Call the police and a fireman – this weekend, the food writers were chucking around chilli like it was going out of fashion.
First stop for the chilli bus was the Guardian’s ‘Cook’ supplement. They published ten hot recipes, covering the full range of condiments, snacks, mains and puddings. I liked, in particular, the look of a celery, chilli and apple stew; breaded, stuffed jalepenos; and Sichuan aubergines with ginger, garlic and chilli.
Mark Hix wasn’t focused on chilli per se, but two of his venison dishes in Saturday’s Independent are likely to get a little capsaicin sweat on. I’ve bookmarked both the venison curry and the minced venison keema (huge fan of minced meat curries). Also in there was an actual, proper, bona fide broth. Made from stock.
On Sunday, Bill Granger suggested we get wok cooking. I bet ‘stir fry’ is a go to mid-week meal in many homes across Britain. I’d also wager that that stir fry is a mess of chunky roots, over-wilted greens and quite probably too much (i.e. any) shop bought sauce. So it follows that I think the more recipes for focused wok cooking the merrier … and therefore Bill’s three spicy stir fries are a decent start. Do consider spicy Sichuan beef and beans; pork mince, gochujang and tomato (see above and below); or a fried tofu, dry green curry for dinner this week.
There were four spicy cabbage recipes from Atul Kochhar in Saturday’s Times. I thought white cabbage with ginger, mustard seeds, curry leaves and grated coconut was the most appealing.
Don’t worry, plenty of recipes for those with a sweeter palate too.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Guardian column was loosely based on giving British classics a Palestinian floral twist; usually by adding a pinch of cinnamon or spoon of date syrup. Pot barley with roasted apples and date syrup will be a cracker. But it’s hard not to just go straight to the fluffy date cake. Phwoar.
Ruby Tandoh’s pear, blackberry, walnut and goat cheese filo tart caught my eye. Pears still tasting great atm btw etc etc.
The Telegraph published recipes from Claire Ptak’s The Violet Bakery Cookbook. I can vouch for the ginger and blackstrap molasses cake, so definitely consider baking that one. The ingredients and method for egg yolk chocolate chip cookies provides a good learning point too – yolks not whites for crisp yet gooey cookies. Does the book have her café’s coconut macaroons in? They’re my poison.
Claire also had cookies on the front cover of an(other) OFM special recipe feature – this week we got twenty recipes using chocolate. Basically, cakes and puds and brownies and things. I’ll put a link up when it’s all been posted online.
Nigel Slater chose to write about cooked oysters in his Observer column. I’m undecided on where I stand with cooked oysters, and very nearly made his pork, fennel and oyster casserole to work things out once and for all. But it’s basically impossible to buy oysters on a Sunday, so that test was doomed from the start. Another time. Tagliatelle with pancetta, spinach, crème fraiche, oysters, toasted breadcrumbs tempted too.
The FT’s Rowley Leigh decided not to cook at all, and instead provided us with a recipe for raw salmon with lime, fish sauce, chilli, green peppercorns and avocado.
The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine treated us to another set of gorgeous chicken recipes from Diana Henry’s forthcoming book. I’m sure the Persian stew will be enjoyed by those who like saffron and rosewater more than I (not difficult). But my eyes flitted between the roast chicken with honey, peaches and lavender, and griddled chicken thighs with radishes and noodles (palm sugar, ginger, lemongrass marinade and a hot chilli dressing).
No Gizzi this week in The Sunday Times. Instead, three recipes from Puglia via The Silver Spoon Cookbook. Each of them is a strong example of how ‘la cucina povera’ can be brilliant: a herby lamb stew; chickpeas and tomato sauce with noodle-like ‘tria’ (no egg, so not pasta); and lovely, lovely, lovely stuffed aubergines (just breadcrumbs, the aubergine flesh, parmesan, capers and egg … but you know that’s the bomb).
Jamie contributed a southern Italian dish to The ST too – Sicilian style chicken. Big North African influence in the flavours. In fact, it’s basically a chicken tagine.
Well, there were recipes from Raymond Blanc’s latest book in Saturday’s Times. This tome is based on him pottering around Kew Gardens, so is fruit, veg and herb heavy. Can’t say there’s anything of real note in what we were shown (Ray White does a French onion soup, quelle surprise). Poached winter fruit in spiced wine is promising, with its neat finish of a granita made from the poaching liquor. But I’m surprised he suggests poaching quince quarters for just 30 minutes.
And finally, Cook’s reader recipe swap had a great theme: ‘stale’. I was / am intrigued by a ‘pudding cake’ that involves layering bashed up stale biscuits with fruit compote and a basic custard, leaving it to soak for a bit then baking it until set. It’s either rubbish or frugal genius.
On the internet
Check out Lizzie Mabbott’s Hunanese hot and sour soup on her Hollow Legs blog.
After it dawned on me that my hungover quest for Sunday oysters should never have begun, I realised the better lunch option for my fragile state was Bill Granger’s minced pork, gochujang and tomato stir fry. And lots of rice.
This was great. I love cooking pork mince until it’s golden and crispy. I love gochujang, ginger and garlic, particularly the day after the night before. And I continue to act surprised at how good tomatoes are in Asian-ish dishes. We assume toms are a Mediterranean thing, but plenty of regional Asian cuisines use them. It works. So I love that part too.
Weekend Menu, 28 February and 1 March 2015
Stuffed aubergines with tomato sauce
The Silver Spoon, The Sunday Times
Tagliatelle with spinach and oysters
Nigel Slater, The Observer
Ginger and blackstrap molasses cake
Claire Ptak, The Telegraph
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