January 17, 2011

Can we talk about food?

I have, hitherto, only mentioned food briefly and occasionally for the perhaps misguided notion that this blog was supposed to be about growing flowers, and increasingly I always hoped, making jewellery. OK, with a generous allowance for other things that crop up that I find interesting. But NOT about food and cooking, because I could get carried away in that direction, and suddenly find it has become a major theme, and blogs need focus, right? And anyway, so many other bloggers do it so very well. Lipsmackingly well.

But I have never blogged in January before, and whilst I love cooking all year, in January it is part of late winter survival tactics! In the dark and gloom, I want to roast and stir, simmer and bake, I want to stand at my stove and listen to radio 4, think through my plans for the garden or jewellery or talk to my family. I like the house to smell of baking and spices and good food in the oven. Truly, I rock the apron in January! And the thing is, I have got used to sharing things I love on this blog, and as a naturally enthusiastic person, writing has become a great way to share the goodness.

And I have been cooking up a whole lot of goodness recently, and really I can hold back no more! On a less joyful note,  I have also just been asked by a very sweet and well meaning lady if I am expecting a baby (umm, no), which is clearly NOT A GOOD THING! So my cooking mojo at the moment has taken a sudden lurch to the healthy and 'my body is a temple' variety, but since the rest of my family are slender whippets, I still get to use lashings of cream and butter etc for them.

So, this is the kind of food I love, food that bursting with taste, made with the best ingredients I can afford, with the smallest amount of fussing and primping. I honestly believe that if the raw ingredients are good enough and the combintations swoony enough, the cooking should not be laborious. This time of year is the exception, but normally I just do not have the time or energy to spend hours in the kitchen, and I get such a buzz achieving cracking results from relatively little effort.  So, no handmade puff pastry I'm afraid. Lazy I guess, or just busy. I hope you enjoy some of the recipes I share with you, they will all be simple because I am no expert, but properly delish because I am fussy in that regard! I am untrained and not particularly confident, so any recipes are pretty foolproof!

At the weekend we had some friends over for supper. I tell everyone I don't do 'dinner parties', because I absolutely cannot cook in highheels and hate stuffy, showy-offy entertaining. Yuck, even hate the word entertaining. I just like, no love, having friends round to share food with. I do, therefore,want to be with them, not cursing alone in the kitchen willing souffles to rise in martyr-ish desperation, so the food has to be simple but gorgeous. I love it when courses can be prepared in advance, and require little more than being taken out of the fridge or sprinkled with sugar or whatever. So, I thought I would kick off with the three perhaps embarrassingly easy, but hopefully delectable dishes we had.

Smoked mackerel and caper pate with homemade bread

The pate: (feeds 4 generously for a starter or side)

I packet of peppered mackerel fillets
small tub of creme fraiche
generous squeeze of lemon juice
handful of capers, depending on taste - add as many as you want

Um, mix. That's it. Told you I don't like fussy cooking. Now I feel a bit embarrassed. Actually you do have to skin the fillets and mash to a consistency you find appetising. I realise this is more assembling than cooking, but I tell yoooo, it is awesomely fabulous with warm crusty bread. Real crowd-pleaser and very more-ish. But I have to say, an appealing photo of mackerel pate is tough, here is my best effort, (but it tastes better than it looks!).

I have just realised the bread is a post on its own, as really are the other dishes, so that's all folks! Proper cooking next time, with home-made bread, fall-off the bone shoulder of lamb with a spicy tomato and cannellini bean sauce, and divine lemon pots...


  1. hi belinda,

    i love your attitude toward food, cooking and the dreaded e word (entertaining.) i couldn't agree more with you. give me a few super fresh ingredients, a stove, and a few friends and i'm off and running.

    i so agree with you re the comment you left this morning about the uncluttered drawers. there seems to be no end to the benefits of this project.


  2. January sounds tasty in your household!!

  3. Blimey, Belinda, that cake looks amazing! I'm not normally a sweet-toothed person but those cracks across the top look like there's so much flavour it's bursting its way out! x

  4. Belinda,

    I have to tell you that I have to think of you as one of the loveliest Domestic Goddesses that I;ve ever met. You grow gorgeous flowers, you make your own beautiful jewellery, you have a stunning house and....which comes as no surprise to me....you can cook up a storm.

    The niest part comes from the fact that you share it all so modestly. Is there *nothing* you cna't do, I ask myself?!

    Pleeeeeease will you consider sharing the recipe for that chocolate cake? I've fallen for it big-time!


  5. Of course you have to blog about food! What else do gardeners do in the winter except eat?

    And plan the spring planting of course....

    More please.

    xo Jane

  6. I agree Belinda...
    love that you are sharing your cooking and hints.
    Will await more tidbits...
    I am making soup for supper...simple and healthy with bread.

  7. What Jane said. Keep it coming!

  8. You continue to amaze, Belinda! What is it again, that you CAN'T do???

    Your pictures here are marvellous and your stove looks like the 'real deal' (mine is just a standard electric stove).

    I follow a super SA blog called The Squashed Tomato. The author is a lovely young woman and her take on cooking is similar to yours. She also does winery reviews and shares some really fun outings. You might like to take a peek sometime ;)

  9. Gosh that does sound good and verrrrry moreish.

    I don't do 'entertaining' either I have friends that are pro's at it and absolutely love it - I'm more of a good dinner guest - if that makes sense?

    Anyway, have a lovely day,

    Nina xxx

  10. Morning. Tasty goings on at yours- must never let BigBean see...
    Just had a peek at your jewellery- it is stunning. Now I'm all inspired to go and make things but I'm out of silver. Best get on with the ironing instead! Ax

  11. I love you 'rocking the apron' and thanks for the recipe. And I am jealous of your gorgeous kitchen too Belinda!! XX

  12. Janet - the dreaded e- word, you are a woman who speaks my language!

    Katherine, hope so, but I do have some absolute howling disasters!

    Jan, it is a bit of a winner, will share recipe shortly.

    Sarah, fanx for lovely words, and the recipe is yours, will do post
    about the crucial subject of choc cake soon!

    Jane, alrightly, but pleeese don't expect the expertise the likes of you and Marie display ok?!

    sbot, mmmmmmm!

    Hostess, not much beats delish homemade soup and bread in my books, esp if with camembert and red wine, non?!

    Desiree, thanks for the lovely words and I will check out The Squashed Tomato!

    Nina, good dinner guests make it all worthwhile!

    Magic Bean, thank you so much, boo to the ironing!!

    Hi S-E, well I love the kitchen you showed on your last post and hope you are having a great birthday celebration.

  13. Oh that was a lip-smacking treat Belinda. We love mackerel in this house (in fact fish in general) and this recipe will definitely be cut and pasted into my recipe folder.

    I agree with you about dinner parties - but who has them these days anyway:-) An invite to a friendly supper is much more fun!

    btw, you can get carried away by food blogging any time you like m'dear - a little blog diversity is great. Look forward to more ....


  14. Hi Belinda,

    Please blog about food again! That mackerel paté and chocolate pie look really good!!!!

    Happy evening!

    Lieve groet, Madelief

  15. Just feeling extremely embarrassed when I read my above comment back. I can spell really....honest!! I think my typing enthusiasm got the better of me!!

    I'm extreeeeemely excited about the cake!


  16. Jeanne, I always read your comments and feel so buoyed up - you really are the business!!

    Madelief - righto, feel more foodie-talk on the way!

    Sarah, my friend, welcome to my world, so much enthusiasm, such slow fingers over here!!

  17. If someone ever invited me over for mackerel pate and homemade bread they could call it whatever they wanted....a gathering, entertaining, whatever...that sounds so delicious! And I agree, I love to have people over and I may cook all day and have shopped for two before, but when everyone arrives...I just want to eat and hang out...in jeans. I'm loving your blog. I love your writing...you're funny. I'll be checking back for the bread post.

  18. Lor' I'm starving now! Gorgeous food Belinda. As for nettle tes - from now on is perfect and yes, do only use the top few leaves from each stem. I like mine quite thick with them, but try and see. When the plants get older cut them back and they'll go again...darn 'em x