#52 recipes: 17-21


Otolenghi's harissa and confit garlic potatoes from Simple
I mentioned the roasted cauliflower dish I made for my blogger girls in the previous #52recipes instalment and the next three dishes are part of the same spread. Oh my gosh these are one of my favourite things in the whole book. I'm obsessed with Harissa at the moment. It seems to make everything taste so much better, giving it a fantastic spicy, garlicky kick. The potatoes could have been crispier which was my fault for being too impatient but were absolutely fine as they were!

Ottolenghi's two bean and two lime salad from Simple
I served this with roast chicken and the zesty lime really went well with the citrusy chicken. I made a boo boo and used freeze dried kaffir lime leaves which Ottolenghi said not to do. It was still tasty but I think it would be even more delicious with fresh. Ottolenghi just does side dishes so well and they're always my favourite recipes from his books. I seem to have misplaced so many of my pictures as couldn't find this one!


Ottolenghi's crushed courgettes from Simple
I love a courgette and especially loved them like this. It tasted very summery, so fresh and light. I think it was the mixture of mint, dill and thyme. The portion wasn't very big though for four people so I would double it to make sure everyone can enjoy it! Picture taken from Michelle's blog.


Rachel Allen's date and banana loaf from Home Baking
I'm always in the market for a new banana loaf recipe and the stars aligned when I had some brown bananas in my fruit bowl and half a packet of dates leftover in the larder. The dates help to give the cake a subtle caramelised flavour. A great upgrade on a banana cake recipe.


Diana Henry's greens on toast with chilli, feta, sunflower seeds and a poached egg from Simple
At the weekend I like to make more of an effort for breakfast rather than my normal every day cereal. We had some feta and kale left over in the fridge so this was the perfect brunch to use them up. While it was a little effort, it was well worth it. I loved the saltiness of the feta paired with the kale. Who knew kale on toast would be so delicious!
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10 things I wish I'd known before visiting south-east Asia for the first time


Taking a trip to Malaysia was my first time I had ever been to south-east Asia. It was a massive culture shock to be somewhere so different from home. I like to think of myself as pretty well traveled despite only having been to Europe and North America but it completely took me by surprise. It was unlike anywhere I had been before. Here are ten things I wish I'd known before travelling to the region for the first time.

1. Be prepared for squat toilets
For some reason I only though squat toilets existed in China which is ridiculous. This is not the case. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with squat toilets but it is just something I'm not quite used to. They take a hell of a lot of time to get used to when you've only ever used a western loo. All there restaurants always had a western loo but keep in mind some service stations and temples only have squat loos...

2. The toilets don't always have toilet paper
It seems to be very heavy on the old toilet situation doesn't it? But one thing I really noticed about going to the loo in Malaysia is that toilet paper is in short supply. Luckily I had already been warned about this from Michelle so always had some in my bag. I would have come unstuck a fair few times if it wasn't for her! All toilets have toilet sprayer which again was something I had never come across before. But you can use them instead of using toilet paper if you forget it.

3. Health and safety is not the same as home
We had a rather hairy time involving some fireworks and fire crackers which scared the life out of me! You could tell someone hadn't watched the firework safety video at school as a kid... Heath and safety doesn't really exist the over there and it definitely takes a while to go used to. You just have to learn to turn a blind eye!

4. Be prepared for people to ask you for pictures
I'd never been to a country where I was the minority before and one thing that really stood out for me was people asking me for my picture! One family asked me to pose with their children. Another man secretly filmed me when I was buying some food. People really did stare, especially where our friends lived as it wasn't a very touristy place so we stood out like a sore thumb. It wasn't uncomfortable and no one was rude but it took a while to get used to.

5. Drivers don't always stop at red lights
Driving in Malaysia was certainly an experience, luckily our friend was there to navigate. Everyone drives on the same side of the road as we do in the UK but that's where the similarities end! We were ok driving in Langkawi as it was pretty quiet. But on the mainland it was chaotic. No one seems to indicate, no one seems to stop at a red light and the traffic can be horrendous. The no stopping at a red light was particularly scary!

6.  Leave your shoes at the door before you enter guesthouses
I'm used to taking my shoes off at home at the door but it's never been expected of me to take them off at a guesthouse before I enter reception. It's a sign of respect in Malaysia so many will ask you to leave your shoes inside. This is why when you walk past any guesthouse you will see piles of shoes outside. If I had realised this I would have packed a pair of slippers.

7.  The sheer amount of whitening beauty products
I ran out of moisturiser while we were out there and popped to the pharmacy to pick up some more. It took me a good 15 m minutes to find something that didn't have 'whitening' or 'bleach' in the description. I couldn't quite believe the sheer amount of whitening products on sale from body lotion to deodorant. It's quite a sad sight if I'm honest and really makes you think.

8. No one wears helmets on mopeds 
No one at all wears a crash helmet on a moped, not even a six month old baby. Literally everyone drives around helmet free and it gives me a heart attack. See what I mean by heath and safety is not the same as home? Just because no one else seems to wear a helmet doesn't mean you should skip it if you decided to hire a moped.

9.  Sometimes eating western food affects you more than the local food
I love to stick to local food whenever I visit a new country but sometimes you just have a craving for food that reminds you of home. I'm talking burgers, pizza and chips. Sometimes needs must! I have no problem eating street food wherever I am despite people often warning against it. I think it's the best way to get a feel for a country. I was shocked that the times I felt a bit out of sorts - and really poorly at one point - was when I opted for the western food. So keep in mind eating western food won't necessary be better for your stomach!

10. The humidity is unlike anything I would have ever experienced before

My friend said before we went that in Malaysia you are always wet. Be it from the rain or from sweat because of the humidity. I thought he was exaggerating. But he wasn't! I wish I had been much better prepared to deal with it. Maybe taking a misting spray or lighter clothes from natural fabrics. It can get pretty intense!
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What I've been cooking #9: Dining in by Alison Roman

I first found out about Alison Roman through my fellow cookbook addict Hannah. Alison has been called the 'American Nigella' and has food columns for Bon Appetite and NY Times online. She's well known for her viral recipes which go berserk on Instagram. The famous stew and cookies are just two of them. Her first cookbook Dining In is very much geared towards home cooks who want something simple yet delicious to rustle up in the kitchen. Over the last few months I've found the book a joy to use and its fast become one of my favourites. Some of the veggie sides have taken a hell of a lot longer than expected and we have had to have them separately to the main course. I think the timing may be a little off. I find this sometimes when a cook is translated from its American origins into a book for a British audience. But 90% of everything I have cooked has been utterly delicious. The viral cookies I mentioned above were absolutely delicious and by far the best cookie recipe I have ever made. Dining in will be a book I'll continue to use in high rotation in the future and I can't wait for her second book Nothing Fancy to be released.


Cocoa banana bread
I think banana bread is a cake I make the most. I always have blackened bananas in the house dying out to be recreating into a delicious moreish cake. I usually add chocolate chips for my sweet tooth but this was the first time that I added coco powder. In return you get such a deep, rich, dense cake that really hits the spot. The sprinkled sugar on top is a game changer and something I'm always going to do to every banana bread recipe in the future.


Salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread
Ah the viral cookies! Cookies are something I struggle with, I always tend to overcook them. These are frozen for two hours which makes them easy to cut into rounds. They're rolled in sugar to give them a tasty crunch. A sprinkle of sea salt on the top before cookie is what really makes them special. They are more like a shortbread rather than a cookie. I don't think I'll ever use any other chocolate chunk cookie recipe again!


Honey yogurt pound cake with raspberries
I only had a quarter of the raspberries needed to make then but needed to use them up so YOLO! It would have been so much better with the right amount of raspberries but it was pretty delicious regardless. I love cakes with yogurt, they always taste so light. The honest added a lovely sweet addition.

Vinegar roasted beetroot with spring onion and yogurt
This recipe was a bit a disaster. I'm not sure if I didn't cut the beetroot into small enough chunks but it look nearly three hours to cook! I was doing the recipe for dinner guests and ended having to do emergency peas because the chicken was already done. We had the beetroot the next day cold. It was really good but the effort it took it make it wasn't really worth it.


Crispy smashed potatoes with fried onion and parsley
I LOVED these. They could have done with being cooked for a bit longer to crisp up more but I was getting impatient with dinner. There's just something about fried onions with potatoes that sings to me. Such a great combination. I would definitely make these again.

Blistered green beans with creamy tahini and fresh hot sauce
No picture of these because I've cheated a bit and not actually cooked these. My boyfriend cooked them instead but I did taste test them! I don't think I've ever eaten as much yogurt as I have when I'm cooking recipes from this book. Alison loves yogurt! Yogurt and tahini is such an addictive combination and I could eat it every day. The nuttiness of the tahini and freshness of then Greek yogurt is perfection. I think this veggie dish was a bit of a faff so one to save for the weekend I think.


Baked eggs with crushed chickpeas, chorizo and breadcrumbs
There's a running joke about chickpeas on our house. My boyfriend isn't much of a fan but I still always try to feed them to him, to try and change his mind. I've been looking for the perfect recipe to convert him and this is it! He absolutely loved it and said he preferred to the traditional shakshuka we normally have. The chorizo was the star of this dish and went perfectly with the slightly crispy chickpeas. I can't wait to make this again!

Steamed artichokes with salted garlic butter
This was a complete and utter disaster. I don't know if it was me or the recipe but it all went terribly wrong. I got some artichokes in my Abel & Cole box and was pretty excited as I'd never cooked them before. Well it was completely ruined and we ended up throwing them away! They just never steamed. I keep adding more and more water but yet nothing was happening. I think they were on then hob for around 2.5 hours. Won't be attempting to steam artichokes again any time soon!


Spicy, garlicky white beans
I cooked these to go along some left over BBQ meat we had in the fridge following an afternoon hosting. I wanted something I could easily put together in my hangover state and didn't have to leave the house for ingredients. This ticked every box! For something so simple it was great. It hardly took any time at all and is a great option for a non-carby side to meat.
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