Month: July 2007

All Gods Creatures Macaroni Cheese

  Well, two of them anyway, and I had hoped for three, but was otherwise occupied this weekend so didn’t get to the farmer’s market to buy some buffalo milk. I was instead at the Ben & Jerry’s Summer Sundae in Clapham Common, London, where there was unlimited free ice cream, thankfully, for the first time there was sorbet this year and I didn’t feel as left out as before. It is torture watching your friends gorge themselves when you can’t have any. Well, you can but then have to go home early because you are sick… I learned my lesson two years ago! So, as mentioned in a previous post I have really wanted to make some lactose free macaroni cheese. I spotted a recipe in Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries recently for macaroni with fontina and it looked so good! It’s a great book, if you don’t have it. Styled as a diary, it reminds me of a food blog in print. I really like Nigel Slater’s approach to cooking, as stated on …

Broad bean, leek, bacon & roquefort potato skins

I had a bit of a culinary disaster the other night. I had planned to make a lactose free macaroni cheese and had gone to great pains to get my ingredients. Buffalo milk, goats butter & sheeps cheese, all ready to go. I had planned to make a bechamel and sink the macaroni in it with some manchego & blue cheese throughout and panko breadcrumbs and manchego on top. Alas, it wasn’t to be, my buffalo milk was unpasteurised and was already sour having bought it on Sunday. I was devastated! I had been building up to it for a few days buying my ingredients. So, stranded in my kitchen, with the makings of a bad macaroni cheese and so annoyed I was ready to give up and sulk and watch trash tv with a glass of wine, I reviewed my options. We had had braised sausages and mash the night before and had baked potatoes for the mash in order to get a better texture for our mash. We still had the skins. I …

Parsley & thyme potato salad with homemade mayonnaise

My animal instincts have kicked in, all I seem to want to do is eat high fat foods and go hibernate, I blame this weather! Half the country is flooded and the rest seems to think it’s November. What’s the answer to this misery? Potato salad. Proper homemade potato salad with a homemade mayonnaise packed full of tasty herbs. Mayonnaise is a tricky one. I’ve made it by hand and have had some heart breaking moments when it has split, once in desperation when it had I added the leftover egg white and discovered that it was a rescue remedy (and could be done in the blender!) and so I have this quick mayonnaise recipe, which, while it isn’t a traditional french mayo will fool you into thinking it is with it’s concocted french tones. My aching hand was delighted to dispose of the wooden spoon. I still make the real one when I am feeling purist but I wasn’t this day, I was happy with my speedy compromise and wanted my potato salad and …

Peyton & Byrne, Bake-a-boo & Cupcakes

Peyton & Byrne is a treasure trove of cupcakes and other sweet & savoury delights nestled between Heals & Habitat on Tottenham Court Rd, London. Owned by Oliver Peyton, a Mayo born London based restaurateur, it opened in September 2006 along with Meals in Heals next door. This is not Peyton’s first venture, far from it, he started with nightclubs which he proclaimed a means to an end, dallied with the import/export of Japanese beer & absolut vodka and then moved into restaurants with the opening of the critically acclaimed Atlantic Bar & Grill in Picadilly. Since then he has opened Mash, Isola, the Admirality restaurant at Somerset House, Inn the Park at St James Park, The Wallace Restaurant, Peyton & Byrne, Meals, The National Dining Rooms & finally The National Café. Peyton has always championed the use of quality ingredients and British cooking and this is obvious in his establishments. He is well known as one of the judges on the Great British Menu, a BBC show where top UK & Irish chefs compete …

Butter bean, red lentil & rosemary soup

Another quick lunch was required and I fancied some wholesome soup. I wanted something healthy so lentils and beans sounded good. I had also recently pilfered some rosemary from a friends garden so wanted to put that in. I toyed with the idea of making a chorizo, tomato, red pepper & butter bean soup but I’ve been eating so much chorizo lately that I thought that I should give those poor Spanish pigs a break, they’re probably having nightmares about me. I did use Spanish beans though, the giant Spanish butter beans – Judion de la Granja. These are huge white butter beans, quite creamy in texture. They can be hard to get and pricey so feel free to replace with butter beans, it will still be very nice, I just like using different ingredients and the drama of the large beans. If you do want them El Navarrico do them in jars and you can get them in most Spanish deli’s. You can also get them dry at Brindisa in Borough or Exmouth Market …

Samphire Tabbouleh

Following on from yesterdays post -Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes, I have another samphire post. This one is vegetarian and is based on the salad recipe from yesterdays post. I was looking at the 100g of samphire that I had left and wondering what I could do with it that would be tasty and suitable for lunch the next day. A quick fumble in the cupboard revealed a forgotten bag of organic bulgur. Bulgur is very healthy, it’s more nutritious than rice or cous cous so I always have a bag to hand next to the quinoa. There’s lots of forgotten random bits in my cupboards, it’s like a bunker in there! I have promised myself that I will empty them over the coming months and base my recipes on what’s in there so it should be interesting. For the samphire, I decided on a chunky samphire tabbouleh. I love tabbouleh, it’s so light and fragrant but can take really robust flavours. I decided that I …

Wild salmon with samphire, broad bean & tomato salad and crisp sauté new potatoes

Samphire is the ingredient of the moment. It’s on TV (e.g. Great British Menu), in the newspaper food sections (Independent last week, Guardian last month) and on the web (Clotilde at Chocolate & Zucchini for example). Samphire has many names, sea asparagus, sea beans & salicornia. There are two types of samphire – Marsh Samphire & Rock Samphire, the one you’ve been seeing everywhere is marsh samphire, found growing in the tidal zone and found all along the coast. The Norfolk coastline is particularly rich in it. You can buy it from most fishmongers and farmer’s markets. It’s not cheap, mine cost £1.50 per 100g, 100g works out at approximately a handful so I bought a couple. If you’re having it on it’s own with fish you’ll need about 100g-150g a person, maybe a bit more. I first had samphire two years ago when we went to the Salusbury Pub & Dining Room in Queens Park for my birthday. It was served with sea bream and roast potatoes and was absolutely delicious. I have been …

Chargrilled peach & speck salad

This is a spectacular summer salad devised by Yotam Ottolenghi of Ottolenghi’s in London and published in the Summer BBQ series in the Guardian on Saturdays. I had wanted to make it since it was published (2 weeks ago?) but I didn’t have the orange blossom water required nor had I the time to go source it. I spotted it on a trip to Borough Market on Saturday and with that purchase was all set. I went to the farmers market in Queen’s Park on Sunday to get the leaves but the leaves specified in the recipe weren’t available so I bought mizuna & mustard leaves instead of baby chard, endives & watercress. These worked really well and I think, really, you could use rocket, it would counter the sweetness of the peach nicely and is readily available. Speck is a meat that I only discovered 4 years ago when I started working in the Kings Cross area and started shopping in the italian deli, KC Continental Stores on Caledonian Rd. It’s a dry-cured smoked …

Leek & Chanterelle Frittata

My lovely local Italian deli had more chanterelles and I couldn’t leave them there. They’re like a little golden treasure and with their subtle flavour are delicious. I was tempted to make the tagliatelle again but we’ve been eating alot of pasta lately. One thing we haven’t had for an age is a Frittata, so I decided on one of those. So, where from here? A frittata is an Italian omelette with fillings. These vary and unlike the Spanish Omelette, you can really put anything you like in there. A brunch favourite of mine, I often make a leek and mushroom omelette so I thought that I would replicate it with the chanterelles. The leek is very sweet and the chanterelles very delicate so it works well with a bold flavour like rocket on the side. Often frittata recipes have milk in but as I’m lactose intolerant I don’t bother. If you’re not please feel free to add a few tablespoons of milk to the egg. Sometimes there’s cheese on top but I didn’t want …

Foodie links

This is kind of a follow on to my food blog digest last week, except, it’s more inclusive. It’s more about interesting food things I’ve spotted on the web this week as opposed to a blog post about food blogs. Stuff on the web: If you live in London and are into Chinese food there’s an interesting article posted on DIM SUM (the Chinese community website) on where Chinese people eat in London. Royal China does fantastic dim sum, they’ve a few locations now but the most popular seems to be in Bayswater. Angeles (see last blog post) makes the cut too. Chowhound have posted a topic about Goat Butter which is quite interesting. It’s very easy to get in the UK but I have never developed a taste for it (despite being lactose intolerant). St Helens Farm do sell goats cream (available in Waitrose). I love the subtle goaty flavour and would recommend trying. The BBC food site have a Bastille Day Menu. Food Blog Bits: I bought alot of fruit at the farmers …

Angeles – Spicy Sichuan in Kilburn

And I mean spicy. REALLY spicy. So spicy that, at one point in the meal when I accidentally inhaled a chilli that had been idling on my prawn, I got an intense coughing fit, followed by streaming tears (which I swear were spicy too – they burned!) and temporarily acquired a breaking voice not unlike your average pubescent boy. But it was good! And I went back for more, ate loads more chillis and peppers and cried a little bit but left Angeles proclaiming – that was good! I’ll go back there again! Angeles is in Kilburn, London, on the Kilburn High Rd to be specific. I have walked past it almost daily for the last 3 years but I’d never been. It doesn’t look that enticing from the outside, there’s a buffet on display with lots of pre-cooked food sitting under seemingly endless rows of nightlights which is very popular but not my thing so I’ve avoided it. Recently, however, I have heard & read some good things about Angeles. The clientele is primarily …

Prawn Laksa – an interpretation

Laksa is food for the soul. It’s delicious – spicy and fragrant and packed full of goodness. I always feel so good after eating it! It’s messy, it’s true, but I think that adds to the value. Although, I did have to suffer through an afternoon at work recently with laksa all over my top having treated myself to one for lunch. My lunch partner, who shall remain nameless, was also drenched in laksa. I think we pulled it off. Looked like it should have been there! Erm, maybe not. There are several types of laksa originating from Malaysia and Singapore. It’s essentially a spicy noodle soup, usually containing seafood, sometimes chicken. It’s hugely popular in Sydney which is where I came across it. There are many types, the ones I normally make (and haven’t blogged yet) are penang & singapore laksas – I’ll blog these soon. This one is a little different, fruity with the addition of tomatoes with a lovely sourness provided by the tamarind. Laksa recipes seem fiddly and time consuming but …

Courgette & Sweetcorn Soup

I haven’t been feeling very well recently so haven’t been cooking. Today I started again with something very gentle, almost medicinal, a really tasty courgette and sweetcorn soup. Both main ingredients are reasonably delicate and result in quite a creamy soup which is a pleasure to eat and perfect for tender tums. It’s also seasonal so the ingredients are at their best having grown naturally. I have a really lovely book which I have had for over 10 years and which has travelled with me from Ireland to London and through my many house moves since – The Kitchen Pharmacy by Rose Eliott & Carlo de Pauli. Both authors have great credentials, Rose Eliot is a renowned vegetarian food writer and Carol de Pauli is the Principal of the Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine & Aromatherapy and the Director of the British and European Osteopathic Association. Their book associates specific foods with ailments and offers recipes for these which if nothing else provide comfort. You are what you eat, a cliché but so true. For …

Homemade Pesto

I love pesto. The first time I tasted it, my young irish palette was taken by surprise. I had never had such a flavour combination and wasn’t sure what to make of it. I grew to love it and it’s been a firm favourite ever since. I’ve read that there’s no pesto that can compare with Genovese Pesto in Liguria, that the basil grown in the slightly alkaline soil of the Genovese district of Pra is the best. I really need to go to try this out but for the moment I have to make do with what’s available to me in London. It’s been a while since I made homemade pesto so I thought I’d make some last weekend. It’s always good to have some to hand and homemade pesto is infinitely superior to that bought in a jar. If you look at the ingredients in some shop bought pestos they often replace pine nuts with cashew nuts, replace parmesan with random cheese and the oil is low grade. There’s also usually a myriad …

Food blog digest

It’s time to do something other than cook, write & photograph obssessively. So, I thought, why not digest other blogs for eat like a girl’s readers degustation? Reading food blogs/sites is another form of sensory indulgence & a very pleasant one. It’s also quite passive and perfect for lazy days like today! There are many, many food blogs out there. Most of them are excellent. Some are very well established – e.g. 101 Cookbooks, La Tartine Gourmande, Chocolate & Zucchini, Chez Pim… and on and on. I am intensely jealous of all of these bloggers! They are all extremely talented and are absolutely fantastic at what they do. There are so many of them, too many to write about right now, so, I’ll start with some of the ones that inspired me to get going.

Chorizo, Rocket & New Potato Hash with a fried egg

Hash is one fo my favourite things to eat. It’s a popular dish in the US and is said to have originated from Ireland, travelling to the US with the migrants around the time of the great Irish Famine in the 19th century, particularly to Boston where hash houses became commonplace. It’s particularly associated with Cork where it was a principal export in the 17th & 18th centuries. All that history stuff aside, it’s a dish I grew up with, well, without the corn beef as I wouldn’t touch the stuff as a child. Hash to me is leftover potatoes fried with whatever’s in the fridge, whether that’s sausages, peppers, beef – whatever you have, it’s leftovers. Left over potatoes always taste amazing the next day, especially when fried. I just love them! They’re great for weekend brunches or quick dinners. I grew up in quite a rural part of Ireland surrounded by farm land. The predominant crops were potatoes, cabbage and sugar beet. We loved when potatoes were in season. It was before baby …

Rice paper rolls

Or, for me, they’re pretend it’s summer rolls. It’s Saturday and I am sitting in my flat looking at the pouring rain. I can’t bring myself to go outside, it’s too grim. I need to make something to lift my spirits that doesn’t require leaving the house. Something vietnamese would be nice, it’s been a while since I’ve made any vietnamese food and it reminds me of a lovely holiday I spent in Sydney last year with two old friends. A quick stocktake reveals rice paper, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, chillis, a green pepper, a very big avocado and some fresh herbs. So, vietnamese rice paper rolls it is. Or a twist on them at least. These look really tricky, but really they’re very simple. Rolling them is a little fiddly and you may lose the first couple through practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about! I usually make these with prawns. They’re perfect for lunch and great for a light evening snack. I don’t …