Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mussels with Barley Stew

The beginning of September is pretty much the beginning of Autumn and a slow transition away from all the bursting flavours of summer. This is a lovely stew which very much defines this period of transition for me. We have fresh tomatoes and mussels for that flavour of summer, with a hearty barley stew to give us that autumnal feeling. I’ve never considered barley and mussels as a one-pot stew before, but it works rather well! I omitted the watercress from this (because I forgot), but can see some fresh chopped parsley working very well here too! The recipe is a little faffy but I found that you can just go about doing other bits and pieces as this is cooking, and the flavours are definitely worth it. This is fantastic with some fresh crusty bread to mop up the sauces!

More Ottolenghi recipes: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Hawaij root vegetable stew with whipped fenugreek | Yotam Ottolenghi’s Caramelised Onion Crostini

This is a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe featured in The Guardian’s Feast magazine.

Mussels with Barley Stew

photo of mussels and barley stew

Serves 4 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 1hr 10 mins

You’ll need:

  • 1 large head of garlic, top fifth cut off to expose the bulbs;
  • 80ml olive oil;
  • Salt and black pepper;
  • 300g pearl barley;
  • 3 banana shallots, peeled and finely sliced;
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds;
  • 1 lemon – finely shave off 5 strips of peel, then cut into wedges, to serve;
  • ½ scotch bonnet chilli;
  • 400g cherry tomatoes;
  • 1½ tbsp tomato paste;
  • 250ml dry white wine;
  • 800g mussels;
  • 60ml double cream;
  • 50g watercress.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Take two cloves from the garlic head and peel and thinly slice them. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil over the rest of the head, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Wrap the head tightly in foil and roast for 40 minutes, until the cloves have softened and turned golden brown. Remove the foil and, when the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze out the cloves and discard the skin.

Meanwhile, put the barley in a medium saucepan with plenty of cold water and put on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, until the barley is semi-cooked but still has a good bite to it, then drain.

Put a large saucepan on a medium heat with the remaining 75ml oil, the raw and cooked garlic, shallots, caraway seeds, lemon peel, scotch bonnet and two and a half teaspoons of salt. Fry gently for 10-12 minutes, stirring often, until the shallots are soft and golden brown (turn down the heat if they start colouring too quickly). Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook for eight minutes, until the tomatoes start to break down. Add the wine, 750ml cold water and plenty of pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for seven minutes. Add the barley and cook for eight minutes more, until it has swollen a little in the sauce.

Turn up the heat to medium-high, add the mussels, cover the pan and cook until they open – anywhere between three and six minutes.

Pour over the cream, add the watercress and plenty of pepper, and gently stir everything together. Serve hot with the lemon wedges and crusty bread to mop up the sauces.

Original recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi in The Guardian’s Feast, available online here.

Bloody Mary Prawn Shots

Who says that the days where you served shots to your friends instead of canapes at a party have to be over? These delicious Bloody Mary Prawn shots will add just the right amount of sophistication and fun for your next dinner party! We served these delicious shots as a welcome drink/appetiser at our NYE party and we made a few extra without the prawns for our veggie friends. I found this recipe in December’s Foodies magazine, but the original is actually from Good Housekeeping.

Bloody Mary Prawn Shots

Bloody Mary Shot 3

Makes 16 | Prep 15 mins | No Cooking
Easy | Gluten and Dairy Free | Can be made vegan

Tip: If you want to get ahead you can mix the Bloody Mary mix and assemble the skewers up to 24 hrs in advance, cover and chill.

To make vegan: Make a few (or all) shots without a prawn and maybe have two olives onto a skewer instead!

You’ll need:

  • 500 ml good-quality tomato juice, chilled
  • 150 ml vodka
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, zest and juice , plus a little extra for the glasses
  • 2-3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Tabasco
  • 1 tsp celery salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed sea salt
  • lemon, sliced and cut into 16 small pieces
  • 16 pitted green olives
  • 16 large cooked tail-on prawns

Mix the tomato juice, vodka, lemon zest and juice into a large non-metallic jug. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and a pinch of salt. Stir well and add more to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1hr or until ready to serve.

To serve, mix the celery salt, pepper and sea salt together on a small plate. Dip the rims of 16 shot glasses into a little lemon juice or water to wet, then dip into the salt and pepper mix to coat the edge. Set aside.

When ready to serve, thread a lemon slice, green olive and prawn on to 16 cocktail sticks. Carefully pour the Bloody Mary into the shot glasses, and place a cocktail stick on the side of each glass.

Original recipe from Foodies Magazine issue Dec 2018/Good Housekeeping, available online here.


Andy Oliver & Mark Dobbie’s steamed sea bream with chilli, lime and lemon grass

This is a really elegant dish, full of flavour and colour. There was something really special about eating this – separating the fish flesh on the plate itself and then serving up with all the juices on our plates. It made our mid-week supper feel like a special occasion!

Steaming the fish is really easy if you have a big wok. You’ll need a metal steamer or something to hold your plate in place and a lid. I didn’t have a lid so I ended up covering the wok with foil. Slightly slower cooking time but still the same delicious result! If you don’t have a steamer, you can bake the fish in a foil parcel instead. Serve with fragrant jasmine rice.

Steamed sea bream with chilli, lime and lemon grass

Serves 2 | Prep 15 minutes | Cook 10 minutes
Moderately Easy | Gluten-Free | Dairy-Free

Thai Steamed Fish

You’ll need:

  • 1 whole sea bream (400- 600g), scaled and gutted
  • 1 lemon grass stalk
  • 2-3 dried kaffir lime leaves
  • 75ml fresh chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 7 garlic cloves
  • 3-6 green or red Thai chillies
  • small handful coriander, plus extra to garnish
  • 40ml fish sauce
  • 50ml freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 2-3 limes)
  • handful celery leaves, from inside a bunch of celery

Score the fish with 3 equally spaced diagonal slits on each side, cutting almost, but not quite, to the bone. Bruise the lemon grass with a rolling pin and stuff it into the cavity of the fish with the lime leaves.

Put the fish on a plate and place in a steamer (or lidded wok) and fill with water below the plate. Steam for 8-10 minutes, until the flesh comes away from the bone.

Meanwhile, heat the stock (or water) in a pan to the boil, then add the sugar. Boil for a few seconds to completely dissolve the sugar, then take off the heat. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Use a knife to mince the garlic, chillies and coriander (with the stalks too). Mix into the stock, along with the fish sauce and lime juice. It should taste sour, garlicky, spicy and a little salty with a hint of sweetness.

Carefully transfer the steamed fish to a serving dish (use a lipped one to hold the sauce). Pour over any juices from the steaming plate, then spoon the chilli and garlic sauce all over the fish. Garnish with extra coriander and the celery leaves, and serve with steamed rice, if liked.

Original recipe from Waitrose Food magazine, issue November 2016, available here.




My Month in Food – August

As September is starting, here is a summary of my Glasgow food highlights from August. In this post you can read about Glasgow’s new healthy lunch hot spot sprigg; a South side newcomer, Short Long Black; retro gaming bar Super Bario; as well as the pop up Bun Life in Strata and the very popular seafood restaurant, The Crabshakk in Finnieston.

Starting with the new…

Sprigg – City Centre – Breakfast & Lunch

££: Inexpensive (Coffee/Tea £2; Breakfast up to £3; Lunch up to £6). 
Good for: coffee, breakfast, lunch, healthy food.

You can find sprigg on Ingram street, occupying a compact space near the Gallery of Modern Art. They have a fantastic breakfast and lunch bar with a lot of healthy options to suit everyone’s food preference, including vegan/vegetarian diets. The breakfast bar includes a good number of toppings: a wide variety of fruit, granola, yogurts, fruit juices, seeds and more, which you can use to create your breakfast pot (£2) or bowl (£3). Lunch options are made and changed daily, but often you will see roast chicken (the honey and chipotle chicken is delicious), tuna, falafels, and an impressive number of other salad ingredients that you can use to make your own salad.

Breakfast bowl with Greek yogurt, granola, rose poached peaches and chia seeds.

The portion sizes are very good value for money too – around £5-£6 for most lunch options. If salad isn’t your thing, sprigg also offers (sweet) baked potatoes, soups and the Freedom Bakery bread and pastries. Finally, they serve delicious The Good Coffee Cartel too which is definite bonus points! Sprigg is also fully cashless (more bonus points). All in all, sprigg only opened just over a month ago and I’m already very much in love with their food, drinks and what they are doing. They are staff are superb too, super friendly and always offer good banter. Definite recommendation when you are looking for breakfast/lunch on the go in the city centre.

Short Long Black – South side – Coffee, brunch

££: Inexpensive
Good for: Coffee, brunch, lunch.

Okay, I guess they are not that new having opened back in April, but Short Long Black are one of these hidden gems in a city where good brunching is becoming quite popular. Short Long Black have brought something different and new to the scene, which is currently crowded with hotcakes and pancake stacks (still delicious though), and change it up a little bit with a very small and focused menu, in which you will find interesting plays on the Waffle. Savoury and sweet options available, however, I have to say that the savoury waffle is one of the best thing I’ve eaten. I went for the Green Waffles, stuffed with halloumi (or you can chose bacon), while my friend opted for the courgette fritters (which also came in a waffle like shape). Both dishes were truly delicious and their coffee was as smooth as they come. This little cafe on Victoria road is definitely one to watch and it will be one I’ll be returning to hopefully frequently!

Halloumi stuffed waffles, with green eggs

Super Bario – Merchant City – Bar, Arcade

££: Standard
Good for: Drinks, going out, games, entertainment – great for hanging out with friends!  

Super Bario is a small pub located in Merchant City which delivers big on character, fun and atmosphere. I visited on a Friday night, around 10pm, and the pub was very busy with lots of buzz around coming from tables and arcade games all around. This is a superb spot for those of us who enjoy a bit of gaming, especially retro arcade games, and a good range of drinks.

Bun Life – City Centre – Asian food/street food / pop up

££: Moderate for the portion size (2 baos per portion for £7)
Good for: sharing, quick lunch, baos 

Bun Life is a pop up residing over at Strata, incidentally, one of my least favourite restaurants in Glasgow. However, Bun Life was definitely worth another visit to the city centre based restaurant! The menu is fairly small, a choice of five or so steamed bao buns with a good selection of toppings – panko haddock, massaman beef, chicken katsu, chilli and garlic tofu and more. They also offer a small selection of sides – kimchi sweet potato fries (yum!), chicken wings, katsu fries – to name a few. Finally, if you are into your desserts, you will be delighted to know they have on offer a couple of dessert baos as well. Marshmallows in a bao? Why not! We tried the panko haddock and chicken katsu baos, accompanied by sweet potato fries and they were indeed delicious. There were flavours bursting in every bao and I really enjoyed the good selection of fillings – it was hard to choose!

Panko haddock bao buns with kimchi sweet potato fries

The Crabshakk – Finnieston – Sea Food Restaurant

££: Moderately expensive (We paid around £40 pp, incl drinks)
Good for: seafood, fine dining

The Crabshakk already has a fantastic reputation around Glasgow. If you like seafood you will love the Crabshakk. It’s a tiny restaurant on the Argyle Street Finnieston Strip. They specialise in seafood (as the name might suggest) and with Scotland’s fantastic seafood offering they offer really good quality food and ingredients. They have a daily menu and a standard menu to chose from and fantastic variety of various local/seasonal fish and seafood. To start with, we had oysters served with shallots in vinegar and Tabasco sauce. They were probably the best oysters I’ve eaten in Scotland. We also ordered some of the starters of the day – pickled herring, salmon sashimi and tried the home cured gravadlax. The latter of those was my favourite – the salmon was delicious and the portion size was just right, compared to the sashimi which was a fairly modest serving. For main, I had the Lobster with garlic butter and chips, while my friends had a Whole brown crab and a very decent portion of Mussels Mariniere. Everything was really fresh and full of flavour. The Crabshakk is definitely worth a visit when you are after some delicious seafood.

Half lobster with garlic butter

Look out for the September edition of “My Month In Food” at the end of the month/beginning of October!.


Chilli & garlic trout with citrus salad

This trout is so simple yet absolutely delicious. This recipe is a perfect example that you don’t need to overcomplicate food and use just a couple of ingredients to create a fantastic flavour. The fillets of good quality trout are just perfectly seasoned with a bit of chilli and garlic. The citrus salad is a really fresh addition to this delicious fish, however, if you want to add more carbs and make the dish more filling, simply serve with rice.

Both recipes are from Olive magazine, issue April 2014, however, I can’t find them online to link them.


Chilli & garlic trout

Serves 2 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 5 minutesEasy | Gluten-Free

You’ll need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil;
  • trout fillets;
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced;
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped;
  • 1/2 lime, juiced.

Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic, chilli and fish fillets. Season with a bit of sea salt. Fry the fish skin side down for a couple of minutes until it the skin starts to crisps up and the fish is almost cooked through. Flip the fillets and cook for another couple of minutes until cooked through. Add the lime juice, spoon the sauces, chilli and garlic on top of the fillets and put on a plate.

Watercress, cucumber and pink grapefruit salad

Serves 2 | Prep 10 minutesNo cooking | Easy | Gluten-Free | Vegan

You’ll need:

  • 1 bag watercress, trimmed and chopped;
  • 1/2 cucumber, roughly chopped;
  • pink grapefruit, segmented and roughly chopped, juices reserved;
  • 1 avocado, cubed;
  • spring onions, sliced;
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard;
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • splash red wine vinegar.

To make the dressing, combine the Dijon mustard, olive oil and red wine vinegar until well combined. For the salad, mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. When ready to serve, spoon the dressing on top of the salad and mix well.