Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cauliflower and Cheese

Monday 31 March
Marion left this morning, so we were only two again.  To fight off that empty-nest feeling, we figured we'd finish off that giant cauliflower whose first half we had last Tuesday. 
We just boiled the florets until crisp-tender and made a gratin by whipping up a bechamel and cheesing it up with what we had, i.e. the remains of the so-ripe-it's-soupy whole brie we got at the Greenmarket, and some choicer Cotswold gloucester cheese from the Summertown Farmers.  Mixed, topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan, and baked until bubbly.

Sometimes you just want one a one-dish dinner, especially if it's (originally) bigger than your head.

Pork Chops with Fennel and Pears

Sunday 30 March
We got home from a long day of watching the Henley boat races, where Oxford women creamed Cambridge in a non-culinary sense.  
So for a touch of elegance without much fuss, we sliced and braised a giant fennel in white wine, and swiftly caramelized a pair of sectioned (not pared) pears in another pan.  
While these fixins waited under wraps, we fried up three nice pink pork chops (patted with thyme, salt, and pepper) and laid them lovingly on their fennel beds, with the pears, a crumble of stilton, and a sprig of fennel frond on top.

They combined beautifully, like Pimm's cup on a spring afternoon when the Dark Blue are winning.

The Turf Tavern

Saturday 29 March
We needed a place to eat before a Miserere-off at Exeter College Chapel (happy Lent, everyone!), so we headed for this rather famous warren of a pub and managed to snag a table that was both outdoors in the rare spring warmth, and not too close to the smokers.

We had a couple of pints of their cask ales, a plate of Gloucester old spot sausages and chive mash, and a pot of lamb shoulder stew with (solid, heavy) brown dumplings, mash with a sprinkling of chives, and overboiled vegetables.  Just proves that there'll always be an England.

Côte Brasserie with Marian and Priscilla

Friday 28 March
Before going to Opera della Luna's seven-person (and seven-instrument) production of Mikado, we stopped in at the nearby Côte Brasserie for their pre-theater dinner special.
We've been here before, so we know it's dependable - and with our theater tickets, we got free kir royales.
We started with plates of calamari, seemingly made with giant squid (suitable, as Marian and Holt had just been listening to Dame Margaret Drabble talk about Jules Verne), accompanied by a rosé Cuvée Laborie 2012.  After our unusually unanimous starter, we went back to our old habits and split two main courses: a chicken chasseur leg over flavored mash, and off the non-theater menu, a sliced duck breast with cherry sauce, gratin potatoes and mushrooms.

All went nicely, including the show.  But we are still waiting for the anime Mikado.

Penne alla Norma

Thursday 27 March
We also got a couple of nice eggplants from the Greenmarket, so were inspired to make a batch of pasta alla Norma. 
Our little basil plant is still hanging on, so contributed a handful of precious leaves and chopped stems to the tasty plate.

Basque Chicken

Wednesday 26 March
We had some chicken legs and thighs from one of those three-legged chickens, and a lot of colorful peppers from the Greenmarket.  So we poured some wine into the chef, and whipped up a sort of poulet basquaise, using more tomatoes and onions than peppers, as they were more Marian-friendly.