Eating it, cooking it, thinking about it

Either eating it, cooking it or plotting it

Sunday, 26 September 2010

feeding favourite famous people

Nigel Slater - a cold beer, a fat buttery baked potato, sticky mustardy sausages & plum crumble
Zooey Deschanel - a verdant green herb soup, gremolata & white peaches
David Mitchell - a rare roast beef sandwich, horseradish & mustard mayo, green leaves. Cup of tea & custard tart
Stephen Fry - red wine, egyptian tomato salad, salmon fillet wrapped in parma ham, asparagus, hollandaise, french green beans & raspberry pavlova
Mariella Frostrup - beetroot & goats cheese salad, hazelnut dressing, lemon tart
Michael Sheen - chorizo spit sizzling in red wine , olives, lemon marinated artichoke hearts . No bread. He keeps mercurial and slight.
Philip Larkin - a ham sandwich on white, smear of fierce hot mustard, gin and tonic and a rock cake
PG Wodehouse - toast, gentlemans relish, poached eggs, scones with jam and cream, trifle
Sue Perkins- roast tomato & roast red pepper risotto ( starter size) langoustines, deep fried courgette, key lime pie with ginger biscuit crust
Michel Roux Jnr - jersey new potatoes, salt, butter & mint. Cheese board. Must have roquefort.
Piers Morgan - kidding
You - fresh warm focaccia, thin but large crust base pizza , fresh tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, oregano. homemade vanilla icecream, warm chocolate sauce.


Sunday, 19 September 2010

Muffin to worry about

Muffins. Stroppy.
A couple of years back, I read A Fact which made me smile ( I think I read it in Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery) - that an old ladies tea party used to be called a Muffin Worry. How could that not make you smile ? I'm fairly sure it was in reference to english muffins, the round yeasted dough bread ( not the belly bulge over hang on tight trouser - I guess thats what young ladies worry about at tea parties. Because they're always at tea parties these young folk) and not the the American/ Canadian cake bread style ones. Anyhoo, description read and thought nothing of until yesterday, as I was baking some of the American style ones for the coffee shop, some lemon and poppy seed and something that I've done a hundred times over. Mix made as usual, carefully spooned ( well, I use an ice cream scoop) into the cases, left to bake for 20 mins and out they came...(cake drama ! cake drama!) ...half the size they normally do, with flat smooth tops. They came out the size of cupcakes (where I strive constantly for said flat smooth top, all the better to thickly ice), and were still springy, moist and perfectly edible, just....well, not mighty and tall and splendid. Puzzled it out for a bit, consulted sources, questioned equipment , peered into oven accusingly ( incidently, I always use oven thermometers as I've learnt to be distrustful of manufacturers over the years. I'm not saying they lie, but they are very much mistaken) and drew blanks. Drank a coffee and calmly made another batch, and whaddya know ? Out they came, mighty and tall and splendid. I am looking you beseechingly in the eye and telling you, I did nothing different. Muffin Worry ! Muffin Drama ! Still a bit non plussed by it, except to say that I'm very sure that every now and again, food just likes to be mischevious and won't be taken for granted. At the risk of coming over a bit Prince Charles, I already (albeit silently) entreat cakes to please please bake agreeably, but I guess we all get stroppy sometimes. Recipe as below. Show it who's boss. Muffin Worries aside, its been a week of autumnal eating, roasting of potato, parsnip and chicken (note - cold roast chicken - v good smeared with last weeks chilli jam) and baking of pears , a determination to cook Something Proper everyday. The cooler weather always gets me this way. Actually, the baked pears were one of the most low effort high reward things I've eaten in a long while, so I'll post that recipe too. I think, in the sweetly 1950's language that some food magazines drift into, that the pears might also be 'smart' enough to serve at a dinner party. Perhaps those young folk will serve them at one of their tea parties.

Lemon & Poppyseed Muffins.

Makes 12 large

3 eggs
150g caster sugar
360 ml milk
150ml veg oil
350g plain flour
3 and a half tsp baking powder
1 and a half tsp bicarb of soda
half tsp salt
zest of 3 lemons, chopped finely
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 - 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Oven at 200 degrees. In one bowl, sift the flour, then mix with lemon zest, salt, baking powder, bicarb,poppy seeds and sugar. In another bowl , mix the wet ingredients - beat the egg, then add the oil, milk and lemon juice. Combine the 2 mixes ( I use a large metal spoon. I think its supposed to be a salad server..) and scoop or pour carefully into cases - they should be full. Bake for 20 mins, till risen ( ........) and springy. Take out of the tin as soon as your brave little fingers allow - don't let them steam/ keeping cooking on in the tin if you can help it. I make a lemon drizzle topping to spoon over while they are still warm - combine juice of 1 - 2 lemon with approx 85 - 100g caster sugar. Thats it.

Autumnal pears - for 2 people

Think of this as more refined pears in custard. Bananas would work also I think.

Oven at 180

2 - 3 ripe pears, peeled and cored ( or use tinned)
150 ml double cream
scant half tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons caster sugar
tsp of vanilla extract
3 -4 ginger biscuits, smashed up into jaggedy crumbs

Butter a small baking dish, tuck the pears in ( I placed them in top to tail style). Whisk the cream lightly with the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and pour over the pears. Bake for 20 mins til the cream is thickened and started to brown and bubble. Smash up the ginger biscuits, crumble over the cream. Seriously, seriously, transportingly good. Don't speak while you eat it, commune with it.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Condiments to the chef

The bbq last week was pretty near perfection. A ponderous afternoon of eating and talking, course following course from the bbq, stretched over the afternoon ( and stomach). The Kind Friends, lets call them Tom & Barbara, have a heavenly little dell of a garden from which beautiful and good things are grown. Apples, tomato, peppers, courgette, chilli and even, we discovered, after a bit of internettery, hops ! The chilli plant they've grown is one of the lovliest things I've seen - bright tight shiny red & green chillis, jewel bright through the sage shaped leaves. Honestly, I thought it was stunning, a little bit of Christmas potted in their green house ( aw c'mon, we're in early September, the Christmas word is bound to pop over the parapet...I love summer, I really love spring, autumn is breathtakingly awesome, but Christmas really is my pick of the seasonal bunch. Obviously I will join in the wailing and gnashing of teeth at summers end, and be sure to eye roll against the long dark nights but, ignore me. I'm playing to the gallery.I'm lying. I love winter. I'll take a plum pudding over a strawberry sorbet, and a goulash over a caesar salad. I have my Christmas cake already baked, tucked away and regularly soused with sherry). We found out the strength of the chillis via the traditional method of just taking a bite. Some excitement later, we found that they are officially called Apache chillis, which apparently "...once they've matured to red chillies they can be very hot". Quite. Apaches. Not noted for their amenable insouciance. Anyway, I'm a game girl and was very happy to be gifted some of the little pocket rockets and today I've made a sweet chilli and tomato sauce from them. Hellzapoppin', my fingers knew about it when I chopped them, and its sure is a perky little condiment.* I went the de-seeding route. It was for the best.

Sweet chilli & fresh tomato sauce

500g fresh tomato
8 red chillis, deseeded
knob of fresh ginger, peeled
6 cloves garlic
50ml thai fish sauce ( optional)
300g caster sugar ( I used golden)
100ml red or white wine vinegar

Blend the tomato, garlic, chilli & ginger in a processor ( or finely handchop).
Place the puree with the sugar and vinegar in a pan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 mins or so.
Thats it !

Pour into kilner jar that snaps satisfyingly shut like an angry turtles mouth.

*I am obsessed with condiments. I currently have 21 jars of different condiments in my fridge. I am not exaggerating for comic effect. Sometimes, I talk to them. Kidding. A bit.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

BBQs and Buns

Heres some I baked earlier

Oho ! Its a good day ! First off this morning , presented with pancakes fatly oozy with syrup and sharpened with lemon juice, and a tooth staining tannin-y mug of builders tea. Just The Thing ( on account of attending a wedding yesterday, and enjoying, shall we say, the refreshments). And this afternoon, its off to a bbq, for the sun has got his hat on hip hip hip hip hooray ! Thus also rather neatly avoiding doing any cooking myself today. Which I have to say is a welcome break, having had a kitchen intensive week. There was much to do ( and done) with a large order for a wedding, a large order for a christening, two cakes and over 130 cupcakes for supply to the coffee shop, each batch in a different style and flavour. Its been busy, good busy but busy. Which explains some of my curious lunch choices this week, cous cous with mashed avocado on top, soused with lemon juice and salt ( try it) and cold meatballs dipped in salad cream (cold fishfingers would have been better, alas) . Anything that was quick and easy really. Anyhoo, I'm rubbing my greedy little hands ( whilst I'm typing..)at the thought of the bbq to come . The Kind Friends hosting the happy event are no slouches in the kitchen, and I've eaten greedily and gratefully from their table previously - home grown tomatoes and strawberries, scallops, lamb roasted with rosemary and garlic, fresh baked bread, marinaded halloumi hot and squeaky, smooshed onto bread with good olive oil ( this wasn't all at the one meal, though I'd have no issue if it was). So like Harold Carter, I too expect to be shortly peering at Marvellous Things. Or was it wonderful things ? And thinking on, he was peering into a tomb. And a kitchen is nothing like a tomb. And further more, we'll be in the back garden, not the kitchen. So nothing like Harold Carter in fact. Sorry. Except for the Marvellous Things. Which I aim to be eating rather than just peering at. I'll stop now. Oh, except one last thing - when does a nugget become a goujon ? I was thinking about this the other day (seriously. I am heroically dull. Not like Harold Carter) I think it might be only when the Dark Art of Sales is involved. Because I'd buy ( and did in fact) sole goujons, but not sole nuggets. Are goujons a bit longer ? A sylph nugget ? I'll ask Harold.