Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roast Lamb and Root Vedge

Thursday 10 April
Holt broke down a whole lamb leg so we could roast a meaty upper lobe and stew a shank.  So today we rubbed the lobe with rosemary, mustard, and garlic, and roasted until it was medium rare. 

As vedge, we threw in some quartered red onions, creamer potatoes, and little carrots for that cuteness factor.

Tortellini with Mushrooms and Cream

Wednesday 9 April

An easy, quick meal.  

Just sautéed a batch of mushrooms from today's Gloucester Green market, added cream to boil down, and drenched it over some spinach and ricotta tortellini from the Co-op.

Pork Scaloppine with Endive Gratin

Tuesday 8 April
We started by braising two halved endives, which we then topped with crumbled stilton and grated parmesan, and broiled for a minute to brown.

In that scant minute, we fried up some thin pork scaloppine and enriched their juices with a dollop of Ahmad brand garlic pickle in oil - accept no substitutes - that Marian just sent us from the USA.  Mmmm, thanks, Marian!

Sausages, Onions, Peppers

Monday 7 April

We fried up some of our favorite Meat Joint lamb sausages, along with the canonical sliced onions and bell peppers.  Easy-peasy.

Bibury Trout Dinner

Sunday 6 April
This morning the Bibury trout farm stand was at Summertown Market; previously we hadn't figured out they're scheduled for the first and third Sunday in the month.  So with our declared motto, "see a trout, buy a trout" - or rather, "buy four for the price of three," we so bought.  Then we phoned Diane and Dag, whom we were going to hear sing at Evensong at St. Giles' church, to come and share them.
Some more Summertown Market buys made up our starters: an overpuffy "focaccia" with tomato and mozzarella, and a savory red onion and cheese quiche.  We shared a festive copa de cava along with these.
We baked our trouts on a bed of sautéed fennel and red onion, more or less on the lines of what Gordon Ramsay does with sea bass, here. 
Sea Bass with Olives, Tomatoes, and Fennel
2 whole, small sea bass, about 1 pound each, scaled and gutted
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to rub over the fish
1 large or 2 medium fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
splash of dry white wine
10 plum/Roma tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup sliced black olives
handful of fresh basil or dill, roughly chopped.
Clean the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Score the fish several times on each side, then rub all over with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Heat the oil in a stovetop-to-oven casserole that is wide enough to hold the fish side by side. Add the fennel and a little seasoning. Sauté the fennel until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Pour in a generous splash of wine, then stir in the tomatoes and olives. Scatter half of the basil over that, then rest the sea bass on top.
Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 15–20 minutes; it should be opaque at the thickest part of the flesh. Serve the fish and sauce straight from the casserole.
Incidentally, our serving platter, once emptied, did good service for the fishbones as we polished them off.

We ended with Summertown market brownies, coffee, and digestivi.  Holt would ordinarily serve only his own baked goods, but this flat's kitchen, though good for daily cooking, won't reach as far as baking.  Still, we hope our guests enjoyed what we could manage.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Swan at the Globe, London

Saturday 5 April
We bussed into London for the day, to browse through Tate Modern, and to see Cavalli's opera L'Ormindo in the new Sam Wanamaker Theater.  So the most convenient place to have dinner was at the Swan, right in the Globe Theater complex.
The bar downstairs was crowded, noisy, and had few comfortable chairs, so we were happy to be taken up to the second floor, which was quieter, with a view of St. Paul's out the open, small-paned windows.  Why one wall of the restaurant is tiled with azulejos depicting a longhorn steer named Herakles (in Greek) is beyond us.
We opened with a bottle of Trebbiano rubico white, which suited the springlike mood.  Then we set out on the theater menu, which is all the Swan serves at this pre-theater time.

Our starters: carrot and coriander soup, warm and spicy, served with a drizzle of crème fraîche; and a pot of salmon rillettes sealed with a disc of butter, eaten with doorstops of healthy bread, bitter leaves (rocket and watercress) and mustard dressing.
The best of our mains was confit duck, with proper sides of Puy lentils and braised red cabbage.  
The other was almost the only other choice, haddock and parsley fish cakes with a poached egg - admittedly with a very fresh orange yolk - and hollandaise sauce.  Let's be honest, the fish cake was mainly potato, so an over-ten-pound course probably contained a pound fifty's worth of ingredients.

We ended with desserts: blood orange granita with vanilla cream, again in a little glass pot; and a spectacular assemblage of rhubarb and white chocolate pavlova, looking like something we'd just seen at the Tate.

But it couldn't rival L'Ormindo, for sweetness, singing, or spectacle.  An unforgettable day, indeed.