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Showing posts from June, 2011

SIMPLE SUPPER - CHAKCHOUKA

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Also known as 'Tunisian Eggs', this is a popular and regular supper dish in my house. I've been making it for years, ever since I discovered those delicious Middle Eastern spicy lamb sausages called mergeuz. I used to buy them at Harvey Nicks food hall, until I discovered my local fishmonger (Sandy's in Twickenham) sold their own, homemade version (along with a great selection of other sausages, including boerwoers, venison and cajun - great for barbecues!). I have also found merguez sausages at the Whole Food Market, Kensington, and in various Middle Eastern delis and supermarkets on Goldborne Road (good for Middle Eastern ingredients generally).

Chakchouka is a popular breakfast dish in north Africa, and there are several variants. For vegetarians, you can of course omit the sausages. I love the eggs which are cooked on top of the ragu of tomatoes and peppers, and I sometimes add slices of Halloumi, that squeaky Middle Eastern sheeps' milk cheese. I serve Chakcho…

MY SUMMER SPECIALS

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As London broiled on the hottest day of the year (so far), and those of us who had to use the Tube today cursed the lack of air-conditioning, my foodie thoughts turned to long, cold drinks and light but piquantly-flavoured dishes. In between these foodie musings, I was doing my 'other' job, as a music reviewer for Bachtrack.com, enjoying a lunchtime Schubert recital in the relatively cool Wigmore Hall. When I got home, I had to teach, an extra lesson for a student, not one of mine (though soon to be, officially), who is taking her Grade 2 exam next week. The heat made her sloppy and forgetful, and when I sat at the piano to play through the aural exercises, the keys felt sticky, in all senses of the word. After she left, I downed half a pint of Diet Coke, a drink I normally eschew, but sometimes it's surprisingly refreshing. Then I wrote my review for Bachtrack; by the time I'd tried - and failed - to think of a snappy title for the article, it was 7pm, so I went to th…

CRISPY AROMATIC DUCK - FRAN-STYLIE

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Forgive the Jamie-esque title of this post: but I couldn't stop myself.....

Last week, I went to the new oriental supermarket in Kingston (near John Lewis) and purchased a shed-load of exotic ingredients which I will probably only use once before consigning to the back of the larder where they will moulder away with all those other curious condiments I bought thinking "that looks interesting" - such as lavender cordial from the south of France (never tried) and Italian fruits in mustard (also never tried). The herbs were so cheap at the Asian supermarket, that I made two vats of green Thai curry sauce, and then chucked the rest of the kaffir lime leaves away because they were turning brown. Of course, I should have dried them for future use, but there was Liszt to be practised and Schubert to be refined: sometimes it ain't easy being a cook AND a pianist....


I love crispy aromatic duck, that staple of your local Chinese restaurant. I don't actually eat it at my l…

A HANDFUL OF THIS, A DOLLOP OF THAT....

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I'm not very good at following recipes, except for things like cakes and pastry where the right quantities of ingredients are required for the special chemistry to work to achieve the desired end result, and often the best meals are the ones which are the result of chucking in a bit of this or a handful of that, and seeing what happens.

This is how my 'Asian-inspired seared beef salad' came about, and the subject of this post. I ate a rather delicious seared beef salad at Wagamama a few weeks ago. Usually, when I eat at Wagamama I have No. 40 ('Yaki Soba') or No. 42 ('Yaki Udon'), or, if I need something warming, No. 35 ('Kare Lomen' - prawns and noodles in a curried coconut sauce). But I'm on a low-carb regime at the moment (boring, I know, but necessarily), and it was a hot day, and I'd just walked along the river from Twickenham, so I opted for No. 67 Ginger Beef and Coriander Salad, marked "new" on the menu.

I'm a big fan o…

FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER WITH FRIENDS

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The clouds looked very threatening when we set off for supper in Hampton Hill, and Other Half had a bad back, so a stroll which usually takes about 15 minutes was likely to be far longer. We'd only got to the end of our road when the lowering dark grey clouds decided to dump their load of rain on us. Sheltering under a tree for 10 mins with a broken umbrella, we debated whether to walk home to get the car: in the end, we caught the R68 bus....

Arriving at our friends' house, we were greeted with glasses of chilled wine and cold beer, intriguing and delicious canapes (a twist on those Chinese pancakes more usually wrapped around crispy aromatic duck), and lots of cheerful "thank God it's Friday" conversation in the kitchen. The theme of the food was most definitely oriental, more specifically, Thai - a cuisine which I've struggled to master, so much so that I have given up trying, preferring to make green or red curry out of a bought paste. The food was wonder…