Monday, June 30, 2008

And This Week...I Bought

Rolling up first thing on Saturday Borough was very very quiet - seemed like almost no one was there at all. Loved it! But I did wonder if it's the credit crunch starting to bite - people baulking at the cost. Which is a shame if that is the case - if you shop carefully you can shop well at the market and still end up spending less than you would at the supermarket. With the added bonus of eating much better food. Be interesting to see how it pans out.

We started at Ginger Pig where I bought a big piece of rolled pork shoulder for Sunday roast and packed lunches and some bacon for a quiche Friday night - £15.50

Then to Booths where everything this week looked fresh for new potatoes hot Sunday then cold in salad for lunches, butternut squash roasted, asparagus made a slightly unsuccessful chinese style salad to go with burgers Monday night, zucchinis with Sunday roast and the rest with pasta and peas Wednesday night, cucumber, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes salads, particularly nicoise Tuesday night, spring onions fresh mint chutney with salmon Saturday night, bananas and garlic - £9.60

Some pale organic salmon fillets spice crusted Saturday night from Furness - £7.40

Eggs quiche and mince burgers from Lizzie at Wild Beef - where I got 3 packs for the price of two in the freezer because she had a lot to sell and decided that her regulars who buy two packs could have one free rather than waiting till the end of the day and selling it cheap to strangers - £10 - bargain!

Olives from Taste of Turkey - £2.90

Olive oil in a four litre tin from Apulia Blend - the first time I have bought general oil from them though I have once or twice bought small bottles of very 'posh' oil for special things - £16.50

Napoli salami Saturday sarni from Gastronomica - £2

Bread and milk and yoghurt from Neals Yard - £12.70

Scotch egg brunch from Ginger Pig - £3

Bread and brownie from Flour Power - £3

A not bad total of £82.60

This time last year we were mostly eating cauliflower cheese and pasta with broccoli and pine nuts

Monday, June 23, 2008

Herbed Cabbage and Potato Bake

Last week the Guardian's food blog had a piece about potatoes - as in young people no longer eat them apparently. They all prefer pasta and rice. Fools! Given the massive response I suspect there's something dodgy in the data - hundreds of people posted to tell of their favourite dishes and lovingly described memories of fine potato dishes eaten in places all round the world. Though some people did say they don't buy potatoes because they are too heavy to carry home - takes all sorts.

One of the many posts was from bmurphy with the exhortation to 'try this people'. What followed was an outline of how to cook cabbage and potatoes together then top with a creamy cheese mix and bake till golden. Couldn't resist the challenge.
It is everything I hoped for - utterly luscious and decadent and very easy to make. It strikes me too that it is also very english as a dish - fresh cabbage, new potatoes, thyme, butter, cream. The only change I made was to use cheddar rather than gruyere. I didn't add any pancetta or chorizo - though they would make fabulous additions - so I wanted to add a little more flavour with the topping.

Herbed Cabbage & Potato Bake

Melt 4 tbspns olive oil and 25g of butter in large pan.

Add one large thinly sliced onion and half a cabbage (white or green, or savoy it doesn't matter), very thinly sliced. Cook on a low heat until nice and soft;

Meanwhile thinly slice some nice waxy potatoes (no need to peel, just wash) - about 1 to 1.5 kilos - and then add to onions and cabbage; stir well till all is coated with deliciously oily and buttery stuff, turn to low gas, cover and cook for about 10 minutes;

Add the leaves from a large bunch of thyme, together with 200g or so of diced pancetta (you could use chorizo or something else salty and fatty and made from pigs, or omit if you're a veggie).

Meanwhile mix 284ml/ 1/2 pint double cream (or creme fraiche), and 100g grated cheddar and beat in an egg to make a lovely thick topping. Transfer the potato mixture to an oven dish, top with the creamy, cheesy stuff and bake for about 20 minutes.

Believe me friends, this is the best - eat it with a couple of poached eggs (runny). Even better eat the left-overs cold for breakfast next morning.

bmurphy tells no lies - this was wonderful. I've added in the quantities I used but the outline is just as described in the guardian. All you need is a little salad.

And This Week...I Bought

Cold, grey and windy Saturday had none of the joys necessary to start summer with a bang. Oh well. The market was busyish but not excessively so - things could have been worse.

Started at Ginger Pig for diced beef for a spectacularly good red cooked beef with noodles and greens Monday night with the other half in the frezzer for another day, unsmoked bacon and eggs -I made quiche! and it was delightful - £14.40

Then to Booths, where some of the veg - particularly the potatoes - didn't look entirely fab so we bought sugarsnaps, bananas, cucumber, lettuce, red pepper various salads, spring onions, precooked beetroots, thyme, chicory - £7.80 the lot

Got potatoes - some lovely Lincolnshire new ones and made a baked potato and cabbage pie topped with cheese Sunday night and cold for lunch next day - and fresh beetroot from Ted's Veg - £2.80

Tomatoes - baby plums some in lunches and the rest roasted and then in lunches - from the Isle of Wight - £3.50

Chocolates - £2

Coffee from Monmouth - £8.50

Strawberries and apples from Chegworth - £4.20

Salami lunch and an end of parma ham I fancy making a beef roast larded with parma ham that comes from an Anna Del Conte recipe - and I sampled some herb crusted cooked ham that may well find its way into my plans next week - from Gastronomica - £5.80

Smoked salmon - for a decadent breakfast treat - £5

Masses of dairy from Neals Yard - cow yoghurt, sheeps yoghurt, milk, multiple cartons of various creams and an english stick - £17.25

Then a brownie and a cottage loaf - and a small rosemary loaf from Flour Power - £4.50

And because I have been searching for an age without success - a tarragon plant and a basil plant - £5

Grand total - £80.75 - it is definitely costing more

This time last year we were mostly eating butter bean mash and eton mess. Last year the shopping list was most definitely cheaper. Time for some economy perhaps.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Pasta with Peas, Parsley & Pumpkin Seeds

Four p's and garlic as well!

This is a really quick bright dish that is utterly perfect for midweek. It has colour and texture and flavour. Peas are sweet treats at any time and combined, as here, with the slippery pasta shells and the toasted crunch of the pumpkin seeds they really shine. The parsley and garlic need to be cooked very gently for ten minutes or so to bring out the depth of flavour - no great hardship as the smell of garlic cooking is a lovley thing. Then it is a simple matter to toss in the peas at the end.

Pasta with Peas, Parsley & Pumpkin Seeds

300g dried pasta shells
60g hulled pumpkin seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley - if you chop finely you only need to discard the really fat stalks
4 tablespoons olive oil
200g frozen peas

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water till just al dente.

In a heavy based pan, dry fry the seeds over a low heat till golden and smelling toasty. (You have to pay attention while you do this as they go from raw to black in the time it takes you to look for something in the fridge.) Set the seeds aside.

Heat the oil over a very low heat and add the garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes till very fragrant. Increase the heat to medium and add the peas and a liberal grinding of black pepper. Cook for six or seven minutes till the peas are done.

Drain the pasta, put it back into the pan and add the peas mixture and the seeds. Stir it all together and serve. Crusty bread optional.

This makes a great standby dinner really - I will almost always have pasta in the cupboard and peas in the freezer and unfailingly have oil and garlic. Usually have seeds or maybe pine nuts so at most it would require picking up a bunch of parlsey on the way home.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Chick Pea & Rosemary Soup

In my time away I have been to visit my family in Australia, where it rained continuously for a week. It's true it's winter there but so much water... One night I cooked dinner for my parents. I decided on a comfort food to banish some of the greyness of the skies. For the main course it was a slow cooked daube that went very well with lots of lovely mash.

To start I decided soup was a good idea - something big and bold with lots of flavour. I wanted to use pasta somehow as there is a shop my mother favours that makes award winning pasta, some fresh, some dried and I was intent on trying it. Italians have a history of pasta in soups which is good enough for me! Another of my mothers favourite shops is The Nut Shop which sells a fabulous array of fresh nuts and dried pulses and spices and herbs. Very seductive indeed to scoop up the quantity of chick peas you need from huge sacks. It's easy to see that it would be a good contrast in textures between the silky pasta and the nutty creamy chick peas. I had the basis for my soup. Now it needed some upfront flavours. In the garden there is a huge rosemary bush. With lots of garlic and perhaps heat from chilli flakes I figured I was there or thereabouts.

The soup was fabulous - and exactly the kind of thing my man would like. Back in London, where it was warm and sunny to start with but over the last few days has been curiously coolish even when the sun shines I decided I'd make it again. It's substantial enough in a big bowl to be dinner with nothing more than some bread and perhaps a little cheese to follow so I made a big pot of it Monday night. Easily just as good second time around.

Chick Pea & Rosemary Soup
350g chick peas
1 tspn bicarb
4 tablespoons olive oil
100g smoked bacon, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
6-8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tspn chilli flakes
1 litre chicken stock
2 sheets fresh lasagne or about 100g of dried broken into 1cm wide strips
Put chick peas in a bowl and cover with cold water. Mix the bicarb with a little water to make a paste then add to the chick peas. Soak overnight. This will make them tender when they cook.

Drain chick peas, rinse thoroughly and put into a pan and cover with water to 3cm above peas and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to the boil, skim, then simmer, covered for an hour. Add about a tablespoon of salt and cook for another half an hour till they are al dente.

Heat the rest of the oil in a large pan and gently fry the bacon, garlic, rosemary and chillies for five minutes. Add the chick peas and the water they cooked in and the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer gently for 15 minutes. Pulse blend briefly, leaving at least half the chick peas whole.

Cut the fresh pasta into 1cm x 4cm strips, add to the soup and cook for another few minutes till pasta floats to the surface. If using dried, break it into strips and cook for the time on the packet.

Serve in big bowls with some bread and butter.

I was right - the man loved it. Leftovers for supper Tuesday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And This Week...I Bought

I'm back - yay! After what feels like the longest time I have returned to London and early Saturday morning I was on the bus to Borough Market. Very relieved to find it's still there and though a few stallholders were on holidays there was plenty to sample and buy to get us through the week.

The man had been in London while I was in Australia and so had taken himself to the market last week to do a little light shop preparatory to my return. And joy of joys he bought a fabulous piece of rump steak that we had, simply char grilled with salad, for a most perfect dinner Wednesday night. Indeed it was so good I wanted more. So we started at Ginger Pig and took advantage of their special offer on 45 day hung rump steak at £14.95 a kilo to buy the most enormous piece of meat that was also an inch thick - so much that even I had to rethink! So half is in the freezer and the other half is fabulous Friday supper with salad. Rampant greed sated. And I got some smoked bacon - for threading between scallops for Saturday supper and to add to chickpea nd rosemary soup on Monday - £24 the lot.

Next was Booths for veg - potatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes - Sunday roast with pork from the freezer, tomatoes - lunches, carrots with white bean salad, grapefruit, an orange, spring onions, rosemary to thread scallops onto and to make soup, parsley, basil bean salad and pasta, lettuce, cucumber - salads, bananas, and sweet fat strawberries smoothies and a kind of bastardised eton mess - heaven, £15.70

Fancied scallops on skewers for a treat Saturday night - bought half a dozen big ones on the shell at Shellseekers - £9

Then to Gastromica the shop for a pack of pasta shells - pasta with peas and parsley - £1.50 - and a free sample of mortadella with truffle that I adore

To Gianni at the Gastronomica cheese stall for a selection - a big hunk of Parmesan, a serious piece of crumbly toma, a lovely soft cheese that is a melange of goat and sheep milk and a little creamy disk he threw in at the end to make the total - just nibbling decadence all week - £15

A fennel - green salad with steak Friday - from Ted's veg- £1
The man likes the olive oil soap from the Taste of Turkey stall so we bought a block of that and a tub of dried olives - snacking - £5.50

Then over to the main market and what joy to see the lovely Marie on the olive stall - lots of hugs and kisses and chatter over coffee - the gossip is free!

Got some salami - for Saturday sandwiches - from the other Gastronomica stall - just to complete the hat trick - £1.80

At Neals Yard I bought milk, yoghurt, cream and bread - £12.60

Lastly was a little cottage loaf £1 from Flour Power

A grand total of £87.10 for the week