05 September 2008

Cookbook of the week - Week In Week Out by Simon Hopkinson

This is a work in progress
On Monday, we will do Mushrooms Armenienes and Lamb's Kidneys and Tiramesu

Cookbook of the week - Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

Okay, this is the cook book of the week-before-last because I failed to write it up at the time.

We made:
Chick pea, feta and coriander salad, accompanied by marinated grilled chicken
Pineapple, cinamon & allspice cake
Deep-fried salt cod with Skordalia
Red-pepper soup with olives and lemon rind
Pork fillet in pastry with wild mushrooms (heavily adapted)

The chick pea salad was well worth doing again, and really quite low hassle. I made it in a bit too much of a hurry, with chickpeas which were a year or three out of date, so they were still a little crunchy, but it wasn't the recipe's fault. As she suggests, I marinated some chicken (thighs) in vast amounts of cumin with yoghurt, and then grilled them. If you cooked the chickpeas the night before, this would be a doddle.

Hungerpang made the Pineapple cake, which was a triumph. I will try to see if he took a photo. The only problem with it was that it was so beautifully moist that we should have kept it in the fridge, and we had to throw the last half of it away. The mould culture on the top was too much even for us.

Deep-fried salt cod
Ages ago, I bought some dried salt ling from the Argentinian stall at Borough Market. I'm always looking for Bacalhao (Portuguese dried salt cod) and thought it would make an appropriate substitute. As instructed in the recipe, I soaked it for 2 whole days, changing the water regularly, but it didn't seem to re-hydrate much. I couldn't extract any of the pin-bones from it, for instance. After deep-frying, it puffed up nicely, much more fish-like, but still very chewy. We ate it with the fantastic Skordalia

This recipe really appealed because she says you need to be "in the mood for garlic". It involves boiling potatoes in vegetable stock, then mashing them with pureed garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice. It's really really lovely stuff.

Red pepper soup looks gorgeous, but the end result wasn't nearly as intense as the lovely one we ruined by turning it into a jelly. I would use the recipe from A Celebration of Soup next time instead.

Pork "Wellington"
This was very strange. Can Tessa Kiros really get pastry to work with equal quantities of butter and flour? I wasn't willing to risk it, and made a normal shortcrust. Then the deviations really started. I hadn't really read the recipe before I bought all the ingredients, and I couldn't face turning nearly 10-quid's worth of wild mushrooms from Booth's into a couple of tablespoons of cream sauce. I'd assumed it would be like other meat-in-pastry recipes, with the mushrooms, herbs inside the pastry. So that's what I did, with a bit of homemade chicken liver pate added in for good measure. It was very successful, but the book was only really inspiration.

25 August 2008

The best scotch egg?

There's a small shop between Heal's and Habitat on Tottenham Court Road, called Peyton and Byrne. It sold us a scotch egg for £1.50 (surely cheaper than the Ginger Pig, if not than anywhere else) which was nigh on perfect. Not too much meat, but of top quality and seasoning, and very cripsly fried. A man walking down the street approached, and asked us if it was hot, its star quality apparent from several feet away. He was later seen clutching one himself.

24 August 2008

10th Wedding Anniversary Dinner - the menu

Ceri & Thomas, Ben & Kathryn, Annabel and Allyn, this is what we ate, and drank, on Saturday night
Gruyere choux puffs (adapted from Gougere in Delia's Cookery Course 3)
Champagne Pannier brut

Parsley soup (Skye Gyngell), granary rolls
Soave Monte Fiorentino Ca'Rugate 2007

Peppers Piedmontese (Skye Gyngell)

Rotolo Ripieno (Truly Madly Pasta - Ursula Ferrigno) - This is the thing I had to make the fresh pasta for.
Dolcetto d'Alba Ca'Viola Vilot 2005

Red Mullet Salad with Lime and Ginger (Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries)
Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett Dr R Thanisch 2004

Indian Carrot Salad with crispy lamb (Jamie at Home)

Summer berry sorbet (Nigel Slater's Real Food) and Tuiles Amandines (Sainbury's Biscuits and Bakes)
Silverlake late harvest Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State 2005

20 August 2008

A first attempt at making fresh egg pasta

New silicone rolling pin in hand, I have been trying to make my own fresh pasta. Following Ursula Ferrigno's recipe in Truly Madly Pasta, I had first to find somewhere to sell me some semolina flour. This appeared to be only available in a 5kg sack, the shopkeeper assuring me it was completely unnecessary to use it and that his mother never bothered with it.
Then, my brain didn't kick into warning mode at the instruction to make a well in the centre of the flour and put 7 eggs in it. By the time the 7th egg went in the structure was leaking all over, and the mixing became a made dash to stop raw egg from escaping over the edge of the board. Proper mud pies, and nothing like the delicate one-handed operation shown in the pictures!

I then tried to follow Marcella Hazan's instructions on how to roll and stretch your own pasta. This is tremendously complex, requiring a different sort of rolling pin and a large table, neither of which I had. It goes through 3 different stages of rolling and stretching. I thought I'd done quite well, until we tried cooking it. Everything became much thicker, and only the paper-thin-about-to-tear parts came out seeming normal. It took much longer to cook than I expected, and didn't show any signs of over-cooking after 8 minutes in the water.

It was quite pleasant eating, but still definitely in the "experimental" category, rather than the successful one.

13 September 2007

Bacon, Chicory and blue cheese risotto with Fiano d'Avellino

Tried a standard risotto of mine last night, with the addition of some chopped chicory just before the rice. It came out beautifully. We then matched with a (white) Fiano d'Avellino dei Feudi Di SanGregorio, which stood up to the powerful flavours very well. Much more full-bodied than we expected, but very well balanced, fruity and delicious.

Armenian Beorijch

Cooked this black-eyed bean and tomato stew, with lots of mixed nuts in. Nice, but missing something. Like meat or fish.

07 August 2007


It's been a while, but we haven't stopped eating. Had a good meal recently at the much-lauded Magdalen, near Tower Bridge. It was perhaps a bit too poncey for our friends: why do restaurants make it so unpleasant for people who like their meat well done? There were a few service niggles, but, when reported, these were handled with superb professionalism. The starters were apetising - just the thing to make you want to more. Rupert and I shared a large suet-crusted veal and leek pie, served with carrots. It was marvellous. The veal was described as rose, in this case meaning just short of red, rather than a delicate pink. Of the desserts, all good, I was most impressed with my peach melba. Not radical, but very unusual to get this made with fresh peaches and other top quality ingredients. We'll be back.

04 May 2007

Royal China Canary Riverside, again

This is a very usual place for us to stop and eat supper on the way home. Earlier this week, it was beautifully sunny, even for the end of April. We sat outside and had duck pancakes, green veg with oyster sauce, slow-cooked pork belly with perserved veg, and noodles and beansprouts. Nothing special. A bottle of house wine at £20 (yikes) which was okay. Still a lovely place to eat and a special experience. What a view!