Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Artichoke season

Still no cookbook review (slap wrist) but I was excited to share my first fresh artichoke of the year. It might well also be the last of the year, why is n0-one selling them? There were all of 2 available at Waitrose, for, eeks, £1.99 each. Phew. But if it's the only one we're getting then hell, it's worth it. It makes my insides cry when I see chefs on TV cutting into an artichoke and only using the heart or the bottom, especially when they're obviously so expensive. No doubt in their restaurants they would use the remainder to make soups or foams but I think the best way of eating artichoke is simply, with a nice vinaigrette, and eating as much as possible.

Too right it's a bit of a faff getting through all the leaves but it's good to fool your brain into thinking you've eaten loads when you've only had a taste of the bottom of the leaves until you get to something more tender. I've always been the vinaigrette maker in the house, learnt from my French side of the family - Dijon mustard, vinegar (your choice of flavour), pinch of salt and oil mixed in little by little until it tastes nice! This time I used sherry vinegar as we've had it for a while and never really used it, very nice. I like balsamic but I use much less as it's so strong. I also avoid using olive oil as I think it's too strongly flavoured, sunflower oil is perfect.

So very happy with this simple meal, just wish we could find them somewhere else.

The only other dish I can report on is a Jamie Oliver risotto recipe from the Sainsbury's Magazine from October 2009. The upside to tidying up magazines is that you re-discover some nice looking recipes. I went for Jamie's red wine and mushroom risotto as we already had all of the ingredients at home. I used a gorgeous selection of dried wild mushrooms, using the water they'd soaked in as the stock for the rice. The red wine added a nice depth to the flavour without hiding the flavour of the mushrooms and cubes of pancetta in the dish. I didn't go for celery or onion for the base as I'm not a great lover of either but I honestly don't think the risotto was lacking anything without them. Plenty of parmesan on top and it was great. A good recipe to have on hand when you can't think what else to eat but want something homemade.

I'm now going to be creative in other ways, making a card for my friend's birthday and then testing out a new nail art kit! Do I go for flowers, stars or leopard print?!

Monday, 12 July 2010

My rubbish updating

I have been incredibly lazy recently so don't have any proper cookbook reviews. Terrible. We're trying to empty the freezer in order to fill it again when my grandparents come over from France. Hopefully then I can try a few more recipes and there will be another afternoon tea to be made.

At the moment my favourite recipe is crab and noodle soup which I seem to be making at least twice a week. It's so easy to make, tastes amazing and makes good use of the corriander and chinese leaves I'm growing at the moment. So impressive just being able to go in the garden and pick your own leaves and eat them 2 minutes later!

I did venture into another 200 book, this time 200 Thai Favourites. You're probably sick of these books by now but I'm still finding them excellent. I had some tofu I'd been holding onto for a while, feeling I should cook with it but not quite sure what to do with it. I found a tasty sounding recipe in this book, fried rice with beans and bean curd. Turns out tofu is pretty boring if you cook it yourself!! I just don't have the magic touch. The rice and beans were nice though and the mint added a nice fresh flavour.
The second recipe comes courtesy of Simon Rimmer from the BBC website. There were good prices on rhubarb so decided to have a go at a crumble, usually opting for the traditional apple version, throwing in the occasional blueberry when they're available. I thought rhubarb and star anise crumble sounded like an interesting option and it was absolutely delicious. I left out the almonds from the topping as I'm not mad keen but I don't think it needed it anyway. The star anise was really subtle and the orange juice sweetened the rhubarb really nicely. Looking forward to eating this again while rhubarb is still in season.

Why not try making it yourself?

I will try my best to apply myself a little better in the next couple of weeks, it certainly isn't stopping me from taking every cookbook out from the library (slight exaggeration!). There was also a lovely sounding lentil recipe in last week's Stylist magazine so will have to have a go at that soon. Plus - great excitement! I bought some really pretty plates from Lakeland and TK Maxx yesterday so I can up my presentation a bit from now on yay!