To keep my brain occupied when I’m running on Saturday mornings I often try to plan meals in my head. Last Saturday, as I waddled around the south coast, I thought about the large bottle of cream sitting in the fridge, the half-jar of blackcurrant jam in the pantry and the fact that there was nothing for the babysitter to eat that night. Then I thought about the July We Should Cocoa challenge. By the time I’d made it around the coast, up the hill and down to the village I knew exactly what I was going to do. I nipped to the supermarket, picked up a tin of condensed milk and ran home. Funny how food is a good motivator, isn’t it?
As well as qualifying for We Should Cocoa, this is also my first entry for the charmingly-titled ‘Bloggers Scream For Icecream’ challenge. You can read more about it here, but all you need to know this month is that the challenge involves making icecream with condensed milk. This recipe uses about a third of a tin, which leaves plenty for eating with a spoon while no one is looking. If you don’t trust yourself with a tin of the stuff, you can see how to make your own here.
125ml condensed milk
1 dsp orange/lemon juice
1/2 cup good blackcurrant jam
100g good quality white or dark chocolate, chopped
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold in the condensed milk, orange or lemon juice, jam and chocolate. Pour into a container, cover and freeze. It should be ready in about four hours.
Have a great weekend, everyone. We’re off to a birthday party that’s just turned into a wedding!
So on Saturday night we celebrated la Fete de la Bastille, with a lot of champagne, a rustic pork terrine (thanks, Elizabeth David) with Dijon mustard, cornichons from Maison Therese, Raymond Blanc’s coq au vin mopped up with lots of baguette, more vin rouge, salade verte, three feisty French cheeses, more vin rouge, not-so-petit pots du chocolat and a Rutherglen muscat.
Then our guests departed into the wild night and we surveyed the destruction while pondering whether a digestif or a tisane would be the best course of action. It was quite a feast. So do excuse me if I look a little pale at the thought of having to think about food today. Thank goodness Bastille Day comes but once a year…
How was your weekend?
After doing a lot of eating out and watching Masterchef in recent months – both in the name of work – I have realised how nice it is to eat really simple food. Foams, gravels and deconstructed this and that are all very clever and tricksy but they’re not exactly heartwarming to eat, are they?
This, on the other hand, is like going back in time to when you got home from school and asked what was for dinner and your mother said, “something-out-of-my-head-and-don’t-take-the-lid-off-the-crockpot”. In other words, it’s slow-cooked lamb shoulder chops. Really easy. Really delicious.
|… complete with no-frills photography to enhance the experience
Simple lamb shoulder stew
Don’t even think about adding anything fancy to this, unless it’s a can of drained and rinsed white beans about halfway through the cooking time.
4 good lamb shoulder chops
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
4 ribs celery, de-stringed and roughly chopped
1 tin whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup kalamata olives
salt and pepper
Heat a spoonful of oil in a heavy, ovenproof, cast iron casserole pot until hot. Brown the chops, one at a time, until well-coloured on both sides. Remove to a plate.
Wipe out most of the fat, then add another slosh of olive oil and saute the garlic, onions, celery and carrots for five minutes, until starting to colour. Tip in the tomatoes and olives, plus half a tomato tin’s worth of water. Stir well, then lay the browned chops on top.
Grind over lots of salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, then put the lid on and transfer to an oven preheated to 160C. Cook for at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The meat should be tender and falling off the bones. Serves 3-4, with crusty bread or rice and something green on the side.
You know how when you’re a kid you go through a stage of wondering if you’re really a princess and hoping that your real parents will turn up? I know that wasn’t just me, because a few years ago I interviewed a couple who were convinced they were Russian royalty and they had told their nine-year-old daughter that her real name was really Princess Anastasia or something. Nevermind that the poor kid was getting bullied mercilessly at school because of it, her parents were too busy waiting for the gold ingots to turn up in the post to notice.
But I digress. Lately I’ve been wondering if my life would have turned out different if I had a Mexican grandmother. Daniella Germain does and she’s written My Abuela’s Table – a really beautiful book of said grandmother’s recipes.
My copy of this book happens to be in the middle of the middle shelf of cookbooks, so I chose the middle recipe from it for June’s Random Recipes.
Forgive me, but I didn’t exactly follow the recipe in My Abuela’s Kitchen, not least because it has ‘2 chicken cubes’ listed in the ingredients. I don’t put chicken stock cubes in anything, so I’m not about to start crumbling them into meatballs. Perhaps it’s not so cool to have a Mexican grandmother after all. Here’s my version of Daniella’ Germain’s grandmother’s meatballs in chipotle sauce. She cooks the meatballs in the sauce, but I baked mine in the oven and served the sauce separately. This serves four.
Make the sauce first and let it simmer away on the stove while you prepare the meatballs.
2Tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tins tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, then gently saute the onion and garlic until golden. Tip in the tomatoes and chipotle peppers. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and let simmer gently for at least 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally, squishing the tomatoes against the side of the pan, until the sauce is dark and thick.
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
a splash of milk
350g beef mince
250g pork mince
finely grated zest of a lemon
a handful of finely grated Parmesan
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a large baking tray with nonstick paper.
Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and pour over a splash of milk to moisten them. Add all the other ingredients and mix lightly with your hands. Roll the mixture into small balls and place on the prepared tray. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are crispy on the outside and cooked through. Give the tray a shake halfway through cooking to turn them over. Serve with a pool of chipotle-tomato sauce.
Ripe pears are like buses. You wait ages for them to reach the perfect ripeness and then they all go ripe at once. Or, if you’re like me, you happen across a whole swag of perfectly juicy Doyenne du Comice pears at the green grocer and you buy a whole bagful. This is what you should do with the ones you don’t eat standing over the kitchen sink as the juice runs down your forearms.
Gingery Pear Loaf
This is barely adapted from a Michael Lee-Richards recipe, snipped from a North and South in 1998. It’s the easiest cake in the world to make, leaves you with just one pot to wash up and doesn’t require icing. Oh, and it tastes amazing hot or cold. It’s probably one of my favourite cakes of all-time (and, despite appearances, I’m quite fussy).
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups plain flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 large pears, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 cup crystallised ginger, chopped
Preheat the oven to 150C. Grease and line a loaf tin or a 23cm ring tin.
Melt the butter in a large pot over low heat and set aside while you get everything else ready.
Tip all the remaining ingredients into the butter and stir well. Scrape this mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden and crusty on top (and cooked in the middle – give it the skewer test to be sure).
Leave in the tin to cool for 10 minutes, then carefully turn out to a rack to cool.
Have a sweet, sweet weekend, everyone. Don’t forget to get your entry in for this month’s We Should Cocoa – you have until the end of Monday, NZ time.