December 2009


Well that didn’t last long did it?! The regular blogging I mean.  Although you could say that about Christmas.  Just two or three days and it’s all over.  Now it’s that awkward middley bit between Christmas and New Year.  It’s a time I can’t help reflecting on what I have and haven’t done this year.  I’m sorely tempted to succumb to post-Christmas blues and eat only melted cheese until New Year’s Eve when some solid carbs will be the order of the day.  Anyway, I hope you all had wonderfully decadent Christmas’ and that Santa brought you heaps of goodies.

I was obviously a very good girl this year, because he brought me a MagiMix and my first Le Creuset  pan.  It’s a cast-iron griddle, super heavy and stern looking.  It demands respect.  I feel safer with it in the house because I know that if someone tried to rob me one firm whack round the head with the Creuset would sort them out. 

Burgurlar bashing aside, both presents received girlish squeals of delight. Most excitingly for you though dearest readers; I was given an amazing camera.

No more blurry shots of my tea! 

Soon all the colourful delights of my culinary adventures will be on display.  I have misplaced the CD to upload them onto my laptop (I’m praying it’s at my parents house) so I am storing up some gorgeous shots of creamy baked spinach, cheesy cottage pie and when the MagiMix arrives (no way I was lugging that massive box on the train) there will be all kinds of cakes, dips and soups to feast your eyes on.

Until then enjoy the rest of the holidays, rave like it’s the end of a decade on Thursday and get ready for some good eating come 2010.

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Two posts!  In as many days! No, my computer has not been hijacked by a super-blogger intent on making you chubby.  I’m trying this new thing called blogging regularly. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m only on the second day.  Joining in my mad cap experiment is Julia Smith, who will work up your appetite with her furious ranting.  I’m sure even political-type creatures stop for tea occasionally.

In keeping with our blog-bond, my recipe tonight is dedicated to her.  Red, juicy meat cooked in its own buttery juices; what better way to say I’m one of people! I will not be conquered! (Or, possibly, I’m a steak-loving dictator…mmm…will have to work on my political themed meals).  But for:

Ten Minute Steak

Ingredients

2 sirloin steaks (mine were British, air-dried, from Waitrose so they must be good)

Roseval new potatoes (enough for two – halved)

Green beans (enough for two – trimmed)

Salt and pepper

Butter and olive oil

Making

Season the steaks well, on both sides and leave to come up to room temperature for 10 – 30 minutes.

Put the oven on a low – medium heat, around 100C, you could roast a couple of Portobello mushrooms and tomatoes in here while everything else is cooking.

Put the potatoes on about 15 minutes before you want to eat.

In a large, flat bottom frying pan, heat a good wodge of butter (30g?) and a good splash of olive oil (2 tbsp?).  Get them really hot, until it’s just starting to brown.

Add the steaks and fry on each for 1 minute. Time yourself. Be firm.

Put the steaks on a resting tray (thanks Grandma!) or on a plate and pop in the warm oven (along with your eating plates).

Add the green beans to the steak pan and fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes.

When the potatoes are ready crush up with a fork and then pour on some of the steak fat.

Serve up like so:

Political Steak

 

 The first time I cooked red cabbage it went blue.  I boiled the life, the very red, out of it. (Other culinary delights served at that meal were raw jacket potatoes, off sour cream and pork chops as tough as leather).

Now if you read below you will see I have mastered Savoy cabbage.  I made it sexy.  But on a whim I had also brought red cabbage.  It sat in the fridge for at least a week.  It eyed me redly each time I looked in.  It dared me to make a meal of it.  I wasn’t ready. 

Could I forgive myself massacring the bright little vegetable again?  On Thursday the decision was made for me.  With nothing in the fridge except said cabbage and some other bits, I thought what the heck! It’s only cabbage! It can’t kill me!

It was the highlight of the meal, surpassing whatever protein and carb is was served with; it was so good I can’t even remember what they were.  Oh what lovely things happen with a bit of courage, and masses of butter.

Righteous Red Cabbage

 

Steamy Hot Cabbage Love

Ingredients

I admit, this is one of those where I measured nothing, I threw it all in, half expectant of disaster, half hypnotized by the buttery red smell of lovely cabbage coming from the pan.  Do the same.

Half a red cabbage

25g butter (perhaps more or less, I’m not sure, just whack it in)

Two tablespoons of water

Two – three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (glug it in)

Roughly two tablespoons of pine nuts (throw them in)

Roughly two tablespoons of capers (throw them in again, although do drain the vinegar off them first)

Salt

Making

 

1. Slice the cabbage in slivers (shred it)

2. Melt the butter in a big, deep frying pan

3. Add the cabbage, stir around and then add the water

4. Fry, stirring about for a bit until it’s starting to go a bit limper

5. Add the pine nuts, stir about for a minute or so

6. Glug in the balsamic vinegar

7. Add the capers

8. Stir around, nibbling little shreds of it until it’s the right texture for you

9. Add some salt (to taste).

10. Enjoy with whatever else is the fridge

In other news:

At the weekend P and I had a big party (sorry if you weren’t invited, come next time).  I made roast potatoes.  I forgot to boil them, arghh disaster I thought.  But not, quartered maris pipers cooked in plenty of very hot olive oil, with lots of smashed garlic cloves and rosemary springs for an hour or so made delicious crispy, fluffy inside roasties that were devoured by my drunken friends.

The sausages were more problematic.  I cooked all 80 of the cocktail king with 2 tablespoons each of sesame seed oil, soy sauce and honey. A kindly guest (read a drunken boy) smelt the lovely sausages, cooking happily in their marinade. He saw all the hot runny juices and silly, hapless creature thought the juice was fat.  He poured all that salty sweet marinade down the sink. ARGH!! Luckily the sausages had covered themselves and sucked up a lot of the flavour so it wasn’t a total disaster. But a lesson to be learnt – never let strangers touch the oven. Ever.

 Wikipedia has reliably informed me that spaghetti alla puttanesca means Whore’s Spaghetti, whore in Italian being puttana.  

According to chef Jeff Smith of the Frugal Gourmet, it was a quick, cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers.  So, in the theme of all things sexy (see cabbage below) this pasta dish seemed a fitting follow-on post. 

I occasionally crave pasta.  My darling mother taught me that you should listen to your cravings as they are your body telling you it needs something. 

Does my body actually need a double portion of refined carbohydrates smothered in oily, salty tomato sauce? I’m not sure. But it’s winter, so maybe it needs stores to see me through the cold.  

I can imagine this dish would certainly see a lady of the night through until morning anyway… 

Prostitute Pasta

Keeps you going all night

 

Ingredients

Good olive oil (I use Cyrus extra virgin)
4 cloves of garlic flattened and cut in half (length ways)
1 yellow/white onion (finely chopped)
1 tin of anchovies (chopped up)
1 tin of plum or chopped tomatoes
1 medium red chilli (into thin slices)
1 jar of black olives, chopped into thirds (the fiddlest part of the whole recipe)
3 tablespoons of capers (drained)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
Pasta (enough for two)

Making

1. In a bowl add the tomatoes, chilli, capers, olives, parlsey and a grinding of salt and pepper – if you’re using plum tomatoes chop them up
2. In a deep frying pan heat the oil and then add the garlic, cook until browned but not burnt (meanwhile boil the kettle)
3. Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes

 

 
Fishy, garlic, onion breath, what a passion starter
4. Add the anchovies for a minutes
5. Put your pasta on (remember to salt well)
6. Add the tomato mix to the frying pan and cook on a high heat, stirring occasionally and crushing with any lumps up with a fork
7. Drain the pasta when still al dente, leave about a tablespoon of water in
8. Add a little olive oil and salt to the pasta, stir about and then plate up
9. Add the sauce on top, sprinkle a little bit of dried or fresh parsley on top and serve to the waiting whores.

I served this with my favourite garlic chilli prawns:

Ingredients

1 packet raw (this is crucial) king prawns
1 medium chilli (thinly sliced)
3 fat cloves of garlic (crushed and chopped up)
1 tablespoon of good quality olive oil
Salt and pepper

Making

1. Before starting anything else mix the above ingredients in bowl and then put to oneside
2. After dishing up the pasta and sauce, put the deep frying back on the hob on a high heat, add the prawns and cook until pink
3. Either find room on the pasta plate (hard) or serve up seperately on a side plate.