Friday, 27 November 2009

Her Goose was cooked
by Bella

You used to eat goose at Michaelmas, the quarter day on which rent was due. The goose feast afterwards must have been some compensation for the fiscal transfer. Now we seem to have goose only at Christmas, though you could give it a go for Thanksgiving.
The first goose I ever saw cooked was produced by a woman who turned out to be having an affair with my husband and I hadn't felt much like cooking one since. That is, until one turned up recently in the post, sent by the remarkable outfit Donald Russell. They provide meat for the royal palaces and everything that arrives from them, packed in dry ice in smart white polystyrene boxes, is of really excellent quality.
I thought long and hard about cooking this goose, but in the end used a method so simple and so delicious that I have been kicking myself ever since for not cooking one sooner. It made a fantastic feast for 7 people
Here's how we did it

1 goose roughly 4kg
6 oranges, halved or quartered depending on size
a mix of freshly ground salt and pepper
8 or 9 good sized potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks, boiled for five-7mins and gently floured, for roasting

Preheat the oven to 200c. Wipe the goose, making sure it's completely dry and put it in a roasting dish (make sure goose and dish fit in the oven). Put the oranges inside the cavity, rub the salt pepper on the skin and pour a little water round the bird. Put in the oven for an hour. At the end of the hour, drain off any excess fat into a bowl and reserve. Put the goose back into the oven at a lower temperature (say 180c) and continue to cook until the skin is brown and golden and crisp and any juices run clear (stick a fork into the leg, as this is the bit that takes longest to cook).
One hour or so before the end of cooking time, put the reserved fat into a roasting dish, heat in the oven and add the potatoes. Turn once or twice so that they brown evenly. Serve with the goose and a bowl of red cabbage and a dish of apple sauce.

Red Cabbage
A great accompaniment to goose, or you can turn baked red cabbage into a dish in its own right by adding sausages, pushed into the cabbage mix, about 40 minutes before the end of cooking
serves 6-7

1 medium sized red cabbage
450g cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
450g onions, finely chopped
150ml red wine
150ml wine vinegar
4tblsp brown sugar
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
several strips of orange peel
chopped herbs, eg parsley, sage, thyme
1 teasp ground cloves
half a cinnamon stick

Preheat the oven gas mark 4. Find a deep oven proof casserole and put in a layer of cabbage, a layer of onions and garlic and a layer of apples. Season with salt and pepper, add the herbs sprinkle on half the sugar and half the cloves and add the cinnamon stick. Continue the layers until the casserole is full. Pour in the wine and vinegar. Cover and cook in a very slow oven for 3-4 hours

Apple Sauce
I make apple sauce if I can't find a jar of it in the cupboard, consequently it's a bit of a hit and miss affair, using any ingredients that seem vaguely suitable that I happen to have to hand.

3-4 old apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1-2 cloves
half a cinnamon stick
a bit of lemon peel
knob of butter

Put the apple, cloves, cinnamon stick and lemon peel into a saucepan. Add a little water and put over a low heat until the apple is soft and breaking up. Stir in the butter, put in a fancy dish and serve
Boiling an orange
by Bella

We first met Paul on a beach in Andros. He was cooking a fish on a fire in the dark. It was an exciting meal as it was hard to know whether you were going to get a mouthful of sand or a mouthful of fish. There was lots of wine too, which added to the general sense of danger and well-being. Before the fish was demolished, we'd collected quite a crowd, including a small boy with a rubber dinghy who became my son's inseparable companion for the rest of the holiday. No one ever knew his name, my son maintaining that after spending a week in his company, it was now too late to ask.
The holiday ended, as holidays do and the next time I saw Paul was in our kitchen. He had made the intrepid journey from Bow to Dulwich and arrived on the doorstep clutching an orange.
'I must boil this orange' he stated firmly
'Why?' we said
'It's absolutely vital' said Paul, 'In fact, I have to boil it twice. It's to go in the cake.'
In a house not known for its puddings, cake sounded good but, it transpired, this was a cake not destined for this evening's entertainment but for the next day when Paul's 'other friends' would be benefiting from the boiled orange.
It's hard while eating dinner in a kitchen not to notice the presence of a boiling orange, especially the twice boiled kind, and especially if it's an orange that you're not going to eat or benefit from in any way.
The orange boiling took on the character of some pagan ritual, designed to propitiate the gods. It bubbled and hissed in the background and when it was time to catch his train back to Bow, Paul turned off the orange and took it away with him. I wondered whether it had been some kind of timing device, more tactful than setting an alarm clock
Later he sent a recipe for the cake which he had stolen from his friend Dom. We make it all the time, but the mysterious thing is, that Paul and the cake have never been seen together in our house...

Cake recipe
, which I stole from my friend Dom:

Boil orange (you have probably never seen this done before; many haven't). Change water after first minute of it boiling, then let it simmer away in new water for a couple of hours. Remove. When cool, cut off tiny ends, then quarter. If there are any surviving pips, remove them. Otherwise blend the bejesus out of said orange.

Beat three eggs with 250g sugar until pale and thick. (We've all dated such people.)

Fold in 275g ground almonds and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Add orange pulp. Mix gently.

Cook for an hour at 180 degrees.

Serve with some marscapone mixed with caster sugar, and the juice and zest of one lime to taste.

You can cook cake with poppy seeds if you like.

Take it to someone else's house

Wednesday, 18 November 2009


lost in the annals of time:
This recipe was saved by me, although now I can't remember why or what on the earth the point of it was. It still sounds good, albeit needing an ending...

Cut a small onion into long segments and fry in some butter and olive oil. Add 2 cloves of garlic and 2/3 rashers of bacon cut into small slices. Fry gently until the onions are soft and the bacon is starting to brown. Add in 4/5 chopped chestnut mushrooms and continue to fry until they are soft. Throw in 2 large handfuls of spinach, a generous grating of nutmeg and a bit of white wine, and leave to cook gently with the lid on for about 5 minutes.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

sandwich time

mmm. Sandwich time. The last 20 minutes of This Morning with Philip and Holly and they are making Beouf Bourgignon and hilarious double entendres. I accidentally made an amazing and completely vegetarian sandwich. I had to make another one afterwards in case it was a dream.
Toasted sourdough bread and butter, 2 slices of very soft mozzarella, a handful of spinach leaves, a layer of mashed avocado and a few sprinkles of pizza express orignal dressing. squash it down - all sandwiches taste better squashed - and devour. (I hurt the roof of my mouth) accompanied by a last swig of red orange juice from the carton, 2 cornichons, a small morsel of smoked salmon and a plum. Easily in the top 5 lunches.

Monday, 9 November 2009

fireworks night stew

In a considerable improvement on last year's display, entitled "near-death experience", at least 1/3 of this year's fireworks got into the air and exploded there as planned. To accompany this spectacular event, we needed a cauldron full of hot, spicy, smoky stew.
We also had; hundreds of sausages, onion marmalade, salads, cakes (cherry and almond loaf from Nigella's domestic goddess) and a delicious concoction from Nigel Slater in The Observer magazine, baked potatoes with rillettes (although his assertion that potatoes would need only 1 hour baking was taken well by mum.)
As it turned out, We may as well have been feeding 500 people from a thimble but they were all very polite about it.
feeds about 8-10 people sensible portions.
- 3 thickly sliced chorizo sausages, fried in oil for about 6 minutes, then remove from the pot
- 2 chopped red onions, fried until soft in the oil and chorizo fat.
- add 4/5 small salad potatoes cut into equal sized chunks
- a handful of mini carrots
- 10 cloves of garlic slightly squashed
- 5 tomatoes chopped roughly
- add the chorizo back into the pot
- pour on about a glass of sherry
- an over-enthusiastic heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika, a large pinch of saffron strands, a teaspoon of fennel seeds, and a hesitant sprinkle of chilli powder ground together in a pestle and mortar and stirred in.
- 3 bay leaves, a strand of thyme leaves, and a handful of chopped parsley leaves and stalks.
- 2 tins of chopped tomato and 2 tins of beans (flageolet/haricot)
- 1 litre stock (we had goose but anything would do)
let it simmer away for hours - it was more convenient for us to leave it on very low for most of the day, but you can just simmer away until you like the consistancy and the level of spice.
Served in cups to an army of disappointed pyromaniacs. Thank god there was beer.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

ninja soup

It came from nowhere, no would ever have suspected it...
The kind of evening where everyone's hungry and no one can be bothered to do anything about it. There is very little in the fridge inspiring you, apart from half a bottle of wine. You just have to throw things at a saucepan, and ask everyone not to be picky. In the end this turned out to be quite good, an amalgamation of vaguely Asian ideas put together with odds and ends and hot enough to be comforting and a cure for colds.
- 1 fat clove of garlic, one thumb-sized lump of ginger, 1 small red fiery chilli, a handful of chopped parsley stalks and leaves and about a tbsp frozen chopped lime leaves, blended together with olive oil to make a paste.
- Fry the paste in a deep pan with a bit more oil and a teaspoon of assam paste. (this had been lying around in the fridge, and was included purely because I didn't fully trust the rest of my ingredients to be flavoursome enough. You could instead add a stick of lemongrass and replace the parsley with coriander for a much more authentic and homemade approach.
- After this has fried for a while, add a pint of chicken stock and a can of coconut milk (depending on how much you love coconut you could add more, I LOVE it and always want to break open a second can but I know this to be bad and wrong) and bring to the boil.
- As it's boiling I chuck in some baby new potatoes cut in half and a tablespoon of fish sauce (nam pla) and a squeeze of lime juice.
- After about 5 minutes I also add some quartered tomatoes and some green beans. After a few minutes more I add 2 portions of dried noodles, a packet of bamboo shoots from the "miscellaneous" shelf in the cupboard and 2 handfuls of frozen prawns.
- The timing of this dish is absolute guesswork. but the last few ingredients shouldn't have more than about 4 minutes.
- Serve with an extra squeeze of lime juice.
- The hardest thing about the whole experience is an even distribution of ingredients throughout 4 bowls, and apparently it is not cool to ask someone else to do that for you.

Monday, 2 November 2009

"sorry i couldn't coq it up tonight"

Inspired (sure, we've all been there) by This Morning chef, Phil Vickery, I wanted to make a coq au vin for dinner. He made it look so easy and delicious (whilst being VERY defensive about his method - embarrassed about simplifying things to such an extent that us jobless plebs could understand him...) and having 4 hours to spare of an afternoon, I gave it a go. I used a book called "the french kitchen" for professional guide whilst scrolling through Phil's "quick recap" in my head for comedy value - eg, in most french kitchens they will be able to bring an old coq in....
We only had a whole young chicken so I had to pull my socks up and do some serious butchery like a masterchef: the professionals contestant and joint it into 6 pieces. Worryingly, I found this to be pretty much the most fun you can possibly have in a kitchen, and my brother and the dog lurked around behind me like a 2-headed Monica Galetti pointing out that I had raw chicken in my hair and trying to eat it (respectively).
To accompany the coq au vin i made some parsnip mash with two ludicrously huge parsnips that had been sent to us in the post. Despite being by far the simplest part of the menu it was actually delicious, due to the last minute judgement on seasoning by my sister.

Parsnip mash
-Put 2 parsnips peeled and chopped into evenish chunks, on to boil for about 20 minutes or just until they are tender.
- when they are done and drained, mash them up gradually, adding double cream bit by bit and a pinch of salt and bit of grated nutmeg. When the mash has reached a consistency you like, stir through a knob of butter letting its melt slowly in and serve.

When we'd finished eating I recieved the above title in a text from a friend that I'd invited to dinner. awesome.