The lovely Indian summer weather is holding out, hot like summer during the day but chilly in the evening, so comfort food and lighting the fire, is starting to change the way we think about what we want to eat. I’m thinking sausages, writing notes to myself and popping into Macken’s (www.mackenbrothers.co.uk) to get more details about theirs, so I can talk with confidence on Saturday at the dem.
If I’m in London, it’s rare that I don’t go down to the local Farmers Market on Sunday morning. There is one very good butcher (www.marchhousefarm.co.uk), who rivals my butcher Macken’s for the quality of its chickens, lamb, sausages and beef. I keep my freezer stocked with their skirt steak. It comes in various size pieces and is sous-vide packed, so ready for pan or freezer. Today, though, I’m craving roast chicken with bread sauce and I like the prospect of making stock with the carcass and using leftover meat to make one-pot dishes. I tend to cook roast chicken the wet roast way, which means seasoning inside the chicken, adding the remains of a lemon squeezed over the bird and a bunch of thyme or a few sprigs of rosemary tucked inside the cavity. It’s impressive how the herb flavour inculcates the chicken but a couple of glasses of white wine ensures moist meat and a good gravy. The bread sauce is with heavily seasoned with several cloves, a bayleaf, few black peppercorns and salt in the milk and left, covered, to cool before breadcrumbs are stirred in just before serving. Sometimes I add a spoonful of cream if I have some, or a knob of butter to make it even better. Steamed cabbage tossed with lemon, butter and black pepper and roast new potatoes make a lovely supper.
First job today is stripping the chicken and putting the bones on to simmer with a chopped onion and carrot, a few garlic cloves, to make stock. It simmers away for a couple of hours, is strained (the bones later picked for the dog), cooled then chilled in the fridge so the fat forms a layer that can be removed before it’s used or frozen. Made a richly flavoured one-pot with some of the chicken leftovers, torn in big pieces and added to previously fried cocktail sausages, softened onion simmered with red wine and a can of chopped tomatoes with a generous pinch of dried red chilli. It’s all cooked and ready to reheat when we get back from a west end movie. Boy it was good, wolfed down with a generous garnish of chopped flat leaf parsley to give a fresh finish.
Twitter eruption this morning about an old Evening Standard recipe for paprika chicken, which I promptly put up in recipes, here on the website. Very touched to be missed by Andrew Billen from my Dinner Tonight column in The Times. The Barrister was one of he many who read the recipe and requested it for supper. Too late this time, but I used soft paprika to season a quickly made stew with the last of the leftover chicken, torn and added to softened onions with sweetcorn and mango, chicken stock and coriander garnish. I love these leftover chicken one-pot dishes that are neither soup nor stew and this one was a colourful mix, some mouthfuls with the surprise of a chunk of sweet and luscious mango.
Penultimate day for Jeow Jeow, the brilliant Thai/Lao pop-up at The Sun and 13 Cantons, Beak Street, Soho. The pub is busy and noisy but four of us settle at the back of the dining room and share a fantastic meal of aubergine fried with red onion, roast tomato, garlic and chilli, griddled pork belly with pickled chilli slaw and superb ceviche of Arctic char with herbs, lime, crisp shallots of home made prawn crackers. Ox cheek curry Burma-style with dill and fermented mustard greens was melt-in-the-mouth curves of meat in rich, mellow gravy, so good that not a drop was left. A wonderful feast so come back soon, preferably to west London, and thank you Tanis Steytler and Bill Knott.
Supper tonight is inspired by a beautiful photo of roast hake, samphire and tomato salad in Alex Jackson’s wonderful book Sardine, a collection of simple seasonal Provencal cooking. I’ve had the book open at this page for a couple of weeks and tonight’s the night. As (bad) luck would have it, the fishmonger didn’t have any hake, so I used cod instead. The recipe uses large juicy tomatoes (Amalfi Italian for preference), but I had home grown tomatoes in need of eating up, so peeled and seeded them and cooked them briefly in butter with their juices, adding blanched salty samphire, saucing the roasted fish with some of the boiled down white wine and lemon juices. I added petits pois on the side to make more of a meal of it and served it as instructed with crusty baguette to mop up the juices, …’making an impromptu open sandwich of warm, buttery fish and juicy tomatoes.’ This is a lovely book and I could happily eat my way through the recipes and suspect I will. Next up domino potatoes, a very crisp variation on Pommes Anna and a red wine beef stew with chestnuts, wet polenta and gruyere. Bring on winter; we are ready for you with dishes like this to warm the cockles of our hearts.
Tomorrow is my sausage demonstration as part of the Chiswick Literary Festival in Turnham Green. Everything is organised but I need to shop and cook for lunch afterwards, when there will be nine family and friends. I prepare peel and chunk beetroots for Turkish beetroot salad and beat yoghurt with crushed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil to spoon over the top. I buy a pack of little brown shrimps to serve over toast spread with a thick puree of minted peas, the latter made and stashed in a plastic box. I make a creamy, Dijon-mustard flavoured mayo dressing for red chicory salad with capers and diced cornichons, slicing the chicory and stashing it in a plastic bag. Once again I make smoked mackerel pate (it was such a hit with Blondes and making it again after so long reminded how good it is). It takes moment to make, all you need is a packet of boneless hot smoked mackerel fillets, a jar of creamed horseradish, 200ml French crème fraiche, a lemon and freshly ground black pepper. The skin is peeled off the mackerel which is briefly blitzed with the creamed horseradish and 2 tbsp crème fraiche, the rest lightly beaten and folded into the thick mixture, giving it a good seasoning of black pepper and generous squeeze lemon. It can then be stashed, covered, in the fridge and is good for a couple of days. I roast tomato halves and boil eggs to halve and serve with a squirt of mayonnaise and criss-cross of anchovy. The Barrister comes home with various Italian cured meats and Scotch eggs, the plain ones from www.bayley-sage.co.uk and big pieces of hard cheese and a couple of crusty loaves. It will be a feast, hopefully a garden feast, if the weather holds.
The demonstration was a huge success despite the fact that poor Rodney from Macken’s couldn’t join me to talk sausages due to his painful hand injury. The recipes are posted on the website – Beyond Bangers and Mash – and are very easy to make. There wasn’t a sausage in sight for lunch after the demonstration and much later The Barrister and I ordered an Indian take away (www.Indiandabba.co.uk) from Indian Zing in King Street, Hammersmith. Their food is so fresh and vibrant and I’d recommend everything we had:
Dabba’s chicken jalfraizi (no 20), tadka dal (no 31), jumbo prawns with pomegranate (no 13) and well done garlic nan (no 46). They don’t do my favourite potato dish, Bombay alloo, but Goda batata rass (no 29) is a lovely dish of new potatoes in a blend of tomatoes and onion gravy with mustard seeds and asafoetida. Fab.