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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sweet, sweet as can be

You may remember my soup resolution - I haven't managed three times a week yet, but we did have soup twice last week. The second was a very elaborate sweetcorn and red chilli chowder, which I made with six ears of fresh corn.
Sweetcorn always astounds me in how it lives up to its name, although I'm not convinced it's always a good thing how sweet it is. Sometimes it feels a little as though it's just sweet and nothing else, but the soupcorn was actually very nice. The chilies did not add a lot of spice, but they look very pretty. The most noteworthy aspect was that the very floury potatoes I used remained in rather firm cubes rather than getting nice soft and raggedy round the edges like I expected.
Next: cream of spring onion soup.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Twinkle, twinkle, little tomato

Have I told you about my arbitrary garden? For Christmas I was given a lovely wooden windowbox, containing nursery-bought thyme and sage, transplanted chives, mint and rosemary and a completely rogue tomato seedling.
The thyme and sage fell early victims to my habit of forgetting to water them. The chives, mint and rosemary have survived but bear the ravages of the ordeal. The rogue seedling is trying to take over our flat.
The tomatoes have even turned a lovely dark red, so I decided to override my own mild dislike for the fruit (and the Man's much more deeply held belief that Tomatoes are Evil) and use them in supper.
This was helped by my having brought back from Ireland some lovely floury potatoes and sweet carrots from my uncle's garden.
A couple of sea bass fillets seemed like a good idea when passing the fishmongers'.
I did have a bit of a Ready Steady Cook moment when I considered the menu, but it turned out surprisingly well.
The outcome was grilled seabass with tomato and fennel coulis, carrot gratté and steamed potatoes.
The seabass I rubbed with salt and pepper on the skin side and honey, balsamic vinegar and pepper on the flesh side, then put skinside up under a hot grill for seven minutes. (Hat tip to Jane for the honey and vinegar idea)
For the coulis, I softened garlic and fennel seeds in olive oil and butter, then simmered the skinned and chopped tomatoes in the fat for about 15 minutes. Then (struck with inspiration at the last minute - never very convenient) I sieved the sauce and put it back on the heat to reduce.
Fresh garden carrots are so delicious and unlike bought carrots that I simply grated them very finely with a microplane grater and sprinkled some window-grown chives on them for the colour. This left them light, fluffy and juicy all at once, as well as allowing their sweetness to display itself to admiration.
The steamed potatoes I just steamed.
I thought the whole was excellent, although the Man was less than enthusiastic about the carrots. I think he noticed there were vitamins in them.

How does your garden grow?

The Kitchen Accomplice is very firmly a London girl, but even she enjoyed the freedom of my uncle's vegetable garden in Ireland.
We were staying with my cousins, who live in the comfortable half of the house, but with full access to the garden. There we dug potatoes and horseradish, pulled carrots and beets, collected cauliflower and cabbage, even courgettes.
In the greenhouse, we found perfectly ripe white peaches - one each - and some slightly less ripe ones that we peeled and puréed for Bellinis. Rich orange apricots and three final sweet raspberries added to our horde.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wedding breakfast

My sister got married recently. Here is what she ate for lunch beforehand.

Don't you think that's the most inappropriate lunch for a blushing bride?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Soup of the Evening, Beautiful Soup

I am not a big soup fan in general, but recently I have decided to reconsider this principle.
One thing that inspired this was a delicious carrot and coriander soup made by my lovely cousin Lindis - I have spent some twenty years avoiding carrot and coriander soup, but this was so delicious I had to have second helpings.
I have also perhaps reached an age where comforting food that is nevertheless not hugely over-filling is a useful addition to my life.
So for tonight I made pea and basil soup.
Very gently fry a macedoine of carrrots, onions and garlic until soft (takes longer than you can imagine), then add stock and peas, and bring to a simmer. Add a handful of basil and season, then simmer for ten minutes before blending with the soup gun.
On my own initiative I crumbled in some 'Bulgarian sheeps' cheese' from our local Turkish shop (aka feta), which added the right salty note.