Even easier home made yogurt

Since moving to Scotland, I have two new habits. One is Yeo Valley Organic plain yogurt. The other is the charity shop down the road. The yogurt at least is shared by my children, but I am alone when it comes to buying every dogeared cookbook and enamel bowl in sight.

A few weeks ago I paid the princely sum of GBP 2 for an old fashioned Thermos, the kind with glass inside and a cork stopper. It is gorgeous, huge and impractical, and I love it.

I had assumed it would just sit grandly in my cupboard, useless and remote, but actually, it´s the perfect tool to make yogurt.

Before, I used a glass jar inside a pot of hot water inside a jumper that spent the night next to a heater. Which means that I didn´t really use that method much, and certainly not when I fell into the clutches of the Yeo Valley stuff.

But now? I simply heat milk, dip my finger in it, count, and if I can hold it for ten seconds but no more, then I pour it into the thermos. Adding half a cup of yogurt is all that remains to be done. You can add some powdered milk, they say, to make it set even better, but frankly, that´s a step too far.

Leave it inside the thermos for eight hours or so, and there you have it: yogurt.

The only problem? It´s so fresh that it tastes almost too real, cheesy and wild. My children refuse it point blank, so I´m alone in this addiction too.


The Boy Scout´s dinner.

I have the reputation of squirrelling away food, and I guess it´s true. There´s nothing I like better than knowing that my bases are covered in case of almost any culinary emergency. This leads to groaning pantry shelves and a freezer that is sometimes hard to negotiate. Also, I have been known to hold on to things for so long that by the time we eat them the expiry dates are archaeological.

But anyway, it really is so worth it when, for example, you are returning from a weekend away, and need a warm, homely, comforting meal but you don´t really want to cook.

Here´s what we had yesterday, after two days of dragging two little children around Edinburgh:

Tomato soup, from the freezer.

Toasted cheese sandwiches, with onion jam from the fridge.

Salad with this vinaigrette, also in the fridge.

Be Prepared, is all I´m saying.


Pasta with broccoli, anchovies and pine nuts.

I made this pasta when I was in Spain last. We´d had a long meeting, were hungry and, as Monday is not a good day for bars and restaurants, decided to go to my friend P´s house. "We can have pasta", she said, "although there´s nothing in the cupboard". Aglio olio, I thought, happily, for I love me a good aglio olio.

Turns out that P´s "nothing" is a broad, sweeping comment. There was oil and garlic, of course, but also broccoli. And a further rummage around netted anchovies, almonds and raisins.

Almost all the ingredients of one of the first dishes I ever learnt how to make, from a Sardinian flatmate in my university days.

Happily for my slapdash blogging methods, it is a sister recipe to this one of a few weeks back for pan steamed broccoli, so kindly read that over first if you need to.

While the pasta (long, ideally, but anything goes) boils, you cook the broccoli, with crushed garlic and a tin of anchovies, and add the raisins towards the end. The original calls for capers but I hardly every remember them.

If you can be bothered, toast pine nuts, or almonds, as it was what we had, in a separate pan. Get someone else to lay the table, not forgetting a bottle of oil, a pepper mill and some parmesan and the grater.

When the pasta is al dente, grab it with tongs or strain it, but make sure there´s some water, which will help to make a sauce. Put it in the frying pan with the broccoli, toss it well, then put it in a bowl.

My secret touch is a lump of butter tossed at the end, when the pasta and broccoli meet. It is not essential but helps it out no end.

Scatter the pine nuts or almonds over and eat away.

This is as popular with starving students as with startup app developers.


Saveur´s great and global

I´m deep in holiday mode, which is to say, checking my email only now and then, ignoring the Web and Twitter, and catching up with friends and family and tapas bars.
But I did check Twitter for a second yesterday, and found out from dear Lydia about this Saveur article: 55 Great Global Food Blogs. Lobstersquad is one of them, the only one from Spain, no less.
Very exciting, very cool, I´m so happy.
No time to post recipes, but may I remind you of one from long ago, slow roast tomatoes? If you´re in a place, like Madrid, where it is possible to come back from the market with arms groaning under the weight of ripe beautiful tomatoes bought for a few coins, you have to make it.