Sunday, 15 July 2007


The Kitchen is doing well at the moment. Seems that whatever was weighing on me and taking the pleasure out of cooking has gone. There are still way too many balls in the air at the moment but at least cooking is no longer one of them.

We've been eating some good stuff lately and I need to talk about some pie filling I made recently.

I used,

Beef - cubed
Garlic - chopped (I view crushing it as some sort of betrayal)
Onion - chopped (I view chopping an onion as some sort of acid test of your attitude to cooking)
Fresh tomatoes
Salt, Pepper and Bay

I literally just bunged it all in a pot and let it go, no red wine, no tomato juice, no nothing I let the ingredients do all the work and it wa lovely. The key - time. This isn't one for people on a schedule...

Looking ahead I'm off to helsinki tomorrow...back on wednesday late. The kitchen is closed but the chef is plotting!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Just an update on my last entry...

No asparagus when out sourcing this morning so it will be grilled fennel and leek instead. I think that could be quite an exciting combination and certainly the presentation possibilities are good.

I bought my little brother one of Bill Granger's books for his birthday despite the fact I have never read one. It was the comment that he can make tired ingredients (in the sense that we can have chicken morning noon and night if we want) taste fresh again. I like that. In fact it plays into park of why I cook. I'm not systematic in my cooking. My blending of flavours is completely instinctive (with a dash of recall!)...I hope the book finds favour.

I'm also plotting one hell of a tour round Norway. Our walk over the weekend through Trollheimen just about killed us but it has whetted my appetite for exploring and I have to figure out how to get Deborah to Innderdalen...Norway's most beautiful valley. I'm not proposing any tough walks, just a trip to this most lovely place and a night or two under canvas. Real fire, homely food. Get the Monkey House Kitchen working in the wild.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Hills and menu plans

I love to cook. That much should be obvious to anyone who has stopped by this blog even casually. However I love to walk as well. The wilder the better. This weekend just gone the Kitchen was mothballed and we headed for the hills. Trollheimen, Norway.

2 days, 45 km, 1350m of vertical ascent and22hrs walking. Luckily for us we went high on Saturday and got the best weather (I have the sunburn to prove it) and as it has been unusally fry here in Norway over the summer months the way back was just about as bone dry as you can expect a bog to be.

I had a great time although my shoulders are stiff from the pack. I'd quite happily head out tomorrow but shan't as it is time toi get the kitchen going again.

In the week ahead we will be cooking

Mon - Parma ham, cherry tomatoes, mozarella and watermelon salad
Tue - Marinated salmon, grilled and served on noodles
Wed - Gammon steaks with grilled leeks and asparagus
Thu - Beef and mushroom pie with cheese mash
Fri - Thai spring rolls with tempura prawns
Sat - Spaghetti carbonara
Sun - Lamb shanks with roast potatoes

There's also a curry that needs making, some bread that needs baking ( I have a feeling it will be some sort of morrocan flatbread with a hummus and lamb kind of meal).

The kitchen is open. I need these kind of walks more often!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Mozarella & Fennel

I've achieved something of a personal goal in the last week. I went swimming in a cold Norwegian Fjord. Ever since we've moved here I've wanted to plunge into the waters that surround us. Mostly to see if I can survive it. The dull fact is, of course, that the water was nowhere near cold enough for survival to be a question. Still it was refreshing and a feeling of 1-0 to me versus the world.

I'm quite a goal driven individual and cooking has often been a means of escaping, a chance to be creative, put on a different skin almost. However recently it has been something of a chore as the inevitable pressures of life seemed to manifest themselves in a bit of a spring tide. It was a little eat for fuel, get on with solving the puzzle and survive.

The big question challenge is whether to move on from Norway to Finland. I won't debate the details but it has hanging over me a bit. So it was great last night to cobble together a bruschetta and some salsa and have it with a bit of Makerel. It was almost as if the bruschetta was the best bit.

For those of you who think a piece of toast will suffuce, let me tell you in no uncertain terms it will not.

Bread, one day old is best. Grill in hot ridged pan. No oil.
When it looks right take it out, rub with garlic, add freshly ground salt and a dribble of olive oil.

Trust me, there is no going back and best of all it is true soul food. Nothing fancy but deeply comforting.

Tonight we borrowed liberally from Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries. We tried his Fennel and Mozarella salad which tasted of summer. I thought our version was OK but am heartened that it has a ton of possibilities to be developed according to what you have in the larder.

However more than that, with interesting deliberations ahead on whether to up sticks for Finland, it's good to know that I'm interested in food again as something other than fuel.

Tomorrow night will be a pea and prawn risotto - only a dish to be made if you love to cook! Roll on happy days - I'm back!!!