Sunday, 5 February 2012

Queen of Puddings

On Friday morning I achieved my ideal and found myself shopping for the weekend in Nailsworth, one of the advantages of this is being able to peruse the country market and feeling like I’m organised and ready for the weekend before it starts.  I started in Williams where they ask me “what recipe are you cooking this weekend then?”  I confessed that it wasn't an ED recipe, instead I was cooking from my brother in laws recipe from his and Tom’s new book.  It then dawned on me that actually everything on the shopping list was ingredients for recipes from their book.  

Friday night started with a fish stew with accompanying super garlicky aioli.  Fish stew made from red mullet, mussels and prawns from Williams.  Saturday night we had a houseful, so sliders all round.  Henry’s homemade slider burgers on Tom’s ultimate burger baps, with lush salads followed by Henry’s Queen of Puddings.  And a Queen of a pudding it was, with bright pink Yorkshire Rhubarb from Bramleys.  By Sunday we were down to eleven mouths for dinner and it was the turn of the slow cooked pulled pork.  Marinaded in ale and paprika and cooked for hours till seriously tender.  We served this with oodles of seasonal veg and some paprika spiced gravy.  Then a rather unseasonal pavlova using up the last of the foraged blackberries and elderberries from the freezer. We worked up appetites with brisk walks and muddy bike rides and warmed ourselves with, woodfire and pots and pots of tea. It’s been a great weekend, no one went hungry.  
I’m hoping a year of Elizabeth David hasn’t left me too recipe book dependent. It’s certainly given me an overwhelming curiosity to try out new ones, even if they have been written by my family.  

Donuts, ED style

Two Elizabeth David recipes have snuck onto the menu this week. A delicious ox kidney casserole, that I didn't dare give to the kids.  The cooking this week has been a lot about the childrenand what they like to eat, it got me thinking about how to get kids eating and to engage with food.  I believe the answer is so simple: involve them.  I think this means eating together and letting them help with cooking, then they learn that food is something to be celebrated.  This week with the kids I have made fish fingers, some skinned plaice  from Williams egged and breaded, so simple but so much nicer than the Captains version.  We made a very extravagant chocolate cake which was a good lesson in the value of ingredients.  The kids have made for themselves pizza, fruit salad and smoothies.  My eldest daughter particularly loves to make food for friends, and will take great pride in making her "smoothie surprise" when her friends are over.
Today we made doughnuts together, the boy has developed a nasty habit for them, particularly caramel ones.  Today we used an Elizabeth David recipe much to their groans.  We made the sweet dough and left it to rise.  During this time we cleaned up the old doughnut jammer Tom remembers using as a child and filled it with the last of the summers homemade strawberry jam.  After we had deep fried the buns, rolled them in sugar, squirted in the jam we scoffed them without licking our lips.
At last my boy has declared we've made an Elizabeth David recipe he'd love to make again.

Elizabeth David Birthday special

I decided this week to reclaim Elizabeth David from my in laws.  She had only been there a week and I was already missing her, the problem was I needed to cook a celebratory meal for my Pa's birthday and I didn't know where else to turn. 
The menu was inspired by what was available locally, the butchers had a good looking duck and the mussels in Williams looked too good to miss. Therefore we started with brochette mussels.  Pre cooked mussels threaded onto a kebab stick with bacon, rolled in flour, then egg, then rye breadcrumbs and pan fried in oil. These were served with a bearnaise sauce with spinach in.  To follow I roasted the duck with stock added to stop him drying out, this was served a la Elizabeth with braised celery and parsnip purée.  I wasn't convinced the pudding was going to be a winner and would let the meal down.  When I spotted apricots in Bramley's I knew I had a couple of recipes left, there was a choice of apricots with a kind of eggy bread or apricots on croutons.  I chose the latter and buttered some finally sliced shepherds loaf and placed them in a roasting tray.  On these I put the halved apricots and filled their cavity with sugar and roasted the lot in the oven. The result was surprisingly tasty not too dry and great with a big dollop of yoghurt.  The dollop of yoghurt made a nice change to "a knob of butter" which seems to be dominating our lives at the moment.   

happy new year

On New Year’s day I cooked my Elizabeth David finale. I’m keeping my options open as to whether this is the absolute end, it’s just the last recipes require some serious attention and detail; calfs head viniagrette, boned duck or coffee infused ice cream.  The finale was her “Boeuf Bourguignon”, said in a silly french accent.  It was mighty fine and definitely the epitome of what a years worth of cooking Elizabeth David has been about.  Great meat marinated in fine wine, cooked over two days for flavour and tenderness, served with parsnip puree, seasonal greens, a large glass of red wine and a great dollop of fiery dijon mustard.  
This leads me to ask, what’s next?  Normality seems appealing but I’m not really sure what that is.  A return to the supermarket certainly isn’t on the horizon, I was reminded of this after being away for a couple of weeks, landing back in Nailsworth felt like home, greeted with smiling familiar faces and people wanting to chat.
As for what’s on the menu, we have been somewhat distracted by the new tv series, Fabulous Baker Brothers.  What with trying out pies and experimenting with recipes for the book, it’s all been very pastry based.  “We” made the most amazing Beef Wellington this weekend, beef fillet covered with sauteed mushrooms then wrapped in savoy cabbage and the finest puff.  Hopefully with all this pie action I’ll get some help completing one more Elizabeth recipe; a giant sausage roll, an oversized sausage wrapped in brioche dough.  Not the food of New Year’s resolutions.

Christmas is coming

Glad tidings we bring to you and your King, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.....
How was your Christmas? I don't like to think that it's already in the past tense, all that effort and expectation has got to be worth a season of goodwill not just a day.  But how do you achieve that when Boxing Day sales start at 5am and lure you in for all you didn't get from Father Christmas. 
From what I've heard and observed, loads of you enjoyed a local Christmas. With such amazing food available from your local town or your Christmas eve Stroud farmers market 
it was easier than ever to enjoy the tastiest Christmas yet.  
We had some great local highs this year with presents.  Tom loved his handmade leather case, the kids were thrilled with all theirs and I was given a fab selection of local gifts- vouchers for a local massage, lush clothes bought locally and a beautiful make up bag bought at Prema's Christmas fayre.

As for our Christmas dinner, we were in France and I can tell you their weeny turkey wasn't a patch on my 9kilo one I cooked at the beginning of December, their sprouts weren't up to much either.

Very ironically I did find myself in a French supermarket on Christmas eve. Father Christmas needed the obligatory walnuts, (later regretted in airport customs, as the kids stamped on them to get at the nuts) clementines and an ice cream.  French towns seem to have the same predicament as our local towns with domineering supermarkets presiding over the demise of independents and the high street.
For High Street sake, make it your new years resolution to shop locally and keep your independents thriving. bring out that figgy pudding.