People & food

Tiniest Thai Talks To // Ruth Ridgeway

TT: Hey Ruth - let's just  dive straight in!

You're someone who does a lot of different things - writing, designing, photography, coaching and mentoring, and of course created The Lifestyle Designers Club (which I love being a part of) but it seems to me there's  a common thread of simplicity and mindfulness and creating moments and things of beauty.

I've noticed that your food photos  are also very beautiful and have a lovely simplicity to the look of them.

Would you agree? Can you tell us a bit more about your philosophy of life?

And is that also your philosophy when it comes to food too?

RR: I'd totally agree with you, although I didn't notice at first.

Seeing the simplicity in the food I enjoy only came when I started sharing some of the meals I ate, and how simple they always looked on the plate.

But you're right, I'm definitely a LESS IS MORE kinda person.

If it's on my plate - or for design, if it's on my website, or tee, or stationery -  it's going to be put and placed there for a reason.

I like everything to have SPACE to be fully enjoyed and appreciated, and when it comes to food, every flavour enjoyed fully.

Has how you eat changed over your life, and if so, can you share how? 

YES, big time! 

I was the fussiest (and slowest) eater as a kid. I mainly ate processed foods and sweets, I'd turn my nose up at most fruit and veggies. 

Now, totally different story.

Sure I'll have a take out from time to time, but I prefer most of my foods now REAL and as fresh as can be, for example I love going to the farmers market on a Sunday where there's not a single processed food in sight!

What are your food memories growing up? What did you really love? 

Honestly, I don’t really have any. My food memories and habits aren’t good or productive ones.

Enjoying food has become a learned thing through life, mainly starting when I was twenty or so...

Is food an important part of your life now?

Yeah it is. I see it so differently now and definitely believe you are what you eat.

I only have one body so I want to take care of it as best I can, and give it the best most nutritious foods I can.

Do that mean I'm 'perfect' and just eat avocados and kale?

No way, but I do try and east mostly fresh, real and organic food (and enjoy the other bits on occasion).

What do you choose to eat when it's just you - when you're cooking for yourself? 

Something on toast!

But again, with 'real' fresh from the bakers bread. Top it with scrambled eggs, some mushroom, bacon, homemade guacamole...

Well, that's a happy me.

What are some of your favourite foods?

I LOVE smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, served with a generous grind of fresh black pepper and squeeze of lemon juice.

I also love having a great big bowl of veggies, my fave being a bowlful of sweet potato fries served with green beans and tender broccoli cooked on a grill pan with nothing more than a little olive oil and some salt and pepper.

Simple, but so good. If I'm feeling indulgent I'll top it with some blue cheese or feta. 

Do you enjoy cooking? 

I do it it’s simple and quick and I get a tasty meal at the end.

It’s not my thing to spend HOURS in the kitchen.

What's the best meal you've ever had? 

I have two.

One in New Zealand, I think it was the day after I arrived. I was tired and jet lagged and found some sweet bread (similar to Chelsea buns) from one of the supermarkets and devoured it in one of the parks on the way back to the hostel, too tired to wait - and it was something just about being there, and feeling free, with the whole trip ahead of me and adventures still to come...

It felt good and exciting (and delicious) despite how tired I was. 

Another with my guy the first time we went to our favourite restaurant - Bully's in Cardiff. The food was good but was just laughed and laughed and laughed the whole night. 

To be fair, a tonne of my best meal memories are about the good food, but also about the company and laughter shared over it.
Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 17.59.54.png

Have you a favourite food writer, blog or cookbook you'd recommend?

I LOVE Lorraine Pascale's book Fast, Fresh and Easy.

And is there somewhere local to you that's a real insider find you'd recommend anyone visiting the area just has to try? 

Bully's in Cardiff!

Also, in one of the arcade's there's an Indian Street Food place called 3B's, that's REALLY good too!

And now I just want to ask .. .you do such a variety of things - is there such a thing as a typical day for you and what does that look like?

Hmmmn, I'm not sure I have a totally 'typical' day.

I try and time block certain things as much as possible (my head goes crazy crazy if I'm darting all over the place switching from task to task), but it depends what project I'm working on at the time.

Right now I'm creating a new week long workshop which is taking place in December, so today went like this:

- Register for two new Trademarks over breakfast

- After getting dressed and ready, head down to the sea (which I'm fortunate to have at the bottom of my garden) to record the workshop videos

- Once recorded, drive to the local coffee shop for a couple hours of work

- Come home, have lunch with my guy

- Host a live call with the members of The Lifestyle Designers Club

- Dinner of pasta before unwinding for the night. 

Just for fun - what are a few of your favourite things?

Hugs with my guy

Good food and/or cocktails with friends, with plenty of laughter and conversation

Time to myself

Thai massages

Wandering bookstores

Going to the Farmers' Market on Sundays

Finally ... what are you most excited about right now?

Can I pick two? (I'm allowing myself two).

A break away with my guy over Xmas...

Nothing but food, wine, me, him, and... blissfully nothing else. 

And second, my upcoming Unapologetic Living workshop! It's a word I embraced in 2016 and totally changed my life, so I can't wait to pass it on to others and see what it brings for them :)

Oh, and of course - what recipe are you sharing with us?

I think we got the drift about I love things on a good slice of wholemeal toast. THIS is one of them, preferably with a crispy fried egg.

My chunky homemade guacamole.

I REALLY love this! I've made it three times in the last week or so alone (yep, these ones are my pics).

Ruth's Unapologetic Living 2018 free workshop starts tomorrow - so there's still time to join me there if you'd like to! 

And of course I know you know I only recommend things I personally truly love - and I love being a member of both the free workshops and a paid-up member of the Lifestyle Designers Club.

It's an incredible program and wonderful community and I'd recommend it anyway - but I do want you to know that if you also sign up to it that I may receive a bonus for recommending it.






#ShareFoodStories ... Marcela Macias / 'nugaton'

Yes, it’s the weirdest-sounding combination of ingredients ... but it works!

It’s the dessert that was never missing on our birthdays growing up, and the only cake my brother still wants for his birthday now.

It is not, however, a family recipe.

Truth be told, the original recipe appeared in a box of Quaker Oats in Argentina, in the ’70s. It was quickly popularized because it was ideal for making in a whim, and kids loved it.

The original recipe, however, has been modified countless times, as it normally happens in family kitchens ....

All my friends ask me for it when I visit and it’s my most iconic dessert.
— Marcela

Nugaton - Marcela Macias

OK, in all honesty, when Marcela sent me her recipe I was intrigued ... but also dubious.

An Argentinian chocolate cake, made with cream crackers ... ?

But I loved this photo on her site and I read her full post.





#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Several times. I kept reading that recipe and wondering what it would taste like! 

She's right .. it IS the oddest sounding combination but yes, it does work.

I was a little worried as I don't have a sweet tooth at all but actually it's not that sweet - it's biscuity and was very good with a coffee.

I'm also not a baker so this was perfect for me to make as I didn't have to be too careful about weighing ingredients out etc - I'll definitely be making it again.

i made it one Sunday and we had it the next day as Marcela recommended.  I made my nugaton using half the quantities on the original recipe as it sounded a lot - and for me my smaller one was just right.

Want to make it too? Here's how ...

Into one pan went

150g butter (or margarine)

175-200g dark chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In another, large pan, goes

175g ish sugar

250g oats

And I also got ready

1 pack of cream crackers

100 ml almond milk (I think I used more like 150ml as I did it by eye. You could use any milk you like, almond's what I had)

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
crackers and milk.JPG

Melt the butter and chocolate together and when liquid, pour over the oats and sugar and mix well over a low heat, stirring all the time.

Keep stirring and then add the milk, a little at a time. Once all the milk is added and the sauce is nice and soft and the oats cooking in it, give it a last good mix, remove from heat and continue stirring for another minute or so.

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Put a little of the sauce/paste on a plate to hold the crackers in place and start layering the mixture over the crackers, spreading with a spatular and then adding another layer of crackers.

Finish by spreading the mixture over the last layer of crackers and round the sides so it's completely covered. Then put in the fridge until an hour before serving.

I put mine in overnight and then wrapped it in foil to take it to work to share!

#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton
#ShareFoodStories nugaton

Read Marcela's original post and nugaton recipe here.


#ShareFoodStories ... Jane Swift / smoked salmon pinwheels

We’ve made smoked salmon pinwheels in our family as a special Christmas treat for as long as I can remember.

Making them, and eating them, conjure up memories of all my Christmas’ past. Sometimes specific memories come to mind, but mostly this particular dish conjures up general memories of Christmas, family and tradition. 

These are so delicious and delightful to eat at any time of year, not simply at Christmas, but for me they will always make me think of Kings College carols, a glass of sherry, and my mum’s kitchen. 

They are very easy to make, perfect as canapés or as a simple starter that you can make the day before a dinner.

Personally I could scoff the plateful all on my own, but I suppose really they’re better to share!  
— Jane

To make Jane's salmon pinwheels, you'll need:

thin sliced soft brown bread

butter, soft and ready to spread

smoked salmon

fresh lemon juice

black pepper


Cut the crusts off the sliced bread, and spread with butter.

Carefully separate the layers of smoked salmon and lay a piece over each slice of bread.

Generously squeeze lemon juice on top,and a grind of black pepper.

Then roll the bread and salmon - to create a spiral of salmon within the bread - and tightly encase in foil so that it holds it's shape.

Best left in the fridge overnight, but an hour or so will do if you want to eat them sooner.

When you take the rolls from the fridge, unwrap them and cut into maybe four small sushi-sized spiral bites from each slice of bread. 

Eat and enjoy (preferably accompanied by a glass of something fizzy!). 


#ShareFoodStories ... Kerrie Rycroft / tuna 'envelopes'

This was very low on my list of recipes to share but when I asked the kids which they thought was the best recipe to share they ALL picked this one.  
Tuna ‘envelopes’. 

This is one of our favourite family meals; the two little girls make it by themselves which is really important to them.  

I do cheat and use shop bought puff pastry because it is so easy!

The idea of envelopes is genius, we make them with all kinds of fillings. 

If you have leftover chilli con carne, bolognaise sauce, chicken curry, beef stew etc you can use them to fill the envelopes.  

The folding and filling is a great thing for little hands to do.  

— Kerrie

I really enjoyed making these tuna 'envelopes' for brunch today - there's something very satisfying about seeing the pastry turn golden brown. And I love the idea of using other fillings for them too - leftover bolognaise, or chilli con carne, or chicken curry ...

For four 'envelopes' you'll need (I made enough for two today):

2 tins of tuna (I used one)

1 tin of sweetcorn (I used a small one)

1/2 red onion finely chopped 

a big dollop of mayonnaise 

A sheet of puff pastry (I used half)

1 egg, beaten

Mix the tuna, sweetcorn, red onion and mayonnaise together in a bowl.

Unroll the sheet of puff pastry and cut into four squares (or 6-8 smaller squares - as I was using half the sheet mine were 'small squares').

Divide the tuna mix between the squares.

Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes
Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes

Fold the corners in so that they meet in the middle.  (I tried folding mine in two different ways).

Brush with beaten egg.

Cook for 20 minutes in an oven at around 200C (I used Gas 7).

Rachel Redlaw
Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes

Kerrie says they usually serve them 'with mange tout and baby sweetcorn and a splodge of sweet chilli sauce to dip them in', but as mine were for brunch we had them with just a sliced tomato to add a little colour (plus realised I'd run out of sweet chilli sauce - so will be making more today).

Rachel Redlaw tuna envelopes

I really liked these - and can see a Tiniest Thai green chicken curry 'envelope' happening for dinner soon!

And ... food memories ...

These pastries remind me of a family favourite of my own - my mum used to make and love little puff pastry 'envelopes' (folded with all four corners brought together like the lower 'envelope' in my photo) filled with egg and cheese and herbs.  She called them 'borek' and we had them at Christmas. 

Having looked up recipes for Turkish borek since, those of my childhood weren't especially authentic - I believe borek are crisp pastries that can have a savoury meat filling, or cheese fillings with feta or goats cheese plus fresh mint, parsley and dill.

But such things weren't commonly available back in the late '70's / early '80's and ours were puff pastry with a filling of egg, grated cheddar and probably dried herbs. They were so good!

Having Kerrie's tuna 'envelopes' today took me back to this food memory of my own.

And I made some!

A mix of feta, mint, parsley, a little black pepper and some dried chilli flakes with a squeeze of lemon juice - delicious ... 

Rachel Redlaw borek
Rachel Redlaw borek