Nibbling our way down memory lane… my favourite dishes and bakes

Food and eating holds a dear place in my heart, as I’m sure it does for most, if not all, people. Memories of the sea air blowing strands of hair into my mouth whilst desperately licking ice-lolly juice that’s dribbling down my arm intertwined with the more grown-up hazy memories of drawn out family dinners, conversations enriched with wine, punctuated by raucous laughter. Very often these occasions are less about the specific food and more about the company, setting or associated emotions, but even the thought of certain foods can take me back to those moments. It’s this social importance of food that I think is so often overlooked by wellness advocates proclaiming a certain way of eating and, by default, living. Stripping food down to its constituent parts can blind us to the integral social role that it has always played in humans’ lives and will continue to do so for infinity.

I could harp on about the health benefits of social eating that are beginning to come to light, but I won’t. What I find far more interesting, probably because I’m a nosy parker, is asking people about the food and drinks that evoke the strongest memories for them. The first question I always ask someone after an event like a wedding or birthday party is, “What did you eat?” It is this curiosity that sparked the idea for this series on the blog. I wanted to speak to people about their most cherished food memories. It’s a well-used format – many magazines run articles asking celebrities to discuss the dishes “that made them”. But I wanted to speak to regular people who aren’t famous but are remarkable nonetheless.

I thought I’d start the series by sharing my most cherished food memories and I hope to feature plenty of other’s favourite dishes.

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Plain flapjacks

When I was younger I was allergic to wheat and dairy, which is fairly common in babies and toddlers, but often grown out of. However, back in the early 90’s there was hardly anything available in shops and supermarkets that my mum could to buy for me to eat. These were the days before aisles of options of gluten-free, dairy-free, you name it-free foods, so I remember her baking – a lot! And the thing I remember her baking the most was flapjack. We nearly always had some in the kitchen, ready for when we got in from school, or swimming, or from the park. They symbolise something comforting and are my go-to if I’m running low on time or ingredients to make anything fancy but feel like doing some baking. I now make flapjack with butter but in those days my mum made it with vegetable margarine. I’ve shared the recipe for these flapjacks on the blog before which can be found here.

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Acai bowls

I know these are super ‘wellness’ but I find them absolutely delicious! And they bring back memories of my trip to Australia in my gap year which was the first time I tried them. I also sought out the best acai spots on my road trip in California with my friend a couple of years ago – so tropical and holiday-ish! 😉 It also lends itself to be topped with absolutely anything so you can use whatever you have in the fridge/freezer/cupboards.

I posted the recipe for an acai bowl last year here.

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Chicken Basque

My godmother is a fantastic cook and host – whenever we go down to Cornwall to visit she puts on the most delicious, chilled out, wonderful spreads. I had to ask her for the recipe which has been copied and transcribed a few times, so I have no idea where the original recipe is from (if you recognise it please let me know and I will credit the creator!)

This meal is all cooked in one dish which is delightful meaning you can place it in the middle of the table on a heatproof mat and all help yourselves. With a side salad and red wine is my favourite way to serve it. You’ll need a flameproof casserole dish with at least 4.5L capacity.

Serves 4

1.75kg chicken breasts, legs, and thighs (you’re preference)

2 red peppers

1 onion

50g sun-dried tomatoes

2-3 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

150g chorizo, skinned and chopped into 1cm slices

225ml brown rice

275ml chicken stock

170ml dry white wine

1 tbsp tomato puree

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

50g pitted black olives, halved

½ orange, peeled and cut into wedges

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Slice the red peppers in half and remove the seeds and pith slice each half into 6 strips.

Peel the onion and slice into strips of the same size.

Cut the dried sundried tomato into 1cm pieces.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish on the hob on a medium heat and when hot add the chicken pieces and brown them until they are a golden colour on both sides.

Remove the chicken to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Add more oil and turn up the heat slightly higher than medium.

Add the onion and pepper, tossing for 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, chorizo and sundried tomatoes and toss until the garlic is golden.

Stir in the rice, add the stock, wine, tomato puree and paprika.

When simmering, turn the heat down and place the chicken on top. Scatter in the olives and orange on top.

Cover and simmer for 50 minutes – 1 hour until the rice is cooked.

Gingerbread

Almost every summer whilst I was growing up, my family would stay in a holiday cottage in Cornwall. It would mean an 8-hour car journey squished in the back of the car with my brother and sister, often listening to the Les Miserables soundtrack on repeat – my sister was in a youth production and it’s been a family favourite ever since. My mum would make this delicious sticky ginger bread that we would eat after we got back from the beach, slathered in butter or margarine.

I shared the recipe for this delicious bake on the blog a while ago, when I experimented and made them into cupcakes (the recipe gives the cooking times for both cupcakes and loaf form).

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I love collaborating so let me know if you’d like to contribute to this ‘Nibbling…’ series, or if you’d like to write a different article for the blog!

As always, take care x

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