Archive Page 2

Sugar & spice pulled pork

boston butt

I’ve been living the life of an unenthusiastic vegetarian. Let me tell you, its been drastic. Good meat has been hard to source is West Virginia and so my team and I have decided to go veggie rather than support the likes of Perdue and Tyson or any other CAFO for that matter. Put a bunch of foodies together and snobbery tends to escalate. The only hitch is that I’ve come to discover, rather unpleasantly that dairy in my digestive tract is like a kids party on a bouncy castle. I trust your imagination will provide the more gruesome details.

Vegetarian living has involved eating more than my five suggested servings of  fruits and vegetables a day but no matter how good that makes me feel- seven weeks of eating like this and I’m bored stiff. That’s B-O-R-E-D. I would rather pour acid in my eyes than eat another carrot stick right now.

So, it goes without saying that when I spent last weekend at my parents house the first thing on my mind was to head to the farmers market and buyt a gorgeous piece of grass-fed meat. I actually drove the three hour journey after a full days shooting so that I would be there in time for the morning farmers market. That’s dedication, okay, okay- desperation.

boston butt

Having waited so long, I mustered up the willpower to wait a few more hours in order to cook my favourite slow-cooked pork. Fifteen hours to be exact- but let me tell you it was so, so worth it. Like giving up sugar for Lent and then going crazy for chocolate on Easter- I was in heaven. Talk about a food high. Crisp sweet and spicy crackling with juicy tender, oh so tender meat. Meat you don’t need a knife to cut- more like a spoon to touch before it tumbles with graceful ease off of the bone.

Like all love affairs, the pleasure of being a carnivore again ended too quickly. Before I knew it I was back in my hotel, a vegetarian.  Until next weekend, anyway.
pulled pork

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English scones, revisited

scones

Is it just me or have things cooled down quite dramatically in the past two weeks? I’m running in a long sleeve tee-shirt and sweats, my feet have demanded my Ugg boots to make a reappearance and I’ve eaten soup the past three days. I could be wrong, but something says that winter is poking it’s chilly head around the corner, to me.

Being that I’ve spend the past six weeks in West Virginia, around a bunch of English crew I’ve been feeling a few pangs for food from home, and not my Brooklyn home. Perhaps it’s the offerings of Galaxy chocolate and Walker’s Shortbread but I’m now dreaming about Yorkshire puddings, curries (because everyone knows they are practically English) and scones. With clotted cream and jam, of course.

I’ve made these before but I think you’ll forgive me once you make them. They make me feel ever so British, even in a place where people prefer biscuits and say things like hey, ya’ll. But don’t you go pronouncing them Sc-owns- it’s more like Skons where I come from. A sc-own is what you’ll find behind the glass in Starbucks- not an ounce of authenticity, I’ll have you know.

These have a crisp outer shell, which when you slice it open presents a soft buttery pillow of layers- the perfect bed for a slathering of clotted cream and jam. Oh, yes. Or perhaps I should say Yee-ha!

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Bouchons au thon

Buchons au thon

I hate those mini quiches you get served at parties- the kind where there’s more pastry than filling and if that weren’t bad enough, the pastry is loaded with a multitude of ingredients none of which sound much like butter. But as much as I think it’s important to get the right pastry, I know all too well that eating quiches everyday is not good for the waistline or rearline for that matter. These are little pastry-less quiches, which you can by all means make bigger but I’m a big fan of the perfect bite. Make them bigger and you can serve them with a light salad for lunch or serve little bites warm at a party.

Now, don’t start getting all cross with me that I’ve omitted a rich butter crust and you can stop being snooty about the fact that I’ve used canned tuna. These little bites are full of flavour- and plenty of creamy fats like crème fraîche and gruyère cheese, so you won’t feel shortchanged that there’s no butter.

buchons au thon

The recipe is adapted, but I kept the name because it sounds, and I think you’ll agree, so much more intriguing than pastry-less quiche or tuna quiche without the pastry. Buchons do make them sound a little hardwork but I can assure you that you will have these mixed in one bowl and in the oven in 10 minutes. Which is more than can be said for any quiche that demands a homemade crust. But I’ll let you be the judge.

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Raspberry & hazelnut brownies

For any of you who were wondering-Don’s coping just fine without me. He’s been cooking up a storm at home- fish pie, beef stew with dumplings (with dumplings!), Thai green curry, the best pasta bake ever made in the world (the man’s own words) and these chocolate and raspberry brownies. It was not supposed to be this way. He was supposed to struggle and live off of the frozen packages that I left him. He was supposed to call for directions on reheating and sheepishly admit that yes, he did order another pizza in. He wasn’t supposed to thrive in my absence!
raspberry & hazelnut brownie

He made these brownies with a mate and in two weeks time he’s having a dinner party- a dinner party! I’m a afraid to come home! What if I don’t fit into my little slot in our home. What if we fight over who gets to cook dinner or whose spaghetti bolognase is better!? What if he decides he doesn’t need me around anymore!? Well, at least I know my little fish needs me- I know he’s not getting fed as often as he’d like.

Decadent chocolate & raspberry brownies

The only comforting thing I can think of right now is these raspberry and hazelnut brownies. They are sensational, if I do say so myself. But what recipe with three bars of Green & Blacks 70% cocoa chocolate isn’t sensational? Melted down with butter so their fudgy and dense, bound with a smattering of toasted ground hazelnuts and then dotted with sweet and sour tasting raspberries and it’s hello, lover.

Can I even call these brownies? You probably won’t ever see them piled on a cake stand. No, no you’ll probably scoop it straight from the tin, and don’t be surprised if you feel an overwhelming urge to hide yourself away with the whole batch and a spoon. Best to whip these up with a partner in crime to prevent any rash behaviour.

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Chermoula-spiced hummus

chermoula-spiced hummus

I know I’ve done a lot of complaining of late- West Virginia, being homesick, living in a hotel room. Yes, yes. I know. I’m a right old bore when I’m working on a show.

But the thing is, I haven’t really finished my moaning yet. Sorry- it’s all I’ve got to give you tonight. I’ve just worked three sixteen hour days in a row- that’s six working days for the price of three for any normal person out there. Six! And it’s only Wednesday. And if forty-eight hours by Wednesday isn’t bad enough, which frankly, it is-  there’s another unlucky sixteen hours to come- starting at oh, about about 4 am tomorrow. And another sixteen everyday for the next ten days. Oh geez, will this two weeks ever end! I’m certainly not getting paid enough for all these hours. Note to self- must be a better negotiator for day rate on next job.

So please, tread carefully around me- I’m feeling a little overworked. A little under-inspired and every so cranky. I hate not having time to write- not feeling inspired to write not being able to get in my kitchen so I have something to write about! It’s quite the predicament I’m in.

Okay, okay moaning over. Lets talk hummus. On long days shooting when I find myself eating three four meals a day at work, standing at a counter, it’s hard to hold back the temptation not to attack the crew snack table with those amazing doughnuts with the chocolate glaze dripping off the sides. So, I take hummus- and lots of vegetables- it’s healthy, it keeps those sugar cravings at bay and it’s the perfect food for grazing on when mealtimes cease to exist. I’m not going to lie, hummus is no match to a fresh chocolate glazed doughnut but it’s a tasty way to fill your tummy up and it won’t make your blood sugar crash.

chermoula spiced hummus

When I first moved to New York, I was thoroughly disappointed with the hummus I could find.  Actually, lets be honest, I’m still thoroughly disappointed but now I just make my own. Only, it’s different.  I gave up trying to make it like it is in the UK- (if somebody could tell me how they make it so deliciously tangy I would love to know the secret) and now I spice it up with my basil chermoula pesto.  You can use any other white beans, but I just adore chickpeas. If I open up a can I’ve gobbled half a dozen before they’ve even made it in the blender or hummus, or this curry or this salad. Lets be honest, some days they don’t make it in the blender- I just pop ’em in my mouth like peanuts. On days that they do though (make it in the blender that is), I make this dip. it has a spicy, herby, citrusy note to it and you can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. And seeing as I don’t have much control over the hours I work, having control over the consistency of my food is important.

The recipe below makes enough chermoula for two big batches of hummus- because if you’re going to go to all that effort of pressing buttons on a food processor then you may as well make a big batch. And trust me after sixteen hours working, turning the blender on is an effort. Plus, for me it means it lasts all week and on occasion I’ll share it with my colleagues. But now I must get some sleep. My veggies are chopped, my hummus is prepped. Sixteen hours, you say? Pah! Bring it on!

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Cheese & walnut choux puffs revisited

cheese & walnut choux puffs

My temporary abode in West Virginia has presented me with a number of firsts. I have experienced my first Chili fest, my first ‘shoot & hollar’ competition, (which is a story in itself). Then there was singing karaokee in a real karaokee bar, celebrating Rosh hashana which in turn led to my first time trying Mazo ball soup and Gefilte fish.

Then there have been the less inspiring firsts. I’ve seen how a fast food restaurant operates  from product development through service. I’ve met a disturbingly large number of people who actually believe that Kraft Mac & Cheese is home-cooking and I’ve seen first-hand how rubbish the USDA’s guidelines for kids’ school lunches are. Like I said, there have been a lot of firsts for me.

Which is why for the next two weeks things might be a bit quiet around here- there are people to teach how to cook, school lunch ladies to fight with and fast food restaurants to be turned around. It’s all a part of an exciting project that I’m working on- I promise I will give details down the line, but for now I’m signed to secrecy. Anyway, now for something that’s not a first for me- gougeres, or choux-puffs as I prefer to call them.

Gougeres is one of the only French words I don’t like…I guess it reminds me too much of the word goo which in turn reminds me of what a lot of people seem to eat down here in West Virginia. There’s nothing gooey about these little golden puffs. They are crispy on the outside and comfortingly doughy on the inside. You’ll want to eat them straight from the oven before they sink and go squidgy (but even then they still taste rather good). I’ve made these before but this time I added a few spices for a little extra oomph- and I think you’ll be pleased with the result.  I like to serve them with a spring onion and chive yogurt dip as a pre-dinner nibble but they are frankly bloody good in place of popcorn whilst watching a film, sandwiched with a wedge of cheese for a snack or for lunch with a salad, in place of a roll. I love a versatile recipe.

This photo was taken by my fabulous photographer friend Dan, who also photographed these. He tells me my food looks blue when I photograph it so I’m rather pleased he stepped in to show me how its done. Thanks, Dan!

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Empty fridge fritatta

salmon & leek fritatta

Nothing gives me great satisfaction than clearing out the contents of my fridge. Don will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll simply reply the fridge (in a mad professor sort of way). There are a few lucky ingredients that I always try to have stocked and running out of them warrants immediate replacement- eggs, butter, greek yogurt, saracha chili sauce, dijon mustard, parmesan. But then there are those, which make fleeting appearances- flavours of the month, so to speak. I know, I’m so fickle with my favourites. Thank god for Don, I’m not fickle with my husbands.

This past month it was roasted smoked salmon- I had two large pieces and found myself scattering them over salads, into pasta and then finally the last 100g went into a brunch fritatta. Our friend Marc played victim to my tipping-the-entire-fridge-into-a-pan-experiment. We have a nice little routine going on with Marc- he comes over on Saturday mornings and plays personal trainer/army drill sargent to Don and I.  We in return reward him for having acheived making us do burpees and push-ups by making him breakfast. I can’t be certain but I’m beginning to think that he may have the better end of the deal.

We’re always ravenous on return so breakfast has to be on the table quickly. One weekend last month I ended up making this fritatta- which not only warmed and comforted our empty bellies but also served the dual purpose of clearing out my fridge. And that left me feeling rather chuffed.

salmon & leek fritatta

It seems as though there’s a little bit of everything in here- well I guess there is. It is an emptying the fridge fritatta after all. But don’t feel like you have to stick by my fridge contents- the first time I made it I actually used yellow peppers courgettes and onions in place of the leeks. If you don’t have the salmon, you could use ham or bump up the amount of chorizo. Or drop the meat altogether. Just don’t drop the eggs- they happen to be the important part- the glue, so to speak. And just because I called them glue doesn’t mean you should skimp on them- delicious eggs come from happy hens who roam grassy fields pecking for plump grubs. I try to buy mine from the farmer’s market. Serve it with a fresh loaf of bread or a simple green salad, depending on hunger levels. And if you’re daring a drizzle of saracha chili sauce wouldn’t go amiss either.

This recipe is a contirbution to winos and foodies LIVESTRONG with a taste of yellow in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and to raise awareness of cancer issues worldwide. It seemed appropriate to me to share a recipe that in the making involved doing something to keep fit and healthy. The official Livestrong day is October 2nd and you can go to winos and foodies to see all the entries.

salmon & leek fritatta

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