Monday, 24 January 2011

Blue Cheese with Pears, Walnuts and Honey

Is it a starter? Is it dessert? Is it a meal in its own right? I ate this at my lovely friend Sandra's house. One of those recipes that relies on fabulous ingredients treated with respect and love. We had it for dessert and cheese course rolled into one, no need for crackers or bread - the soft cheese smeared on the pears and dragged through the sweet honey was that was needed. Absolutely divine.

Blue Cheese with Pears, Walnuts and Honey
250g of good blue cheese (I used Gorgonzola) 
4 ripe pears
100g walnuts
4 tbsp orange blossom honey (or other aromatic variety)

Take a large platter. In the centre, place a hunk of beautiful pungent blue cheese.
Slice the drippingly ripe pears and lay around the cheese.
Scatter the walnuts are scattered over with abandon before drizzling with aromatic orange blossom honeyto give a luscious golden glow to the whole platter.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Thai- style Mussels with Lime and Lemongrass

Sorry I've been offline for a couple of weeks. I have spent New Year on Phuket Island in Thailand. It was tough but someone had to do it! A fabulous holiday, a true foodie getaway, but very limited internet access so I've had to save all the best ideas, recipes and local insider knowledge until I got back. Having a local tour guide at the market was a real boon, daily lessons in how to prepare the most basic of Thai food and explanations of the more unusual fruits and vegetables has sent me home with a whole new palate of flavours to play with. Getting away from all the snow, the cold, the undelivered Christmas presents and the burst pipes was just the icing on the cake!

These mussels are light, healthy and full of bright, fresh flavours. Good for a January health kick when low calorie, low fat and full flavour are on the menu but good too for a chilli hot blast to banish those winter colds and flus that have been hanging around for the past few weeks.

Thai- style Mussels with Lime and Lemongrass
1kg large fresh mussels
100ml white wine
Juice of 1 lime
2 lime leaves, ripped into large pieces
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 hot green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, left whole
2 sticks lemon grass, outer leaves removed and chopped
50g galangal or fresh ginger, peeled thinly sliced
large handful fresh basil

Clean the mussels and throw out any that are cracked.
Tap any open mussels and discard those that don't close.
Place the mussels in a large saucepan, add all the remaining ingredients except the basil. 
Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the mussels are open. 
Discard any that remain closed.
Remove from the heat, sprinkle over the fresh basil and serve in deep plates with steamed rice or crusty bread to mop up the fragrant juices.