I have a small addiction. When my friend first recommended Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Mozzarella to me I didn't rush out and buy some, having never felt the compulsion to eat mozzarella on a regular basis before. But then I remembered how much my mother-in-law adores it, and then there was this Ottolenghi recipe I wanted to make (pasta and fried courgette salad with buffalo mozzarella), so I tried it... and I've been buying a ball a week ever since. I'd never appreciated how versatile mozzarella is. It makes everything taste better. It's so good with tomatoes on toast, in a pasta sauce, in a lentil salad, baked in an aubergine parmigiana, or straight out of the packet. Best of all it's produced on an organic farm in the UK by happy, healthy, free range buffalo, and it's stocked by Abel and Cole!
I'm still on a veggie recipe roll and loving it! I'm obsessed with Ottolenghi's and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipe books, every recipe I've tried tastes so good. Here's another winner from Ottolenghi's Plenty. This recipe is definitely a crowd pleaser, it's just so deliciously limey, juicy and noodly (how good are soba noodles?), and it has mangoes, yum! I've made it twice now and a mango arrived this week from Abel and Cole, so it looks like I'll be making it again very soon.
Soba noodles with aubergine and mango
120ml rice vinegar
40g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
220ml sunflower oil
2 aubergines, cut into 2cm dice
250g soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm dice or into 5mm thick strips
40g basil leaves, chopped
40g coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
Make the dressing. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar dissolves (up to 1 minute). Remove from heat and add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the aubergine in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to drain.
Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally (approx 5-8 minutes). Drain and rinse under running cold water. Shake off excess water and leave to dry on a tea towel.
In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, aubergine, half of the herbs and the onion. This can be left aside for 1-2 hours. Add the rest of the herbs and mix well when ready to serve.
The Chelsea Flower Show was on back when it was hot and sunny. Remember that week? It's a distant memory now... S and I attended on the Saturday and it was a glorious day, beautiful blue skies and scorching hot sunshine.
We met some friends and wandered through the exhibits in the shade of the Great Pavilion. There were ingenious watering systems, where a series of plants were being drip-fed by the oxygen tubes you can buy for fish tanks, seedlings growing in bottle caps, beautiful lupins and roses, pink pineapples, bonsai trees over 100 years old, a million varieties of daffodils and carnivorous plants worth £70,000.
My favourite exhibit was designed by some school children who turned a vandalised junk yard into something beautiful. Plants were growing out of old shoes, flowers were blossoming in a pile of used tyres and lilly-pads were blooming in an oil drum; it was wonderful!
The show gardens were so pretty and very English with fields of wild-flowers, streams and caravans.
We drank Pimms and champagne in the sunshine and when the crowds and heat got too much we called it a day and went to the pub.
It's the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this weekend, so today our street celebrated with a party. There was lots of British bunting, a band and BBQs. I made these muffins, which went down a treat. It was the perfect way for us to meet our new neighbours.