Sunday, 28 February 2010

Pear and Cardamon Crumbles

I made these in individual large ramekins to use up a glut of pears from our Abel and Cole vegetable box. Serves 5.

5 or 6 pears depending on size
75g plain flour
10g porridge oats
85g butter
75g vanilla sugar plus a little to sprinkle on top
6 cardamom pods (seeds only, ground)

Work the butter and flour and oats together until a breadcrumb texture is achieved. Add the sugar and cardamom. Dice the pears and share between the individual ramekins or in a single dish. Loosely spread the topping on top sprinkle a little extra sugar on top then cook for 20-30 minutes in a 200C oven until the top is browning. Serve with custard or ice-cream.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Swordfish with Lentils

Cooked during my stay in a cosy apartment in York, just about the only holiday let that I've stayed in that had decent pots and knives. Other firm white fish (monkfish or haddock) would work just as well (as long as it wasn't hacked about by the person doing the filleting as ours was). Serves 4 (for a change!)

4 fillets of firm white fish
Two large handfuls of Puy lentils
Two or three carrots
One red onion
2 cloves garlic
4-6 small tomatoes
6-8 black olives

Fry the finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil till transparent. Add the finely diced carrot and fry again for a few minutes before adding the olives (pitted and halved). Add the chopped tomatoes, some dried herbs, the lentils and enough stock (or water) to cover.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are cooked, try not to let the lentils boil dry as they will burn on the bottom of the pan.
When the lentils are almost cooked, season and pan fry the fish and serve on top of the lentils along with some sugar snap peas and green beans for a contrasting texture and colour.

York - Food Heaven or Food Hell

I have just returned from a fun weekend in York for the 25th Jorvik Viking Festival. As I was travelling with a trio of foodies it makes sense to review the food options in the city.

Good points:
York has a food and general market with a fine range of produce. In particular we liked the cheese, fish and meat providers at the Shambles end of the market. Fruit and veg stalls in the market were also good and if I had been staying longer I would have been tempted by the pale pink forced rhubarb from the infamous Rhubarb Triangle.
The York Coffee Emporium in High Petergate stocks a small range of fine coffees and teas and the friendly and knowledgeable staff are willing to advise.
There was also a market in Parliament while we were there and if you were prepared to dodge the vikings sipping lattes and queuing at cash points you would have found tasty pork pies, fresh breads, olives and good cheeses.

Bad Points:
Only one really and I can't lay this at York's door, but I would like to butcher the person who filleted the haddock in M&S that we bought for our supper (fish stall had shut by the time we go to the market). It was hacked into a random shape, possibly with a knife though it could have been chewed into shape to be honest!

Overall then York is more food heaven than hell.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Power of Five - Ingredients

There are a number of ingredients that I always like to have in my store cupboard.

Oak Smoked Paprika
- Gives a wonderful flavour to tomato based sauces, sweetly savoury with smoky overtones.

Lentils - Red lentils add a earthy richness to soups and tomato based pasta sauces. Green lentils work well with strong flavoured sausages and pan fried duck breasts.

Chick Peas - Added to a chicken curry or a vegetable one with chunks of potato. Added to couscous with tinned tuna, red onions, cherry tomatoes and lots of parsley and coriander and perhaps a finely chopped red chilli.

Chilli Sambal - Foxes do a range of wonderful chilli sambals with roasted onions and garlic which are fabulous as a relish, thinned down as a dipping sauce or added to mayonnaise to flavour a pasta salad.

Frozen Cranberries - I buy lots when they are in season as they add a wonder flavour to porridge (yes really), stuffing, home made chutneys and smoothies with mango and passion fruit.