Cheddar, Cider, and Leek Soup

Why is it that when it’s cold and icky outside, hot food tastes so much better in liquid form? When I say it’s “soup weather’, what I really want is to be enveloped in soup. I want a soup hug. I told my father on a particularly gray and unpleasant day last week that I was making a cheddar, cider, and leek soup. He said it sounded “disgusting.” My father is wrong. This soup is GREAT – it’s like a lazy afternoon in a warm pub when it’s chilly outside, in a bowl, for lunch. Continue reading

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Foraging and Cooking with Wild Garlic

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

Braised Pheasant with Lentils

The great revelation for me when I moved to London was the availability of affordable game. In the United States, unless you hunt or know someone who does, it is very difficult to find anything more exotic than duck without paying through the nose for it. (Even duck is prohibitively expensive.) This is particularly true in New York City, where I grew up. Wild game? Forget about it. So it was with great excitement (seriously) that I realized in London, not only could I find game, I could actually afford it and get really good at cooking it. Continue reading

Fig, Leek, Blue Cheese, and Rosemary Flatbreads

Flatbreads are a lovely appetizer at a dinner party. The trick is planning ahead: if you make your dough and prep your toppings well ahead of time, assembly and baking takes only a few minutes. Easy peasy, right? This recipe is made with a yeast dough, with a slow, cold fermentation, somewhat similar to some pizza doughs. (The cold fermentation helps develop flavour.) Also like a pizza, the flatbreads are baked at a high temperature, which yields a crisp crust and nice caramelisation on top. Figs, blue cheese and rosemary are a natural combination for the topping; the leeks add sweetness, moisture, and depth. But really, you can top your flatbreads with anything you like. Continue reading

Roasted Sea Bass with Melted Leeks and Girolles

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

Braised Shoulder of Venison with Damsons and Juniper

It is autumn.

YESSSS.

I love cooking in the summer (although I must admit I love it a wee bit less now that I don’t have a grill or a garden) but I REALLY love autumn food. In London, meat purveyors start selling game at prices I can afford and the weather is cool enough so that braised meats are exactly what you want for dinner. Last weekend I took my dad to the Marylebone Farmer’s Market where, as usual, I indulged my addiction to Guernsey cream (more about how I used that in another post), bought some beautiful ripe damsons, and got a gorgeous venison shoulder. Venison in general is a very lean meat, and venison shoulder is a chunk of muscle that gets worked a lot. The best thing to do with a piece of meat like this is braise the hell out of it. Continue reading