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prawn, borlotti bean, grean bean and pepper salad

It’s amazing how a bit of warm weather can get you more motivated in the kitchen. Suddenly, you feel like salad isn’t just something sitting limply on the side of a hot dinner, a token stab at something crunchy with vitamins. The sunshine seeps into your brain, perceptions shift and, ta da!, salad is the main course.

Long may it continue 🙂

Prawn and cannellini bean salad from Tossed – 200 fast, fresh and fabulous salads

Serves 4

You’ll need:

400g can cannellini beans
2 red peppers, roasted
300g green beans
1/2 loaf day-old ciabatta or other crusty bread
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1kg raw prawns, peeled and deveined
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Lemon and caper dressing
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon sugar, optional

1. Rinse the cannellini beans and place in a large serving bowl.

2. Cut the roasted peppers into strips and add to the beans.

3. Bring a saucepan of lightl salted water to the boil, add the green beans and blanch until bright green and just tender – about two to three minutes. Drain and add to the serving bowl.

4. Put all the lemon and caper dressing ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well. Season and set aside.

5. Cut the bread into six slices, then cut each slice into quarters. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the slices of bread over a medium heat for a minute or two on each side until golden. Remove.

6. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan, add the garlic and prawns, and cook for two to three minutes or until the prawns turn opaque. Toss the prawns through the salad with the dressing, toasted bread and parsley, then serve.

Cook’s notes

No cannellini beans in the house, so I went with borlotti instead.

I didn’t have 1kg of prawns hanging around either but using less wasn’t a problem, there’s just so much good stuff in this salad to keep you occupied.

I have no idea why I followed that bit about frying the bread – you know what it’s like when you use a recipe for the first time – you follow it to the letter because you might learn something new… I should have just cooked up some chunky garlicky croutons at the same time as roasting the peppers – that’s definitely what I’ll do next time around 🙂

I’m thinking this would be good picnic food. Mind you, I’m thinking everything would be good picnic food after being cooped up in the house for so long!

Sorry guys! I haven’t been able to do this month’s challenge.

The ingredients are in the fridge and it’s driving me nuts that I don’t have time to make delicious cake. I just don’t.

Please check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to read about all the yummy confections people made for this latest challenge…

I will MAKE time next month. Even if I have to become a Timelord to do it!

There’s a story attached to that plaque, from a bench in Central Park. I wish I knew what it was…

Anyhoo – how embarrassing: falling asleep for two whole weeks and not making any effort to blog since coming back from America. I feel like the kind of date who says ‘Yeah, of course I’ll call you…’ and then selfishly buggers off. And I’ve not really been commenting on many blogs either…

Interweb, I’m very sorry for being so appallingly ill-mannered. Is there any way I can make it up to you?

Guess I should at least make a start by writing up my NY trip. In reality, I spent more time in New Jersey for work (locked in a windowless room as it happens), but I did spend the weekend in Manhattan. And it was fun.

Let’s go with the food-related stuff, what with this being a mostly food-type blog…

Union Square Farmers’ Market. Oh yes. This was something I was very excited about.  The downside being that I couldn’t really buy anything, what with being a tourist… But I did gawp at all the cheeses, meats, baked goods, piles of shiny apples and so many different types of salad leaves that I wanted to move over for six months and just eat greenery. Look, I could furnish my boho loft apartment with some of those cute plants over there… How much does it cost to live around here? Really? Oh, ok then – back to gawping.

In the end I did find something to take away with me. Honey from bees kept in New York. Which conjured up an image of swarms humming between the top of Trump Tower and the Rockafeller Center or something. But no, they’re usually kept on top of residential blocks and occasionally moved on when people complain, said Mr Beekeeper, mentioning also that it wasn’t strictly legal to keep bees this way. Which gave me another image of stealth beekeeping – covertly moving hives under cover of darkness, always on the run from the man. 

Chinese food – for shame, I picked up the card for the restaurant we went to but I can’t find it now. It’s in mid-town Manhattan if that helps. But probably not. Tea-smoked shredded duck that I couldn’t stop eating because I couldn’t believe how good it tasted; addictive Yibin-spiced asparagus (need to find out what goes into the flavouring); Tangerine Prawns – lightly battered monster prawns with a delicate sauce; char sui buns that melted like fluffy little clouds when you took a bite… Oh boy, we rolled out of that place burping contentedly and many pounds heavier. 

Magnolia Bakery. We didn’t find it. I think we went the wrong way up Bleeker Street, to be honest. And then I got too grumpy/tired/stroppily childlike to turn around and go looking for sodding cupcakes. Yes, that’s how bad I was – I couldn’t muster any enthusiasm for my favourite pastime of eating cake. The only person I was letting down was myself…

We did stumble on GROM, though – an icecream shop offering up all-natural ingredients and many tempting seasonal treats (they have a menu that changes monthly), with the accompanying price mark-up you’d expect. So we parked our throbbing feet in the square nearby for a while, happily slurping lemon granita and gianduja icecream. (And I eyeballed the nearby Beard Papas too – but I’d had my fill of sweet things at that point. Another time.)

Also wandered past the famous cheese shop, Murray’s of Bleeker Street – lots of fun to browse around. But again, the problem with being a food tourist is that you can’t always take the stuff home with you.

Crate & Barrel – Maybe it was just the thrill of finding somewhere new but there were just so many, many wonderful objects for a crockery junkie like me to lust over. Then rapidly calculate how much I could whack on my credit card and bring back (the photos on the website don’t always do the products justice, by the way).

We’ve ended up with a beautiful green jug and chunky glasses for long, cool (probably alcohol-filled) drinks during the summer months. And a large green serving platter shaped like a leaf. And some fun little serving dishes. And some cute-as-anything tea towels with cupcakes on them. And salad spoons. Styling props you understand for, er, future pictures on this blog. An investment if you will. Convinced? Me neither…

Williams Sonoma – good God, another homeware shop from heaven? My system can’t handle this much bounty and neither can my luggage allowance. After seriously considering the giant cupcake mould as a present for a friend, I end up dragging back a bag full of Meyer lemon curd, maple syrup, cacao nibs, olive oil, chocolate-dipped apricots for my mum and madeleine pans, convinced I can stuff these items down the sides of my suitcase and get them home in one piece.* 

In the end, I unwittingly managed to come in just two pounds shy of my luggage allowance. I couldn’t have planned it better if I’d tried. Plus there was that big bag of crockery that I lugged onboard with me. I’m now lopsided from toting that ten-tonne weight around but it was worth it.

Next time around, I’d plan better. This is a recurring theme of our trips: we always enjoy ourselves but a bit of advance planning for say, restaurants, might go a long way to enhancing the experience rather than just stumbling around accidentally finding things, however much fun that might be. How do you do your holidays? Do you go off wandering or are you a plan-it-all-out-kind of person? There’s benefits to both ways and I’m curious how everyone else does it.

Right, I’m off to play with madeleine pans and think about making icecream from the Murphy brothers new book. Summer’s finally making an appearance (sort of) and it’s time to celebrate 🙂

*And, in the end, nothing broke!

View from the Empire State Building on a foggy day

That’s how the kid sat behind me on the plane described the view as we descended into Newark airport. OK, the pic above is New York but the same thing applies to the power of, ooh, infinity at least.

About an hour after I took this picture at the top of the Empire State Building, the fog lifted. Curses. Of course, we were miles down the road by that point…

Now I’m back home, my head is swirling, my neck is shonked from an interesting sleeping position on the plane and my arms are fit to drop off after lugging back a big bag of stuff – including goodies from Crate and Barrel, which is quite possibly my spiritual home.

Off for a snooze…

Yay! I’m going to New York!

OK, there will the bothersome matter of having to do some work while I’m there. But, inbetween-times, there will be exploring and shopping and eating. Mmmmmm. Lots of eating, I hope…

See you in about a week’s time 🙂

Hello

I'm short of stature (a family trait) but big of appetite (also a family trait). If you're reading this then you're probably big of appetite too. Or a member of my family (hello Mum).
May 2008
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