Saturday, 19 April 2014

Recipe - Recovery Beetroot Stew

Guys, I've progressed as a cook! I made the mistake of trying to cook after a #madone (I went to bed at 6! I'm so grown up!!!) and it was just a shambles. I'd had dreams about my alternative Sunday Roast and all the textures of the rarely used vegetables that I'd do on the side. I even spent an hour discussing beetroot. Sadly, it all came out as a mess. A poorly coordinated and timed mess. It was just bad. The Jerusalem artichokes were tough, the beetroot unpleasantly sour and the beef - let's not even go there. The thought of taking a lunchbox with my mistakes in was just too much so I decided to undertake recovery mission. Place the disasters in a pot with just enough stock to cover and gently simmer. It came out velvety, rich and sweet.

Recovery beetroot stew
600g topside of beef, sliced
3 beetroots, cooked
6 Jerusalem artichokes, halved and roasted 
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped 
Handful of sprouts 
Sprinkle of dried thyme
Sprinkle of dried rosemary 

Simmer together with a stock and enough water to cover for a couple of ours. I had this with bread one day and falafel the next.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Recipe - Beef Rendang

The alternative title of this post is 'How I should actually write my recipes'. I don't know if you've ever tried cooking any of my recipes (you haven't) but if you ever did, it might not go very well. As I've previously discussed, I'm not a measure and precision kinda gal. However, since recently I've taken to cooking through the medium of the Explorer, I've had to transplant my cooking thoughts into emails. And then it occurred to me: THOSE ARE THE RECIPES THAT I SHOULD SHARE. I don't know if it's the tiredness or the thrill of the bank holiday or my awe at how much bigger houses are in Birmz than London but I was watching Hairy Bikers talk about rendang and I thought I would post my Explorer-friendly recipe to procrastinate from completing my tax return.

Beef rendang
Ginger (all that's left - about two thumbs worth)
6 cloves garlic
4 stalks lemongrass, first layer of lemongrass removed with hard ends chopped off
Thumb sized piece of galangal
1 large onion
5 dried red chillies (from spice place)

Blend the above in food processor.
Chop the beef - 800g - into chunks.

In my blue casserole, add vegetable oil and heat over a medium heat.
Add 3 cardamom pods (in my cupboard on the left) and 3 cloves (in spice place)

Add the onion paste and fry over the medium heat until very fragrant and browning.
Add 1 tsp ground coriander and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
Add beef and season with salt.
Mix all to combine well.
Add coconut cream (in my cupboard) and the tin of coconut milk you bought earlier. Stir well to combine and turn heat to medium low. Bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, get the desiccated coconut (in my cupboard on the left in a plastic bag I think) out and in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, toast two tablespoons until lightly browned. Add this to the beef pot along with 2 bay leaves (in my cupboard), 5 lime leaves (in my cupboard) and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar (either in my cupboard or in your and George's cupboard).
Keep the lid off and simmer over low to medium heat but keep an eye on it, stirring occasionally, for about 1.5 hours. At this point - turn the hob off and wait for me. You can make crispy onions if you fancy with the red onions.

This last step I will do when I get home:
Then, turn the heat up to high and stir often. In about half an hour or so (maybe less, maybe more) the liquid should have evaporated, leaving an oil that you can then fry the beef in.

Serve with roti, salad and crispy onion.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Review - Pizza East

An undeniably great thing about working in Shoreditch is all of the lunch. I've decided to take it upon myself to blog about the nearby lunch places for the benefit of my coworkers. Aren't I nice? Actually, a really fabulous (I'm really struggling to think of synonyms for 'good' today) bit of my life at the moment is that there are lots of opportunities to write. I'm keeping up with BioNews and this (although I did a lot of umming and aahing about this a couple of weeks ago) and have quite a few opportunities to write for work too. And since I'm not a Hannah Hogarth 'AH I HAVE SO MUCH SOARING CREATIVITY THAT IS WAITING TO POUR OUT' type, I'm actually pretty thrilled to continue to have the opportunity to write, even in a non-fiction context. I'm not a great novelist and it's rapidly become clear that I don't think I will be. Real writers just write. And I write! But not the kind of thing that I thought I'd write. But that's a sign! Anyway, why did I embark upon this tangent? Oh yeah, lunch. I've taken it upon myself to suggest lunch places to my team as well. We went to Pizza East!

I decided to go greedy and get a range of antipasti. I was so hungry that I found the ordering part VERY difficult. I also found it really difficult to maintain conversation with the newest member of my team since I really cannot do talking just before lunch time. But when my ossobucco, broccoli and croquettes came, I was filled with GLEE.  I was a little apprehensive about the wateriness of the ossobucco sauce but it was still rich and not too thin. Perhaps I should have just ordered some bread to go with it. Broccoli was simple but in that overwhelmingly positive 'how did you make broccoli and almonds taste so great?' Croquettes were moreish as fuck. The broad bean element to them was genius. Well done, Pizza East.

Review - Brawn

I started writing blog entries on two separate occasions this week. The first was all 'ooh I'm eating fish in the week again!' and was going to end with a recipe for smoked haddock cauliflower cheese (make a sauce as you would for fish pie and submerge the fish and cauliflower in it). In the other, I was going to wax lyrical about how great it is getting home at a time that you can make midweek supper (balsamic glazed squash risotto with a mustard pork chop on the side). On neither occasion did I finish. Instead of bitching about how I have so little free time, I'll own up to the fact that I've had loads of free evenings this week. The only reason I didn't wire these up is because of pure lazy. The only reason I didn't see any friends or any London was because I preferred to acquaint myself with Jack Underwood of House of Cards. This is all my own doing. BUT I had a great week. It was nice to just hang out and be. I even did some chores! And crucially, I spent some quality time with the Explorer. We went to Brawn and got a bit tipsy.

The crispy fried asparagus was my starter and I think the star of the whole thing. It came with a luscious pimento garlic mayo. The scotch egg was a little bit underwhelming and I'm not sure the dpi added much. Oysters I'm still too much a novice to comment on. The soufflé was WONDROUS. The texture is fascinating! Somehow halfway between cake and... Something airier than cake. Really delicious. The creamy cheese and cauliflower sauce it was sat in somehow didn't cheese me out. Although I was glad for the crisp romaine hearts that cut through all that cream and cheese. The prawns a la plancha! Hey I know that means grill now. They were so hot and firm and flavoursome enough to bleed a red bisque as you pulled it apart. My second favourite element of the dish was the posset. I actually ordered the (also well executed) cheesecake for myself but once I'd sipped a little of that tangy cream on that oh so short of biscuits, I was hooked. Oh and three courses for two with wine and service came to just shy of £100. I was in a food coma afterwards.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Slow cook Saturdays

After my FOMO last week, I felt compelled not to MO. Unfortunately, Thursday didn't quite go as planned and Friday went a little bit too much like planned. (No lunch, enforced jäger bombs, I think you can imagine.) Thankfully, my almost 23 years on this planet has taught me what to do when you're inappropriately drunk for the situation - LEAVE. Sadly for me, someone had stepped on my already broken phone earlier in the evening and so I was left with no facility to contact the friends I was meeting for dinner. Anyway, the evening culminated in the Explorer paying for a taxi after I shouted up at his window and falling asleep at 9. He was not impressed. Nor was I when I had to go to Leyton the next day to buy a (shiny new i)phone after eating my first meal in 24+ hours. Anyway, after I sorted out the woeful mess and reprimanded myself for failing to withstand peer pressure, I turned my attention to slow cook Saturdays. That's a thing now! Last week was moussaka and this week was molasses braised lamb shoulder. Try them!
Moussaka
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
500g lamb mince
100ml red wine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 can tomatoes
1 tsp allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp oregano
Half tsp nutmeg
1 tsp honey

Brown the mince over a high heat and remove and set aside on a plate.
Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat until brown.
Turn the heat up a little, add the red wine and red wine vinegar and let the alcohol bubble off. 
Return the lamb to the pan then add the spices, honey, tomatoes and 1 tsp salt.
Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for around an hour.

3 aubergines, sliced to half an inch thick circles 
1 potato, sliced into half an inch thick circles 

Place the vegetables in a single layer on a baking tray.
Drizzle with olive oil and salt.
Bake for 30 minutes at 220. 

50g butter
50g flour
300ml whole milk
Half teaspoon nutmeg
Sprinkle of cayenne
200g feta cheese 
250ml Greek yoghurt 
3 eggs, whisked 
30g cheddar cheese 

Melt the butter, add the flour and whisk well to form a roux. Whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce.
Add the nutmeg and cayenne and kep over a low heat for ten mins until thickened.
Stir in the feta and cheddar until melted.
Let the sauce cool for about 15 minutes.
Whisk the sauce to liquid again and whisk in the eggs, yoghurt and cheddar cheese.
Season well with black pepper.

To assemble the moussaka, layer the potatoes at the bottom of a large baking dish.
On top of that pour the lamb.
Over that layer the aubergine.
Finally, pour the cheesy custard mixture on top.
Bake for about 40 - 45 mins at 180 until set and browned on top. I flirted with the prospect of throwing some parsley on top but then realised that would be stupid and instead put the parsley on top of the roasted carrots and green beans we had with the moussaka.