Cookbook Club: Nigel Slater’s Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food

This past Sunday we finally got around to hosting a new Cookbook Club evening. It was, in truth, four friends meeting for dinner but cooking from the same book – this time, Nigel Slater’s Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food but it was super amounts of fun, laughter and excellent food. Everyone made two dishes, because (we thought naively), the dishes seemed small and the whole point of Cookbook Club is to get a taste of everything. (We made lunchboxes for Monday with the leftovers).

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Collectively we made: pancetta-crumbed mozzarella salad (which I used bacon for as I couldn’t find pancetta); pork ribs with honey and pomegranate molasses; tomato foccacia with ricotta; summer herb rolls; rice cakes; lentils, peas and grilled salmon; and to finish: mango and passionfruit mess. Micky proved her foccacia dough in her car, driving to her grandparents in Gloucester in the morning. And her tomatoes came from her mum’s garden! (None of the rest of us was quite that cool.) I made the meringues from scratch, as I had frozen egg whites that needed using.

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Brown Sugar Meringues

120g egg white

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

160g golden caster sugar

40g demerara sugar

40g light brown sugar

Whisk the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks. Add in the cream of tartar and whisk briefly. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time until glossy, thick and stiff.

Preheat the oven to 100C. Line a baking tray with a silpat mat or baking paper. If using baking paper, use teaspoons of the meringue to secure the corners of the parchment to the tray.

Scoop the meringue onto the tray using a dessert spoon. Bake for two hours then switch off the oven and leave overnight.

Combine with cream and fruit!

Next month we are cooking from the Hairy Biker cookbooks.

Reading List (23/8)

The story of Staplehouse may make you cry.

Life advice, on art and being an artist.

Photographs of abandoned houses in the Outer Hebrides. (Desperately need to plan a trip to Scotland soon.)

Learning self-control in school.

What should chefs be doing about hunger?

These are really beautiful photographs of food scenes inspired by literature.

A ‘fantastical look at everyday life‘.

Some words from Rachel, who I haven’t linked to in a while.

New Eater Upsell podcast episodes! I thoroughly enjoyed this week’s conversation with Andrew Zimmern. And a funny conversation on The Sporkful about waiting in line for pizza.

Now I have a craving for coffee cake. With cardamon.

My friend Paula linked to this video on her Facebook page yesterday. Such a wonderful way to think about living, about trying to be present in the moment, and remembering to dance to the music. And whilst we’re on the question of how to live well, the Harvard Grant Study reveals some interesting things about relationships, community and longevity.

Chefs talking about the meal that inspired them to cook professionally.

 

 

 

The Everyday Table: Slow-cooked Lamb

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This is slow cooking for a lazy (and cautiously autumnal) Saturday afternoon. It was inspired by Felicity Cloake’s latest ‘perfect’ article in The Guardian this week – on kleftiko lamb. I love the idea of a one-pot meal but don’t have too many in my repertoire. I marinated the shoulder of lamb (only 800g necessary for the two of us for several days) in cinnamon, oregano, juice of half a lemon and garlic, as suggested by Cloake. But I only had three hours before it needed to go into the oven. Next time I will be organised and marinate it overnight. I cooked the lamb in a crock pot on top of a bed of potatoes (cut into chunks), the ends of several peppers that were on the out in the fridge (there are always portions of peppers in my fridge. I never really believed in cultural staples until Andrés moved in and brought with him tins of tuna and peppers), a few bulbs of garlic sliced in half, half a lemon squeezed, a red onion cut into wedges, a handful of various tomatoes I had, and of course, the lamb. I baked this all (with some water, as suggested), covered at 160C for nearly four hours. Then I added in sliced carrots and peas. I followed the instructions to turn up the heat for the last fifteen or so minutes and cook without the lid on.The meat was succulent and falling off the bone. The vegetables soft and tender and amazingly fragrant. Definitely going to make this again.

 

The Everyday Table: Tomato Galette and Lentil Salad

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Wednesday evening dinner: inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s lentil salad and The Violet Bakery Cookbook’s tomato and marjoram tarts. I used the flaky pastry from Violet, which I swear is the best and easiest flaky pastry I have made in forever. I bought loads of tomatoes at the weekend and simply filled the tart with these, all sliced in half. I brushed the folded edges with egg wash and then baked it at 200C for approximately 35 minutes. It could probably have done with some more time in the oven (just to crisp it a little further) but we were hungry. (We didn’t eat until 10pm because I had a meeting at 7pm so I prepped everything before I left and came home to finish it off.) For the salad, I followed the instructions on SK – using the same amount of lentils and courgettes. I used a banana shallot and one clove of garlic. I didn’t measure the dressing ingredients, choosing to just wing it to taste. We fried cubes of halloumi instead of burrata and added in tinned red peppers that Andrés found in the cupboard, unlabeled. This is one of my favourite summer dinners. It is a little bit of work to throw together but is delicious and most of it can be made in advance.

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The Everyday Table: Hummus, Shakshuka and Pita

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Dinner inspiration this weekend came from two sources. First from Molly Yeh and her post on humshuka (hummus and shakshuka). I served my shakshuka and hummus separately as I fancied a multi-flavour, pick and choose sort of vibe. Then, I made broad bean puree from Diana Henry’s A Change of Appetite which I bought because a) I love her writing and b) I was looking to expand (!!!) the cookbook collection to some more everyday cooking-type books. We are currently very heavily weighted in favour of baking and dessert books, which is awesome but not practical for everyday dinner inspo. (My mom messaged me last week to say she had unpacked 13 chocolate recipe books. A cookbook store is in my destiny I tell you.) I even made the pita breads from scratch (it was Saturday after all). I served it with some feta (sprinkled with za’atar), a fresh tomato salad (tomatoes, Greek basil, olive oil, salt and pepper) and olives.

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Reading List (16/8)

Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm. I have plans to read their book A Farm on the Roof over my holiday (which begins in 10 days!!!)

Massimo Bottura on sustainability and food waste.

Cured.

Should red velvet cake always have cream cheese icing? This perfect recipe suggests not but I am a staunch red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting believer.

Piccalilli.

The Roca brothers are on tour.

Chefs, substance abuse, jail time and recovery.

A bakehouse in east London and a bakery in Kenya.

Urban agriculture and food security.

I listened to a load of podcasts this past week. Favourites included On Being’s conversation with Paulo Coehlo (which I listened to twice and will probably listen to at least one more time) as well as their conversation with Joanna Macy. Coehlo talks about love as being more powerful than anything else, ‘the love that consumes’ and uses the Greek word ‘agape’ to describe this love. ‘We do not need explanations for everything, we need to fill our lives with love, and as love does not have explanations, okay, let’s simply enjoy‘. This week on Brainpickings Maria Popova writes about Proust and the way we try to intellectualise love, rather than listen to ‘the wisdom of the heart‘.

I also listened to Kat Kinsman over on Radio Cherry Bombe talking about mental health issues in the food industry. The website she has set up ‘Chefs with Issues‘ is a fantastic step in starting the conversation about wellbeing at work.

Allotments in pictures.

New chef crush: Maya Lovelace of Mae in Portland, Oregon.

Strawberries on the Radio 4 Food Programme. I do love listening to Jeremy Lee talk about strawberries: ‘a shocking exuberance that just needs tempering‘.

On figs. Blueberry pie!

Michael Pollan, 10 years on from The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Totally making Ruth Reichl’s grilled cheese sandwich sometime this week.

I found a new blog yesterday. It is called Eat Me Blog and it is just super. It is written by a woman called Sasha, based in the Ukraine and details her Slow Living Project, cakes and the life of her cafe.

On eating weird, bad foods.

I got my hands on a copy of Unfinished Business: Men Women Work Family which I have been wanting to read for absolute ages. I’m only 20 pages or so in but so far it is compelling. And also depressing.

This! I love the look of this illustrated life of Julia Child. Someone buy it for me please?

The Everyday Table: Pad Thai

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Whenever I am ill I crave super spicy foods. So last week, when I was bed ridden, this was all I wanted for dinner. But neither of us could be bothered to trek to get the ingredients so we only got round to making it on Monday. It is super easy to pull together once you’ve got all the elements sorted (although sorting is a *little bit of a pain/does take a small amount of effort) and so this is a proper weeknight dinner. I followed a recipe from deliciousmagazine.co.uk and covered my portion in extra coriander and chilli.