Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Steak with Samphire

A delicious mix of the land and the sea. Samphire is bang in season right now until September.

Steak with Samphire

2 rump, ribeye or fillet steaks (at room temperature)
130g march samphire, thoroughly rinsed and drained
1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
olive oil
salt & pepper

- Put a frying pan on a high heat with a little olive oil in it and heat until very hot with the oil smoking slightly
- Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place into pan. I generally do this one at a time. Cook the steaks to your liking but avoid turning them as much as possible - you'll get a better colour on them if you only flip them once.
- Once cooked, remove the steaks from the pan onto a plate. Rest them on an upturned spoon to hold up up and away from the juices that they'll express while the meat relaxes.
- Turn the heat down to low under the pan and add a knob of butter. As that starts to foam, add the garlic and stir constantly to encourage the flavours of the steak in the pan to combein with the butter and avoid burning the garlic.
- Add the samphire and increase the heat under the pan slightly. Sauté for 30 to 40 seconds until warmed through and tender. Add any juice from the resting meat to the pan and stir.
- Plate up with a generous spoon of samphire topped with the juicy steak. Serve immediately with potatoes and your choice of vegetables.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Source, Bristol

Today is a bit of an occasion and I needed food to suit. Now, you would think that being in central Bristol, it would be easy to find fantastic food shops right on my doorstep. Sadly, this hasn't rung completely true; mainly because I've been limited to places that I can walk to and back in under an hour. I was particularly after good meat but butchers shops don't tend to spring up in central locations. I did a bit of net browsing to see what I could find but, again, was left a little stumpted.

My colleagues recommended having a wander around St Nicholas' Market on Corn Street as it features a variety of shops and stalls under one roof. The place itself brings back memories of my college days - buying chunky jewellery and sipping tea amongst the smoulderings of incense. If you traverse the main hall, you emerge into the more lofty passages beyond that holds a feast of food shops. Most of these sell takeaway food or meals to enjoy there and then. Not really what I was after... I passed The Real Olive Company without being able to resist the allure of their mixed olives (£3.20/100g) and stuffed vine leaves (35p or 4 for £1.20). There's a great looking cheese shop which is well worth a look (and a sniff!) but just across and technically (I suppose) outside of the market, I found Source.

Source doubles as a restaurant and food hall tucked away in the heart of Bristol. They have an amazing butchers and fishmongers counter selling everything from cornish mackerel to buffalo rump steak. They also have a case of fine looking puddings and cheeses to choose from with a selection of fresh fruit and veg plus all the condiments you could ask for on sale. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful; they're obviously passionate about what they do and very knowledgeable. Their website isn't up and running completely yet so drop in. A fantastic place.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mojito Ice Lollies!

Summer seems to have hit hard and if you're in need of a cooling fix, you might reach for something in a glass. But wait! The frozen cocktail is on it's way! I just love mojitos - a delcious blend of lime, mint and rum... Yum!

The recipe hasn't gotten past my testers just yet but as soon as it does, you'll be the first to know.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

An authentic taste of Italy

My mother - the networker, blogster and textile-artist extraordinaire - has a nack for using the Internet to its full advantage. She's the goddess of the search engine; if she can't find what you're looking for, it probably wasn't worth discovering in the first place. She's a social network aficionado and is often found glued to her emails.

Now, you're always told (particularly as a small child when you're first allowed to get your grubby hands on the Internet) that the net is full of lots of friendly people but you must not, under ANY circumstances, meet the people that you chat to. After all, they might turn out to be weirdos. Quite right too and this was preached to me from a young age. This rule, apparently, doesn't stretch to adults. Or mothers, anyway, because my Mum has met all kinds of wonderful people (and her fair share of weirdos... joke!) through various virtual meeting places and happily goes off on merry little jaunts around the country with her new posse.

Anyway, she's recently Facebook friended a guy (known through mutual friends) who rented us a gorgeous apartment in Florence a few years ago. While perusing his website, I came across some of his lovely recipes. He seems to be something of a seafood fan with lovely looking recipes for scallops, squid and langoustines. Despite the Florentine connection, the recipes remind me of the amazing seafood market in Venice. I do miss Italy!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Lunchtime Snack-shot

Around Christmas time, I did a week of lunch related articles documenting what I, and my businessy friends, were lunching on come half-time in the working day. Today, I thought that I would share my view.

I'm sat in a sun-soaked Bristolian square with my commuter lunchbox full of homegrown lettuce salad. Its so warm that I've kicked off my shoes and am comfortably reclining while reading my trashy Metro

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, 18 June 2010

Works of wibbly art

Striped Clementine from Jelly with Bompas & Parr (Pavilion).

A striped clementine jelly by Bompas and Parr
One food that I associate, more than any other, with childhood birthday parties is jelly. No party was a proper party without a jewel-bright wobbly bunny. No sir-ree!
My usual daily sweep of foodie links drew me to a more refined and grown up incarnation of this kiddie favourite. This photo of striped clementine jelly caught my eye and my curiousity. The accompanying article claims that the recipe is "not as complicated as it sounds" but it still involved hollowing out clementines, which seems like a faff to me though the results are impressive. Suddenly, I've been dropped into the wibbly world of Sam Bompas and Harry Parr; 'jellymongers' who are described as "the country's foremost jelly experts" by the Guardian. This has got me thinking about how many jelly experts we must have in Britain for them to be at the "forefront" of this undulated crowd.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

The growth of my windowsill garden

Our windowsills have started to overflow with luscious pots of greenery and we're starting to run out of space. And its only set to get worse because this gardening and growing malarky is really rather addictive. One plant isn't enough; you start to lust after your next herb or vegetable. I've been bolstered by the promising young shoots from each pot that I've lined up on the sill and they've grown strong, straining towards the light.
We're lucky enough to have our own driveway and parking space which has become the latest stopping point for my pots. Our collection has been kindly supplemented my mother-in-love who has gifted us a handsome dish of pick-and-come-again lettuces and several pots of perennial and annual herbs. I am really craving strawberry plants now but we shall have to see if our watering routine is up to scratch as I'm concerned that, unlike my windowsill beauties, our driveway garden fall victim to out of sight, out of mind issues...

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Good Science

I stumbled upon a fantastic article on the Guardian's website today: 'The Science of Cake'. My father is well known for being a sponge for knowledge and a hawk for facts; I think is born of his natural curiosity to understand things (he is a psychiatrist, after all). He has either passed or imprinted this habit on me though, alas, I don't think I will ever be as knowledgeable as he. It does mean that I sometimes find myself pondering the reactions that cause bread to rise while I wait for my loaves to bake or why the blades of my teensy food processor are angled just so to enable the optimum number of cuts while I whizz up a batch of pesto so this article was right up my street.
It was fascinating to find out about the chemistry of cake making. Because of the reactions and the molecular science involved, I've always looked at baking in a different light to the subtle art of combining flavours that set a lot of chefs apart from the rest. The author, Andy Connelly, goes into the history behind it too. My favourite line in the whole article is a quote from Miss Leslie, a popular cookbook author circa 1857, where she 'described a technique that would allow cooks to beat eggs "for an hour without fatigue" but then advised: "to stir butter and sugar is the hardest part of cake making. Have this done by a manservant." ' Finally, the excuse I need to get The Boy doing all the hard graft!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

An answer... But what was the question?

My current place of work doesn't have a microwave. Apparently, their insurance won't cover it but I wonder if the more likely reason is that they don't trust us not to blast CD's and made explodey food messes. Anyway, eons ago while I was doing work experience in an architectural practise at London Bridge, there was a girl who would come in most mornings and use the communal toaster and microwave to make a bacon sandwich. Yep, microwaved bacon. Weird, eh? I was sceptical but, when she offered me a bit, I couldn't resist satisfying my curiosity and it was good. Not your typical bacon sandwich but still a salty, relatively satisfying bacon hit.

Alas, my current employer will never see such delights. But maybe there is a simple answer to this. Last year, while I was still a merry student, my housemate presented me with a concept - baconnaise. A creamy, meaty condiment that can be used to take you and your meals to "new bacon-y heights" according to the official website ( Weirdly, its actually vegetarian (though not vegan as, like most mayo, it contains milk and eggs) so this could be a way of staving off your bacon cravings if you're counting the calories or are off meat. For me though, the stuff sounds grim. Don't get me wrong, I like bacon well enough. But the idea of salty, smokey mayo makes me feel a little ill.

Still, it would mean that I could indulge in "bacon" sandwiches at work despite our lack of irradiating equipment. Don't let The Man drag you down!

Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Caught the Grow-bug

My brilliant basil

One good thing leads to another. With my basil coming on strong, my mind has turned to more crops to fill out my windowsill garden. But what to try next? I absolutely adore homegrown tomatoes fresh off the vine but we don't really have the vertical space. Salad leaves, I pondered. Now that might have potential. Always delicious when they are at their freshest and crispist but I've found that homegrown lettuce tends to be quite bitter. Then it occured to me... Rocket! Fab peppery taste with none of the bitterness and ideal for bunging in my commuter lunchbox!

Look at it go!

As before, I sowed a few seeds and settled back, with a cuppa, to await the first promising shoots come forth. A few weeks alter, I have teensy plants that are, I think, recognisable as rocket. They're about 5cm high and really shooting up. I'm already dreaming of the rocket, avocado and bacon salads to come. Meanwhile, my basil is really looking good.

Sweet basil
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