Isn't it funny how we can flick through a magazine, but that certain types of articles will catch our eye time after time? For some, it might be any article about fashion. For others, it might be anything to do with celebrities. For me, it's lists.
Oh yes, put it in bullet-point format or number it and I'm there.
So as you can imagine, this is a good time of year for me – lists abound! Best of 2008 lists. Predictions and trends for 2009 lists. Celebs most likely to split up/get together/suffer wardrobe malfunction/cheat/get arrested lists. Where-are-they-now lists – you name it! I'm still toying with doing a "Cooksister best of 2008 list", but in the meantime, Alex of Eating Leeds has tagged me (again!) for the seven random things meme. So, because you've probably heard enough random things about me to last a lifetime and in the spirit of festive season reflection, I've gone for something slightly different - a Cooksister Then and Now list.
And while you're being amused by that, I thought you might also like to know that nominations for the 2008 Food Blog Awards are open (until tomorrow 23h59 EST) – so hurry over and nominate
me… ummm, your favourites!
COOKSISTER THEN AND NOW (a.k.a "What a difference ten years make!")
1999 - living in Port Elizabeth, South Africa
2009 – living in London, UK
1999 – driving my beloved VW Golf Mk III, Gomez, every day.
2009 – driving a Volvo S40 at weekends only. It was the heated seats that did it for me.
1999 – still "living in sin" with Nick (oh those heady, breathless days…)
2009 – very married to Nick – three ceremonies so far and counting…!
1999 – taking pictures with my beloved little Pentax Espio 90.
2009 – taking pictures with my beloved Canon EOS 20D
1999 – favourite bands: Pet Shop Boys, Faithless, The Specials
2009 – favourite bands: The Killers, My Chemical Romance, Coldplay
1999 – getting most of my recipes from my mom or the back of packets/boxes
2009 – getting most of my recipes from my wonderful fellow-bloggers!
And when I needed a starter for our pre-Christmas lunch at home recently, it was indeed to recipes bookmarked from fellow-food bloggers that I turned. We were having 3 courses, with a roast gammon as the main, so I didn't want to overwhelm people with a heavy starter. And the first thing that caught my eye in the bookmarks folder was the haloumi cheese with caramelised fennel from Peter's beautiful blog Souvlaki for the Soul. Do yourself a favour and browse the site – the photographs are gorgeous and the recipes delicious. As a starter, this dish is perfect – quick and easy to prepare and beautifully balanced in terms of the sweetish and mildly aniseed-like flavour of the vegetables, the freshness of the parsley and the saltiness of the cheese. Thanks Peter!
GRIDDLED HALOUMI WITH CARAMELISED FENNEL, SHALLOTS & FLAT LEAF PARSLEY (serves 6 as a starter)
400-500g haloumi cheese
2 large bulbs of fennel
freshly ground black pepper
a bunch of flat-leaf parsley
Slice the shallots and the fennel bulb fairly thinly. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and sautee over medium heat. A little bit of browning is fine, but don't let them burn. Once all the liquid is absorbed, add a splash of white wine to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat until they are soft and pliable. Allow to cool
Wash and roughly chop the parsley, then toss together with the vegetables in a mixture of about 3/4 olive oil and 1/4 lemon juice. Divide between 6 serving plates.
Slice the cheese into fairly thick slices so that there are at least 12 slices. Heat an oiled griddle pan (or indoor grill) until very hot, then fry/grill the haloumi slices. Lift carefully with a spatula and be warned that they may stick! Turn when you have good grill marks on the bottom and repeat the process with the other side of each slice.
Top each serving of caramelised vegetables with 2 haloumi slices, garnish with more flat-leaf parsley and serve.