The gentle art of leftovers came to the fore this week. Leftover goat stew became goat hot-pot with a covering of very thinly sliced potatoes and leftover roast Aylesbury duck became duck shepherd’s pie with orange and lemon mash. A birthday roast shoulder of lamb could easily have been turned into another more traditional shepherd’s pie but trimmings were a treat for Red and her brother Arrow. The cooking pace revved up as the week progressed, the whole of Friday given over to cooking for a dinner party on Saturday. A fantastic make-ahead menu of leek terrine with crevettes grise and Moroccan meatballs with peas and mint.
Some months ago The B invested in half a goat butchered for the deep freeze and yesterday, while he was hunched over a computer, I made stew with a pack of loin chops. The goat came from www.thoroughlywildmeat.co.uk and was one of their low-yield females that make very good meat. All goat meat is dark in colour and resembles mutton but the flavour is more like the sweetest young lamb. It’s always surprising to discover that goat meat is the most eaten red meat in the world and an even less known fact is that the marbled meat has a lower level of cholesterol and fat compared to lamb, beef or pork. Like mutton, it suits long, slow cooking and is interchangeable with any slow-cook lamb or beef recipe and some pork or chicken recipes. The loin chops were thick and meaty but surrounded by a deep frill of fat with a nugget of pearly fat in the middle. I trimmed a fair amount of fat but left the chops on the bone and adapted an old lamb stew recipe with passata, whole garlic cloves and big chunks of carrot with equal amounts of red wine and stock to cover and called it Goat Gypsy Stew. You’ll find the recipe in The Fish Store book, suffice to say, once the meat was floured and browned it was buried with all the ingredients and left to cook all morning at a low temperature (150C) in a Le Creuset pan in the oven. The smells swirling out of the kitchen were beyond mouth watering. Once cooked, I left the pan in the oven to cool down, reheating it much later ready for supper. If ever there was a need for mashed potato, this was it. Sprouts too. The meat was meltingly tender and richly flavoured. Perfect.
I couldn’t get over how much meat there was on our Aylesbury duck, so thanks Noel at my butcher (www.mackenbrothers.co.uk) for digging it out of the deep freeze. With all the leftovers I made myself a very generous sandwich for lunch and followed my favourite recipe for an old fashioned shepherd’s pie made (usually made with leftover roast lamb but I’ve done it with pork too), adding microplaned orange zest and a generous squeeze of orange juice. It was exceptional; I’ll be making Roast Duck Shepherd’s Pie next time I cook a duck which will be very soon. If you have a copy of The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales, you’ll find the Old Fashioned Shepherd’s Pie recipe on page 54 in Earthenware Pots.
Today when I opened my fridge, there were lots of bits and pieces in need of eating up or chucking. So, did the decent thing and made a big vat of soup, one of those scrounge round the fridge sort of soups, half a cabbage there, a few rashers of bacon here and leftover peas. There’s nothing fancy about Cabbage and Bacon Soup but ends up being perfect comfort food.
Today is The Barrister’s birthday and although he’s working flat out and supposedly not drinking, a quiet supper at home rather than a family party or meal out is what he wants. Smoked salmon on Hedone brown toast with French unsalted butter goes down very well with a glass of fizz. I know I bang on constantly about Hedone sourdough but ever since I discovered it when I was taken to lunch at the Chiswick restaurant soon after it opened in 2012, I’ve been bowled over by it. I still think it is the best sourdough I’ve ever tasted. On that first visit, I sat at the bar with my friend chatting with the chef nibbling on treats from the kitchen and The Bread. It was so remarkably good I asked if I could take home the rest of the bread in our little basket and when we left Mikael Jonsson, the chef/patron, gave me a loaf. They soon started selling a few loaves from the restaurant and then a deal was struck with Bayley&Sage in Turnham Green, business boomed and the rest, as they say, is history. I know at least 3 chefs who buy Hedone loaves – Simon Hopkinson, Rowley Leigh and Rick Stein. There is a white loaf which is also very good but it is the crust of the brown loaf and its plump, round and rounded shape and dark colour that is instantly recognisable, the loaves piled up on a ledge behind the deli counter. The dough in side is almost damp and very luscious. They must have an extraordinary starter. A fresh loaf is heaven indeed but it toasts exceptionally well several days later. Sadly the restaurant closed some time ago but the bakery has blossomed.
Anyway, back to The B’s birthday dinner. I roasted half a shoulder of lamb over a finely chopped onion (a Delia tip from years ago when I interviewed here about her favourite quick supper, but she did it with chops) with French tinned peas, a cauliflower cheese (with hard boiled egg and parsley) and very crisp oven game chips. This is a favourite way of cooking potatoes, they are sliced super thin as if making crisps, rinsed, patted dry, tossed with a little vegetable oil so all surfaces are smeared, then spread out and roasted at 220C for about 20 minutes. They need to be monitored after 15, the shallow, heavy duty pan turned, some slices chased off the tin and turned but it’s the mix of very crisp and not-so crisp that is so good. We had redcurrant jelly with the lamb; the best I’ve come across, apart from home made and Fortnum’s, comes from my butcher, Macken’s on Turnham Green.
Lovely lunch of big field mushrooms sliced thickly and fried with chilli and a squeeze of lemon and chopped flat leaf parsley piled over (Hedone brown) toast for lunch. Turned the leftover lamb and gravy into a gratin-style pie, the chunks of lamb mixed with thin slices of blanched carrot, the top covered with wafer-thin slices of potato, the top browned in the oven. Delicious and very good with buttered sweetheart (hispi/pointed) cabbage.
Spent the day cooking for tomorrow night’s dinner party but in the middle of phase one, realised I needed to nip down to the fish shop to buy crevettes grise to garnish my leek terrine and couldn’t resist a couple of Manx kippers for Sat breakfast. First job was the leek terrine. This is a clever take on leeks vinaigrette and takes minutes to steam far more leeks than you’d expect, pack them into a clingfilm lined terrine tin, weight it overnight and that’s it. The juices that emerge from the pressure ‘glue’ the leeks and make it easy to turn out and easy to slice with a sharp, thin-bladed knife. The main course was going to be Harry’s moussaka but decided in the middle of a sleepless night to make a Moroccan meatball dish, the balls cooked in a thick spicy onion sauce-cum-gravy sweetened with sultanas. Peas and mint are added at the end. It looks stunning and is a lovely mix of flavours and textures.
Out for dinner tonight at Quo Vadis, a belated treat to celebrate The B’s birthday that slipped by quietly during the week due to work pressure. Next time I visit QV, I vowed, I’m going to order 4 or maybe 6 smoked eel and horseradish toasted sandwiches and eat them as my complete meal. They are so wonderful, so generously piled with thick pieces of eel over sweet, slightly hot but very creamy horseradish sauce, that one is never enough. I love the snack aspect of the QV menu; Jeremy Lee is such a clever chef with a background of cooking with Alastair Little and Simon Hopkinson, later developing his own style at Blueprint Café where he reigned for many years before taking the helm at QV. I loved those menus which were peppered with dishes like spiced aubergine salad with cumin (also on menus at Fifth Floor in Henry Harris’s day and Chez Bruce in Wandsworth – both Henry and Bruce Poole also worked at Bibendum under Simon). At QV, the menu changes each month and at the moment I particularly recommend the braised short rib with a salsa verde-style dollop. With a portion of super-crisp, super-big, super-wonderful chips on the side, this is a lovely treat.
Grilled Manx kipper for breakfast with Hedone brown sourdough toast (the best sourdough ever, from www.bayley-sage.co.uk). I always grill kippers gently, not too close to the grill, laid out on tin foil that can then be used to bundle up the debris and go straight in the bin to avoid lingering smells. Next up I lay the table for tonight’s dinner party. It’s more friends from the old days of Time Out who rarely see each other together, so a long-overdue special night. I wanted to pull the stops out, so it was smoked salmon blinis with crème friache and chives in front of the fire with a glass of champagne. As the chat level intensified, I nipped into the kitchen to unfurl the leek terrine; if you have a copy of The Trifle Bowl and Other Tales, you may be familiar with the recipe. It’s really leeks vinaigrette in terrine form, steamed leeks lined up in a terrine tin then weighted over night so they glue together. I’ve never had a problem with the turning out and slicing (with a very sharp, thin-bladed knife) but it’s always a worry that the pretty terrine won’t have stuck, scattering chunks of leek all over the place. Actually, it wouldn’t matter if it did; it’s the taste that’s all. It’s served with a creamy, lemon vinaigrette and on this occasion surrounded by a pretty garnish of peeled crevettes grises and scattering of chives. It’s a real looker, an ooo-aah, sort of dish called Leek Terrine with Crevettes Grises and Lemon Vinaigrette. The main course was Moroccan Meatballs with Mint (and peas), one of my fail-safe, make-ahead, not-Tagine-but-almost, party favourites. It’s inspired by a dish I once had in Taroudant, Morocco and I always make far too much because leftovers heat up perfectly. It doesn’t actually need an accompaniment but a scoop of (make-ahead) cous cous soaks up the glorious ras al hanout-hot gravy. I’d bought a couple of pineapples and a huge bunch of mint, planning to make pineapple carpaccio for pud but as one of the guests is diabetic, settled on cheese. The star of our cheese board was Shorrocks traditional Lancashire black bomb (orders on tel 01772 865250), a cheese cannonball matured for 2 years covered in black wax, the cheese inside creamy yet firm and packing a punch. I first discovered the black bomb at a cheese stall at Chiswick Farmer’s Market (Sunday 10am-2pm, just off the A316 to Richmond, turn into Edensor Road, W4 2RX) some years ago and bought several for a mega dinner (for 26), but The Barrister bought this one from www.bayley-sage.co.uk along with some white Hedone bread to go with the leek terrine. I’m happy to say the party was a huge success and a Jolly Good Time Was Had By All.