Monday, March 22, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Tuesday was cheese sandwiches - love cheese sandwiches when they are made with good bread like this sesame baguette from Paul and filled with Pecorino and slick of chilli jam. Made Tuesday morning it took probably ten minutes by the time I'd sliced and buttered and wrapped, which is the outside time I think is reasonable to spend making lunch before work.
I'm quite a fan of most cold pasta and this one was simply brilliant. Wednesday night I'd made leek and penne pasta bake that was gorgeous hot then I simply spooned the rest into tubs when it had cooled. Lunch done. Second day this week I stay in bed a few minutes more.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
This is a spectacularly fabulous way to cook aubergine from The Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook. A light frying precedes seasoning and steaming resulting in a decadently rich and silky bowl of food. The black beans add a definite umami hit, their creamy saltiness released by the initial frying of the topping. The preserved mustard rounds out the savouriness - if there is such a word! - and the chilli flakes add a dimension of heat. I tend to be light handed with the chilli flakes so that the topping is balanced against the delicacy of the aubergine.
Steaming the lot for 20 minutes melds the elements and creates a gloriously tantalizing texture. If you like aubergine, you will love this.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
We are away for the weekend so I have already made ham and split pea soup to greet us upon our return. I bought some fabby thermos flasks recently so am planning soup for lunch Monday to give them a test run. Monday night I think pasta baked with leeks and cheese the man's mother gave us some thick slices of rare roast beef before we left Sunday so we had a collation with a little salami and some cheeses and bread, Tuesday steamed pork balls with stirfried peppers, Wednesday steamed tofu with aubergine made the pasta bake with lots of leeks, Thursday there is a tub with lamb & barley in the freezer that would be a treat steamed tofu and steamed aubergine, Friday I really fancy sausages, bit of salad, crusty bread. It means I will buy almost nothing at the market as I have pasta, cheese, pork, peppers, rice, and sausages already. Will be quick and cheap!
Decided on multi tasking for the morning, which meant I went to Borough and the man stayed in bed for a little bit longer. The market was quiet, and hard as it was, I did not go into the Ginger Pig and buy anything. Most strange. They were a bit busy so didn't even say hello.
Instead I started at Teds Veg - see what happens when I'm let loose! I bought leeks for pasta bake Wednesday night, carrots, onions untouched as yet but fine, lettuce salad with sausages Friday and aubergines steamed Thursday for £5.30
Bananas from the pound a bowl stand for lunches but they blackened quite quickly so not really a good buy - £1
Salami train snack Saturday from Gastronomica - £2.40
Eggs from Wild Beef - £1.50
Baguette from Rhodes - £1.20
Smoked salmon brunch Saturday from the Irish stall - £5
Coffee from Monmouth. As I waited to be served the guy next to me stepped back onto a pile of hessian sacks, tried to step away, his bag with beans caught the edge of the cup of coffee on the shelf in front of him, and oh, it was disaster. Coffee for miles and all over his jeans. He grinned ruefully at me and said 'Perfect start to the day' but it so was not. The people serving were so sweet - gave him paper towels to mop up the mess and refused to take payment for the replacement cappuchino they rustled up for him. I got me some dark roast costa rica - £10.50
At Neals Yard I bought milk and yoghurt - £4.70
And a cottage tin loaf from Flour Power - £1.10
Spent £32.70 - so cheap! - and home on the bus to find the man with coffee ready to go. Perfect.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
The steam oven was meant to go back to Miele this week. At dinner Saturday night Jaey and Marie were adamant we should keep it, it was obviously a good thing. 'But there's no proper space for it!' I cried. It has lived on the end of the kitchen table most of the month and on the bench where the dishes normally pile up when there were guests which is fine as a short term solution but not one you could live with. Can't afford to refit the kitchen so I had resigned myself to its return.
We played a game for a while, choosing places - 'a shelf above the clock?' 'but you'd hit your head when you stand up' 'top of the fridge?' ' too high to get food in and out' and then, suddenly, there was an answer. 'Make a shelf under the plate cupboard, it'll fit there.' 'Whatever, the chocolate puddings are ready!' Made them in teacups for a pretty presentation but sadly I thought they were a bit overcooked. And more of a disaster, when I warmed the lovingly made ultra decadent chocolate sauce, it split. I am still not great at making sweet things...
Next morning I snuck a look to see if it really would fit on a shelf under the crockery cupboard, and it could. Asked the man what he thought about keeping it. Didn't mind. Which meant that I now had my heart set...
When I was first offered the oven trial I called my mother to ask for her baked custard recipe, thinking that as she always cooked it in a bain marie, it would probably steam well. She was much intrigued by the notion of a steam oven and, without much hesitation started listing things she'd try. One of which was a pork and veal terrine that she frequently makes. Though I've yet to try the custard, I did steam the terrine and it was a total success, and stayed beautifully moist the whole week.
One (more) of my favourites are these little rice covered pork balls. It's the first time I have ever used glutinous rice, which must always be steamed. Boil it and it becomes porridge. The insides of these balls are an interesting mix of meat, ginger, chopped water chestnuts for a surprising crunch which is then rolled in rice mixed with shitaki mushrooms and tiny pieces of diced ham. Fabulous mouthful.
I could not possibly have had the steam oven without making a steamed pudding. I sincerely wanted this ginger syrup version to be the nicest thing I made, but I lack the requisite sweet tooth to vote this my favourite. But it is very pretty! I will experiment more with sweets and find some things that respond to the method.
This may look like a visit from outer space but is my very first steamed savoury pudding. It is full of leeks and bacon and cream and that casing is lovingly constructed with suet for silky joy. It is a Bristish classic and a good example of the utterly different way steam is used in western cooking.
Pork and steam are a marriage made in heaven. This incarnation is made by blanching the meat briefly then steaming it with black beans and chilli and shaoxing. With rice and stirfried peppers, a delight.
This is fast becoming a regular weeknight supper and it is fabulous. Simplicity itself, it requires nothing much more than fresh eggs and a well flavoured stock, with a little sesame oil and chopped spring onion for garnish. It's a Chinese staple, a dish of comfort, that is exquisitely delicate in texture with a flavour that matches. You can make many variations, adding shrimp or pork, I'm sure crab would be brilliant, but this most basic version is simply a joy.
Steamed Savoury Eggs
300 ml pork or chicken stock
1 tbspn lard or vegetable oil
1 spring onion, finely sliced
1 tspn sesame oil
Whisk the eggs in a heatproof dish till light and foamy.
Warm two thirds of the stock to boiling point. Take it off the heat and add the rest of the stock to cool it down a bit, then whisk it into the eggs with the oil or lard.
Steam in the bowl for 10 minutes.
Garnish with the spring onion and a drizzle of sesame oil.
We've had this a few times in the last month with some cabbage steamed with a little spicy paste and boiled rice. It makes for a lovely pale bowl of food that has all the flavour and texture you need for a quite delightful dinner. And it's great cold next day for lunch.
Saturday, March 06, 2010
Mondays lunch was an amalgamation of leftover steamed pork balls topped with a particularly fine sauce made with chilli paste, shaoxing, soy and sesame and the last of the pasta salad that was leftover at foodchain Sunday afternoon that I brought home with me. I find that the moment when everything is cooked in the kitchen at Tooting and it has all been packaged up and sent out to the myriad recipients I feel enormous relief that it's all done and on its way but I'm not hungry at all. An hour after I get home I'm starving! So tend to bring my share of any leftovers back with me.
Friday, March 05, 2010
I have a tub of braised oxtail in the freezer, cooked long and slow in red wine and herbs, waiting till Jaey and Marie come round for supper. I described my oxtail lasagne topped with truffle cheese to them, ages ago, and they have wanted to try it ever since. So their time has come, Saturday night we'll be feasting on that with steamed chocolate pudding to follow. Fabulous it was and we had steamed eggs on top of the remnants of leek and bacon filling for an exquisite lunch. Perhaps salad to start in a vague attempt at balance. Sunday I'm hoping for leftovers and possibly steamed eggs en cocotte for lunch - steamed the leftovers, finding it's a great way to reheat things, but we moseyed out to The Bear for lunch. We are out Monday and Tuesday so I will make a pork and veal terrine for lunches with a bean salad. Wednesday night is the last night of the steamer - I will seriously miss it - so might be a greatest hits dinner, cabbage, aubergine and chicken with rice, Ha! can't let it go, so the steamer is staying, it really is love and so dinner was the last giant pork chop roasted with steamed vegetables, Thursday broccoli pasta steamed savoury eggs, spiced cabbage and rice, and Friday out again.
Still really cold in London but possibly one or two degrees warmer than the absolute depths. Grey too with a whippy wind coming, unexpected, round corners. Seems to keep the tourist numbers at Borough Market down early on, so there is an upside. At the Ginger Pig I bought both pork and veal mince, streaky unsmoked for our lunch terrine and smoked oyster bacon top up the freezer supply for £13.80. Nathan, who served me, asked if I was having a quiet week, buying so little but when I told him about the oxtail lasagne his face lit up and he declared that sounded so good he'd order it in a restaurant. And he wouldn't be disappointed!
At Booths I bought potatoes steamed Wednesday night and mixed with Helmans for lunch boxes Thursday, blood oranges, chicory and fennel a very good salad with black olives and walnuts as a starter Saturday night for £3.50
£1.50 for eggs from Wild Beef
At Ted's Veg I bought savoy cabbage fast becoming one of my favourite steamed vegetables, parsley and celery for bean salad and for soup made Thursday night for £3.20
From the Italian oil stall I bought a large tin of olive oil for a fairly bargain £15.95
Black olives from Taste of Turkey - £3
Truffle cheese, which the guy serving told me a little drier than the last lot as he gave me a try. Told him it was good and I wanted it mostly for a sauce which got me the very tiniest eye widening in shock before he agreed that would be great and, after sampling a few bought a very fine aged pecorino from Gastronomica - £17
Apples and pears for lunches from Chegworth, I am so glad they are back with a permanent stall, albeit a small one! £1.20
At Neals Yard I bought milk and cream - still have some yoghurt from last week that is just in date (and I like it sour!) - £8.70
One small loaf from Flour Power - £1.10 - rounded out the shop
Spent £68.95 which is a lot but the oil will last months
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Still have the miele steamer. Have read here and there that steaming produces more flavourful meat as well as tastier vegetables, which I was willing to believe even if I don't know exactly how that comes about but it definitely enhances fresh produce's own natural flavours. I was surprised at just how intense the flavour was, how richly it all came together. Proper feasting!
There is a bit of oil used in this recipe but I have to say my consumption of oils has plummeted recently, back to almost nothing. After sealing the meat on top of the hob I steamed this stew for a couple of hours. Next day the resultant meal was easily one of the nicest things I have made all winter, more intensely flavoured than slow cooked stews but at the same time retaining a delicacy of taste. Even after a couple of hours cooking then being left overnight before reheating next day the vegetables didn't collapse into a mush and yet the meat could not have been more tender. A definite winner.
Lamb, Root Vegetable and Barley Stew
6 lamb neck chops
2 tbspns plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tbspn oil
100g smoked bacon, roughly chopped
1 large swede, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
4 celery stalks, washed and chopped into 2cm lengths
3 carrots, heritage if you can find some just for their lovely purple hue
1 large onion, peeled, quartered and stuck with 4 cloves
100g pearl barley
Bouquet garni of parsley, rosemary, thyme and bay
750ml lamb stock or water
Dredge the lamb chops in the seasoned flour to coat well. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the bacon and lamb chops. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, till the meat is crusted with rich brown spots.
Add all the rest of the ingredients, topping up with water if necessary so that the liquid covers everything and bring the lot to a simmer.
At this point, if you have a steam oven, set it at 100C and put the uncovered pan in to cook for 2 hours. If you don't have a steam oven, cover the pan, reduce the heat to ultra low, and cook for 2 hours on the hob.
Remove the pan from whatever source of heat you cooked with, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Reheat to serve next day with some waxy potatoes.
I could not have wished for a nicer meal. Revisited the pleasure the following night and have a final serving in a tub in the freezer. Oh joy!