Wednesday, June 04, 2008
The title sounds a bit grand, but I have been cut off my cookbooks for a little while, having no energy to plan, shop and cook special recipes. The other day, wanting to shape minced beef into hamburgers, I remembered the success I had had with Jamie's Botham burgers from the Return of the Naked Chef. So I pulled it off the shelf. While I was at it, I browsed it a bit, and found inspiration for my asparagus too.
My burgers turned out to have a mushy texture, but that's because instead of using eggs, I used a slice of bread soaked in milk. I was making much less quantity than the recipe called for and had no desire to use half an egg. Still, they tasted good. My tip is to use grainy mustard, if you have it...
The salad, which is a posh tabbouleh, was really tasty. Taboulé, the French version, is usually simply precooked couscous, lots of lemon and olive oil, and red pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, a bit of parsley only, all chopped very small. This salad, on the other hand, used grilled summer vegetables and a mix of herbs, which took it to a higher level. Instead of the specified patty pans, he suggests courgettes in his book, and I used them, and to save the trouble of roasting and peeling peppers, I used some out of a jar.
I also have a dollop of Portuguese paste on my plate, called vinha d'alho, it's made of red peppers, lots of garlic and vinegar. Needless to say, it is very pungent, but I like it a lot, and you could marinate meat with it. The smell put off my dining companion, but if you're a garlic fiend, then this is for you.
I felt really good, being able to whip up unplanned recipes with the stuff I had in my fridge and cupboards. And this continued when I was trying to come up with ideas to get rid of half a Chinese cabbage. I usually just chop it and sauté it, either with Asian flavours (soy, sesame oil...) or with lardons and a splash of cream. I remembered Jamie's pasta with Savoy cabbage, which is not really the same, but as I happened to have a buffalo mozzarella and some lardons instead of pancetta, I didn't hesitate. Usually W isn't too happy about cabbage of any sort (to think he's German!) but he was happy enough to eat it that way.
It's funny because the first recipes I made from Jamie's books, I slaved over for hours and found them overly fussy. And had to shop for special ingredients. But these were rather simple and didn't require any planning, probably just a coincidence, but still...