Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HALLO'EEN. ain't nothing but a P thing.

yes, it's a pumpkin thing. and i know i've been banging on about them but now it actually is hallo'een so i can roast to my hearts content: this morning i made a pumpkin, goats cheese and herb tart. the pastry was particularly good because of my new/old ceramic rolling pin. i can't believe i get excited about things like that but the difference in using one of these is immense, especially if you have a marble work top too. this is because it's cold on both sides of the pastry. and i used a couple of egg yolks to bind it too. the tart had a life of it's own. piece by piece, over a period of an hour, it ran out of the shop. the soft and light texture of the egg custard, well peppered, with the floury body of the pumpkin, and the creamyness of the sharp goats cheese, was a perfect menage a trois. the herbs were thyme and parsely, but if i'd had sage, i'd have used that too. with the leftover egg whites i'm going to make meringues.... i'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

DUCK BREASTS. good with hot sweet sauce.

last night me and my mum cooked duck. i've improvised a new sauce, which is sweet but a little chunky too. i'm calling it a Sweet Onion Sauce.

2 onions
150ml red wine
2 tbsp jam (damson, plum, elder etc)
1 orange
a little olive oil
1 tsp brown sugar
pepper and salt.
200ml water.

heat the oil in a frying pan whilst finely chopping the onion. i'm learning to spend more time on prep. it's worth it. fry the onion until it begins to go transparent. add the red wine and dissolve in the jam at the same time. simmer away for a few minutes before adding the orange juice. keep watching and stiring and making sure it doesn't get dry and stick to the bottom of the pan. continue for about 20 minutes, adding water a bit at a time if necessary so that it forms a nice gravy texture. add seasoning at the end. decant into a warm bowl or wide brimmed jug. it was perfect with rare duck breasts and loads of spinachy-mash.

Monday, October 29, 2007

CANELA. drinks with zezi.

and then i went on to canela. i've been here once before and came back to redescover a delicious wine that i'd drunk too much of. it turned out to be 'green wine' called Arca Nova. Vinho Verde DOC 2006. slightly fizzy and dangerously morish. we love it here. small and intimate and again, lovely staff. it quite set me up for a night on the tiles. i'm going to go here all the time now for lady meetings. and it makes me feel quite grown up to know a wine on the list.

WEST LONDON. It's growing on me.

I'm not usually a big fan of west london. but i started off my weekend with a trip to the lovely R Garcia and Sons on Portobello road. exactly what all food shops should be like. the food range is great, spanning from the average continental stuff like tinned pulses, to much more swanky Brindisa type foods - superior chorizo and line caught tuna. it feels fair and good and right and a visual treat. the packaging in these places is always multicoloured and hugely appealing. like christmas all year round. and with the hubbub of the market going on outside, it makes for a great saturday jaunt. added to this, you can step next door to their minimal cafe. the happiest staff i ever came across. the setting is minimal in a modern barcelona way, but the food, incredibly traditional. this makes for a really nice contrast. Churros - the deep fried stuff for dipping in that wonderful thick spanish hot chocolate. Simple tapas. morcilla de arroz- spanish black pudding wrapped with a grilled slither of red pepper sitting on a herbie rice. Lemon and polenta cake. i ate the most wonderful treat that i spied at the back of the counter: queso fresco con membrillo y almendras. that is, a moulded fresh cheese, drizzled with a cinnamon syrup, a smudge of quince jelly and three crunchy almonds. sitting at the coffee bar, with this, and a perfect coffee (a long machiatto) and a beautiful little boy, drowning in chocolate was a joy. the cold dense cheese, and hot refreshing coffee. a stollen ten minutes that only spurred me on to go clothes shopping and have a frivilous lady like afternoon. if west london was like this all the time, i'd move here. i usually just bump into boys from my past though!

Friday, October 26, 2007

BISCUITS. For a rainy day.

at the request of one of my most favourites, zezi, here are some more pumpkin ideas. she says it's her new favourite vegetable. i say get with the programme miss! i've been in bed with pumpkins for quite some time...
1. roasted with chillis to go with pasta and lots of olive oil.
2. poached in syrup. turkish.
3. roasted with garlic, and added to a risotto.
4. in a tart with goats cheese and mint. that's really super good.
5. in with some potato mash to give it sweetness.
6. pumpkin and parmesan soup. add a little paprika to the mix if you like.

so, today i've made my lovely orange and cinnamon short bread hearts. god it seems twee. but they are also delicious and the weather seems right for it: i was really dragging my heals to the bus this morning. they have indeed soothed the hateful drizzley bearness. one of my customers, kylie, said that they are like a danish biscuit called speculaas which has clove and cinnamon in it.
if you want the recipe, then you'll have to email me, because it's top secret and going in my new book, and i'm not sharing it with anyone willy nilly. in fact, that goes for all recipes.
Right-ho. i'm off to watch Ratatoiulle with my lovely biscuits and tea. cheerio.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

PUMPKIN PIE. scarily good.

i decided this morning that in honour of festivity i'd make a pumpkin pie. i already make a delicious turkish poached pumpkin pudding so it's not a far cry. there's something a bit odd about eating a pudding which is constitutes of a vegetable, because your expectation is thrown off kilter. but sure enough i've delivered a gem for the deli. all that lattice seems so old fashioned and comforting.

if you want to taste it, you'll just have to come and get it...