Archive for the ‘food’ Tag
The chef, Rick Stein, has this fantastic travel and cookery show called Rick Stein’s Long Weekends. A bit like Tony Bourdain’s shows without the likelihood of a fight breaking out, the conceit is that Rick travels to less touristy destinations than usual but all within an hour or two flight from Britain so you could go on a Friday and return on a Monday and see loads and eat your fill of local stuff. I record these and scribble the recipes down as near as I can manage and have been looking forward to trying the Tafel Spitz (the specialty of the house at Plachutta in Vienna) ever since this one aired.
I’m sure this recipe will horrify the Viennese, but it turned out well.
Put 1 kg of a tougher cut of roast (mine was a silverside) under just enough water to boil and throw in a dozen or so black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, some salt, and a pinch of carraway seeds and simmer just above boiling for 3 hours. Take some marrow bones and roast these for 30 minutes at 200 C while the beef makes its broth.
Plunge the meat into an ice bath and while it chills add about 500 g of root vegetables to the broth — I used carrots, turnips, leeks, and an onion which was cut in half and scorched in a frying pan on the cut sides (this is in every recipe so the carmelization must be important). Throw the bones in with this. When the meat is very cold, cut it in slices about 2 cm thick against the grain; the chilling is necessary as otherwise the meat will fall apart due to the long boiling. After about 30 minutes, slide the beef slices into the soup to reheat and soak up some of the veggie flavours.
Traditionally, this is served in 3 courses. First, the broth and vegetables are served as a soup followed by rye bread with the marrow used to butter it (we had some Austrian style black rye from our baker for this). Finally, the slab of beef is served with a bit of the broth on top, an apple and horseradish sauce, and rosti and creamed spinach on the side.
For the rosti, I brought a bunch of small potatoes to the boil then plunged them in the ice bath and grated them. This pile was mixed with chives and freshly ground black pepper then fryed in butter until crisp and golden brown on both sides.
The sauce takes some baking apples (peeled, grated, and tossed in lemon juice) and freshly grated horseradish at about a 3 weights of apple to 1 weight of horseradish. For each 100 g of apple add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar plus salt to taste then whiz it to a paste. This should clear your sinuses, gently; add more horseradish at your peril. I think it will go really good with roast pork, too.
I took the spinach and wilted it over some soy beans then thickened it with buerre manié because Jackie isn’t a big fan of creamed spinach. You do what you got’s to do, eh? A not too dry white wine would go well with the first course but as we kind of scooped everything into a plate and ran with it we just had a chianti.
A revelation. Thanks, Rick. See if you can get the theme music out of your head:
Although not as cold as it has been, I was fairly under-dressed for the damp, breezy day and while warm and sweaty I think the run from Uxbridge had depleted my breakfast. Very hungry, I popped into the first chippy I could find, the Sea Master. “It will be ten minutes,” which I accepted, deciding to cut the run short of the last mile and a half to Croxley and to just leave for home from Rickmansworth.
Well worth the wait … the fish was perfectly steamed inside the crisp batter envelope and not at all more salty than absolutely necessary. Why can’t EVERYONE do this?
The proprietor was nice.
The fish was dreadful … although probably cooked this week, it had definitely sat in the heating cabinet long enough for the flesh to assume the texture and taste of cardboard but, blessedly, there wasn’t much of it under the thick, oily mat of stale batter. Yuck.
In February 2016, I needed some tamarind paste for a curry recipe and could only find a block of compressed, dried pulp that resembled a plug of chewing tobacco in shape, texture, and smell. To use it, you soak it in boiling water then after awhile pass the pulp through a fine meshed sieve. I took some of the seeds from this step, wrapped them in wet paper towels, and stored them under the sink. After checking on them every other day for a couple of weeks, I forgot about them until I needed some harsh cleaning compound or another mid-May. The little tub I had them in had a large, pale green sprout inside so I packed it with compost and staked it up and in a couple weeks it grew leaves and started to get a woody bark to it.
Growth was slow after that but on the day after the Brexit vote a second sprout emerged:
The guys survived the move and transplantation to a larger pot (which I let dry completely from September till Christmas before soaking it once then adding 50mL twice per week to simulate 15 inches of rainfall per year. They seemed happy enough through that first winter, and I doubled the watering rate leading up to February to celebrate the 1 year anniversary.
One thing that did happen over the Christmas break was fungal growth. I’m assured that it is harmless, this white mould atop the soil, but I was disgusted by it and also a bit insulted that it thinks I should nourish it as well as my little tree. After looking at other remedies (cider vinegar, baking soda, athlete’s foot spray), I settled on scooping away the offensive layer then dusting the remaining soil surface with cinnamon (cinnamic aldehyde, the main flavouring compound, is also an effective fungicide).
So, here we are at one full year. It hasn’t grown much in the kitchen window and a couple of weeks ago we shifted it to the bathroom where there is even less direct light and it is warmer and much more humid. New leaves are emerging and I think it may deserve repotting to a shallow tray and training in the spring. I’ve seen some spectacular examples of bonsai tamarinds, and maybe in 5-10 years this pair can join their ranks.
Toast to the Haggis:
Ach! Ye fat bastard, ye.
Ye mid-winter harbinger of constipation.
We thank ye fer showin’ us
That gout isn’t just for rich men.
To the Haggis!
Wetherspoon’s Burns’ Week came around again this year. I’m a fan of offal but Jackie only tolerates pâté so, except for my Burns’ Night indulgence (she likes the whisky part of it, mind) I tend to fill up during this week (and on occasional trips to Florence).
Friday 20 January: Highland Burger with a pint of Welsh Pride (no Scots beer available on the day), Four Candles, Oxford
Saturday 21 Jan: Haggis Tacos, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip
Method: heat some haggis with chilli sauce, cumin, and paprika; put in flour taco shells, add lettuce, cilantro, tomato, and cheese. Yum.
Sunday 22 Jan: Haggis Stuffed Roast Chicken, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip
Recipe: like it says on the tin…Stuff a 2-3 kg bird loosely with haggis (it takes about ½ a tube of industrial haggis from MacSween’s), yesterday, and bake for 20 min per 500g plus 20 min at 200°C. Let rest for 20 minutes before hacking it to wee bits to serve with turnips and taters.
The result was a very moist bird with the savoury scent of the haggis infused therein — but not overwhelmingly so. The haggis itself was enhanced with some of the chicken drippings and even Jackie had a small amount of the filling.
Monday 23 Jan: Scots Omelet, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip
Method: Fry up some haggis and keep warm; pour a shitload of beaten eggs into the pan and lift to allow layers to develop. Usually topped with a bit of grated cheddar and the warmed haggis, this time it is haggis neat, folded and devoured with some black coffee and a shot of whisky.
Tuesday 24 Jan: Another Highland Burger, this time at the Swan & Castle, Oxford
Wednesday 25 Jan: Burns’ Lunch, The Chequers, Oxford plus a flight of three whiskies and smoked salmon to start…obscenely good, but I can sense the gout taking hold if I keep this up.
Thursday 26 Jan: Another Burns’ Lunch, this time at the Four Candles, Oxford with some of the folks from work (to remind myself that they’re not all bad … or sober). They ran out of swede (the turnips bit of the neeps and tatties) with the second order but told me they had run out of the lot so I ordered a double Jura with the intent of sitting with the fellows then walking over to the other Wetherspoons for my own lunch; a prof from biochemistry talked them around to substituting peas (“ach! woman, there’s summinck GREEN on me plate!”) so I got that. But, they charged the “with beer” price and didn’t give me beer (and I already paid for the whisky). Fer fucks sake. EVENTUALLY they made this right.
Friday 27 Jan: Haggis Stuffed Mushrooms, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip
Method: Fill the caps of baby bella mushrooms with haggis (and some others with sausage, others with a little pesto…y’know: hors d’oeuvres) and bake at 200°C until everything is sizzly or until the cheese, if you top with it, melts.
Oddly, I now crave a big plate of liver fried with onions.
The reason I made such a big deal about Uncle Jim’s kebab was that it was so unusual: most kebabs you get were like the one I inflicted on myself (or, rather, with which I afflicted myself) at the Kebab Centre in Ruislip yesterday. Yuck. I couldn’t decide if it was the meat or the salad that imparted the rotting compost essence but the congealed grease that collected in my mouth and esophagus definitely came from the Beast that was passed off as lamb (as did the salt that had me attached to a water bottle for the next 6 hours: I drank as much water last night as I would, usually, in 2 days).
Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.
Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here. I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).
Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China. To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame. But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff. In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).
So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):
17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53
In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…
Obits actually in the blog: 16
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
The jihadi sparrow
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)
Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track
Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38
Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)
Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5
Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)
Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)
Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017
Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)
Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)