Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Lemony Lemon Soles

Tuesday 6 May
We acquired two little lemon soles from the Covered Market today.  Once we got them home, we simply baked them on a tray, with butter in their slashes along the sides. 

When they were done, we deglazed the tray with a little lemon juice and a few capers, and plated one each, alongside some leftover potato salad from Sunday.

Tomato-Braised Steak

Monday 5 May
Today was an experiment: we took a piece of "braising steak" and treated it as if it were our usual pot roast done the Julia Child way.
Accordingly we pre-seasoned it with the garlicky oil, smothered it in sliced onions (and carrots) and tomato purée, and shoved it in the oven to, as they say, braise.
Though it was relatively thin rather than pot-roast thick, and cooked low and slow for over two hours, it came out pretty tough.  
Perhaps the Brits prefer thin, tough steak.  But the buttered green peas on the side were just fine.  I guess our "special relationship" holds concerning the dependability of frozen peas.

Another Guest Night, with Trout

Sunday 4 May
As we were having Susanna and Fergus over for dinner in the evening, we hoped that the Bibury Trout Farm man would keep to his schedule and appear at the Summertown Farmers' Market - and he did not disappoint us.  Neither did the bread, bacon, or pastry makers, who supplied us with the products we could not make or bake ourselves.
When our guests arrived and had a glass of wine in hand, we laid out a spread of varied appetizers: a relish of diced peaches, chickpeas, and carrots; mixed olives from Fasta Pasta in the Covered Market, and their fresh anchovy fillets diced into a bowl of fresh tomatoes; another bowl of tomato dice, this time with basil leaves; olive- and cheese-flavored crackers; and a board of stilton and cheddar.
The center of the feast was the Bibury trout, baked on a bed of sliced sauteed onion and romano pepper, with a side dish of German potato salad featuring bacon, mustard, and pickle.  Holt even carved the halves of lemon to decorate the plate, as well as flavor the fish.
We ended with coffee, tea, and a raspberry bakewell tart, topped with spoonfuls of cream. 

Though it took a bit more preparation than yesterday's meal, we still love to have our friends in for dinner.

Guest Night, with Frittata and Salad

Saturday 3 May
Today Dag and Diane drove us all the way to Wales to see Caerlaon, site of a fortress of the Roman second legion, and Caerwent, a near-contemporary town of the local tribe the Silures.  The weather was unusually beautiful, and we actually got a bit of a sunburn as we sat out in the garden of a local pub at the end of the day, enjoying a half pint of bitter. 

Just as the sun was setting, we drove to the woods of Coed Cefn to see, but barely believe, a cloud of bluebells so thick that they turn the ground beneath the trees purply-blue - so Monet. 
It was a two hour drive back to Oxford, and too late to get any dinner along the road.  So we went back to our flat, where (once everyone was supplied with a glass of cold white wine) Holt fixed a frittata using red peppers and zucchini, cheddar and pecorino romano, while Barbara put together a salad of tomato, rocket, and olives. 

We love being able to take our friends home and feed them a good meal without any advance planning.

Meatloaf and Mash

Friday 2 May

Still pretty off-kilter from May Day.  Luckily there was leftover meatloaf to fill the gap, served with mashed turnips and potatoes seasoned with savory (and also leftover) duck broth.

May Day in Oxford

Thursday 1 May
We arose at 4 AM so we could take a little breakfast before setting out for Magdalen Bridge at 5:00.  A crowd had already gathered, but they weren't pushy, and only a few of the all-nighters were at all rambunctious.  At 6 AM, the choristers in Magdalen Tower began singing "Hymnus Eucharisticus," and the morning became magical.  With the ending peal of bells, we came down to earth, had a Full English Breakfast at the Chequers, and then followed the Morris dancers and Pagans around town, until it was well-nigh 8:30.  Time to go home and collapse.
After that early indulgence, we went for a soothing soup for dinner: Scotch broth.  All our thriftily-collected lamb bones simmered down, we strained them and picked off the meat, and in the last hour added onions, pearl barley, diced turnips, carrots, and potatoes, and in the last ten minutes, green peas. 

After all, you've got to have something green on May Day.  Like this guy.