Thursday, June 30, 2011

I wanted ... I bought... I made

After last week's setbacks, this week might still need to be a little gentle. Friday a little fish a cold collation of lovely things from Borough, Saturday the pork chops with the braised fennel from last week lamb chops with new potatoes, Sunday ham and eggs potato salad not eggs! Monday chicory roasted with cream and pancetta ham and salad as the man was now very ill and giving me a lot of retrospective sympathy for my flu last week, with salad obv! Tuesday lamb casserole ma po tofu and rice v spicy v nice, Wednesday tofu and greens steamed eggs and steamed peppers, more rice, Thursday aubergine and something fennel and pasta bake!

At Borough I bought a piece of smoked gammon and some lamb neck chops at the Ginger Pig - £28.30

Milk, yoghurt and bread at Neals Yard - £9.70

Melon and new potatoes from the organic veg stall £4.70

A hard unpasteurised sheep/goat cheese and a robiola that was not a rocchetta but rather a soft creamy cheese from Gastronomica - £12

Peppers from the veg stall out the back - £1

Smoked bass from the Sussex fish stall - £3

Olives from Borough Olives - green ones with tarragon and kalalmata's - £5.60

Eggs from Lizzie at Wild Beef who is off on holidays this week - £3.70

Strawberries from Tony - £2.50

Spent £70.50

Am off to France for a week. Normal service will resume after that!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I wanted...I bought...I made

Chicken roasted with peppers
Friday I think will be fishcakes that we didn't have last week - a couple of fillets of salmon simply fried with a lemon sauce and shallow fried potatoes. Saturday I think some asparagus in one form or another lasagne, Sunday drunken chicken and spicy noodles chicken roasted with peppers and chorizo after a day out beekeeping.

But then I got hit with the flu that is currently doing London - boufff!

Monday tofu and greens I struggled to make tuna salad, Tuesday lamb stew but a delicate thing - the man made omelette and salad! Wednesday steamed pork and eggs - lentils with a poached egg and yes I had eggs, Thursday curry - a good generalised idea! It will be noodles as I finally feel a little better.

At Borough I started at Neals Yard for milk, bread and yoghurt - £10.40

Then a chicken and some pork chops from Ginger Pig as they had no neck chops but have promised me some this week - £22.65

Salmon from Furness - £6.70

Asparagus from Organics - £6

Lovely fat green olives from Borough Olives - £2.80

Chorizo from Brindisa - £9.70

Eggs from Wild Beef - £3.40

And Chegworth now have their own shop, a cut out bit left over from where Elsey and Bent were next to the Brindisa bar, it's nice, and they will be trading Monday to Saturday. I bought strawberries and cucumber - £4

I have discovered Solstice at Greensmiths down on the Cut near Waterloo, bought some good veg from them, potatoes and fennel and a lovely melon - £6.10 - am wondering if it is a good option now for most of my weekly veg

Spent £71.75

But no recipe post this week but more next week as I am on the way to recovery!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turkey Noodle Soup

Turkey Tikka Masala

They say you regret the things you don't do. I never flew on Concorde though I watched it arc overhead a thousand times and marvelled at its beauty every time. I didn't buy the set of 'How to Grow Everything' books at Sutton Hoo a few months ago and now I don't know when my potatoes will be ready - mind you I don't know what variety they are either so I may well regret not checking that before they were interred. I never ate at Harveys when Marco Pierre White was at the pass - even now I don't believe it. Here was a chef who had trained under Raymond Blanc and the brothers Roux who went on to have Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, amongst many others, in his own brigade. He is the link between old school and new in British gastronomy - unrepentant in his quest for perfect food. Somehow I never made it - there's regret writ large.

So last week when I was invited by Clarion Communications to have lunch with the man himself I was intrigued. He has gone on to more of the business side of restaurants and in public has been tapping his enormous carving knife in a menacing fashion on Hells Kitchen on TV. On the day he was charm itself. He headed up the table in a downstairs private room at Wheeler's of St James's and served up a tasty selection of turkey. Not much used in the UK outside christmas there is a campaign afoot to bring this bird to our kitchen all year round. I confess I never think of it much myself as a starting point and yet, as I discovered it is a versatile meat and lean and healthy with it.

Lunch started with a turkey liver paté, a luscious delicate thing topped with a raisin sec jelly which Marco himself had never before eaten. He explained it was easier to work with turkey liver as they are larger than their chicken counterparts and less likely to need soaking in milk. He spooned quenelles onto plates and passed them round (I am always impressed by the making of quenelles!). Spread thick on toast it was amazing. Then onto simpler fare - a Norfolk pie. Think that family staple cottage pie but use turkey rather than beef mince and voila! Norfolk pie.

Turkeys are on the big end of the bird scale - it's the one on the outside of those fabulous multi bird roasts that have become popular lately at christmas. As well as boning them out to stuff them, the individual elements are also scaled up. The breasts are large enough to cut into steaks which offer lots of possibilities - beat them out and crumb them like escalope, char grill them after marinading in something garlicky for an hour or two. Or do like Marco and top with a spiced crumb and serve with the most exquisite Parmesan cream sauce I have ever had the good fortune to eat. It was so spectacular that one of the others suggested she could happily bathe in it. I know what she meant!

A simple turkey masala like the one pictured at the top of this post, was the next dish and for me it was the one that worked best. Big chunks of mixed thigh and breast meat in a lovely masala sauce it was a pleasing match of flavour and texture atop a mound of lightly spiced rice. The final dish was gnocchi topped with turkey bolognese. Had to confess to MPW that I'm not really a fan of gnocchi even when made by someone who had Michelin stars before he was 30. The turkey mince gave the sauce a lighter texture than a beef version, it would work well on a hot day.

Turkey Gnocchi Bolognese

Inspired by my brush with brilliance I decided to make a pan of soupy noodles with little spiced turkey balls and shredded cabbage topped with fresh carrots and herbs for a light and lovely supper last night.

Turkey Noodle Soup

Serves 4

You are aiming for a bowl of noodles with lots of liquid rather than an actual soup

150g dried noodles - I use the kind that come in 'nests' in bags in Chinese supermarkets
1/2 sweetheart pointy cabbage, shredded
300g minced turkey
1tbspn finely chopped fresh ginger
3 stems of coriander, leaves and stalks finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tspn rice wine or sherry
1 tspn light soy sauce
1 tbspn peanut oil
500ml of chicken stock
1 star anise
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely cut to matchsticks
2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into coins
Fresh coriander and chopped spring onions to garnish

Fresh bits

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the noodles till tender - about fifteen minutes. Drain into a colander, rinse then mix in a little bit of peanut oil to stop them all clumping together.

Put the pan back onto a high heat and add the rinsed cabbage with about a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes until the cabbage has just begun to wilt. Drain.

Steamed bits

For the meatballs, mix the turkey mince with the finely chopped ginger, coriander and garlic along with the rice wine and soy sauce until it all comes together. Using about a tablespoon at a time make little balls, put them onto a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so just to firm them up. Heat the oil in the large pan (one pot dinner this!) over a moderate heat and fry the turkey balls until they caremalise on the outside and smell divine. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon onto a plate covered with absorbent paper.

Fried bits

Don't wash the pan - all the caremalised juices and sticky bits on the base add a depth of flavour to the soup. Put the pan back on the heat and, when it is hot, add the stock. Scrape all the bits from the base into the liquid til they dissolve. Add the shredded ginger and star anise and simmer for a couple of minutes, then taste the soup. Season and add some chilli paste if you fancy it a bit spicy. When it's to your taste add the noodles, cabbage and the carrot coins. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then top with chopped coriander and spring onions and serve in big bowls.

Just add noodles and all the bits together make a bowl of joy

A great dinner. Particularly in this funny on/off summer when you can never tell if it will be hot/wet/dry/cold/windy. This one covers them all!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I wanted..I bought...I made

A quick list on the back of an envelope, transferred here later. Friday mussels pizza muffins as the carb content of a cold collation on a wet and stormy night, Saturday the lovely Vicki is celebrating her birthday and we are all out to dinner at the Canton Arms. Sunday burgers and salad slow roasted ham hock with onions and steamed potatoes. Monday turkey noodles. Tuesday steamed eggs and peppers, Wednesday we are at the theatre and Thursday there will be fishcakes with sorrel sauce as I have been reading about fishcakes and wondering about sorrel sauce as I have a pot in the garden burgers and rice salad as I have a recipe for salad I'm wondering about!.

afternoon was wet and cold and horrible at Borough. I started at Neals Yard and bought milk and yoghurt, and a st john stick £10.65

Then coffee from Monmouth - £12 - coffee prices are rising

From Harriet's organics I bought garlic, carrots, potatoes, radish and a beautifully scented melon for £8.90

A fennel from Turnips - £1.30

Strawberries and lettuce from Chegworth - £4

Cheese from Gastronomica - a soft cow and a hard sheep - £10.80 and later in the week some braesola £4.50 for a sandwich before the theatre

Eggs from Wild Beef - £3.40

Tomatoes from Isle of Wight - £3.50 - wildly expensive but so very good

Black and green olives from Vahid plus some sundried tomatoes for muffins - £8.60

That was all £76.15 - a lot in a week without buying fresh meat

Bought other things too - cabbage and bananas round the corner, and butter, chocolate and cherries to make a cherry ripe cake to celebrate Vicki's birthday

For anyone interested in what's going on with traders and trustees at the market this is a good round up Turns out the building that the trustees have agreed to be built by Network Rail for the new market front is all glass, and so unsuitable for fresh produce. Odd, at the very least.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Roast Tomato Pasta

You know it's summer when the sight of deep red tomatoes brings a smile to your face. Bright and shiny they are harbingers of joy - for me at least. The man won't eat them raw but has a liking for them cooked. I found this recipe on the Splendid Table email last week and it was so easy to imagine how good it would be. I had the last of the sourdough bread to use up, there is always pasta and Parmesan round ours, so all I needed to pick up mid week was a bunch of basil. I have started some in the garden but while summer appears to be in retreat it has stopped growing. Just like pretty much everything else.

Roast Tomato Pasta

The prep for this takes less than ten minutes, it is a really easy quick mid week delight.

500g ripe cherry or plum tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil
300g penne, fusilli or farfarallini pasta
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Preheat the oven to Gas 4/180 C/400F.

Place the tomato halves in a baking tray.
In a small bowl, combine garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese and salt and pepper. Spoon it evenly over the tomatoes and then drizzle with the olive oil.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until the mixture is bubbly, browned and slightly thickened.

While the tomatoes cook bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then cook the pasta till al dente. Drain well.

Add the pasta to the tomatoes (I added the tomatoes to the pasta but you could serve it all in the baking dish). Add the basil and toss to combine.

Dinner is ready!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

I wanted... I bought... I made

We have not much on this weekend, but I already have a sweet smelling canteloupe from the local Portugese bakery and can think of nothing better than some ham and cheese to go with it for a simple Friday dinner. Saturday asparagus lasagne couldn't wait, had to have the roast beef with - simply - chips and watercress for a most divine dinner, Sunday beef made pizza muffins and salad to share with David after a pint at the pub. Monday noodle salad pork and noodles soup, Tuesday steamed pork and eggs omelette with steamed aubergine salad as well as fennel and radish salad for crunch, Wednesday we are off to see John Cooper Clark at Meltdown, Thursday a little tomato pasta. I know I definitely need garlic and coffee, and will go early to get me some bread!

Was at the market by 11 - not bad! Started at Neals Yard and they did still have bread! Bought a lovely white sourdough as well as milk and a couple of tubs of yoghurt - £11.20

Coffee from Monmouth - £11.50

Then to Ginger Pig for a forerib of beef, expensive but a truly remarkable piece of meat. John cut me a thick piece of richly marbled meat and chined the bone for easy carving. A beautiful thing! Also got some chicken carcasses to make more stock - £23

Then to Harriet's organic stall for carrots, potato - one enormous one to go with the beef! cucumber and a couple of heads of garlic - £4.80

From Turnips I bought fennel and breakfast radishes - £3.80

Bought some butter from the french dairy stall, the kind with big flakes of salt in a rich and creamy butter - £2.70

At Chegworth I could not resist the divine scent of the strawberries, 2 punnets for £3

Parma ham from the parma ham and cheese company - £4.90

Tomatoes from the Isle of White, they are very good at the moment - £3.60

Eggs from Wild Beef - £3.40

Tarragon olives from Borough Olives, an old favourite - £2.80

And then, just as I was finishing, the skies turned black and lightning rent the sky. Rain came down like a solid wall, just running across the road for the bus had me drenched. Squelched home having spent £74.70

Went out later to retrieve the umbrella I had very cleverly left the previous day in a cafe in Pimlico and bought watercress from the veg stall there and cheese from Rippon Cheese, a really interesting shop. Also bought peppers and aubergine and a bunch of basil locally.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Cinnamon Wolfe Biscuits

I do love cinnamon. When I was a kid we used to go the local shopping plaza in Sydney, a place called Miranda Fair, built and owned by none other than Westfield, the very same people who have opened in White City and are currently building the largest shopping complex in Europe at Stratford. But I digress. Saturday mornings my father would drive the family to Miranda Fair and we'd be allowed to go off on our own on the condition that we met back at a specified time at the raindrop fountain, a magnificent thing that was fine threads guiding tiny water droplets that ran from the top of the central atrium to an enormous bowl on the ground floor, like a beautiful circular rain storm in the middle of all the shops. I loved wandering about, finding new things, sniffing perfume samples and looking in bookshops trying not to spend my pocket money. That resolve would last perhaps an hour and then there would be the siren call of the donut stand, that lovely smell filling the air. My favourite thing, without doubt, was blowing my hoarded pennies buying hot donuts liberally dipped in cinnamon sugar and wrapped in a napkin to be scoffed fast as possible. At that age, sharing was not my forté.

A variation on the theme, when I was a teenager and allowed to make my own way to the shops on a Saturday morning was to while away an hour in a café drinking bottomless cups of coffee and feasting on cinnamon toast. This was the bread version of those donuts - hot buttered toast generously sprinkled with a mix of cinnamon and granular sugar. Versions of it were made at home on occasions, but it's been a while since I saw such a delight on a menu. Peculiarly Oz thing perhaps.

My baking challenge this week was an easy one after I caught sight of this recipe in the Australian Women's Weekly Bake. All that childish pleasure ripe to be revisited. It is really quick and easy, even the rolling of dough in the coating. I'm pleased to say that cinnamon and sugar tastes as good in the mouth as it does in my mind.

Cinnamon Biscuits
Makes 40-50

Crispy edges with a chewy centre, these are a delightful biscuit with coffee

250g butter, softened
1 tspn vanilla extract
110g light brown sugar
220g caster sugar
2 eggs
410g plain flour
1 tspn bicarb of soda
1/2 tspn ground nutmeg
1 tbspn caster sugar, extra
2 tspns ground cinnamon

Beat the butter, vanilla and both brown and caster sugars in a small bowl with electric mixer until it is light and fluffy - about 7 or 8 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl then stir in the sifted flour, soda and nutmeg in two batches. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or longer.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Combine the extra caster sugar and cinnamon on a small plate. Roll about a tablespoon of dough into a ball then roll the ball in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Place the balls about 7cm/3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake biscuits for about 12 minutes till golden and smelling gorgeous. Cool on trays.

And that's it - easy peasy and a total delight.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I wanted... I bought.... I made

I love great vegetables!

Apologies for intermittent blogging lately, not keeping up as well as I should but have had trips away and folks to stay. Normal service should resume...

Friday we are out and Saturday the lovely Marie is coming to visit with baby Teddy which will be a treat. Planning muffins for lunch, easy and good with salad. Dinner might be pork chops leftover muffins and snacks and bits. Sunday I have a chicken in the freezer that I want to steam then crisp the skin, think it would be good with salads roasted in plain and simple with hot boiled veg that became potato salad for lunches. Monday tofu and greens salad nicoise, Tuesday pork balls, spicy with sweet potato and salad pork chops!, Wednesday dal as I've been reading about it and have a hankering tofu and greens. Thursday omelette and salad risotto with the last of the chicken with spring onions.

Borough was busyish Friday afternoon, very odd to approach and find Flour Power gone, no more famous brownie towers or toast bread for that matter. They were told to go as the trustees claim they have grown too big, but that doesn't seem to apply to Hotel Chocolat's multinational status. The space is now filled by the plant people - largely decorative rather than edible.

Started at Neals Yard to discover they had no bread left. With flour Power usually the first stall you come to, now everyone is round the corner and into Neals Yard, cleared the lot before lunch apparently. The guy serving was just about to increase the order for the next day but not good for me. Pfff.I bought yoghurt, milk and pasta, spent £8.40

Then to Silfield as I have been fancying ham hock recently and I always buy theirs. Glad to see a hock mountain - one for me £3.50 though the guy serving said I could have 2 for £7

To Chegworth for exquisitely scented strawberries and a lovely fresh lettuce - £4.50

Cucumber from Organics - £1.30

Chocolates from L'Artisan - still a totally bargainous £2

Eggs from Wild Beef - gone up 40p a dozen but they are worth it - £3.40 now

Suddenly fancied grilled pork chops, so to Ginger Pig for 2 lovely specimens - £6.50

Wanted olives so was round to Fresh Olive, looking for green ones with tarragon but no joy. Bought green ones with jalapeno and garlic stuffed inside and they are divine. £3.50

Spent just over £33 but had very little veg.

With Booths gone shopping at Borough is a much less satisfying experience, it is such a good fruit and vegetable monger, great range and quality at reasonable prices. Turnips is still trading but they are seriously expensive, and Secretts don't even bother to put prices on their produce. Chegworth have a few little bits of very nice vegetables, Harriet has good organic stuff but a very limited range, and Ted's Veg is only there Saturdays. I've tried our local market at Oval but their veg is not very good, the fruit shop round the corner has good stuff sometimes but is not reliable and they are currently selling carrots from China. Decided this week I'd try the farmers market at Brixton Sunday - bought beautiful watercress, nice looking potatoes that sadly had almost no flavour, some fresh peas that were nice but not more and a cabbage I've yet to try. It's really frustrating after years of great produce. Next I will bite the bullet and shop at Turnips as the alternative is shopping at Maltby Street, which I'd love to do but it is a considerable schlepp, a couple of hours extra at least which is lot every week. But I may do it!

Do read about the current Borough scenario here if you have some time.

Also went to a new cheese shop in Victoria and bought some lovely bits there to top up our snack repertoire and was back to Borough early in the week for more yoghurt and milk as smoothies delight for weekend breakfasts meant we used loads.