Week Ten, Day Five ( Thursday)

News has it we can exit our Bunker and socialise albeit at a distance from next week. Am I glad? Hard to tell, I have to admit that online shopping, is the way forward. Someone else can hump the bottles of water/ beer/ wine/ milk up to the 6th floor as well as reams of computer paper, gallons of washing liquid and bleach and disinfectant, so not sure I am rushing out to the stores any time soon!

Today, I have been setting up my production line for face masks, for 11 people, I guess the baby isn’t going to wear one. Having made some in the first week, cloth ones and neoprene , I have finally decided on the way forward.

Today Himself took Himself off down the street and came back bearing gifts. Gin Chocolates, umm yummy, flowers, beautiful and Oysters! Fantastic, so tonight is his cooking night and it is a new recipe, from New Orleans, Oysters Roquefort.

Meanwhile, I decided to make more Ice Cream. Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip. Early on in our Lockdown I though I would become a gardener , I googled, went online No New Customers, I telephoned, you are in a queue your number is 856! What to buy seeds? I finally found seeds and tried growing some without too much success, neither the wild garlic nor the Alfalfa seeds germinated and at that point I got bored and gave up. However I do have wonderful Rosemary growing upstairs the most magnificent Bay trees growing downstairs ( along with rampant Olive trees) and a great pot of mint! ( I also have an oak tree!)

I used 500 mls cream, 500 mls plain yogurt, 3 eggs, 4oz /100grms Sugar, 100 grams 80% chocolate chopped and a Big bunch of fresh mint chopped.

As with all my Ice Cream recipes, really simple. Put the cream, yoghurt, sugar and eggs into a food processor and mix well. Carefully hand stir in the chocolate and the mint ( do not process in food processor as it will completely mush the chocolate and the mint and will not look pretty, taste the same but will not look so good!)

Then either put into an ice Cream machine or into a container and into the freezer. I actually just put mine into the freezer this time round to make sure that it turns out well.Making Chocolate cups is pretty straight forward. Simply melt ( and agin I melt in the mould in the microwave) allow about 25 grams of chocolate per cup. Silicon moulds are great for this., with a teaspoon push the molten chocolate around the mould and then pop it into the freezer to set.when ready to serve, peel away the mould, carefully.

Serve as it is, in a chocolate cup, with whipped cream or with chocolate sauce. Which ever way you choose, I’m sure you will be back for more. Actually I don’t like chocolate mint, not in ice cream nor in chocolate and of all things After eight dinner mints, Oh No!

Week Ten, Day Four, ( Wednesday)

I have to admit that yesterday I was feeling a bit discombobulated, overwhelmed, not really down but just overwhelmed. I have so much to do and I don’t feel on top of it all and maybe just don’t understand it all either.

Having had a day of housework, ( very boring, as we haven’t let the lovely Betty back yet, can’t understand the guidelines” your cleaner can come but not your children, But then leave all the doors open and wipe ALL surfaces after they have gone?) But Himself is a good houseworker, then grappled with an internet problem ( thank you Christine and Bob) before embarking on the sewing pile!

Which brought us up to dinner time. I still have fish ( from ISH) mostly smoked haddock which is not my favourite but his. I had an idea and had thought about it for several days but something else I had not got round to doing, so now was the time!

Baked potatoes, stuffed with Fish Pie! Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

I took 4 large potatoes and popped them into the microwave for 12 minutes, one largish potato takes about 4 minutes, and the advantage of the microwave here is that it is fast, and if they are not quite soft enough just add a couple more minutes.

Then I left them to cool.

  • 100 Grams butter
  • 1 pint milk
  • 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • a good shake of Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs hard boiled, roughly chopped
  • 1 largish filet of smoked haddock ( and any other such as shrimp or white fish or even smoked salmon)
  • grated parmesan for the topping
  • 100 grams butter
  • 1 chopped onion

To cook the fish, I put it in a bowl with some water and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high, and then left that to cool.

I then put the onions, and butter in another bowl and put that in the microwave on high for 3 minutes. Then I stirred in the cornflour and the milk, returned to the microwave in bouts of one minute, stirring in between to make the sauce. Added a dash of Tabasco, the mustard and lemon juice and some salt and pepper to taste. If by any chance your sauce should go lumpy, help is at hand in the form of a whisk, preferably an electric one, problem sorted.

I had two hard boiled eggs in the refrigerator, so roughly chopped them and added them to the sauce, skinned the now cool fish and flaked it, and added that also to the sauce.

Next the potatoes, now cool enough to handle I scooped out the middles, mashed them roughly and mixed into the sauce.

Then filled the potato shells with the pie mix, put them into a dish, sprinkled Parmesan over the top, place them in the oven at 180 C for about 20 minutes to heat through and to brown.three minutes later, they are ready !

Whilst they were cooking I prepared some green beans, topped and tailed them, washed and placed in my Lekule vegetable microwave container. These I zapped, as the potatoes were nearly ready for a mere three minutes in the microwave , on high, and dinner was sorted. Cooking vegetables in the microwave is not only fats but no nutrients are poured down the sink in the cooking liquid, so much healthier as well.

Week Ten, Day Three ( Tuesday)

Following on from the the contents of my kitchen drawers ( and by the way that was only half of them) , what do I absolutely love by way of appliances.

I love my food processor, I have a Magimix, and this must be the third or even fourth reincarnation as I have had one for the last 30 years or more. I even have its twin in France. Something I use almost on a daily basis. Spares are easy to come by which makes it even more attractive.

Next down, though not used anywhere near as much and is also a Magimix. Again, I have had one of there for many years and use it for purées and soups mostly.

Electric hand whisk, again something simple but invaluable, so much easier than beating by hand, maybe not in the true chef mode but easy to use.

Next is an electric carving knife, not sure why I still have this as almost NEVER do a roast, but seems silly to throw it away, as it still works well.

My Sous Vide wand, which I Love and as with the food processor, I have its twin in France. It talks to my phone and as such I have to switch it over depending on where I am, maybe I should pair the one in France with a different phone, just to make life a tad easier.

Going on from the Sous Vide machine , necessity calls for a vacuum pack machine, and again I have twins, one here and one there. The first one I bought after a trip to Mexico, I had always used zip lock bags for flat packing soups etc, but someone had delivered vacuum packed goodies to eldest daughter after the north of her third child. Umm thought I What a good idea and so returned bearing a vacuum sealer ( and mini transformer). Nowadays I have an English version, easier to use.

A hand blender, where would I be without it, mayonnaise, anchovy butter, walnut pesto, here I come. Mine is by a Swiss company and is meant to be the best, whereas the one I have in France was much cheaper and didn’t last long, it died.

Pestle and mortar , a necessity for pounding and grinding .

Latest, non electrical are products from Lekule, until recently I used Pyrex with cling film in the microwave, but this company has improved things, I have one item good for cooking rice ( smallish quantities) and another for vegetables, which is very good.

Other items, which I have had, forever, a potato ricer, it makes the absolute perfect mashed potatoes, an electric plug in table top grill, not used as much since I had installed my teppanyaki grill, up useful none the less. And an electronic rice cooker, which I love if cooking rice for more than one person. It cooks by weight, is fast and efficient and then switches to keep warm mode. And of course a toaster ( Himself sometimes likes toast for breakfast).

One gadget which I have had for +/- 35 years is a thingy which converts Grams, kilos etc to pounds and ounces, which is not much good if you are working in just grams or as in my case I often work in Cups. But if you have an old book which says 16 oz, turn the dial and it says 450 grams ! Brilliant, no longer the need for some mental arithmetic.

One item which I used a lot about 42 years ago, was a cream maker. We lived in the wilds of Normandy and at the time there was cream galore but it was Crème Fraîche, which translates as fresh cream, but it is not sweet cream, almost sour, try putting that in cream eclairs, not good ! But not sure if it is any longer available!

Needless to say I also have a juicer, it is cold slow press, which is good and I used it in my “I am a juicer “Phase, which is now past, so I am afraid it is in the cupboard. But maybe that should go to France.

And of course the Ice Cream Machine.

And that is all for now and I haven’t even started on pots and pans, dishes and baking items, things like dishes for individual soufflés and pies, but will save that for another day.

WEEK TEN, DAY TWO ( Monday)

Here is a flash back to Week Nine, Day Seven.

Where I live in London, there is an absolute plethora of Fast Food stores, all catering to the mass of humanity that streams out of Baker Street Tube station every morning. Baker Street station is one of the stations that has remained open during this Lockdown with a few of the regulars still commuting, one of my neighbours a Dr, uses it to get to the hospital or our porters to get from their home to here. Or the young girl who works the early shift at the local grocery store. Otherwise Baker Street has become a ghost town . The buses, although reduced in numbers still plough their way up and down , usually with no passengers and all but one of the eateries is closed. The one that stayed open is Joe the Juice, not Macdonalds, not Kentucky Fried chicken, nor Starbucks nor Pret, but just Joe the Juice, where even one of my neighbours goes in the morning to get her caffein fix! Take away only, but you must have their App. Normally, parked on Baker Street is a whole army of delivery drivers, Just Eat, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, they are all there, still but reduced in numbers.

I read the other day that some people in London during this Lockdown have ordered Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, from Takeaways, and why not when even Michelin starred restaurants are offering such a service. No doubt all the hustle and bustle will return soon, shame really I have been enjoying the tranquility of being in Central London.

Saturday is my day off, though I did cook breakfast, the Eggs Florentine. When asked what Himself wanted to cook for dinner, as it was his day to cook. His immediate response was ‘a noodle type dish, as served in Wagamama ‘

Quelle Surprise, I just happened to have a Wagamama cook book. Bought especially because my grandchildren really like Wagamama, so I bought the book. It is full of fun dishes,which are easy to cook and Fast? They have to be Fast. If you have ever been to Wagamama you will understand. All food is cooked to order and comes when ready, so apart from having everything pre-prepared, it is just assembled and cooked when ordered.

He also wanted his dish with noodles, normally I’d don’t “Do” noodles, but as it was his choice I agreed. This was after turning down in the past, things like Venison Stew, or Steak and Kidney, pie/ Pudding or Tripe, all things which I would NEVER choose to eat or order and that are things that he loves in his perverse kind of way.

And so it was agreed, it had to be Chilli Beef Ramen.

We basically had all that we needed, we had soft Asian noodles albeit not ramen. We didn’t have Bean Sprouts, nor did either of the stores that we visited. Otherwise everything was at hand.

  1. 150 grams bean sprouts, ( we used a can of bamboo shoots)
  2. 250 soft noodles
  3. 1 litre of stock, we used stock powder
  4. 6 spring onions cut into bits
  5. 2 red chillis chopped
  6. 1 onion sliced thinly
  7. 1 like cut into 4
  8. A small bunch coriander chopped.
  9. 350 grams steak, we used Onglet
  10. Small amount of teriyaki sauce
  • We also used a small packet of baby spinach. The recipe also calls for a mixture of 2 tsp sugar 2 Tabs of vinegar ( we used rice vinegar), 3 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce and 5 Tbsp fish sauce.
  • Himself, used the sous-vide machine in which he cooked the vacuum packed meat for one hour at 140 F.
  • Cook the noodles according to instructions on packet, they usually cook very quickly.
  • Heat some oil in a wok and throw in the sliced onions and sauté until soft, remove and put to one side. Cut the meat into thin slices and sauté briefly, and baste with the teriyaki sauce. Add everything else to the wok, except the noodles and coriander, bring to the boil. Switch off the heat.
  • Divide the noodles between the bowls, ladle contents of wok onto noodles and garnish with the chopped coriander. Very quick to make and very tasty.

    A note on Onglet or as it is called in English Hanger Steak.

    A hanger steak, is also known as butcher’s steak, is a cut of steak prized for its flavor. It comes from the plate , which is the upper belly of the animal. It was often called “butcher’s steak”, because the butchers would keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale. Why? Because they knew that it was one of the tastiest cuts of meat.

  • Week Ten, Day One ( Sunday)

    WEEK TEN, WHERE DID THE OTHER NINE GO ?

    What a beautiful day, the sun shone and the wind blew, not too much and the golf course was lovely.

    Tonight we had the neighbourhood Cocktail Party, great to see Pat, our 91 year old neighbour looking very suntanned, what else can he do ? Certainly not go out on the town ! But he can sit outside in the sun, which has been lovely for the last, How Many Weeks?

    Across the void in our own little sanctuary, I haven’t finished the cleaning out of my kitchen drawers, I dare not mention other cookware, the moulds, cake or otherwise, the pans, the ” Can’t live without Gadgets, but that will come.

    Meanwhile I found a recipe for another Clementine cake, the same but different. This time with olive oil, so had to give it a try. Judging by looks alone, it is a plus, but the proof of the Pudding Is?

    1. 4 Clementines boiled in water for about 30 minutes until soft
    2. 4 eggs
    3. 160gms/ 6 oz/ 3/4 Cup caster sugar
    4. 100 mls olive oil
    5. 175 grams ground almonds
    6. 2 tsp baking powder

    Heat the oven to 180 C Or 160 C Fan oven. Grease a 20 cm spring form pan.

    Using a food processor with the motor running, tip in the fruit and process, rind and all until it is truly smushed. Add everything else and process quickly to mix well.

    Pour into the prepared pan and put on the middle shelf and bake for about 50 minutes. It should be golden brown and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin.

    And that is it !

    Weirdly, I needed Baking Powder, the brand I usually use is Dr. Oetker, but I ended up buying Marks and Spencer ( limit on the amount one could buy). Look carefully, the Dr. Oetka is Gluten Free, whereas the M and S is not !

    Also weirdly, I had ordered from Waitrose online yet more Baking powder, but they sent me a text ” out of stock” but we have substituted it with RICE FLOUR ! Who in their right minds would think that Rice Flour is a substitute for Baking Powder ! Now I have to think what to do with Rice Flour! Pasta ? Now, that’s a thought !

    And the end result of latest cake, the proof of the pudding is in the eating And YES, the result, to my mind is better, it is really moist, maybe even better with ice cream or cream, but it is a YES!

    A very calm Thames, this morning.

    Week Nine, Day Seven. ( Saturday)

    Methinks, we can’t finish Lockdown yet, I haven’t done all I set out to do, and I’ve a dozen masks to make, plus the surgical gowns ( one almost done) to make! HELP!

    Today is my Day Off in the kitchen ( well alright I did breakfast) but Himself is in charge for tonight.

    I have spent part of the day, sorting and cleaning my kitchen drawers. Everything has its place, I’m really a bit OCD, but it was about time to clean them out. What do you have in your kitchen drawers, do you know? Are there things there that shouldn’t be? Are their things there that are never used? Are there things there that are a complete waste of space?

    I must admit that I buy kitchen paraphernalia as a hobby, especially when overseas, or there is a new kitchen shop. BUT, I don’t just buy Willy Nilly, I think about it and wonder if it is a good idea, and if it is not too expensive I might give it a try. Or if it is beautiful , then even if useless, it is a must buy!

    When I had my ‘Cooking School’ in Brussels I decided on a menu and then wondered if I had the right equipment, invariably not, which would mean a trip to my local market town where there was a wonderful kitchen shop, and if she didn’t have what I needed then she would get it for me. She knew that if I was giving a class, then my pupils would be along to buy the gadget! ( a bit Delia smith syndrome, though on a much smaller scale!)

    So what did I find in my kitchen drawers?

    An assortment of plastic utensils, all of which are used.

    Here we have three different peelers, one for potatoes, one for finer peeling ( maybe tomatoes, or asparagus ) and one for cutting Julienne strips.Three bean slicers! One belonged to my Mom, so that has to stay, and one strings as well as slice. Considering I rarely cook Runner beans, maybe that is over kill. Two Apple corers, fish tweezers ( for getting rid of any stray bones), the absolute perfect zester and a butter curler ( everyone needs one of these)!Here are shellfish pickers, a pastry wheel, a larding needle and two induction Hob scrapers.

    From the top, kitchen scissors ( must have more than one pair) an excellent knife sharpener( I have tried many and so far this is the best!) and a string box/ cutter

    The wooden drawer, I’m very fussy about my bits of wood. I prefer, Olive wood utensils, they have such a nice feel, followed by bamboo and then others. A big old spoon for when I am making Jam and a couple of wooden spatulas, including the wavy one made by #1 daughter about 30 years ago! I recently bought a set of wooden spoons from Robert Dyas, just because my small ones had gone ‘walkabout’ ( probably in the Trash Bin) , they were just horrible, I should have known better, they had just such a horrible feel to them, that they too went the bin.

    Not one but two rolling pins! The green handled one, I have had forever and the small one I bought in India, for when I make chapattis , I have never made them ! Here we have an antique ice cream scoop, a mushroom brush ( one should never wash mushrooms) an old pie funnel, a potato fork, to hold whilst peeling boiling hot potatoes, an Avocado thingy ( never used) and a mango stoner. Actually this was very useful when I was in my Eating a Mango daily Phase.Here is a collection from 3 rd drawer down. A smart carving knife,an old carving fork, my absolute favourite palette knife, don’t you dare put that in the dishwasher, well as my ancient ham knife, useful for slicing cakes in half! Then another ham knife, meat forks,grater, a ladle and a fancy frying basket.At the bottom, an egg slicer ( Never used) Parmesan cheese grater, again rarely used but in beautiful Olive Wood, long handled strainer, a truffle slice ( never used but I love it, beautiful) two thermometers, used for jam making etc, why two? Simply I wanted to make jam and couldn’t find the first one.And the little steel thing, an icing sugar duster device! ( of course !)And now, an assortment from my Stainless steel drawer.Ladles meat bashed and whisk.And finally , for today at least, a few of the items that are for the bin. A temperature probe for steaks ( bought in Texas, where steaks are THICK, otherwise, it tests the temperature of the pan in which the steaks are cooking) a citrus peeler, Useless, a smart zester, useless, it makes one hold the lemon the wrong way, a carrot pencil sharpener, Don’t ask ! The green thing a Joseph and Joseph invention, for smushing garlic? And the red thing for rolling the skin off garlic!

    Ah well, I haven’t cleaned all of the drawers yet, so more to come !

    Week Nine, Day Six

    Day Six, normally translates as Friday Night Travels. However the instigator of the event has reneged ( again) claiming that with three kids to home school and work commitments, Friday night has become too complicated and so now it will be Saturday Night Travels ( But not Saturday Night Fever, or I suppose it could be).

    Here in our Folly, we did indeed travel, we had planned to be outside during our little escapade, but the wind ( it can be very windy indeed up here) put paid to that.

    We went to Venice on the Orient Express, stayed at Cipriani’s and drank Peach Bellini’s at Harry’s Bar. Peach Bellini was invented around 1940 by Guiseppe Cipriani and named it after a 15 th Century artist, Giovanni Bellini. It is made with a purée of white peaches and Prosecco, but there are variations, a Puccini with Mandarin juice, a Rossini , with strawberries and Tintoretto using pomegranate.

    W2, went on her outing to Primrose Hill, and made sparkling cup cakes, specifically requested by Young Sam, Lucky Boy!

    Forgoing, an Italian dinner, we went for an Italian named breakfast. Eggs Florentine. This is a variation of Eggs Benedict, a true American incarnation but with spinach. Many people shy away from making the hollandaise sauce as almost all the cookery books out there make it sound difficult. In reality and with practice and a microwave, it becomes a cinch.

    To make hollandaise in the microwave follow these simple instructions:-

    1. 50 grams unsalted butter, cut into chunks
    2. 1 small/ medium egg well beaten
    3. Juice of half a small lemon
    4. A tsp white wine ( optional, don’t open a bottle for this)
    5. 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Melt the butter in the microwave on half power for about a minute, no more. Mix the egg, lemon juice, wine and mustard together, and then pour over the warm melted butter.
  • Return to the microwave, again on half power for 30 seconds, remove and mix well. Repeat this step until the mixture has thickened. I use a hand blender to mix and at the slightest hint of a curdle beat well.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • For the eggs Florentine, you will need, some toasted English Muffins ( I used Brioche, not having muffins,) or indeed some sour dough toast. Some poached eggs, and some cooked spinach. I cook my spinach ( 1/2 a packet ) in a microwave dish, in the microwave, it only takes a couple of minutes and is still fresh, not soggy.
  • Arrange the spinach on the toast, followed by ham if using, then the spinach and topped with the poached eggs and finally the sauce.