Reviews, recipes, ramblings and other gourmet bites. A food blog of indulgence...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Playing with Jelly

Jelly has gone through something of a renaissance recently, and partly this is thanks to the wobbly wizardry (not a phrase I ever thought I'd use) of Sam Bompas and Harry Parr. These two young guys have done for jelly what Heston Blumenthal did for gastronomy. They introduce science, they're not afraid to be a little bit mad, and they delight in the weird and the macabre.

To my mind, jelly was something relegated to kids parties - in a plastic rabbit mould and undoubtedly mashed with a 7-year-old's sugar-crazed delight into blocks of Cornish vanilla ice cream, or (and this is something I admit with my head bowed), eaten in cubes straight from the packet when my throat felt like it contained two spiky golfballs instead of tonsils.

However, the Bompas and Parr Jelly book has illustrated just how classy and inventive jelly can be. It makes really good reading, and has got both me and Matt really fired up about making jelly, not only the recipes featured in the book, but also creating our own. As Bompas and Parr note, anything liquid can be made into jelly. Take a moment and think about the implications of this. Your favourite cocktail - that can be jelly. Custard  - yep, jelly. Any foodstuff that you can liquidise,  you can then jellify. How flippin' exciting!

We've already been flinging such genius ideas as 'beer jelly' and 'gravy jelly' (!) around, with a maniacal glint in our eyes, but we decided not to run before we can walk, and started off with the delicious (and actually fizzy) lemonade jelly from the book.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Spectacular spectacular ...

Margarine antelope from food sculptor Simon Smith

Today has been one of those days where living in London is brilliant. It started to feel like autumn is properly here (i.e crisp, blue sky, cold winds and turning leaves, rather than grey, grey, rain, rain, grey, rain, grey etc etc), the tubes weren't too crowded (unheard of on a Saturday) and we went to a fantastic foodie spectacular hosted by the Experimental Food Society.

I read about the event in the Guardian earlier this week. As, it appears, did most of the rest of London. It was absolutely packed - which is fantastic for all the exhibitors who undoubtedly deserve every bit of recognition they get, but slightly irritating nonetheless as you could barely move without getting elbowed or poked.

The Experiemental Food Society is a collective of outrageous foodies, chefs and creatives who strive to break food out of the confines of the kitchen and bring it into the spotlight in the world of art, science and performance.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Caprice des Dieux

If you've met me, you'll know that I like cheese. I eat lots of it, buy lots of it, talk incessantly about it - I used my holiday allowance this year to live on a goat farm making (and eating) cheese. In fact, this blog was almost a cheese blog. In retrospect, it's definitely for the best that it isn't restricted to cheese and it's much more fun sharing it with Jen than it would have been going it on my own.

I do still want to write about cheese though, and this will be the first of many cheesy posts...

Caprice des Dieux is one of the few good mass produced French industriel (factory) cheeses that have made it across the channel to UK supermarkets (I found this one in a big Sainsburys). It's very recognisable in it's oval blue and white box. If you've been to France, you can pick these up all over the place, they aren't top of the range but they put a lot of the soft cheese found in our supermarkets to shame (I'm looking at you  Le Rustique).

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Mid-week curry

Matt here,

Despite enjoying cooking immensely, sometimes, in the middle of the week, I don't really want to spend the whole evening in the kitchen. This was especially the case this evening as I'm celebrating the purchase of my first DSLR camera. I've spent most of tonight being frustrated with the complexity of it but I am very much looking forward to being able to take lots of good pictures in the future (and posting a few of them here).

I have attached a couple of pictures (from the 200 I took) to this post. Not great I know but it's a start and I still have a lot of settings to play with...

So yes, didn't want to spend too much cooking, but that absolutely does not mean that I don't want to eat nice food. The solution to this dilemma is Nigel Slater's 30 Minute Cook book. I've mentioned it before...

His quick lamb curry is a favourite of ours - quick, easy and delicious - it tastes homely but not basic and goes perfectly with a glass of red and something not particularly intellectually demanding on TV (the final of the Great British Bake Off on iplayer was tonight's offering - guilty pleasure...). 
Jen actually knows the recipe by heart having cooked it so often - she does it beautifully. Tonight I fancied giving it a shot and the results were pretty reasonable, although I perhaps spent rather too much time photographing and too little time paying attention to the food. 

Ok, I'm off to play with my new toy now :)

Monday, 20 September 2010

And I had such good intentions ...

Walking past 'the fruit man' today at lunchtime, I think I must have been hit by some sort of tractor beam. My brain had just about managed to process the words 'Plums .... ooh' before I was being handed about 400 of them in a blue plastic bag.

They had been sitting in the one beam of sunlight that had pushed its way into Clapham today, and were so ripe that they were practically splitting their skins - I had several juicy casualties on the way home.

All afternoon, I was distracted by thoughts of plum pie. It was going to be juicy, crusty with sugar, with crumbly, fruit stained and undoubtedly wonky pastry. By the time 5.30 rolled around, it had been elevated in my mind to the King of Pies, a pudding so tasty that Matt and anyone else who came within 10 feet of it would be struck dumb with awe.

But then I had a driving lesson, and came home and did laundry, and chatted on the phone for a while, and then all of a sudden it was 9 o clock and I hadn't eaten and couldn't quite face making pastry.

So instead, I made nutty, garlicky, buttery mushroom pasta, spiked with parsley and parmesan. I had a beer and watched unashamedly trashy TV. Then, I sliced up the firmest of the plums, pan fried them in butter and brown sugar, until they had shmushed deliciously (shmushed being a technical term) and then ate them with a disgustingly huge blob of clotted cream. Healthy - not so much. Amazing - hell yes.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

That's the way I've always heard it should be ...

It has long been my opinion that any day is made better with the addition of some sort of baked good. This holds particularly true for Fridays. A healthy (or unhealthy) dose of something sweet and crumbly, frosted or cream-filled eases you into the weekend like nothing else.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


Matt here,

Risotto is a favourite of ours and a regular, despite its rather long-winded preparation. It's very easy to experiment with and I've always found it to be rather forgiving. I really am very fond of risotto, the ingredients are so simple (stock + rice + stirring = lovely meal) and yet the result is so elegant. There's something comforting about the whole process, to me the stirring is never a chore.
I find that the recipe takes about an hour, from raw ingredients to plate, I suppose you could bash it out in 40 minutes but why not savour the process? Savour it with a glass of wine, throw a glass in the risotto if you fancy it (probably stick to a white wine for this).

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Moule time

Belgos is one of those restaurants where, no matter how long I spend dithering over the menu, I invariably end up going for the same thing - juicy plump mussels in a Thai broth. With chips, naturally.

Yesterday, I took it upon myself to try to recreate this dish at home, without relying on recipes. I love reading recipe books (whether I'm actually cooking or just wanting to lose myself in some tasty writing) but I do find that if I've committed to making such-and-such a meal, I tend to cling to the recipe, going back to check and recheck every step lest I let whatever I'm labouring over burn/collapse/go lumpy/have A.N Other disaster. In other words, I get The Fear.

Yesterday, I decided, The Fear wasn't getting a look in. We went down to Northcote Road to visit the lovely fish van (for me) and the cheese shop of untold delight (for Matt). Armed with a kilo of mussels, I hit the kitchen (with considerable force, if the mess I have left is anything to go by).

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

There is also a sandwich

Matt here,

There are times where the excesses of a previous evening have left me not feeling in peak physical condition. These painful and distressing times call for special measures.

No measure is as special as The Sandwich.

I'm blogging about this superfood today as I had one again over the weekend – it was great. Its magnificence lies in combining the two great food groups (cheese and meat) with the practicality of a sandwich. The mustard is key in cutting through blearyness.

I thought about taking a photo, but a combination of its not-so-photogenic appearance, my desperation to eat it immediately and not wanting to pick up my camera with greasy hands intervened.

The sandwich is of a very specific construction and I will attempt to describe it below.

Two slices of white bread
As much bacon as you have (if it's not smoked then the pig died in vain)
Lots of grated cheddar (should be fairly mature)
English mustard

  1. Fry the bacon to your own taste of done-ness, but not too crunchy.
  2. Whilst sizzling, lightly toast the bread and grate the cheese.
  3. Spread mustard thickly on one slice of toast and add a small hill of grated cheese.
  4. Transfer bacon onto cheese trying to make sure that not too much of the cooking fat is lost.
  5. Put other slice on top and cut in half.
  6. Devour in front of inane TV (maybe Dave) with a cup of coffee and feel slightly better ...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

On Eggs As Forbidden Fruit

In recent months, I have been having annoying digestive wobblings and tummy troubles, and on dr's advice have been searching for the things I eat that seem to trigger this off, in order to eliminate them from my diet.

So it is that for the last 6 weeks or so, eggs have been banished, and, actually, it seems to be working (touch wood).

Now, you'd think that having found a potential trigger and stopped nasty painful yuck-stomach in its tracks for a while would make me happy. But I am a contrary creature, and thus all it appears to have done is to place the egg on a shiny, glittering pedestal of utter deliciousness in my brain. To the point that whenever Matt asks the inevitable 'What shall we do for dinner?' question, I have to refrain from shrieking 'EggseggseggsEGGSeggsarrrrrgheggs!' at him.

Photo from Delia online