Week-End Picture

The Museum of London in the Docklands was free to all this Sunday for the Chinese New Year Celebration, the Chinese calendar is entering the Year of the Tiger. I was really looking forward to some great noodles sadly, in my opinion, the quality of food was rather poor and the Lion dance got drenched before retreating inside.

However, the Museum of London offers a complete journey through the capital's past, it is a spectacular exhibition which tinkles all the senses including smell as along the way, one walks through recreated London. Well worth the visit


Chickpea, Greens, Potato Curry

I don't know about you but when I feel low, I have got a list of little things I do to put the world to right:
  1. Phone a friend and if that does not work follow the conversation up by
  2. wash my hair......... normally does the trick,
  3. bake bread will be the next best thing
  4. a new, more Zen therapy is to contemplate the content of my spices rack
As I was doing so last Wednesday, it occurred to me that there are worse things in my life than the monitor losing its colour, sharp nails appearing under the tyres of my car resulting in puncture, a rotten flu I can't get rid of........and these little things could easily be conjured out by making sure that the alphabetical sequence of the spice jars was correct.
This is when I realised that there was 5 millions of jars in that rack and I'd better do something about it, phone a friend was not an option, I picked up the week-end Guardian where I knew I had seen a recipe involving quite a lot of spices and honestly without exaggeration this is a classic, it is absolutely delicious.

Chickpea, Green, Potato Curry

It is a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe, I am not very familiar with his work but what I know is that I shall blindly cook anything of his in the future........ so here it is and as we don't do cabbage of any kind in this household I substituted the Kale with spring onions.

340g dried chickpeas (or 2 400g tins, drained and rinsed)
1 tsp cumin seeds, plus a little ­extra to garnish
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 hot, dried red chilli, crumbled
1 tsp ground turmeric
2.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
1 large onion, peeled, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
700ml chicken or vegetable stock
250g potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm dice
150g kale (or cabbage), finely shredded -see above-
Yogurt, to serve
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Soak the chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, drain, rinse and simmer them for about an hour and a half in fresh ­water, until tender, then drain. (If using tinned, just drain and rinse.)

Put a dry frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, toast the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and the chilli for a couple of minutes ­until they smell ­really fragrant and the mustard starts to pop. Grind to a powder in a coffee grinder, spice mill or with a pestle and mortar, and mix in the turmeric and ginger.

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and fry the onion, stirring regularly, until soft and golden brown. Stir in the garlic and spices, leave to cook for a minute or two, and add the stock. Simmer for five minutes, then add the chickpeas and potatoes. Cook until the spuds are tender, then add the kale. Cook for a few minutes, until the greens are tender, then serve with a dollop of thick yogurt on top, along with a ­sprinkling of toasted cumin seeds and some coriander leaves.

Sausage & Borlotti Bean Casserole

I never tried to make a cassoulet from scratch. It seems awfully complicated. Though Simon makes a mean cassoulet-express, it is a good dish but to be honest it does not bare very much resemblance to the cassoulet I know, lovingly prepared by Mrs Tin or Boite de Conserve as we call her in France. In fact now, I write about it, I have never eaten a cassoulet made from scratch.

However as the weather does not show any sign of warming up, bean casseroles feel like the thing to cook. I spotted this recipe in February Olive magazine. It is not easy, in a cassoulet-sort-of-way, don't skimp on the quality of the beans as they have to melt in the mouth which ASDA's beans did not do and would have never done, even with a million hours in the oven. The cider needs to be dry not too sweet. All the tastes marry well, a warming winter dish.
Sausage & Borlotti Bean Casserole

8 pork sausages
olive oil
2 onions , peeled and diced
8 juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp cornflour
500ml cider
200g rindless pork belly or streaky bacon, diced
2 x 400g tins borlotti beans , drained and rinsed
Dijon mustard , to serve
1.Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Divide up the sausages but do not prick. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in an ovenproof casserole on a medium heat. Add the sausages and brown, turning from time to time. When they are burnished and crisp, remove to a plate.
2.In the same pan, add the onions and cook until turning transparent. Now add the juniper berries, bay leaves, cumin seeds and cornflour, mixing thoroughly to coat the onions. After a few moments, add the cider and turn the heat up to high. It should begin to take on a silky, slightly thickened texture.
3.Add the pork belly or bacon, bring to a simmer, cover then put in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Fold in the borlotti beans, season and return to the oven for 10 minutes to heat the beans through.

PER SERVING 590 kcalories, protein 30.8g, carbohydrate 29.4g, fat 37.8 g, saturated fat 11.5g, fibre 4.1g, salt 1.91 g

Mystery Dish

When I attended BloggerConnect back at the beginning of the winter, Jane of Cook Sister told the audience that she took pictures of every dish, stored them in her hard-drive and got them out weeks, months later which I thought was "an excellent idea". So I did the same.....

That was without taking into account my concentration span equivalent to that of a teenager attending Sunday lunch with the oldies, my memory which erases instead of recording and my innate scatterbrain tendencies.

Yes, I took pictures, hmm, hmm I stored them nicely, when it came to use them, did I remember what they were of? Not a chance.
It took me some time to work out that this picture was the faithful representation of a Thingamabob. A delicious shallots and parsnips dish with a hint of sweetness but not much, easy to make highly recommended.

Plus it is time to eat away all the winter vegetables because fairly soon we are in for a treat: lot of new recipes to create, as my friend Anne is going to meet me half way down the pedestrian-Greenwich tunnel with her wicker basket overflowing with the new season's offerings from her allotment.....may be. In the meantime what is for real is the following.

Parsnip and Shallot Thingamabob Abel & Cole's recipe

8 shallots, peeled and quartered leaving the root-end on so they don't fall apart
3 large parsnips, halved and cut into 10cm (4") lengths
1 swede, peeled and cut into batons, 1 finger’s width and length
a good squeeze of runny honey
60ml olive oil
1 small glug of white wine vinegar
1/3 mug of white wine
Salt and pepper

Saute the shallots and parsnips with a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat for 10 minutes

drizzle with honey, sprinkle to coat and add the wine, season with salt and pepper continue to cook for 3-5 minutes until all the wine has disappeared, then add a few glugs of white wine vinegar and cook for a further 3-5 minutes until that has disappeared too.

Winter Fruits With Orange Ricotta

Since there is nothing we can do about the snow, the cold, the horribleness of winter, we might as well make the most of it. This recipe needs a bit of organisation as the dried fruits need soaking in advance, on the other hand it might get rid of a lots of the "stuff" left in the cupboard from Xmas extravaganza.
I found it in Jill Dupleix's book and will do it again, may be without the orange ricotta but that is only because of its fat content. After much ingredient gathering, the reward was obvious, this Winter Fruits Salad will last for a good 3 days. Let me know if you have a go at it.

Winter fruits with orange ricotta

Serves 4

200g/7oz dried figs, halved
200g/7oz dried apricots
2tbsp dried cranberries or cherries
100g/31/2oz pitted prunes
2tbsp sultanas
1tbsp orange flower water
2tbsp honey

For the orange ricotta
250g/8oz fresh ricotta
100g/31/2oz natural low-fat yoghurt
1tbsp honey
1tbsp orange zest, plus extra to serve
1tbsp orange flower water
2tbsp orange juice

Cut the figs and apricots into thick slices. Mix with the cranberries, prunes, sultanas, orange flower water and honey in a bowl.
Add enough boiling water to just cover and stir well. Leave overnight, until the fruit is plump and swollen.
Beat the ricotta with the yoghurt, honey, orange zest, orange flower water and orange juice. Spoon the fruits into serving bowls, saving the syrup
Top with a big spoonful of creamy orange ricotta. Drizzle with the syrup and scatter with orange zest

Flowers and a Chocolate Heart Are a Girl's Best Friend

Guys Guys, Valentine's = Interflora. I thought, I would write this post way before the Day so that you don't panic.
Between now and the 14th of February, you will read a lot of articles telling you what to do and some explaining what not to do. Now I am telling you a sight like this one.... will melt any body's heart; When the laughter has receded that is.
Some might say that sending flowers and chocolates is too traditional. "too traditional?". It is just lovely. Mind you, you need to choose the best in the business. This is where Interflora gets it right every time.

I'll let you in a secret: once upon a time, he sent me an Interflora bouquet for my birthday. That was the first time anybody sent me flowers let alone an incredible number of red roses and it would had been fantastic....hadn't he got the date completely wrong. The poor roses arrived a month too late as I was walking out of the door, for the airport on my way to Egypt.

Still, receiving flowers is not something you forget and in Valentine's case, unless you are really absent minded, it is a date which one is likely to get wrong.........mind you what were Valentine flowers and chocolates doing at the door step a fortnight too early?

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any ways for this review


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