Sunday, 21 September 2008

Naked Lunch

It seems I strangely have something in common with loony US senator Sarah Palin - I have the utmost respect for fig trees. Whilst John McCain's running mate is more impressed by the fig tree's ability to provide cover for mankind's naughty bits, my love of the fig tree relates to its fruit rather than its leaves. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve should really have spent less time worrying about their modesty, and more time picnicking on fancy fig dishes before another game of naked frisbee.

If you ever need a dish that's low on hassle but high on glamour, try this one. It's a simple fig and fennel salad as served at The French Laundry and even a child could make it. That's a child with no Michelin stars. It's just sliced figs, roasted peppers, a fennel salad, and a balsamic and olive oil dressing. Its simplicity belies its flavour and texture. The crisp fennel counters the moist, giving fig which explodes, seeds and all, in the mouth. It looks pretty fancy too. Let's face it, if this was served up in the Garden of Eden, all eyes would be on the plate rather than Adam's dangly bits so there'd be no need for fig leaves anyway.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Ricotta Hotcakes with Caramelised Pears and Greek Yoghurt

In a word, fluffy.

Fluffy as in the pillows you had your head on a few hours ago rather than fluffy, the contents of your bellybutton.

Whisked egg whites are incorporated into the ricotta pancake batter making the finished mix more like a soufflé. The result? Expanding air bubbles and hotcakes that puff up for a lovely light breakfast or brunch dish. Goodbye greasy fry-up. Hello hotcakes!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Review: Hawksmoor

The baking has got me a bit worried. I need to do something a bit manly or my life will be completely out of balance. My yin's up here, my yang's down there. Basically there's a whole yin yang yoyo thing going on and it's making me dizzy. Maybe I could grab a large axe and go chop some wood in a forest somewhere. Perhaps I could try wrestling a crocodile. If I had a shed I'd go sit in it for a while and maybe smoke a pipe. Unfortunately I possess neither an axe nor a shed to put it in, and crocodiles are few and far between around these parts. I'll have to make do with a bull terrier.

This all seems too much like hard work when I could simply take the shortcut to manliness and eat a large quantity of red meat. I say large but the word I'm really looking for is obscene (def: so offensive to chastity or modesty). I want an unchaste slice of animal. I need an immodest portion of protein. I don't care who I offend in the process.

So what would be an obscene amount of meat to consume in one sitting? Well I suppose that depends on where you are in the world and how large your stomach is. At Hawksmoor the options for ribeye are 400g or 600g but just as when the midwife handed me our 3.66kg baby a couple of weeks ago, metric in these cases means nothing to me. Babies come in pounds and ounces and in my experience steaks do too. Luckily my expensive Leiths education has equipped me with a mental imperial conversion calculator. 400g =14oz and 600g = 21oz or 1lb 5oz. That's scarily big. That's over five quarter-pounders big. That really is quite obscene. Just reading the menu gave me the meat sweats.

If I'd made one batch of muffins then a 400g, ahem, I mean 14oz steak would have redressed the balance. However over the course of a week I made several batches of muffins, brownies, friands and financiers. It was clear that only the 21 ouncer was going to do the job of restoring my manliness.

It was quite simply the most sublime piece of meat I have ever tasted. A slab of 28 day hung Longhorn ribeye cooked perfectly medium rare on a charcoal grill. Every single mouthful, and let me tell you there were many, was a mouthful of pure neanderthal joy. With every chew I could feel the testosterone surging through my veins. With every swallow, hairs were sprouting on my chest. I was either turning into Teen Wolf or the steak was doing the trick. I felt as manly as Sean Connery, though not quite as butch as Martina Navratilova. Still, the chances of me being cast in a Gillette commercial were much improved as the memories of muffins began to fade into a haze of meat and bearnaise sauce. I left the restaurant, my yin and yang back in perfect harmony and my voice two octaves lower. Hawksmoor will forever be the shed to which I retreat when times get a little too girly.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

The Omnivore Hundred

I saw this on Lizzie's blog so thought I'd do it myself.

The idea behind the Omnivore's Hundred is to copy and paste this list, highlight in bold which ones you've eaten and mark which ones you wouldn't even consider. The one's in italics I wouldn't even consider

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (and I also have a 50p hot dog every time I go to Ikea!)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans (mmm, is this meant to be rice 'n' peas because obviously I've had rice and beans before...)
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (and i had a chocolate coated scorpion last week too)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk (apart from in cheese form)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more. (brandy yes, whisky no.)
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse (I'm sure I have without knowing it!)
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

So that's 60 completed and none I wouldn't try. I can't say I'd be clamouring for roadkill but you never know. I'm surprised human flesh didn't make it onto the list for all the Hannibal Lectors out there.