This week’s food has been anchored around Sunday’s roast chicken. Having acquired a gruesome cold from my daughter, I had very little energy, so did no more than throw a bit of salt on it and put it into a hot oven for half an hour. I added potatoes and some chunks of sweet potato when I turned the oven down, and roasted for another hour. The bones were cooked for stock on Tuesday, and the cold chicken made into curry, and then fried rice. We’ve also been snacking all week on the coffee and walnut cake I made from the Konditor & Cook book – pictured above. Unfortunately, I’ve completely lost my sense of taste and smell with this cold, so I have no idea if it tastes of coffee or not!
- Coffee and Walnut cake – Konditor and Cook (above)
- Hot Cross Buns (again) – this time with fruit!
- Tarka Dal – Diana Henry’s Change of Appetite
Without a recipe:
- Roast chicken with potatoes and broccoli
- Chicken stock
- Chicken and mushroom korma (Spice Tailor)
- Charlie Bigham lasagne
- Chicken and egg fried rice with broccoli and spinach
- Fish curry (from the freezer)
We’ve been living in a plague house this week. Little E became ill on Sunday, and we’ve both had milder versions of her symptoms. As it happened, we were supposed to be on holiday this week, so while we had to cancel going away, it did mean we could both be around to look after her.
So comfort food has been the order of the week: lots of eggs and potatoes in various forms.
Without a recipe:
- Takeaway Byron burgers :-)
- Cod with potatoes, leeks and fennel, a bit inspired by @bartsfishtales on Instagram
- Bubble and squeak
Excited to have got my hands on the new James Morton book, ‘How Baking Works‘. This feels like the book I should have written, so very interested to see what he has to say. I also cleared out my cupboards a bit (with a little help from my mum) and unearthed an ancient tin of condensed milk (which can’t go off, right?). This prompted me to make a Dan Lepard chocolate cake, and a tin of no-boil fudge. Unfortunately, the oven decided to break while I was baking the cake, meaning I baked it for twice as long as I should have, the first stint at a very low temperature. So I’ve ended up with something much drier than it should be, and singed around the edges for good measure. It’s a testament to Dan’s recipe that it tastes good nonetheless.
Without a recipe:
- Sausage pasta
- Chicken burritos
- Parsnip risotto (from the freezer)
- Fish curry (with Spice Tailor sauce)
Reading this week:
This week has shown a hint of Spring. Sunny days have brought out crocuses, daffodils and the first spikes of tulip leaves. The wind is still cold, but at least it shows that things are moving in the right direction. I’ve once again been spoilt by my mum’s cooking all week, so not much to update on for my cooking. We’re trying Five O’Clock Apron’s Chicken Shawarma for dinner tonight.
Meanwhile, I have a day off from being a mum, and I’m very excited to be heading to Bread Ahead’s cooking school at Borough Market for a day all about pastry. I’m hoping to get comfortable with pastry again. Lately it seems like my shortcrust always shrinks, my choux generally comes out lumpy and under-inflated, and there’s never time for flaky pastry or puff.
Reading this week:
- I seem to have been drawn to chocolate recipes this week – make of that what you will. Either that or the internet is in a particularly chocolatey frame of mind this week. Thus we have Smitten Kitchen’s I-need-it-now chocolate cake, choco tacos that I have just discovered from Molly Yeh, and the Observer/Guardian collection of the 20 best chocolate recipes.
- The NY Times has a roundup of tips for reducing food waste. Some of these strike me as a bit unnecessary – do you really need to use up all your carrot tops, radish tops and turnip greens? Is it really reducing waste to take old carrots, boil them until soft and blend them with oil and egg to make a sort of mayonnaise? But there are a few good ones in there.
- Food52 has an interesting piece, arising from one of their Piglet cookbook head-to-head competitions, on how we judge a cookbook. The debate is whether you should just judge a cookbook by the recipes, or by the recipes plus the design, layout, photos – the whole package. [Edit: Eater has a very good piece on this debate, and identifies the big question lurking behind it, which is why do cookbooks continue to lead the publishing sales lists, when you can find any recipe with a quick search?]
- This years’ Piglet also put Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite up against Maria Elia’s Smashing Plates. The reviewer touches on something I haven’t been able to articulate about Diana’s book, that might explain why I like the book a lot, but haven’t cooked much from it so far.
- This article suggests that three meals a day isn’t necessarily the right way to eat, and contrary to popular wisdom, breakfast isn’t that important. (I mean, on average – for me, it’s essential)
- As an antidote to all the chocolate, this California Miso Avocado salad on 101 Cookbooks sounds like a good way to pretend it’s spring, we’re in California, and all the gorgeous fruit and veg is appearing at the market. Sigh. Although, California without the drought, please.
- And to prove that this is definitely London after all, Shoreditch now has a pop-up porridge cafe. I feel a bit of a food bubble inflating in East London…
Biggest food successes of the week were the roast beef last Sunday, done to rosy in the middle, sliced thin and piled onto bread with the onions roasted underneath it, some slaw and a thin smear of mustard. And the braised red cabbage with caraway, mustard seeds and red wine. The granola bars, however, didn’t hold together at all, so got crumbled up, baked for another half hour and put in the jar for granola over cereal.
Without a recipe:
- Fish finger tacos, cabbage slaw, avocado
- Breadcrumbed fish and chips
- Roast topside of beef in sandwiches with roast onions
- Egg fried rice with vegetables
- Pizza with artichoke hearts and cheddar
After a week of being cooked for, this week was a combination of new projects, and eating from the freezer. The week was anchored by a big braise of pork with tomatoes, and of beans on Sunday, which gave us pork and bean burritos, tomato sauce for pasta, and mashed beans for baby dinners. I ordered such a large piece of pork, that the other half is in the oven this evening for porchetta. Oh, and I made Semlor (see picture above), Scandinavian cardamom buns filled with vanilla whipped cream and marzipan, for Shrove Tuesday. I am completely converted – and they are even better with a thin layer of raspberry jam.
Without a recipe:
- Pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs from the freezer
- Burritos with braised beans, shredded pork, tomato salsa, and weirdly, stir-fried veg, which actually worked ok.
- My mum’s pheasant casserole from the freezer
It’s pancake day! We all know that pancakes are made on Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent, to use up eggs, milk and butter that are fasted until Easter. But the tradition isn’t quite as straightforward as that. Pancakes are also associated with a pagan festival of the start of spring, their round shape representing the sun, which battles with the forces of winter, and triumphs when spring arrives. It’s also a very long time since fasting from dairy was commonplace in Britain. Starting with the dissolution of the monasteries and the creation of the Church of England in the 16th century (Wolf Hall fans take note!), the customs of the Roman Catholic church started to recede. According to Clarissa Dickson-Wright’s ‘A History of English Food’, the rules against the consumption of dairy during Lent were abolished in 1541, and by the time of Pepys, very few Lenten traditions were being observed at all.
Pancake Day must have been a very popular festival to have survived so long without the religious motivation. Dorothy Hartley in ‘Food in England’ distinguishes the English pancake tradition from the European one:
“Abroad pancakes are usually open and piled up together. In England, our pancakes are symbols of our insular detachment, for each is rolled up by itself, aloof, with its own small slice of lemon.”
But what to make if you’re not really in the mood for British pancake tossing? There are lots of other traditional bakes from around the world that celebrate the start of lent, and the last days before the fast starts before Easter. They all have similar ingredients, but in different proportions: butter, milk, eggs, flour – and in many cases, yeast too.
- Scandinavia, particularly Finland and Sweden, have semlor – Scandinavian cardamom buns, filled with vanilla whipped cream and marzipan. Signe Johansen has a great recipe in Scandilicious, or try Edd Kimber’s.
- King cake, a sweetened yeast bread, with a cinnamon swirl, and covered in coloured sugar is made for New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Joy the Baker, now living in New Orleans, has a king cake recipe, complete with plastic baby jesus (yes, really).
- Malasada – yeasted doughnuts traditionally eaten in Portugal, and also made in Hawaii. Not sure where to find a good Portuguese recipe, but you could always just go for Justin Gellatly’s ‘custard-bomb’ doughnuts instead ;-)