A Sunday pig-out

April 17, 2011

Being a predominantly Muslim country, Turkey doesn’t have a great deal of pork available. And I do love my pork. So when I’m back in France or England, I tend to eat a lot of it. After all, there really is nothing like a deliciously spiced saucisson in France, or a plate of crispy bacon in Britain.

My stay in London has been quite long this time, and I realised today that it’s only two weeks until I head back to Istanbul. Which, of course, I’m really excited about – but, what was the first thing I thought when I realised my UK trip was close to an end? Pork!

So, today, when I said I’d cook Sunday lunch for Lene, my London host (landlady?), and her family, I knew exactly what was going to be on the menu.

Lene is as much into her cooking as I am, and has a fine collection of cookery books. Including a lovely set of Elizabeth David classics. Among which I found a recipe for roast pork with fennel – in her book called Italian Food. But, of course, being a bit of a food fiddler, I couldn’t just leave it at that, and decided to add garlic, rosemary and paprika to the rolled shoulder stuffing.

On the side, I kept to the fennel theme, and made a fennel and potato bake.

And for some extra veggie-ness, some simple steamed chantenay carrots and English peas – with plenty of mint and butter, of course.

And for pud? One of my faves – Dan Lepard’s saffron peach cake, with loads of thick whipped cream.

And now the sofa beckons…

Inspect my gadget!

May 1, 2010

I’m a bit of a Luddite when it comes to kitchen equipment. Give me a good sharp knife and a wooden spoon, and I’m happy. However, I have recently been introduced to the delights of the mandolin.

Now, all I previously knew of this gadget is that it regularly slices off the ends of chef’s fingers. But when the nice people at Oxo Good Grips sent me one and I tried it out once or twice, I did wonder what I’d been doing all these years without it.

This one has a very useful wedge-y bit at one end, which hooks over the edge of the bowl you’re slicing into, so it’s super-steady. Plus, my stress levels at using this dangerous kitchen weapon were somewhat reduced by the grip thing that sticks securely to whatever you’re slicing – so your fingers don’t have to go anywhere near that scary-looking blade.

And, most importantly – it’s really fun!

Last night, I used the mandolin to slice some marrow, which I sautéed with mint, lemon zest, pul biber (a Turkish red pepper spice) and lots of garlic.

Once soft and a little browned, I chucked in a grated carrot that needed using up, some leftover roast chicken I’d had in the freezer, plus a handful of parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice. A little salt and pepper was all that was needed to make a delicious, fresh, tangy supper, that conveniently used up some more of my freezer stocks.

For a couple of years now, I’ve been in the habit of taking my lunch into work with me every day. Usually, it’s a fresh salad of some description. But, now I’m making a more determined effort to clear my cupboards, I’m simply making larger quantities of my evening meal, eating the leftovers the next day.

We don’t have a microwave in our office, so the food I take in has to either be eaten raw or taste okay cold. And not all leftovers are very nice cold, so coming up with dishes that work the next day is an added challenge to my culinary skills.

However, tonight’s supper worked in every respect – as a tasty hot meal and as a cold extra to my lunchtime salad tomorrow.

Artichokes are one of my all-time favourite vegetables, but they can be a bit of a hassle to cook fresh if you don’t have a lot of time, not to mention quite pricey. The tinned ones can taste a little briny, but with the right flavour additions, they’re just as delicious as the fresh ones.

So, for a really quick pasta sauce, fry some onion and garlic until soft. Add a drained and rinsed tin of artichokes, some frozen peas, fresh parsley, mint, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, and simmer for just a few minutes until the peas are cooked through. I made the sauce quite dry, so it wouldn’t waterlog my salad the next day, but if you’re just making it to go with pasta, then I’d suggest adding a little water.

So, another day, and another recipe to lower my store-cupboard and freezer stocks…

A taste of Spain

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…)

I’ve been out to eat quite a lot this week, so last night found myself with a relatively full fridge. I thought I’d better try and use as many things as possible in my supper, and, what started out in my mind as a simple meal of omelette, salad and fried potatoes, ended up with a great long list of ingredients worthy of one of Ottolenghi’s finest!

Here’s what I used:

For the omelette: two beaten eggs, spoonful of pul biber/tomato paste, tablespoon of chopped parsley, one grated courgettes, two finely sliced spring onions, olive oil for frying.

For the salad: two tablespoons of frozen peas boiled, half a head of chicory sliced, two or three mint leaves torn up, dressing made with red wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.

For the potatoes: er, potatoes. Useful tip though, I slice a raw potato, boil it until nearly cooked, then fry in an almost dry non-stick frying pan. Much healthier!

Anyway, the upshot of my very tasty supper was that I will no longer moan about recipes that have lots and lots of ingredients and several different cooking methods involved. Because I really can’t talk, can I!