Sunday, 20 November 2011
I was nudged into doing so by meeting a couple of people, one from Finsbury Park Transition, I local group dedicated to sustainable living and HarringayOnline, our local community website.
Now, the 'pot boiler' I am referring to has nothing to do with cooking, but rather the grubby world of crime. "Camp Fire's Burning' is a 20,000 word story I wrote about three years ago in response to a series of events at the place I was living at the time. I am currently re-working parts of the story and should be able to publish it as an ebook fairly soon.
I haven't forgotten about "The Food Shops of Green Lanes" either. I'd originally planned to do that in August, but a trashed foot meant I could hardly walk during that month, but I will return to it soon.
So, whats for tea tonight? Well, how about some vegetable soup? The fantastic thing about living round here is that the ingredients are readily available 24/7 and cheaply too. As you can see from above, this is what I put in mine. The only thing missing from the picture is a can of butter beans and a couple of cloves of garlic.
Now, for once, I am not going to say much more, but rather I am going to let the pictures tell the story. I am sure you will get the idea.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
The Italians love their polenta, but I have always found it to be rather a curious thing. This is an interesting way to prepare it. You could have small portions of it as a starter or make it a bit larger to do as a main as part of a meal. This will do two.
Pour a ladleful of polenta into a pan with some salt. Pour in about half a dozen ladles of cold water. Bring to the boil, constantly stirring it with a whisk or fork to stop it turning lumpy. Then, turn the heat right down and cover slightly and let it bubble away for about 25 – 30 minutes.
Next, take a teaspoon of extra virgin oil and warm it gently before stirring in a pinch of chilli powder. Let it fizz for a second or two, then take it off the heat. Stir a heaped tablespoon of a hard Italian cheese (not Parmesan, its not vegetarian) and some pepper. Alternatively, use strong cheddar, but half the amount.
Stick a pan of water on with some salt and bring it to the boil. Top, tail and halve a couple of good handfuls of green beans and drop them into the water.
Ladle half the cooked polenta into a pasta bowl and put a large thin slice or two of Stilton or other blue cheese on top. Pour over another ladle of polenta and let the cheese melt. Top with the green beans and then pour over the chilli oil.
What you get is the smoothness of the polenta, the strength of the cheese and heat of the chilli oil, all of which is cut through nicely by the beans, which will be slightly undercooked to give them a bit of a crunch.
Though there are plenty of specialist vegetarian restaurants about, the one thing we do miss out on is the ‘bog standard’ café. In these places, you get either egg or cheese, and you can’t always be sure that any cooked dish has been kept away from meat products.
Because of that, I was very pleasantly surprised to come across the Manhattan Bagel Company in Holloway.
In addition to the usual choice between ‘egg or cheese’ they had a number of proper vegetarian savouries. The spinach borek was very tasty as were the vegetable pasties and somosas. Their cakes are nice too and all are made with vegetable oil.
Price wise, they were about right for a standard café and its just the sort of place you’d want to go for to buy a few snacks for lunch or to have a quick bite to eat on your way somewhere.
As you would expect from such a place, the décor is pure working class, but hey, that’s all you need when you need a meal and a drink in a hurry. Nice place.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
To me, weekend breakfasts are the best meals of the week and something I try to make special. When I was a child, breakfasts at weekends – especially Sunday breakfasts – were a veritable feast.
My sisters and I used to put everything you could possibly put onto a plate, with most of it being meat. But you can have a vegetarian ‘fry up’ too. Or you can go for something a little more refined.
Yesterday for example, I found myself with nothing in the fridge save for some eggs, a tomato and six black olives in a plastic box from something I’d made the night before. So, what else to do but put them together?
Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Black Olives
Beat the eggs in a bowl with some salt and pepper and a pinch of parsley or something I like, tarragon. Finely chop the olives and the tomatoes. Toast and butter a couple of muffins. Pop some butter in frying pan and get it melted. Add the eggs and give them a good stir. As they start to cook pop in the olives and get the warmed up. Then, in with the tomatoes – the whole cooking process should take two minutes at most.
Tip them over the toasted muffins and enjoy with a cup of strong black coffee.
Akela’s Eggy Bread with Vegemite and Cheesy Tomatoes.
‘Akela’ is the title given to the leader of a Cub Scout Pack. For many years I worked with someone called Audrey, who when she took her Cubs to camp, always cooked them Eggy Bread. Basically it’s a slice of white bread dipped into a bowl of uncooked scrambled eggs and fried. But you can still give it a bit of a zing.
Beat three eggs in a soup or pasta bowl, because this will be wide enough to drop the bread into. Now take a tomato and cut it in half. Chop up the inside of the tomato but don’t scoop the mixture out. Now, get some seriously strong cheese and grate it over the tomatoes. Push some of the cheese down into the body of the tomato and put under a medium grill or into a hot oven.
Next, take two slices of thick good quality wholemeal bread. Spread Vegemite (or Marmite) over them. Get a teaspoon of oil in a pan and heat until its almost smoking.
Drop in a slice of the eggy bread and fry it for about two minutes. Flip it over and give it another two minutes. Then, slide onto a plate and serve with the grilled tomato and some baked beans, garnished with some water cress and laced with a line of totally cold brown sauce. Smashing.
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
In my area, cheap herbs are everywhere. A great fistful of coriander or flat leaf parsley will cost you no more than 50p from a local greengrocer. And these are real herbs too. I bought some Basil and Rosemary and their aroma filled the kitchen within minutes.
I also have loads of different dried herbs in airtight pots and use these all the time.
Celery and Dill Weed Soup
So often a recipe will call for a stick of celery, so I find myself with loads left over. Now again, round here celery is twice the size of what the supermarkets sell and (need I say it) a darned sight cheaper too. What better way to use it up than to make a soup with it?
Cut the bottom off the celery and then chop the rest of it up. Save a few leaves to garnish if you want, but don’t worry too much about it. Add in a chopped onion and half a chopped potato and then sweat everything over a low heat in a tablespoon of butter and certainly no more than that. After about ten minutes, cover it all with some warm stock and then put the lid back on and simmer it all until the celery is well and truly soft.
Take it off the heat and let it all cool down. Now blitz the living daylights out of it. Put it back on a very low heat and stir in a teaspoon of dried dill weed. Give a good stir, then check the flavour. If needs be stir in some more dill until you feel you have the balance right.
At this point, you might want to put in some salt and pepper, although I didn’t. The soup felt right without it. You might also want to put some cream. I didn’t but then you know my views on cream in soup.
A Cheap Stew
So, I came home this evening and thought it was getting a bit cold. So something warming was needed.
I bought 2 medium carrots, 1 turnip, 1 parsnip, 1 large potato and an onion. Total cost 80 pence. At home I had three stock cubes, a couple of tablespoons of lentils, some salt and pepper and a few teaspoons of herbs.
I chopped up all the vegetables, dropped them in a pan with the lentils, salt and pepper and covered them with the stock. Bringing the whole lot to the boil, I turned the heat down and let it all simmer until everything was cooked, but still firm. At that point, I added a tea spoon of dried parsley and oregano and half a teaspoon of a couple of tablespoons of the fresh rosemary I had left over from the day before. The only other thing I did was to add a teaspoon of vegetarian gravy mix to thicken it up a bit.
After letting the herbs develop their flavour, I tasted it. It was gorgeous! Thing was, there was enough for four people as well – and all for probably no more than £1.30. That’ll do!
Sunday, 9 October 2011
According to a certain online encyclopaedia, the term ‘chowder’ refers to soups that are traditionally thickened with milk or cream.
Now, mentioned milk to me in the context of a savoury dish and I tend to start going green around the gills. I like cream, and I use it in several recipes, such as Pasta Alfredo and Carrots in the Nevers Style. I also I very much like cheese. But the idea of using milk, especially in a soup - bluerrrgghhhhh!
Mind, I was playing round the other day and came up with this idea for a chowder that is rather nice, particularly at this time of the year when there is starting to be a nip in the air. Sorry, forgot to put a picture in, but I have made it and its rather good.
Potato and Sweetcorn Chowder
1 x chopped onion
1 x crushed garlic clove
1 decent sized potato, cut into good chunks
1 x long stick of celery, sliced
1 x green pepper, de-seeded and sliced
2 tbsp of sunflower oil
2 tbsp of butter
1 pint of pre-heated vegetable stock
half a pint of full cream milk
1 x tin of butter beans
300g of sweetcorn
Salt and pepper
teaspoon of dried sage or oregano
Melt the butter in a pan with the oil. When its nice and hot, chuck in the veg - including the onion and garlic - and let it sizzle for a while. Turn down the heat and then sweat everything for ten minutes or so, giving it the occasional stir.
Now, pour in the stock, cover the pan and let everything simmer until the potatoes are starting to cook. This should take about 15 minutes, depending on how chunky the spuds are.
Finally, add the milk, beans, sweet corn and sage and give everything another five minutes or so. Check the seasoning and then serve topped with grated cheese and some crusty bread.
Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Sunday, 2 October 2011
Sunday, 18 September 2011
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
In the meantime, don't forget that its the Harringay Festival this Sunday in Green Lanes. I'll be there along with lots of others.
Sadly the book won't be because, as well as being busy, I have also had a bad foot injury, so have not been able too get around the shops to do the interviews. I've not forgotten it though and parts of it will be up soon.
Friday, 5 August 2011
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Sunday, 24 July 2011
The idea for this blog came out of a comment I posted on Facebook. "I really ought to write a recipe book,” I wrote. Quick as a flash, my mate Ashley wrote back "Start with a blog and then turn that into a recipe book". Taking his advice, I made my first posting just over a year ago.
I've got a few followers and get a good few hits each week. I am in the UK Food Bloggers Association and am featured on harringayonline, the local community website. But while I don't yet have quite enough material for a recipe book, I have been gathering material for a related project.
I started the research for the book in June. A couple of Sundays ago, I walked the length of the road and took details of all the shops. For the last two Saturdays I have been in my local library writing up the introduction.
The aim is to have the book ready for the Harringay Food Festival on the 18th September. I’ll publish it myself as an e-pub and will also sell a few hard copies too. It’s an interesting project, not least of all because of all the historical stuff that is coming out of the research. Oh, and just to keep Ashley happy, it will have recipes in it. But it won’t be a recipe book, OK!
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Saturday, 25 June 2011
But boy, was the wait worth it! I now know what the phrase 'baking hot' means, because my flat bread was literally too hot to handle. Brought it back home and made a couple of fried egg sarnies with it washed down with a giant cup of coffee - Amazing!
Saturday - bring it on!
Thursday, 23 June 2011
Saturday, 18 June 2011
Friday, 10 June 2011
Saturday, 4 June 2011
Monday, 30 May 2011
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Friday, 27 May 2011
Monday, 16 May 2011
Are farmers markets another branch of Rip-Britain? This question occurred me when I visited one at Alexander Palace. The company running most of London’s farmer’s markets insist that produce sold at them must be truly local.
Given that, I was not impressed to see carrots grown up the road costing more than twice what my local independent greengrocer charges for ones he imports from Cyprus. And don't get me started on the mushrooms at £65.00 a kilo!
The one point I continue to ram home in this blog is that local is (or at least should be), cheaper. The main road I live near contains many independent greengrocers selling fantastic produce at prices that put the big supermarkets to shame. I therefore see no good reason to tramp several miles on a Sunday morning just to pay Fortnum and Mason prices for basic vegetables bearing the 'farmer's market' label.
If the produce did not impress me, the PRODUCED goods certainly did and one provided me with a true ‘road to Damascus’ moment.
Having tramped to the market on a breakfast of thin air, I arrived at the market feeling really hungry. The stall selling cheese toasties looked tempting, but the long queue didn’t. A few nibbles at some of the yummy chutneys offered by one stallholder got my palate going. But I avoided the African chili sauce samples. I’ve had them before – and they are (deliciously) lethal and best avoided on a Sunday morning!
The Mediterranean/Middle Eastern nature of the area I live in means I am quite accepting of something spicy for breakfast. Thus, my first course was Moroccan flat bread with spinach, feta, mushrooms and harrisa paste. Though a little bit oily, it was utterly yummy and a bargain at £2.50.
For afters I had a massive lump of the best chocolate slab cake I have tasted in years. And at £1.50 a slice this was a real bargain, as was the fresh strawberry smoothie at £1.00 a cup.
But in between the flat bread and chocolate cake, I happened across a small stall right at the top end of the market. Now, this was a truly local stall. They don’t even have a name. The daughter selling her mum’s produce said they were going to call it the Indian Den but just settled on Mrs Amin’s after her mum (and I hope I got the name right).
I looked down at the small range of goods and the lentil loaf looked good. If anyone can do good things with lentils, it’ll be someone from an Indian background.
But what really caught my eye were these little pasty type things called a Kachori.
Containing flour, peas, moong dal, coconuts, ginger, chillies, coriander, salt and a touch of lemon juice, they looked rather tasty. And at just a £1, it was worth giving one a try.
Earlier in this blog, I talked about my first taste of a true Cornish pasty. Well, the first bite into this thing was a repeat of that moment! ‘It hits every spot, doesn’t it?’ said the stallholder. It certainly did.
Firstly, there was this lovely sweet blast from the peas. Then the rest of the flavours had a little dance round the inside of my mouth. The chilli and ginger hit their spots closely followed by the coconuts and the lemon juice with the salt and coriander providing the encore.
Earlier in the week, I’d watched Scottish chef Tony Singh get pipped at the post in the Great British Menu semi final with his Indian-based food. I reckon if he’d put a couple of these true delicacies from ‘Mrs Amin’ on the menu, he’d have romped home. Served as a starter with perhaps a thick dal, they wouldn’t look out of place in a Michelin starred restaurant.
One thing is for certain. Next time I go back there, I’m taking a sealable box with me, because a few of these little stunners would be ideal for a lunch at work.
I’d only decided to visit the Farmer’s market on a whim. As I say, where I live I don’t need to go anywhere to get food. But just finding mum’s Kachoris made the trip well worth it. Thanks mum! :)
Thursday, 5 May 2011
Sunday, 1 May 2011
|Red Kidney Beans||420g|
|Clove of Garlic||1|
|Pinch of Chilli||1g|
Saturday, 30 April 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
Saturday, 16 April 2011
Aubergine and Chick Pea Stew