Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dinner Dance


Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Roll and Butter


Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
with Horseradish Sauce
Roast Potatoes
New Potatoes
Broccoli Spears
Baby Carrots


Fruits of the Forest & Pavlova & Cream


Selection of Cheeses & Biscuits


Tea, Coffee & Mints

C.'s presentation/dinner dance. This meal would easily serve as an example of how us Brits got a bad name for cooking and food. It also highlights the difference between the generations. About ninety diners and possibly four of us under the age of fifty. Where to start? At the beginning.

I have tasted better minestrone soup from a tin. This had a slightly thick texture and very little taste. It was served at the table from a glass jug more usually associated with coffee machines. The Parmesan was the powdery stuff we used to put on our bolognese in the seventies. (The pots had three different sized holes/shapes). I had no idea there was still a market for it. Still, the bread was fresh and tasty.

There were murmurs of appreciation all round our table in praise of the beef. "Tender", "moist" and "can't remember when I last had beef this good." C. and I were remarkably quiet. The slices of beef were paper thin - they could hardly have been chewy - and tasted of nothing much at all. The horseradish sauce was good. Potent with an ability to clear your head in seconds. I smothered it everywhere. (So much so I thought my nose was on fire at one point). The Yorkshire was just as my mum makes them (which is praise indeed) and the roast potatoes were passable.

I declined the new potatoes. Given that it's winter they are probably from a tin. I cannot stand potatoes from a tin. One of my aunts used to feed them to us in the seventies (that decade seems to be hovering). They were disgusting and we were too polite to say so. Not much can be said for the broccoli and carrots except they were boiled to a mush and duly tasted of water.

The pavlova was a lump of very sweet meringue accompanied by a splodge of berries (recently defrosted) and a swirl of cream. I just shovelled it down quick.

The cheese was served in tiny pieces, fresh from a supermarket poly pack, on a paper plate. I usually elbow people out the way for the cheese but even the Stilton looked like plastic.

While the others took their share I commented to C. that his food tastes have changed considerably in the ten years since he met me. "I've been spoilt" was the reply.

Leek and Potato Soup

After Friday night's Chinese takeaway (bean curd in black bean sauce, Singapore rice and half a pancake roll) and Saturday morning's double egg and chips over the road, lunch had to be something good, healthy and warming. Soup.

Leek, potato and onion to be precise. I'm not sure where the onion came from - it may have been Delia. For a recipe (without the onion) visit Beggar's Banquet here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Roast squash

Some things are just easy. This is one of them. Chop a smallish squash in two. Scoop out the fibres and seeds. Place on a baking tray cut-side up. Add a slice of butter, a drizzle of olive oil and a grinding of salt and pepper. Thyme or sage leaves would add a nice touch. (My only negative comment about the farmers' market was the lack of herbs other than parsley; I won't buy them flown halfway round the world from Israel).

Good with sausages, pork chops or brown rice.

I've discovered that food photography is not one of my strong points...It's not as plain as it looks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Winter Warmer

This is the reason why I asked the potato man at Marylebone Farmers' Market what's good for mash. (Answer: Lady Balfour). Mash pie.

A Nigel Slater recipe. Layer of mash with a layer of caramelised onions, black pepper and crumbled Stilton topped with another layer of mash and Parmesan cheese. Baked in the oven for about 25 minutes. I mess around with the pie filling - different cheeses and vegetables. Sautéed mushrooms are good as are leeks or spinach. Crispy bacon bits wouldn't go amiss either. Serve with something green.