Monday, 23 February 2009

broadway market E8

pretty nifty lil market in hackney E8. not as big or mad as borough but still worth a looksie

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Zuppa di ceci

sundays seem to be turning into soup days. i like bringing my own food into work and can't bother thinking up something new every morning before work, so one-pot solutions are the easiest option.

one of these days i'll get organised to try these for lunch. but for the time being i'll stick with leftover or soups.

this past sunday i decided to make chickpea soup, or zuppa di ceci (pronounced che chi in italian). making it was a doddle and eating it this week for lunch has been a restorative remedy for the winter blues.

Zuppa di Ceci

500g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
garlic (1-2 cloves chopped depending on how garlicky you want it)
1 small dried chili
rosemary sprigs (i used 2 but was told that it could have been a lot more)
olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, skinned and chopped
small bunch swiss chard, finely shredded

  1. Drain the chickpeas and put in a large pot with the onion, carrot and celery. Add 14 cups water -- if it doesn't all fit at once, add the water while the soup is cooking.

  2. Bring to the boil and skim any scum off the top. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook uncovered for 1.5 hours, or until the chickpeas are butter soft. Add more water if you need it. When the chickpeas are close to being cooked through add salt and ground pepper to taste.

  3. Puree 2/3 of the chickpea mixture in a blender and return to the pot with the rest of the soup. Add hot water if it seems too thick.

  4. In a separate pot, heat the olive oil and add the chopped garlic, rosemary and chilli. When you start to smell the garlic add the chard. Saute for a few minutes until the chard starts to wilt. Add the chopped tomatoes, reduce the heat and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the tomato mixture cooks down and thickens.

  5. Remove the rosemary sprigs and stir the tomato mixture into the soup and let simmer over a low heat until the flavours come together (about another 10-15 minutes). Check for seasoning. Serve with grilled bread that has been rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

It's that time of year: Superbowl Chili

OK i know, i'm a week late. the superbowl was last week. the Pittsburgh Steelers won which made my nephew Yechaskel very happy indeed. His Aunt Mel was very happy too, and she didn't even see it -- she even missed the halftime show with The Boss. Why was i so happy? Because the chili i made was probably THE BEST chili i've ever ever made. Eating gave me that eyes glazed over feeling of pure bliss and i spent the next 3 days eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. so so so good.

i'm still trying to figure out what made it so good here are my theories:

  1. i used scotch bonnets instead of jalapenos. they're everywhere on stroud green road at the moment and who can pass by a bag of these beauties for a mere £1? these are my favourite fresh chilies -- it's that heady sweet/smoky flavour that gets me going and it was exactly this effect that they had on the chilli. not mouth searingly hot, but a delicious sweet heat that slowly crept up on you and lingered after the last bite.

  2. i made the pot of chilli the night before. we all know that chillies and stews always taste better the next day. and on the saturday night that i made it, the house was redolent of chilli, simmering ever so slowly on the stove for hours..

  3. instead of chili powder i used ancho chile puree. this was called for in the recipe i was referring to, and yes it made a big difference. again it was less harsh and biting, more warm and smooth in flavour with heat intact.

  4. i ignored the recipe and after browning the meat made a sofrito of the chopped onion, garlic and fresh chilies.

Here is the recipe i referred to. I kept to the quantities specified, and topped up with some hot beef stock about mid-way through cooking as it was getting quite thick. I also used the option 1 can of kidney beans and 1 can of chopped tomatoes.

And to serve: pickled jalapenos, grated mature cheddar cheese, chopped fresh coriander and a generous dollop of greek yoghurt (use sour cream if you have it instead).

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

carrot cake

carrot cake
Originally uploaded by silamuta
ooooooh cake. lordy!

I liked the cake. really i did. but after reading eggbeater's exhasutive analysis of Why do cakes sink? i'm now convinced this cake was a bit of a disaster. too dense. no crumb. was it the too cold butter? was it the silicone pan? did the ground almonds have somthing to do with it? hmmmm.