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There is something deeply comforting in cooking a big batch of slowly braised meat. I’ve always wanted to make a slow roasted pork shoulder ever since coming across a recipe for this in my first ever proper cookbook – Jamie Oliver’s ‘Cook with Jamie.’ I never got to do it though since I never could find the proper cut of meat for it in Dublin. I did, however, slow roast a monster of a pork shoulder once during our time in France and knew it would be a winner whenever I tried it next.

pulled pork recipe

shredded pork recipe

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The last couple of months have flown away in a whirlwind of 9-5 days. Yes, that’s right, am back working a regular office job albeit a temporary one! Exciting as it has been to have a daily routine again, my love for cooking and experimenting in the kitchen have taken a backseat. The result? No new posts here for quite some time now!

As I work on remedying this, I thought I’d share moments from our recent weekend trip to Paso Robles (short for El Paso de Robles or ‘Pass of the Oaks’), a wine region not too far from where we are in the South Bay. A few weeks ago, we had a much needed public holiday on a Monday and decided to make the most of the long weekend. We packed our bags, got into our car and drove through the mad holiday weekend traffic to get to our destination – a lovely little cottage set in the vineyards at Berardo Winery. Run by a couple with Italian roots, that showed in the Italian grape varietals they grow, it was in the best spot possible. Our backyard opened out to the vineyard. The patio was just a few feet away from the vines themselves. We couldn’t have asked for a better view and a better deal!

paso robles trip

vineyard in paso

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I have always wanted to make a braided loaf of bread – those shiny knots are so beautiful and appealing. As with any kind of home made bread, this requires an investment of a few hours. Which is why it is only quite recently that I tried out a challah bread recipe I found on The Kitchn. It turned out so well and was such a hit with my bread loving husband that I had to make it again. This time I was determined to take a few pictures and share it here. In my naivety, I thought that sharing a traditional kosher challah recipe would be perfect for the occasion of Passover that’s coming up.

how to make challah

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We love Asian food in all its guises – diverse Indian dishes and subtly flavoured Chinese ones, the various kinds of nasi you get throughout south east Asia, the fusion cuisine of Malaysia…the list goes on. I have also always loved recreating these dishes in my own kitchen. Whenever an attempt at making a rendang or a nasi lemak turns out well, I am over joyed!

asian satay recipe

Indonesian cuisine is very dear to Peter’s heart (what with the Dutch connection to Indonesia) especially as he grew up in Holland. As a child, a visit to the local Chinese restaurant was a much anticipated event for him. These Chinese restaurants actually serve a combination of Chinese and Indonesian dishes, something that’s unique to them and cannot be easily found outside of the Netherlands.

asian grilled chicken

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As far as food trends go, coconut oil has been in the news for only a little while now. It has been touted as a miracle worker – good for your skin, hair and health too. I find it slightly amusing because where my family comes from, coconut oil is a commonplace ingredient. It is used not only in cooking but also as a natural moisturiser. As kids, we were forced to slather ourselves in the oil from head to toe, including our hair, before every shower.

I am happy that with the newfound glory of coconut oil, I can find it in any ordinary supermarket. If you have ever wondered what to use this very nutty flavoured oil for, then make this chocolate cake and you’ll be hooked. Did I already mention that it is also great for your skin and hair?

cake with coconut oil

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I am always on the lookout for interesting fish recipes as seafood lends itself very well to unique flavour combinations. The same piece of salmon can be used to create a French bistro style dish, a spicy Indian curry or as in this case, a dish with Middle Eastern flavours. I got the ‘Jerusalem’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi as a gift more than a year ago. Ever since, I have tried numerous recipes from it, a few of which have already become firm favourites. The ‘salmon steaks in chraimeh sauce’ recipe was one on my must-try list. The other day, when I found some decent salmon fillets in the supermarket, it was time to dig out the book and try out this dish.

salmon in tomato sauce

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I’ve been going through some of my favourite cookbooks and marking new recipes to try out. One such book that I remember buying with much anticipation was ‘Good to the Grain’ by Kim Boyce. Since I’d only ever tried one of it’s many fabulous recipes, it  was time to experiment with many more of the wonderful baked goods this book has to offer. This book shows you how to incorporate whole grain flours into everyday baking making it easier to enjoy treats guilt free.

 

banana and cranberry muffins

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