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Here’s my impressive haul from my epic local food shopping expedition today. Looks lovely doesn’t it?
It all came about as my main course tonight, Ottolenghi’s Braised Lamb with Maftoul and Chickpeas required me to search out a single new ingredient. When you’ve cooked as many of Yotam Ottolenghi’s delicious recipes as I have, you will find yourself with a very well stocked and exotic larder but I was lacking the main grain ingredient for tonight’s feast – Maftoul. I have eaten it before and liked it very much but hadn’t considered cooking it myself and had never come across it so I set out to find it. My first stop for this Palestinian grain (not dissimilar to couscous, but with larger and rounder grains) was one of my favourite Manchester supermarkets – Venus, which specialises in Turkish and Middle Eastern goodies and I was sure I’d get it there, and the lamb chops too (I’ve bought excellent shoulder of lamb there previously). Much to my amazement they didn’t have any, or any of the other similar grains – morgrabiah or fregola (from Sardinia), but there was masses of couscous of various sizes, I even asked for help, but the very friendly lady had no idea what I was talking about. I didn’t leave empty handed though, I bought a lovely log of feta (Danish, not Greek), some fabulous green olives, beautiful big bunches of parsley and mint, vine tomatoes, small cucumbers which all fit into tonight’s meal. Manchester is almost unbelievably well supplied with interesting food shops, but there’s a lack of purely Middle Eastern ones with the bulk being Indian often with a great range of goods including (surprisingly) excellent baklava in many cases but the two I visited in Rusholme didn’t have what I was looking for. At this point it would have been so easy to pop to the big Sainsbury’s in Salford to get everything else I needed, but I thought that I would try a new food shop I remembered seeing in Chorlton called Persepolis which is a promising name, and then had the bright idea that I would be able to get everything else I wanted in the same area. So I headed south to Chorlton. Persepolis didn’t have what I wanted, the chap there had no idea what I was talking about, but there were some delicious looking pastries for future reference! Then onto the fabulous Unicorn Grocery which is one of my much loved regular shops to replace some spices, and to treat myself to some bread from their Friday delivery and some salad things and I was hopeful that they might have asparagus. Moderate success – lovely little gems, radishes, wild rocket, carrots, onions, pistachios and the spices I needed (allspice for tonight, black peppercorns, ground cinnamon and cumin) but no bread. From Unicorn, it was a short hop over the road to that other Chorlton foodie institution, the Barbakan Deli which is a seriously dangerous place to go if hungry, feeling poor or dieting, I was all three by this point and was thrilled to find my elusive grain, despite it not having an enticingly exotic name (pearl couscous), I recognised it as what I had been searching for. While I was there, I couldn’t resist a large loaf of their delicious Chorlton sourdough and a taste of a strong aged Lancashire cheese with an amusingly rude name (Bob’s Knob) which was very fine indeed and I’ll most definitely get some next time I’m doing a cheese board.
Happily holding onto my maftoul-like grain.
Next – lamb chops, asparagus, strawberries, Greek yoghurt, ice cream and wine. Not far from Barbikan is much lauded butchers, WH Frost which I am ashamed to say I had never patronised before today. It’s in an unprepossessing 70s style concrete shopping precinct, a big double fronted shop packed full of meaty delights both raw and cooked and I came away with six very fine looking lamb cutlets for £14 and some lamb and mint sausages, not for tonight, but because I find lamb sausages very hard to resist! I was very excited to see that they also had mutton chops which looked very nice indeed and I shall try those soon having never cooked mutton and failing to find any when it has crossed my mind to do so. Then to the greengrocers next door for two bunches of asparagus for my starter and some strawbs for pud (not English though). Just Greek yoghurt, ice cream and wine left and with two heavy bags and a sore back I copped out really and went to Co-op for the ice cream, they didn’t have Total yoghurt, nor did my other regular Asian grocers so I’m afraid it was Tesco Metro at the petrol station for the yoghurt which wasn’t even Total, but their own label, but I was knackered by then and had melting dairy produce to get into the freezer. I couldn’t be bothered to get the wine so will pop to Reserve Wines on Burton Road later – a brilliant wine shop to have a couple of minutes from home, it’s jam packed full of unusual and tempting tipples and with seriously friendly and helpful staff to make every visit a pleasure.
So I was done, I had all I need for supper tonight – Char-grilled lettuce and asparagus with goat’s cheese with sourdough toast, Braised Lamb with Maftoul and Chickpeas with rocket salad followed by strawberries, toasted pistachios, balsamic vinegar and vanilla ice-cream. It took me from about 10.40 to just before 1.00 and I visited ten shops and purchased in seven of them. Not exactly a time efficient experience considering I didn’t really buy any ‘normal’ food for the weekend apart from tomatoes, cucumbers and sausages so I still have a regular style shop to do but I had fun and it was very nice to remember and revisit some good quality small shops and to talk to people and have a walk and only to buy what I actually needed.
I’d better start cooking soon, the lamb chops will take a couple of hours!
I came across this little recipe for pickled radishes and mint in this month’s Waitrose magazine and fancied it straight away. After some dithering about what ‘distilled malt vinegar’ was and getting a very helpful reply from the every fruitful ‘Food Feed‘ page on Facebook, I seat out to pickle my radishes. The ingredients looked so pretty, the pink of the radishes and the yellow of the lemon with the green mint were just asking to be photographed.
500g Radishes – trimmed
568ml distilled malt vinegar – I used Marston’s, it comes in a bottle similar to the more familiar dark brown malt vinegar.
1 lemon – zested with potato peeler, in thick strips with as little pith as possible.
2 bay leaves – I used dried as I had no fresh.
20 mint leaves
2 tbsp salt
1. Cook the radishes in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, cool and chill – the colour leeches out of them, leaving them a rather pretty pale pink.
2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a separate pan, reserving half the mint. Boil for 10 mins, strain, discard the mint, zest and bay. Cool then chill.
3. Sterilise a 1L jar, fill with the radishes, remaining mint & pickling liquid, making sure all radishes are submerged.
4. Store in cool dark place for 2 weeks, then they’ll last for 2 months in the fridge – if you don’t eat them all…..
Here’s the pretty pink, bottled up and ready to sit in the dark for two weeks version:
Here’s the last month of my Daily Food Project 2012! A perfect example of my overindulgence mixed with frugal healthy meals at home as I try to keep from ballooning to a hundred stone in weight! There are a few days where I was ill so ate a minuscule amount which for me is very strange indeed, I soon rallied and was back to my normal self in time for the seasonal festivities!
Dim Sum lunch at Glamorous, left over turkey keema for lunch, veg soup, shared cheese scone at John Lewis.
Chicken casserole at home, scones for Doug’s birthday at the Met, hot chocolate at Bon Bon, Greek biscuits made by a clever friend.
Fishy pasta for supper at home, smoked salmon lunch, Pinot Noir and nibbles at Terrace Bar, turkey patties at home.
Veg soup, morning cakes with friends, seafood feast with friends, turkey patties and salad.
Day one of being ill – all I ate all day, day two being ill – jasmine tea and Marmite toast for lunch, feeling better (not eating much though) and cooking mushroom pasta, supper out at Pomegranate with friends (first proper meal and wine.)
Home made spag bol, meringue for Xmas day, shoulder of lamb rubbed with spices for Xmas day, Xmas day lunch.
Felicity Cloak’s perfect chocolate brownies, turkey at mum’s, turkey sandwich at home, Xmas sweeties.
Mushrooms on toast at Albert’s Grill (far too salty, but delicious), New Years Eve nibbles at home.
Yes, I know that it’s now 2013, but I had a computer amnesty over the holidays and didn’t switch on until yesterday so here are two posts with the last two months of my Daily Food project. Here’s November:
Stir fried prawns, Fish finger wrap at Folk with a friend, lunch at Al Faisal’s, Sunday middle eastern lunch at home for friends.
Ham hock terrine with fois gras at The Bridge in Huntingdon, not very nice chilli squid at Loch Fyne near Peterborough, very salty mushroom soup at a garden centre near Peterborough, plain yoghurt with honey.
Boiled smoked ham, smoked salmon starter at Albert’s Grill, miso soup and pickles at Wagamama, message in sprouts.
Home made vegetable soup, stir fried chicken thighs and veg, scrambled eggs and ham, popadoms.
Bacon sandwich brunch at Folk, fish pie at home, veg soup at home, grilled mushrooms at home.
Vietnamese rice rolls with prawns at home, packed supper on M1 on the way to Folkestone at midnight, lunch in Aras en route to Reims Champagne weekend, pudding at banquet in Reims.
Fabulous cous cous in Laon, breakfast in Calais, chicken breast ad cottage cheese at home after weekend in France, porridge.
Whole grilled sea bass at Jamie’s Italian for Peter’s office Xmas lunch.
Here’s my October menu – the usual mix of dull but healthy nosh at home with the odd sprinkling of eating out and being greedy! No particularly interesting cooking by me this month.
Home boiled ham and pasta.
A lovely big pot of watercress from a friends pond destined to be soup.
Watercress soup and salad for lunch.
Lunch at home – can’t remember what it is!
Avocado on sourdough.
Goats cheese and fig starter at a wedding.
Salad lunch at home.
Omelette lunch at home.
Anglesey mussels near Llandudno.
Peter’s very chocolaty birthday cake made by mum.
Turkey keema at home.
Peter’s birthday lunch at Jamie’s Italian. Starters.
Light lunch at the Whitworth Art Gallery.
Salad lunch at home.
Omelette lunch at home.
Miso soup with noodles for lunch at home.
Roast chicken at mum’s.
Cake in the office after lunch on Saturday. Cakes from Teacup on Thomas Street.
Smoked salmon and marmalade on toast for Sunday breakfast.
Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon lunch at home.
Veal chop at Piccolino.
Miso soup at home.
Prawn salad at home.
Breakfast at home.
Roast chicken thighs and green veg.
Miso soup at home.
We had a lovely weekend staying with our friends in Henley – the inspiration for the visit was to patronise the Henley Literary Festival and to get to a few talks. We saw Rachel Johnson, Gyles Brandreth, Tony Parsons and Jeremy Vine and all were very entertaining with Gyles as my highlight. I think that he would have carried on talking, posturing and name-dropping forever if he hadn’t kept such a beady eye on the clock.
Whenever we head home from a Henley weekend our car is stuffed full of delicious food stuffs and this visit was no exception – we were kindly given a jar of home-made apricot jam (in exchange for my apple chutney which I actually made from their apples last summer!), three quarters of a delicious apricot and pistachio cake, black grapes from the greenhouse, a massive bundle of rosemary and a bag full of dark and peppery watercress freshly harvested from the pond. There was too much for salad and it’s a bit chilly for that now so it was destined to be made into a tasty green and comforting soup. Having such an yummy and easy to make soup pretty much made up for the disappointment in the lack of sloes which we had hoped to harvest at some point. New fences had been put up by the neighbours and while tidying up their boundary, had rather thoroughly chopped down all of the blackthorn bushes, and all the lovely sloe berries with them. It’s far healthier to have the soup and we really shouldn’t be drinking so much home made sloe gin after all…….
Here’s how I did it (loosely based on Delia’s recipe)
A big bag of watercress – I removed the thickest stalks but kept most of them in. If you use supermarket watercress, a couple of bags will do the job. Keep a few leaves to pretty up the soup when you serve it.
A knob of butter
400 g of white and pale green bits leek, washed and chopped
700g baking/floury potatoes (definitely not salad/waxy potatoes), peeled and chopped
salt and freshly milled black pepper
First of all melt the butter in a large thick-based saucepan.
Add the leeks, potato and watercress and stir them around so that they’re coated with the melted butter.
Add salt, cover with a lid and let the vegetables sweat over a very gentle heat for about 20 minutes, giving the mixture a good stir about halfway through – this sticks very easily, so please be vigilant.
Add the stock, bring everything up to simmering point and simmer, covered, for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are quite tender.
Let the soup cool a little and liquidise with a stick blender or in a jug if you prefer.
When you’re ready to serve, season to taste and reheat very gently, make the bowls pretty with a swirl or dollop of crème fraîche and some watercress leaves.
And for the latest thrilling installment of my Daily Food 2012 pictures. This batch of pictures include my birthday/wedding anniversary with many good meals, a big family supper and attempts to get back to my normal eating habits!
Birthday supper at The Rose Garden (Saddle of rabbit with the leg, mushrooms, cream sauce and other goodies).
Delicious roast salmon and salad lunch at home with friends in Henley.
Whole grilled mackerel at the rooftop restaurant at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
Back home from birthday/anniversary celebrations for a bit of healthy lunch!
Chicken tikka and salad at Al Faisals.
Pan fried salmon with beetroot sauce cooked by mum for birthday/anniversary lunch.
Home made sloe gin.
Omelette with ham and tomato – lunch.
Smoked salmon and pickled cucumber.
Packed lunch while out on surveys with mum – ham, boiled egg with a tomato eaten in Tesco’s cafe!
Turkey keema and peas.
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.
Birthday burger at Jamie’s Italian – thanks dad!
Back to healthy again – salad lunch with egg.
Seafood in tomato sauce with greens.
Papaya – my start of eating fruit again on my diet.
Salad lunch at home.
A tempting (almost finished) bowl of delicious Challah for a big family Friday night supper.
Leftover chicken soup, Challah and veg for lunch on the terrace.
Leftover apple pie, still in nice weather on the terrace – evening this time!
Salad for lunch at home.
Here’s the latest batch of tasty and not so tasty Daily Food pictures. During this period I’ve been on holiday to Crete and those pictures do rather jump out in a mass of colour, octopus and sunshine amidst the plates of salad and boiled eggs which seems to be my diet these days!
From the top downwards:
A quick bottle of fizz and antipasti board at Jamies Italian on Jubilee Monday.
Sashimi for supper out with friends.
Yoghurt and honey for pudding at home.
Roast chicken thighs, roast veg and asparagus at home.
First night in Heraklion octopus.
Delicious pan fried oyster mushrooms.
More grilled octopus, in pretty hippy Matala by the sea.
Picnic lunch in the middle of nowhere en route from somewhere to somewhere on the south coast.
Courgette flower dolmades on the beach.
Melon, thick yoghurt and toasted almonds for breakfast on mum’s sea-view terrace on her birthday.
Assorted Greek goodies for lunch at (relatively!) smart restaurant in Plaka.
Grilled fish on our way to the airport for late flight home. The last supper.
Vanilla slice for pudding at a big, noisy lunch with lots of new people the day we returned to rainy Manchester.
Father’s day starter at Browns, crab, avocado and something.
Back to normal food and Diet! Lunch at home.
A light Cachumba.
Stirfried prawns and veg at home.
Turkey patties – nicer than they look!
Lunch at home.
Supper in Liverpool after my craft fair at The Bluecoat. End of a looong day.
First English strawbs of the year.
Lunch at home.
Lunch at home.
Lunch at home.
Oops, tasted so good I forgot to photograph them!
A very small and very sweet watermelon.
Starters at Persia Grill with friends.
Lunch at home.
Having just read this feature on the Guardian’s Word of Mouth Food Blog, it has set me thinking about why I take photos of my food. I have been photographing my food since pretty much the first day I had my very first digital camera, and through the joys of technology, I can show you one of the pictures from that very era which I have found from the deep, dark archive of my old LiveJournal! The date is July 14th 2005 and the location is the now defunct Marmalade on Beech Road in Chorlton and the dish was a surprise starter of radish & green bean salad with seared scallops (the surprise being that there weren’t actually any scallops!).
I can reliably report that within three days of this modest brasserie meal, Peter and I were dining in some style at El Bulli (and yes, I photographed every single of the 40 courses and not one person batted an eyelid), and not long after that, we were eating at The Fat Duck (17 courses) and again, I photographed everything. The Guardian article mentioned above says that Heston has banned cameras at The Fat Duck which I think is a great shame. Would I have remembered these once in a lifetime meals if I hadn’t taken any pictures? We have the menus as souvenirs but that’s not quite the same thing really.
So why do I photograph my food? I love to eat and I love to cook but I don’t like to forget. Peter is always amused that I can chart my way around a city or country by the restaurants I’ve been to and what I’ve eaten in them. Even with the best will (and memory) in the world, that’s not so easy to do so over a long period of time without either taking notes, recording a commentary or taking a quick photo and I know which I would find the least obtrusive, especially in the current days of excellent camera phones which are most inconspicuous and even (sometimes) cope with the terrible (or ‘atmospheric’, as they like to call it) lighting in most eateries. I love to photograph food that I’ve made, I do this as I am interested in food photography, because I am building up a substantial archive of food photos (which have come in very handy for a recent design job where I was able to use all my own pictures and not resort to library snaps), I do it because I like my food, I think it’s delicious and I like to have an aide-mémoire of what I’ve made, call it vanity if you wish – I’m guilty but very happy to keep photographing my food. The only place where I have been aware that photography was forbidden was in a tiny little sashimi restaurant at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo where our friend Dave took us for a sashimi breakfast at 7am when we had finished exploring the greatest seafood market in the world. We queued for ages outside the little shoebox sized restaurant for the best sashimi I have ever eaten, I do remember it though, despite the lack of photographic evidence, but the experience would have been enhanced for me if I could look back on it and remember in full colour. If our visit to Japan had been in the days of the iPhone 4s with it’s excellent camera I would no doubt have been cheeky and risked a quick snap, but all I had was my ‘proper’ camera which would have been somewhat obvious!
I’ve never taken to the food photo sharing apps though, not sure why as they are aimed right at me. I share my pictures on Instagram, Flickr, Facebook and here in my blog, sometimes I write detailed reviews about the experience, sometimes it’s just the pictues with a description, but it all helps me to remember what I’ve had which in turn jogs my memory as to why I was there, who I was with, why we were there – was it a special occasion or just a ‘normal’ nosh? and that can’t be a bad thing surely?
Daily Food 25/365
Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Pasta
These really did taste much nicer than they sound. I was in my (ongoing) trying to eat less after holiday phase and decided to buy some rather unatractive turkey mince instead of the more tasty and calorie laden lamb mince which is my favourite. I have cooked a fabulous turkey patty recipe by Yotam Otolehghi on a few occasions but I didn’t think about it while I was shopping and when I did think about it later, I found that my post holiday fridge didn’t have all of it’s normal supplies and the recipe just wouldn’t have worked. Instead I turned to my computer and after wadidng through numerous horrible sounding turkey dishes for ‘slimmers’ I came across this from Nigella Lawson. I usually like her recipes so I gave it a go. It was certainly simple enough, actually, it sounded so simple that I had to make it a bit more complicated and the result was very nice indeed. I had the leftovers last night with some pasta and vegetables when I arrived home, ravenous after my late yoga class.
Turkey Meatballs in Tomato Sauce – with thanks to Nigella Lawson
- For the sauce
- For the meatballs
- For the sauce, put the onion and celery into a food processor and blitz to a mush. (Or you can chop as finely as humanly possible by hand.) Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture for the meatballs.
- Warm the garlic oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or casserole, add the onion and celery mixture, along with the thyme, and cook at a moderate to low heat, stirring every now and again, for about 10 minutes.
- Add the cans of plum tomatoes, filling up each empty can with water to add to the pan. Season with the sugar, salt and pepper, stir well and let the mixture come to a bubble, then turn the heat down and simmer the sauce gently while you get on with the meatballs.
- For the meatballs, put all the ingredients for the meatballs, including the reserved chopped onion and celery, and salt according to preference, into a large bowl and gently mix together with your hands. Don’t overmix, as that will make the meatballs dense-textured and heavy.
- When all the meatball ingredients are not too officiously amalgamated, start rolling them into balls. The easiest way is to pinch out an amount about the size of a generously heaped teaspoon and roll it into a ball between the palms of your hands. Put each meatball onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment or greaseproof paper. You should get about 50 little meatballs.
- Drop the meatballs gently into the simmering sauce; I try to let these fall in concentric circles working round the pan from the outside edge inwards, in the vaguest of fashions.
- Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve with rice, pasta, couscous or however you so please.