Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Sunday – Butterflied Roast leg of Lamb & boulangere potatoes

September 14, 2009

I’m obviously a glutten for punishment (as well as a glutten) so have signed up to do another Open House dinner. The local lamb is so good at the moment I thought I’d put it on my menu and although I’ve cooked it this way many times before I figured having friends over for lunch would be the perfect opportunity for a bit of a refresher. The lovely Bramptons butterflied a leg for me so all I had to do was douse it liberally in garlic & rosemary butter.

Boulangere potatoes as I understand them are basically dauphinoise but using stock instead of cream, although I have read recipes that involved frying the potatoes first but that was some strange american idea. My way is exactly the same as daupinoise but with the addition of some finely sliced onions, plenty of butter & meat stock (homemade from the lamb bones, it makes a fatty stock but in this instance that’s fine) and then baked in the oven for about 40 minutes before cooking the lamb for another 40 minutes or so directly on the rack above them so that the juices from the meat drip into the potatoes.

Served with ratatouille with puy lentils. Went down a treat for lunch so hopefully my dinner guests will enjoy it.


Thursday – salade nicoise

September 14, 2009

Been a bit heavy on the meat this week so felt the need for some salad action, also had green beans that needed eating so nicoise was the obvious choice.  I love nicoise, it reminds me of the long hot summers of my childhood on the riviera when it was my default setting for lunch, often squashed into large white buns, pressed & chilled to make pain bagnat which is without a doubt my favourite sandwich ever.

Lots of crisp leaves,tomatoes, cucumber  onion topped with boiled new potatoes, green beans, hardboiled eggs, olives, capers & flaked canned tuna ( personally, though I loved fresh tuna I don’t think it should be part of a nicoise). Dressed with vinaigrette and on the side, dough balls. In the style of pizza express & using up some more of the pizza dough sitting in the fridge in a ziplock, just rolled up some little balls & chucked them on the pizza stone in the oven  for mere minutes then soaked in garlic & parsley butter and left in a low oven to keep warm & absorb the butter. I very much doubt that’s how pizza express do it but it was a successful experiment as they tasted delicious.

Wednesday – Seven Dials

September 14, 2009

The boy’s birthday so out for dinner. Seven Dials is our neighbourhood fine dining hang out, just a short stagger from home and we’ve always enjoyed meals there, including an afternoon treat one time of rabbit stew whilst perched on a stool in the kitchen talking about Russian beer with chef/proprietor Sam Metcalf,  so it was a safe bet for a quiet birthday dinner a deux. It wasn’t exactly busy but Wednesday night mid credit crunch & that’s not really a surprise & certainly no reflection on the restaurant.

An amuse bouche of white onion soup with truffle oil was delicious and some fine crusty bread & salty butter took the edge off while we tucked into a bottle of well priced Viognier. First courses were smoked pork rillettes with gooseberry compote for the boy and chicken liver parfait & brioche for me. Both were excellent but if I was going to be at all picky then I’d mention that I thought the parfait was a little heavy on the pork liver but that’s just me being difficult!

An intercourse palate cleanser of sorbet & champagne was fabulous, though I probably ruined the effect by going outside for a cigarette.  Main courses were duck & lamb, both cooked perfectly and with plenty of veg.

No room for pudding though the Valhrona chocolate option looked tempting. Just a coffee for me and home for a very reasonable £70 for some really excellent cooking. Can’t recommend the place enough.

Tuesday – pizza

September 14, 2009

Made pizza dough properly for the first time ever. The only time I’ve actually made pizza from scratch including the base was sometime in the early 80’s and it was a Delia Smith recipe from my grandmother’s copy of St Delia’s cookery course (which I still own & reference on a fairly regular basis, can’t beat her all in one sponge recipe), don’t remember the actual pizza recipe but will get the book out & look it up at some point, but do recall it being like a bready quiche filled with ratatouille & not much like any pizza we’d recognise or want to eat now.

Thankfully I am the proud owner of a kitchen aid so thankfully didn’t have to knead the dough, just chuck everything in & let the dough hook take the strain while I made tomato sauce. After the dough had proved I had a lovely big bouncy ball of goo. Then discovered that I’m definitely not a pizza chef, really haven’t got the hang of rolling out a base so that it was round so just went with any old shape, doused in tomato sauce & with assorted toppings, onion spinach & mozarella for me, tomato, spinach, capers & anchovy for the boy. Kinda wonky but tasted great.

Still have dough to use, must practice my rolling technique!

Monday – coq au vin

September 14, 2009

Chicken and red wine, really is there anything more perfect?

Floured & seasoned chicken pieces (good free range chicken), browned in oil with bacon and sliced onion (if I was doing this for a fancy dinner they’d be baby onions or shallots but for a Monday night supper just sliced onions), chuck in some sliced mushrooms & a couple of bay leaves, cover the lot with red wine and just simmer for as long as you’ve got until the chicken’s tender & the sauce has reduced & thickened a bit. Served with green beans & crusty bread; perfect!

Everyone has their favourite way with coq au vin. I like to flambe the chicken & bacon in brandy before adding the wine but didn’t have any so didn’t bother & it really  wasn’t lacking for this. Likewise ideally I’d put in a fresh bouquet garni but my herb basket is looking a bit bare so bay leaves did the job nicely. To be honest so long as the chicken’s good & the wine is drinkable it’s all good.

Saturday – clean out the fridge night

September 6, 2009

Having spent most of Saturday recovering from Friday night and had a diet mainly consisting of coffee & biscotti, there was nothing much in the fridge for dinner, couldn’t be bothered to go to the shop so was a question of making something out of whatever stuff knocking about.

There was some butternut squash leftover from the previous night’s risotto, conveniently already peeled and some curry paste that was begging to be used up so it was definitely curry for dinner. Fried up an onion, added a good dollop of curry paste & the chopped squash and a peeled & choped potato that had definitely seen better days plus a can of coconut milk & another of chickpeas from the larder (larder sounds rather grand, it’s actually some shelves in the small corridor that leads from the kitchen to the bathroom but I have delusions so larder it is), anyway, all in the pan & simmered for 20 minutes or so until the veg is tender & the sauce thickened then served with rice for veggie restorative goodness.

Pudding was some of the vanilla ice cream from Friday with hot chocolate sauce ( plain choc, melted with golden syrup & a dash of milk)

Friday – Strangers for dinner

September 5, 2009

So if strangers are just friends you haven’t yet met, last night I had 4 friends round for dinner but in this case they were friends who paid for the privilege.

As part of the Brighton & Hove Food Festival  and in the style of a secret supper club or the far less cool guilty pleasure Come Dine With Me, keen cooks were invited to open their doors to the town’s foodies and cook for them, or in my case as the woman behind it is an old friend I was just pretty much told I was doing it, so I posted my menu online & people booked,so far so good, no problem. No problem at least as far as the cooking was concerned, I’m confident when it comes to my food & am happy to meet & entertain new people but having strangers in my house is another issue entirely. I share a smallish 1 bedroom flat with the boyfriend, 2 cats about 3000 records, several thousand cds & books plus my robot collection and other assorted junk. We love our house but it’s not designed for formal entertaining (it’s not designed at all really, it just kinda evolved) plus we’re not exactly clean freaks and the thought of random strangers coming to eat & being horrified by the chaos & low(ish) level of filth gave me the fear, on top of which a couple of weeks ago my friend who’s organised the whole thing announced that the local paper was doing a piece on it & she’d arranged for a photographer to come & take pics of me cooking to accompany the article hence followed two weeks of frantic cleaning and the kitchen is now sparkly, the hallway clear of dustballs & the sofa & carpet free of the usual covering of cat hair.

By yesterday afternoon I was fairly confident that no one would be too horrified at the prospect of eating here, I had a mild panic that I didn’t have enough matching wine glasses  but as none of my crockery matches either I decided it would have to just be part of the whole shabby chic affair after all the food’s the important stuff. The menu was:- Salad of figs,lambs lettuce, air dried ham & young goats cheese with a balsamic reduction/ panfried monkfish fillet with butternut squash & aubergine risotto with parmesan crisps, deep fried sage & parsley oil/ a white chocolate & chili blondie & a chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream.

My guests  ( 3 women, Kirsten, Jean & Amanda + 1 man, Andy) arrived at 7.30 and we started off getting to know each other over a bottle of Viognier which I already had on the go before moving onto Cava brought by Jean and the conversation was flowing with the booze so I figured we should start eating before everyone got too comfortable so I got everyone seated at my rather too small table at which point I discovered that Kirsten doesn’t eat meat, a fact the event organiser had neglected to share with me but thankfully she wasn’t too precious about it as I’d prepared the salads in advance and the only option was to pick out the ham from hers, Delicious Italian wine was provided by Ten Green Bottles  who supply wine to such culinary luminaries as The Fat Duck, The River Cafe & Daphne’s, Cantina del Taburno Falanghina for the first course & Baron di Pauli Enosi with the main ( ), first course done I had to quickly deal with the monkfish, the risotto was oven baked & ready to go as were the other accompaniments so it was just a case of quickly pan frying it & then finishing it in the oven for 5 minutes. Plating up was precarious as my kitchen is so tiny & crammed with stuff there’s barely any work surface but I’m an expert at balancing plates on the dish drainer, stools etc so the main was served without event and even seconds of risotto and so to pudding, the ice cream was so well received I couldn’t resist offering a bonus dessert as I recently made chocolate ice cream with white chocolate chips, an accompanying wine would have been nice but we made do with Amanda’s fine bottle of red before moving onto the sofa & coffee & biscotti before calling it a night around 1ish.

Well I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I hope my guests/new friends did too and now I have a clean house I’m thinking I might try & keep it that way & do another night before the festival finishes without stressing about what people might think of our homely little pigsty.  Now what’s left to eat tonight?

Wednesday & Thursday – tortellini & jerk chicken (not together)

September 5, 2009

Been a bit busy, cleaning & prepping for last nights dinner  but still found time to cook & eat Wednesday & Thursday nights,  just didn’t find time to write about it til now. Wednesday night I needed  a quick supper & an antidote to all that beef  and the solution was a packet of ready made spinach & ricotta tortellini  with a sauce made from onions, mushrooms & courgettes fried til they started to caramelise then chucked in some sundried tomato paste (whizzed up in blender as had run out of ready made stuff) lots of lovely parmesan on top  et voila quick easy & tasty. Thursday night took a little more effort. Inspired by a friend’s facebook status the previous day mentioning having jerk chicken in the oven I had a craving that needed to be dealt with so made jerk marinade with thyme, garlic, ginger etc & the obligatory masochistic pleasure that is a scotch bonnet chucked it on some chicken pieces, marinated it for a while in the fridge whilst making biscotti and reducing balsamic for friday night, took biscotti out of the oven, put the chicken in  & turned my attention to accompaniments – fried yellow plantain and buttery spinach & corn. The trick with plantain by the way is to fry it twice, once briefly then lay on a boardunder some greaseproof paper & squish with the bottom of a cup or plate then back in the pan to crisp up with lots of good salt. Final cooking job for the night was to make chocolate brownies for Friday’s dinner  then to bed.


September 1, 2009

I’m totally obsessed with food, I think about it more than anything else so figured it was about time I shared my obsession. I’m going to blog about the food I cook & eat. Not going to bother with breakfast unless it’s a particularly exciting one as it’s usually toast & cereal; fruit if I’m in healthy mode but quite often chocolate or cake or whatever else is around. Likewise lunch, I rarely have a set lunchtime, like most people if I’m working it’s a grabbed sandwich or salad and if I’m at home, pottering about doing housework or baking or whatever then I tend not to think about it and just graze but the same rule applies as for breakfast, if it’s an exciting lunch day I’ll write something but mostly this will be about dinner. I try to cook a proper meal for my partner & myself every night but we have busy lives and sometimes we grab a takeaway plus we eat out fairly regularly so I’ll write about that too. I’m also currently doing a lot of baking, making all sorts of cakes & cookies, sometimes for friends birthdays, sometimes just for the hell of it because I like to eat cake. Also this week I’m having random strangers to my house for dinner as part of Brighton & Hove’s annual food festival for something called Open House Dining

Should be interesting!