My mother is one of the world’s great food hoarders. Her freezer is always packed so full that when you open the freezer door things invariably tumble out: half a dozen New York bagels in a plastic bag, a Tupperware container of chicken stock, frozen leftovers, frozen packages of butter. The refrigerator is the same. Growing up, I did not realize that this was anything but normal. I’d look in friends’ refrigerators and think, “Where is the FOOD?” It should go without saying that this condition, if not hereditary, at least must create a strong genetic predisposition. I am always ready for the apocalypse; I reckon that I could feed myself and a small band of hardy survivors for at least a few months, although I do wonder what I’d do when I run out of cat food. Continue reading
I have three rules when cooking and eating fish: 1) eat sustainably; 2) only eat it if it’s fresh; and 3) do as little as possible to it. When I was younger and possibly more obsessive-compulsive than I am now, I strictly limited myself to five ingredients when cooking fish, not including salt. Yes, it was an unnecessarily lunatic culinary flourish, but it also taught me to respect the fish. The mark of a well-prepared fish dish is that two hours after you’ve eaten it, the flavor that you remember is the fish, not the accompaniments or the sauce. Continue reading
Last week a new friend of mine, Nicola (a brilliant cook and blogger in her own right), crowed on Twitter about a recent discovery: she’d found loads of wild garlic at a Secret Location. I immediately demanded to be taken to the spot. She agreed, but not before exacting a “wild garlic tax” (some of my orange-blossom-saffron-vanilla macarons). It was an easy trade. I adore wild garlic. Wild garlic, also known as ramps, wild leek, and wood leek, grows in cool damp woody areas. Its colour is strikingly chlorophyll green and it’s got a sharp allium flavour and intense aroma. It’s gorgeous stuff. Monday, the appointed day, was cool and very wet. Nicola picked me up from an Overground station, her sweet and excitable dog, Toro, in the back of the car, and drove us to the Secret Location, a lovely wooded path Somewhere In London. Continue reading
Last week I made Jamaican jerk sauce. As I explained in the blog post about that recipe, the traditional, and best, way to cook with Jamaican jerk is to barbecue – and by barbecue I mean slow cooking, indirect heat, and plenty of smoke. However it is winter, and I have neither a grill nor a garden. On a particularly nasty day last week, when it was cold and gray and an icy rain was falling, more than anything I wanted to eat food that would make think of warm weather (this is a recurring theme for me). Jerk sauce has such a lovely mix of flavours that it functions well as a marinade even if it’s not being used on the grill, and I was itching to give my sauce a test run, barbecue or no barbecue. So I decided I’d use it with fish. Continue reading
The exciting new development in my life, and the reason why I haven’t been blogging this week, is that I’ve moved. In every way this is a good thing. I’ve got a whole new part of London to explore, this flat feels mine in a way that my previous flat never did (even though I’ve only unpacked half my stuff and I lived in the other flat for two years), and it gets tons of light all day long. While delightful generally, from the perspective of my food blog this is FANTASTIC, as it means that I’ve got wonderful natural light to play with when photographing the things I cook. And let’s face it. On the internet, at least, we eat with our eyes, and fluorescent lighting doesn’t do food any favours. The bad news is that my budget is even more constrained, which probably means much less dining out and more home cooking. But I love to cook, and this hopefully will inspire me to be creative in cooking delicious food for relatively little money.
Which brings me to sardines. Continue reading
In the Rue Montorgeuil, in Paris, is a fishmonger who’s got my number. Not literally! (Not yet, anyway.) He knows I can’t resist nice seafood – and, more than that, he knows I eat everything. Yesterday, as I was walking past, he beckoned me over. It was a hot day and most of the seafood was covered or in boxes. He lifted the lid of a Styrofoam box like he was unveiling a great secret. Inside were beautiful little bright silvery fish, 10 euros a kilo! In French, éperlan. In English, SMELT! Continue reading
I don’t understand why it is SO DIFFICULT to find affordable fresh fish in London. England’s an ISLAND, people!
Anyway, two and a half hours away by Eurostar is a seafood mecca. It’s called PARIS, which is where I am as I write this. You can hate me later. Today at the Rue Montorgeuil market I bought four beautiful, extremely fresh sea bass (en français, “bar”) for 10 euros and half a kilo of girolles for 2 euros. My philosophy with fish is that the fresher it is, the less you want to mess with it. Continue reading
I’ve been on a Moroccan food kick for the past couple of years, at least. I’d even say Moroccan food is my comfort food, and I cook it at home frequently. I cooked this fish this evening Continue reading