Sunday, 29 November 2009

Recipe: Fusili pasta with lemon, cream and rocket

I've had this recipe saved in one of my many folders for about a year and finally dug it out on Friday when I needed a quick go to recipe for a dinner with J. We were to be going on a date but in a bid to save money for our Christmas trips to France and Devon we decided to stay home. It also happened to be freezing cold and blustery outside, so staying in by the fire with a bottle of wine seemed like a pretty good option.

I had been concerned about cooking a dish without meat, something I find does not go down too well with the men in my life, but when my beloved declared it was the "dish of 2009" (he is a fan of the bold statement) my concerns were promptly dismissed.

This dish was an absolute delight; easy to make, cheap ingredients, very quick, had a fantastic flavour and most excitingly it felt like something you' be proud to put in front of a vegetarian friend. Good to add something to the repertoire other than oft repeated risottos, salads and veggie lasagna.

The only change I made to the recipe below was that I roasted the cherry tomatoes but I would say either cold or roasted would work, depending on your preference.

(Recipe from Food Network)


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 lemons
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 pound dried fusilli pasta
  • 1/2 pound baby rocket (or 2 bunches of common rocket, leaves cut in thirds)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved


Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook for 60 seconds. Add the cream, the zest from 2 lemons, the juice of 2 lemons, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until it starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, cut the broccoli in florets and discard the stem. Cook the florets in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain the broccoli and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta, and cook according to the directions on the package, about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the pasta in a colander and place it back into the pot. Immediately add the cream mixture and cook it over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, until most of the sauce has been absorbed in the pasta. Pour the hot pasta into a large bowl, add the arugula, Parmesan, tomatoes, and cooked broccoli. Cut the last lemon in half lengthwise, slice it 1/4-inch thick crosswise, and add it to the pasta. Toss well, season to taste, and serve hot.

En Francais

With our travel and accommodation in Paris booked I am able to concentrate on the far more important matter of what to wear. I have been finding inspiration by watching some beautiful old movies including Belle du Jour and Une Femme Francaise.

This has led to the development of acute crushes on Emmanuelle Beart, Catherine Deneuve and my current idol Vanessa Paradis (apologies, I can't find the accent in blogger for Beart).

Aren't they incredible looking? The epitome of the elegance, grace and sense of confidence that the ladies of France are so famous for. I love the simplicity of Belle du Jours' beautifully tailored jackets and dresses and am desperately shopping my wardrobe for something similar. I have just 3 days in Paris to get my fill of gawping at the ladies in the hope that some of that subtle style will rub off on me...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Food for thought

As mentioned here I will be spending the last days of December cooking for a large group of people at my parents house in deepest, darkest Devon.

Having spent considerable time discussing what exactly I am going to cook for 15 people per night (the group has grown a little since I last wrote) I have narrowed it down to a few options.

Make your own pizzas
Buy the bases, or make your own (I like to add cheese to the dough) then put out plates of meats, cheeses, vegetables and herbs for everyone to make their own pizza. This is great for getting rid of leftovers and a good way to get everyone around the table and pitching in.

A personal favourite, I am going to make a large cheese fondue and buy a selection of fancy breads to dip into the dish. Thinking I will also have a large pot filled with hot oil to dip in thin slices of beef and then cover with spicy horseradish. Yum.

Chilli con carne
I often worry that this is too simple a dish and people get bored of being offered it at any mass gathering (or is that just me!!) Yet I do think when it is done well and enjoyed after a long walk on a cold beach it can be utterly comforting and delicious. Particularly enjoyed with good bread and excessive amounts of sour cream.

I am still deliberating over what to serve on the big night. I don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen but I want it to be very special....looks like I have a few more hours to spend poring over my favourite cookery books. Never mind!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


I am well aware that at the beginning of next year I am going to be fairly hard up. There are a number of things contributing to this, and I will likely discuss these at another time, but for now I am trying to prepare as best I can for a bit of scrimping and saving.

I am trying to go out less after work, and when I do have evenings out I am attempting to eat either before (at my desk) or after (at home) to cut costs. This means depriving myself of one of my favourite pastimes, restaurant dining, but I realise how lucky I am to have ever been able to indulge in this with any frequency. That is not to say I have stopped eating out entirely, but I am thinking twice before turning to the menu when out having drinks or planning meet ups in close proximity to favourite restaurants.

I am also trying to find the simple pleasures that bring me joy at home, so that staying in doesn't seem quite so dull. I am a telly addict with (I like to think) a preference for great films and dramas. I have been gorging on True Blood, House and Spooks of late but I won't deny the amount of entertainment X-factor and I'm a Celebrity are bringing me.

On top of that I am trying to spice up day time eating, hence the poached eggs and the scotch pancakes I made today. Treating myself to freshly baked goods at tea time and a proper breakfast goes some way to making it easier when I walk by one of my much loved dinner time haunts.


This weekend I had a real craving for poached eggs, potato waffles and baked beans.

Saturday was a grey day and as I was making my way into town to begin some Christmas shopping I had a moment of clarity. I was not going to force my way down crowded streets in the pouring rain among thousands of irritable shoppers in central I was going to go back to my bed, watch an old movie and eat a poached egg.

So I did exactly that and enjoyed the brilliant House of Games while eating perfectly poached eggs under a warm duvet. Perfect!

Mistletoe and wine

London town has been dipped in glitter and sprinkled with Christmas cheer over the last fortnight and I have been loving snapping the decorations and window displays as I dash around town.

The late November weather has been cold, wet and very windy so a lot of these photos were taken in the few moments between downpours, just before I had to run back to shelter.

My mind is turning to Christmas shopping, planning for Paris and what I am going to enjoy eating while in France.

I am about to sit down to enjoy Jordan Ferneys' fantastic guide to Paris and then create my own itinerary which doubtless we will completely ignored once there in favour of hours spent in cafes and parks.

This weeks activities include a cinema date with a gaggle of girls and the world's most adored vampire (I only managed to see Twilight last Friday and now completely get the R-Patz thing having previously been fairly snooty about him), a dinner cooked for me by extended family in Wandsworth and a date with my beloved to round off the week.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

On Edingburgh

To my darling L.. because despite the fact you are so far away, and I am so wimpy when it comes to flying, I love that I have already fallen in love with your new home. I cannot wait to spend the next years of our life getting to know it - and your new baby - together...

I love you more than you can ever know.

More Etsy desires

I adore the cards sold at Etsy shop Able and Game. I have picked four of my favourites below, and it really was hard whittling it down to that.

I just wish that the shop wasn't based all the way over in Australia. I just don't think I can justify all those air miles and a big old postage charge for a set of (incredibly) pretty prints...Can I?

Monday, 9 November 2009

French Retreat

I have just 27 more working days this year before I wave goodbye* to my colleagues, kip over at my friend Katys' flat and then arise at 4.30am to jump on the Eurostar to Paris.

I spend three days in Paris with my beloved and then catch a snazzy French train down to Nantes in Western France to spend Christmas with my family. My aunt and uncle own a rambling old chateau and I will spend a week frequenting the local market, eating the freshest green beans covered in butter and sleeping as much as possible.

I have already touched on how important this Christmas is to me. Apart from my desire for a more positive Christmas, there is the added factor of my desperate need for some solitude and time to decide on my next big step. I just cannot wait to hole up in the French countryside, walk my dog in the local forest and enjoy a few days sauntering along at a much slower pace.

I have not yet booked my accommodation in Paris so if anyone has a recommendation please do share....

* or flip them the V sign, depending on my mood. Apart from you Z - I would never cuss you.

Wish list

I have been coveting this framed poster on Etsy for ages. It strikes just the right tone, falling safely into the category of being charming rather than overly twee.

My mind is lingering more and more on household decor these days, both because I am planning a move in the new year and because my dearest friend is moving far, far away to set up her new home and has a far greater budget than I to decorate with.

Therefore I get to shop both for myself, with a hit list of Ikea and the local market, and also for my friend where I indulge in the great pleasure of perusing Heal's and Habitat.

From Etsy seller Bread and butter shop

Sunday, 8 November 2009

A fortnight in pictures

Exhausted, horribly hungover and deliberating some big decisions today.
Therefore I give you a short picture update, an apology for my recent absence and a promise to do better.

Book shelf below seen at Terence Conrad shop - I just adore it.
Other than that a sample of what I have been consuming over the last few days, including a meal at my beloved Grand Bazaar.

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