London, Week two, day one.

Sunday, my day off, Himself is taking over the kitchen!  Having a PhD in Chemistry, one would think that it would come naturally to  him, but he is learning and is enthusiastic which is the main thing.IMG_3888

Watching an episode of Master Chef the other week, he was inspired. Someone made ravioli with egg and sausage meat as the filling. The egg bit I could handle but not the pale, insipid looking sausage meat. Consequently we went on a hunt for a recipe that had egg as the filling for Ravioli and came up with RAVIOLI BERGESE ( EGG YOLK RAVIOLI).

After a quick hunt in the freezer, yes I had ricotta cheese and yes I had spinach in the refrigerate and so it was all systems go.

He has made pasta many times, but not for a while, out came the food processor, out came the pasta rolling machine and out came the giant ravioli cutters.

Making pasta is fairly simple, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, Getting the consistency of the dough is the most important part, a bit like goldilocks in a way, too much liquid, too wet, too little, too dry, but the right amount becomes JUST RIGHT.  and the difference between the three, just a few drops !

Anyway, if you do like making your own pasta, here are the ingredients for the filling.

  • 6oz fresh baby spinach, cooked and drained
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • zest of half a lemon.

Blend all of the above in a food processor until well blended.

Roll out your pasta cut into squares or rounds and pipe a round of filling onto half of them. Brush the other halves lightly with water, crack an egg yolk into the centre of the piped filling, quickly put the top half on and press around the edges to seal.

Cook in boiling salted water for only about three minutes, so that the pasta remains el dente and the egg yolk runny.

Serve with a white wine butter sauce. Yummy !IMG_3888

London Day 6 ( support our traders)

31b37410-e768-4676-9b5d-17866616f9d1Yesterday I ordered Fruit and vegetables online from the New Covent Garden market.Normally this is mainly wholesale but many of the traders have started home deliver, but some further afield as well.

It might seem very strange to some, but I like grocery shopping. I go to the Chinese supermarket for all things Asian and the Indian one for all things Indian. Then I go to “posh” smallish supermarket for general shop and less than posh for heavier items when I am out in the car. Then I visit markets, but I like real markets and am lucky to have a very ethnic market very close to wear I live. It is fun really to see what the deal of the day is, sometimes it is possible to get about 3 kilos of tomatoes for a mere £5.00, great for making soups. Go there towards the end of the day and it is possible to buy Dover Sole fo a song.

SO ordering Fruit and vegetables online is a bit of an anathema to me, but when needs must, and they must during this lockdown, I succumbed. AND BOY was I impressed.

My box contained, apples, oranges, pears, bananas, onions, potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, courgette, aubergine, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, parsnips, fresh basil and then my add on box, 30 eggs, a wholemeal loaf, 1 kilo of cheese slices and 4 pints of milk. all delivered to my front door, one day after ordering ! WOW !IMG_1381

So onto Dinner last night. Parsnips became cream of parsnip soup served with a walnut pesto followed by pan fried filet of salmon ( from my fish delivery earlier in the week) with Anchovy butter. I dug out of the freezer for himself some homemade potato gnocchi, which were made a couple of weeks ago. Dinner sorted and perfect.

For the Parsnip soup I used plus or minus the following:-

  • 4 large parsnips peeled and cut into chunks
  • 500 mls stock ( chicken or vegetable
  • cup of plain yoghurt
  • 1 oz butter
  • some milk too thin, if too thick.

Simply cook the parsnip chunks in the stock until very tender. Puree them in a food processor or blender, or even with a stick blender. Stir in the yoghurt and the butter. Add extra milk if it is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the walnut pesto:-

  • A handful of basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • olive oil to blend.

Throw  all except the oil into a blender and blitz and then drizzle in the oil, probably about 1/4 cup, Serve it as a dollop on top of the soup.

What did I do with the Aubergine? made Babaganoush, of course, which he had in a mock Eggs Benedict. this morning.

London Day 5′

IMG_1368The sun is shining and it is a beautiful Spring day. I had heard that the New Covent Garden Market, which is normally a Wholesale Market for the most part, their traders are being innovative ( I wonder if Billingsgate are doing something similar?), and now doing online deliveries. I was intrigued, had a google and yes indeed. , And a bit like my online fish buying I chose a mixed box of Fruit and Vegetables along with an extra side box of eggs, ( 30 of them !) milk, cheese and bread.

So watch this space and will report back.

Today was what we always called a “Club Med” or it could be any resort. Food is not wasted and can be recycled providing it is safe to do so. I was recycling rice that was left over from the Cauliflower and chick pea curry. In care homes they are not allowed to serve rice that has been cooked and left as there are bacteria in the rice that could adversely affect the residents, but providing you have kept the rice sealed in the refrigerator and you then re heat on a high heat or better still add some water and give it a quick zap in the Microwave, then it should be safe.

Todays project was Ham and Egg fried Rice, which quickly became Egg Fried rice, simply because I forgot the ham. An easy project especially if you have some frozen vegetables to add as well. Whilst backpacking with #1 journalist daughter in China, her rule of thumb was ” if it is being cooked in front of you, and children are being fed, then it should be OK” Interestingly, very often the egg fried rice had not only the egg in the mixture, but a fried egg on top !IMG_2476

London Day Four

I like cauliflower, but rarely eat it. I almost never cook roast dinners, hence those vegetables that go with a roast get forgotten. BUT I always make for Himself Cauliflower and Ham Gratin ( Cheese) which he really likes. I never eat it, too many calories and too much Carb.IMG_6330

Consequently, when I saw this recipe or idea the other day, Perfect sprang to mind, and probably as many calories, but it appealed to my taste buds more. Simple to make, can be a main dish, served with rice, or naan, or can be served with fish or meat.

This recipe is very much an experiment, add more or less what you like but her goes with the basics.

  • 1 cauliflower broken into small florets
  • onion chopped
  • about an inch of fresh ginger peeled and chopped
  • cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can chick pease ( or lentils)
  •  about 200 mils water or stock, use the water from the chick peas and make it up to 200 mls if being lazy and you have no stock.
  • Salt and/pepper to taste

Par boil the cauliflower as you would normally.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, garlic, ginger and spices, fry gently mix well. Add the coconut milk and stock/water along with the par boiled cauliflower and chick peas. Simmer for about 20 mins or so until the cauliflower is really tender.IMG_6426

Serve on top of rice, garnished with coriander.

London Day Three

Is it only day three, seems longer than that.

So today I made a cake, actually two cakes. I’m  not a natural baker, but I made the Claudia Roden/ Nigella Lawson/ my version of the Clementine cake. I have written about this already in my blog, and I use less sugar that called for in either of the other versions.

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The other cake I made, and I have not done this in YEARS, was a Victoria Sandwich, decorated with butter cream and a few sprinkles of flaked almonds and a Candle. One of my neighbours turned 91 today, and obviously not allowed  out. But as he lives on the opposite of our building it was easy to deliver without violating and rules.IMG_4988

Lockdown London, Day two

Today, I made for dinner, one of my favourites, Tarte au Fromage de l’Abondance.

I have made this several times, but has been more or less hit or miss. This version I think was the best yet.

On my blog I have written in the past but this time I used 1/3 Abondance Cheese, 1/3 Comte and 1/3 Beaufort.

Abondance comes from the Haute Savoie region of France , mainly in a village of the same name. Beaufort also comes from the Savoie, whereas Comté comes from Franche Comté. All of these can be bought in the UK, but unfortunately at a price. Consequently I bring them back from France as they freeze well.

Day One+London+Fish Pie

Ok, so I am cheating  just a tad here. I started my project on Sunday, actually a few days before. It was not panic buying but forward planning.

We usually go to Billingsgate, the Fish Market for London, and for much of the UK. It means an early morning outing, we have to drive so we go on a Saturday. By 7 am trading is almost over for the day so it really has to be a very early start. However, for whatever reason, we have not been in a while and obviously we abandoned any idea of visiting there now. What to do, what to do? I googled online fish delivery sites, and having recently been to Whitby Yorkshire, the home of the Whitby Catch, I knew that these sites existed.

I found plenty, from Whitby to Scotland, to Wales, to Ireland and to Devon and Cornwall, They all looked tempting fresh fish, packed and delivered to my door. My next question, was, what was I going to buy. Normally when at Billingsgate, we have a wander around and then decided, a whole Salmon, here or 30 Sea Bass, there or maybe vacuum packed Tuna. Much of the produce needs seeing to, inso much as  cleaning, skinning boning, etc. I already knew how to do this, from my childhood, catching our own fish, but Himself needed instruction, and now he is a dab hand. The advantage of the “do It Yourself” is, Stock!! After such a trip I always have stock, which I freeze. Sadly today the stock has been disposed of, no more room in the freezer! Back to what fish I was going to buy. I finally settled on a company called ISHFish, because it offered a selection box. Not as a Christmas selection box of Chocolates but a selection box of Fish. My box contained, 4 portions of Salmon, 4 of Cod, 2 of Haddock, 2 Sea Bass, 2 Smoked Haddock a packet of Smoked Salmon and 500 grams of Fish Pie Mix. I could have added extras to this but did not. It came in a matter of days, all vacuum packed ready to freeze and packed in ice. I was duly impressed.

Hence, the dinner of choice was obvious. Fish Pie. I have made my version of Fish Pie for years, but was there an alternative out there? and the answer is Yes of course, and so here it is the lates version. With Apologies to  Richard Corrigan at Bentleys.IMG_9050

For the Sauce

  •  100 Grams butter
  • 150 mls white wine
  • 1 1/2 pints regular milk ( or 1 pint milk and 1 1/2 pint cream if you are being very wicked)
  • 100 grams flour or 1 Tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon English Mustard
  • a good shake of Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Pie

  • 1 Kilo potatoes + a small amount butter or olive oil.
  • 2 eggs hard boiled, roughly chopped
  • 500 grams mixed fish, if you have shrimp so much the better
  • 200 grams smoked haddock
  • grated parmesan ( or Emmental for the topping)
  • 100 grams butter
  • 2 crushed cloves garlic
  • 1 chopped onion
  • piece of chopped ginger

To cook the fish, sweat the onions, garlic and ginger together, add half a pint of milk and then add the fish and simmer gently until cooked.

Boil the potatoes until cooked and then  mash roughly with a little butter or olive oil.

I make the sauce by putting the butter, milk, white wine and flour/ corn starch into a Microwave jug and heat at one minute intervals and stir in-between each heating. The mixture will amalgamate and if by any chance it goes lumpy, never fear, a whisk, preferably an electric one, will soon sort it out. Taste and add seasoning, along with the lemon juice, english mustard and tabasco to taste.

Mix the fish and the sauce together along with the chopped eggs.

Put into a casserole dish, top with the mashed potatoes and finally the cheese. can decorate with some tomatoes as well. Bake for about  20-30 mins at about 180 C.

Serve piping hot, maybe with some salad. And for the left overs, put into portions when cold and freeze. defrost before reheating.