30 October 2011

Another Good Day’s Eating under my Belt


~  Menu  ~

Red Wine Braised Chorizo
Boursin
Nubbly Toast
Glass of Red

Today’s lunch was not 100% sudden.  Looking for something to eat yesterday I found about 2” (50mm) of chorizo skulking in the back of the fridge the way sausages do and, having read in “Comfort & Spice” by Niamh Shields of Chorizo in Cider, was inspired.  Sadly I had no cider so thought I’d try the same thing with red wine.  The thing is I felt in my heart of hearts that something creamy would be a boon to the dish so deferred the meal 24 hours and bought some Boursin.

Chorizo in Red Wine

Today I went for it.  I finely diced half a small red onion and cooked it with a wincy bit of garlic till tender in 1 tbsp olive oil.  I added the chorizo, sliced about this thick [  ], and cooked till its fat was running.  I poured over about 1½ glugs of red wine and decided it was ready when it had almost evaporated.  Hot nubbly toast and a goodly dollop of Boursin completed the picture – well worth waiting for.  I’ll try the cider version in the Spring, too foggy just now.


Another good day’s eating under my belt as it happens because dinner tonight was Confit of Duck with Roasted Butternut Squash.  No photo of because I haven’t got the hang of taking pics under artificial light.  Must try harder.  I did do a very sudden and wonderful thing, however, which I think I should I’d pass on. Whilst I was roasting the squash I felt it needed a little something so when it was almost done I stirred in a spoonful of Spicy Red Onion Marmalade from The Cherry Tree and put it back in the oven for another few minutes.  Gorgeous to say the least! 


Incidentally the other day I was in St. Austell as is often the way with me and popped in to see Ally at Nature Kitchen her wonderful spice and interesting food in general shop.  She had some new stock in and gave me, bless her heart, something I’ve not seen before and am not really sure what to do with!  It's called Rice Cake and looks like this ...


Had my computer been working I would have researched it by now and had a play but … not yet.  I’ll let you know but, in the meantime if you’ve got any good ideas you let me know, OK?

As I’ve said before she sells a wonderful range of stuff, apart from the Rice Cake she had bean curd and halved coconuts and I don’t know what all recently delivered.  It’s a friendly sort of place – everyone welcome …


PS.  Bugger me if I haven’t discovered that Chorizo in Red wine is a “classic” tapas dish.

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25 October 2011

“Bought Borrowed & Stolen ~ Recipes and Knives from a Travelling Chef” by Allegra McEvedy ~ a Review


As you probably know my computer committed suicide about a week ago and what a time to go!  My real men were on a trip Up North and I had intended to make good use of my time alone writing lots of articles and stuff and generally sorting out all my notes, pics and documents.  No such luck!  I just hope someone somewhere sometime can get access to my hard drive for me.  In the meantime I did a bit of sorting out the fridge and eating.  As you know I love a leftover so I ate well …

~   Panko Crusted Avocado – pretty good actually, just sliced avocado floured, egged, crumbed and fried to crisp.  I had this with Tesco’s Finest Whole Cherry Tomato & Chilli Sauce which I use for so many things.

~   Cream Tea Bread Pudding for One (me) – I found an old scone in the fridge and some out of date (but I use my nose and brain rather than best before dates) clotted cream. My real man had  bought me some strawberries to enjoy in his absence so I layered up sliced scone sugared strawberries and clotted cream, whisked up an egg, sugar and milk and made this …



~   Chorizo Roasted Potatoes – I’m having a bit of a “thing” about chorizo so just tossed together some par-boiled potatoes, thinly sliced said spicy sausage, olive oil and roasted the mixture till bits of it were crisp.  Delicious with roasted tomatoes, crunchy sea salt and a couple of fried eggs

~   Jerk Cheese (!) on Toast – this was a cheesey experiment, I presume, that my darling picked up somewhere for my delectation.  It was fine actually; sort of tomatoey strong cheddar with a slight spiciness which I would not have associated with the famous Jamaican dish.

~   Roasted Butternut Squash with Baked Tortilla Scraps – I love butternut squash, red onion and a spot of chilli roasted together.  Usually I have this on pizza but finding a pack of tortilla wraps that seemed to be stuck together I prised a few pieces off, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and baked them till crisp.  They were good with the squash in lieu of a pizza base.

~   Leftover Porridge Hotcakes, Leftover Porridge & Choc Chip Brownies and Leftover Porridge & Dried Cherry Muffins (yerst – I found some leftover porridge).

… and so on.

Happily during this time a big exciting book arrived (from Conran Octopus - thank you!) so at least I had something to do other than eat!


This is just the sort of book I like; a lovely mix of reminiscences, photos, food talk and recipes and it gave me itchy feet, I want to go travelling again.  Like me Ms. McEvedy has visited all sorts of places but, unlike me, she had the presence of mind to keep notes and also, quirkily, to collect a knife from each location.  Her writing is easy, friendly and personal, her eclectic mix of recipes, taken from 19 different destinations, are interesting and inspiring (I shall definitely be trying the Leafy Green Fritters with Tamarind & Chilli Dip which she had in Burma and the Japanese Confit Salmon in Ginger Juice) and I very much like the useful information given about each destination in the Fact File at the start of each chapter. 

On my preliminary flick I turned, of course, straight to the Caribbean and whilst surprised to see a great sounding recipe for Rabbit Lasagne I realise that this is a book about food actually eaten rather than dishes typical of each country.  I was also homesick to read about the islands and their rum drinks!   In the Fact File she suggests that one doesn’t ask directions for the nearest gay bar!  So true.

And my favourite knife?  I think it was this one …



As I said this is a big book both in scope and in physical size; a big solid hardback with well over 100 recipes and somewhat old fashioned photography by Andrew Montgomery including attractive collages at the start of each chapter.  It was published by Conran Octopus on 3rd ISBN-10: 1840915773, ISBN-13: 978-1840915778 and you can buy it from Amazon 



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23 October 2011

Sorry I've not written ...


I apologise for such a hiatus between posts – my computer committed suicide.  For some while he has been feeling poorly, slow responses, slightly live case (!), freezing etc. and then about a week ago, whilst I was out of the room, he leapt to his death from a high coffee table, taking with him a cup of hot coffee. I suppose he had just had enough.  I tried to revive him but he just made a pathetic noise and a burning smell.

I now have an old computer my real man and I had both discarded but hopefully it will be enough till I can afford new one.

So that’s all I have to say for the mo – will write something when I’ve caught up a bit.

Toodle-pip.
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13 October 2011

Dark Chocolate & Crystallised Chilli Bark & Leftover Mashed Potato ~ not at the same time.

~  Menu  ~ 

Smoked Haddock & Leek Chowder
Crunchy Bacon Grattons
White Wine Spritzer
Dark Chocolate & Crystallised Chilli Bark

I made too much mashed potato yesterday as, when sorting out the potato box as one does, I found several elderly chaps that had been there a while.  Most of it went on Shepherd’s Pie but I still had some over but which, of course, didn't faze me one bit.

Last night, whilst the men ate their Shepherd’s Pie (which was pretty good actually as it had braised lamb shank juice in it!) I had … Panko Crusted Cod and Chorizo Cakes with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise.   No recipe for this, again!, basically I munged together leftover mash, cooked leftover cod, a little diced chorizo, a clove of roasted garlic, a few chilli flakes and then chilled the resultant goo.  When almost ready for dinner I formed two cakes, coated them in panko crumbs and shallow fried in olive oil till crispy and hot.  With a dollop of (bought in from M & S) Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise, which is gorgeous, and some fresh medium hot chilli this more than made up for there not being enough Shepherd’s Pie for three.
cod-and-chorizo-fishcake

I still had leftover mashed potato however so today I made …

Smoked Haddock & Leek Chowder – for 2

1 leek, sliced and washed
1½ tbsp olive oil
Leftover mashed potato – about the amount 1 large baking potato would make!
200g or so of smoked haddock
100ml double cream

~   Cook the leek very gently, covered, in a small saucepan till tender.
~   Stir in the mashed potato till hot.
~   Place the fish on top of the potatoes, skin side up if it has skin, remove from the heat, cover and set aside for 10 minutes or so by which time the fish should have cooked in the residual heat.
~   Peel off the skin and discard it.
~   Use a potato masher (I used my old grumpy one) to mash everything to a chunky purée.
~   Bring to a simmer and stir in the cream.
~   Taste and season (I added a little vegetable Oxo).
~   Serve and eat.

I happened to have a few pieces of crunchy leftover bacon fat left from rendering fat for another use, so I topped the soup with them.

haddock-and-leek-chowder

Now then, chilli bark – this is the “interesting thing” I said I was going to tell you about a while ago.  Crystallising chillies this way also produces a delicious and useful syrup, great for drizzling on ice cream or stirring into hot chocolate.

Crystallised Chilli & its Syrup

When working with chillies don’t put your fingers near your eyes or any other part of your body or anyone else’s that you particularly value.

150g medium hot bright red chillies
150g white sugar
300ml water

~   Split the chillies lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and discard them.   Cut the chillies crosswise into thin strips. 
~   Bring the sugar and the water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. 
~   Add the chilli and cook on a low heat, topping up with a little water as necessary, for 30 minutes.
~   After 20 minutes preheat oven to 350˚C/180˚F/Gas 4
~   Strain the chillies into a bowl, keeping both the chillies and the syrup - for me this makes about 300 ml of syrup but it does depends on how assiduously you top up the water when cooking.
~   Spread the chillies out on a baking tray lined with grease-proof or parchment or similar and do in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, stirring and separating as they dry and start to crisp – they will crisp up further as they cool.
~  When completely cold break up any that are clinging together and store in an airtight container.  

Label both the chillies and the syrup clearly, use sparingly and maybe, like all good things, keep them out of the way of children.

Dark Chocolate & Crystallised Chilli Bark

100g dark chocolate – at least 70% cocoa, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp crystallised chilli

~   Put two thirds of the chocolate into a small bowl and stand the pan in a small pan of hot water over a low heat till the chocolate has melted and is smooth.
~   Off the heat stir in the rest of the chocolate till melted and smooth and then stir in the crystallised chilli.
~   Spread the mixture onto a greaseproof lined baking tray and bung in the fridge for 10 minutes.
~   Cut into pieces.


The reason for adding a third of the chocolate at the end is to temper it which keeps it shiny and snappy.





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9 October 2011

Food Pairing ~ 3 Sudden Dinners

~  Menu  ~

Bread & Dripping

Recently, having cooked roast beef and made gravy, I found I had a little beefy juice left and nearly threw it away!  A moment of madness.  Luckily I caught myself just in time and put it in the fridge in a little pot.  I thought I might stir it into the next beef stew or soup or something but then I remembered bread and dripping.  So today, whilst preparing a simple lunch of bread and cheese I tried my beefy goo to see if it was as good as I remember from when I was little.  It's quite good actually, especially with a little sea salt.


I have had three spontaneous dinners in a row; often I plan and cook the manly meals of the day and then at the last minute I think, plaintively, “Hmm, what about me?”.  Usually, of course, I come up with something just fine.  So here are the last three evening meals I have eaten which demonstrate pretty well, I feel, how scraps and leftovers can be combined to make something really worth eating.

1.                  Lamb & Quinoa Pilaf of sorts

Whilst looking in the freezer for something sausagey with which to make Toad in the Hole I found a little frozen quinoa and a sandwich bag of frozen chickpeas which gave me An Idea.  Having cooked 4 lamb shanks the night before, when there are only 3 of us, I stripped the meat from the leftover shank and froze it together with most of its lush winey gravy.  For my dinner I heated up the quinoa and chickpeas in the leftover gravy but, sadly, it was a little blah.  I stirred in a spoonful of Spicy Red Onion Marmalade by The Cherry Tree (which you can read about here) and Geronimo-ish, I just needed to add crunchy sea salt and black pepper to achieve yum!   I don’t think I need give a recipe and I didn’t even take a picture!

2.                  Chilli con a bit of Carne

When making Mince & Dumplings for the men I had a little too much meat, even for them!   This I transferred to a clean pan I added …

~   Some cumin, black pepper, garlic paste and cooked together for a few minutes before adding …
~   A few kidney beans that I’d been wondering what to do with,
~   A good dollop of Tesco’s Finest Whole Cherry Tomato & Chilli Pasta Sauce which I always keep in the fridge.
~   A little squirt of Sweet Chilli Sauce.  I use this in lots of dishes to slightly sweeten in the way that I once used a gastrique (which is a caramelised sugar and vinegar reduction for flavouring soups and sauces).

I simmered it all together for 10 minutes or so and ate it with a little (leftover) basmati rice.  I haven’t had Chilli con Carne for years and it made a great change.

3.                  Haddock baked with Fridge Gleanings

Last night we were going to get fish ‘n’ chips but after a long day at Trago  couldn’t be bothered.  I scoured the freezer and came up with enough bits and pieces to do a rather fine mixed grill for my men involving fillet steak, black pudding, free range sausages (what a sight they must be roaming wild!) and smoky bacon and, for me, some frozen haddock.  So I did have fish and chips after all but my fish was lightly fried in seasoned flour and finished by baking for few minutes on a bed of fridge gleanings; cherry tomatoes, red onion, medium hot sliced fresh chilli and crumbled chorizo which I cooked together a little before I added the fish.   A good dollop of roasted garlic mayonnaise completed my meal and I am so glad I can cook!


I occurs to me, and I’m not surprised because I knew it anyway, that the reason I can whip up such yummy meals with no planning is that I know what goes with what; for instance lamb and chickpeas, chorizo and cod (and haddock!) etc.   The problem is that this comes from experience (like studying wine – sadly you have to keep tasting the stuff to learn) and I don’t think it can be taught.  In the meantime however, whilst learning, Niki Segnit’s excellent book “The FlavourThesaurus”  which I reviewed a while ago is a really useful (and pleasant) resource as is the FoodPairing website although this is limited in scope to non-members.  Their blog makes good reading too.  The best thing, however, is to keep eating and learning.

Changing the subject …

For those of you in the UK - you know the Plusnet ad when the guy is dancing and his dad is sucking on a straw and calls out “Hello Son!”?  Remember the face his son makes?  I keep doing that!

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2 October 2011

Autumn Foraging (and Scrounging)

~  Menu  ~

Wild Mushrooms on Toast with Black Garlic Alfredo
Glass of Secret Red
Fresh Plums

Hasn’t the weather been amazing?  Last Thursday was the best day I personally have experienced since, um … early June or so.  My darling and I had a few hours holiday; we went to Porthcothan beach where he went kayaking and I laid about reading (an excellent book – Katherine Mansfield’s “The Garden Party”, I’ve read it before, what a writer!) then picnic lunch (of no particular foodie interest although I enjoyed it), then blackberrying and sloeing and we finished it all off with a drink at the pub, of course.


In the picture above - wild sloes, my real man off to the sea (just in case you were wondering what he looks like!), wild mushrooms and two wasps shagging* on my darling's foot - it was a romantic sort of a day!

In addition to the blackberries and sloes we also picked a few wild mushrooms (these, of course, add a wonderful frisson of danger to any meal) and have been given apples, plums, tomatoes and sweet, hot, long pepper things from people’s gardens and allotments.   

So these are the things I have done so far …

I cooked and froze half the apples and all the blackberries in usable portions – to brighten our winter although hopefully the weather will stay like this!  We picked so many blackberries the ones in the bottom of the box were crushed so I puréed them with a handful of brandy (approx 1 tbsp) and some caster sugar.  I now have a lush sauce for ice cream. 

I made Apple Chutney which I have never done before – it’s OK, very appley and goes well with cheddar, especially Cornish Crackler, but next time I shall be a lot more adventurous.


Sloe Gin 

This is a sort of autumn rumpot (see here for rumtopf/ rumpot recipe) now I come to think of it.  I really don’t like gin but my Daddy always made sloe gin and it was yummy.  This is my first go at it.  It’s dead easy; take 500g of fresh sloes and pierce each one a few times with a darning needle or, alternatively, freeze the sloes and then give them a good bashing – the idea is to open the skins up a bit.  Divide the fruits between 2 x 70cl or so clean, sterilised bottles.  Add 125g of sugar to each bottle and top up with gin.  Seal the bottles, give them a good shake and store in a cool dark place, next to your rumtopf.  Give them a shake every week or so.

With the tomatoes and some of the peppers I made my normal roasted tomato soup and
I have done something yummy with a few more of the hot chillies but I will tell all about this in my next post.


Now then - the mushrooms.  As you may know I am obsessed with black garlic so I made up a seriously yummy lunch based on a meal I had at The Basement in Padstow a little while ago. 

Mushrooms on Toast with Black Garlic Alfredo

I love this dish and will probably make it often.

Per person …

15g butter
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
80ml double cream
2 cloves of black garlic – coarsely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a handful of mushrooms - quartered
1 tbsp olive oil
A thick slice of great bread

~   First make the Alfredo Sauce – in a small pan simply heat together the first four ingredients till the butter has melted and a thickish sauce has formed.  Set aside for a few minutes for the garlic flavour to infuse into the sauce whilst cooking the mushrooms.
~   In a separate pan sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil till golden – sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
~   Toast the bread.
~   Top the toast with the mushrooms and pour over the sauce.


*  I do apologise for being so crude but I think "making love" would have been a bit too anthropomorphic! 

Also, whilst apologising, I am sorry to have been so long between posts - my computer was very poorly.









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