Sunday, 24 November 2013

Recipe - Ossobucco with Risotto Milanese

I BAKED! I did it! It worked and rose and everything! I'm so pleased. In the broken oven too! I did pick an easy cake to start with though so I can't brag too much (although I have anyway). One day, I hope to feel at ease with baking in the same way I (just about) do with cooking. I think this meal was tasty.

1kg veal shin
5 small shallots, chopped
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
Handful cherry tomatoes, chopped
150ml white wine 
1 tbsp tomato purée

Brown the veal in butter over a high heat.
Remove from heat and set aside.
Fry the onions and garlic for about ten minutes over medium heat until golden.
Return the veal to the pan.
Add the tomatoes and tomato purée and fry for a further minute.
Turn the heat up slightly and add the wine. Let the alcohol bubble off.
Season well with salt and pepper and turn the heat down to a simmer.
Cook, covered, for an hour.
Uncover and cook for a further hour.

Risotto Milanese 
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp bone marrow (I used the marrow from the veal shins)
1 clove garlic, chopped
200g risotto rice
150ml white wine
Pinch of saffron 
750ml hot chicken stock 

In butter, sweat the onions and garlic.
Add the saffron and risotto rice and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and let the booze bubble away.
Add just enough stock to cover then push the risotto around while the stock is absorbed.
Continue to so this until the rice is cooked. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Ari's Fish Suppers

I see that I haven't blogged in ages. It's because while I've eaten new things, nothing's been so new that it necessitates its own entry. I think it's OK to have several easy recipes under a Nigel Slater-esque title though. And why haven't I been eating out? Well, I ate out last week at Honest Burger when I was supposed to be going to see Gravity but then my friend had a date and my other friend is too lazy to travel more than 3 stops on the tube and it just didn't happen, OK? Instead of seeing a film, I did something which involves eating unhealthy food AGAIN. This week was to be different. No skipping activities in favour of food! No blogs. I even eat ridiculously overpriced deli counter food from M&S for two dinners to ensure this would happen. And it did! I now have membership to the Everyman cinema. Sure, it cost £55 and the tickets are real expensive but I got carried away in the newness of it all. And the cinema is reaaally nice. You have to go in a pair though - the seats are like mini two seater sofas so you can pretend you're in your living room. (If your living room was also decked out with waiters taking food and drink orders.) Anyway, I'd recommend it. The other activities included a play and an exhibition but this is a food blog (supposedly) so let's get to the recipes that none of you ever read.

Fish and chips
2 trout fillets 

2 potatoes, skin on and cut into chips

Place the chips in a baking tray. Drizzle with vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper.
Toss well.
Place in an oven preheated to 200 degrees C for 40 minutes, turning occasionally.

Frozen peas
Lemon juice

Cook peas in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain well.
Add a handful of mint and a tsp of butter.
Mash roughly.
Add lemon juice to taste.

2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 spring onion
Half a yellow pepper 
1 tsp capers
1 tsp olives
Half a red onion 

Place the vegetables, capers and olives in a food processor and blend.
In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and mustard.
Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. 
Season with black pepper and lemon juice.

Cook the trout in a non-stick pan.
Season the fish all over with extra salt on the skin side.
Heat the oil, place the trout skin side down in the pan.
After about 3 - 4 minutes, flip the fish and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. 

Grilled salmon with pea and mint risotto
1 onion 
2 cloves garlic
300g risotto rice
1 glass wine
1l vegetable stock 
100g peas
100g spinach 
Handful of mint
Lemon juice and black pepper

In olive oil, sweat the onions and garlic until translucent over a high heat.
Add the risotto rice and fry for a minute.
Add wine and let the liquid absorb and alcohol bubble off.
Add enough stock to just cover, turn the heat down to medium and stir until absorbed.
Keep adding stock and stirring until the risotto rice is cooked.
Once cooked, stir in peas, spinach and mint.
Season, to taste, with lemon juice and black pepper.

Salmon and noodle broth 
2 tsp Thai curry paste
Half an onion, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
Handful broccoli florets
3 spring onions, chopped
500ml chicken stock 
2 portions noodles 
2 salmon fillets

In a saucepan, heat a dash of vegetable oil. 
Add the curry paste and cook for a minute.
Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock and turn the heat down to a simmer.
Add the noodles, salmon and broccoli cook for about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat down.
Add the remaining vegetables and serve, with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


Saying I really need a holiday will make a lot of people want to punch me in the face since I went to Budapest in September and only work part time. BUT I do volunteer as well and that makes me sort of a full time worker. And when you get home at 9, it seems more reasonable to complain. Maybe/not really. Anyway, mainly it was pleasant because it was the first break from the job application process and wasn't interrupted by the prospect of losing £1400.
Upon arrival (the first set of doors will not open) I was struck by how cold it was. Really, I stood still in the middle of Waverley station with my hands in alternate pockets, huddling with myself for warmth. Then the Explorer revealed that he'd decided not to bring the key because he thought that would make getting to the house just too easy. We called his uncle away from jury duty and I ran into Primark to buy some layers (green, fluffy, kind of fugly) and some poorly elasticated tights. We had planned to go to Milk for lunch but what with finding out the bus ticket place had moved and also that we didn't even need to get Ridacards, I had to run into Greggs and stuff a sausage and bean melt into my mouth in three mouthfuls while bits of pastry flaked down into my new itchy snood like dandruff. Finally, we got to the house for 5.30 leaving us half an hour for a quick whisky soda before heading out into the bitter cold (but better wrapped up by the Explorer's mother's cardigan this time) for dinner again. We ate at The Dogs. (I can't seem to find the photo.)

We were met by an indifferent waiter who informed us we'd have to wait fifteen minutes before ordering. A slightly more droll but quite scary waiter took our order. I went for the lamb chop with haggis patty and cabbage. The Explorer had the rabbit with creamy mash and a mustard sauce. The rabbit was so wonderfully moist it's hard to believe that it's difficult to achieve that every time. The lamb chop had a crisp caramelised fatty edge but unfortunately was slightly let down by the fact that the meat wasn't quite as tender as it could be. But it was still very well flavoured and I am just being picky! Our respective potatoes were full of buttery creaminess. Mine was slightly saltier, I think because of the haggis, but the slightly sweet mustardy sauce cut through that and the kale managed to add a freshness even though it looked fried.

After eating and drinking for the winter, we hibernated for the day. No, really. We went outside to collect supplies and then looked ourselves away with only The Bridge and masses of food (steak sandwiches with a shallot-mushroom-redcurrant reduction, Indian food) and wine for company. We emerged the next day wearing sensible, fleecy boots and decided to go to the seaside. We'd visited Cramond before so the plan was Portobello. However, at the onset of the 1.5 hour journey there, we decided that was too ambitious. We weren't really used to movement yet. We alighted at Leith and looked for fish and chips. We found it in a more luxurious place than we intended, The Ship on the Shore, and went mad. Seafood, prosecco and some fish and chips for good measure. OK - the tartare is the best I've ever had. This is going to sound like an insult but I certainly don't mean it as one: it tasted like a pimped up version of the McDonalds filet-o-fish tartare. (I know what that tastes like because when we first came to England my mum only ordered those from McDs as she was still vaguely trying to stay halal.) Seriously though, it was probably the highlight of my side-sauce-tasting life. The langoustines were big and gruesomely fresh looking. Delicious. The bearnaise was rich but light. All the chips were just so - dry but slightly wet and most of all CRISP. Haddock was had a sturdy batter leaving it a wide berth and tasting separate to but all at one with the flesh all at once. I don't remember the peas and the salad so well now but I remember making the extra effort to get lots of meat out of the langoustine all at once so I could eat it with all the condiments so you know it was good. I don't know how we could have dealt with anything but prosecco to wash it down.
After wandering around Edinburgh town slightly tipsy and distressed at not finding the Zara coat I wanted even in Scotland, we headed home for mince pies and fire and other warming treats. Determined to be more active the next day, we set out on a quest to the Botanical Gardens and that vintage shop that Earnest always mentions as being good for cashmere. Brunch first though, Leo's Beanery.
I'm pleased to report that the coffee was strong but the foamy milk uncurdled. It irritates me so much when places get that wrong and it's all slightly sour and yucky. My cheddar American-style biscuits were so crumbly and salty that they inspired me to make more baked cheesy things (starting with cheese souffles, we hope). The ham that went with it was punchy and flavoursome, however, it was all a little heavy so I was glad that the Explorer had gone for the lighter option of salmon and cream cheese and also that he's always so willing to eat all of my leftovers. After a leisurely walk to the Gardens, we didn't play hide and seek but did smell some flowers (I definitely have a slight pollen allergy.) and generally enjoyed the country (relatively) air. Of course, as you're by now so used to reading, we didn't make it to the vintage shop. But who cares when you pretend it's Christmas (roast with all the trimmings) and then fall asleep by 9?

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Recipe - Moroccan Autumn Lamb, Southwestern Brisket

Hey, we hosted a housewarming! (Alliteration!!) I enjoyed myself, I feel that the crowd was precisely angled on the beam between depressingly empty and so full that I worry about things (particularly from the decorative bookshelf) breaking. Indeed, it was me doing a small dance to Sweet Soul Music that caused most of the spillage. Before the main guests arrived, Earnest visited for dinner since we didn't really get to chat at LMNT because I was all tipsy from 5pm. We had lamb and in her words 'say what you like about [her] but she can roast a bit of meat'. And I think I can! That's why I've resolved to learn to bake now. Except it's difficult with a semi-functioning oven. I only just managed to get the oven slow cooking for the brisket that I roasted for bonfire night.
Moroccan Autumn Lamb
2 lamb necks, about 600g, seasoned all over with salt and pepper
2 onions, chopped
Half a swede, chopped
4 garlic, chopped 
1 small squash, chopped
Half tsp cinnamon 
Half tbsp ground coriander 
Half tbsp ground cumin
Half tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp chilli powder
Enough stock to just cover the vegetables

In a casserole the meat over a high heat.
Remove and set aside.
Turn the heat down and brown the vegetables.
Add the spices.
Place the lamb on top of the vegetables and coat with spices.
Add enough stock to just cover the vegetables.
Place in an oven at 180 for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I served this with bulgar wheat flavoured with red onion, spring onion, green pepper, chilli pepper, sultanas, lemon juice, coriander and parsley.

Southwestern Brisket
700g brisket
1 onion, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 scotch bonnet
1 tsp cinnamon
Half tbsp coriander
Half tbsp cumin
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp grape molasses 
3 cups water

Season the meat all over with salt and pepper.
Brown the brisket in vegetable oil.
Remove from the heat and brown onions, carrots, chilli and garlic.
Return the brisket, add the spices and aromatics.
Add the cider vinegar and let the alcohol sizzle away.
Add the molasses.
Add one cup of water.
Place in an oven heated to 150 for an hour.
Add another cup of water and turn the brisket.
Return to the oven for another hour.
Add another cup of water and turn the brisket again.
Return to oven for a further hour.

I served this in tacos with lots of salad.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Recipe - Cottage Pie

I'm atrocious at networking. I don't think it's because I have no people skills since I was very successful at befriending the caterers when the alcohol was running out. Unfortunately this also led to me drinking too much, begging the bus driver to drop me off at my door and breaking the foot off the sofa in a valiant attempt to carry it up four flights of stairs on my own. (I also threw up on the Explorer's rug but I learnt how to clean a Persian rug with white wine vinegar so really we could consider that a positive.) All of this activity left me in no position to enjoy the rest of the week. All I wanted to do was eat mash and nap. So that's what I did on Saturday night: perfect cottage pie and bed by 10pm.

Cottage pie
500g casserole streak, chopped into bitesize chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp flour
150ml red wine 
150ml leftover gravy 
1 tsp marmite 
1kg potatoes, mashed with butter

Soften the onions, carrots and garlic in a tablespoon of butter over a medium heat.
Turn the heat up and add the meat, browning on all sides.
Add the flour and stir.
Add the wine and let the alcohol boil off.
Add the gravy, bay leaves, thyme and marmite and turn the heat right down.
Simmer for fifteen minutes, partially covered.
Season to taste.
Place the meat in a casserole and then top with the mash.
Dot with butter and a grinding of pepper.
Bake, at 150, for around half an hour until the mash is slightly crispy.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Review - Negril

I've recently been eager to try more places in Brixton. We looked into living there but found nowhere in our price range but hey, it's London. There's a very developed transport network and that leaves little excuse not to explore everywhere rather than just your little corner of the city. That being said, when it took me 1.5 hours to get home because of road diversions, traffic and district line delays, I was cursing myself for venturing Streatham-wards. Particularly when I found out that the Explorer managed to get to NORBITON before I got home. Anyway, the food and atmosphere still made it, on balance, worth it.
After some dithering, we opted for the Negril platter as it offered most scope for trying out the various elements of the menu. The saltfish fritters were SUBLIME. Lightly spiced and crispy batter. They would be my dream snack food. The fried plantain were a little greasier but again had the right balance of salty and sweaty, crispy but soft. The jerk was slightly underwhelming: there wasn't much of a kick to it and it wasn't the smokiest. Nevertheless, it was precisely cooked so the chicken was moist and the skin charred. The rice and peas had more of a kick to it and the hot sauce, which tasted home made, was probably the best table sauce I've ever tasted. Anyway, anything lacking from the food (and I promise that there wasn't much of that) was more than made up for by the relaxed and pretty atmosphere.