So you're making a curry. For eight people (lucky you). But there are two kids and two adults that don't like their food spicy, while the others do. What do you do? Just make a mild curry for everyone? Or make two curries - a Korma and a Madras and try and please everyone? As a chilli lover, it's a situation I'm in all the time with my family, who won't touch spicy food.
And one compa
You hear a lot about chimichurri these days. That green, pungent salsa that gets spooned onto steaks and beef burgers. But another Argentinian salsa that you might not hear so much about is salsa criolla - and over there, it's as popular as chimichurri.
It's a mixture of finely chopped sweet red peppers, garlic, parsley, onion and tomato, all bound together with olive oil and vinegar. It'
Oh, have I got a thing for dulce de leche.
It's a milk-based caramel that's popular in Latin American countries and if you get the good stuff, it's thick, dark and glossy and is perfect eaten in so many ways - spread on toast, used as a sandwich filling, spooned straight from the jar...
The thick sweet - almost buttery - caramel works so well with banana and so I whipped
This Sunday is Father's Day, and if you haven't yet got a present organised for a food-loving Dad, then don't panic. How about some of these?
Father's Day Chocolates
You can't really go wrong with choccy, can you? There are all sorts of chocolates available that appeal to Dads - Yorkie turned themselves into a 'male' brand through their adverts and Toblerone has been a Dad's
I've already talked about how sweet potatoes can be healthier than regular white potatoes - and I was really chuffed when my children started asking for them instead of their regular fries. Sweet potatoes are great boiled and then mashed, or baked in their skins and topped with a slice of creamy goat's cheese and some chives - but for the ultimate in comfort food we often have them like this: stic
Some exciting news, people. I'm now allowed to share with you all that I'll be involved in a nationwide competition to find the perfect cheese on toast, organised by the British Cheese Board.
This summer, the British Cheese Board wants the British public to send in their favourite cheese on toast recipes - using any types of British cheese you think works best. Myself and the other
Of all the things I learned to cook in Argentina, this was the one that I loved the most. When relatives came to visit, we would pile around the dining table and tuck into a stack of these, either bought from the pizza place around the corner or made fresh, in the oven. People would bring a stack of pizza bases they'd made and my sister-in-law would smear them with tomato sauce, top them with chee
You will probably already know the Saucy Fish Co and their packs of fish with ready-made sauces. Well they've just launched a new line of salmon - this time it comes already cooked and alongside a variety of dressings. They sent me some to try out.
With almost a quarter of the nation not knowing how to cook and prepare fish, the Saucy Fish Co says that it offers a stress-fre
A while ago I wrote a step-by-step guide on how to make pretzels for Yahoo! - and although I'd made them a few times before that, now it seems, we can't get enough of them. I loved the soft, fluffy dough, the dark, salty crust, their chewiness. And then I went and dipped them in chocolate.
I realise it's nothing new, dipping pretzels in chocolate - you could dip them in cinna
Empanadas are a bit like small pasties. They were laid out at just about every gathering while I was in Argentina, usually stuffed with minced beef (empanadas de carne) or cheese and ham (empanadas de jamón y queso). We visited a friend, Marcello, who owns a fishmonger's in El Palomar, Buenos Aires - and, while there was an abundance of fresh fish on the counter, there were also pastries stuffed w
It occurred to me, when I had a packet of cold, cooked smoked trout in the fridge, that it would pair very well with vodka. And then, I decided, dill. And so I went out into the kitchen and cooked this.
You're not using much vodka here - a couple of tablespoons - but it gives a fragrance to the pasta which combines well with the moist, sweet trout and the clean, fresh flavour of the dill.
For years, this was my favourite way to eat a hot dog. Just a good, plain frankfurter in a white bun, topped with soft, browned onions and drizzled with American-style mustard. It's the cartoon equivalent of the hot dog - instantly recognisable and associated with 1950s diners and street carts in New York. Sauerkraut is also a New York tradition with hot dogs - have it without the onions and the m
Don't worry, I haven't gone mad, freezing lamb in lollipop moulds... it's just that after I made these a couple of times, they became known in the family as 'lamb lollipops'. Biting it off the stick makes the children feel like they're eating a lolly. For grown-ups, of course, they're just koftas. Minced lamb, seasoned with garlic, parsley and cumin (add some chopped mint in there too if you like)
One of my favourite dinners, lately. But I know what you're thinking. How can brown rice, mushrooms and soya beans constitute comfort food? It sounds too healthy. Well, all I can say is, you have to try it. The brown Basmati rice is chewy, with a nutty flavour. The sweet, almost creamy little soya beans give colour and a soft texture. And the mushrooms, when mixed with the spring onions and garlic
There were many things I expected to taste in Argentina. The beef, definitely. And the hot dogs. Big, meaty, bold food, certainly. But I didn't expect to see the dainty little sandwiches that are sándwiches de miga.
My husband's cousin runs a bakery and very kindly brought a stack of these sandwiches for me to sink my teeth into. The name translates as 'crustless sandwiches'. The brea
It's National Vegetarian Week this week, and to celebrate, I've put together a list of some of my favourite vegetarian meals. Need some veggie inspiration? Check these out, they all make a regular appearance here at Comfort Bites HQ...
It doesn't look very appetising, but it will surprise you. Soft slices of ripe avocado, on (usually) wholemeal toast spread with a litt
I blogged about Gwyneth's first book before (Notes From My Kitchen Table) and decided that she didn't deserve all the aggro she got from the press about it. Yes, there were parts of the book that seemed indulgent (private cooking lessons with Jamie Oliver, languid lunches with movie star friends) but the recipes were good. And they weren't all macrobiotic, vegan recipes either. Roast chicken, lobs
When my in-laws found out we were coming to Argentina they promised me a trip to a parilla, a kind of barbecue restaurant that's really popular there. We pulled in at the front of the neon-lit restaurant on a dark, balmy April evening and I knew I was in for a treat when I saw this through the window...
There, around a pile of hot, white coals were two or three whole pieces
It's an unfair twist that foods we crave for comfort when we're feeling low happen to be also quite bad for us. I can't tell you the number of times I've bitten into a glazed doughnut or spooned Nutella straight from the jar and wished things were different.
And you don't have to be a genius to figure out that, while the occasional piece of chocolate fudge cake is ok, you can't expect to
When I saw the subtitle to this book, 'Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese', I knew I had to read it. I mean, if there's ever a subject that's going to keep me engaged for the length of a book, it's cheese.
The book was easy to lose yourself in - a memoir really, of one person's travels around France, finding out how French cheese is made, who makes it and the
When I left Argentina, I was given a cookbook by my family, so I could recreate some of the authentic dishes I'd eaten there once I'd got home. The author was Doña Petrona, who is the Argentine equivalent of a kind of cross between our Mrs Beeton and Delia Smith.
She appeared on telly in the 1960s, and released a definitive collection of her recipes called El Libro de Doña Petrona. Her bo
Have you ever made gnocchi? If you have, then you might already know that, despite being very rewarding (and NOTHING like the stuff you buy in the shops) it is also quite time consuming to make. However I have found a gnocchi that takes literally minutes to stir together and then to cook. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ricotta gnocchi.
I first found that ricotta could be used in
Salmon. It's good stuff, giving us protein and of course those all-important Omega-3s to make us brainy. But you can get bored of eating it with potatoes or Japanese-style, with rice. So I decided to make a tart with it - a wholemeal one (as if salmon wasn't righteous enough).
The pastry is really easy, but a little time-consuming to make, but it's well worth the effort. You end up with a home-
The idea for this recipe came when I was tucking into the Greek version of this pie, 'spanakopita', made with feta cheese, eggs and spinach and crisp filo pastry. It occurred to me, mid-bite, that it might be worth coming up with a British version, using home-grown ingredients instead. And so I did.
This version uses Cheshire cheese, which has a milky flavour and crumbly texture, not unli
One of the first things I noticed about Easter in Argentina is their long Easter holiday. Where I was staying, they leave work on Thursday so they get Good Friday off and they don't go back to work until the following Wednesday. And there were only a few corner shops actually open over those days, not like at home when we say it's Easter weekend and then continue to shop for groceries, take books
I've talked about our burrito nights quite a bit, because we really love them. And it's a great excuse for me, really, not to have to stand in the kitchen, actually cooking. The meat, whether it's pork, beef or lamb, is always done in the slow-cooker and I can put it in at lunchtime and forget about it for the rest of the day, until my tummy rumbles and all I have to do is chop up some avocados, h
I love figs. And it was when I saw a couple of punnets of the little beauties going reduced at the supermarket one afternoon that I thought they might be good for ice cream.
After a quick squizz on the internet to see if anyone else had done it (they had) it seemed that there were two main methods for preparing figs to be made into ice cream: cooking them in a pan, with some wat
Desperately trying to reduce my everyday sugar intake, I came up with these buns. They're really just little scone-like muffins that you can split while still warm and drizzle with a little runny honey before eating, or top with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and a strawberry slice.
The good thing about these is that the vanilla bean paste is quite strong, so it gives the illusion of sw
All the guide books tell you that, in Argentina, you're going to enjoy a lot of beef.
But what a lot of people don't tell you about is the pasta.
Argentina has a mixed population - Bolivians, Spanish, Columbians and native Argentinians, to name a few. But it also has a large number of people with Italian descent. And it's most prominent when you look at the food.
We tend to think of Europe as home to strong, stinky cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Roquefort, which got me wondering: do we have any strong and smelly cheeses that are made in Britain? I did some research and asked the British Cheese Board and cheese experts from Paxton and Whitfield for some advice. Here's what they suggested...
Grandma Singleton's Strong Lancashire... perfect on nachos
Sweet cakes and biscuits are all very well, for a while, but then you start to wonder how much sugar you're packing in to your daily diet. My moment came while I was on the elimination diet last month. I had to go cold turkey on sugar. Completely. I felt hungover, had headaches and was incredibly lethargic for a couple of days. And then I realised - in the midst of a huge Mars Bar and Coca-Cola cr
When I was in Argentina, it seemed that at every gathering we went to, we had empanadas. They're similar to little pasties, filled with minced beef, green olives, chopped hard-boiled egg and onions. But the pastry is different to our shortcrust, puff or filo pastry and kind of a cross between all three. It's thin and flaky but nowhere near as brittle or crisp as filo, and it's paler, softer and ea
How could these not be good? Slices of mozzarella coated in egg and crispy panko breadcrumbs and then fried for a couple of minutes on each side until oozy. I made these after I found a lonely ball of mozzarella at the back of the fridge and half a packet of panko breadcrumbs in the cupboard. They'd be lovely with a little pot of chilli sauce to dip them in or alongside a curly-leafed green salad.
Fresh herbs and spices are almost always preferred in cooking - they're usually fuller-flavoured and have a softer, fresher texture than their dried versions. But then you don't always have a bunch of fresh herbs when you need them, or feel like doing all that chopping.
Luckily, you can buy herbs and spices already prepared - frozen in little tubs or packets, or puréed in tubes,
Chimichurri sauce seems to be everywhere at the moment. There are some versions flecked with red chilli, some that resemble loose vinegary dressings and some that are piled up high in big spoonfuls, like finely chopped salads, on top of steaks and burgers. These are all fine, and undoubtedly all delicious, but real, authentic Argentine chimichurri is a bit different.
The first thing: aut
Walkers have a new snack out, called Hoops and Crosses. And they kindly sent me a few packs to try, with the girls.
The crisps are shaped like the old-fashioned 'noughts and crosses' game and they're fun for the kids to eat. The good news for us is that they're wholegrain, have no artificial colours or preservatives and they contain 30% less fat than a regular packet of crisps.
When I visited Argentina over Easter, even though it was their Autumn time, temperatures were hitting the 29-30ºC mark. And of course they fired up the asado - and what do you need to mop up all that meat? Salads, of course.
Salads were served I think, at pretty much every meal, alongside pickled aubergines, chimichurri and criolla salsa. And they're creative with them - you don't just get a bo
Pretty much every country has their version of a barbecue. The South Africans have their braii, East Asia has satay and us Brits even think we’re a dab hand at it, with our row of chipolatas and beefburgers and saucy aprons that Dad generally wears. But talk to an Argentinian about asado and they’ll get passionate about it. They might even invite you over for one. I ate asado just about every
Once I tried a chilli dog, I found it difficult for a while to imagine eating hot dogs any other way. The spicy, meaty sauce with soft, dark kidney beans were up against the smoky sweetness of the frankfurter and then the chewy, soft, white bun. Add to that a few pieces of diced red onion for crunch and freshness and a small grating of good, mature Cheddar for creaminess.
How to make a
If you're looking for Easter treats for a party tea, Easter egg hunt, or just for the sake of it, then head on down to Yahoo! Lifestyle where you'll find three of my Easter egg hunt recipes. They include some carrot cake balls that look like hot cross buns (carrot cake surely being the Easter bunny's favourite), some cute little bunny cookies and 'chick' inspired Easter cupcakes, which are really
Elimination diets, right now, seem to be making big news. Gwyneth Paltrow's second book It's All Good, focuses on one, for a start. But what is it? Well, if you suffer from inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, arthritis or recurrent muscle pain, it might help ease your symptoms. The idea is that certain foods can trigger an allergy-like response in the body, causing inflammation as your immune
There's one way to turn a run of the mill flat mushroom into something really quite glamorous and full of flavour. And that's to roast it. I discovered roasted mushrooms when I had a stray couple of flat mushrooms in the fridge that needed using up. I was bored of pan-frying them, and didn't fancy grilling them, so I wondered what they'd be like roasted.
The mushroom slices darken in the
Ever since I tried the vanilla back bacon from Waitrose, I've been trying to think of different recipes to cook with it. And constantly, one kept coming back into my head: vanilla bacon Carbonara. It was something about the musky-scented bacon, the soft pasta and eggy, creamy sauce that told me this would work so well. And it did. The vanilla flavour is subtle, it's not a sweet dish - but it's the
This is, basically, a mushroom sandwich. But it's absolutely gorgeous and makes a great change when you don't fancy beef or lamb in your burger. The thick, flat mushroom is unexpectedly meaty in texture, and when lightly pan-fried with garlic and parsley, it's ready in about 5-6 minutes. Just pop between a split bread roll and serve with some chips - or polenta fries if you're holding back on pota
It's often said that the one thing people miss the most when they start a vegetarian diet is crisp, salty bacon, straight from the grill pan, still sizzling, pressed between two heavily-buttered slices of cheap white bread. And although my vegetarian stepdad gets round this by making himself a Frazzles sandwich (yes, the crisp), it really isn't the same.
Bacon makes up many of our
Bacon. It's a tough one. We're being told that we shouldn't eat too many processed meats like bacon, sausages, chorizo and ham. And yet it seems to constantly exist on menus, in our homes and at bed and breakfasts up and down the country. For me, when I'm in the UK, it doesn't really feel like a 'holiday' until you walk into the breakfast room and smell freshly-grilled bacon ready and waiting for
This month, Walkers announced what they called their 'biggest flavour news for ten years.' It was that Walkers flavours now include ingredients sourced from Britain. They've already been using 100% British potatoes, but now they're using foods such as tomatoes from the Vale of Evesham, British Worcester sauce and Cheddar cheese from Somerset. Even their roast chicken flavoured crisps are made from
Recently, in a bid to eat less potatoes (they're great, but sometimes you just want a change) I've discovered polenta fries. And I love them. They're crunchy, soft in the centre and full of flavour. I don't know why it took me so long to make them.
They're so easy and quick to make, and seem much lighter than potato fries. I use the ready-made polenta which speeds up the cooking time eve
Although I love a dark, spicy lamb curry mopped up with garlic and coriander naan bread, sometimes I'm in the mood for something lighter, more mild, and fragrant. And so one rainy night, this dish was born: lentils and mushrooms in a slightly creamy coconut-based sauce. And it's healthy on many levels. For a start, it's vegan - it's also dairy-free and gluten-free. I love it with a pile of brown B
Pasta is all very well, but sometimes you need a break from all those creamy, cheesy sauces and that shouldn't have to mean that there's just tomato sauce left. One of my favourites is this: flaked smoked salmon fillets tossed in butter, chives and cooked frozen peas.
Smoked Salmon Farfalle with Peas and Chives
350g farfalle pasta shapes
1 small garlic c