April, 2011


22
Apr 11

Easter eggs

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It was always a breakfast to remember when I was growing up. We never
did a big breakfast at Christmas like some do, a few croissants maybe.
Birthdays the same – beautiful fresh orange juice, homemade jams.

But
Easter Sunday is always special. Somehow the soft boiled egg
is transformed into a celebration, accompanied by soldiers, generously
spread with butter. Some would add a lick of marmite, others anchovy
paste – rather grown up and maybe, if you’ll excuse the pun, over-egging
the cake.

I’m a purist – soft-boiled so the white is just set, the yolk runny
and golden. I peel the top – I don’t cut it as some do. I don’t know why -
maybe it’s the ceremony of it all. Anticipation. With each dunk or scoop
of the spoon I add more sea salt and pepper though so that each
mouthful is generously seasoned – eggs just cry
out for it.

The toast, too, is important. It must be white, but country
bread, not the sliced supermarket stuff. And the actual level of
toasting – I like a degree of variance in my soldiers, some very dark
and others ghostly pale – the perfect blend of textures and flavours.

So – although all your effort may go into a beautiful leg of lamb
studded with its traditional friends of garlic, anchovy and rosemary,
spare a thought for breakfast – and enjoy a perfect, runny, soft, dippy
egg.


11
Apr 11

Time for Thai

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As regular readers will know, Thai food is amongst my favourites from around the world. The fiery, heady mix of spice, the soothing warmth of coconut milk, the crunch of tiny crisp anchovies and punchy fresh lime juice…just thinking about it gets me hungry. 

Thai food has several cornerstones. Some might argue a mire-poix (carrot, celery and onion) for the basis of much of French cookery, but Thai cuisine is more about the balance of hot, salty, sweet and sour accomplished most commonly sugar, lime juice, chillies and fish sauce which turn up in almost every dish.

Indeed, in good Thai restaurants you’ll be offered these to customise a dish to your particular taste. This includes nam prik pow (chillies in vinegar), naamtam (sugar), prik pon (chilli flakes) and nam plaa (fish sauce, often with chillies) – referred to as ‘The Four Flavours’.

It’s Thai New Year from the April 13-15 – known as Songkran or the Water Festival – which is an ideal time to start cooking Thai food at home.

Once you’ve got a few basics in your store cupboard you’ll be knocking out red and green curries, spicy salads and soups in no time.

Click here to read the recipes for

Vegetable pad Thai

Thai fishcakes

Thai beef salad

Salmon with sticky chilli sauce

Thai Green chicken curry


8
Apr 11

Barbe-crazy

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Some people might think I’m a bit bonkers, some would think me a little keen, but what can I say? I’m a big fan of the barbecue. And as a result, we had the first one of the year on Saturday.

Admittedly, we ate inside and we were cooking by torchlight rather than the afterglow of a beautiful summer’s day, but hey – this is England and we’ll do what we can.

We had langoustines with chimichurri -the sweet flesh given a welcome smoky char from the coals. There was also sea trout with barbecued fennel and parmesan aioli, topped off with capers and toasted almonds and baba ganoush given all the more oomph from the flames.

Skewers of marinated vegetables brushed with thyme and rosemary from the balcony also featured with the humble sausage – is any food finer when given the hot coal treatment?

Stuffed in soft rolls, blobbed with ketchup and mustard along with a few slivers of raw onion for some sweet crunch, this is the stuff that dreams are made of – and made a chilly night on the balcony warm through and through.

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