Smell and the fragrant kitchen

I think smell is one of the essential kitchen ingredients. It is so personal, so specific, so definite, it makes or breaks our taste buds.

It is defined by seasons, mood and whether you’re in the moment.

It can be the herbs you delicately shred into a meal, the sweet baked cake calling you from the oven, to the overnight marinade bursting with flavour set to come alive in your mouth.

What defines a perfect smell in your humble kitchen?

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New year and a bit of Moroccan spice

A new year, new start and so much to keep me going. And sorry I’ve been out of touch, busy, busy, busy.

Saw this photo on Pinterest (thanks to http://bit.ly/KFyYdX for the link) and it reminded me of a recently inspired dinner party we had – doesn’t it just conjure up the exotic?

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Last weekend we hosted a friend to enjoy my Middle-Eastern cuisine feast. And it lasted 2 meals and then some. We had:
Halloumi cheese (no other cheese would suffice i promise)
Moroccan lamb meatballs with apricots and harisa/yoghurt dip
Marinated chicken skewers with coriander
Fragrant cous-cous with dried apple
Chickpea, pomegranate, mint and cumin salad…
…and some other delectable givings.

What thoughts and ideas do you conjure up when you think of middle-eastern cuisine?

Do share…

The perfection of a marinade

Some things in all their organic, straight-from-the-farm, honest goodness should be left well alone so we can appreciate their flavour.

I find pork to be the exception of this philosophy and unless it is a piece of smoky bacon, I don’t care much for it and want, need, demand flavour!

A marinade that passed my lips was a concoction of a recipe from the one and only Ina Garten in her Back to Basics bible, but with an alternative to the rather pricy fillets and medallions, that in these financially tight times, can be easily exempted and replaced with another cut– just make sure that it isn’t covered in fat or that will retract from the flavour!

And the simplicity of this marinade is it can either be done overnight or when you’re at work – so 8 hours of pure marinade bliss is ideal for your cut of meat.

Pop said meat, crushed garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary sprigs and thyme leaves into a re-sealable sandwich bag, put a decent and kind amount of English mustard into the bag and a generous helping of olive oil, seal the bag and place in a container in the fridge to let it soak up the herb goodness.

Marinade is the true epitome of experimentation. I’m not one to stray from home-grown roots, what you have in your pantry should suffice consistently and happily in whatever you are cooking.

So this is where my passion for sticky and sour marinade comes into its own.

Take a choice selection of sausages, pork or chipolatas and marinade them in this beauty that feels and sounds like a sunset: combine orange zest and the juice of orange, spoon of orange marmalade, splash of dark soy sauce, drizzle of honey (as all honey should only ever be) and a small sprinkling of smoked chilli flakes.

Cover, pop in fridge for a few hours and griddle (or place on coal lit bbq if one has the energy) at the highest temp so that almost charcoal, dark colour, engulfs the meat.

Tell me that doesn’t sound enticing!