Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Hobo Suppers II

I had a pretty full on week last week. The stress of moving, sofa surfing around the leafy streets of Hackney and of the day job, had pretty much left me an emotional wreck by the time 6pm came round on Friday afternoon. Normally I'm bouncing out of the door, eager for the weekend to properly start. This week was a different story, I just wanted a quiet night in watching a movie and eating good home cooked food. Thankfully a quick phone call to the Brummie, whose house I have been staying at recently, I discovered he was feeling pretty much the same about spending the evening eating, drinking beer and watching a rubbish film to forget the arduous week. I must admit that I had been itching to get back into a kitchen and actually cook a full meal from scratch. Its all well and good eating out or having dinner at friends houses, but I do miss the cathartic and soothing process of the preparation of ingredients and cooking the dishes.
On the train back to  the leafy salubrious surroundings of Cannonbury (far grander than the dizzy heights of Upper Clapton, that's for sure, no burnt out cars for a start !), in a bid to cheer both me and Brummie up I decided that Mexican food and beer would be the only thing that would save the last remnants of what had been somewhat of a 'carcrash' week for both of us.
Most Mexican food I find when you go out to eat are full of melted cheese and covered in tomato salsa and sour cream. I have found that the only place that serves good fresh flavoured food is Thomasina Miers's Wahaca
it serves the best quesadilla's filled with Broad Beans and Feta. I was desperate to try and recreate these, but my copy of Miers book Mexican Food Made Simple is packed away in a box which is stored some where in Hackney. So I free styled the evening, but I have a nagging feeling that I may have spied this on someone else's blog and can't really remember where.

Cucumber, Mango and Mint Salsa 

Serves 2 - 3 


1 x Cucumber. seeded and finely diced
1 x Mango, finely diced
1/2 x Red Onion, finely diced
8 x Mint Leaves, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil
1. Mix cucumber, mango and red onion in a dish 
2, Mix well and season with mint, black pepper and olive oil
3. Leave for around 15 minutes at room temperature and then serve

I found it best to leave the salsa to sit for a few minutes so that the flavours started to combine, but could be served straight away. I also felt that using salt wouldn't really benefit the dish as it would draw water out of the cucumber and not compliment the mango, where as the pepper did.
This salsa was a refreshing alternative to the normal tomato variety. With the abundance of cucumbers and mint at the moment, it was great to combine them to make this side accompaniment which cooled the heat of the fresh chillis in the quesadilla's.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Hobo Suppers

So I moved out of the first flat  I have ever lived in on my own, after 15 months. Its been a pretty eventful 15 months full of adventure, discovery and learning in every way imaginable. When I moved in to the flat last year, I didn't expect that I would have been cooking for over a thousand people eating in my front room. I also didn't expect to rediscover a passion for cooking, eating and providing great environments for people to partake in these joyous activities. So moving out Saturday I did feel slightly down hearted, but armed with lessons learnt, a new confidence and a belief in the future and for all the new opportunities that the future will bring, I strided off to a Toots and the Maytels gig with a smile on my face once the moving was over.

I now find myself, some what semi homeless at the moment and seem to be doing the sofa surfing rounds in 'Ackney. Sofa surfing isn't as bad as what it was when I was in my twenties. Most of my friends now have all the mod cons - great kitchens, spare bedrooms and most of all, eat good food. Thankfully no takeaways, no sleeping amongst beer cans and fag butts and of course no sleeping on air mattresses in corners of  friends bedrooms.

The up shot of all this sofa surfing is that I have had my first commute in nearly five years ( I may live and work in London , but haven't had to take public transport to work as have lived with in a twenty minute walk to walk). The commute home was made a whole lot enjoyable, as I was able to stop off at my favourite fruit and veg shop  and a new Italian trattoria and deli in Newington Green where I picked up some provisions.

After a hard weekend and tiring Monday at work, I found myself alone at a friends flat and preparing dinner for myself and looking forward to reading the new Observer Food Monthly.

Insalata Newington Green
Serves 1 - 2

Mixture of ripe tomato's
1 Ball of Buffala Mozzarella
3 slices of Parma Ham 
15 Basil leaves
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Black Pepper

1. Slice tomato's thinly
2. Slice Mozzarella
3. Tear Parma ham over the tomato's and Mozzarella
4. Arrange on plate
5. Season with black pepper, torn Basil leaves and olive oil.

Obviously I felt a bit weird making this and then sitting down to find Nigel Slater's recipe for Insalata Caprese in the Food Monthly. Its true what God like Mr Slater said in his article, this dish is truly at it best when the ingredients are at their best and most ripest. The whole dish is about the fresh tasting tomato's and cheese and the olive oil shouldn't hamper the fresh taste of tomato's and cheese, whilst the flavour of the pepper and basil do the offsetting instead of the oil. The inclusion of the Parma Ham gives a nice salty undertone which complements the salad as well. All in all a refreshing, comforting summer dish which somewhat revived a very tired and emotional homeless lady on a Monday night.

An Ode.....

I never thought you had it in you
You'd seen the best years of your life before i met you 
 Your spark had left and dial numbers had vanished
But you stood firm and took one final beating
Like a faithful compainion, you kept the fires burning
It is you, I owe all the success and kind words to
You never faltered once, in feeding 1000 mouths
But now the time has come to say goodbye and part
I have not a tear in my eye
 But whole hearted admiration in my heart for you
You were the oven that never failed
Thank you

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Super Smashing Summer Greatness

After a week of trials, tribulations and teeth, the last thing I want to do today was anything hectic. All I wanted was to stay  at home, relax and potter around on my own .
After a quick detour to Stoke Newington Farmer's Market and the Newington Green Fruit and Veg shop after a visit to work, I managed to come home with a bag of fresh food goodies and the paper. It quickly became apparent that nothing on my very long to do list was actually going to get done. The sofa in my garden was calling loudly, along with the paper and new Jane Grigson book I had bought the day before. There was just the small matter of lunch to be sorted out and that would be done and dusted for today.

I quickly decided on using the Broad Beans and Pea's, which I had picked up from the Farmers Markets, along with the Sourdough Bread that I had also picked up from Syd's stall.

Smashed Peas and Beans on Sourdough Toast
Serves 1

Good handful of podded pea's
Good handful of podded Broad Beans
2 stalks of mint, leaves removed
Extra Virgin Oil
Maldon and Black Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
2 slices of Sourdough Bread

1. Place pea's in a bowl and season with some Maldon salt.

2. Bash the hell out of peas with a full jar of homemade marmalade (or a pestle and mortar if you have one - I don't, since I smashed mine the other week).

3. Add beans, a few at a time and the mint and keep on smashing the hell out of them, until you have broken them down to a pulp consistency. (or like me when you have had enough of smashing them, I like them to have a bit of a bite to them anyway ).

4. Add a splash of olive oil, so mixture combines together well.

5. Season with black pepper.

6. Grate Parmesan cheese into mixture and mix together well.

7. Toast slices of sourdough.

8. Once toasted, serve pea and bean mix on top of the sourdough and grated some Parmesan cheese over the top of each slice.

Perfect accompaniment for afters to a summer afternoon spent on the sofa in the garden, reading, enjoying your own company. Also enjoyed some great cherries and flat peaches from the Newington Green Fruit and Veg shop  for afters