Tuesday 28 February 2012

Monday Eggs

I got home lateish on Monday night, so just a quick tea of husband's leftover cabbage and broccoli, enhanced with shiitake mushrooms (delicious - I'm an addict) fried up with garlic and a couple of eggs...

The eggs were free range and decent quality, but I'm afraid that Clarence Court have spoiled me with their delicious Burford Browns and Cotswold Legbars - anything else (other than fun outsized things - think ducks, geese, ostriches - or minis - quails, grouse etc) is, frankly, a little disappointing...

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Saturday 25 February 2012

Green and White

Last night, when I looked in the fridge, I was faced with a big green bunch of curly kale (which I love), a couple of leeks and the inevitable enormous bottle of milk.

So, for my tea I knocked up a quick bechamel and made this kale (with leek and garlic) gratin.

It was good AND because it was just me last night, there are some leftovers for lunch today, too.

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Thursday 23 February 2012

Pre Theatre

We went to see The 39 Steps at the Criterion last night. It was very silly and pretty fun.
In order to deal with the inevitable evening-out hunger pangs, we went for pre-theatre dinner at Little Sicily, just round the corner.
We ate Parma ham and crispy squids to start (we swapped half way).

And then I ate an enormous plate of garlicky, olive oily seafood pasta and husband ate a big fat burger.

The restaurant was cosy and service was friendly and fast (which is really what you need from pre-theatre).
At £14.50 for two courses, the food was pretty good value - it wasn't spectacular, but it was all really pretty good - in particular, the burger was lovely and pink and the pasta was delicious (I very rarely eat pasta, so it is always a kind of treat when I do - I wasn't disappointed).
I'd go again if I was in the area and wanted something quick, comparatively cheap and tasty!
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Wednesday 22 February 2012

Pancakes and Resisting Temptation

Noone in the entire blogosphere today can possibly have missed the fact that it is Shrove Tuesday, or, in common UK parlance, Pancake Day.
I love pancakes AND they are a very clever way of using the milk and getting me closer to my Kermit-based goal.
I'm not going to bore you with recipe/instructions - you all know how pancakes work, so I shall instead just show you this.

Now, nothing good comes without consequences, there's no such thing as a free lunch and other trite sayings, so, in order to be allowed the pancakes etc, I shall, naturally, be testing my will power and giving some things up for Lent.
Those things are listed below - please feel free to offer enforcement/helpful advice/punishments etc until Easter.
1. Sweets
2. Cake
3. Biscuits (sweet and savoury)
4. Chocolate
5. Salty snacks/nuts
and, most importantly
6. Diet Coke.
(I have to go to a wedding in the middle of March and am out for dinner on 4th March - if I have to eat chocolate etc at either of those, then that's allowed in advance - no other exceptions, I think).

I've also just drawn up a lovely new budget spreadsheet to live my life by. I started it last Friday (which was payday) but it also seems like quite a good Lenten resolution.
I obviously hope that it will extend well beyond that and that I will become RICH as a result.

Wish me LUCK!

Ice Cream Day

When I was at primary school, there used to be (and still is, for all I know) an ice cream van that parked outside the gates every day at hometime.

In order to maintain some control over our clamours for ice cream, my parents implemented Friday as Ice Cream Day.
Every Friday, come rain or shine, we would queue up at the van (or, when he wasn't there, I'm guessing in the winter, at the local Poundstretcher), happily deciding what delight we would opt for that week.
Then we'd all walk home, happily munching on oysters, bat and balls (I can't find any pictures of these, but it was basically a scoop of ice cream perched on the end of a carefully selected ice lolly) and, very occasionally, if my parents were feeling particularly permissive, screwballs (usually prohibited, due to the bubblegum hiding at the bottom).

I'm obviously older now, and arguably wiser, but the concept of Friday as ice cream day is pretty firmly embedded into my psyche - I feel very naughty (like I'm on holiday) if I have an ice cream on a non-Friday-day, and still slightly deprived if I don't get one at the end of the week (which is a sadly frequent occurrence nowadays). Some things just stay with you forever, I guess.

Anyway, to honour ice cream day and to join in with all the fun of Kavey's Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream, I made this - rhubarb crumble and custard ice cream.

Now, I know that LOTS of people have made similar ice creams, so this isn't very original, but I had rhubarb to use (and I love it) and husband is very keen on scrunchy bits in ice cream (we did a very successful cranachan ice cream for Burns Night), so, coupled with the custardy theme, it seemed like Fate.

First I roasted some lovely pink forced rhubarb (my friends and followers will know that I have eaten a LOT of this over the last month or so) in the oven with a sprinkling of demerara sugar.

Then I made some vanilla custard.

I (slowly) boiled 500ml milk (more Cravendale - getting there slowly) with 80g golden caster sugar and a split vanilla pod.

And whisked up 6 egg yolks with 45g caster sugar until it was properly fluffy.

I added the boiled milk to the fluffy eggs and whisked in until properly mixed, then stuck it back into the saucepan and heated it until nice and thick (without boiling).

I cooled the custard and rhubarb overnight in the fridge.

In order to get some scrunch, I made a kind of granola - I toasted oats in the oven with some honey, demerara sugar and a wee dribble of vegetable oil. Here it is in a tub, where it waited overnight for the other bits to chill.

The following day, having frozen the bowl of my Kenwood Chef ice cream making attachment for 48 hours or so, I chucked the custard in to churn for about 15 minutes.

When it was almost done, I added the chilled rhubarb (I kept it chunky - I like chunks) and churned again very briefly for a ripple effect.

I chucked a little bit of the granola in and mixed it up, and then spread the rest over the top and stuck it all back in the freezer for a bit to harden up.

Husband was a little bit wary - he thinks that he doesn't like rhubarb, but, in fact, he really loved the ice cream - it was nicely fruity and tart and the scrunchies stayed surprisingly crisp in the ice cream.
I also really quite like the fact that there's no cream in it (actually - it was even semi skimmed milk) - it makes for a less claggy custard and hence ice cream - not what you want always, but nice here.

A success, I think. Long live ice cream day and Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream... I promise to be more imaginative next time!

Monday 20 February 2012

Slightly Boring Monday Food and a Kebab Story

Cabbage and onions/leeks and whatnot.
And eggs, but they're a bit buried.

On Saturday night, we went to see the new Muppet movie at our lovely local cinema (which has a bar, food and Actual Reclining Seats), which was rather splendid and has only served to increase my desire for a Kermit backpack (all tokens welcome - thank you ;-) ).
We followed this up with a trip to Cirrik, which is not only delightful and super good value, but also has the benefit of being very close to where we live.
We ate these tasty salary nibbly bits,

This amazing flatbread - made even more amazing by the fact that they heat it up on the kebab grill, so it's all meat juicy and delicious,

And a mixed grill kebabby thing of deliciousness.

Sunday Gluttony

Lovely Hawksmoor brunch for me yesterday.
Fancy gin cocktail.

Sausages, egg and dripping toast.

And something red, which I don't remember the name of, but which was essentially a delicious gin martini with raspberry.

Much yumminess! I hadn't realised that Hawksmoor did brunch at the weekends - I'm definitely going to be going back.
It was also surprisingly economical - I'd been expecting to spend the usual Hawksmoor Fortune, but it turned out to be much less than anticipated.
I made an attempt to walk off the subsequent fullness by walking back home to Hackney and then to the Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington with husband, during which I managed to both rebuild appetite and also sprain ankle (by tripping over nothing).
Appetite later sated with fishfingers, mash and jerk seasoned baked beans.

Dirty nursery food :-)

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Saturday 18 February 2012

Lemon Cake (or A Recipe for Late Night Baking)

Last night, I asked Twitter what would be a good thing to bake, given the lateness of the hour and my general lack of interesting ingredients...

The delectable (and very clever) Miss Jordi suggested that I should make a lemon cake, so, being very easily led, that was exactly what I did.

So, here we go - Jordi-cake:

Ingredients (this is pretty small - you could easily scale it up).

For the cake:
100g unsalted butter
55g fat free yogurt
155g caster sugar
3 eggs - mine were Cotswold Legbars - yummy, but small.
150g plain flour
1tsp baking powder (obviously you could just use self raising flour instead, but I didn't have any)
a pinch of salt
the zest of two lemons

For the syrup:
the juice of the above two lemons
2tbsps icing sugar

For the icing:
2tbsps fat free yogurt
2tbsps melted white chocolate
a splash of vegetable (or other flavourless) oil
icing sugar (probably about 150g)


For the cake:
Preheat oven to good baking temperature - probably 180 (160 - 170 fan)
Cream together butter, yogurt, lemon zest and caster sugar until pale and fluffy.
If your lemons are the posh kind with the leaves still attached, be super careful not to stab yourself on the spiky spikes and then drip lemon juice into the stab wound. That would be both painful and stupid.
Add the eggs one at a time and beat in - add a little bit of flour if necessary to stop it curdling.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and fold in gently till combined.
Scoop the batter into a prepared baking tin - I used a little flat rectangular one for a slab cake shape and bake for 20 minutes or so, till cooked.

For the syrup:
While the cake is baking, squeeze your lemons - mine were pretty big, so I got lots of juice.
Set aside a couple of tablespoons of the juice to use in the icing.
Add your icing sugar to the remaining juice and mix until dissolved.
This gave me a pretty tart syrup, which is all good with me, but you could easily add more sugar if you preferred something sweeter.
When the cake comes out of the oven, prick it all over with a fork and pour the syrup over it (this is definitely the key to a delicious juicy cake - it works with anything, not just lemon - even just sugar syrup will do).
Leave the cake to cool in the tin.

For the icing:
Melt the chocolate, if you haven't already. I did mine slowly in the microwave. Be careful - white chocolate burns very easily.
Stick all the ingredients in a bowl (including the reserved lemon juice) and whisk furiously.
You may need more or less icing sugar than I did, so add it a bit at a time.
Once you've sugared as much as you like, keep whisking for five to ten minutes (or unit your arm falls off, if you're doing it by hand) until it's fluffy.
When the cake is cool - spoon/spread this over the top.
Turn out of tin and cut into slices.

Voila - cakes!

Aubergine and Cake

Last night, by the time I got home from work, husband had already gone out to play a gig, so it was just me.

I ate a big bowl of aubergine salad.

And made a cake out of things-that-were-in-the-fridge-or-cupboard.
It turned out to be lemon cake. I didn't have much butter, so it has quite a lot of fat free yogurt in it, which sounds a bit horrible, but, in actual fact, makes the cake rather light and fluffy.

I might post the recipe some time if anyone is interested.

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Friday 17 February 2012

See Food/Eat It

Stirfried vegetables with enorma-mussels and a wee bit of bonus grilled squid.

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Wednesday 15 February 2012

Late Love

Husband was too busy last night, so we postponed most (other than aforementioned brownie) of our tacky Valentine dinner to tonight...
We grilled a lobster briefly with garlic and sorrel butter.

And stuck these bad boys (courtesy of Ginger Pig and Hubbub) in a grill pan while tucking into the lobster.

And then ate them with Ottolenghi style cucumber salad.

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Tuesday 14 February 2012

Tuesday Tea

Today we had a tea of things-that-you-have-when-there-aren't-even-any-tinned-tomatoes-but-you're-saving-your-valentine-steak-for-tomorrow-when-there's-a-bit-more-time...

Spicy chickpea stuff (with Chinese cabbage for me and wedges for husband).

Followed by Paul A Young salty caramel chocolate brownie, which was both extreme and delicious.
I'd have to be crazily hungry to eat a whole one on my own, but it was just right for shareage.

And look what my mystery lover sent to my office today!

Noone has ever given me flowers before - am very chuffed (and slightly embarrassed) :-)

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Monday 13 February 2012

Monday Hash

It's a traditional Monday cupboard teatime.
Garlicky mushrooms with tomato sauce and an excess egg yolk "omelette"...

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Sunday 12 February 2012

Sunday Stuffs

I have eaten a Big Lot of Stuffs today.
Among the Stuffs were this amazing kedgeree (I didn't actually eat the whole thing, though I gave it a good go), which was, for me, the glorious highlight of Gin and Crumpets day,

And this "cauliflower cheese" when I got home, containing extra PSB and no cheese at all.

I clearly drank too much gin and fizz though, as, when I got home this evening, I felt moved to make some manky found-in-the-kitchen bananas into this banana chocolate cake while eating the aforementioned cauliflower cheese...
I think there might actually be something wrong with me.

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Saturday 11 February 2012

Hot 'n' Spicy

Something a bit like tom yam, but not really...
With squid and mussels. And using chicken stock (actually the real proper last of the chicken this time).
The supermarket I went to didn't have nam prik pao and I was too lazy (or sensible) to make it myself...
Also - I stupidly answered the phone just after it came to the boil the second time and before I managed to turn it down to simmer, so it ended up a bit cloudy.
Super tasty, I thought, and nicely head clearing, though husband isn't a massive fan of limey, fish saucey things, so I should probably eat on my own in future.

Also, this has properly brought it to my attention that we don't have any soups bowls.
Must remedy this soon!

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Not quite a puttanesca, but not far off... Garlicky, chilli and *anchovied.
With grilled chicken heart and liver (leftover from my endless roast chicken).

*observe the clever use of anchovy as a verb. Proud :-)

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