there’s been a lot going on lately…including but not exclusive to: a brand new starter, a new bicycle, and an attack by a very angry duck. there was also a bird invasion that i wont go into here because im still trying to work through it internally. i did however manage to make some crostini, with my starter, combining all thats good and right with the world. duck soup would have been right too. but its not the hunting season and i had a lot of bread to use. i also learnt the mathematical rule of nature, and so too, design. when i say learnt i of course use the term loosely. what i understood was simply the shape of a sea shell and now have images of an old italian man named fibonacci, eating crostini inside said seashell with the amalfi coastline nearly, but not quite, cropping his head off. so anyway…its been a big day. here’s my crostini – or simply my things on toast…in a seashell.
firstly, there was a pea and pecorino one. which was sublime. and no recipe – all i have to say is, in a mortar and pestle bash half a garlic clove with a pinch of salt. add two good handfuls of peas, mash into a paste, a handgul of some pecorino, some salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to get it to the consistency of spreadable mushed up peas. then spread on bread, tumble over some fresh peas, some shaved pecorino, and a drizzle of olive oil.
then – tomato, basil, olive crostini – achieved by: toast bread, rub with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, put some green leaves on toast, top with some sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, tear over some mozzarella and some basil. finally drizzle with olive oil. et voila.
then same thing with the bread. just with mozarella, finely chopped chili, olive oil.
and then i happened upon a fig. or rather, it happened upon me. and so i did it all again, with some mozarella torn over the bread, some basil, tear the fig into bits, drizzle with olive oil and a drizzle of honey.
its been a long time… and now i am back with slightly less to show for myself and probably slightly less interest from the people. but i push on – because i dont do it for the glory. so i made a romesco sauce. i think romesco is maybe the greatest most sublime combination of the most wonderful and simplest things available. i dont see how anything with rosemary, garlic, olive oil (theres very little you can do wrong after you have done that), roasted almonds, and roasted peppers – could ever go wrong. but i only ever once made this before and i made it as a crust not a sauce….the necessary consequence of which was it was a sandy texture. now i needed it wet and sauce like. so i threw in some oven roasted tomatoes and olive oil and that was it. in other news, theres this: http://www.triplejunearthed.com/Artists/View.aspx?artistid=40623
thats all. ring off.
about 300g roasted red pepper (2-3 peppers)
1 tbsp rosemary chopped
2 garlic cloves sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
50g almonds lightly toasted
50g white bread crumbs
first roast the peppers and the tomatoes. toss them with the garlic and rosemary, some olive oil, salt and pepper. roast on 180 degrees for an hour. or 100 degrees for two hours. the latter will give you a better result and a bigger electricity bill and a bigger hotness on a thirty degree day. the former works just fine.
in processor crush up almonds and breadcrumbs together. i dont have a processor so had the dubious pleasure of doing this in a mortar and pestle. i bashed up a bit of garlic and rosemary before add the the nuts and bread crumbs. when the peppers and tomatoes are done – process these with the nuts and bread crumbs til a paste. it will probably be a bit too thick. i did this bit in a blender – if its too thick add a bit of olive oil – in a steady stream until its the right consistency. season with salt and pepper.
2 bunches asparagus
1 garlic clove finely sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water for a minute, then drain and refresh with cold water. toss with some garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and then put on a very hot grill – turn it once or twice and then remove. eat with romesco. its lovely.
apologies to those who read – mainly but especially and singularly smoo – been busy trying to unearth a snow. sometimes its hard to get everything done in a day so naturally my response to that is to get nothing done. nothing at all. but once, some days ago, i did manage to make this cake. without wanting to get all sentimental i will just say this is the cake of my growing up – its my grandmothers or her mothers or some such. its the epitome of cake – the very embodiment of what i think of when i think of cake. butter sugar eggs flour. bit of crappy cocoa powder too. its from the olden world of yesteryear. and to that end i didnt use any electrical means of making. i used sheer strength of arms and force of will. and this cake is sublime. not unlike like the melancholy and intimacy of these vocals… VOTE EARLY VOTE OFTEN.
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups self raising flour
3 tbsp milk (this ingredient, has over time, turned into 3 tbsp of double cream. i dont like it. i prefer the milk because i like the austerity of it all.)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
preheat oven to 160 degrees. butter and flour a cake tin. cream butter and sugar til pale and light. add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time and beat. then sift in the flour til it looks like this –
put about 3/4 of this mixutre into your cake tin (i used mini ones but its not trad so i would suggest a larger vessel.)
then mix the cocoa powder into the remaining mixture
then fill up the cake tin with the chocolate mixture thusly
put it into the oven for about 50 minutes. take it out and let it cool a bit before removing it from its tin. smells and tastes like heaven. poor photography doesnt begin to describe….
i feel like this speaks for itself. visually. on an unrelated issue does anyone know how to make a round cookie? and by that i mean a cookie shaped in a ball? its been requested – a ball shaped cookie with a malteser at its core. and i dont ask questions – i simply and humbly serve at the pleasure of the president. the only question i do ask, however, is how? (why also comes to mind). though i dont understand the science behind it (as snow will testify, i spent the better part of my high school science classes trying to find the best and most eloquent clip art picture for the cover sheet of my pracs, invariably going with the timeless image of a duck smashing a computer), i know, with the unerring faith of an empiricist, that cookie dough rolled into a ball will necessarily come out of the oven flat. so how do i keep it ball shaped? i realise the bulk of my readership is presently in istanbul – but if you have any information or suggestions, the lines will be open. so will a packet of maltesers so the sooner the better. thanking you in advance.
for caramelised garlic:
4 heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
2tsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
for green stuff:
400g brussel’s sprout (ends removed and cut in half)
1 red chilli finely chopped
4tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
salt and pepper
50g parmesan shaved
handful of basil
so we already been over how to caramelise garlic. but i do it again for those of you that werent paying attention the first time. blanch the garlic in boiling water for 3 minutes. drain. dry the pan and the return the garlic to the pan with 2 tbsp olive oil. fry on high heat for 2 minutes until golden brown. then add the balsamic, the sugar, some salt and pour in the water. bring to the boil and then let it simmer for 5 minutes or until nearly all the liquid has reduced and you are left with just the cloves and the stick, reduced, concentrated, world shatteringly good syrup. set aside.
then, put olive oil into a pan and cook the brusselsprouts over high heat for 5 minutes – try not to shake them around too much so they stay in one piece. add salt and pepper and a little butter at the end. remove from the pan and put in a bowl. then cook the peas. i do this in some butter (and i added in a clove of my hitherto caramelised garlic) and olive oil and coat them all. add salt and pepper. once they are all coated i add a bit of water (or stock if you have any…just a little, about 90ml) and let it reduce down. once all the liquid evaporated remove from heat and add to the brussels sprouts. then add the caremelised garlic.
put it all in a bowl and let it cool a bit. add some torn up basil and shave over some parmesan cheese. really exceptionally great and wonderful. but then caramelised garlic’ll do that
i read about this in my other ottolenghi cookbook. they’ve taught me all i know. and well – i love it. id never had creme fraiche until last week and its really changed the way i think and feel…mainly about creme fraiche. ottolenghi puts blue cheese in this. and like a good disciple i followed along unquestioningly. it was only later that it occured to me that in fact i dont like blue cheese and for those of you that understand why i think some soft goats cheese is probably a very good alternative. ottolenghi calls this a starter. i call that word a bit wanky so i just call it by its name. i suppose if you were a fully functioning member of society, and entertained people, and sat around a big table discussing things like films, theatre, the israeli-palestinian conflict, the advent of robot swarms, marxism and collaborative forms of community in capitalism, and the merits of a number of different and varying cheeses, including but not exclusive to blue – then this would provide an excellent starter. for those prone to avoiding such scenarios, and who prefer to take their meals standing up in a darkened corner (social cripple is such an ugly term) then i would not use the word starter. whichever way you choose to live your life i suggest that these leaves, bound together by multifarious cheeses, topped with pine nuts, represent an elegant solution to the question – what do i eat first?
50g cheese (roquefort or goats or whatever you want as long as it crumbles and has the capacity to absorb itself into a larger body of creme fraiche
150g creme fraiche
50g pine nuts (toasted in frypan in a bit of butter)
some rocket or radicchio or whatever you got
salt and pepper
grate the cheese into the creme fraiche and add some salt and pepper. whisk well until it gets thick.
then trim the endives and remove outer leaves to get to the goodness at the heart of the thing. smear each leaf with some of the creme fraiche mixture.
form piles of 5-6 leaves, pressing each together, with each leaf encased in a larger one.
put salad leaves onto a plate. place a few of the endives on top and sprinkle with pine nuts. could not be easier.
a la ottolenghi. i did make this twice. the first time it worked. but i cant speak for the taste because a sadist drilled holes in my teeth and stuck a needle into my gums and made the quotidien task of yawning a production for days to come. to say nothing of chewing. dentistry, as far as i am concerned is the single greatest scam since shop bought puff pastry. which brings me to my next p.o.c – puff pastry. it worked fine the first time. but then the next time it didnt. in a subsequent discussion with my life coach about where it all went wrong, the conclusion was reached that it was the pastry, as much as my cavalier attitude which caused the disaster. i pressed the pastry into the dish – and thought ‘thats funny, it doesnt seem to really be sticking to the sides’. this was closely followed by my next thought ‘oh well, it’ll be fine’. fine it was not. but i remedied it by trimming (hacking) the edges and marching inexorably on. and its really something this tart. i mean you’d hope so wouldnt you – consisting almost entirely of cheese and caramelised garlic. not for the faint hearted – but for those whose arteries can take it, i suggest you try this.
1 sheet puff pastry (all butter)
3 heads of garlic – cloves peeled
1tsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp olive oil
1tsp rosemary chopped
1tsp thyme chopped
120g soft goats cheese
120g hard goats cheese
100ml double cream
100ml creme fraiche
salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 180 degrees. roll out your pastry. insert into tart tin. (make sure its properly in) and blind back for 20 minutes. remove baking beans and bake for another 5-10 minutes. set aside.
then make caramelised garlic. put the garlic cloves into a saucepan and cover with lots of water. blanch for 3 minutes. then drain well. dry the saucepan and then return the cloves to the pan with the olive oil. fry on high heat for 2 minutes. add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then let this simmer gently for 10 minutes. then add the sugar, rosemary, thyme and salt. continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and they garlic is coated in a dark caramel like syrup. set this aside.
break both goats cheeses into the pastry case. then spoon the garlic and syrup over the top.
in a bowl whisk together the eggs, cream and creme fraiche. pour this over the tart filling – making sure you can still see the garlic on the surface.
reduce oven to 160 degrees and bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden and deliciously brown.