Friday, 20 April 2007

Sort of

My father was and probably still is a great soup maker. His soups are not some recipe effort in fact if a recpie exists it goes along the lines of

See what is a leftover.
Blend to make a soup.

I know it comes from his experiences growing up in the 2nd world war and experiencing a shortage of food. He doesn't waste anything and in a funny way he has influenced me. I have never known how it feels to go without food. I have always had enough money to go and buy food. I can buy strange, exotic food and take time with it.

However I've moved countries recently and am now living on one wage. Sort of but that's another story. So for one strange reason or another I fancied a week of eating healthily. So far we've had

*Miso soup with aubergines - the dashi stock was home made and it was good.
*Thai bean cakes with noodles - see an earlier entry for more on them

It was a sort of potato and broccoli soup.

I used some left over stock from an earlier meat dish, cooked some potatoes and some broccoli and blended them till they were almost creamed. Combined. Served.

Today for lunch I went back to the remainders and added cream, not too much, a little paprika, some soy sauce and some bacony lardons style things. The result was a much more wholesome, tasty, a la Dad soup.

Tomorrow will be some sort of spicy sqaush surprise...maybe there'll be leftovers. Maybe there'll be soup. Sort of.

Tuesday, 17 April 2007


Easter was brilliant. All that preparation was worth it. We went out into the wilds of Norway (OK only a few km from the safety of the pub which is a rarity enough in these northern climes) and when we came home there was some fab grub just waiting to be eaten with relatively little effort. I'm sorry for going all Jamie Oliver there but I was having a Saul on the road to Damascus moment there.

Maybe it's time for some context.

I like food. Duh.
I like to cook from scratch.
I'm not some flamboyant chef but ask me to throw in some alcohol and I'm there with no thought for burning down the house.
I'm busy. I hold down a reasonably demanding job so cooking fulfils a basic need to receive nutrition.
It's just I enjoy it.

So since Easter we've been working our way through some of the usual things in our repetoire. As well as a few new things.

I tried Japanese egg rolls earlier in the week and made a complete hash of them...they tasted great, they looked awful. I wouldn't have served them to my cat (If I had one). So maybe to context list up there you can add vanity.

I will have to name check Elizabeth David here because she wrote in brilliant terms about people who cook just to get fuel are missing an enormous point (I'm paraphrasing wildly here so forgive me). She wrote with passion for food and for eating, not some roman excess, just good food made sensibly and with a desire to give pleasure to those who eat it. Now the fact it has to look good. That's just the way we're wired as humans.

So tonight I made some Thai chilli bean cakes, a vegetarian version of Thai crab cakes or fish cakes. They were OK but nothing like the crispy darlings in the cookbook.

I wonder if there's a moral in there somewhere???

Thursday, 5 April 2007

The kitchen's a thumping

Easter. Get away, relax, out in the fresh air. Eat. Drink. Be merry.

Cook. Cook. Cook.

Freinds are arriving this evening and we're off for 4 days exploring the wilds of Norway. We know where we're heading has the most insignificant of kitchens so it's being a day of prep prep prep.

Today the Kitchen has produced:

Choclate cake
Fresh pesto sauce
Garam Masala
Chicken Korma
Chicken and potato pie
4 loaves of bread
8 Choclate brioches are on the way
Lunch for us.
500ml of good chicken stock for future use in a risotto or something equally good

The Curry was made from scratch, no preprepared sauces, no nothing just me and a load of ingredients.

I know we eat too much in this house in a general most people in the western world eat too much kind of way but we try to waste nothing and mostly it's a success.

Eat like a king, just don't throw it out like an idiot.

Hopefully we'll get some pictures up soon so you can see that I like my bread looking rustic!!

Remember never buy frozen pizza....

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Egg fried rice

I feel like Betrand Russell. Well sort of. Egg fried rice is one of those dishes that I love to cook. Generally it involves leftovers and I always cook too much rice for other meals to give myself a reason to make it. However it does present do they get it the way they do in good (and bad) chinese restaurants? Maybe Ken Hom doesn't let all his secrets out of the bag???

So tonight it was egg fried rice, no meat and an attempt to avoid Chinese 5 spice. Yes, it is a useful seasoning but it can get a bit repetive so here's my take for tonight.

1x red onion
1x red pepper
4x spring onion
2x mushrooms
6x cherry tomatoes
All chopped and fried in vegetable oil adulderated with seasame oil, tabasco and some kind of thai chicken powder.

The rice was a mixture of vinegared sushi rice and basamiti rice.
The egg mixture was
3x beaten eggs
1x dash soy
1x dash sesame
1x dash water

You can guess the rest.
Yes it wasn't classy but it was tasty and after a long day at work and a cycle ride home it was a touch of easy soul food. Oh by the way serve with some expensive red wine and make like you're Anthoiny Bordain....

Sometimes it is good to turn on the fancy stuff for no one but yourself and sometimes it's fun to relax. Just don't buy frozen pizza. Ever.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Monkey House restaurant

Deb has suggested some sort of Nigel Slateresque Kitchen Diaries for our own good selves. This is not a bad idea but I'm not sure how to go about it...a litany of everything we eat for dinner doesn't seem that interesting per se but it's clear there is some mileage in the subject. I've thought about a ratings system so I can score meals as well...for example pasta scores x and noodles scores make it more fun and also be a little discerning about what we eat. Let's deal with some subjective facts here; we think we eat healthily. Now the question is do we?
Let's find out.
Tonights dinner was
Entrecote served with pan fried red onions, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms accompanied by mashed potatoes and spinach.
So let's see...
Rare steak...not good in large quantities
Rest is pretty OK.
So the challenge now is to balance it...time to dig out the lentils..