Tag Archives: winter

every day dressings for winter

December 8, 2016


Balance; both the idea of it and what it actually means in practice has been rolling through my thoughts recently. Like a stone with rough pocked edges, my mind seems wanton to tumble and turn balance into something smooth and polished; digestible, achievable.  continue reading

Olive Oil Cake with Bay & Orange

January 22, 2015

This is a cake to linger over. 
The kind of cake I would make if my dearest girlfriends were in town. The entire afternoon would be spent around the table, deep in delicious conversation, with cup after cup of tea and a slice of this cake.  

The table itself doesn’t really matter, only that there is one. It could be smartly dressed in the crispest white linen, delicate sea foam colored tea cups and glimmers of gold and glass. 

Or it could have nothing of the sort, bare well worn, well loved wood, the softest washed linen napkins and handmade grey mugs with chunky handles, perfect for holding. 


This cake is comfortable in any setting. 


It sticks to the roof of your mouth in the most delightful, not too sweet way. Better than the way peanut butter does; with more elegance. The subtle bay infused olive oil is the backbone of this recipe. 
Its the sticky bit, the rich bit. 
And as your tongue moves to the roof of your mouth, your nose picks up the aroma of the bay. The orange is there too, vibrant but not loud. Its doesn’t compete with the bay or the olive oil. The three are harmonious. 


It is unfussy this cake. In this recipe it has an icing glaze, but it needn’t. It is made in a fancy bunt pan because I wanted to use one but could just as easily be made in a loaf pan. The most important part is infusing the olive oil, everything else just falls into place. 
I combined some of this recipe with some from here. Both recipes are lovely on their own and I would recommend trying each. I must say, I wouldn’t mind having both writers to tea either.


I use a fruity, medium bodied olive oil because I want to taste it in the cake but still want the bay to come through. 
I very gently heat the olive oil. If it gets too hot it will begin to bitter and lose some of its richness. It should be warm to the touch, but not hot. A minutes or so on the heat is all really. Then drop in the bay leaves, 3 or 4, fresh if possible and keep warming over a very low heat until the aroma of the bay hits your nose. Leave on the heat about 5 minutes more, taking care that it does not get too hot. Then remove from the heat and let it stand, 2 hours as a minimum but better overnight. 
You can make a bit extra if you like and use it to drizzle over salads or a goats cheese. Its not a bad thing to have on hand. 



Olive Oil Cake with Bay & Orange

10 bay leaves 
80ml fruity medium bodied olive oil (infused with 3 or 4 bay leaves as above)
150g white flour
50g ground almonds
200g golden caster sugar 
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs 
50ml cointreau 
zest from half a medium orange 
juice from 1 orange 


For the Icing
100 grams icing sugar
1 tbsp cointreau 
3 tsp of almond milk (or regular milk)


Preheat the oven to 180 (350F) degrees 
Grease and flour your pan carefully. 


In a bowl sift together dry ingredients: flour, almonds, sugar and baking powder. 
Then in a small bowl gently beat the eggs together with the salt. Tip into the dry mixture along with the olive oil, cointreau, zest and juice from the orange. Gently stir to combine, making sure the batter is free from any lumps. 


Pour batter in to your greased and floured baking pan. Top the batter with the remaining bay leaves. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour depending on your pan. When a tester is inserted, it should come out clean. 


When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and turn it over onto a cooling rack. Let it cool completely before icing. 


For the icing, combine the sugar with the almond milk and cointreau. Stir well to combine, again making sure there are no lumps. With a spoon drizzle as much or little of the icing down over the top of the cake as you like. 

Winter Citrus Salad

January 5, 2015

This salad is inspired by my many winters spent in California. The citrus fruits there are excellent this time of year but in truth they are the world over and that makes this salad very transferable. The sharp bright flavor of the grapefruit and orange is a welcome contrast to many of the heavier dishes of the season. 
The avocado and the roasted garlic in the dressing are grounding and lend earthiness to the dish. It would not be amiss on the table alongside smoked salmon, cream cheese and a dark rye bread. It also pairs quite nicely with fizzy prosecco. 


I quick pickle red onion often and usually have some on hand. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days. It is a more mellow accompaniment to salads or on top of chili. One small red onion makes quite a lot. Add a few ice cubes to a bowl, a heaping tablespoon of red wine vinegar, good pinch of salt, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and cold water. Swish ingredients together, add thinly sliced onion, I run mine over the mandolin and let is sit for at least 2 hours before using. Leftovers can be stored with some of the liquid in a jar in the fridge.  

Winter Citrus Salad
serves 4

1 large orange
1 large of each red, white and pink grapefruits
2 ripe Hass avocados or 1 larger one.
1 heaping table spoon of pickled red onion slices

For the dressing:
juice of one lime
2 tsp honey
1 medium sized clove of roasted garlic, smashed.
1/2 tsp salt
scant pinch of red chili pepper
1/8 cup of olive oil

To make the dressing
Combine the lime juice, honey, garlic, salt and chili. Stir to combine until the garlic is mostly mixed through. Then slowly whisk in the olive until emulsified.

To prepare the salad
cut the top and bottom of the orange and grapefruits to just expose the flesh. Standing each on end, moving the knife in a vertical direction, cut away the skin and pith until only the flesh is left on the fruit. Then turn each on its side and cut into 1/4 thick round slices.
Next slice the avocado in half an remove the pit, then cut into 1/4 thick slices and remove the skin.

Arrange the grapefruit & orange slices on a plater alternating with some of the avocado slices. Top with a few of the pickled red onion slices and pour over the dressing, serve immediately.

Winter Couscous Salad

March 5, 2014

Six months since the last post, and it feels like it has flown.

2013 was a crazy year, a trans-continental move, a wedding, styling my first cookbook, getting settled in this big new city. It was a whirlwind, although fun. 2014 has already been more grounded and I feel like I am finding my stride here.
There have been lots of new things to discover and lots to adapt to. One of the biggest changes has been the food. In San Francisco we shopped the farmers market every Saturday and had some of the worlds freshest, most diverse and beautiful produce within easy reach. In London I have struggled to find such variety and quality and our diets have become more seasonal. But, being a New England-er by birth, many of the option available to me here aren’t so very different from the foods I grew up with. 

Nuts, whole grains, dried fruits and hearty root vegetables have been staples and I have been playing a lot in the kitchen with different flavors and combinations. The exposure to more middle eastern flavors and cooking has a been a welcome new experience. I have been carrying this cookbook with me everywhere. 
This Winter Couscous Salad has also been making quite a few appearances at our table. Its great on its own or with some winter greens in the bottom of a bowl. It also works well as a side with chicken or lamb. I have been roasting up baby cauliflowers I found at the market, but thick roasted slices of full sized cauliflower works too.  

Winter Couscous Salad

Large couscous (2 cups dry). I used whole wheat here but any will do. 
1 lemon  – slice off two round slices  
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 bay leaf
2 cups stock
cinnamon (half a stick or 1/4 teaspoon if using ground)
Olive oil 
walnuts (1/2 cup) toasted – throw them in with the cauliflower for about 8 mins.
parsley – aprox 1/2 cup, chopped.  
feta cheese (100 grams) cut into 1/2″ cubes
green olives – 100 grams. sliced in half. The olives I use are stuffed with orange peel 
salt & pepper
Cauliflower or other protein.
If using cauliflower,
slice a medium head laterally from top to bottom in 4 slices. toss with olive oil, salt & pepper roast on a baking sheet at 350/180 until tender (aprox 20 mins) flip halfway through. Add walnuts (aprox 8 mins) at the end to toast. 
For the salad:
Put tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
Drop in cinnamon – toast for 30 seconds or until fragrant
add 3 crushed garlic cloves and lemon slices & bay leaf – toast for another 30 seconds
Add couscous and toast over medium high heat until lightly browned. Add 1.5 cups of stock and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until done, you may need to add more stock. I leave a very little bit unabsorbed to keep couscous from drying out in the salad. But drain if too much liquid remains 
Discard the lemon slices, cinnamon stick, bay leaf & garlic cloves. Let the couscous cool 
Mix in feta, olives, walnuts & parsley. Squeeze remaining lemon juice over the mixture and fresh cracked black pepper. Mix well.
Serve with cauliflower on the side. 
serves 4.