serve with rice, naan bread, popadums…however you like.

We ate ours with my Sort of Saag Aloo made with the first of our spinach which is now ready to eat.

…and a cool and creamy raita (I´ll give you that easy recipe another time)…

This was a warm but not too hot curry with the lovely flavours of cinnamon and ginger, definitely one to make again.

Split Pea & Squash Curry

25 Jan

Now that we seem to have caught up (vegetable-availability-wise) with everyone who was posting squash and pumpkin recipes back in the autumn, I am finally cooking lots of warming winter dishes which include this fantastic ingredient. Having said that, it´s not actually very cold here at the moment, but it is Janaury, so I feel justified in making wintery food.

Although we didn´t put on any extra kilos over Christmas, no one could ever accuse either me or Big Man of being under weight, so recipes which are healthier and packed with vegetables are perfect for us.

A mild flavoured curry was on my list – Big Man doesn´t like them hot, and I can always add a little dried chilli at the end to turn up the heat in my own portion.

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a hearty soup or more as a side dish)

  • 200g split yellow peas (the last of a stash bought over by visitors…so sad)
  • 500g squash peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 cup of tomato conserva or chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 onion peeled, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1 head of garlic (you will be roasting this and only using half)
  • 2-3 cups of vegetable stock or water
  • 3 heaped teaspoons of your favourite curry mix (I usually make mine with ground turmeric, chilli, cumin, dried coriander, black pepper and cardamom seeds and then add a little fresh grated ginger when I cook)
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 dried chilli crumbled (optional)
  • Oil for frying

Turn the oven onto a high setting and place the squash on a tray lined with foil. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle a little oil over.  Roast for about 30 minutes until soft and brown at the edges.  Put the garlic in at the same time, wrapped loosely in foil.

Start by dry frying the mustard seeds until they pop. Remove them from the pan. Add a little oil to your pan and fry the onion and garlic until they are soft, then add your curry powder and mustard seeds and fry until the lovely aromas start to come out, then add the split peas (or you could use lentils).  Now add the tomato conserva and 2 cups of the stock or water plus the crumbled chilli if using.

Cook gently until the split peas are almost soft (you may need to add more liquid, just keep an eye on them). Remove the squash and garlic from the oven and cut the squash into smaller bite sized chunks.  Add these to the split peas.  Pop half of the garlic cloves out of their skins and add to the curry. Mash the other half and cover with a little oil, it will keep for at least a week in the fridge and can be used in other dishes or dips.

Add a drop more liquid to the vegetables if necessary, cooking the curry for about 10 more minutes until everything is soft and cooked through.  You can mash some of the squash, garlic and split peas with the back of a wooden spoon, leaving some chunky.  Add salt, you´ll probably find it can take quite a lot, but the choice is yours. Eat as a thick soup or a side dish and it´s lovely served with rice or naan bread.

Delicious with a squeeze of lime juice and chopped coriander, but I didn´t have either of them so I just used lemon juice. If you like it even milder and more creamy, stir in a couple of big spoonfuls of thick creamy yogurt.

We had some leftovers, so the next day I added some more stock, yogurt and some finely chopped chard (you could use spinach, kale, cabbage) and warmed it through to make a delicious soup – I´m not sure which version I liked best!

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