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Posts Tagged ‘recipes’

Do you ever buy delicious edibles in jars or tubs?  If so, you’ve no doubt acquired more than a few items preserved in olive oil.  Now this idea is so obvious perhaps I’m just a slow learner, but until recently, once the olives, or sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes or anchovies were gone I used to throw away the oil left behind.

And then it dawned on me: that way flies food waste and for a frugal hedonist that way lies madness too.

Food manufacturers go to some lengths to keep us buying the fancy “deli” stuff aimed at our sophisticated palates.  This usually means adding herbs and/or garlic to enhance the flavour of the main attraction, so while blithely using the contents of the jar, might it not be a really good idea to also make use of the olive oil it’s been swimming in to augment and deepen the flavours of your dish – or even the whole meal?
sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil

So if you’re cooking up beef daube with olives, brown the beef in oil from the olive jar (try anchovy for an authentic southern Rhône flavour) – or start your sofrito sizzling with sun-dried tomato oil for an Italian ragù.  Try frying the aubergines in artichoke oil next time you make caponata.  Kick off a pilaf with the same; add a few drops to plain couscous, a tablespoon or two to pizza dough…

rosemary branch in olive oilI have even been known to strain the oil into a decanter and poke in a couple of rosemary sprigs – hey presto, rosemary oil for focaccia!

Use in almost any recipe instead of your usual olive oil.  If you devote half a shelf in the fridge door to these almost empty jars and use them up quickly, not only is the extra depth of flavour well worth it, you’ll be able to save up your pennies for some really special olive oil.

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borage flowersAh, true sunny delight: the borage is in bloom.  Such pretty periwinkle blue flowers, all set to adorn a glass of Pimm’s® for whiling away an English summer afternoon.

Wood on willow, polite applause, chin-chin…you get the scene.  But there’s something wrong with this picture, surely?  Firstly it’s most likely raining and secondly, is not Pimm’s impossibly bland when made properly?  And possibly improper when not?  For truly it’s a merry devil of a drink, slipping down far too easily and bringing upright folk, even the odd marquee, down in its wake as stilettoes catch in turf and guy ropes do service as guard rails…

Try this recipe for the classic Pimm’s® Cup cocktail…
Over ice, pour:

  • 1 part Pimm’s® No.1
  • 2 to 3 parts clear, fizzy lemonade (eg Sprite®)
  • Infuse with borage flowers, fresh mint and slices of lemon, orange and apple.

..and you too can turn your garden party into The Wasteland.

But there’s more to borage than that; why not use the stems and leaves too?  With a delicate cucumber-like flavour they cook to a texture similar to that of chard leaves or beet greens, with which they are often prepared around the Mediterranean as a pasta stuffing or filling for pies and omelettes.  The flowers also make a delightful addition to salads and only the churlish could despise them as a garnish on any summery dish.

I’ll follow with a couple of tasty recipes once I have some pix to go with

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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…

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