Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Every year I toy with what to get my Dad for his birthday. Except for another Hawaiian shirt, I always struggle to come up with something that won't just sit on his desk or table untouched.

My Dad loves his food as much as I do, if not more. In fact it's my Dad who really taught me how to cook. Cooking him dinner always seems like the best present I could give him.

I probably spent longer planning a menu for the evening than I would have spent shopping for a gift. It had to be something light and summery because of the time of year. All of the courses also had to be able to stretch to an unknown number of guests, we pretty much have an open door policy to friends coming over for dinner. Pork is a no-no for one of our closest family friends and my Dad has an aversion to chicken most of the time.

I toyed with the idea of different salads for a starter. Nothing really stood out though as we always have all kinds of delicious salads. I needed to think of something we wouldn't usually have.

Gazpacho seemed perfect. All the delicious componants of a salad, but different.

There seems to be a lot of controversy surrounding what is an authentic gazpacho. Does it contain bread? herbs? chilli? garlic? peppers? Should it be smooth or chunky? Keep or bin the tomato seeds? After a few hours of reading hundreds of recipes I thought my head was going to explode. I decided just to use what I had in the fridge, keep it basic, and hope for the best. It turned out pretty delicious if I say so myself.

Ingredients (for 8ish servings).

1.5kg ripe tasty tomatoes
Half a loaf of stale crusty bread
3-4 cloves of garlic
Slosh of red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

For the garnish:
Red onion
Yellow bell pepper

How to...

1. Soak the stale bread in a basin of water for half an hour.
2. Use a sharp knife to score a cross in the base of each tomato, then immerse the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or so until the skins become loose. Plunge into cold water and remove the skins which should come off easily.
3. Roughly chop tomatoes and garlic.
4. Blend tomatoes, garlic and the soaked bread (with some of the water squeezed out). If you only have a small blender you may have to do this in a few batches.
5. Season with salt and pepper and add a generous slosh of red wine vinegar. Taste to see if the seasoning is right and the vinegar has given enough tartness.
6. Chill for 4+ hours.
7. Finely chop all the ingredients for the garnish and mix them up.
8. Serve in chilled bowls or cups with a generous spoonful of the garnish on top and a glug of olive oil.

Today whilst cooking I was listening to... Hot in Here by Athlete

Monday, 2 August 2010

Marniated prawns with hot spicy tomato salsa

Prawns are something I always tend to have in the freezer. I go a little OTT every time I see a special offer on raw king prawns and end up buying 4 or more bags. This means I've always got the ingredients to treat myself to something prawn-based and delicious. I think it's important to use raw prawns (fresh or frozen), as using ready cooked prawns makes it so much easier to accidentally overcook them and end up with rubbery bullets of prawn. I also like watching them turn pink from grey. It's like magic.

Tinned tomatoes are the other thing I always have at home in excess. I probably eat tomato based meals 5 or 6 days a week. My tomato to other food ratio is always a little odd to other people's tastes so if you have a go at making this a little blob of the hot tomato salsa is probably enough for most people. I like to have half a plate so once I've piled it high on to each mouthful of prawn I can mop up the rest with fresh crunchy bread.

Marinated Prawns

Raw prawns
Fresh chillis
Lemon or lime juice
Soy Sauce

How to...
1. Mix finely chopped or crushed garlic with finely chopped chillis, the juice of a lemon or lime and a generous swig of soy sauce.
2. Mix in raw prawns
3. Cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours.
4. Heat up a pan.
5. Cook prawns for a couple of minutes until pink. Be careful not to overcook.

Hot Spicy Tomato Salsa

Half an onion
Clove of garlic
Tin of high quality chopped tomatoes
As many chillis as you fancy
Olive oil

How to...
1. Finely chop onion, garlic and chillis.
2. Cook onion in olive oil until soft and translucent.
3. Add garlic and chillis and cook for another 2 minutes.
4. Add chopped tomatoes and salt.
5. Cook for 20ish minutes, or until the salsa is thick, rich and tasty.

Today whilst cooking I was listening to: Handle Me by Robyn