Archive for the ‘recipes’ Tag
We watched a shitload of movies, a couple of baseball games (Go Cubs Go), an episode of Black Jesus over the Easter holidays largely because Jackie was especially ill most of the weekend. The highlight of the film fest for me had to be A Dove Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence [En Duva Satt på en Gren och Funderade på Tillvaron (2014)]. This was transformative for me the way Eraserhead (1977) and The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) were in their times. Breathtaking. Or, while I’m quoting the movie (as in the title of this post), “of course.”
I also cooked a batch of banana muffins from an old recipe that uses sesame seeds to form an edible muffin cup (I have a similar one for carrot cake muffins that uses poppy seeds the same way). I forgot the sugar whilst mixing everything up and, since they were muffins and shouldn’t get mixed to completely, I just stuffed a measure of dark sugar into the tops of the dough. Not too bad.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp grated orange peel
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
50 grams softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 squished banana
1/4 cup strong coffee
Additionally, get out a bag of dark brown muscavado sugar from which you intend to extract a half cup, firmly packed. Mix the the wet stuff, then dry stuff, then dry with wet till it holds together…just. Lump this stuff into muffin pans that have been wiped with butter and dusted with sesame seeds. Remember, then that you forgot the dark brown sugar and sprinkle about a tablespoon on top of each muffin, pushing a little down into the dough with your finger. Gloat that this will actually work despite being a little less than 1/2 the sugar prescribed in the original recipe. Bake at 170 C for as long as it takes.
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:
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.
Name: Oatmeal Stout
Brewery: Samuel Smith
Rating (1-5): 4 out of 5 feasting Santa’s
Notes: Bugger! I think there was some olive oil on the lens resulting in the shitty stout picture. Sorry about that, kids; hopefully that’s as bad as it gets in the remaining week (but I’m on an off-work drinking-and-running schedule from mid-afternoon this Wednesday so don’t place any bets).
I just finished making my traditional Christmas Pesto. I tend to just eyeball the ingredients, but to share a recipe (there is no ‘the recipe’), I weighed the stuff this time:
In an iron skillet on medium-low fire, toast 50-60 grams of pine nuts and three large or six small garlic cloves in their skins. Stir a lot or the nuts will scorch.
Peel and crush the garlic and drop these and the nuts into 150 mL of extra virgin olive oil that you’ve chilled in the fridge for about an hour (cools the roasted bits and keeps the pesto green).
Grate 50-80 grams of parmesan cheese into this and whiz with a hand blender (or in a food processor or — if you are purists and have the room to store one, which we no longer do — pestle it to a pulp in an enormous mortar).
Add a scant teaspoon of black pepper and about 80-100 grams of basil leaves in three or four batches and whiz these to a not-quite-smooth paste. Salt to taste, but stop earlier than when you think it’s right.
Wipe up the mess with some freshly baked bread and dispose by ingestion.
Store in sealed jars in the fridge under the thinnest layer of olive oil you can manage (about like the amount on my camera lens). Makes about 500 mL or a non-Imperial pint.
I find pesto the most perfect simple food on earth and will eat almost anything with it (the most sublime of ALL being, of course, cassoullet).
I don’t know what THESE people were having for dinner but this puke at my bus stop from Hillingdon to Oxford has lasted since Friday morning and has earned a spot on the Spectacular London Pukes roll call (number 3 in the series):
I think they were eating cigarette butts…did they think they were pigeons?
Yes…I keep my spices in specimen jars.
Name: Oxford Black Porter
Rating (1-5): 4.5 out of 5 Night Train bearing St. Nicks
Notes: You look all over for a Night Train themed Christmas picture then two come along at once. Since I probably won’t need it again during the Advent Stout and Porter Calendar events, I used this boozy Father Christmas tonight. No other justification except Jackie has to take a late Tube home from work (suppertime is 10 pm most weeknights).
Tonight, the recipe was for some chicken breasts done up with pakora batter. Here you go:
2 split Chicken breasts
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tsp garam masala
3 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder (7/8 paprika, 1/8 cayenne)
1 cup gram flour (chickpea flour)
3 tablespoons rice flour
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin
large handfull chopped fresh coriander
coconut oil to fry
Make a marinade with yogurt, garam masala, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Coat the chicken well and rest for 1-2 hours. I skin the chicken to get the marinade into the meat but if you leave the skin (which is also good), lift it up a little and squeeze some of the yoghurt mix under it with a pinch of the fresh coriander (before using the rest of it in the batter).
Meanwhile mix remaining dry ingredients and the fresh coriander (cilantro in the Western Hemisphere) then mix in enough milk to make a thick batter.
Dip the marinated chicken in the batter and deep fry. I tend to not-so-deep fry to a light crust and finish in a hot oven but mainly because I don’t want the house to smell like frying for the next week or so.
Here it is just before the last step. Yum.
The Christmas Drinking Season seems to start earlier and earlier (the one for this year, for example, started in Reagan’s first term as President). With Halloween, I reckon it is the OFFICIAL start, though, so here’s a recipe I made up when we first moved to England at the start of 2009:
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
2 heaping spoons of Horlicks (or other malted beverage powder)
2 spoons of Nesquik (or Bosco, or whatever)
2 shots of vodka¹
Boiling water to fill the mug
What makes it spooky? That’s my Edgar Allen Poe mug!
¹ Traditionally, this is made with bourbon or dark rum — both of which are grand — but the only brown liquor I have tonight is single malt.
“You don’t look Welsh.” “My mother’s Italian…”
–lines from the road trip to Chicago in Inside Llewyn Davis
We continued the Winter Movie Weekend Film Fest with 2014’s Inside Llewyn Davis which had a lot in common with the Coen Brothers’ earlier Barton Fink (not least of which was John Goodman all but taunting the lead character with “I’ll show you a life of the mind!” just not in so many words).
It’s nice when time gets away from you like that and, when we came up for air during the end credits, we both realised we were starving and disinterested in going out for groceries. I scanned the larder and came up with these ingredients (mostly Welsh beneath but on the surface Italian):
1/2 pound of potatoes
a bulb of garlic
some dark, mature stem spinach
a block each of brie and feta
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
I had a recipe in mind from ages ago and started by slicing the onion thin and putting it in a bowl to steep under boiling water while I used a cheese slicer to cut the potatoes wafer thin. To these, I added 4 minced cloves of garlic, a handful of chopped olives, a glug of olive oil, some salt and black pepper, and mixed it all together before stirring in the drained, softened onions at the end. This mix was divided into two piles and baked at 220° C for twenty minutes while the rest was prepped.
The spinach was chopped then barely wilted and squeezed to remove the bitter juices (mature spinach has all the mineral content of the soil from which it is raised and can be less than subtle). This was mixed with a sprinkling of nutmeg and an ounce, each, of gooey, pungent brie and metallic, brittle feta. Split to cover the two chicken breasts, the creation was placed atop the just-starting-to-brown potato mix, topped with some cherry tomatoes, and returned to bake another 25 minutes at 200° C.
It’s surprisingly good and leaves you wishing you had more.