I found myself making bread again, so this time I thought I’d add pine nuts. I did so in the latter stages of the kneading and thought it might have been better earlier, to make the nuts stick more to the dough. They rather easily fell out when it was finished. It didn’t prevent the bread rising, however, but I think I should have kneaded the dough more. I also tried adding baking powder this time, which helped during the initial rising stage, but made no difference to the eventual product. It was really delicious sliced thinly with Sainsbury’s two-for-one Brussels patÃ© and cucumber slices, with the faintest dusting of black pepper.
Archive for July, 2007
Originally uploaded by dynamist.
I spent Sunday afternoon in the woods in Kentucky, at a going-away party for a friend who is moving to Washington, D.C. Along with those cupcakes, someone also brought three flavours of gelato: apricot, berry, and coconut chocolate chip. Of course I had to sample a spoonful of each. They were all lovely, but the coconut chocolate chip was sublime.
The gelato came from Madison’s Produce at Findlay Market, the latter of which was erected in 1852 and still offers Cincinnatians (and those who travel from around Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky to shop there) a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, meats, seafood, and hundreds of other edible products. Madison’s also makes sorbet, which I will have to check out, as the gelato was incredibly good. Another blogger, who went to Findlay Market to investigate Madison’s gelato firsthand, writes:
Curious to have a taste, I noticed a small counter near the back of the shop and soon a salesgirl came out to offer samples: Amarena Cherry and Vanilla. The cherry was sublime. Incredibly smooth and flavorful on the tongue, it left no discernible butterfat film on the roof of my mouth. Later, upon reading the label, I discovered that Madison’s gelato contains only 6% butterfat as opposed to premium ice cream’s 16-18%.
As she also notes, the gelato costs $4.49 per pint. That’s in the Â£2 region, which sounds – and tastes – like an absolute steal to me.
My Chinese Buffet meal in Westminster’s Strutton Ground began with a rather nice clear chicken soup with vegetables. It wasn’t too salty, and since I helped myself, I was able to pick the right balance of liquid to vegetables and chicken pieces. I next made myself a crispy duck pancake with the usual plum sauce and spring greens along with the duck. On my ‘starter’ plate I put prawn crackers, ‘seaweed,’ pastry triangles stuffed with minced meat and vegetables, and spare-ribs. If it seems a lot, that is because the quantities of each were small. The same is true of my next plate, which featured pepper beef, fried pork, cauliflower and broccoli, bean curd, sweet and sour chicken, and egg fried rice. It sounds huge, but I only put a spoonful of each onto the plate.
I wasn’t going to have dessert, but I ate one piece of toffee apple from another plate. It was nothing like the fairground toffee apples of my childhood, since the apple inside the thin caramelized sugar shell was cooked. It was nice, though, as was the rest of the meal. The same is true of the wine, a 2006 Touchstone shiraz at 14.5 percent. The label promised red fruits (black cherry, raspberries), plus a palate of ripe plum with fine vanilla tannins. With quite spicy food alongside, I couldn’t pick out that much detail, apart from the cherries and plums, but it was fruity, and agreeably full-bodied.
Ace chef Michael McGuinness was kind enough to give me a packet of Nannini coffee. From Alessandro Nannini, whose coffee shops in Italy are famous for their pastries as well as for their coffee, it is now sold internationally, and has a high reputation as a top quality brand. Wow! It’s rather gorgeous stuff â€“ rich, full and rounded, with no sharp edges or burnt, bitter tang. I can understand why people who encounter this stuff in Italy get supplies mailed in to them. I see that it’s now available from online shippers.
I was relieved to read on Wikipedia that the notion you should not have a drink until the sun has gone over the yard arm is very easily variably interpreted. A group of friends in their twilight years count this as 6pm, but in the article, I’m (seemingly logically) told that it could be 11am. Personally, I wouldn’t touch anything other than beer at 11am, but I am quite partial to a G&T at around 6pm. I wonder whether those poor sailors were denied their grog on cloudy days…
Originally uploaded by dynamist.
These were mini-cupcakes, actually, and they were excellent. I was “good” and only allowed myself one…so that I’d have room for a two-bite brownie, two cookies, and the delicious dried cherry and chocolate bars that my friend Mary made. The occasion was a going away party for our friend Jim, who is moving to Washington, D.C. He had a sweet send-off, that’s for sure.
The hotel Hermitage in Monte-carlo is a wonderful building. This particular Domed part of itÂ was made by the same chappie that built theÂ Eiffel Tower in Paris. It is of the same bare steel construction.
I enjoyed Champagne and canapes, mainly local delicacies, as I viewed some expensive jewellery and chatted to the people I usually talk to at these things. I left later that night with two Latvian girls, both called Natasha,Â and an Italian gentleman,Â we had a nice stroll around the area.
It was, of course, sausage and mash with variations. I didn’t feel like wetting perfectly good mashed potatoes in great puddles of gravy. I started with Sainsbury’s pork and caramelized red onion sausages in the pan. I made mashed potatoes separately, then formed them into two rissoles (big croquettes, if you like). I added nothing except breadcrumbs on the outside before putting them to brown a little in the pan. Meanwhile the petits pois took only minutes to cook. For the sausages there was a generous helping of St Andrews Scottish wholegrain mustard. It worked very well, with a minimum of effort. I left half of one of the potato rissoles, but I did finish the meal with half a fresh mango and goat’s milk yoghurt. Yummy.
Not together though! I started with a small plate ofÂ large king prawns which were on offer in my local supermarket. As an alternative to Thousand Island dressing I drizzled them with lemon juice just prior to serving, and was impressed by the result. Not only was theÂ flavourÂ good, it wasÂ less rich and filling.
As a main course I had Gressingham duck. As the skinned filletsÂ had sold out,Â I boughtÂ the onesÂ with fat on. I fried one on a medium heatÂ so it was a nice pink inside,Â but towards the end turned the heat up toÂ crisp the fat. To go with it IÂ made my simple black cherry sauce – high fruit, low sugarÂ black cherry jam and a bit of red wine,Â heated in a pan. Again a good combination, and very easy.
Afterwards I had a small amount of camembert cheese.Â Being a few days old, it was becoming stronger andÂ less creamy, which was ideal. To drink I hadÂ a couple of glasses of Oyster Bay merlot from New Zealand,Â coming in at a very reasonableÂ 13%.Â
It was the same wine: Australian Shiraz rosÃ© from Sainsbury’s. It came in, confusingly, at half a percentage point less strong, at 12.5%. This, however, paled into insignificance once you picked up the bottle. It was remarkably light – much lighter than the others – and slightly smaller. But the volume was marked as identical. Also, it was slightly soft… I wondered if there was something wrong with me, but as it turned out, it wasÂ the first plastic bottle that I’ve ever seen in the usual Burgundy shape. Marked as recyclable and appropriate for outdoor summer use, as it’s light and ‘unbreakable’ (by which, presumably, they mean non-brittle), is it perhaps a marker of things to come? By sheer mechanics alone, it must be cheaper to produce and recycle, there being so much less of it. And the wine tasted the same, too, apart from its slightly weaker form. So long as that isn’t a direct result of the plastic bottle,Â I reckon this is a good idea for all manner of reasons. But I do like the tradition and ritual of opening a bottle of wine: taking off the lead cork-cover, twisting in the corkscrew, the familiar ‘pop’, the weight of the bottle in hand and the necessarily experienced pouring action to that familiar glugging. All this is being taken away…