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Sunday, 21 October 2012

Soup - with attitude

In recent years, 'farmers markets' have become very trendy, with foodies falling over themselves to pay top dollar for produce that is no better (and sometimes worse) than supermarket goods.

There are notable exceptions. Our own Harringay Market being one, because it focuses on PRODUCED goods rather than produce. And the other, even more notable exception, is Andreas and Julia Michli's outstanding Cypriot greengrocers in St Anne's Road in Harringay.  (see below)

Sadly, this shop is sometimes a bit too easy to walk past and also gets a bit forgotten about because its tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Green Lanes.  But foodies should ignore it at their peril.

This place was a farm shop long before the idea was invented. Virtually everything they sell comes from their farms in Cyprus and Hertford. And that link to the town of Hertford has great historical significance. In ancient times, farmers from that town used to drive their cattle to market down a forest path known as 'Green Lanes', which was how the road got its name.

Being farmers as well as greengrocers means Andreas and Julia seriously know their stuff. Not sure about what goes with what? Fear not, for they will gladly assist you and provide you with superb quality goods at a fraction of supermarket prices.

I had been one of those who'd slightly forgotten about them, so when a friend sent me a meat recipe he wanted me to make 'veggie' it was an ideal chance pay them a visit.

In the picture above you will see the ingredients for a hearty soup for 4 - 6 people. The only things I added here are the stock cubes, the chilli powder and half a can of baked beans left over from breakfast.  Everything else was bought from Andreas and Julia's. Note the big bag of paprika at £1.10. That would cost £4.00 in a supermarket. In total, I think I spent about £3.50 and that was only because I decided to use fresh cherry tomatoes rather than tinned.

So what do we do here?

Firstly peel and chop up the carrots, onions and celery then sweat them in some oil for about 5 minutes. Then add in two cloves of garlic, a tea spoon of chilli and paprika and half a tea spoon of cumin. Give then all a minute to bring out the aromas, then add in the chopped tomatoes.

Now, I used cherry tomatoes here with a shot of puree, because they were so nice looking, but a 400g can of chopped tomatoes will do just as well. give it all a stir and another minute so that the tomatoes start to break down.

Crumble in two stock cubes and 750 ml of water. Bring it all to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Add in the quartered mushrooms and the beans and give it all another five minutes.  I left the mushrooms until last as I didn't want them to go mushy or colour the water.

When serving,  I suggest that a dollop of plain Greek yoghurt might be useful here, because it's soup with attitude. It's got a very spicy kick to it, but its not the type of kick that blasts the roof of your mouth off.

So there you have it a nice and easy warming soup for autumn. And its very cheap too, but only if you avoid the overpriced supermarkets and 'farmers markets' and go instead to Andreas and Julia's, a true farm shop if ever there was one.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

More Tools of My Trade

One of the effects of being a 'food head' is that I love buying new toys.

Let me loose in a branch of Whisk or better still, the Selfridges Cook Shop and I could easily spend a fortune. That said, I do try and only purchase things I'll use regularly.

Now, you'll notice  I don't write much about salads on this blog. The simple reason for that is that for a single man like me, its often cheaper to buy a decent ready-made one. 

When I do make a salad, its usually a hearty beast of an affair, very rustic and much influenced by the Greek/Turkish culture of the area. I will usually make two, one to eat and one to take to work for lunch.

This tool on the right is a salad knife. It's made of plastic and had quite a sharp edge to it. I use it for cutting green salad vegetable like celery and lettuce. When you cut these with a steel knife they oxidise, leaving you with brown edges on the cuts, which doesn't make for a very appetising salad the next day. I think this cost me about a fiver and it comes into its own on those days when I have to do cooking for lots of people.

The other tool is a more recent purchase. Like the garlic press, its from Joseph Joseph and costs about eight quid. It's a kitchen spoon that doubles as a small colander. Its terrifically versatile and cuts down the number of tools needed for cooking.

It's also very heat resistant, so there is no problem using it in frying either. These two tools are very cheap, but much used and a handy addition to any kitchen.  

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Tools of the Trade

In the next couple of postings, I am going to show you some of the tools of my trade, starting with this nifty little Joseph Joseph garlic crusher.

You simply cut top and tail the garlic, peel it and then press it through the crusher.  Once you have have crushed the garlic, you give it a shake over the pan to shake out all the loose bits.  Its a great bit of kit and would you believe, it only cost £7.00 from the Selfridges Cook Shop.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Tomatoes, Chick Peas, Rice

This is another 'store cupboard' recipe, knocked up from things I had lying round. Whats really nice about this is that you can eat it hot and then stick some of it in the fridge to eat cold for lunch at work the following day. 

I tin of chick peas, drained and washed,
100g or prefluffed rice,
200ml of water,
1 stock cube,
1 onion, sliced,
3 tablespoons of olive oil,
2 cloves of garlic, crushed,
Either, half a pound of fresh tomatoes or half a tin of chopped tomatoes with most of the juice drained.
2 - 3 tablespoons of dried parsley,
2 tablespoons of lemon juice,
Salt and black pepper.

So, get the rice on the go in a pan of boiling salted water.

Fry off the onions in the olive oil until they are soft but not burnt. Add the garlic, chick peas and tomatoes and get everything nice and hot. Then, using a fork, gently fold in the cooked rice and give it all a gentle stir.

Add in the lemon juice and the parsley and stir it all up again. Season to taste and serve immediately. You can if you want, top it off with some nice cheese, but its quite substantial on its own thanks to the chick peas. Take a portion and put it in the fridge to take to work for lunch - cos it tastes yummy cold too.

Curry in a Hurry

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been having a few 'store cupboard days'.

These are days when I attempt to cook a meal made entirely from the masses of 'stand by' ingredients I have at home.

One of those ingredients is soya mince. Some brands of soya mince can taste like twists of wallpaper that has dried out after being pasted. But a certain store specialising in frozen food do rather a good one.  The standard bag of it goes a surprisingly long way, so there is always some left. Now, you can do anything with it, but in this case, I am going to knock up a quick curry. And though the recipe calls for an apple, right about now I have Conference pears in my garden and I used them instead,

100g of Soya mince,
1 decent sized onion chopped,
2 cloves of garlic chopped,
1 apple peeled and chopped,
2 tablespoons of oil,
1 large bayleaf,
2 tablespoons of curry powder,
Tea spoon of Garam Masala,
Chilli powder (optional and to taste),
500 ml of hot water,
Stock cube,
Salt, Pepper,
Lemon Juice.

Fry the onion and apple (or pear) in a pan for 5 minutes.  Then chuck in the bayleaf, garlic and spices. Give it all another 3 minutes.

Now pour in the soya mince and swirl it all round so that it gets covered in oil. Now add the water and stock cube and bring everything to the boil.  Now, stick a lid on the pan and turn the heat right down to simmer and give it the occasional stir.

Give it about half an hour and while that is happening get a pan with some salted water on and boil up a goodly sized portion of pre-fluffed white rice (Bevelini do a superb one).

By the time the rice is ready the water should have all been take up by the soy mince. If you want the mic a bit thicker, turn the heat up and boil some of the liquid off. Season to taste with the salt pepper and lemon juice. Remove the bay leaf and serve on top of the rice.

Normally, you would serve this with mango chutney, but I bought a stunning apple and fennel chutney from Harringay Market a few weeks ago that went brilliantly with this dish.

Sorry, I know I should have put a picture up, but since I wolfed it down, there wasn't time!  Enjoy!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Diet Starts Tommorrow!

Harringay Food Market is quickly turning into my place of choice for a Sunday brunch.

Though I had another Japanese Pancake (called an Ikonomiyaki I think) that was even yummier than last week's one, I did try a couple of other things.

At Katee's Cakes, I had the last slice of a dark chocolate sponge that was as bouncy as a trampoline and had a taste that can only be described as perfect. Opposite the Hello Kitchen stall was a woman selling cup cakes. She also had on sale chocolate lollies, and though I was fully stuffed, I just could not resist one.  I was so nice that though I actually dropped a bit of it on the floor, I picked it up and polished it off!

I bought some organic spuds, red onions and mushrooms as well, which I will combine with some veggie sausages to make a nice tasty dinner.  And, next time I visit, I am determined to try the Britalian offering as well as all the other veggie options that are available.

The other thing I bought (from Boots) was a can of Slim Fast Powder, because I shall have to take it a bit easier during the week so that when Sunday comes, I can stuff myself again!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Japanese Breakfast

Just had the yummiest breakfast in a very long time.

It was a Japanese pancake from Hello Kitchen.  It's made of a thick pancake mix with shredded cabbage. This is then griddled and in my case was topped with a spicy tex-mex vegetable mix, grated cheese, a few tasty sauces and a fried egg.

The end result is a thick, chewy but smooth pancake with all sorts of lovely flavour surprises in it. Took me ages to get through it and it was washed down with a superb black coffee that had a serious bite to it. At £4.50 including the egg, it was good value too.

This and lots of other veggie goodies can be found at the new Harringay Food and Art market that has recently opened up near my home.

Based at North Harringay Primary School, the market stands out from similar offering because it focuses on PRODUCED foods rather than just produce.  As well as the pancake and coffee, I also brought an obscenely delicious chocolate chip cookie from another stall as well as a carrot and thyme pie, and a cherry pie that looks to die for!

The other reason this market works so well is because it has a twist on the traditional 'farmers market' model in that there are also stalls from local art and craft producers. Indeed, I will soon be exhibiting there with my photographs.

As a local, the biggest thing that impresses me about this new market is the way it has created a whole new social space, particularly for young families with small children. It runs every Sunday between 11 and 3 and as the photo below shows, it is an ideal place to spend a chilled out Sunday morning.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Stoking up on Stokey


Been rather busy of late and not had time to post. But that doesn't mean I've not been cooking lots of different things.

I found a lovely little Angela Hartnett recipe the other day for Pasta with Purple Sprouting Broccoli that was yummy. The recipe is here.

I have also knocked up a nice lentil based Shepherd's Pie as well as a very interesting stuff cabbage 'cake' which would be very nice as a starter.

The cookbook collection has also been added to. I reckon that what with the ones I have here and the ones in storage, I must be getting close to 100 vegetarian cookbooks. My most recent post was the Stoke Newington Vegetarian Cookbook.

Though it is in one of London's 'poorest' boroughs, Stoke Newington is known as the Chiswick of North London, as the area is full to bursting with  young up and coming couples, who are 'something in the city' or work in the media. The local recreational space is Clissold Park, which is SERIOUS 'yummy mummy' territory where one has to dodge jogging parents shoving their off-spring before them in those oh-so-trendy three wheeled runners prams. 

The book is written by owner of the cafe and the park and the proprietor of a local cook shop.. There are some very interesting recipes in it, most of which are very simple, including this tasty little breakfast number that can be knocked up in under ten minutes. You could even cook it out in the open on a camp fire. The original recipe just had eggs, bread and seeds, but I have enhanced it a bit.

Eggy Bread with Sesame Seeds for two. 

2 or 3 Free Range Eggs
4 slices of bread. Burgen's seed bread works well with this. 
Cup of sesame seeds
Oil for frying
(and now for my bit).
1 large or 2 -3 cherry tomatoes, sliced,
2 mushrooms, sliced,
Basalmic Vinegar or Vegetarian Worcester Sauce,
Salt and Pepper. 

Beat the eggs in a shallow dish and season. Soak a slice of slice of bread on both sides with egg mix. Now, transfer the bread to another shallow dish and the sesame seeds in. Cover one side of the bread with seeds. Thickly slice the tomatoes and press them into eggy bread and give it a quick splash of either the balsamic vinegar or vegetarian worcester sauce Then pour over the sesame seeds on this side too.

Heat the oil until its smoking in the pan and cook on both sides until golden brown. Transfer to kitchen paper and quickly pat them down. Slice and serve with salad and some HP Sauce thats been chilled in the fridge.

To make this into a nice little lunch, serve on a bed of rocket and some pickled cherry peppers and sliced tomatoes. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Bamix Blender

At last, I have one!

The BEST hand blender in the world.

I have been after one for years and finally managed to get one.

I got mine about a month ago and have used it for all sorts of things since then.

Over the next week or so I shall put some recipes up that I have created using the Bamix.