Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

enoki-dokey

Who could resist a heavily discounted package of enoki mushrooms?  And yet it comes with a dilemma: what to do with the contents…

enoki wrapped in pancetta with chives

I don’t do stir-fry, which puts 90% of recipe suggestions out of the question,  I don’t subscribe to that (largely north american) practice of throwing a number of costly ingredients together in a bowl and calling it a salad, and neither am I keen on mushrooms in their raw state;  options diminishing by the nano-second.   But I dislike wasting food more than anything:  time to get my imagination into gear.

Inspiration wafted up from the pages of  Lorenza’s Antipasti. This fab charity shop find delivers masses of recipes but also, and what I love most of all in any decent cookbook, interesting and informative introductions to its several sections: lots of text!  It’s beautifully organised: Part I is a pair of essays, Types of Antipasti and The Antipasto Pantry, while Parts II and III are Finger Food and Fork Food respectively, both sub-divided, and Part IV is Preserves and Basics.

I used the method for rotolini – or involtini – and wrapped a few enoki with chives in half-slices of pancetta and baked them for about 15 minutes at Gas 4-ish (375F, 190C, moderate-to-hot) to crisp: simple, genius!

photo of enoki and pancetta rollsA delightful nibble, with the appearance – and texture even – of some strange sea-creature; a hitherto unknown species of squid, perhaps?  Definitely to be repeated; this time I seasoned with nutmeg and ground Espelette pepper but next time, furthering the seafood idea, a sprinkle of dashi-no-moto and some shredded nori could be killer-delish: watch this space…

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Mmmm, yummy yum yum.  A brand new juicy cookbook from a great galumphing goofy guy with big heart, bold -not bolshy- bearing and a neat turn of phrase.  I shot to the online reservation page of my local library’s website and lo and behold picked up Valentine Warner’s hefty tome a mere two days later.   The writing is delightful, most recipes have an entertaining vignette to accompany and there are plenty of tasty morsels for tryouts.  As for this one, as there’s not much wild boar to be had (legally at least) on the Kent & Sussex border, pork had to be substitute in his deliciously different recipe.  A fine dish for a dim and damp winter night: the following is my adaptation and scaled-down version-for-two-with-leftovers-for-lunch of Valentine’s Tuscan original, which actually serves 6-8.
porkanchovyolive

Pork, Anchovy and Black Olive Stew on Polenta

500g boneless pork (shoulder or leg meat) in large-ish chunks
olive oil (or use anchovy oil from the tin)
1 large sprig fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 anchovy, fillets (use the whole tin if you’re opening one especially)
1 onion, diced finely
1 fennel bulb, diced finely
thick strips of rind of 1/2 lemon
2 large glasses big-boned red wine (preferably Italian)
1 cinnamon stick
1 TBS tomato purée
4 TBS niçoise olives

Heat a couple of TBS olive oil with the rosemary sprig in a heavy, preferably cast-iron pot.  When fairly warm add the garlic cloves and anchovies, stirring about so their flesh melts to a sludge.  Add the onion and fennel and cook covered for 10-15 minutes until seriously cooked through, only adding the juice from the lemon if it looks like drying out – which it probably won’t.

Throw in the pork (no need to brown it first!) and stir, then add the wine, cinnamon stick and tomato purée; stir again then tip the lot into a small slow cooker set to auto.  Cover and leave to bubble away for several hours (I’d give it a minimum of four) then toss in the olives, stir about and leave for another hour or two.

Serve over polenta with a scattering of gremolata if you’re not meeting clients the next day, just parsley if you are… and steamed spinach on the side.

Incidentally, this Tuscan method and flavour combination appears frequently now I come to think of it.  I have cooked lamb in just the same way, but never before with anchovies and now I wonder why not: they give such a wonderful rich, toothsome savour when melted down into the background, the very essence of umami.  Lemon peel and rosemary contribute their own pungent perfumes to an outstanding sauce, thickened only by softened onion and fennel, which now occurs to me is reminiscent of osso bucco – see? nothing new under the sun, yet new delights to discover every day.  It’s the miracle of cooking.

What to Eat Now by Valentine Warner

Read Full Post »

Don’t get me wrong here folks, I have huge admiration for Michelin-starred chef/restaurateur/TV presenter/cookbook author Richard Corrigan, with his salt-of-the-earth bonhomie, clear-eyed yet unjaundiced worldview and his solid, down-home cooking style.  But I did a double-take when I saw his latest publication, The Clatter of Forks and Spoons placed next to Big Flavours & Rough Edges: Recipes from the Eagle – wouldn’t you?

roughandtumble1
It’s a terrific image so I don’t begrudge it at all – that’s my charity-shop-chic silver plate cutlery! – and Corrie’s text is so environmentally and politically astute, I can even find the recycling of a cover idea eco-fabulously forgiveable.  It’s almost a shame he couldn’t have borrowed the title too, but the rattle of battered flatware on a hard surface is even more gorgeously evocative of his writing.  Not a plain celebrity chef collection of restaurant recipe formulae, this book follows the current fashion, being a collation of discursive thoughts and memories, favourite dishes and discoveries: recipes sharing equal space with long tracts of text and a smattering of mood-evoking photographs; similar to Georgio Locatelli’s Made in Italy, for example.  To which I say hooray, by the way – who ever learnt anything about food or cooking from a mere recipe book?

On the other hand, I was going to recommend David Eyre’s excellent-in-parts Eagle gastro-pub-grub book – for its informative recipes but not its crummy index – until I realised it’s out of print and £95 – bloody hell! – so I’ll just be wiping the spills and splashes from my precious copy a little more assiduously in the future.  I will however, soon be sharing its best recipe: root vegetable & greens soup.  Prosaic-sounding, I know, but absolutely ambrosial, and to which I return time and time again: a soup apart.
Big Flavours & Rough Edges: Recipes from the Eagle
The Clatter of Forks and Spoons

And if you’re not into reading or cooking, sample Richard Corrigan’s hospitality at Bentley’s Oyster Bar 11-15 Swallow Street, London W1 (just off Piccadilly) – bliss – or scroll down and watch this captivating video of him talking about this book
.

His new place sounds pretty nice, too: Corrigan’s Mayfair 28 Upper Grosvenor Street London W1

Read Full Post »

cooking Pimientos de Padron

a panful of Pimientos de Padron

So we cooked and ate them, following the instructions provided by Elizabeth Luard in her delectable tome, The Cooking of Spain and Portugal: A Regional Celebration, which great good fortune allowed me to pick up for £4.99 at tkmaxx the other week (possibly to the great relief of my local library, having clung to their copy for the last 4 months, post-it marking every other page and the prospect of returning the thing increasingly unthinkable with each passing day).  Whichever way wangled, it’s definitely a keeper.

Ms Luard’s food writing is a joy to read with her frequent canny little asides, vignettes and scene settings before the directions, giving just that little bit of extra information you need to make the thing properly, that is with the right attitude and in good spirits.  And a cook in a good mood always, always, always makes a dish taste more authentic and delicious; the right spirit is just as important as the right ingredients, temperature and timing.  A glass of champagne helps, too, by the way.

Here’s how to set off your Sunday afternoon with a bang:

  • 200g Pimientos de Padrón
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • Maldon salt flakes

Rinse and dry the peppers, but leave whole, stalks intact: you’ll be needing them later.

Grab a heavy based, preferably cast-iron, frying pan that can just about accommodate the peppers in one layer.  They will shrink a little as they cook, but you will want each pepper to have contact with the hot oil.

Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat until a pepper will sizzle, then tip in the rest.  Cook over high heat for a couple of minutes or so until the skins are blistered and browned in places (you’ll hear them pop and see them hop, which is fun), then turn the heat to low and cook gently another 2 or 3 minutes until the peppers are soft. You may find a splatter guard comes in handy.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve sprinkled with salt and some decent bread on the side to mop up any juices.  To eat, hold each pepper by the stem and bite off the flesh.

Legend tells that every nth pepper is super-hot – estimates vary from 1 in 5 to 1 in 30 – which is why this dish is often referred to as Spanish roulette: apocryphal hype I pooh-poohed – until KABOOM!!  I got one.   Ouch.  But there’s nothing to fear for a chile lover; anyone who likes a bit of heat shouldn’t need to call the fire brigade – a quick sip is all that’s required to carry on until they’re all gone.  The delightful thing about these peridot nuggets is the scintillating mouth mosaic made by the flickering interplay between their subtle variations in flavour and heat; that plus the occasional firecracker.

Terrific tapas? I should coco loco.

Read Full Post »

Excellent article in today’s Guardian.  It argues that culinary technique and confidence are more important than following recipes and it’s by Glynn Christian, for heaven’s sake – who knew he was still around?  Turns out he’s been Down Under for the last decade and has a new book to promote.

OK, so it’s not the prettiest cover, but this is a man ahead of his time: standing astride the nexus of the culinary & media worlds, boldly going…you get the picture

Here’s the first paragraph:

Get your store cupboard right and it’s like having a piano in your kitchen. You’ll always be able to segue into the right tune just when you want, to turn something cool into a dish that’s hot and jazzy, satin-smooth and sexy or just drop-dead tasty with a twist, a flick, a squeeze or a damn good hand full.

Very beguiling; Nigella had better watch out…

Read Full Post »