May 9, 2010
This morning, I realised there was no getting away from the fact that, in less than a week, I was moving out of my flat.
Although I’m moving out for all the right reasons, and have an exciting future ahead of me with Suleyman in Istanbul, I’ve found it virtually impossible to motivate myself to start packing up the lovely little flat I’ve lived in for nearly ten years.
In fact, the only thing I’ve successfully managed to pack away is the contents of my freezer – into my stomach! And, in the end, today was not much different.
Last night, I decided that, if I was going to get to grips with the idea of sorting out my stuff, I’d need something to look forward to at the end of the day – and by ‘something’, I of course mean food.
Apart from a number of bags of herbs (which I’m coming to terms with having to chuck at the end of the week), my freezer contents had been reduced to a couple of chicken thighs, some tomato curry sauce made with my little sis’s home-made tikka sauce (more of which later in the week), some frozen peas, and – most tantalisingly – a beef cheek and some of my home-made beef stock, which I made a couple of months ago to use with a venison dish.
The reason for the beef cheek’s residency in my freezer was simply that I’d seen them in The Ginger Pig in Borough Market a couple of weeks ago, had been pleasantly surprised by the price, and thought I’d have a go at cooking them. I’ve eaten pig’s cheeks (or bath chaps, as they are traditionally called), which I’d thoroughly enjoyed, but had never come across the beefy version before.
So, last night, out of the freezer came the beef cheek and the beef stock with the idea of some lovely, unctuous, slow-cooked stew for a Sunday supper, after a hard day’s packing.
In the end, I couldn’t find a recipe using this cut of meat in any of my cookbooks, so turned to the internet – which delivered to me a dish from an Australian magazine called Gourmet Traveller for Spanish beef cheeks. Now, as I have mentioned on many an occasion, the Spanish flavours of paprika and saffron are two of my favourite ingredients, and as this dish included both, I couldn’t resist.
As always, I did a bit of adapting – with no sherry or sherry vinegar in my cupboards, but a glass of red wine and a splash of red wine vinegar to use up, I simply used the latter instead. I also added some shitake mushrooms to the dish, and didn’t bother with the olives. (I used shitakes on the advice of the mushroom man at Borough Market, who said they’d hold up to the strong flavours and slow cooking.) Other than that, I followed the recipe as described.
So, did I get my packing done? Did I hell! But I did have the deliciously beefy, full-flavoured supper I’d planned. I know where my priorities lie…
April 23, 2010
As I talked about in my last post, the aim with my cooking at the moment is to use up all my dry goods, cupboard essentials, and odds and sods. It seems to me that the best way to do that is to have meals that involves several small dishes, preferably in a tapas/mezze stylee. Which suits me down to the ground.
A couple of nights ago, I noticed that the new Jamie Oliver series Jamie Does… was, this week, in Andalucia. So, I picked up a couple of my Spanish cookbooks, and came up with a meal that consisted of lambs’ kidneys with white wine vinegar and paprika (that took care of the kidneys I had in the freezer, plus a bit more of a couple of things in my spice cupboard), spring greens with capers (which finished off a jar of the little green taste-bombs that was in my fridge), and puy lentils with peas and mint (dry goods plus stuff from the freezer).
The latter was a recipe I got from the blog by The Omnivorous Bear, who recently posted about making this dish. She actually made it with mint jelly, but as I didn’t have any, I substituted it with a drop of white wine vinegar, some fresh mint I had stored in the freezer, and a wee teaspoon of soft brown sugar – which are, basically, the ingredients of mint jelly. And, conveniently, took care of a few items I was looking to use up.
So, as I sat down with my supper to watch Mr Oliver cook, eat and drink his way around southern Spain, I didn’t feel too jealous of all the wonderful dishes making their way across my television screen. (Okay, I did…)