Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Strange sources of inspiration #1 - Benugo, BFI, Southbank, London

Having a quiet chat and a couple of drinks with my friend Lucy this evening required a bit of mopping up, and after a big lunch at a conference, I didn't fancy much more than the soupe du jour. The title Pea and Turmeric Soup kind of put me off, I have to say - as did the presentation with four greasy croutons and a thick trace of oil across the surface of the bowl as a device to make it look sexy. No need to bother - the soup was thick, warming and spicy, and made me keen to figure out how to make it (suggestions welcome). Extra chopped coriander on the top gave it a small but welcome bite (I think chilis are required, but then I always do).

Sunday, 22 November 2009

There's a reason they tell you to chill...

I went for the first run tonight in over a year - managing all of ten minutes in one go before having to walk. From tiny acorns, though, oaks grow, so I hope this tiny acorn makes its way back into the habit I used to love so much (and do something about my shape!)

To celebrate getting back on the exercise wagon, I tried to make Nigel Slater's chicken liver pate this evening, along with homemade bread. Both are pretty simple: the pate is chicken livers (about 400g, soaked in milk for half-hour before using) panfried in about 70g of butter till pale gold, then blended with another 40g butter, 90ml whipping cream and some salt and pepper. Burn off the juices from the frying pan with a good glug of brandy, then add this to the mixture. Strain through a sieve into a bowl and chill for 30 mins - then cover in melted butter (taking the froth off first) and spoon over the bowlful of pate, which by now should be looking creamy and pinky and delicious. Wait at least three hours...

The bread is equally easy - 500g of strong white flour mixed with 700ml water and a yeast sachet and 10g of salt; mix, knead for ten mins, leave to rise for an hour, knead for five mins, leave to rise for another hour on a floured baking tray, then bake at GM9 for around 10 mins then turn down to GM7 and bake for another 30 mins or so, 'til when you tap on the bottom, it sounds hollow.

My mistake tonight was too much haste. I took the bread out of the oven 5 - 10 minutes too soon (so is heavy, doughy and thick) and rushed the pate out of the fridge after two hours. The resultant pink goo tasted ok (even if the bread didn't) but just goes to show too much anticipation shouldn't lead to a lack of patience. This is one meal that if I'd waited another hour or so, would have been perfect. Next time I'll wait.