Sunday, 30 November 2008

Food for the Cold

We seem to have gone into something of a cold snap in the last few days in London, which makes me crave warming soups, casseroles and pies and red wine. I keep forgetting to take photographs of my cooking though and also my camera is not very good and so its difficult to get good quality shots, but I'm learning.

As I sit drinking my lovely Rioja that I bought on my recent trip to Lille, I'm thinking back over the last couple of weeks and seeing if anything exciting has happened. Last weekend I went to Bath to see my sister, her husband and my 4 month old niece, who is absolutely adorable. I had lots of lovely food over the weekend and didn't cook at all. On the last night they cooked me a Salmon and Creme Fraiche dish from Nigel Slater's The 30-minute Cook: Best of the World's Quick Cooking. It was really good. We also went to Wagamama's for lunch and I was amazed by how baby friendly they were.

We spent the weekend gossiping and sharing stories, it was really lovely to see her as I don't get to see her very often. We also got to talking about careers and work in general, whilst I like my job, its not what I thought it was going to be, and I'm heading towards wanting a career in the food industry, I'm not sure what as yet. I have such a passion for food and spend all my time looking at foodgawker and recipemuncher and recipes online, which I then go home and try out. I don't think that I could handle the pressure of working in a restaurant kitchen, but would quite like to cook for a family or dinner parties, or cook someones weekly meals that freeze and they could just get out the freezer. Does anyone know how to go about starting something like this? I am not a trained chef, which is all anyone seems to want, although I have completed a basic cookery course. I also miss cooking for other people now I'm single and live on my own without a large enough space for dinner parties.

Right down to the cooking.

A couple of weeks ago I went to my younger sister's for dinner, we now have this tradition of either going out for dinner or one of us cooking for the other on a Sunday night, it makes a really nice end to the week and we try different restaurants for food each time. This is what she cooked for me last time:

Its pasta with ricotta, spinach and red onion, which was originally cooked for her by her friend Georgie and it was delicious. I love trying other people's cooking.

Next up is a meal out the cupboard, I was originally meant to be going out for dinner but it was cancelled at the last minute and I found a packet of lentils in the cupboard and decided on Lentil Curry. The Recipe came from Matzo and Rice and I had it with Naan bread, it was scrummy.

This is my weekend meal, Grilled Lime and Parsley Plaice Fillets with Salt and Vinegar chips, this is again originally a Leiths Recipe, but I didn't have all the ingredients for the Breadcrumbs, so made it up as i went along. The chips also didn't come out all that well, they are home grown potatoes from my Parent's garden and I think they have a really high water content, as the outside was really crunchy but there was nothing in the middle.

I still have more catch up to do from previous cooking and baking efforts.

Grilled Lime and Parsley Plaice Fillets with Salt and Vinegar Chips (from Leiths)
(Serves 4)

675g/1 1/2lb potatoes
7tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp white breadcrumbs
Finely grated zest of 3 limes
small handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
8 plaice fillets, skinned
1 egg, beaten or a tbsp yoghurt
coarse sea salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200c.

Cut each potato into 6 wedges, length ways, and put them into a roasting tin. Pour over 3 tbsps of the olive oil. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Put the roasting tin in at the top of the oven and cook for 50-60 mins turning occasionally or util the potatoes are crisp and brown. Pour over the balsamic vinegar and toss the chips in it.

Preheat the Grill.

Meanwhile prepare the plaice. Mix the dried breadcrumbs; lime zest and parsley together in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Dip the fish in the egg or cover in yoghurt, and then press the breadcrumb mixture onto both sides.

Grill the fish for 2-3 mins each side until the crust is golden and fish is cooked.

Put a pile of salt and vinegar chips onto each plate and top with the plaice fillets and drizzle the potato juices around the plate.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Another Catch Up!

I'm not finding a lot of time to do my blogging, work is keeping me busy and with this new fitness thing I seem to not have a lot of time! I have finally had my gym induction today and the start of my steps plan! Basically I get to have a meeting with an instructor once a week to check how i'm doing and if i've lost any weight etc. This is all included in my gym membership, so i'm really happy! I now have a programme to go round the gym with, including 15mins on a cross trainer and lots of weights! I'm hoping this works! I also would like to do some yoga and pilates as well.

I've also been to Lille, France this week! I went for a shopping trip on Eurostar! My family have been going to France every year since I can remember, to stock up on cheese, alcohol an all things french, and now that I have left home, i'm hoping to carry on this tradition. So off I went for the day! I arrived at about 1pm and headed straight to a restaurant for lunch, I went to La Compostelle which had been recommended by my parents. I got a two course lunch for €17.90! I started with croquettes of goats cheese, with endive and spinach with a dressing. his was delicious and went so well together, then for main course I had Confit de Canard with parsley roasted potatoes, it was so good to be eating french food again!

My next stop was Comtesse du Barry, for Christmas last year my Mum bought me one of their tins to try, they basically do high quality canned foods, along with other speciality dishes. She bought me Confit de canard with sauteed potatoes and I wasn't expecting much from it when I tried it, but it tasted so good! So I bought two more of them, plus a fish soup and a cassoulet. I have high hopes for these too! My next visit was to Phillipe Olivier, Cheese maker extraordinaire! They have the most amazing range of cheeses and when you walk in, you are instantly hit with the heady aroma of cheese. I bought a goats cheese and a Mont d'Or, which is one of my favourite cheeses, I am taking it to my sisters for dinner tonight, I can smell it from the other side of the room! Its the sort of cheese you have to spoon out to eat!

I then just spent time wandering around Lille, unfortunately it was raining, so my feet got very wet by the end of the day. My second to last stop of the day was to Paul, the bakers, for that all important baguette and a tarte aux framboises and a tarte aux citron. All of which were heavenly. There is also a really good cook shop in Lille, which I had a fantastic time wandering around and deciding what things I wanted to buy when I move into somewhere bigger!

My last stop was to the supermarket. There is a large Carrefour in EuraLille, a huge shopping centre close to the train station, very handy for me! There I bought all my staples, mustard, olive oil, wine, as well as chocolate, cakes, pate and the majority of my cheese as it is much cheaper than in a cheese shop. All in all it was a fantastic day despite the rain and I felt very decadent dining out by myself, I think I will try and go back in April time! I might have run out of cheese again by then!

On with the catch up, some time in September I had a huge craving for sausages in cider, this is a recipe that my mum used to cook loads when i was younger and its such a good warming autumny dish. It was made all the better by including home grown apples that she had given me straight off the tree!

The photo was taken in somewhat of a rush as i was so keen to eat it!

Shortly after that I made some really good lentil soup, the recipe came from I have such a huge supply of lentils which needs using up, so expect more lentil dishes! This one was delicious with a lovely hint of lemon coming through at the end.

Sausages in Cider

Pork sausages 2or3 per person
1 Onion sliced
1 Apple sliced
1 pint Cider
1 clove Garlic
Plain Flour

Heat oil in a casserole and fry onions and garlic until just beginning to soften add sausages and just brown. Add enough flour to coat cook for a minute or so and add cider stir well and add apple and sage leaves. Place in oven for 40mins at 180c sauce should have reduced. Serve.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Long time no blog!

Wow! So its actually been months since I last updated this blog, not because I haven't been cooking but mainly because I started a new job and have been horrendously busy. I am now working as a Heritage Assistant at Islington Borough Council in London, which involves 2 late nights a week and one Saturday in three, but is at the same time very rewarding. I'm mainly helping people with their family history and also local history about the Borough, which can be really frustrating but also really interesting.

I have also joined the gym and started going swimming, trying for a fitter me! Along with that I am trying to make my portion sizes smaller, something I am really struggling with as I usually only cook for me and find it really difficult not to cook too much.

I have a couple of recipes to share today and then I think I'll do the rest later on!

When I went to see my parents for bank holiday weekend, we had a feast of cooking. On the Saturday night when we arrived we went to see my Godfather, Paddy and his Partner Paul for dinner, and we brought the dessert. I made a ginger and orange tiramisu, I learnt to make this first at Leiths on my cookery course all that time ago and still make it occasionally for dinner parties now, it is so rich, but so delicious. This is the bottom layer of the dessert, I don't have a finished photo as we were in too much of a rush to get out the door!

I also had a go at the No-Knead bread, that's been floating around for a while, and which i first saw here: No-Knead Bread, made by Em of the Repressed Pastry Chef Blog which I love, the recipe does originally come from the New York Times. We had a few problems with converting American measurements! My Mum and I forgot that grams aren't the same as ml and ended up with way too much liquid, so the dough was kinda well not runny, but not exactly stiff either! It was oozing off the bread board in a very attractive way! But was absolutely delicious once cooked and slathered with butter.

I also made a batch of just plain brown rolls, which I took home with me and froze to eat with soups and make sandwiches with, they were so good, there really is nothing like home made bread!