Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Ship - Food Bloggers Christmas Lunch

I had a phenomenal lunch today. I arrived at The Ship in Wandsworth shortly after noon. We had drinks. Then we had more drinks. Then I had an embarassing number of half drinks lined up beside me. Then food started to come. And it was delicious.

I met lovely people. People whose blogs I have been reading and people who don't write but love food and we had fun. Strangers who I have befriended on twitter and who I hope to eat with again. This was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. And an evening. Because lunch stretched into the evening and we left the pub at 7:00. A few brave souls went on to Turkish for dinner. It is nearly 11:00 pm and I am still full. I may never eat again. Well, I say that but I'm already excited about coooking with my new Staub La Cocotte (it's blue) and am fooddreaming of the braising roasting that will happen in the coming weeks.

There will probably be any number of blog posts about what we ate today. I was lucky that the people on my table were generous and I had mutliple bites of the foie gras, the duck and the venison. They were all delicious. But these are the photos that I took of my meal.

Black Treacle Smoked Salmon

Close up

Chestnut and mushroom gnocchi with sage crisps

Cheese. And then more cheese.
Sticky Toffee Pudding

The afternoon was so lovely. The people at The Ship were great, the food was great, the company was great.

Friday, December 17, 2010

How To Eat Like An Atheist

I can’t remember which holiday it was. I think it may have been diwali. At any rate I was annoyed because whatever religious moment it was for whichever religious group, it sounded delicious. And I was jealous.

I’m not a practicing anything. I’m an atheist. So while I eat a nice dinner at Christmas and Easter, I don’t actually celebrate anything besides birthdays the rest of the year and so I miss out on all sorts of opportunities for deliciousness and celebrations. And it’s not just the food. I like that religious celebrations take a moment to pause and appreciate something important, to gather loved ones near and to celebrate a day or a moment or a memory that has a greater meaning that just yeah good food. And so I decided that it wasn’t fair that religious people got all the fun and that I would start celebrating the food and community side of various religious feasts. But not religiously, since I’m not, and so How To Eat Like An Atheist was born as a fun little sabbatical project in my head.

But this has been full of traps. Traps that lead deep into the internet. How do you pick which days to celebrate?

First I picked a handful of countries and decided I would see which religious days they celebrated and what they ate. Surely Christmas in India is different from Christmas in Mexico. But I needed a representative sample of countries worldwide and by the time I got to the end of compiling my list I had 40 countries. I may be on sabbatical but I do not have time to look up the religious holidays of 40 countries. Then I found this list on wikipedia that outlines public holidays by country and I thought awesome - someone has done the work for me. But I fell into a wikihole of epic proportions. Did you know that Albania celebrates Mother Theresa Day? Or that Bhutan has a Blessed Rainy Day? Or that Haiti was discovered on my birthday? Or how complicated lunar holidays get? Neither did I and each country’s listing got me further into the internet and farther away from choosing a celebration for January.

So I abandoned that. Besides, I want religious holidays. Not just public holidays. I shall look at it from the religion perspective. So I started to put together a list of the major religions. I looked at religions based on the number of people who practice them worldwide. But when do you stop? Christianity divides into the Catholics and the Protestants who then unhelpfully divide into a bazillion groups again. There are different types of Judaism. Sunnis and Shiites. Then does Taoism count as a religion or more a philosophy attached to Confucianism? What about newish religions that have popped up in the past hundred years? What about the different religions in India? And I haven’t even BEGUN to touch on the indigenous beliefs in South America, or even blinked at Africa.

Too much! Stop! this is supposed to be fun! And so, after all that, and weeks of falling into wonderlandesque wikiholes. I found this website that holds an interfaith religious calendar. It may not be perfect. It may miss out on some of the more obscure holidays, but this is what I am going to use as my main calendar for the project.

So, the plan is thus. Pick two religious celebrations a month. they may be based on a convenient date (points for falling on a Saturday or Sunday), general interest in the holiday itself (how does one celebrate the circumcision of Christ?), and deliciousness. Since this is an exercise in cooking and eating the food will of course be the most important factor. I am also reserving the right to combine celebrations. There are certain dates that are important to more than one religion and I think it will be fun to combine them and see what food we end up with.

The last piece of the puzzle is the community. Celebrations are a time for family and friends to get together and be with each other over something special. Connecting with loved ones is such an important part of being happy and as an atheist I don’t get as many excuses as others. So this is an open invitation - come hang out with us and eat and be merry.

The game begins January 1, 2011.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Making Food

It's December and I'm taking part in #reverb10. It's a daily prompt for the month of December that invites you to reflect on the past year and think about the year to come. I like that kind of thing at this time of the year and it's helping me complete another side project which is 750 words a day. I've completed every one, but haven't been posting my responses anywhere - the internet does not need a complete record of my personal neuroses. I'm just not that big a sharer.

So why are you reading this now? Because the prompt for today was this: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

It got me thinking about cooking, specifically making fresh pasta. Fresh pasta on Saturday night was the last thing I made. I took two cooking classes last week. French Classics Cooking (so much butter! so much double cream!) and Fresh Pasta making. I've been making pasta for years but I've never been particularly good at it and I figured I had a voucher, why not use it to learn and improve a skill and actually use the equipment I own. A few tricks, a bit of chefly guidance and I'm feeling pretty confident about my pasta making abilities.

So I made some for dinner on Saturday night before we went out to the Soho Theatre to see Asher Treleaven. So funny.

While I was mixing the flour and eggs, kneading pulling punching pushing, I was thinking about craft and the art of making things by hand. Later, as I rolled it through the machine (so much easier now!) and cut the tagliatelle, hung it up on my makeshift drying racks and carefully separated the individual noodles, I felt like I was doing something. Like I was participating in a craft that had ancient roots and a tradition and history that I was part of by making my dinner. There's something really powerful in building something with your very own hands.

I think often about the process of cooking and baking. There's a great quote about how when you cook, you never cook alone because you take into the kitchen with you generations of cooks whose experience and trials and love is passed down and through every time you make something. You eat every day so you forget how special cooking actually is. Not just from the love that hopefully goes into your food but also the knowledge behind it. How long did it take to perfect the process that makes snails not only edible but a delicious delicacy? How many upset stomaches were there from eating the wrong mushroom? Or broken teeth from biting into a raw quince?

When I make something like pasta is feels like I'm doing something. I like dishes that require care and constant stirring supervision. Or complicated breads and baking that I can delve into and lose myself in. It feels creative and like a craft.

The last question of today's prompt asks if there is something you want to make, but need to clear time for. I look over at my cookbook shelf, with the post-its and bits of paper sticking out and there are at least a hundred things I want to make. Some will be quick after work dinners, others will require a full day immersed in the kitchen. I'm fortunate that the things I love to make are usually useful delicious things that bring something to others and form an important part of my daily world.

Are there particular dishes or meals that make you feel like you've accomplished something important? Something you make often? Or an occasional burst of kitchen creativity and energy?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Secret recipes

When I was a kid my mom made the most bestest popcorn cake. It had jujubes in it, and was simply popcorn and jujubes held together with marshmallow - like a rice crispy square only more exciting. It was her signature children's party dish. She made it for all sorts of events - bake sales, potlucks, sleepovers. She never shared the recipe. I'm pretty sure even I don't have the recipe.

Off the top of my head I can think of two secret recipes that I guard vigilantly and that I consider family secrets and potential heirloom knowledge. The truth is, they are neither.

One recipe is a slight rift on one I took from the internet a couple of years ago. It is a huge hit and a bit like crack - you think you don't want anymore but your hand keeps grabbing it and stuffing it in your mouth. The thing is, I know, KNOW, that if this recipe were to get out it would be EVERYWHERE. You'd go to parties and there it would be. It would be gifted to people at funerals and christenings. It would lose it's distinctive crack like addiction because it would
reach saturation point. And so I've only ever given the recipe to a few family members, on the express understanding that they are absolutely NOT to share it outside our blood ties.

The other recipe is taken directly from a cookbook I got out of the library years ago and that I follow meticulously every time I make it because to veer from its perfection would be a folly. It's a crowd pleaser. I make it often and every time I make it people swoon. How can something so commonplace, such a traditional dish be so delicious? So tasty and exciting?

People ask for the recipe. I have to say no. It's a secret. For two reasons. First, if I gave you the recipe, you'd make it. Then the magic of the meal that I placed before you on that magical dinner party night would be tarnished and you'd probably think less of me. It's silly. Probably a little self absorbed. But it's true. You can't tell me that by making something yourself you don't demystify it and take a bit of the magic out of it. It's not true for everything of course. But for this particular dish it is true...

The second reason is shame. If I place on the table an epic meal, of herculean proportions, taste sensations of awesomeness in something so humble, you will want to believe in it. You will want to believe in the magic of it - the alchemy of the best ingredients, lovingly prepared and carefully seasoned. There is definitely that element to it. It was made with love. It was made with the best ingredients. But it also contains a Secret Shameful Ingredient. If I told you what it was you wouldn't enjoy it as much and you'd think less of me as a cook and indeed as a person.

I can't let that happen. And so please understand why I can't share certain recipes with you. I'd be delighted to have you come over for dinner but I'll have everything in the oven before you arrive, dishes cleaned. I'll be sipping a glass of something bubbly when you walk in
the door, laughing at the delightful thing our friend just said, and you will never discover my secrets.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Poires Savoyards

I'm not a big fan of pears. I'm not crazy about their grainy texture or their thick skins. If someone else cuts them up and presents them on a plate as part of a fruit salad, or as an accompaniment to cheese I will gladly eat them , but they're not my favourite. I do actually like the taste of pears though, so I enjoy them cooked, poached in red wine or baked into a tart. Last year I discovered a recipe for poires savoyards in Diane Henry's book Roasted Figs Sugar Snow, one of my favourite winter cookbooks.

It's quite simple.

Butter a baking dish, lay slices of peeled pear in, sprinkle with 4 tablespoons or so of caster sugar and then pour a bit less than a cup of double cream (with a drop of vanilla in it) all over. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes until the top is golden and burnished.

Nothing to it but it makes a gorgeous rich but at the same time light dessert. We ate it often last winter.

So, pears in the fridge, I made it for dessert the other night when Tara came over. Delicious as always and I made quite a bit so I had leftovers - it is ridiculously good cold - the sauce thickens and it's divine.

Anyways I just got home, starving, from pilates and decided to make some breakfast. I made oatmeal and added four slices of the pear and a bit of the sauce. A pinch or two more of sugar and I ate the most luxurious delicious oatmeal I have ever had. Total win.

Poires Savoyards

I'm not a big fan of pears. I'm not crazy about their grainy texture or their thick skins. If someone else cuts them up and presents them on a plate as part of a fruit salad, or as an accompaniment to cheese I will gladly eat them, but they're not my favourite. I do actually like the taste of pears though, so I enjoy them cooked, poached in red wine or baked into a tart. Last year I discovered a recipe for poires savoyards in Diane Henry's book Roasted Figs Sugar Snow, one of my favourite winter cookbooks.

It's quite simple.

Butter a baking dish, lay slices of peeled pear in, sprinkle with 4 tablespoons or so of caster sugar and then pour a bit less than a cup of double cream (with a drop of vanilla in it) all over. Bake in the oven at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes until the top is golden and burnished.

Nothing to it but it makes a gorgeous rich but at the same time light dessert. We ate it often last winter.

So, pears in the fridge, I made it for dessert the other night when Tara came over. Delicious as always and I made quite a bit so I had leftovers - it is ridiculously good cold - the sauce thickens and it's fabulous.

Anyways I just got home, starving, from pilates and decided to make some breakfast. I made oatmeal and added four slices of the pear and a bit of the sauce. A pinch or two more of sugar and I ate the most luxurious delicious oatmeal I have ever had. Total win.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roasted Tomato and Sausage

When does a recipe become your own? How many times do you have to make it without following the original step by step to call it yours? How many changes, however slight, give you ownership of a set of instructions?

I think about that often while reading food blogs.

After the April sausage making class we had an abundance of sausages. In fact the freezer was quite full and it's only now that the numbers have dwindled enough for me to think about purchasing sausages again. For awhile we ate our homemade, artisan sausages with glee and they did in fact taste delicious - pride does add flavour! But then I started getting bored and looked around for sausage inspiration. I found a recipe on Jamie Oliver's site for sausages roasted with tomatoes to form a lovely sauce. Excellent. I followed the recipe and made the dish. Great - delicious, absolutely a make-again. And dead simple.

So the next time I glanced at the recipe and then went forth and made some changes. And then I made it again and didn't consult the recipe. And now, while the inspiration may have come from Jamie Oliver, the recipe is mine and it is one of my favourite comfort foods at the moment.

For two

Four sausages (Italian, cumberland, whatever. Preferably homemade ;)
A small mountain of cherry/grape tomatoes. I usually use a punnet and a half or so.
4 cloves of garlic, still in their skins
Rosemary, a sprig or two, finely chopped.
Thyme, three sprigs or so, finely chopped (or about a teaspoon of dried).
Oregano, half a teaspoon or so
Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper

The tomatoes get thrown into a roasting tin, the herbs sprinkled over top, douse with a bit of olive oil, be generous. Then add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Mix about. Toss in the garlic.

Roll the sausages in the oil and place them on the tomatoes. This whole thing goes in the oven (180 degrees) for about 45 minutes. Turn the sausages and mix up the tomatoes about half through. You want them to roast and blacken a bit. Sometimes my sauce is too watery and then I pop in on the stove to boil away and simmer, adding the sausages at the end to warm up before serving.

It's unctuous and herby and warm and served over polenta that's got a shocking amount of butter and cheese in it it is one of my favourite meals of the moment.

The thing is, we are actually almost out of sausages and while the class was fun I don't really see us going back... so we'll have to BUY sausages like regular people. Ew. How common.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Did We Eat?

I have a day book. I've kept one each year since 2003. I write down what happens that day, keep track of birthdays and important appointments. That kind of thing. I also record what I eat. Not every single day. But most. They are short entries normally:

Tuesday February 9
So anxious. Went home and made spectacular, elaborate aubergine wrapped ricotta gnocchis with brown butter sage sauce. Divine, esp. on a tuesday.

Saturday March 6
Up so early! Bought an octopus, jeans, made a pie!

Friday July 16
A date night that wasn't. Both home late & tired so we ordered indian and watched television.

If we have a particularly epic meal I will do my best to write a full description of what everyone ate. If I make some particularly delicious but can't remember where the inspiration came from I'll record that too, just in case.

I write food down because it helps me remember. I may not remember what the weather was like or what was going on in politics, but if I've written down the food I can usually pull up a pretty good picture, visuals, smell, of the day. It's like the moment gets captured in the food and saved there. It's likely it acts as an aide-mémoire for me because sitting down to eat requires you to slow down and breathe and relax, even for a few moments.

The reason I bring it up is because of this lovely short article in the New Yorker about a man who also wrote down what he ate.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Then a treat, now commonplace

Homemade candied tomatoes made me think of the homemade sun dried tomatoes that my Aunt made one year.

They were hard as rocks and needed much love in order to soften them up so you could use them but she made them and they were free. They were kind of special. I received them at a point in my life where sun dried tomatoes were a novelty and an expensive treat and something that I rarely, if ever, bought for myself.

What other ingredients are there like that? Ones that were a treat, a special event, something to be treasured that now, as semi grown ups with incomes and choices, are things we eat regularly and don't treasure in the same way. Nice wine. I remember when buying a nice bottle (nice being relative, right?) was an event and something special. When mangoes where pricey and buying one and eating it, savouring it, was the height of luxury.

Cheese. God. I am so utterly spoiled now. I can get all sorts of cheese, it's not a big deal, it's not outrageously expensive like it was in Calgary, and I munch on it as a snack all the time. But there was a time, in my undergrad, when going to get cheese from the Janice Beaton cheese shop was an Event.

It was pretty much the only dedicated, artisan, cheese shop in Calgary. Or at least the only one that I knew about. It was not far from my house, but it was on 17th Avenue in the cool kids district, so I usually got dressed up a bit. Not a lot, but I didn't run out in my lululemon gear. I'd go in and the guys who worked there were wonderful. So knowledgable. So willing to talk, to explain, to try things with me and explain why and how and what. I'd buy an obscene amount of cheese for one poor Classics student, grab a baguette and some fruit on my way home and study and write and devour a king's ransom in dairy love.

The cheese I buy now is probably better. I live in England. It doesn't have as far to go (food miles and all). It's not as expensive. I still like to learn about it. But it is something I take for granted in a way that ten years ago would gave seemed crazy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Candied Tomatoes

At the height of summer tomato season, or when I get a bit overexcited about tomatoes and buy £20 worth of them from the nice guy at The Tomato Stall, I have, on occasion, wound up with too many tomatoes. Tragic. Especially if you're buying organic, kissed every night by virgins tomatoes. Those things should not go to waste. So I have had to come up with different ways to eat them that will encompass a whole glorious tomato feast. We do roasted tomato soup (last time we did it with feta cheese and dill sprinkled on top before serving which was excellent), the salad thing, fresh tomato pasta sauce, you know, the basics that you turn to when you have an abundance of tomatoes. But. What if you can't actually eat them that day. What if you're going out, and you know that the tomatoes sitting on the counter (because you and I both know we would NEVER EVER put tomatoes (or bananas) in the fridge - it makes me cringe when people do) will not make it until your next meal at home - which could be days away?

You roast them and turn them into little bundles of tomato candy. Then you can use them rather like you would sun dried tomatoes, except you made them yourself so they taste a bit sweeter and a bit more like win.

Or you could just eat them on their own. Pop them into your mouth. Like candy. Because they really are that sweet.

The idea is all over the place in various cookbooks, blogs and whatnots but the inspiration for this came from A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gynell. The book is on my cookbook shelf and I am at my desk so here's a rough estimate of what I do.

Take tomatoes.
Cut in half.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and sugar, olive oil.
Toss in preheated to 200 oven.
Immediately turn oven down to 150.
Do not open the oven door, let the heat stay inside.
Go out for dinner with friends.

Stumble home and peak in the oven - tada! Candied tomatoes! They should be shrivelled and not dry. Test one. If it's delicious test another, just to be sure. Toss in a jar, cover with olive oil and keep in the fridge.

I'm not sure how long they last because I eat them so quickly.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Slavery in Food Production

Knowing how our running shoes are made doesn't seem to stop us wearing them, so I doubt whether this article will make us stop eating fish. I'm not sure what to write about this. It's bad. Good food isn't just about it being delicious, or healthy. Or sustainably. How can it be any of chose things when the people bringing it to your table are so horribly treated?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Food Waste

I just re-stumbled on this link about food waste from last year. You should look at it. And then get angry.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup - Still Evil

Just as mainstream people are starting to recognise that high fructose corn syrup is in virtually everything (rice crispies!) and that it's not good for you (causes cancer in rats!) the powers that make it want to change the name. The producers feel that high fructose corn syrup is too difficult for consumer brains and want to change the name to the simpler (and less evil sounding) corn sugar.

Article here. Evil all around. It tastes funny too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

On Reading the Recipe

Tonight's dinner is Two Potato Vindaloo from Ottolenghi's Plenty.

Exciting, no? trying a new recipe from one of my favourite books? And a spicy delicious vindaloo? How delightful on a cold rainy Tuesday evening in London! Before I left this morning, I read the list of ingredients, noting that we were out of cumin seeds and needed to pick up yogurt. I got trapped on Oxford Street and it took me awhile to get home but I got these last ingredients and at about 8:30 I started to make dinner.


Roast spices, grind. Check
Chop onions, begin to fry with spices. Check

Peel and chop potatoes. Check (with help from C)

Simmer spices and onion mixture for 20 minutes.
Simmer potatoes for 20 minutes.
Add sweet potatoes. Simmer for 40 minutes.

It's 10:30. We've got 10 more simmering minutes to go, then another 10 minutes to thicken the sauce. Assuming that the potatoes are tender. If not they'll obviously need more.

If we're lucky we will eat dinner at 11:00. If I had read the whole recipe I would have made something else.

This had better be good.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Food Riots

Do you remember the food riots from 2008 when food prices soared around the world? You may. Chances are if you're reading this they didn't affect you.

There's an excellent article on the recent riots in Mozambique over cost of living increases, not just food, that should make people start to pay attention. In most developed countries we spend a shockingly small amount of our income on food (for all sorts of reasons) but if you are poor, you are more likely to spend a disproportionate amount of your income on food. And if prices go up dramatically - what do you do?

Figs with cheese

and a drizzle of honey.

That's all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Perfect Roast Chicken

What is the perfect method to roast a perfect chicken?

Every once in awhile (ok, often) I like to pull out a bunch of recipe books and see how everyone handles a simple ingredient or process. I love the maxims that contradict, the "way my mother taught me"s, the traditions, the Way Things Ares,  the certainty that though there may be other ways, theirs is truly the best, most authentic, the most PERFECT way. On a cool Sunday I pulled out Nigella Lawson, Nigel Slater, Jamie Oliver, I know how to cook, Silver Spoon, Joy of Cooking and Les Halles, looking for inspiration for my roast chicken.

I mean, I know how to roast a chicken. Clearly. I love the simplicity of a roast chicken. It seems like it should be a lot of work, it's impressive on some level. But really you just massage it with some fat, season it with some tasty stuff and toss it in the oven until it's not pink. Hardly rocket science.

But the Les Halles book by Anthony Bourdain was a bit more involved and I decided to (mostly) follow his instructions. Herb butter massaged in underneath the skin, herbs and lemon tucked up inside. The way he cooks his chicken though is my new favourite way to cook my chicken.

The oven gets pre heated to 375F/190C and you place the chicken inside the oven with a half cup of white wine in the pan. Baste occasionally and move the chicken about in the oven. Then you CRANK the oven up to 450F/230F and cook for another 25 minutes.

Leave it to rest and then carve up. It was the juiciest, most fragrant roast chicken, with the crispiest best skin I have ever made. And I don't usually like the skin. So this will be my new go to method for roasting a chicken until my next bout of curiosity leads me to something new.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cream Corn of Love

Cream corn was one of my favourite foods growing up. I even remember my grandmother made her own and canned it. It is still an integral part of one of my all time favourite home comfy meals, which only really works when cooked by my mom. I love it. But I haven't eaten it in a really long time (at my house – I had it in June at my parents). Does it even exist in London? Have I grown out of it on some visceral level? When was the last time I ate it?

So tonight to accompany my new favourite roasted chicken, I made a recipe from Ottolenghi's Plenty – sweetcorn polenta with aubergine sauce. And, dear Reader, the memory, all the goodness, of cream corn, came flooding back to me. A taste. A memory. So incredibly evocative. It made a really big impact on me. I can't remember the last time I had such a strong food memory come and give me a hug and a kick at the same time.

It's not the same as canned or my Grandmother's, obviously. This one uses 6 cobs of fresh corn and 200g of feta cheese. But the sensation of being little, loved and loving cream corn? That was the same.

Sustainable Fish

How sustainable was your last meal of fish? If you don't know or didn't catch it yourself, chances are it wasn't. If you had salmon, tuna or shrimp recently (and who hasn't?) then you're probably guilty of plundering the seas for your own selfish appetite. I hope it was worthwhile and delicious. Please say you didn't overcook the salmon. That'd be disgraceful.

Here's a list of at-risk fish. This list tells you what to eat instead. Check it out and think about it next time you choose fish.

You know which fish isn't on the list? Grey mullet. We had that for dinner on Saturday night. Caught in the most sustainable way possible. A friend of our fishmonger's caught it. He went free diving and speared it. She showed us the spot on the fish's cheek. Yes, my Saturday night dinner was speared.

I love it. How caveman.

Anyways! It was delicious. I'm loving trying new fish that are guilt free.

I did the fish really simply, just pan fried with a bit of flour and paprika to dust it. I stole the accompanying salad from The Compass.

Fried Fish on Chorizo, Green Bean and Olive Salad

A big handful of green beans, tailed, blanched and refreshed
Two chorizos, sliced and fried to develop a lovely crust
Handful of left over roasted potatoes, warmed up with the chorizo
Small handful of pitted black olives

Toss together in the pan so all the ingredients are warmed through with chorizo oil and serve with your friend fish.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Best Tofu

Have I mentioned my deep, deep love of all things Ottolenghi? Oh. I have. Here's more gushing...

Last night I made the most delicious, spiciest and awesomest tofu we have ever eaten at home. Possibly eaten anywhere.

I'm not a huge tofu fan. Without adequate love and care it mostly tastes of slime, gray and nothing. Not appetising. And I know plenty of people who think it's gross, end point. If that's your starting point I dare you to make Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu. It's so damn delicious. The tofu, dusted with corn flour and fried so it developes a lovely crust and great texture, then the sauce it gets coated in is a silly savory dream of flavour, with killer spice, chili and, you guessed it, black pepper. So so so delicious.

Yotam's recipe is on the Guardian website. You can start there, or you can work from my changes. Mine was killer hot. If you follow Yotam's it might be assasination in the dead of night hot. Just saying...

Black Pepper Tofu

Prep and Sauce

80g butter (this is half what Yotam uses but was fine, I rarely shy away from excessive amounts of butter but come on- you always realise how MUCH butter you actually use when you weigh, plus I needed some for cookies)
12 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 red chillies, thinly sliced (Yotam called for 8 mild ones. How do you check how hot they are? Take a bite? I opted for less, just to be safe. Turns out that was wise. Eight of these babies and it would have been inedible.)
About two inches of ginger, chopped into tiny pieces

Melt the butter in your saute pan and add the flavours. Let them melt into each other until nice and soft, about 15 minutes.


Tofu Prep

600g firm, fresh tofu - because that's the size it came in
Cornflour for dusting, and playing with water in afterwards
Vegetable oil, for frying

Cut your tofu into small blocks and dust with cornflour, shaking off any excess. Heat up the oil, not too much, and fry your tofu into cubes of golden, crusty deliciousness. You'll probably need to do this in batches. This is dangerous and involves much spitting hot oil. Set aside to drain and continue on with your sauce.

Finishing the sauce

3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (called kecap manis, it's sometimes referred to as Indonesian ketchup. It was a bit tough to find, if you can't get it you could substitute soy sauce with some molasses or palm sugar in it...)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp light soy sauce (yes there are two entries for light soy sauce. This one was supposed to be dark soy sauce but I got confused and bought another giant bottle of light soy sauce instead of dark. Oops. Anybody need to borrow some soy sauce?)

Let the soy sauce dissolve into the garlic and butter- it should get silky and shiny looking.

Now. Add your coarsely crushed peppercorns. Yotam called for FIVE tablespoons. I used three. Again, killer hot.

Once the sauce is combined add your crusty tofu and let it warm up and get enveloped in the shiny sauce. Add a bunch of green/spring onions, thinly sliced and serve with copious amounts of rice, to balance the heat.

Friday, August 06, 2010

T is for Tart Failure

For a Fail Tart, it's quite pretty.
Was it me? I'm not sure. I'm not sure what's worse – me screwing up the recipe or the recipe being crap. Either way. Failure.

There are a few recipe book authors who I trust implicitly. I have made enough of their recipes to trust that unless something goes drastically wrong (like the time I mixed up the baking powder and baking soda in the pancakes when I was seven – sorry dad, thanks for eating them anyways) the end result will likely be scrumptious and dependable.

So I am pretty disappointed with the tart I made last weekend. Not only did I actually follow the recipe to the letter, I also bought a bunch of ingredients especially for it, and it was sort of a kind of pricey endeavour. And it wasn't very good. It was slightly bitter. It didn't set properly. Yuck.

So I won't give you the recipe. Nor will I tell you where I got it from or who wrote it. It's their only spill up so far – I'll let the author get by scott free just this once.

However! The pasty bit of it was lovely-  a bit of texture with the addition of polenta and some parmesan- and I had a bit left over so tonight I pulled it out of the freezer and made a fridge tart. And it was delicious and lovely and well set and much better than the fancy one I tried last week. So there.

Fridge Tart

Two leeks, chopped and softened in butter
Two cloves of roasted garlic
A half a pot of creme fraiche (about a quarter cup?)
Four sundried tomatoes, chopped
A quarter of a round of sheep's cheese, chopped
A pinch of chili

Left  over pastry gets rolled out into a vaguely round shape. The fridge bits get mixed together, taste and season, then plopped in the middle, bring the sides up and bake until nicely browned.

Tada! MUCH better than the flouncy fussy one from last week. So there.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gorgeous food and Beautiful Models

I'm thrilled to say that some of my photographs were published in the latest issue of Fire & Knives. The brief for the shoot was highly unique: take a photograph of a restaurant's signature dish … with models. This gave L and I the opportunity to try St. John, famous for their Roast Bone Marrow & Parsley Salad.

As for the models? They behaved themselves nicely for the most part, though there was a bit of lying down on the job.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Harvest

Small but ours. Quite proud of our little beanstalk.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Zucchini. Courgette. Did you know it's technically an immature fruit?

I don't love zucchini. It is decidedly not one of my favorite vegetables. Is it anyone's? Maybe in late winter? When the thought of an abundance of zucchini means summer and warmth and bbqs and cherries but then it' not really about the zucchini itself, now is it? I mean, I don't hate it. It's not something I refuse to eat (like raisins) or only eat reluctantly and with enough recognition from those around me that I am in fact eating something I find terribly gross (like raisins). No, I just don't LOVE zucchini. And as anyone who has ever hate a fight with a loved one knows, hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.

I am indifferent to zucchini.

Also, even though I live in England and it is called courgette, and I call it courgette in conversation, I still call it zucchini in my head and when I go to write it down. Someone should look up the etymology between the two words, so everyone can understand the  cultural differences between them. Maybe I will. (I did. See below the recipe.)

Even though I don't actually like it that much I seem to buy it quite often. It's in season. It's there, I'll purchase a few (especially cute little ones from the farmer's market) and surely I'll find inspiration in one of my many cookbooks for something delicious that will uplift it beyond it's humble vegetable (fruit) state. And I have. I've made some nice dishes. But none where I was so excited about the zucchini itself. None that were so amazing and delicious that I felt proud of my creation.

I've made zucchini lemon pizza. Zucchini wrapped lamb kebabs. Zucchini saute with almonds. Zucchini side dishes. Zucchini soup. Pasta with zucchini. But really? It's all meh.

Anyways, the reason for the zucchini rant, and the reason I figured out that I'm not actually all that big a fan, is because I made a zucchini dish the other day that I really liked. That made me feel proud of my creation and pleased that I had purchased zucchini. It's from the New York Times, a recipe by a New York interior designer of Egyptian descent. It's lovely. It's delicious. We had lunch leftovers. You should make it too.

Maybe then you'll learn to love zucchini a little.

Here is the recipe, pilfered directly and without change from the New York Times.

In Egypt, “every lunch and dinner includes rice,” she said, as she prepared zucchini pilaf and almonds, a subtly spiced dish that includes tiny amounts of allspice, coriander, cumin, cayenne and cilantro. To finish the dish, she serves the rice with a thick yogurt-garlic sauce on the side. The garlic is not a mere token addition — though finely minced, it is clearly present and makes yogurt a newly fascinating food.

Zucchini Pilaf With Almonds

        For the rice:
        1/2 cup slivered almonds
        1/2 tablespoon butter
        1/2 cup long grain rice
        1 cup vegetable broth
        1/2 teaspoon allspice (the only other recipe with zucchini that i like also has allspice. maybe the    key to an excellent zucchini dish is allspice?)
        1/2 teaspoon salt

        For the zucchini:
        2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
        1 medium onion, finely chopped
        2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
        1 pound zucchini , ends trimmed, halved lengthwise (or quartered if large) and cut into 1/3-inch slices
        1 teaspoon ground coriander
        1 teaspoon ground cumin
        Pinch of cayenne pepper
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        2 tablespoon currants or dark raisins
        3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
        Freshly ground black pepper
For the yogurt-garlic sauce:
        1 cup Greek yogurt, or strained non-Greek yogurt
        2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pressed through a garlic press
        1 tablespoon dried crushed mint
        Pinch of cayenne
        Salt and freshly ground pepper 
1. For the rice: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place almonds on a baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove, and set aside to cool.

 2. In a small pan over medium heat, add butter and rice. Stir until the rice is lightly toasted, 5 to 8 minutes. Add vegetable broth, allspice, and salt. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to very low so the broth barely simmers; use a heat diffuser if necessary. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini.
3. For the zucchini: Place a large sauté pan over medium heat, and add olive oil. Add onion, and cook, stirring, until translucent and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, coriander, cumin, cayenne and salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add rice and currants, and mix well. If the rice looks dry, add two tablespoons water. Cover, and cook until the zucchini and rice are tender, about 15 minutes. The rice mixture may be uncovered and quickly stirred once or twice, covering it immediately after.
4. For the yogurt garlic sauce: In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, mint and a pinch of cayenne. Mix well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. When the rice and zucchini are ready, top with cilantro, toasted almonds and fresh black pepper. Serve immediately, with yogurt-garlic sauce passed separately.

Zucchini vs Courgette
From Wikipedia (citations required):

Zucchini, like all summer squash, has its ancestry in the Americas[citation needed]. However, the varieties of squash typically called "zucchini" were indeed developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the "New World". Courge, French for squash. "Zucca" is the Italian word for squash and "zucchina" is its diminutive, becoming "zucchine" in the plural. However, "zucchino", the masculine form, becoming "zucchini" in the plural, is just as commonly used and is prevalent in Tuscany. Italian dictionaries such as "lo Zingarelli 1995, Zanichelli editor", give both forms. "Zucchini" is used in Italy , and in Australia, Canada and the United States. 'Zucchini' is plural in Italian whereas in English it is singular. The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly brought over by Italian immigrants and probably was first cultivated in the United States in California.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June Happiness

is the very last of the farmer's asparagus with homemade mayonnaise/aioli for Sunday lunch with a bottle of rosé. With a hint of sun shining in. No nice photos. Just love.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuna = Elephants

I was very upset yesterday. Emotionally gutted. It was a tough day at work and the news I read in the morning meant every poke was a bit sharper.

Remember when I said I'd tell you why eating tuna was like eating elephants?

We're fishing and eating the tuna to extinction. Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably already heard that. But then we do hear that, don't we? Cod, shrimp, salmon. Seafood in general, right? We eat/fish/farm too much and it's bad and we should stop but this one piece of salmon fillet won't matter and isn't it delicious?

But the animals we are eating to extinction have never, to my knowledge, been so endangered that CITES has been mentioned and international bodies have stepped in to make fishing a species illegal. That's how bad it is.

So on Thursday 18 March when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Doha, Qatar voted overwhelmingly to reject the ban on trade in tuna (and polar bears, incidentally), I was upset.

As Barry Estabrook writes, soon tuna may no longer be endangered, they may be extinct.

So go enjoy your tuna fish sandwich, while you can. Please make sure it's served with a generous helping of shame and a sprinkling of doom, because we all know that one species affects another and that this is bad news for more than just tuna.

Oh, and you may want to include a side of elephant. Because the convention will also likely lift a ban on the sale of elephant ivory and then you can tell your children that you ate the last of two extinct animals.

Full disclosure: There are two tins of tuna in my cupboard. They are the last tins I will ever buy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why I don't write about wine

Early morning wine on holiday in Venice

During my undergrad in Calgary I spotted a fancy new wine shop opening up just as the Winter semester was coming to a close. I liked the idea and didn't want to work full time at the hotel while doing one class over the summer and decided to apply.

This was the beginning, maybe the heyday, of speciality wine shops in Calgary and there were tons of young hip people with tons of wine knowledge and expertise buzzing round the city. I was not one of them. I believe I started my cover letter with "I know nothing about wine but I really want to learn." For whatever reason Sandra brought me in for an interview and gave me a job.

The store was gorgeous. In the cellar of the 100 year old sandstone Alberta Hotel Building (ancient by Western Canada standards), brick, old wood, we even had a ghost in the backroom. Because the store was new and in the downtown core after the business types went home the flow of people trickled down to almost nothing and so in the evenings whoever was in charge would pull us round the tasting bar and open a bottle and we would learn. We had access to a vast library of material and great brains full of knowledge - we learnt about the places and the history and why this glass and that grape. We held tastings which were carefully researched and themed. We ate a lot of cheese.  

We studied Le Nez du Vin daily, making up scent experiences like apple pie and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when we tired of gooseberry and barnyard. (At the time I didn't even know what a gooseberry was.) I got to meet local celebrity chefs who did events with us. Bernard Callebaut fed me truffles.

September came and I went back to school and down to one part time job (the better paying one) at the hotel.

For all the training that summer (and I kept up my education, let me tell you! There's a reason I have student loans!) I have never been able to describe a wine without feeling like a pretentious dick. I have an excellent palate for ingredients - I can usually dissect a dish and figure out what is in it - but not for wine. I am more likely to describe a wine with an emotion or memory than a flavour.

So I generally won't write about wine unless it's the story or context, or the emotion and memory of the bottle. Because at the end of the day unless you a wine professional or really into that type of analytical experience, you don't drink wine to dissect it. You drink it to savour it and melt into the moment. And it's those moments and that meaning that I want to remember.

Late Afternoon wine on holiday in Venice

Monday, March 15, 2010


We went to the Imperial War Museum's exhibit called Ministry of Food yesterday. It was great! You should go - it's open til January 2011 so you have plenty of time to plan your trip and come to visit us. (We even bought a new bit for the art line!) While we were there I was thinking about what we had in our fridge and how we shouldn't be wasteful and that we had an awful lot of random food in the fridge (market day was particular heavy on the cheese AND I visited the Ginger Pig) and that I didn't have any clear plan for dinner.

And then I remembered the silly number of carrots in the fridge and this recipe for Hot Carrot Salad and settled back to enjoy the rest of the day, comforted to know that dinner was taken care of.

The recipe suggests serving the carrot salad on crumpets. We didn't have any crumpets and while I made some for brunch last weekend I thought if I was going to go to the trouble of making them I could go to the trouble of making lahooh, which is what Yotam says the salad would tradtionally be served with. Yotam has never led me astray so I looked around on the magical internet for some details about lahooh. And I found a new site with a whole new world of cooking - Somalia. I am so excited to poke around and taste some new tastes!

Anyways. Lahooh. SO easy! It's basically a spongey crepe, similar to injera and a perfect foil for the (SPICY) aromatic carrot goodness.

Didn't get it perfect the first time but I will definitely try it again!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kingsley Amis’s admonition about dieting: “The first, indeed the only, requirement of a diet is that it should lose you weight without reducing your alcoholic intake by the smallest degree.”

Parsnips FTW!

Last night I discovered the World's Best Way to Eat Parsnips. Well, I didn't discover them. Simon Hopkinson did and he wrote the recipe up in the March Olive magazine, though it actually comes from his book The Vegetarian Option which is on my (long) list of books to add to my collection.  

You must make these. These are so awesome. And we didn't manage to eat them all and then we heated them up in the oven this afternoon and they WERE STILL GOOD. And how come no one has ever mentioned romesco sauce? It's my new favourite.

Cheese-crusted fried parsnip strips with romesco sauce 

Romesco Sauce of Awesomeness

40g skinned almonds, gently fried until golden in 2T olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced
1 small dried chilli
60g sundried tomatoes, drained 
60g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp hot water

Toss everything into the blender. Blend until numbly but not entirely smooth.

3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 6 inch strips
Blanched until just tender, drained and left to cool.

60g white breadcrumbs 
50g parmesan, freshly grated (Original recipe calls for much more but this was sufficient)
1/2t cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

Then coat the parsnips strips in flour, run through a beaten egg and tossed with breadcrumb mix to coat.

Fry the parsnip strips in batches in a deep pan with about two centimeters of oil at 170C for a few minutes each, until they're crisp and golden. 

Drain and eat!

No pics. Too delicious.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

How To Make An Octopus

Walking home from the Ginger Pig yesterday we poked our heads into the fishmonger's and I spotted octopus. I had never cooked an octopus before so we had a discussion with the lovely fishmonger and a 1.5lb octopus was purchased.

How To Cook an Octopus

How long is a piece of string? (C's note: This is a common British expression to express the inability to measure something abstract.)

Practical Suggestions from the internet and reference books:

1. Steam it in its own liquid
2. Braise it for hours
3. Pre-freeze it
4. Add a cork to the cooking liquid
5. Beat the octopus against a rock.

Hm. Ok.

I knew I wanted to do an octopus and potato salad, the way I'd eaten it in Italy but I also wasn't getting any super clear direction on how to do it so I took all the advice that made sense to me and made it my way. It worked. It was lovely. And so I will add my method to the internet's glut of how to cook an octopus. Without beating it.

How to Cook an Octopus like Leah did
(inspired by Mark Bittman, Jamie Oliver, Harold McGee, and the Silver Spoon – thanks guys!)

I decided to go with the slow braising method. I made a broth of lemon zest, chili, garlic and parsley stalks (and water, obviously). And lots of salt. Brought that to a boil and plunged the octopus in, then turned it down to a barely there simmer for 1.5 hours.

Just as the octopus hit the water it curled up on itself, so I pulled it out so C could see and take a photo - so cool.

I tested the octopus, to see if it was tender, after an hour and a bit - it was, so I added thick slices of potato for the last fifteen minutes or so to cook until tender.

Turned off the heat and gingerly removed the potatoes, adding them to a bowl with a bit of lemon juice. I let the octopus cool down in the water, as suggested (apparently it helps it relax after the cooking process). Finally I took it out, chopped it up, tossed it with the potatoes. Voila dinner.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Pizza in East London

Pizza seems to be in vogue here in London. It makes sense really: pizza is affordable, delicious and a sensible night out during times of economic hardship. I know that even Toronto's undergoing a pizza renaissance – some friends took me to Pizza Libretto on Ossington last summer and the place was packed to the gills, as if Torontonians had only just tasted proper pizza for the first time (sure Terroni's does a nice pizza, but it's not their focus).

So here's a look at the pizza scene here in East London.

The Stringray Globe Cafe
Sitting at the top of Columbia Road is the Stringray Globe, which is well known amongst East Londoners for its delicious, inexpensive pizzas. It's tough to get served though! Tables are usually in short supply and we've been refused take-out a couple of times just because the kitchen is so busy. Usual selection of wine and beer. Their Bosciola and Capricciosa (hold the egg) pizzas are favourites of ours.

The Lauriston
A bit of a hike for us, the Lauriston is actually a local pub just off Victoria Park that happens to have fantastic pizzas cooked in a proper Italian pizza oven. As its a pub, their selection of beer, ciders and wine is really quite decent as well. Throughout the week you'll find all kinds of Hackney hipsters lounging about, taking part in the Wednesday pub quiz, or even belting out tunes with Hot Breath Karaoke (don't worry, it's only held once a month). On the weekends, it's very family friendly with babies, toddlers and accompanying strollers everywhere. Apparently, they do a great breakfast and brunch as well.

Pizza East
The latest to the scene, Pizza East is definitely the current hip joint (the girl who checked our coats was wearing a sweater that may have formerly been an ostrich). Located over the main floor of the Tea Building in Shoreditch, it also has a nightclub, Concrete, in the basement, hence the dressed-to-impress crowd. Excellent pizza, a unique, fluffy soft crust and a wide range of delicious toppings. Do order the spicy sausage, mozarella, sprouting broccoli and garlic pizza – fantastic! Good selection of beer and wine as well; our Peroni and Moretti beers came ice-cold with chilled glasses. My only critique was the sparkling water (bottled in-house) was quite flat.

All three are quite different but equally delicious. The Globe probably gets most of our business, only because it's right around the corner from us. In addition to these ones, two more pizzerias have recently opened up – an Italian one in Broadway Market and a Sardinian place on Kingsland Road. More to sample soon enough...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grill Lines

You know what's sexy? Grill lines.
And now that we have a grill pan everything is getting grill lines - courgettes, tortillas, steaks, green onions...

Sexy tastes awesome.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grandma Lumsden's Pancakes

Every once in a blue moon I go through the RECIPE folder on my computer and do a thorough tidy-up/rediscover. I delete duplicates, make annotations, retitle for easy reference and pick through things I had forgotten I wanted to make. And I found a plain text edit file with my Grandma Lumsden's Pancakes recipe.

We make breakfast most Sundays. We used to go out for brunch just about every Sunday (ah Fire on the East Side and Amnesia!) but now it's a more occasional thing (ah Albion and Pavilion!) and we tend to make something at home. Often I get up early, putz about in the kitchen and bring C breakfast in bed and make him go on and on about how wonderful a girlfriend I am.

Anyways we make pancakes often - quick! easy! limited number of ingredients! - and have auditioned a few different recipes - Jamie Oliver's 1 Cup recipe, Joy of Cooking, German Oven Pancakes - all resulting in different, but mostly equally good, pancakes. (Though last week's topped with greek yogurt, cherry compote and maple syrup were especially delightful!)

I think though that I have discovered, in Grandma's recipe, the ultimate thick Americana-style pancake. They were fluffy. They were thick. They held their blueberries. They were filling. They were dead easy. They were a win.

So I think Grandma Lumsden's recipe will now be my go to recipe for pancakes. And after a few times making it, I can call it my own.

Pancakes a la Grandma Lumsden

1-1/2 cup flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Beat egg well
1 egg
Add to milk and oil (I actually used the equivalent of apple butter because that was there)

1-1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoon cooking oil
Add to flour mixture- don't mix much. Cook and eat.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


With Broadway Market being a five minute walk from our house, L and I have buying our week's groceries there for over two years now. As such, we've become friends with a number of the vendors, in particular the staff at Norbiton Cheese, whom we visit nearly religiously.

This week, in addition to the usual delights, Bryan also had these beautiful looking cheddars to which L was immediately drawn based solely on their aesthetics (you don't often see purple cheese and L happens to like purple quite a bit).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

On Meat

I'm a flexatarian with four kilos of pig in my fridge. (See the photo of one I prepared earlier - that one was even bigger!)

(As much as I hate cutesy terms and non descriptors I can identify with flexatarian. I'm not a vegetarian. I enjoy meat and I want to continue eating it. I'm not a pescatarian, a term which annoys me. So someone who doesn't eat very much meat and who regularly chooses veggie over meaty- yeah, I can work with that. )

Focus - FOUR kilos of pig. A pig shoulder which is currently nestled in the fridge with a rub (rosemary, fennel, garlic, chili, preserved lemon) waiting for the morning when I will pop it into the oven for six or so hours.

How does a flexitarian justify four kilos of pig? Isn't a flexi just a lazy, or uncommitted, vegetarian? Isn't FOUR kilos rather excessive?

Let me climb on my soap box and tell you want I think about meat...

I like bacon. I think there are few homier meals than a roast chicken. Steak makes me salivate. Food is a celebration and for us Anglo Saxons a big chunk of meat is traditionally the centerpiece. Food equals love. So I can't imagine becoming a full vegetarian and giving up these bits of comfort and love and tradition. But learning about meat, all about it, from health issues to ethical to environmental to consumer issues, makes it very difficult for me to eat it the way I used to and the way I cook and the way I eat has shifted substantially in the last few years.

We eat much less meat than we used to. It features as the centerpiece of our meals maybe once a week and gets used as flavour and side bits two or three (two rashers of bacon in pasta, a sausage in soup). The meat that we do eat comes from either the butcher in Broadway Market or the Ginger Pig and is brought up and butchered in a way that I feel good about. I feel good knowing that the meat that I buy satisfies every tickbox I have against the long list of "Meat is Bad".

I recognise that it is expensive. I recognise that I'm really lucky that I have these options. But it is a choice and a commitment that I am happy to make. (And since this is my blog it is my soap box and I can sing the praises of happy meat to my hearts content.)

As for the FOUR kilos of pig in the fridge. It's a lesser known cut, so less expensive, will be succulent and last us for many many meals- or at least one great meal with friends.

Join me on my soap box next time for "Why the tuna in your sandwich is like eating elephant".