January, 2012

Jan 12

Going going goat’s cheese

Vegetarians don’t half get it unfair. Well – some would argue that their choice to not eat meat is their choice and more fool them – but that’s not really very fair or very nice. I’ve also got a vegetarian sister so perhaps a bit biased!

What that does mean is I’ve spent lots of time thinking about and cooking vegetarian food. Forget meat substitutes, TVP and the like – vegetarian cooking means we have to get creative and play around with pulses – red, white and black rice, brown, red, yellow and Puy lentils. We’ve got to make them sing with fresh herbs, with beautifully, luscious vinaigrettes and give vegetables and dairy products centre stage – steamed purple sprouting broccoli with a sharp, thin cream dressing topped with chilli and a crispy duck egg – vegetarian starter of champions.

The toughest deal in the vegetarian market must go to Goat’s cheese – relegated to a thousand veggie tarts served with the ubiquitous roast vegetables and balsamic reduction. Well, that has to change and here are some top ideas to test out on your veggie friends.

Click the links below to read recipes for:

Grilled Pear, Endive and Crottin de Chavignol toasts with caramelised walnuts pecans

French goat’s cheese camembert salad with beetroot and artichoke

French goat’s cheese camembert salad, prosciutto, cumin and chilli sweet potato


Jan 12

Hock and roll

For the most part, we’re people of comfort – we like staying in our comfort zones, cooking the things we’re used to. Perhaps this is in part due to our schedules, juggling work, family, friends and keeping a house in order. Sometimes we just don’t have those moment to flick through a cookbook and decide that we’ll cook something new and experimental.

I’m as guilty of it as the next; there are plenty of things I’ve never turned my hand to and things I promise myself I’ll do and never get round to; I’m still planning on a month of Thai at some point…

Ham hocks are a cut I’ve never tried to do myself before; the few times I’ve tried to buy them they haven’t been available, perhaps because they’ve become one of the fashionable cheaper cuts. A hock should set you back more than four or five quid, and that’s talking London prices.

They make great stock and you’ll have some tasty nuggets of meat to throw into a salad with fennel, goat’s cheese and a mustardy dressing; to slip into the silky folds of a mac’n’cheese, or perhaps simply to stuff in between a couple of slices of fluffy white bread with French’s mustard, dill pickles and maybe just a lick of mayo. The bits of ham you shred off are great for carbonara or for making a delicious hash fried till crisp with bits of potato and topped with a poached egg. You can also remove the skin and coat them with honey and mustard or a jerk rub. Check with your butcher whether you’re getting hot smoked (ie already cooked) or cured/brined. Some are even lightly smoked – requiring cooking too.

They’re dead easy to cook – click here for the ridiculously simple recipe.

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