Monday, 27 February 2012

Silicon based disaster

This weekend was a mixed bag with the cooking. It was my partners birthday last week, and so Friday I decided to make a birthday dinner. I really struggled to think of what to make, I knew I wanted to do mussels, but if we eat mussels for starter we usually end up eating so much bread with them that the main becomes a lacklustre chore instead of a delcious follow on. Aside from the bread problem, I really need to start buying smaller portions of mussels. 1kg between two for a main is probably too much for a starter, anyway......
I went to the market to try and get a bit of inspiration, and found some pigeon. I knew I had a nice recipe at home from this beautiful book...

...and so I decided to go for red wine and rosemary risotto with pigeon breast for the main. I also spied some oysters whilst buying the mussels, and as we'd never tried them before, I bought two as a canape experiment.
My partner isnt a fan of cold savoury food (including sandwiches with cold fillings!!!), but I'd seen a suggestion before to grill them with a little worcestershire sauce. They werent too hard to open, surprisingly, but they did look very bizarre.

I thought it tasted ok, a little chewier than a mussel, but not bad overall. My partner said it 'tasted like the sea', which wasnt really a compliment, and wasnt meant as one.
once again I DID overdo it on the mussels, but they were really nice. I fried off some rosemary, leek and pancetta, then added the mussels and some dry cider and let them steam open. When they were ready I poured over a little cream (possibly too much considering I wasnt trying to make the dish too heavy) and served with far too much bread.

As you can see, the bowl was overflowing a bit, I blamed the size of the bowl, my partner blamed my propensity for what he calls 'granny portions'.
The pigeon only took a few minutes in the pan as I wanted it quite pink. That, coupled with the risotto was delicious. I love gamey meat, and thought it was lovely, really well paired with the risotto, though I imagine any poultry would go quite nicely alongside.

And finally....the birthday cake.
Now, I'd been given one of those silicon giant cupcake cake tins for my birthday, and had been desperate to try it out. In hindsight it probably would have been good to have a trial run, but sometimes that just wont do.
I made up a standard sponge recipe, adding some lemon zest and juice, and popped it into the tins and in the oven at the stated temperature. It seemed to take FOREVER too bake, but came out looking reasonable. I left it to cool before I started to decorate it, which was the part I was dreading, as though I can knock up a fairly decent (or absolutely delicious) cake, they never look like much, as I'm not much of a dab hand with icing.

I tried really hard, and it seemed to be going ok, until I moved it to a different bench and my stupid colander handle made a dent in the icing, argh! I managed to cover it up and it ended up looking half decent (half decent because the other side not shown in this picture was an absolute mess).

Lorraine Pascal, I am not.

At least  I was pretty confident it would taste lovely. Oh how presumptuous. Ive never cut into such a dense cake. It tasted fine, the flavours were all there, but it was so thick, no light, fluffy texture. I was heartbroken. The leftover will make a nice trifle Im sure, but bloody bollocks! I think baking with silicon may take a little more work to get it right.

On Saturday I made breakfast pancakes, as my partners birthday had fallen on shrove Tuesday this year, and he hadnt had any, so it seemed a shame not to.
I used
12 tablespoons of Buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons of oil
And enough water to make it into a loose batter.

I also added a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard to perk them up a bit.
No sea monster style disasters this time, I served them with sausage, scrambled egg and beans. And they were wonderful. I made 6, and I still have enough batter for about another 6, so the recipe is easy to scale down if needed.

Saturday evening we went out for dinner to Kayal, a great Keralan style restaurant in the city. The food there is so flavoursome.

We had the Adipoli Aadu / Kozhi with chicken, and Kidilan Konju Varuthathu to start, and ordered the Kayal Fish Curry and Cheera Erachi lamb curry for main. Everything was great, one of my favourite things about Kayal is the fantastic little chutneys that they serve alongside the dishes, they are yummy!

For dessert I was unadventurous, and ordered the mango kulfi, as usual. My partner decided to branch out and try the Panchamrutham, with '5 secret ingredients'. It looked like a bowl of mango chutney with bits in, and it was pretty clear that the five 'secret' ingredients definitely contained a large heaping of cardomom. Blergh! I could see my partner shaking his head as he resigned himself to eating most of it as so not to appear rude. I felt slightly smug after he'd mocked me about being so boring with my choice of dessert.

Sunday I got on with making my soups for the week, one the same as last week (thai red lentil) and I also made a curried butternut squash, which consisted of
Fried onion and chopped squash
Added curry powder
Red lentils
Veg stock
And when it was all cooked and blended, some creamed coconut.

I also had a go at making some spelt soda bread, ala the wonderful Mrs B, you can find the recipe, and her gorgeous blog here

The bread was one of the easiest things I have EVER made. The tip about the dough staying quite wet was great, as otherwise I would have definitely been tempted to add more flour. I made my own buttermilk with lemon juice and milk, mixed it, popped it in the oven for 20 mins (and then sat on the floor watching it through the door willing it to hurry up). It came out a lovely golden brown

And I immediately cut a chunk off, covered it in butter and some mature cheddar, and ate it with a lovely cup of tea, as suggested. This is one to make again and again.

It was very well deserved after a hard afternoons work.xx

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