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Category Archives: French

Dusting Off The Red Wine

Now that the Great Baking Binge of May 2013 has come to pass without severe weight gain or artery blockage, its time to get back into cooking some savoury meals that don’t need blocks of butter and sackfuls of sugar. More’s the pity. This week I made use of Lisa Faulkner’s book Recipes From My Mother To My Daughter, which was a housewarming present from my lovely auntie. I really warmed to Lisa when she was competing on Celebrity Masterchef a couple of years ago; she seemed so sweet, likeable and performed pretty well under extreme pressure. Her food always looked like something I’d order in a restaurant and managed to avoid the ridiculous pretentiousness and clichés of some Michelin starred food. Keep it simple people. In short, she came across as a fantastic home cook. I love the title of the cookbook and the whole concept of passing recipes down through different generations. While I’ve inherited a cracking chilli recipe from my dad and am always being given recipes from my auntie, I wish I had some recipes from my mum that had been passed along to me. I have really strong memories of baking bread rolls with my mum when I was young, ‘helping’ her make cake batter in the food processor (by help I mean taking a spoon to the mix and shovelling it into my mouth….some things don’t change) and watching her decorate homemade birthday cakes, the best one being covered in green icing made to look like grass with plastic cows scattered on top. It’s clear where I’ve inherited my baking gene, but it would be amazing to have a battered notebook or pile of recipe cards in my mums writing to draw on in times of foodie need. Hopefully when I have a family of my own I’ll be a good enough home cook that my own children will want to cook the same recipes when they grow up. Better keep on practicing then. Lisa’s mother died when she was young too and her and her sister took on the role of cooking for the family using their mothers recipes which they grew up eating, and which feature heavily in this cookbook.

Feeling in need of some comforting food, I gave beef bourguignon my very first go. As you may know, I’ve grown fairly fond of French food yet have never tried this classic of the region. I know, as if I dared to call myself a fan of French food. Being the unsophisticated oaf that I am, I don’t drink red wine (again, the nerve of me calling myself a French food fan) but we had some bottles gathering dust in the kitchen. It wasn’t that they’d been there long, they were housewarming gifts, but everything in this house ends up covered in dust if left lying around for longer than 5 minutes. Just ask the cat. Beef bourguignon is traditionally made with burgundy wine, of which I had none. Faced with a choice between a French or a Spanish wine, I thought it would be best to stick with French, although being so clueless about wine I wouldn’t have put it past me to completely disrespect the French by chucking in a Spanish red wine. Gerard Depardieu would be furious. Anyway, the dish takes about three hours to cook in the oven after a little bit of stirring on the hob, and I served it with mashed sweet potato. The beef was meltingly tender from the slow cooking and the wine sauce had thickened into a luscious, velvety, rich sauce. I’m not normally a huge fan of mushrooms served whole but the button ‘shrooms had a pleasing texture and had absorbed a lot of the boozy sauce. It all went really well with the sweet potatoes and despite the fact I hate red wine, cooked down in a stew I completely forgot my dislike of the stuff. Annoyingly I chose to cook this recipe on the one hot day of the week so it felt slightly unnatural to be eating a wintry stew while the sun was shining outside. Ironic too as the rest of the week has been pretty dire weather wise and the beef would have gone down an absolute treat. Still, it tasted mighty fine and is another great staple to help me on my way to home cooked perfection. For tasty home cooked food as well as some more adventurous dishes for the brave amongst you, you can’t go wrong with this gem of a book.

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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Books, Cooking, Food, French

 

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Not On My Watch, Gwyneth

At first I thought that I didn’t like Gwyneth Paltrow. Its an easy conclusion to arrive at, after all she did sob all the way through her Oscar acceptance speech, is married to the most boring man in pop, has perfect hair/skin/figure and bleets on about her wonderful lifestyle on Goop.com. Spare me. But then two things struck me. One is that this woman is good friends with Beyonce and Jay Z. Jealous though I may be, anyone good enough for Miss Single Ladies is good enough for me. I can forgive the boring taste in men when I consider her wonderful taste in friends, especially as I know deep down that one day Beyonce and I will be best friends (humour me, ok?). The second was that I recalled seeing Gwyneth on The Graham Norton Show a couple of years ago where she did a pretty fine job of rapping her way through an NWA track. Best friends with Beyonce and a dab hand at rapping? Why, Gwyneth and I are cut from the very same cloth! How can I hold any sort of grudge against her for her perfect skin when in actual fact we are one and the same. It would be like hating myself and I’m all about self acceptance.

So when my lovely Aunty brought me a housewarming gift of two cookbooks, one being Gwyneth’s ‘Notes From My Kitchen Table’, I was intrigued to see what she could offer me in the way of discovering new dishes and tasty treats. Warning: if you don’t like name dropping then you’d do well to skip the acknowledgments page which reads like a who’s who of A-listers, including my future BFF’s The Carters. If you didn’t already know Gwynnie was well connected, this page would set you straight. One thing that really struck me about her attitude towards food from this book is that she seems slightly scared of it. I’m all for living a healthy lifestyle and an everything in moderation type attitude towards food, but I firmly believe food is to be enjoyed and that too much of a good thing can be bloody wonderful. Life’s too short to make a brownie healthy, which unfortunately Gwyneth seems to have had the time to do. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to eat a brownie or three I want it with side orders of guilt and sugar highs. Gwyneth gives a recipe for brownies that she says are as healthy as possible without sacrificing any of the flavour. When did it become socially acceptable to put agave syrup, soy milk and grain sweetened choc chips (that’s right, not sugar sweetened, grain sweetened) into the mighty brownie? I’ll tell you when: never. A brownie recipe with no sugar or butter is an abomination. If I didn’t want sugar or butter in my diet then well, I’d probably be hugely depressed and locked in a padded cell for my own safety, but that’s beside the point, I’d eat only quinoa and vegetables, not faff about with the brownie. It’s safe to say that I will not be making the brownies from this book. They offend me.

Aside from interfering with brownies, the cookbooks actually pretty good. The majority of recipes are fresh, nutritious and light so if you’re looking for low fat meals this wouldn’t be a bad investment. Crammed full of salads, soups, sandwiches and dinner options you’re bound to find something healthy to eat. To be fair to the author, her father died of cancer and she states in the book that she believes his diet had a part to play in him suffering from the disease so I can understand her caution and attitude towards food. While there aren’t really any properly unhealthy recipes in the book, naturally I gravitated towards the ‘worst’ one. Quellé surprise! This would be French toast made with brioche, that heavenly, buttery, soft, sweet bread which soaked up the egg and vanilla batter exceptionally well. Fried in butter and sprinkled with what Gwyneth states should be a tiny amount of sugar, instructions which I took the liberty of ignoring, the slices of brioche crisped up beautifully. I topped the vanilla absorbed slices with chopped banana, icing sugar and a good drizzle of maple syrup, and tucked right in. The toast itself is crisp on the outside, gooey and moist within and you don’t need me to tell you that the banana and syrup were perfect partners. As Sunday morning breakfasts go, it was up there with the best that bacon can offer. Gwyneth, you’re cookbook passes muster with me, just don’t mess with any other sweet baked goods again.

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Soup And A Sandwich

Day three of Snowmageddon and it turns out that becoming a hermit in my warm flat means a massively increased appetite. Having spent the last two weeks eating small portions and snacking on fruit and unsalted nuts (the inferior kind if you ask me) my body has finally cottoned on to my new ways and seeing the snow and ice has gone into full on panic mode. Snow = winter = fat needed to keep warm. No matter how many times I’ve told my body that I have layers, scarves, gloves and a coat (lies, I have no gloves but what it doesn’t know doesn’t hurt) and excess body fat is no longer needed in the battle against the cold, I find myself reaching for the foods that are good for the soul but most definitely not the waistline. Stupid body and its greed that evolution can’t seem to phase out despite the invention of long johns, Ugg boots and hot water bottles. Should probably stop talking about my body like its a separate entity too, before everyone thinks I’ve developed schizophrenia or multiple personalities. This prehistoric greed is what led me to a distinctly American approach to food and that is why have one lunch when you can have two? If you’ve been to the fast food chain Panera in the States you’ll know what I’m talking about as they offer the ‘Soup & Sandwich’ deal, and very good they are too. Maybe in England a tin of Heinz tomato soup and a cheese sandwich isn’t that outrageous, being quite modest in size, but in America just the soup would suffice for a hearty, filling lunch. Justifying my decision to go down this path by reasoning that I wasn’t having a big Sunday lunch like most people in Britain would be today, I set about my gluttonous task. From this months edition of Delicious magazine (Feb 2013) I made leek and potato soup and from French Brasserie by Daniel Galmiche I made the classic Croque Monsieur which you can find anywhere in Paris and is most delicious. I was hesitant about returning to Daniels book after a pretty disastrous and watery attempt at French onion soup which was completely tasteless but this time around the boy done good. The slices of bread are soaked in whisked egg and milk and then fried in butter (music to my ears), eventually becoming topped with cheese and ham and sandwiched together with more bread until the cheese is just beginning to melt. You don’t really need a recipe, but its reassuring to follow the lead of a Frenchman who knows what he’s talking about. Heston Blumenthal rates him on the cover quote, so if its good enough for Heston then it’s good enough for me. You’ll be unsurprised to hear the sandwich was freaking delicious. The bread was moist and eggy with a crunch on the outside (I did slightly burn it, my timing was a little off) and the Comte cheese melting with a nutty taste that complemented the salty ham. All in all, it was a banging cheese and ham toastie with a touch of French decadence thrown in. Dunked in the soup, it was even better. Soup just seemed like the right thing to cook on a day like today, and having picked up the new edition of Delicious earlier in the week I decided to put it to work. I’m a big fan of Delicious, it has a great mix of easy weekday meals but also throws in some fancy dishes for special occasions, and a lot of my standby dinners hail from my archive of these magazines. I don’t buy one every month but every now and then it catches my eye on the shelf and I have to have it. Other food magazines don’t elicit the same reaction, they aren’t quite as adventurous or interesting, or look as elegant. Favourites from previous editions include a gorgeous Morrocan lamb stew, a spicy sausage pasta, a beautiful rum and banana soufflé (still the proudest I’ve ever been in the kitchen) and a rich Baileys rocky road. It’s cheaper than a cookbook every month too. The leek and potato soup doesn’t particularly live up to these delights but was tasty, thick and rich and went perfectly with the Croque Monsieur. The recipe states that this makes enough for two, but you’d have to be a very generous host for that to be correct, this will provide me with lunch for at least two, maybe three days. Again, it was very simple to put together and had me getting my blender out, which I love. It wasn’t a patch on last weeks sweet potato and squash soup, but when the cold needs to be kept at bay any soup will do. Suffice to say after today’s extravagance it will be back to small portions and healthy snacks, nowhere near as fun but its got to be done. After all, you earn yourself a few treats by being good in the first place.

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Posted by on January 20, 2013 in Books, Cooking, Food, French, Lunch

 

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A Chicken Dish Fit For A Wino

Last week on the way to work I was pulled over as part of a drink driving campaign by the police (as in don’t drink drive, of course) and breathalysed. I’m pleased to report that I passed with flying colours and absolutely no alcohol present in my system. Star driver right here! Were I to be pulled over tomorrow morning however, I’m not so sure I’d be feeling quite so smug. I delved into The Little Paris Kitchen today and made chicken and mushrooms in a white wine sauce with some fluffy white rice for dinner. Considering this dish only contains half a glass of wine, the pairing of the winey sauce with aniseed tasting tarragon really intensifies the boozy taste leading you to think there is an obscene amount of wine contained in the sauce. Luckily there wasn’t, meaning I can sleep easy tonight knowing I’m perfectly legal to drive in the morning. Don’t drink and drive kids! I’ve not been doing a great deal of cooking this last week or so, we’ve been busy buying our very first home and going through the intense highs and lows of waiting for everything to be finalised. When you come home from work exhilarated that your offer on the dream house has been accepted, it’s hard to stop jumping around like a frog on acid for long enough to cook anything more testing than an oven pizza. I won’t go on for too long, as I’m fairly certain I’ve been boring everyone I know with how much we love this house and what we plan to do with it, but readers, it was truly love at first sight. I knew as soon as I’d seen it that no other house would match up so its no understatement to say that I would have fought tooth and nail to ensure we got the house. Thankfully I didn’t have to resort to violence of any kind, and we should be moving in in the New Year – celebrate good times come on! Whether I will have time for cooking then is a concern that brings me out in a cold sweat at night, as there is a lot of work to be done on dream house and this blog may turn into a DIY and home makeover blog, horror of horrors. I shan’t let it happen! If there are tummies to fill and books to cook from, then I will be there, cooking in a kitchen last renovated in the 1970’s while covered in paint and plaster.

Now that the excitement has died down a little, I feel more capable of cooking. The Little Paris Kitchen has a lot of recipes that I want to try but with fussy pants home I’m trying to play it safe and go with recipes I think he’d like, and LPK has very few of those things in it. He’s not a big fan of French food and now he’s not a fan of chicken and mushrooms in white wine sauce. It does sound very much like a Chicken Tonight jar of sauce, but the homemade sauce takes a bit of time resulting in a silky smooth, flavourful sauce that packs a winey punch you’d be hard pushed to find in a jar. Too much of a punch for The Boyfriend, but I enjoyed it and certainly wouldn’t turn it down if offered again. It’s the perfect store-cupboard sauce if like me you always have flour, butter, cream, wine and lemons in the house. I used to be a massive div when making sauces from scratch and they would always end up lumpy, but then I learnt the most obvious of cookery skills, following basic instructions. Simple but so easy to overlook, at least in my case anyway. Basically, if the recipe says to add the liquid gradually, heed this advice instead of chucking it in all in one go as you will only end up with a lumpy mess. No one wants to eat a lumpy mess. This much I’ve learnt, professional chefs writing cookbooks know better than me how to make sauces. In other Cookbook Neglector news, my Christmas cake is continuing to be fed a healthy diet of brandy once a week. I’m not sure how much I’m meant to use, it could be a really boozy cake by the time I’ve finished with it, but hey, it is Christmas after all. I’m just itching to ice and decorate it but will have to bide my time until its completely and utterly rat-arsed. Only then can I blanket it in a snug duvet of marzipan and icing before its devoured slice by slice over the festive period. I just hope it’s worth all this time, effort and brandy!

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Lamb Dhansak In Its Rice Anorak

If the title of todays bloggage means nought to you, then may I point you in the direction of the sublimely bizarre Mighty Boosh DVD box sets and hopefully all will become clear. Perhaps, either that or you’ll come away from the experience more confused than ever, who can say, it’s that kind of show? In essence though, I just pinched one of their lines as it perfectly suited what I’ve cooked the week, which obviously was a lamb dhansak. It’s always infuriated me that I’ve never managed to cook a decent Indian curry, heaven knows I’ve tried but they always end up watery, or tasteless, or tasting purely of tinned tomatoes. I know a homemade curry is never going to taste anything like a curry from the local Indian takeaway, but all I ask is that it tastes nice. Well reader, on Saturday I finally made some progress. Get out the champers and party poppers. I’ve tried curries from so many different cookbooks, all have failed, so it came as quite a surprise to me that the recipe that finally worked was from a recipe book for pies. Yes that’s right, not a curry book but a pie book. It’s like up is down and down is up. The reason for there being a curry in Pieminister is that you make the curry one day and dish up some as a regular curry with rice, and then the next day pop the remaining curry into pie, bake and serve. Genius. The recipe is called The Guru, I’m not sure why but recycling the curry into a pie seemed like a great idea to me. Plus the flavour in a curry intensifies when left for a day and reheated so in theory the pie should taste even better than your dinner the night before.
First things first, this recipe yields an absolute truckload of food so if you’re feeding a lot of people this is the dish to go for. We had enough for 2 servings of curry, 4 slices of pie and at least 2 servings for the freezer, but we have big appetites so less greedy people could probably stretch it further. It’s also packed full of healthy ingredients, but don’t let this put you off! Aside from the lamb, you’ve got chickpeas, lentils, onions, sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach and loads of spices so plenty of super foods which add flavour and texture, as well as added smugness which comes with the knowledge that actually the curry is really quite good for you. Pieminister also taught me that the way to avoid the tinned tomato taste is to use a jar of passata instead of the usual tinned stuff. There’s no metallic taste and its thicker so the curry ends up far less watery, two perils that until now I’d never been able to avoid. Such an obvious substitution to make but one I’d ever thought of and I urge you to give it a go too if you’re just as hopeless as me at Indian curries. In the end, the dhansak tasted pretty good. Nothing amazing, but pretty good nonetheless. It even looked like a proper curry, and had a decent amount of spice in it. Even The Boyfriend thought it was pretty good and he is my toughest critic. In the pie though, it was less impressive. I say that, but the curry was still tasty and definitely had developed more of a kick overnight. It was the pastry that let it down, that bloody shortcrust pastry. I’m just not a fan, it’s bland and dull and adds nothing to the dish, I should have just had the dhansak with rice again. The Boyfriend went so far as to say that shortcrust makes him feel sick, so it’s fair to say I won’t be making shortcrust pastry in my kitchen again. Puff pastry is the way forward. To accompany the pie I made Bombay roasted new potatoes from Jamie’s Britain which thankfully got the thumbs up, and some petit pois peas which always taste good.

Feeling adventurous last night I also decided to whip up a dessert, vanilla soufflé with a raspberry coulis (what normal people call a sauce, however the recipe did come from my Masterchef cookbook so one can expect a little bit of pretension). Putting it in the oven I was convinced that the soufflé would be a disaster as the two components of the pud would not gel together in my mixing bowl, but I was wrong in my conviction as they rose splendidly and came out just as I wanted them to. The soufflés tasted perfectly of vanilla, which is reassuring considering vanilla pods aren’t cheap, and the smell of the milk infusing with the vanilla was amazing. Vanilla is easily my favourite smell of all time, it’s gorgeous. It was light, fluffy and reminded me of a just cooked pancake, albeit with a strong dose of vanilla instead of the traditional sugar and lemon. The coulis was also very good, sharp but sweet and added some punchiness to the soft, fluffy soufflé. My only beef with soufflés is that while they taste lovely, it’s like eating air and doesn’t give me something to sink my teeth into and therefore leaves me feeling somewhat deflated, much like a failed soufflé. In my eyes, the perfect desserts are either fudgey, gooey, chocolatey concoctions, fruity pies or crumbles with lashings of custard, or a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. With this up against it, it’s no wonder the soufflé didn’t entirely hit the spot, tasty though it was.

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For The Love Of Chocolate

I’ve made no secret of my pure, unadulterated love for chocolate. It’s been 26 years but my love for the brown stuff shows no sign of abating, and nor would I want it to. Unluckily for me though, this week chocolate has not loved me. I don’t know what I’ve said or what I’ve done, but clearly I’ve pissed the chocolate gods off in some way, shape or form; what else could explain the disasters that have befallen me this week? Before I tell you of the heartbreak and distress that I have suffered, I should probably start with the more savoury stuff. Some of my lovely workmates came over for dinner earlier on in the week (this blog entry features these cheeky scamps heavily I’m afraid!) and rather than stressing myself out by cooking something time consuming or complicated I decided to take advice from my all time favourite, Nigella Lawson, and make a simple tray bake. It was Spanish chicken from Kitchen, and the only effort required of me was to chop up some chorizo, red onions and sweet red peppers and chuck them in a roasting tray with some chicken thighs, olive oil, new potatoes, oregano and orange zest. Minimum effort, maximum taste. I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again, you can always rely on Nigella. I was worried the dish might be a little dry but the amount of spicy paprika oil provided by the chorizo was enough to prevent any dryness and gave everything shed loads of flavour. Plus the skin on the thighs was nice and crispy due to the high oven temperature, perfect. The dish even introduced one of the girls to the delights of chorizo, so as well as feeding I like to think I’m also educating! This yummy main was followed by chocolate lava cakes with a salted caramel centre (this sounds so much sexier in French- moulleux au chocolat coeur fondant caramel sale – swoon) which came from The Little Paris Kitchen. Then things started going wrong. If only I was capable of following instructions To.The.Letter. Being the maverick that I am though, I fobbed off her advice to fill up the ramekins with the cake mix and then pipe salted caramel into the centre of the uncooked mix, and instead filled the ramekins up by a third with cake mix, dolloped some caramel on top, then topped with some more mix. A silly, silly mistake. After baking until juuuuuuust right (thank you Goldilocks), I attempted to get the fondants out of the ramekins. Instead of cakes with an oozy caramel centre, I ended up with a thin layer of chocolate cake covered in salted caramel and the rest of the cakes stuck in the ramekin. Oh sure, they came out eventually with a little prodding and poking, but the effect of cutting into the cake and a soft, oozing centre flowing out was lost. Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry would be less than complimentary. Luckily for me, my workmates are not Paul and Mary, so I may have gotten away with it, but Masterchef it ain’t. When the entire structure of a pudding collapses, you know you should have just manned up and tried to get to grips with a piping bag instead of taking the easy way out. They looked a mess, so no photo this time. Despite this disaster, the ladies seemed o enjoy it, and that’s the good thing about friends, they don’t judge you on your ability to hold a chocolate fondant together. That’s one of the positive sides of having a boyfriend who works away for long periods of time: you find out who your real friends are and which ones make an effort to talk, meet up, send texts, or just get me so trollied that I can barely even remember my own name or that my boyfriend is on the other side of the world.

Onto my second chocolate disaster. Once again, this was for one of my lovely workmates whose birthday it is on Monday, so what with it being a big birthday I decided to bake a cake for her. I do feel for my workmates, I’m regularly bringing in various baked goods to force feed them with, whether they regard themselves lucky or unlucky over this is hard to say as they may well be very good liars. Until they say stop, I’m going to keep bringing them in. This cake was Coca Cola cake from Marian Keyes lovely book Saved By Cake, and was chosen because the birthday girl is a coke fanatic. It’s hard to put down in words how much she loves the stuff, I’m not even sure I can fully comprehend her love for it, but I imagine it’s similar to my overwhelming love for chocolate. This is a cake that would be absolutely perfect for kids what with it containing coke, chocolate, mini marshmallows and topped with fizzy cola bottles (not such a perfect cake for the parents though I guess, what with toddlers likely to still be screaming and rolling around the floor from an intense sugar high at midnight) but is just as enjoyable for childless adults. The cake itself was lovely, damp with a gooey stickiness from the melted marshmallows, strong cocoa flavours and a hint of the fizzy stuff (you must go for the full fat coke, Diet would simply be wrong and pointless when you look at all the other ingredients). The icing though, was another story completely. Made up of butter, coke, cocoa powder and icing sugar, I just could not get it to thicken and set. It didn’t help that I had exactly the amount of icing sugar stated in the recipe, so adding a bit more to thicken the runny sauce was out of my hands. I was covered in flour and chocolate so a trip to the shop was out of the question, I just had to pour it over the stacked cake and pray it all went OK. It did not go OK. While some of the icing stayed put on the cake, the majority ran off the cake and gathered in a pool on my cake stand (which in actual fact was the lid from a Celebrations tub), which ended up looking like a very big boat in a small, muddy puddle. Again, my presentation skills need some serious improvement. Fizzy cola bottles saved the day though and I arranged these as prettily as my unartistic hands could manage. This morning upon waking I was in a foul mood, and on asking myself why I realised it was because of the failed icing and the cake looking a mess. I invest way too much emotion into my baking. Either that or life’s so great right now that bad icing is the only cloud on my horizon. But I think it’s the first one. In the end it didn’t matter too much as Cokehead seemed to really enjoy it and with lit candles and a sparkler the pool of icing didn’t seem so bad. Its the thought that counts, right? In baking, mistakes are easily made and I need to learn to not be so ridiculously hard on myself and just enjoy doing it, then subsequently eating it.

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The trouble with eggs

Oh mayonnaise, what are we going to do with you? You taste very nice in your little jars, but so many cookbooks and chefs tell me that homemade mayonnaise is even nicer that in the interests of tasting delicious food I feel it is my duty to make some. Trouble is that these same chefs and cookbooks also tell me how darn difficult it is to make it from scratch, hence our reliance on the good old Hellmans. In the book I’m reading at the moment, Lunch in Paris (not a cookbook but a true story about an American falling in love with a Frenchman and food in Paris, peppered with a few recipes here and there -right up my street) , the author describes meeting her new beaus family and mother who, calmly in the middle of conversation, whips up a bowlful of mayonnaise to go with lunch. She made it sound so easy, the swine, that I just knew right then that I had to try myself. The meal it revolved around was supposed to be pan fried salmon with lime and coriander mayonnaise and crushed potatoes again with lime and coriander from my new book French Brasserie. Unfortunately my attempt at mayonnaise went disastrously – I added the oil too quickly to the egg yolks so instead of a bowl full of pillowy, creamy mayonnaise I ended up with oily egg yolks that had the same consistency as grease. And I had no extra eggs to try again, so I ended up grilling the salmon in foil with lime, ginger, chilli and coriander and accompanied the fish with the potatoes described earlier. While tasty, it lacked the je ne sais quoi that I had anticipated from the homemade mayonnaise, and in my bad temper I’d seriously over cooked the salmon. Bugger. So to say it wasn’t the most successful evening spent in the kitchen would be an understatement. Nigella quotes in one of her books that she grew up making mayonnaise and never knew it was difficult until someone commented on her ability to do it. This is why I love her, so unfazed, so blasé at the tricky side to cooking, and encouraging you, as she would phrase it, to feel the fear and cook it anyway. True for life outside the kitchen too, just do it. One day, homemade mayonnaise, I will return to overcome your tricky ways.

Despite what the rather misleading title of todays blog would have you believe, I’ve also had a successful crack at the eggs this week. This success came from Nigella Bites, which is one of my favourite offerings from The Lawson. When a cookbook has chapters like ‘TV Dinners’ and ‘Trashy’, you know you’re going to be eating well. Favourites from this include the chocolate fudge cake (simply amazing, if you only make one recipe from Bites, this is the one) and the meatballs and pasta. I got Bites from EBay secondhand when I first moved out of the parents home and I really love that there are splashes of food on some of the pages. The Boyfriend thinks its gross, but being the dreamer that I am I just think of the happy meals a family or couple had using this book. Or maybe they weren’t such great meals if they ended up selling it on eBay. Hmmm. Dinner tonight from this gem was masala omelette with coriander chutney and chapatis, which is in the breakfast section but between you and me, this ain’t no breakfast. What it is though is tasty with a big chilli smack in the face which I very much appreciated after a tiring day of work. The omelette is taken up a notch with chopped spring onion, chilli, garlic and some Indian spices, and eaten wrapped up in chapatis with a big dollop of coriander chutney. So easy and ridiculously tasty. The chutney provides most of the spice, which is sharp and nasal clearing but not the sort of spice that turns your mouth into a volcano. It’s manageable. The chutney just involves chucking a few chillies, herbs and coconut cream in a blender with some lime juice so is very simple, and likely to not even be a chutney at all. It contains my two favourite herbs which are mint and coriander. God, I love them. They smell glorious and transport me to tropical shores every time I get a whiff of them. They also taste stunning, alone or together, and I’m rather partial to eating them on their own while waiting for something to cook. What a freak. The time/flavour ratio for this dinner is off the scale, it takes no time at all yet delivers a really flavourful meal that wakes your taste buds up. The perfect recipe then, to get me amped up and excited about the release of Nigella’s new cookbook next week. This is an obsession I’m happy to continue for a little while yet!

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