Friday, 29 April 2016

The "Get that kid a sandwich" sandwich

Last night, for the first time in years and years, we went to a movie marathon. All three Captain America movies, back to back (no spoilers - but 3D adds nothing to Captain America: Civil War, so save your money there). 7.15pm - 2.45am. It was great. I mean... Chris Evans for 7 hours can't be bad. But the problem with the cinema we went to is the snack situation. Those very peculiar-looking British cinema nachos and even worse looking hotdogs.

So I made a sandwich to smuggle in for fortification.

It's not quite a muffuletta, but that was the inspiration. A loaf of rosemary sourdough, split and with some of the crumb removed (it's, of course, waiting in the freezer for me to do something else with it), layers of olive & fennel paste, roasted peppers, serrano ham, chorizo, smoked cheddar, salami and gherkin mustard relish. Squashed overnight in the fridge under a weight, to make it sliceable.

We only took half in, and had a quarter each. Along with popcorn, some pretty horrible beer and a shared scoop of ice cream, it saw us through to lunch time today.  Steve wouldn't have been a 90lb weakling with a few of these to fortify him.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Diana Henry's chicken with sour cherries and parsnip puree

I wasn't intending to post anything for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs potluck. Time got away from me and I didn't get around to cooking anything specially. But I woke up to the news on twitter that Diana Henry had won the James Beard Foundation award for Best Single Subject Cookbook for A Bird in the Hand. Which is such a fantastic achievement I thought I should have a rummage through my photos for one of Diana's dishes that I haven't already posted about!

And lo! I found this fabulous, elegant dish of chicken legs with pinot noir, sour cherries and parsnip purée that we enjoyed a few weeks ago. Normally chicken leg recipes are aimed at weeknight, workaday meals, but this lifted them into a special occasion meal.

Not that we had them for a special occasion, just as our Sunday roast. Which I suppose is a little celebration.

At Easter we'd bought another cockerel which I'd jointed and frozen, so I used the cockerel legs for this. They are huge, so I had to adjust the cooking time, but other than that I followed the recipe. The parsnip purée was creamy and luscious, with a sweetness that worked extremely well with the tartness of the sour cherry sauce. Divine, and definitely to be recommended. You can see why this book won a James Beard award.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Sour cherry, pistachio & coconut fridge cake

Paul was very generous with the Lindt bunnies this Easter. So generous that we actually got a bit tired of eating delicious, smooth milk chocolate by itself.

And I had a day of dance workshops requiring a portable high-energy snack, so I delved in the cupboard for things that would be nice with chocolate. I came up with lovely unsweetened dried sour cherries, sweetened coconut flakes and shelled pistachios. I thought about adding some crumbled shortbread as well (tiffin/fridge cake things usually have some biscuit mixed in) but the only ones we had were Walkers shortbread Scottie dogs, and while I have no qualms about biting the head off a biscuit, I thought maybe melting down bunnies was enough animal carnage for one recipe.

It's incredibly easy, and adaptable, but this really was a very good combination.

Sour cherry, pistachio and coconut fridge cake (makes about 12 pieces)

200g milk chocolate (2 bunnies worth)
50g dried sour cherries
50g coconut
50g pistachios

Gently melt your chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.

Line a loaf tin with baking parchment. Combine the cherries, coconut and pistachios and place in an even layer in the loaf tin.

When the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour it into the loaf tin and give everything a bit of a wiggle with a spatula to make sure the chocolate gets through to the bottom.

Set in the fridge for an hour or so.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Steamed pork bun

Last weekend, we went to IKEA. There were a few bits we needed - some bathroom storage, some shelves - but it's always a trial. So as a sweetener, whenever we go to IKEA we also do a side trip to the Chinese supermarket, Wing Yip, which is more or less on the way.

We'd hoped to have yum cha in the Wing Yip restaurant, but when we got there it was utter chaos. A crush of people milling around, trying to attract the attention of the woman handing out seating tickets, but she was also taking bills to tables and collecting money, so we decided it was futile and just hit the supermarket.

There are things (Chinkiang vinegar, different grades of soy sauce) that are now available in supermarkets, so our visits to speciality shops like this are less frequent now than they were when we first moved to the UK. It means we fill our trolley with other things. Frozen dumplings, tofu puffs, sake and some nice lacquered chopsticks. And I spotted these frozen Taiwanese buns, par-cooked, ready for steaming and filling.

I've tried to make my own steamed buns before, but they weren't very good, so this seemed like a much better idea.

For brunch this morning I thawed some leftover barbecued pork belly, covered it with a mixture of hoisin sauce, some dried chilli in oil, a little soy and some Chinkiang vinegar and put it in a hot oven to get crisp around the edges and melting in the middle. In 15 minutes the buns steamed to light fluffiness, ready for filling with the pork and some cucumber and spring onion. Infinitely better than making the buns myself.


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