Monday, April 21, 2014

The Weeks Fly By...

Well, Easter is now just about over and all too quickly for me.  No sooner am I filing away Christmas recipes than it seems time to bring them out again.  What comes next?  May Day, Spring Bank Holiday, MidSummer, Harvest Festival, Hallow'een, Guy Fawkes, and then the run up to Christmas.  Have I missed anything?  Probably. 

Hope you all had a good Easter.  We have had lovely weather, the last couple of days being breezy but still plenty of sunshine.  Down south had rain I believe.  Let us hope it didn't dampen any pleasurable outings.   Here the bluebells are now in full bloom, almost a month before normal, so probably almost over down south.  The Clematis Montana is covered in buds, the first ones just opening, and the lilac bush looks as though it will again carry plenty of blossom. 
Am hoping the wisteria will also bloom well as last autumn we pulled it down from the top of the garage roof (where most of it had sprawled and bloomed - so we were unable to see it unless we climbed a ladder), gave it a bit of a prune and hoping that we will have more than two or three tresses to sit beneath while we enjoy the sunshine.  No sign of any so far, but then I haven't been close enough to look for buds.

As always, many thanks for the good wishes.  Just a few replies - we are grateful to Alison for letting us know the Dairy Cookbook is still being sold by the doorstep milkman, and a reply from Mary (in Australia) who first asked the question.
As it does seem that practically all new cookbooks just give variations on a theme (classic recipes messed about with,  'deconstructed' etc.) am now asking myself whether we really need to keep buying new cookbooks.  It is said that most of us cook only about five favourite recipes regularly, so one good cookbook should really be enough to keep us going for years. 
Having said that, have to admit I used to buy hundreds of cookbooks, goodness knows why, as many of them I never used anyway.  My preference is a cookbook that is more than just recipes.  The memoirs of the writer make more interesting reading.

Sometimes I wonder if we are getting too interested in food.  In the past (before supermarkets) meals were much the same (Sunday roast and most of the rest of the week's meals made from the leftover meat), so not really worth getting excited about.  Nowadays it seems that eating has become almost our only pleasure (discounting drinking, texting and Twittering).  Almost an addiction where we need to keep sampling new dishes, new flavours, new ingredients.  Not that I mind of course, I'm all for that, but it doesn't help me lose weight.

Do hope you all took a look at Sarina's new website.  It's really lovely and seeing her kitchen and table makes me feel I'm already there waiting to be given a seat and a cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits, cakes, buns.... (you see what I mean about eating!). 
What I envy is Sarina's ability to take photos of what is being made (or chatted about), and also her ability to keep her blog simple.  No rambling on.  Just information needed and that's it.  Wish I could be like that?

At the spiritualist meeting last week there was a mention of 'automatic writing' (think that's what it was called).  I thought that meant putting pad on the table with a pen and then some spirit would come and write something, but apparently it meant words that we could write ourselves but without giving any conscious thought to what we were writing.
Have to say that has happened to me, even when I've been writing my blog, for when I've read back some of my more profound 'rambling's couldn't even remember typing these out, so perhaps 'something up there' was pulling my strings at those times.

Not much of culinary interest has happened in the Goode kitchen over the past few days.  B has cooked himself his usual stir-fry (chicken based).  One day we had D.R. meatballs that I first sealed in a little oil in a frying pan, then covered with a tomato-based sauce - to which I added the last of a jar of Red pesto to give added flavour (which it did for B said the sauce tasted wonderful). Most of the time I've eaten salads and more salads (without losing any weight, life just isn't fair).  My Beloved has been out most of the time either at the sailing club (dinghy races or doing repairs in the sheds), and also at my daughter's neighbours where he is helping to cut down two very large trees that just about filled the small garden.  Now down to fence height this has let in a lot more fresh air and also sunlight to our daughter's garden.
Today B cut the front and back lawns (not before time), they were almost covered in dandelions, and do hope he doesn't go mad with the weedkiller as although 'selective' as we seem to have more weeds than grass, the lawns end up covered in brown patches looking as though a hundred dogs had come in and pee'ed over them.  It takes weeks/months for the grass to green up again, and by then the weeds seem to return - so it starts all over again.
Personally, I'd rather leave the weeds in the lawn as with frequent mowing it would keep them from flowering and at least the grass would be lovely and green throughout the year.  When it is at its best it looks like velvet.

Another Riverford veggie box delivery due again tomorrow.  Believe fennel will be included this time.  The 'Barefoot Contessa' was roasting some on her prog. today, so might try doing that, along with other roasted veggies.

Spinach is often included in a veggie box, and baby spinach sold in supermarkets.  The latter eats well raw as part of mixed salad leaves. 
The classic recipe 'Eggs Florentine' is one of those simple dishes that is well worth making, basically poached eggs served on a bed of wilted spinach - this served on a split and toasted muffin.  The only complication (if you can call it that) is the making of Hollandaise -  traditional sauce to accompany this dish (and myself might cheat and use a packet mix for making this). However for all you perfectionists, the recipe for Hollandaise is also included. 

The good thing about this meal (more a snack/light lunch/supper dish) is that most of the preparation can be done whilst the eggs are poaching in the pan while they are still cooking in the residual heat once the hob has been turned off.
Although this recipe serves six, to serve four, two or even one,  poach one egg per person and reduce the amounts of the rest of the ingredients.

Eggs Florentine: serves 6
6 fresh eggs
olive oil
12 oz (350g) young spinach
salt and pepper
3 muffins, split and toasted
4 egg yolks
2 tblsp lemon juice
7 oz (200g) unsalted butter, melted
Bring a large deep frying pan half-full of water to the simmer, then carefully break in the eggs, one by one.   Bring back to the boil and simmer for one minute, then turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave to stand for 10 minutes (or longer if you prefer firmer yolks).
Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a saucepan and add the spinach, toss/stir and when wilted add seasoning to taste, cover and keep warm.
To make the hollandaise sauce, put the egg yolks in a blender with the lemon juice. Start whizzing and slowly pour in the clear melted butter (not the white sediment that will have fallen to the bottom) and add seasoning to taste.
Lightly toast the muffins, and divide the spinach between them, placing it in piles on top of each muffin.  Using a slotted spoon, lift an egg and - after draining well - place on each muffin stack, and pour the hollandaise on top.   Pop under the grill for a couple of minutes to brown the sauce and firm up the yolks if you wish (not essential). 

As spinach has been one of the major ingredients in the above recipe, and most of us might not need to use up all the amount of bagged spinach as sold in supermarkets, here is another dish that will use up the surplus (although it doesn't matter if you use more or less).
Sweet potatoes have a lot of food value, but had to admit only have these when included in the veggie box.  Rarely buy them at other times.  So if I had none, then would probably use parsnips, pumpkin or butternut squash as an alternative veggie. 

When cooking for just one or two, using a whole can of coconut milk is too much, so either decant the remainder and freeze it, or instead dilute a sachet of coconut cream in the right amount of hot water.
Madras curry paste is used for this dish, but as this is one of the hotter pastes, then use a milder one to suit your own palate (Tikka masala for medium, or korma for mild etc).  If a curry does end up too hot (or if some like it hot, some don't) then it can always be calmed down by stirring in a little natural yogurt (or adding a dollop of Greek yogurt (or Raita) onto the curry to be stirred in if needed.

Spinach and Sweet Potato Curry: serves 4
2 onions, finely sliced
1 tblsp sunflower oil
2 - 3 tblsp Madras curry paste
1 x 400g can coconut milk
2 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
7 oz (200g) spinach, washed and roughly chopped
4 naan breads, warmed through
Fry the onions in the oil over medium-low heat until very soft (takes about 8 minutes).  Stir in the curry paste and fry for a further 2 minutes, then add the coconut milk and the sweet potatoes.  Give a good stir, reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Tip in the spinach, stirring it through until wilted.
Place a warm naan bread on each serving plate and top each with the above curry.

See it's already past midnight (so this is now the Tuesday blog). This coming afternoon my neighbour and I will be going to the weekly 'circle' at the Spiritualist Church, so maybe something new will come to light.  We went last Saturday, plenty of people there, but it did seem that what was said to others (who did not recognise most of what was being said to them) I seemed to find more of interest to me (although I didn't say anything).  Just goes to show how the way to truly believe is for someone to tell us something that only we can understand.  Not just generalities.l
However, the medium the previous Saturday seemed to 'get through' a lot better than the one this time.  I will not rush to judge, as the week go (fly) by, who knows what I will be told.  Maybe I'll have something of interest to tell you after the meeting when I write the Wednesday blog.  Hope you can join me then.  TTFN.