Archive for Vegetarian


One of the few things freelancers miss after leaving the treadmill is a steady flow of perks. Whatever they were for you, the chances are they won’t exist or, even if they do, you won’t be able to claim them on expenses and, even if you can, it’s you who has to earn enough to pay yourself back. Some perk.

Instead, simple aspects of freelance life become the treats: being free to meet a friend for coffee (but you can’t charge the coffee) or skipping round an exhibition during the day then catching up on work at night (but you can’t charge overtime) or taking advantage of sunshine midweek and working at weekends (which no one understands). It all adds up to freedom – the biggest perk of all – but, as freedom soon becomes a way of life, it rarely counts as a perk.

So, when an invitation arrived inviting me to an exclusive East Meets West lunch with cookery writer and television chef Anjum Anand, with the expectation that I will try to gain a commission for an article about it, singing for my, er, lunch is a very definite perk. Love her television programmes. Keep meaning to buy one of her books. And now this: Anjum showing us quick and easy ways to use paneer (Clawson paneer, to be precise) with us eating the results. I was happy to set the alarm and go commuting to the Good Housekeeping Institute’s demonstration kitchen.

What a stage set. Round tables beautifully laid … brilliant turquoise table cloths sprinkled with dark red chillies; sparkling glasses (filled with fizz as we arrived); a deep purple orchid on every place setting; stunning table arrangements of the same orchids in vases full of red chillies; a beautifully designed menu, instantly evoking the atmosphere of India; plus knowledgeable and friendly hosts, from Clawson, on each table to fill gaps in our knowledge about paneer. I have no idea how often other food writers go to this sort of do but it was far from typical for me.

And, being me, I gorged on every dish – all six of them – while trying to fathom the unfathomable reason why paneer had never made it into my shopping basket when I regularly order mutter paneer or sag paneer when out for a curry.

And then there was the goody bag – an unexpected (at least by me) extra perk. A packet of paneer; a balti dish; Anjam’s recipes for the day; a box of ginger tea; and a copy of Anjam’s New Indian, the book that accompanied Anjum’s BBC television series, signed by her at the end of the lunch. I went home with a light skip in my step despite being weighed down by my heavy stomach (due entirely to self-inflicted excess).

Whatever type of freelance you are, perks will be few and far between so grab them when you can. But if you treat them as freebies, you’ll find the invitations stop coming. The very least you can do is give them an honourable mention in your blog.  Watch out for the recipes; they are perfect freelance lunches …

Excessive greed left me far from perky

  1. A couple of spoonfuls of paneer tikka masala
  2. Half a wrap of paneer fajitas
  3. A ladleful of Thai noodle paneer and vegetable curry
  4. A skewer of grilled paneer, peppers and onion
  5. Two large dollops of paneer and spinach curry
  6. Every last scraping of a glassful of layered berry and paneer cheesecake

No, not a typical freelance lunch and, yes, moments later ... every last bit, gone.

Here’s a visual taster in the video taken on the day (if you blink, you’ll miss the back of my head):


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I should have seen it coming. After all, it’s not as if I’m new to freelancing. Finding the balance between chasing work (when desperate for it) and doing some (if you have any) is like spotting the fine line between the darkness and the dawn.

I’d met the potential client, I’ll call him Anand, at a networking do. He’d recently set up a business and felt his website wasn’t working. I looked at it later, saw it was pretty dreadful, and contacted him suggesting a meeting.

Our India links boded well and Anand seemed receptive to ideas. I let my initial hour run on, as is often how it goes when there’s hope of clinching a deal, and three hours later I left having given him quite a lot of free advice. Yes, yes. Naive, I know. But I reasoned it was unlikely that he’d be able to put it into practice – and that it was worth it to win his confidence.

I gave him an idea of how long it would take and my usual spiel about fixed project fees being better value for money. He said he’d probably be Indian about it and barter. Wry smile to self (as in pride comes before a fall sort of wry). I sent him a detailed estimate for bringing his website up to snuff, writing standard emails and letters for prospects and a leaflet. I was on course, I thought, for a decent bit of work.

When he asked to meet again to take things forward, I warned him  that the clock would start ticking as he’d already had three hours of my time. Another handshake, another coffee. Three hours later (yes, a pattern was emerging) I left, having reiterated all the points I’d made at our first meeting plus gone through some very basics together. Very, very basic. He didn’t know who his competitors were – or how to find out. I introduced him to the delights of Google – first searching for his business (totally hidden) then his competitors (scores of them popped up). He was grateful; said he’d been a bit naive (no scope for another wry smile from me on that one) and started bartering. After giving him six hours of strategic advice, I was tough. He pushed; I stayed firm. He was slithery – and I became ruthless. I wasn’t in the market for working with someone who couldn’t give a straight answer to a straight question. If he agreed a decent fee I’d do the work – emphasising the need to be open and honest with his clients.

And then he called me to a third meeting – to meet the person with whom he was going into partnership. What! Six hours and no mention of a partner – despite me asking how he was going to run his business as it was clear to me it would soon be too much for him on his own.

From the first second of the seventh hour I knew this was not going to work. Mr Partner wore a self-satisfied sneer and greeted me with smarm that hid no charm. Anand asked me precisely what I would recommend for his website. I explained I was not available to write it on the spot, for free. He said I couldn’t expect him to take me on without knowing what my work was like. I reminded him I’d sent him links to websites I’d written as evidence. He asked me, in an even more roundabout way, to shave my fee. I said, again, that he’d had nearly seven hours – almost a day – of strategic advice and I couldn’t afford any more concessions. He said, I said … It was like an uncivilised game of ping pong. I put down my bat and left.

The dilemma between wanting to have pride in work well done, and maintaining pride by not chasing work for work’s sake, is one that emerges very early on. If you find yourself spending more than a couple of hours speculating, the chances are it’s not only the client who is wasting your time.

When there’s no time to waste (Imam and giant baked beans with houmous)

One tin Palirria Imam (aubergine in oil)

One tin Palirria Baked Giant Beans

Home made houmous

Cayenne pepper

Rocket (as the photo shows, I finished yesterday’s watercress but rocket would have been better)

  1. Open the tins (how time-saving is that?). I usually use about a third of each unless I’ve had a tiny supper the night before. Whatever’s left does me for supper a couple of days later.
  2. Splodge on the plate with the houmous and the rocket. Sprinkle cayenne on the houmous.

Cheating to catch up on lost time. With only myself to blame.

It’s one big sticky lunch – apart from the crunchy leaves – with the chilli in the houmous adding pep and cutting through the extravagance of oil.

No, I never buy houmous – now I’ve cracked the recipe. Roast the garlic. Use far more tahini than anyone recommends. Add red chilli. Whizz. And, yes, of course you need to add lemon, water to create the consistency you like, and salt to counteract the blandness of the chick peas and the richness of the olive oil (with which I tend to be rather reckless). To serve with carrot sticks and other dippers, sprinkle with cayenne and drizzle with more olive oil. Calories, anyone?

As for ordinary Heinz baked beans, I’ve always loved them. Straight from a tin with a spoon. Tinned curried baked beans, too. As for having them on toast which turns to sludge … never. But for this, you need these unctuously smooth and tomatoey giant baked beans.

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Networking nightmares

In my last employed job almost everyone’s role included some networking, the success of which was measured not against the potential benefits of making the connection but against the length of time (the longer, the more impressive), the venue (if a Michelin star was involved, all the better) and the wealth of the guest (Times Rich List members preferred). I still remember the black look thrown at me by the chief executive when I declined to join him for some “hobnobbing with four millionaires” at a celebrity chef’s restaurant.

Yes, of course I built strong relationships with the organisation’s members and, no, my answer wasn’t driven by arrogance. I needed the time more than I needed to support his ego boost.

When I went freelance I decided to liberate myself from networking lunches believing that, with so many independent cafés a short walk from my front door, mid-morning or mid-afternoon hour-long sessions over a cup of delicious coffee would be more productive.

Inevitably, freelancers desperate for work have to network wherever and whenever – and compromise (what, me?) has to be faced.

Well-known organisations (chambers of commerce, BNI) tend to meet at breakfast which, for anyone who washes their hair every morning, means a five-thirty alarm call for a seven o’clock sharp start. Business gained by me (I gave them all a good go)? None – probably because my “one minute to win it” was spoken in tongues, the only language I can manage after a short night.

So I was thrilled when I discovered a couple of networking groups which deliberately avoided power breakfasts. Recognising how women prefer to work, they met in the evening over high-class nibbles and drinks. Business gained there? None. Be warned. If you admit to having organised anything, you will be roped in … I seldom networked for me; I networked for the group.

Out of the blue an email invited me to the launch of a new group.  In my town and for women. We met … over lunch (yes, yes, but it was informal and infrequent – monthly – and it worked). Business gained? A sizeable commission at the second meeting on the back of which I gained another through which I got a third – and the first came back for more.

Four years later, it happened again. An email bounced in announcing a new networking group. Several emails followed – from friends, all asking if I’d heard about it and would I be going. Held in a local restaurant, the cost brought two drinks and a range of nibbles. Will I go again? Despite it being at lunchtime, the buzz was energising and the potential – well, who knows, but some useful contacts were made. It’s time to eat not lunch but my words.

Eating my words (drinks party small eats)

No recipe for this one. No photograph either (I forgot to get out my camera). I hope you can picture the scene …

  1. Mini croques monsieur – three-bite rectangles, slightly burnished from a very buttery frying, with a generous dollop of proper creamy béchamel sauce wobbling on the top
  2. Blinis, lavishly buttered when warm, with smoked salmon and a sprinkling of lumpfish roe (I’d have added a coffee spoon drop of crème fraiche and a snip of chives)
  3. Tiny pastry cups of an unidentifiable veggie mix with raw onion (why raw onion when trying to make a good impression is the priority?)
  4. Rounds of fried bread (yet more more butter) with a generous twirl of rare beef on top (they never reached me, stuck in the centre of the room with much of the food passing round the edges)
  5. Small choux pastry lozenges filled with cream and drizzled with melted chocolate (easy to scoff, as many did though not savoury-toothed me)
  6. Slivers of flaky pastry with slices of strawberry layered above crème patissière (very hard to pick up and eat, leaving many with sticky fingers and gloopy lips).

My mother called this sort of food “small eats”. I find the term so much more reassuring, and wholesome, than “canapés”.

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Heart-warming rewards

Clients don’t always realise what goes on behind the scenes on their behalf. Nor do they know just how much time we spend on their accounts – even if we’ve agreed a rate for a fixed number of hours or days. For most of us it’s always more and, often, very much more. Promising less and delivering more is a good policy – provided you don’t let circumspect over-servicing slide into resentment-inducing exploitation.

If we needed our clients to recognise our hidden hard slog we wouldn’t be working in isolation and uncertainty, lurching from project to project, ever hopeful of the big break that allows us to raise our rates and lower our stress levels. We’d be on the other treadmill – the one that brings a steady income (and a life driven by someone else’s timetable, commuting, office politics and always having a CV on the go).

Which means we also don’t go through the agony of appraisals – or the ecstacy when a boss dishes out some praise. So, when a client bothers to thank us formally – by email or letter – it’s time to break open a bottle of fizz … or pull open a filing cabinet and slip the evidence into a Nice Comments folder for safe-keeping.

Which is why, today, I printed the early morning email from a client, on her way to France for 10 days, saying she was thrilled with the newsletter I had recommended (for years) and devised and written (in a hurry when her enthusiasm kicked in), and which was set into a beautiful design by a website/newsletter designer I’ve worked with several times before.

Words on the page, not just spoken, can be especially powerful if freelance life is proving a struggle. On days when life is exceptionally grey, a quick saunter through that folder warms the heart and renews flagging enthusiasm.

Body-warming indulgence (two bean chilli with avocado and sour cream)

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tin black beans

1 tin chopped tomatoes

2 English onions

1 red pepper

1 red chilli

1 tsp hot chilli powder

3 cloves of roasted garlic

Half fat crème fraiche

Olive oil

Himalayan salt


  1. Chop the onions and the red pepper. Deseed and finely chop the red chilli. Drain the beans (I always rinse them, too, to get rid of the sludge).
  2. Sweat the onions, the red pepper and the chilli in the olive oil, covered, for about 10 minutes stirring from time to time so they don’t catch. They should be soft but retain their colour and shape.
  3. Mash the flesh of the garlic cloves and stir it into the onions and peppers with the chilli powder. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes, stirring frequently to make sure it is all well-blended.
  4. Add the red kidney beans, the black beans and the tomatoes. Stir to combine and let it bubble very gently, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally to stop it sticking on the bottom.
  5. Roughly chop a small handful of coriander leaves. Top the chilli with a dollop of crème fraiche and sprinkle over the coriander.

Did I say a dollop of crème fraiche? It dropped from a large spoon ...

Way back in the mid 1970s I worked in a Tex-Mex restaurant near Boston, Massachussetts. Owned by my cousin Janet, La Piñata had a strong and loyal following for its heartily good fast food – before fast food became a derogatory term. I arrived, in need of being rescued after a very grim five months as an au pair in Toronto, and had my self-esteem lifted when my tips rolled in at between 20 per cent and 25 per cent because of my English accent (we all shared our tips equally, you will be glad to know). Though it’s impossible to believe now, with my dysfunctional late-start-to-the-day existence (the morning is the middle of the night to me), I loved the buzz of our sunrise trips to the market every day and ran on a high till long after the restaurant closed, not that much before midnight. It was hard work but how the adrenaline flowed.

We made a mean chilli – but all the food was good (Janet’s recipes, not mine) and nothing has matched it though the Texas Lone Star in Gloucester Road came close (its Chiswick sibling never quite made the grade, somehow).  I haven’t yet tried Wahaca.

I should have used Jalapeño peppers for this but I’m a big fan of red chillies which gave it a fresher taste. It’s a meat-free version only because I tend not to eat meat at lunch (except in tiny quantities, and whenever were those two words possible with chilli?)

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The smallest things make your day

It was a grim day. Grey and damp weatherwise; blue and bleak emotionwise; stark and empty clientwise – and nothing on the desk but a pile of fiddly admin stuff to do when a heap of invoices to post is both a fantasy and a pressing need. Then the doorbell rang.

Clomp, clomp, clomp. Clang. Kerchunk. I opened the door, gloomily, expecting an irritating question from an irritating questioner.

He had the beamiest smile I’ve ever seen. “Hello! I’ve come to read the meter!” he said, smiling with such broad genuineness I could only grin back. If he could bear his endless round of doorbell-ringing, greeting grumpiness (or getting nowhere at empty houses), bending into dark, dank and dusty recesses to do such a routine job, then … regardless, of how I felt, I couldn’t but share his enthusiasm.

Even the warning, that he should duck or he’d bang his head on the pipes in the outdoor meter cupboard, didn’t dampen his mood. “No worries!” he enthused. “I’m used to ducking!” Crunch, crunch, crunch of gravel “All done! Thank you! Cheerio!” and off he went, as if every house, every cupboard, every meter were a delightful discovery.

It’s easy to spiral into yourself when working alone, immersing yourself into the small detail of something that needs a big picture view, telling yourself it’s important not trivial; worthwhile not valueless; self-esteem enhancing not energy-sapping.

Finding something that brings you back into the wide world is important. Doing it is even more crucial. You can’t rely on the random arrival of a meter-reader to lift you out of your stupor. It’s down to you and you alone to maintain your get up and go so you get up and get on.

Making my day with garden-fresh eggs and asparagus

1 bundle Norfolk asparagus

3 quail’s eggs, fresh from the coop

1 medium hen’s egg yolk, laid that morning

¼ pint light olive oil

a pinch of Colman’s mustard powder

Lemon juice

Himalayan salt and celery salt

  1. Make the mayonnaise. In a mixing bowl and using a wooden spoon, blend the yolk of the hen’s egg with the mustard powder and a grind of black pepper. Slowly drip in the olive oil, stirring briskly all the time. When the mixture has thickened and seems reluctant to emulsify any more oil, add a little lemon juice, then keep adding the olive oil. As it thickens, add more lemon juice to taste or hot water from a recently boiled kettle. Add pepper and salt, to taste. Cover the bowl with cling film (or faff about covering the mayonnaise carefully with a dampened piece of greaseproof paper, excluding all air, as we were taught at the Cordon Bleu cookery school). Chill. (If the mayonnaise separates while you are mixing in the oil, either add a little hot water and stir it in vigorously or slowly add the split mayo, a dollop at a time, to a second egg yolk.)
  2. Prepare the asparagus. Bend each stem until it breaks to remove the woody ends. Boil gently for three or four minutes until just tender (it depends on their thickness and freshness, they should have a little bite). Drain and immerse immediately in cold water so they stop cooking and retain their colour.
  3. Prepare the quail’s eggs. Boil the eggs gently for two minutes then remove and put them in cold water immediately to stop them cooking. Peel them gingerly (I found the shell very hard to remove and the eggs almost split – they need very gentle handling).
  4. Lay the asparagus on a plate. Tuck in the halved eggs. Add a dollop of mayonnaise or, if you prefer it runnier, pour it over the asparagus. Dip the asparagus into it mouthful by mouthful. Dust the egg halves with a light sprinkle of celery salt and add just a hint of mayo to each one, aiming not to drown but to enhance their subtle flavour.

How did I manage to create the motorway mayonnaise look?

Yesterday, a friend, Alex, arrived bringing just-laid duck, quail and hen’s eggs from her garden – a treat that made my day that day. Having read of another blogger’s taste test of eggs (she noticed no discernible differences) I thought I’d conduct my own. What struck me most was the translucence of the white of the duck’s egg. It almost shimmered with paleness; I found it rather haunting. The yolk was a soft, light yellow, strikingly so compared with the strong golden ochre of the yolk of the hen’s egg.  On the taste front, the hen’s egg was by far the eggiest – a rich and full bodied shiraz of a yolk compared with the subtlety (a light burgundy?) of the duck egg (which I enjoyed most). I wished I could preserve the quail’s eggs as shattering their pretty, speckled shells seemed like vandalism – and proved to be so, given how hard it was to pick off the shell without gouging out nailsful of the white. Full praise for kitchens who have to do this “to perfection” (irritating phrase, spoken irritatingly throughout MasterChef); no wonder they cost so much in restaurants.

Thank you, Alex, for my morning fresh day.

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Conventional or dysfunctional?

It seems to me that there are two types of freelancer. One recreates conventional work life, up early and at a desk in a tidy office with a daily to do list they work through with vigour, pausing for coffee, lunch and a cup of tea, and ending the day with a sense of satisfaction – and another to do list for tomorrow.

The other, incapable of routine, thrives on anxiety-filled adrenaline rushes, lurching from one crisis to another, perhaps never having time to get dressed or doing so just in time to dash to meet a client, grabbing a mouthful of something, anything, before dashing down the stairs while trying to insert an earring with one hand and groping for the keys with the other, diary and notebook crammed under their arm as their mobile phone goes off, its sound alerting them to the fact that the phone is not in their bag but at the top of the stairs …

The first sets realistic goals. The second … well, that’s me.

It started well, my Tuesday. I had all the ingredients in the flat and, as I’d worked on Sunday, I felt entitled to a spot of mid-morning de-stressing in the kitchen. Radio on. One saucepan simmering away, another sweating gently. Grater, peeler, squeezer, Sabatier, whizzer – and then it was in the fridge, chilling and firming and very pleased with it I was.

Then came the whirlwind. The draft of a new website to be amended, another to be adjusted, a client on the phone with a crisis and that was lunch. A fistful of walnuts followed by an unadorned oatcake. Hardly merits a mention and certainly not a photograph.

And Wednesday? I spent it largely away from my desk, waiting for a client to be free – a cup of coffee in, sadly, a chain coffee shop, sipped quickly while clutching my mobile phone so I could be up and off whenever she called.

Today, the paté as firm as it was ever going to get and with no unexpected client demands, I had lunch.

Conventionally late (Red lentil paté)

150g red lentils

1 English onion

1 large carrot

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1 inch ginger, grated

3 cloves of roasted garlic

1 lime, zested then squeezed

Olive oil

Himalayan salt

  1. Cook the lentils (I find they take much less time than it says on the packet; watch them as the mushier they are, the soggier your paté will be). Drain them well.
  2. Grate the carrot and ginger.
  3. Chop the onion and fry it gently in the olive oil, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t catch but allowing it to caramelise a little (which adds a depth of flavour) while it softens.
  4. Add the cayenne pepper, cumin and coriander and stir for a minute or so while the flavours develop.
  5. Fold in the carrot and ginger, mixing them gently with the spices. Let them soften in their juices, stirring from time to time as the liquid reduces, intensifying its flavour.
  6. When it is almost dry, add the lentils, roasted garlic, lime zest, a squeeze of lime (less than half a lime unless it is small and unjuicy – you want it to lift the flavours, rather than to stand out). Add salt to taste.
  7. Transfer to a food mixer and pulse a few times scraping the sides down between pulses – it should retain some texture, with flecks of carrot showing through; if you blend it too vigorously it will turn to an unappetising sludge.
  8. Scoop into ramekins, or an oblong container lined with foil so you can remove the paté once it has cooled and firmed up before slicing it (though slicing is overestimating what is possible with such a soft mixture).
  9. Serve as you wish (I ate it with two oatcakes and some rocket, rather a lot of rocket it appears, tossed in walnut oil).

A healthy lunch - or an excuse for oatcakes?

The carrot is the unsung hero of this paté, adding colour, texture and a hint of sweetness that slinks through the spices.

Having recently discovered that I’m yeast and wheat intolerant (I always wondered why I felt so weird after eating bread, which was only ever an excuse for butter) I’ve been on an oatcake hunt. Nairn’s rough oatcakes are pretty good but the very best are made by the Maclean’s Hebridean Bakery. Smaller (about the diameter of a round tea bag) and thicker (half a centimetre, I guess – and I’m not getting out the ruler), they have masses of extra crunch and a deep, rounded flavour. I buy the wheat free version (green packets, rather than red). Though not cheap, they are far more satisfying so I find my hands dipping into the packet less often. (I think this is a classic case of believing my own propaganda. A packet doesn’t last as long as it should.)

No prizes for guessing where I buy them. When I moaned recently because there were none on his shelves, Dan (that would be Dan Mortimer of Mortimer & Bennett) explained that deliveries are dependent on space being free on the ferry from Benbecula, where the Maclean’s bakery is. I think that’s probably another corn on my carbon footprint – but it’s a family-run, independent business: two brothers and the best Scottish oatmeal. Environment v ethics. You decide.

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Chicory with Roquefort and walnuts

It’s another appallingly environmentally-irresponsible day. I’m in a quandary. It seems impossible to support my local independent shops and limit my impact on the environment.

This recipe works well with ripe, juicy English pears – but I’m supposed to keep my sugar intake down and I broke that rule earlier this week with the Alphonsos. So Dutch chicory it is. I could use English stilton but the silkiness, and slight sweetness, of Roquefort lifts the glory of this dish into the stratosphere. At least it’s only travelled from France to Mortimer & Bennett. Walnuts? Bought from my local health food store, they’ve come all the way from Argentina. I will try to do better next week.

If you are in your fifties or older, you’ll have had these delicious mouthfuls hundreds of times, as a dinner party starter or drinks party nibble. It’s still useful for both but, as I don’t currently give dinner or drinks parties, lunch is where I slot it in. Infrequently (because of the cheese-cholesterol concern and as my nutritionist might be reading this).

I’ve tried variations on a theme. Feta doesn’t work ever, not even with pears – it’s too one-dimensional and dry. Stilton works better with pears than with chicory – the mix creating a better salt-sweet balance. Dolcelatte, Picos blue, Gorgonzola, Saint Agur, Fourme d’Ambert, Cheshire blue, Bleu d’Auvergne … anything blue and sticky will do. Including the late and very lamented (by me) Lymeswold, derided as the Blue Nun of cheeses but of which I was particularly fond.

The disadvantage of serving this at girly lunches (they happen rarely, but they do happen) is that everyone always says how wonderful it is, they ask if I’ve ever served it as a starter – and then go off and replicate it. In my mother’s day, recipes were only passed on (or pinched) on the understanding that the recipient (or thief) would never serve it to someone in the originator’s circle. No such rules apply these days. Which is why it’s my personal indulgence. It’s perfect for sitting in the shade in the garden on a sunny evening, a drink in the other hand. If only I had a bit of outdoors.

Perfection on a plate

One head of chicory

2 ozs or so of Roquefort (or other strong blue cheese)

Four walnut halves

Avocado oil (or olive oil or walnut oil)

  1. Separate six chicory leaves (or as many as your hunger dictates)
  2. Cut the Roquefort into small chunks (many recipes say crumble it but I find it’s too sticky, even for a finger-licker like me)
  3. Chop the walnuts into small chunks
  4. Dot the chicory leaves with the Roquefort and chopped walnuts
  5. Drizzle your choice of oil along each leaf

Yes, I've overloaded the leaves and, oops, was a bit heavy-handed with the avocado oil.

I ate them with my fingers. And ended up making more.

The very best avocado oil, in my view, comes from Chile. A Chilean networking colleague of mine was going to import it and invited me round for a taste test. We tasted blind and both preferred the organic extra virgin version, which is what I used today. It’s golden, thick and very full-flavoured – but all of them were better than the widely available Californian version which is thin, pale and watery. The New Zealand version is marginally better. But if you can find Chilean, I urge you to buy it.

I suppose this all adds up to another bunion on my carbon footprint.

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