Month: August 2009

Spiced duck legs with pancetta & coriander potatoes

I do like spice, especially when it’s on some crisped skin. Chicken, pork crackling, duck… the fat on skin lends itself wonderfully to spicing, adding some flavour, and, should you choose it, heat, to the crispy skin with the unctous fat underneath. Swoon. Last night I found myself at a loose end, mentally at least. Nothing agreed with me. What  to do? Out, in? In, out? I wanted to go out but I didn’t want to leave the house. I was tired but I was restless. I decided to stay in. I wanted wine, but I didn’t have any. I didn’t want to go out to get any. I had a half bottle of fino. Not quite the sleepy red that I had in mind but I do love fino, so that will do. What to eat? I had duck legs and pork belly in the fridge. I couldn’t decide and I wanted both. So both it was. Until I realised that it was 10.30pm and the pork belly still wasn’t in the oven, plus …

The art of the tart and making an impression

Another week has gone by, and we’ve spent another Thursday at the market. This week started with a bang with me spectacularly locking myself out of my house whilst signing for some post. I wasn’t even wearing shoes, just a dress, whose hemline was too north of the knee, to feel anything but freezing and ill prepared for the situation. I have a tricky relationship with my postman at best. He has told me off for “neglecting” my post. I explained I work(ed) for a living. Sheesh. So, you can imagine how we both felt when the door slammed behind me with me standing in my porch with nothing on my feet, bare legs, no phone, no keys, no wallet, and I don’t know anyone’s number. No neighbours were in, I was well and truly stuck. Even if they were in, I am much shorter than the fences at either side of my garden. The postman, now transitioned from sworn enemy to personal hero, persuaded an elderly Caribbean neighbour two doors down of the severity …

A Lille Adventure

There’s a few perks to this little sideline of mine. We get invited to lots of things, we get sent things, or at least people offer to send us things. Some are crazy (surgical instruments anyone?) but sometimes we get invited to great events, nice restaurants and receive some products that I would actually like to try and would buy normally. I only ever write about them if they’re of interest. Otherwise, what’s the point? This brings me nicely to last Saturday, a gorgeous sunny day which I spent in Lille in Northern France, in the company of fellow food bloggers, exploring the culinary landscape, courtesy of Eurostar, who, via the medium of our friend the internet, are raising awareness of their Little Breaks. I know that the Eurostar can bring me to France in less than a couple of hours, but it never occurred to me to do a day trip as it always seemed too far away. Crazy, when as a Londoner I will cheerfully sojourn 2 hours South for a couple of …

Chorizo, tomato, cannellini bean & coriander brunch

I’m all about the brunch at weekends, and at the moment as I am not working during the week, I am all about the brunch all the time. It’s got to stop, my waistline is not so forgiving of my brunch whims, but what’s one week of indulgence? 2 inches you say? A recent trip to Brindisa means I have lots of their gorgeous cooking chorizo. I like the hot one, and this is the one I have today. A recent trip to Celia Brooks Brown‘s allotment affords me some really delicious and juicy tomatoes, which diced and fried with the chorizo, create the most wonderful sauce. I had a pot of home cooked cannelini beans, soaked overnight and boiled for just over an hour, scooping the white scum from the top as soon as it gets to the boil. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, home soaked and cooked beans are infinitely superior to tinned ones. They have a firmer texture and don’t have the oversweet flavour that most tinned beans have. …

And to market! Today’s menu

Greetings from my kitchen! Once again, a late night, followed by a very early morning, making and baking. I want everything to be as fresh as possible and if that means I suffer in the sleep stakes, well, so be it. We’ve broadened our offering today, and have a veggie alternative for those that don’t eat salmon, or who just want something different. Savoury rolls with a light pastry, filled with roast pumpkin, spinach, chilli and chevre (dellicious goat’s cheese). Frank Hederman smoked salmon with cucumber pickle on homemade brown soda bread will also be on offer as last time, only today you can up the ante and get cream cheese with it too. There will be jars of pickle to take home, as there were many enquiries as to why not last time. Last but not least by any means, we’ll also be selling the wonderful Bisol Jeio prosecco by the glass. I’ll try and drink less of it this time but I can’t promise anything. So, back I go to the soda bread, …

Keep Calm & Carry On

Holidays! I love them but I don’t seem to know how to take one. Which for someone with a penchant for laziness as me, is a bit of a surprise, I expect a guffaw or two should any of my family read this! How else could I explain getting up at 6.30am and going to New Covent Garden Market in SOUTH LONDON for lots of cheese, followed swiftly by a trip up river to London Bridge to a jar factory? A jar factory?! Madness? Sleep deprivation gone so horribly wrong things are out of control? I am getting up early on my flipping holiday! EH? Those that are worried (and I know you are) can relax, although not for long as I suspect more sleep deprivation lies ahead. Denise and I are once again doing the Real Food Market at Covent Garden. We had so much fun last time, and I am not working, so why not? This week expect some more wonderful Frank Hederman smoked salmon on soda bread with some other home made …

Sunday Brunch

I love a good brunch, nay, I adore it. Lazing and grazing are the key ingredients for my perfect weekend morning. The local newsagent opens at 9am, and I am usually there shortly after, purchasing the paper and any other accoutrements required for a successful weekend brunch. I have to have good coffee, I get very upset if I run out. The last time this happened, I found myself rushing to Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden, buying an extremely large bag of ground coffee, for fear it should happen again. Good eggs are also important, and these my local shop does not stock, so I try to keep a surplus of Burford Browns for this pleasure. Often, I like to include the wonderful but humble potato. Like much other things my weekend mornings are routine. The first step, following such an exertion as a trip outdoors early on a weekend morning, is to head back to bed with a cup of fresh coffee, black with a little sugar, and the paper. First stop, the food …

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall: the recipes

And… drumroll! Now for the recipes. I was really excited by how many people really enjoyed the brown soda bread and cucumber pickle. I was a little nervous about how they would be received, and at 6am, sleep deprived and coffee’d up, I had a thought: what if people hate it?! Thankfully no one seemed to, in fact lots of people wanted the pickle and bread to take home, so if I do it again folks, I’ll make sure that I jar some and make some extra bread (if that’s possible!). As I said in my previous post, both of these recipes are very straight forward but with excellent results, it’s virtually impossible to mess these up. Depending on your taste you may want to alter the sugar/vinegar ratio in the pickle, I prefer it to be a little on the tart side. Both recipes are adaptations of Ballymaloe recipes. The original Ballymaloe soda bread calls for buttermilk, however, that’s not terribly easy to find in the UK, and when available it’s expensive. I substitute …

Covent Garden Real Food Market: the groundwork

There’s been time to digest (literally) and to kick back and have a glass of prosecco or two and to think about our stall at the Covent Garden Real Food Market last week. It was a lot of work, but more importantly it was a lot of fun, and a real pleasure to be involved and meet so many lovely and interesting people. When I was first approached about this earlier this year, I was really keen and full of ideas. Working as I do as a contractor in New Media, there is some flexibility in my job, and I thought I might be free at that point and might have all the time in the world to think, organise and prepare. To come up with some dishes, new and old favourites. I had to do it. I could only commit to doing it once realistically, as at that stage, caught in the middle of a recession as the rest of the world was (for it is not only about I!), I just didn’t know …

Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall: Roundup Part 1

Our day at Covent Garden Market last week was so much fun! The other stall holders were friendly and welcoming, and we met some lovely people throughout the day.  It was worth the holiday day, and worth all the trekking. I’ll leave you with a quick roundup and some photos now, and will come back to tell the story properly soon. I will also share the soda bread and cucumber pickle recipe as promised. I learned a few things last week. Slicing 10 cucumbers by hand is a tedious task. Buy a food processor! 5.30am is very early, especially when you go to bed post pickling and slightly pickled at 1.30am. Don’t sandwich packets of butter between piping hot bread straight from the oven. Should you do this and carry it in a bag on your shoulder, it will leak on your shoes. And on the tube floor. And you may get startled by the sight of the yellow blood on your legs and let loose an expletive in front of some shocked elderly men. …

Covent Garden Market Stall – almost there!

And… breathe! Tomorrow is d-day for our Covent Garden Market Stall, sharing with you Londoners the wonder that is Bisol prosecco and Frank Hederman smoked salmon. Both are fantastic products and we’ll be selling them at really fair prices, so that you can try them and judge for yourself. I’ll be making cucumber pickle into the wee hours after work tonight and up at 5am tomorrow baking soda bread (and maybe soda scones?). On Frank’s recommendation I will also be serving the salmon with red onion and capers as they are a good match. Setting up this stall has been no small feat but it has been a great experience. I loved calling around to Frank’s smokery in Belvelly, Cork. If he could bottle that smell he could retire. Such an interesting man too, a true artisan with loads of information to share. My mother proclaimed en route that she wouldn’t be eating smoked salmon as she couldn’t bear it, yet when Frank offered, and she reticently accepted (based on the smell alone), I caught …