Sunday 26 January 2014

Fried, spicy, sustainable sprats

My cat, Coco, caught a mouse a few days ago. I tried to release the small creature, as it had no external wounds, but I quickly realized that it was having some kind of heart attack or stroke, and that it was dying. I picked it up and held it for those last few moments, trying to give it as much love as I could before it left this world. Then I cried more than I did after my relationship ended. My wise friend, Anna, suggested that this was a symbolic event in my life. Something has died, even if it was an illusion. Although the relationship ended as soon as I found out the truth, it ended again - more symbolically this time - on "the day of the mouse" (as that day shall always be referred to from now on), because I received a package. It means nothing with the current state of affairs, but it is a beautiful, if sad, note to end on. Like a D minor. Time to hibernate and heal. These are the sprats I made for my dad before I left Eastbourne, local, sustainable stuff we have swimming around the British Isles, so the kind of fish we should all be eating more of...
You can eat the sprats whole, like whitebait, though I usually take the heads off personally. Take 2 plates. On one, crack an egg and beat it, on the other one, I put a mixture of plain flour, garlic salt and Cajun spices. You could use chilli powder, coriander and other spices too - you want strong ones and quite a lot of them, so that the flour changes colour slightly. Heat about a centimeter of mild oil in a large frying pan. Meanwhile dip the sprats in the egg, then the flower mixture, making sure they are well-covered. Once the oil is hot, put the sprats in, quickly yet confidently, so that you don't splash or burn yourself. Once they are brown on both sides, sprinkle with lemon juice and eat immediately whilst thinking of warmer, sunnier days

Saturday 18 January 2014

Home: cava-poached "amandes" clams

When a relationship ends, I am usually massively emotional, full of feelings of loss, and introspective about what went wrong. In my current situation, I am so shocked by the amount of lies and manipulation, that I have become eerily calm and empty. I have no sadness or regret, no hatred or anger. I like the other girl in the love-triangle, if you can call it that (you've got to give it to him, this guy has good taste), there was nothing I could have ever done to make the outcome different, and I am proud of myself for following my instincts and getting to the bottom of the world of lies he had created. I would make a great detective! I made the controversial decision to mention it on facebook not because I'm bitter, need sympathy or want to incite hatred, but because I want everyone I know to be warned. I am not going to feel ashamed and through my silence become part of the conspiracy. Yet I am tired and I need to emotionally recharge, come to terms with the fact that I fell in love with a figment of someone's imagination. So I've come home. Eastbourne isn't where I was born, or grew up, yet it is one of the places that I consider home now. I have grown to love the blustery South Downs that back onto our garden and the sea soothes me, even when it's stormy and cold
These are local "amandes" clams, which I bought from my favourite shop on the seafront. I took a knob of butter and fried some garlic in it, then dropped the pre-washed clams in and covered them three-quarters of the way with Cava. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, turn the heat up, cover and cook until the clams open up - about 3min. You treat these like mussels so make sure you disgard any that do not close when you are washing them. Tonight, it's roast East Sussex pheasant.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Beetroot stuffed with lamb and rice

January has started to make sense to me. It is a month which I would suggest we all fill with friends and plans: sharing food and hugs with the ones we love, while dreaming of what the year ahead may hold. Coming up with new ideas and discussing them at length with people who love to dream is one of my favourite things in life. Luckily, my unexpected lodger for the month also appears to like doing this, as does my love, so I feel grateful to be spending most of my January with these people, who inspire me and fill me with hope. What comes of all our plans is another matter altogether, but the great thing about this month is that we don't have to worry about that just yet - it's only January - time to simply think, try some things out tentatively, start feeling for the changes we would like to make, and find projects that we would like to pursue. One of my New Year's resolutions is to do recipe testing more frequently - I am writing a cookbook, and I have many old recipes that need honing and perfecting... and as in life, you never know how you're going to do that until you actually start doing it. These spiced-lamb beetroot symbolize a step toward my final goal. In this higher purpose, they are not only tasty, but also extremely important beetroot
Cook the beetroot in boiling water for about 40min. Peel and scoop out the insides. Meanwhile, fry the minced lamb in a small knob of butter with the garlic, and use a fork to break up the mince. Add the spices, season and finally add the cooked rice. Continue cooking while squashing with the fork. Stuff the beets with the mixture and cover with breadcrumbs. Place in a baking tray, drizzle with 
 olive oil and bake for about 30min


6 large beetroot
150g minced lamb
150g cooked white rice
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons breadbrumbs
Knob of butter (about 25g)
Olive oil
Garlic clove or two
Salt and pepper
Sour cream to serve

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Warm winter vegetable salad with jerusalem artichoke

This warm Winter vegetable salad was inspired by the one I ate on a fun evening out at Bedford&Strand. In actual fact, I can't remember much about that salad apart from that it was absolutely delicious and that it contained a vegetable that I hadn't eaten for so long that I didn't even recognize - the Jerusalem artichoke. You will be seeing a lot more of this little fella now I promise you...

Golden beetroot
Jerusalem artichoke
New potatoes
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Garlic salt
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
Boil the potatoes, beets and Jerusalem artichoke in salted water. After 15min, remove the potatoes, after 20min the Jerusalem artichoke and after 25min the small golden beets. We want all the vegetables to still have some bite, so don't overcook them. Peel the beets and Jerusalem artichoke once they have cooled slightly. Chop the potatoes in quarters, the Jerusalem artichoke in bite-size chunks, and the beets - slice finely. Place everything artistically on top of the chicory. Meanwhile, chop the chicory and make the vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic salt, pepper, mustard and mayo in a jar and shaking vigorously. At the end, add the capers. Pour over the still warm Winter vegetables and marvel at your work - so simple, yet so elegant!