Monthly Archives: August 2009

Meal for one…

Pappardelle with fresh tomato sauce, chickpeas, ricotta and basil

Pappardelle with fresh tomato sauce, chickpeas, ricotta and basil

 + a large glass of red wine!

Who needs ready meals when you can sit down to this in less than 10 minutes?

This is what I ate last night when him indoors (the Man City supporter) was out watching the Man City v Crystal Palace game ( incognito seated amongst Palace supporters….).

I was glad to hear his key in the door having watched footage of the fighting between West Ham and Millwall supporters the other day – granted, there is a long standing feud between these 2, but still.

The things blokes do to support their team….I don’t think many women can get their heads around it (or try to!).

Monique

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First peach + blackberry cobbler of the season!

Yummy peach + blackberry cobbler

Yummy peach + blackberry cobbler

I know it may not be great that nights are drawing in and that there is an unmistakable whiff of autumn in the air, but ….

it means that cooking is becoming interesting again after lots of light dishes, BBQs and salads.

Made a delish peach + blackberry cobbler this week: I think this one may replace the crumble in our household, for a while at least.

The light, pillowy topping, which in effect are mini scones, is made interesting by the addition of some reduced fat creme fraiche.

The colour is fab too, with orange and purple streaks against white.

Feast your eyes!

Monique

Pointless dew claws

One of our dogs cracked a dew claw again today.

These pointless nails are the ones that just hang down from the side of a dog’s front (and sometime also back) legs and are really accident prone.

Both our dogs have ripped theirs on more than one occasion: a really horrible thing with the broken nail just dangling there with a bleeding nail bed and the ripped nail getting caught in things.

This time round we have decided with the vet to have both nails removed once and for all.

To clip the damaged nail would require an anaesthetic so why not take the opportunity to sort the problem at the root so to speak.

Poor Keane, another lot of stitches and bandages which will bring back memories of his horrible accident in March.

Nurse will prepare some extra tasty stewing steak to cheer the patient up tomorrow evening!

Monique

Glum looking Keane

Glum looking Keane

Apple & blackberry crumble

I couldn’t resist picking some more blackberries this weekend.

If anything, the berries are plumper and sweeter now than they were a couple of weeks ago.

The apple & blackberry crumble below sort of nudges us into autumn (dare I say it – August is not over yet!).

The crumble mixture if enough for about 6 portions depending  on how thick you like your crumble topping. Any leftover crumble mixture keeps really well in the fridge if you keep it in a sealed plastic container.

For 6 portions, I use:

Filling:

3 large Bramley apples, peeled and roughly chopped into 8

150g blackberries

2 tbsp of Fairtrade caster sugar

I put the apples straight into the pie dish, but you could gently brown them in 1 tbsp of butter + the sugar before mixing with the berries.

For the topping:

40g cold unsalted butter

30g ground almonds

60g Fairtrade caster sugar

80g plain flour

Blitz everything in a food processor, or rub between your fingers, until the mixture looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

I sometimes sprinkle with 2 tbsp of sliced almonds for a nicely crunchy topping.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200C for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Delicious with single cream or custard or a scoop of good quality vanilla icecream.

Monique

Feast of Strangers – an afternoon of conversation

This event caught my eye.

It sounds such a civilised and perfect way to spend a nice summer afternoon whilst (hopefully) meeting interesting new people.

Saturday the 22nd is the birthday party of Theodore Zeldin, author of An Intimate History of Humanity, and the event is open to everyone.

You will be introduced to someone you do not know and will be offered a Menu of Conversation, like a restaurant menu, with 25 topics of conversation to choose from.

It will be held at the Treehouse Gallery in Regents Park (http://www.thetreehousegallery.org) and will be running between 2.30-6.30pm and will be followed by evening performances.

If you can join us please reserve a place by emailing rsvp@limina.org.uk

Bring a rug and refreshments for yourself or to share, or you can pre-order a picnic spread of dips, meats or salads by emailing the above address. 

Please pass the invitation on to friends, family and colleagues and perhaps see you there (I’ll be the one sharing plum cakes). 

Monique

The Big Food Fight debate

Who is poised to get the bigger slice of the pie? Who will increase their % share of consumer food spend – restaurants, supermarkets, fast food outlets or independents?

This was the opening gambit to Courvoisier The Future 500 round table, attended by CVFT500 members, food journalists and yours truly.

The evening kicked off with a brain teaser in the form of a food quiz presented by the food journalist Sudi (“How to be a better foodie”) Pigott.  Let me tell you that this was not average quiz with questions such as “what are forestario, trinitario and criollo kinds of?”.

Answers on a postcard please…

I tried out the quiz the next day on two food service industry supremos, who had to admit defeat.

After the quiz we debated the recent FSA report about the lack of health benefits attributed to eating organic food, cheap chicken and battery farming and the supermarkets’ stronghold amongst other things.

It is a good job that the lovely people from Courvoisier keep the cocktails flowing at these events! My contributions to the conversation were helped a greatly by the “Courvoisier Cooler“:

Pour 35ml Courvoisier Exclusif into a tall glass filled with ice, top up with 3/4 apple juice and 1/4 ginger beer, squeeze over a wedge of lime and stir.

Sustenance was provided by Leon Restaurants and I finally got to try their famous Moroccan meatballs.

Needless to say nobody had the answers to the serious questions raised that night.

One thing we agreed on though was that it will be tremendously difficult to change Britain’s food culture but that everyone who is professionally engaged with the food industry has a responsibility for educating people.

A sentiment that was echoed the next day by the CEO of Wholefoods Market who admitted that the store peddles a lot of “rubbish” in the name of organic, fresh food – which he felt embarrassed about and which had to change.

I was quietly pleased and proud to be able to say that Savvy Cook for one is trying to make a difference, through the soon to be launched Savvy Kids:

a food + lifestyle education programme aimed at primary school children.

Thanks to the wonderful Unltd, we’ve got our first grant in the bank and are preparing to pilot a series of fun, interactive workshops at 3 London schools in the autumn.

All really exciting!

Monique

Plums, plums and more delicious plums

Plums, plums and more plums

Plums, plums and more plums

I am writing this with yellow stained fingers and nails – not a pretty sight but unavoidable having “processed” close to 10kg of beautifully fragrant and prettily scarlet Victoria plums.

So far, they have been turned into:

plum crumble, plum & oatmeal cake (a great recipe from Waitrose’s archive – having left out the sugar icing glaze which I am not keen on), baked plums with rosemary and molasses sugar, plum compote.

The odd pound has also found its way to appreciative friends and neighbours.

And I’ve got a large bowl with perfect specimens on my desk to stare at and snack from at will.

Watch this space for easy, sesaonal plummy recipes…

Monique