Month: September 2009

Week 7 at the Market and a Recipe for Blaas

I can’t quite believe I’ve just typed Week 7 at the market, have I really been there 7 weeks? And I am but one day away from week 8. For something that happened organically and was quite unplanned save for the first week, it’s become quite a feature in this life of mine. Less major dramas and stress, there’s a routine in place at last, although I will continue to vary the produce to keep it interesting for me and for you. There was one minor stress last week relating to transport to the market, namely it didn’t arrive, so apologies to anyone that got down there early to discover that I wasn’t there. I felt very bad about that. Onwards and upwards, I’ll ensure that doesn’t happen this week. I normally leave with enough buffer time to handle traffic etc. but if the cab doesn’t turn up, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. What’s that you say? Learn to drive? Buy a car? All in good time, all in good time. The …

Hawksmoor – The Burger

The Hawksmoor Burger. Everyone loves it. Often touted as the best burger in London by the food bloggerati, I had to try it. Fast forward to a Friday lunchtime and a decadent solo lunch. Not everyone loves solo lunches, but I do. Every now and then, there’s nothing nicer than being very nice to yourself, allowing yourself some quiet time. You, a nice meal and a glass of nice wine in nice surroundings. Enter a book that’s grabbed your attention, and for me, that’s a perfect couple of hours. Of course, I also love more gregarious ones, they’re the most fun of all, but life’s about balance and contrast and to appreciate one you need the other. Hawksmoor at lunchtime on Fridays is busy. Very busy. Lots of people, lots of chat, lots of steak on the tables and lots of people drinking wine. I like it. I seat myself at the bar and on the barman’s recommendation (I told him I would be ordering the burger and would like a red wine with body but also some …

Covent Garden Real Food Market Menu – Thursday 24th September

Good morning! No time for photos I am afraid, but there is a menu – I believe that’s called progress! Two vegetarian options today, so come on down vegetarians, we’re not all about the swine. We’ve a leaner cut of pork today, the more decadent and luxurious loin, I thought I would treat you. Great meat again from Yorkshire. I best get my skates on! See you soon. Eat Like a Girl @ Covent Garden Real Food Market Menu – Thursday 24th September 2009 12-7pm- Roast loin of pork sandwiches w/ spiced apple relish in homemade bread £4.50 Potato & Bacon Tart £3/slice Beetroot, Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets £3 (v) Caramelised Onion & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets £3 (v) Pork & Chorizo Sausage Rolls in homemade butter shortcrust pastry£3 ********* Bisol Jeio Prosecco £3.50 Bisol Jeio Rosé Prosecco £3.50 Pear & Elderflower Bellini w/ Bisol Jeio Prosecco £4 (v) = vegetarian

A Little Cookery Course

A friend recently asked if I would consider running a cookery course for his wife’s birthday. She loves food, but doesn’t like to cook so much, and likes the kind of food that I make. I was very flattered but, I’ve not formally done anything like this before so was a little reticent to begin. When I was in university, a flatmate used to follow me around the kitchen with a notebook and pen following my culinary movements. It used to drive me crazy, but we’re still friends :) I worried for this reason, that, perhaps I haven’t the right temperament. A  birthday present is a very big deal after all. I agreed, but insisted that no finances would change hands. I had been asked to do this before but hadn’t explored it due to time constraints. I thought it was worth a try. If it worked well, I’d consider doing it again, and if it didn’t, we’d hopefully at the very least have a nice meal and some good wines. Once we agreed on …

Covent Garden Real Food Market Update: Week 6

At last, a week where everything went smoothIy, I was beginning to lose hope. I was most pleased with my produce for last weeks market. Overnight slow roast shoulder of pork was delectably tender with a gorgeous crispy crackling. I upped the spicing on the apple relish slightly, and enjoyed the extra kick nestling in the unctous pork. I made many blaas, those fluffy Waterford bread rolls, I’m definitely getting that recipe down now. With regard to the rest, the sausage rolls were the most perfect yet, looking uniform and less like distant reformed relatives. The beetroot tartlets ( recipe here) revealed themselves, almost by accident, pretty pink and juicy with a light goat’s cheese blanket. The new addition on the wine front  – Bisol Rose – went down a treat. All perfect so far. Unfortunately, the market was quiet last week. It’s impossible to predict how these things will go. It’s almost safe to say that my level of organisation or otherwise serves as a good barometer for the busyness of the market or …

Fight Hunger. Eat Out. Get Involved.

I’ve learned to say no to anything on Wednesday evenings which may distract me from the all important task of preparing for the food stall at Covent Garden on Thursdays. I stick resolutely to this (almost!), but, last Wednesday was different. I was invited to the launch of Fight Hunger. Eat Out (an Action Against Hunger Campaign) at Konstam (my favourite lunch haunt last year). Restaurants Against Hunger was founded in 1998 – an international movement of restaurant owners, chefs and food writers supporting Action Against Hunger and its goal to end child hunger. I am very interested in this charity, they do great work and I was keen to know more. The sweetener was the fact that one of my favourite singers – Beth Orton – also a supporter of the cause, would be playing a set. How could I not go? Beth Orton The evening started nicely with some fantastic and interesting canapes by Chef patron and Action Against Hunger ambassador Oliver Rowe with Bob & Roberta Smith. These included eggs with carrots replacing the yolks, and …

Beetroot, Tomato & Goat’s Cheese Tartlets with Mint

Every now and then I make something on a whim, expecting it to be nice, and I am pleasantly surprised when it tastes even better and becomes an instant favourite. Enter beetroot, tomato & goat’s cheese tartlets with mint. Last week at the market I was really stretched for time and sadly had no opportunity to make a vegetarian option. This was noted by a number of people, and I felt dreadful as some had come down especially for the tarts that I had made before, so I promised to make it up to them and did this week with tartlets. I don’t have a precise recipe as I was making them in bulk and on the hoof, however, they’re really straightforward. I used little tartlet cases but you could use a bigger tart tin. Line the greased/buttered tart base with homemade butter shortcrust pastry, it really is far superior to shop bought, and is very quick too. I had a fear of it for a long time after my Home Economics teacher, horrified at …

Guilty Pleasures: Part Deux

It’s always fun to be a little naughty, let the hair down, do something different. It doesn’t come much better that indulging in your guilty pleasures. Things you know you shouldn’t have, because they’re not good for you, they’re horribly processed or they’re frowned upon (although that doesn’t bother me, frankly). So, following on from our first Guilty Pleasures Dinner Party, I hosted Part Deux last night. The premise is that all attendess bring a guilty pleasure, some food and others wine/beer. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, what I was most guilty of was being under prepared. I have a stupidly long to do list of things that need to be achieved by the end of this week, and I only started getting organised 10 minutes before the front door bell rang, and my first guest, Helen of Food Stories arrived. I had intended to go to the shop to buy wine glasses, as my flatmate had lovely ones that I used, but she has just moved out and I am left with those tiny …

Raising a glass to Keith Floyd

The culinary landscape has been robbed of one of it’s brightest stars. Keith Floyd died yesterday. At the tender age of 65, Keith Floyd died after a heart attack, having previously suffered a stroke and bowel cancer. I’ve always had an interest in cookery, and Floyd was one of my earliest inspirations. There was no pretence, just passion, knowledge and a natural skill. Gregarious and hilarious, he was brilliantly entertaining. He changed the course of TV cookery and made it an informal and accessible place. He travelled the world seeking out local gorgeous food. And the wine, well, he loved the vin rouge. I’ve been seeking a particular clip to show you, unfortunately I have been unable to find it. In an episode from his series “Floyd on Britain & Ireland”, he visited Cork, a county I am particularly fond of, it’s where my mother is from and where I holidayed as a child and spent my University years, and some years following. Now, Cork has a bit of a reputation. They have a sing-song …

Week 5 at the market – Slow Roast Pork Shoulder Baps

I promised myself that I would be more organised last week, I really did. And I thought that I was. Why then did I run out of time again? Ack, it became so frustrating and exhausting I really started to question if this was worthwhile.  Can I make a go of this realistically? I want to, I really do, but it’s difficult. I have made some progress. I’m now getting my meat delivered, saving me a trip to the butchers. This may not seem like much but it’s a few hours all in all, and this makes an enormous difference. Online farmer’s market Paganum, who I have used in the past, seemed like the perfect solution. I can order those large & heavy cuts of meat, know that they are well sourced (all Yorkshire produce), and Chris will ensure that these are delivered to me on time, saving my wrists, and time. One step forward. Hooray. How then did I find myself lost in Tottenham, on Wednesday afternoon when I should have been in the …

Dine with Dos Hermanos at The Bull & Last

A bit of a photostory for you today. Last night I had the pleasure of attending another wonderful Dine with Dos Hermanos at The Bull & Last in Highgate. It was a great night with really excellent food, and fun company. The theme was Best of British and was fantastically well executed. Favourites (and it’s tough to chose) were a wonderful hand of pork, shoulder of mutton with lentils, steak tartare with quails egg yolk and fried cornish skate cheeks with tartare sauce. It really was all wonderful. There wasn’t a weak dish, and the deep fried calves brains were intriguing, almost like a mozarella fritter, I now know why a brain dish is called head cheese! Starting with the snacks while mingling and drinking martinis, we proceeded to the main course and dessert, which we ate at one enormous table, family style. I was a little worried about this, as my memories of family style usually mean some eat really well and others badly. That was not a worry here, there was so much …

Julie & Julia – in 3 Parts

Warning: contains spoilers There’s been a lot of buzzing and hashtagging of Julie & Julia on twitter of late and I couldn’t help but be intrigued, given I read Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously last year, and read her follow up Cleaving last month. Always keen to engage and align with other food obsessives, I looked forward to reading about her adventures. I hadn’t heard of the book but was browsing a remainder book shop last year and spotted it. The cover roared chick lit but I read the blurb and bought it – the obsessive foodie nature of the project reeled me in. Julie Powell, desperate to escape the quotidian banalities of her job and life, started blogging a behemoth project, cooking her way through the entire of Julia Child’s tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. 536 recipes in 365 days and she had never eaten an egg. It seemed like the kind of overly ambitious, introspective project that I would find myself in. An indulgence, a …

Junior Apprentice and 6 Hour Slow Roast Pork

A title you wouldn’t see very often, or would you? Junior Apprentice branched into cheesemongering this week and were my neighbours at the Covent Garden Real Food Market. It added a little spark to the day, and nosey ole me kept a close eye on proceedings, although I was careful to dodge their camera, having no ambition to appear on any form of The Apprentice, even as an innocent and very nosey bystander. I can’t bear the show. I have been in front of the camera before. I have been on TV before in a starring role on ” A Prayer at Bedtime”. I jest but also it is true, it was a favour to a friend producing them at the time. It was laced with ironies, and every elderly lady in Cork loved me for a time, and that, my friends, was my brief sojourn into TV. This one was quite funny as they seemed to have a mix of the usual characters, some grafters working hard, persuading people to buy cheese, not stopping …

Wikio Listings Preview for September

A quick post from me this morning, as I am recovering from yesterdays market escapades (read: I am absolutely shattered, mentally & physically).  Dan from Wikio asked if I’d like to do a preview of the latest Wikio Gastronomy Top 100 blogs (for September). These are updated monthly and usually revealed via a food blog. It’s something that I am doing tentatively, as these lists are based on links to your blog and not necessarily quality as there’s no human analysis. However, I do agree in the main, as the blogs on this list tend to be my favourites and ones that I read regularly. Of course, all that aside, I am very happy to be included in at number 3. If there’s some blogs on this list that you’re not already aware of, I’d heartily recommend a read. 1 The guardian – word of mouth (=) 2 Food stories (=) 3 Eat like a girl (+2) 4 Hollow legs (=) 5 Gastronomy domine (+30) 6 Spittoonextra (=) 7 Thring for your supper (+10) 8 …