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Foodycat



Recipes, trying new local ingredients, occasional reviews and always enjoying my food.



Last Build Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:17:05 +0000

 



Thanksgiving - green bean casserole and pumpkin pie

Mon, 04 Dec 2017 12:29:00 +0000

Quite often when Paul asks me to cook something for him I ignore him. A decade of him saying he wanted a dish only to be over the craving by the time I made it has taught me better. Like the time recently where he asked me to make a chocolate cake with caramel filling, only to admit that he only wanted a bite of a slice of such a cake. Fortunately I hadn't got beyond considering a recipe with that one.In the last few weeks though, he's become interested in a couple of the elements of a classic American Thanksgiving dinner - pumpkin pie and green bean casserole. I've always found green bean casserole a baffling proposition, myself, so I was quite happy to go along with him this time and make a cut-down Thanksgiving dinner to give him a chance to try those things.I've made pumpkin pie before. Although apparently not for about 15 years if I've never made it for Paul. I bought some shortcrust pastry and a can of pumpkin puree and consulted Heather's blog (always good for pie recipes), settling on her Buttermilk Pumpkin Pie. I added 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger and reduced the brown sugar by 1/4 cup, but otherwise followed the recipe.The green bean casserole is a very strange thing. The idea of beans in cream of mushroom soup with a crunchy topping isn't particularly appealling. I'd always assumed that it was one of those dishes that had gradually been debased with convenience products, but when I started to look for a recipe to inflict on Paul I discovered that in its purest original form it used frozen beans and canned soup. It was, in fact, an invention of the Campbells soup company in 1955. I can't think of any other similar recipe that has had such an impact. In Australia maybe the salad on the side of the Chang's crispy noodle packet, possibly the cheesecake on the Philadelphia packet. But nothing so completely ubiquitous - Campbells estimate that they sell $20 million worth of Cream of Mushroom a year and that 40% of that goes into green bean casserole.Pure form or not, I just couldn't. So I made this from-scratch version, although I admit I got bored and didn't bother making the fried onion garnish. We had it with a rolled, stuffed turkey breast and roast potatoes (I think mashed potatoes are more traditional but Paul isn't a fan). I didn't bother with the other elements of a Thanksgiving dinner - the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the sweet potatoes - for just the two of us. The casserole was fine, I guess. The mushroom sauce was quite delicious - I'd make that element again, but I just don't think green beans and mushrooms are happy companions - they would have been better off as separate elements on the plate. Maybe the French fried onions really make the difference and pull the dish together, but I won't be finding out.The pie, however, was excellent. Subtly spiced, not too sweet, perfect ratio of filling to pastry. We had it with a delicious new discovery of mine, Northern Bloc fresh ginger and caramel ice cream.Even just a turkey breast gives a lot of leftovers. At this time of year there are articles all over the place on what to do with the remnants, but I already had a plan: the Kentucky Hot Brown.  An open-faced sandwich of tomatoes, bacon and/or ham, turkey, finished with cheese sauce and grilled. I used a white bloomer instead of the traditional Texas Toast, which I thought was a few calories too far. It's a particularly good version of the leftover sandwich, because unlike a lot of the others there's no jammy cranberry sauce or chutney, just savoury all the way through. Which is sometimes just what you need.[...]



Apple cider doughnut muffins

Sat, 30 Sep 2017 14:15:00 +0000

Week before last Paul asked me to make muffins for our weekend breakfast. He specifically wanted American-style cakey muffins and he asked if they could be apple. I still don't know where my scales are, so at the moment I am quite happy with American recipes in cup measurements. I found this recipe, for Cider Doughnut Muffins and thought it'd work really well to add some dried apples to the batter.Unfortunately, there was not a dried apple to be found in all of Bedford. Someone on Twitter pointed out that it was Rosh Hashanah and that may have had an impact. I'm slightly sceptical about that to be honest - but one way or another I couldn't get the dried apples and naturally went into a massive sulk and refused to bake, despite Paul having provided alternatives in the form of dried pears and dried mangoes.This week, I got the dried apples.Dried apples soaking in reduced ciderI mostly followed the recipe. I used hard, dry English cider rather than American sweet cider, and when I had reduced it to 1 cup, I added 1 cup of chopped dried apple slices, and let them steep overnight.Very happy with that fluffy, tender crumbAnd rather than rolling the cooked muffins in melted butter and cinnamon sugar for the doughnut effect, I sprinkled each one with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and demerara sugar before they went in the oven, so the coating cracked a bit as the muffins rose. And, presumably because of the apples, they took quite a lot longer to bake, 25 minutes, not 15-17. Very successful and tasting beautifully autumnal.[...]



Exploring the area, one pub at a time

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:29:00 +0000

We've been in the new house for about six weeks now. Things are gradually coming together. There are still a lot of boxes about the place, but we are slowly buying furniture to unpack into. We still say, almost daily, "Do you know where that thing is?" but with increasing frequency we're able to say "Yes, I unpacked it and put it here". The last day of the move was more than a bit fraught, so we're realising some of the things that didn't come with us and with fading optimism expecting to find other possessions.We went out for dinner the first night - The Three TunsAs we're completely new to the area, we're having to learn our way around. Bless google maps. And pretty much every time we set foot outside the house it's uncharted territory for us. We've figured out where the supermarkets and Majestic are. I have found a hairdresser. We've started what will be the work of years, investigating the local pubs.The first night we were in the house, we went out for dinner. We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor, the cat was sulking, we didn't have a fridge and hadn't unpacked any of the kitchen stuff, so cooking really wasn't an option. It's a bit strange, moving from a place where there were about a dozen places (of varying quality...) to eat within a 10 minute walk, to a place where you could walk to a restaurant, if you were really feeling motivated and had half an hour to spare. The Three Tuns is the closest to us, about a 5 minute drive away. We'd been told that it's almost perennially under new management but that the food was generally pretty good. It was. A bit overwrought - every dish we tried had one element too many - but reasonably priced and served with the kindness we needed in our equally overwrought post-move state. I had a potato and goats cheese rouladey thing, which very nice, and a massively filling but slightly undercooked fish pie served with an utterly sublime hollandaise.Halloumi fries - The FalconPaul's gone from an almost 4 hour daily commute on motorways to a 50 minute daily commute on pleasant country roads. He seems to spend most of that commute now identifying pubs he wants to try. The Falcon was one of those - it's on a bend in the river, which always adds tone to a pub. To be honest, I can't remember what I had to eat and I certainly didn't take a picture of it. Ham, egg & chips, maybe? But the big thing were the absolutely delicious halloumi fries we shared to start. They did them so well we're pretty keen to go back for a Sunday lunch.Arancini at The Horse & JockeyOur first (and so far only) crack at a Sunday pub lunch was one of our misguided ones where we only decided at about 11am that we wanted a pub lunch. So we made a list of about 5 places and called down it until we could get a reservation. We ended up at The Horse & Jockey and weren't sorry for it. Being offered delicious little chicken and lemon thyme arancini before our meals arrived was an unexpected but lovely refinement. The food was very good, although the shell-on prawn garnishing the prawn cocktail was watery and flabby, and I don't think the oil was quite hot enough to fry my fish and chips. Paul's roast beef looked excellent though, with proper attention to the veg.Old school prawn cocktail at The Horse & JockeyIt was my birthday last week, so we had a good excuse to give another pub a go. The Plough came recommended by Sharon and the menu looked good so we made reservations. The food was excellent - I had a lovely fig, blue cheese and hazelnut salad to start, followed by grilled plaice with herb butter, chips and a beautiful sprouting broccoli dish. Unfortunately the service let them down a bit - our waiter seemed very nervous and untrained - and the people at the table next to us were loud and a bit abrasive. You'd think they'd never seen people taking photos of their tea before.Fig, blue cheese and hazelnuts at The PloughGrilled fillet of plaiceOn Saturday, we made yet another trip to IKEA. Even more hellish than usual, as we realised we couldn't ac[...]



A belated blogoversary

Sun, 27 Aug 2017 16:24:00 +0000

So... we moved. And it was the utter ball-ache moving always is. With the added tedium that we only got broadband installed on Friday.

Due to the hassle of moving (and the fact we don't have a dishwasher yet) I haven't really been cooking anything fancy. Definitely nothing with multiple stages or processes or utensils required. And because of the lack of interesting cooking and the lack of broadband I completely missed my 10th blogoversary. 10 years! My god.

Anyway, my mate Sharon (who you may remember from posts such as this one. And this one. And this, and this, and this) is married to a man whose parents live near our new house. They have very kindly invited us over for Sunday dinner this evening because they think it would be nice to have some local knowledge. It definitely will!

I offered to bring a dessert - a pretty pointless gesture because Graeme's mum's desserts are legendary for their quality, quantity and diversity. But hey.

I thought I would knock up a quick frangipane mirabelle tart. Which was quite a good idea really, until I discovered that I couldn't find my scales or my silicon spatulas. A bit of guesswork took place and it ended up being a bit oozier and more rustic than planned. Fortunately they all have lovely manners and will be gracious. But I think we'll take a bottle of wine as well...




The Final Countdown

Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:55:00 +0000

We have a lawn!On Monday we'll be moving into the new house, so while there will be a final flurry of using bits up and whatnot, I really don't think I will be documenting it. So next time I post it'll probably be exploring a new-to-us pub while we try to avoid making the spanking new kitchen dirty.ham hock terrineI am faintly disappointed that things never got completely crazy with the flavour combinations. Although the tub labelled chicken stock which turned out to be blood orange sorbet, and the tub that I thought was chicken stock which turned out to be a rather lovely Asian shortrib soup almost got me into trouble. It was a valuable lesson in accurate labelling.PloughmansThis was a particularly good Ploughmans. Bread (using some of my baguette dough as a starter, and more of the chapatti flour), piccalilli, made by me a while ago, cheddar (because I like it), a ham hock terrine (using a ham hock I'd had in the freezer and some gelatine leaves) and a fresh green salad (finishing a jar of capers).LasagneI wouldn't serve this lasagne to an Italian, but it was tasty! And it used a bottle of ratatouille, a packet of bacon, some minced beef and a packet of "fresh" (but frozen) pasta sheets.And this version of an Eton mess used frozen cranberries, frozen eggwhites and coconut. The tangy fruit was a particularly good foil for the sweet coconut meringues.[...]



Clearing the freezer - we're getting there, honestly

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 09:59:00 +0000

"Baguette" more or lessWell, this is all inordinately stressful. The builders went quiet on us for a couple of weeks as the date we have to vacate this house got closer and closer and we weren't getting any answers as to when we would be able to move in to the new place. We have, finally, more or less got a plan. Not a very good one, but it may actually be workable.charcuterie platterAnd emptying the fridge/freezer/pantry carries on apace. I can't remember if I posted about the 5kg bag of chapatti flour that I bought, mistakenly thinking it was 500g. Anyway, there is still quite a lot of flour in it. I followed my usual King Arthur baguette recipe, but using a mixture of strong white, plain light brown and chapatti flour. It ended up with a tighter crumb than usual, but it was just the thing with a charcuterie plate (which also used up some potted wild boar from the freezer and pickled cherries from the pantry).Teacakes - using up flour, dried cherries and sultanasBasically I am refusing to cook anything at the moment that doesn't clear out a jar, packet or freezer bag.More robust than the bought ones, still good to convey butterPorky stew, using pork jowl, chicken stock and lentilsThai-ish mussel stew using frozen mussels, sambal paste, coconut milk and chicken brothCalamondin iced tea - using lots of frozen calamondinsThis biryani was actually inspired by the book I am reading at the moment - Chasing the Dram. Rachel makes a pretty solid argument for drinking whisky and soda with curry meals and includes Mallika Basu's venison biryani recipe. And it just so happened that I had some venison in the freezer. Not enough, though, but I also had some goat steaks in the freezer, so mine was a mixed goat and venison biryani. Honestly, I couldn't taste any difference between the meats. It was very good - although next time I will cook the rice almost completely before I layer it. There wasn't enough liquid included to cook the rice properly, so I had to add more and the bottom bit ended up a bit mushy.Game biryaniTrifle - using chocolate cake trimmings from the freezer and finishing a bottle of ChambordSort of Chinese claypot affair, using up chicken, Chinese sausage, pudding rice and chestnutsCherry pieUsing the final bag of frozen cherries, the remnants of the bag of dried sour cherries and a jar of cherries in brandy[...]



Clearing the pantry - spiced marmalade cookies

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 16:50:00 +0000

Spiced marmalade cookies - rawAnd so it continues... honestly, it may not seem like it with this endless stream of posts but I am definitely making progress. I am finding that an unfortunate side effect is that some of the dishes I am producing are really, genuinely delicious but because it's the end of a jar of this and the last of a packet of that I will never, ever be able to reproduce it.UFOsThe other night I unearthed two UFOs. Or at least Partially-Identified Frozen Objects. One was labelled lamb, the other mutton. Neither was big enough for a meal for two people. Sure, I could have heated them separately and each of us eaten one, but as they thawed it looked like the mutton was with barley and the lamb was a shank cooked with haricot beans, so I combined them with some tomato paste and extra seasoning. It was good!cassoulet nachosAnother UFO had a label half hanging off it which said cassoulet - I was initially concerned that the label may have fallen off something else, but when I thawed it, it was cassoulet. It didn't stay cassoulet though. When I reheated it I added smoked paprika, coriander, cumin, chilli, oregano and thyme to give it more of a Mexican flavour profile. I layered it with cornchips and cheese, baked it and topped it with guacamole for a very rich nachos.Peanut sauceLast night I made a stonking satay-ish peanut sauce to go on some barbecued chicken legs. The chicken legs were marinaded for a couple of hours in the dregs of a bottle of teriyaki sauce, a lot of crushed garlic and black pepper. Then the sauce itself was around 1/4 cup of anchovy, chilli and shrimp sauce, around 1/3 cup of crunchy peanut butter, 2 sachets of coconut cream, a load of garlic, a little brown sugar and tamarind until the balance was right, boiling water until it all came together and a gentle simmer for a couple of minutes. The meal emptied 3 jars, a box and a bottle AND it tasted wonderful, so I was extremely pleased with it. And there's enough for two lunches - noodles tossed with the peanut sauce and topped with cucumber and a boiled egg.Leftover peanut sauceThe final dish for this round of decluttering used up the end of a jar of marmalade. I'd normally use golden syrup for something like this but the marmalade was good. It makes quite a cake-y sort of cookie. If you like gingerbread, you will probably like these.Spiced Marmalade Cookies (makes 36)125g butter, softened90g brown sugar250g marmalade2tsp ground ginger1/2tsp ground cinnamon1/2tsp ground allspice1 eggyolk75g rolled oats320g SR flour2-3tbs pearl sugarPreheat oven to 160CCream butter, sugar and marmalade together until light and fluffy. Beat in spices, eggyolk and oats, then fold in flour and mix to a smooth-ish dough.Roll dough into walnut sized balls. Dab the tops of the balls into the pearl sugar. Space out well on a baking-parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes until risen and lightly golden brown. Allow to cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before attempting to transfer to a wire rack to cool.[...]



Continuing the clear out

Wed, 28 Jun 2017 19:54:00 +0000

Project clear the freezer continues. As it will for the next month until we move I am sure!
(image)
pork scratchings
When I was sorting through for all the parcels of poultry bits for my stock (which, by the way, has turned out to be one of the best broths I have ever made) I discovered that I had a lot of pork rind. Not entirely sure why, as I seldom take it off a piece of meat. They turned into some really excellent pork scratchings, seasoned with fennel and smoked paprika. Most of which we gave away to a pork-obsessed friend. But I have to say, a genuinely good pork scratching crumbled on top of a boiled egg on toast is a most superior breakfast and I can't believe all the posh brunch places don't do them.

I used up ground almonds, caster sugar and a jar of boozy plums making a very simple cake. It was just a creamed mixture of 2 eggs, 120g butter and 120g sugar with 100g ground almonds and 100g SR flour folded in, then the plums pushed into the batter. 5 minutes before it was properly cooked (about 45 minutes at 180C) I poured the rest of the boozy syrup over it. Very successful! I will have to do something similar with some of the cherry backlog.

About once a fortnight I make a vaguely Chinese sort of braised aubergine dish with lots of chilli heat, some pork and whatever greens I have to hand. This time I used up some lup cheong sausage and finished it with a good shake of sesame seeds. Also delicious. And I have a couple more sausages.



Clearing the freezer and pastures new

Mon, 12 Jun 2017 20:03:00 +0000

It has a roof nowThere were definitely times when I wondered if it would ever happen, but we've finally, after 11 years of marriage and several ups and downs, bought a house. We've bought off the plan in a new development in a very pretty town a bit north of London, and in the next month to six weeks we will be moving.I bloody hate moving.We've lived in this house for 9 years, which is about as long as I have lived anywhere, and have accumulated all the possessions that you would imagine a pair of packrats would accumulate over that time.  So the process of sorting through our stuff and figuring out what actually needs to come with us is underway. Part of that process is, of course, clearing out the freezer and pantry.Flapjacks, waiting for another layer of oat mixtureMy cooking is likely to become increasingly eccentric over the next few weeks as I try to run down stocks of things. But this weekend it is relatively sensible. Barbecued pork ribs (with a glaze incorporating a couple of sad apples and the remnants of a jar of jelly), flapjacks (reducing stock of various baking bits) and soup (using up all the odds and ends of poultry wings and giblets in the freezer).Flapjacks ready to eatMy flapjacks are based on this recipe from Sue from Mainly Baking. I kept the amount of butter, sugar and golden syrup the same but used 130g unsweetened dried sour cherries, 200g oats and 40g desiccated coconut. I pressed half the mixture into the tin, scattered with a few chunks of leftover dark chocolate Easter egg and then added the rest of the mixture. Very successful.We've tried barbecuing pork ribs before, but I think these are the most successful so far. I made up a rub of salt, pepper, fennel seeds and smoked paprika and let them sit in that for a couple of hours, then we slowly smoked them for 3 hours before adding the apple puree mixture.While they cooked for another couple of hours the apple dried down to a thick, rich glaze without burning. The racks unfortunately were not the same size - the smaller rack was perfect but the larger could have done with another hour. Of course, they were so good that Paul now wants a rematch, which will necessitate buying more of the ingredients I was trying to see the back of.The leftovers, pulled off the bone and chopped, are providing me with very nice lunches.When I started ferreting in the freezer for poultry bits for making stock, I had no idea quite how much there was. Chicken, cockerel and duck giblets, chicken wing tips, cockerel backs. Loads of stuff. It made a very good broth. And tonight I flavoured some of the broth with lime juice and fish sauce and cooked pork meatballs and some veg in it, then added coriander leaves, chopped chillies, slices onions and more lime juice.[...]



Blacklock City, Foxlow Soho and Bellanger

Sun, 28 May 2017 13:03:00 +0000

Blacklock City pre-chop bitesI'm not deliberately moving the blog towards more reviews, it's just been working out that way. This past week I have eaten out an unprecedented three times. Well, it may not actually be unprecedented but I can't remember the last time I did (while not actually being away from home). And now I am coming to think about the three meals, I think they are quite representative of the way I prefer to eat out in London. Independents or small chains. Not stuffy or fussy, not enormously expensive but good ingredients and generous hospitality.All in. Why not?On Monday I had lunch with Mimi and her lovely baby son at Blacklock City. We originally planned to meet because Mimi was embroiled in an imbroglio, as Wodehouse would have it, over the appropriation of Burmese culture and I'd offered to be moral support in her meeting with the unrepentant appropriator. But then Mimi decided that he wasn't worth the time, so we just had lunch. I'd been to Blacklock Soho for their (exceptionally good) Sunday lunch, but this was the first time I'd been to the new City venue. While the Soho branch on a Sunday is pretty mixed, a chophouse in the City on a weekday might as well have "NO GIRLS" on the door: some of the suited and booted diners looked slightly horrified to see women with a pram.We went "all in" - pre-chop bites, chops piled on grilled flatbread and a couple of sides, for a very reasonable £20 a head. The pre-chop bites, int the same vein as the anchovies I had at Foxlow recently, were Peter's Yard (probably) rye crispbreads topped with salty, delicious toppings. The nicest of the three was topped with egg and anchovy - so good we ordered another round of those in lieu of pudding. The chops (beef sirloin, pork belly and lamb t-bones) were delicious, the chips perfect and the salad just what was needed. A couple of £5 cocktails and extremely friendly staff going above and beyond to accommodate the baby made it just about perfect.   Lenny Henry as a Depression-era gangsterOn Wednesday I had a quick, early dinner back at Foxlow before seeing the excellent Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui at the Donmar. We had a table towards the front of the restaurant, which was a reasonable height so my feet were able to touch the floor comfortably.I almost never order chicken burgers, because the chicken is so often woolly and bland, but with the memory of their delicious fried chicken fresh in my mind I felt confident to have the chicken burger, with an optional kimchi topping. Messy. Very messy. But absolutely delicious. The service was a bit scatty - my friend had specifically asked if there was mayonnaise on the Foxlow burger, had been told no, and then it arrived with a massive load of mayo on it. She complained, and the staff member complained to went to get the staff member who'd taken the original order, who said it wasn't mayonnaise it was KEWPIE MAYONNAISE. And it then took much longer than it should have to bring a replacement, mayo-less bun.Chicken burger with kim chi, fries and cherry tarragon sorbetI decided that I couldn't forego ice cream on a very hot day, so I ordered a scoop of salted caramel ripple and a scoop of cherry and tarragon sorbet, both of which were gorgeous. Then we strolled off to the theatre.Rose weather at BellangerAnd finally on Friday I had dinner at Bellanger before a dance show. Turned out to be a slightly less good idea because the show wasn't at the venue we thought it was at, so we ended up having to hustle to get there in time. But Bellanger is a Corbin and King restaurant, and I love what they do so, so much, so it's never going to be a terrible idea, even if it results in a more expensive Uber. The Delaunay, Brasserie Zedel, Fischers - all good food, professional service, some of the nicest loos in London and reasonable prices. Yo[...]



Foxlow Soho

Sun, 14 May 2017 15:44:00 +0000

Anchovy and goats butter on rye crispsHawksmoor - either Air St or Seven Dials - is one of my happy places. The food is always good, the staff are always friendly and competent and the atmosphere inviting. You step through the door and take a deep breath because, for a couple of hours, nothing bad can happen. Unfortunately, Hawksmoor is priced to make that particular happy place quite a rare treat. Once a year, if I am lucky. A few years ago, presumably recognising that people want good food, nice staff and a welcoming atmosphere more often than that, the people behind Hawksmoor opened Foxlow, pitched as a "neighbourhood restaurant". The neighbourhoods they started in were Stoke Newington, Clerkenwell and Balham though, none of which are convenient for me to drop in on or particularly enticing as a destination in themselves. The new Soho branch, however, is very convenient for getting home from.Shaky Pete's Ginger Brew - the head is deliberateThe soft launch was this week, with a very appealing 50% off food, and I managed to be quick enough on the booking button to get a table for last night. I started with one of Hawksmoor's most famous drinks, Shaky Pete's ginger brew - a fabulous take on a shandy and the best possible use for London Pride. Paul had a beer, but he was very impressed when I gave him a sip of my drink.Five pepper squidI knew I wanted fried chicken as a main course - I've been having a craving lately - so chose the lightest possible option for my starter. It was 3 little (almost certainly Peter's Yard) rye crispbreads, topped with whipped goats butter, plump curled anchovies and rings of crunchy red onion. Perfect appetite-whetting mouthfuls, with enough salt to make the ginger brew sing. Paul had five pepper squid. Which was nicely crisp but slightly underpowered for something claiming five peppers. The devilled mayo could have had a little more tang as well. But it's always nice to see tentacles on the plate as well as calamari rings.We'd ordered a bottle of pinot noir (the wine list is very reasonably priced) to go with our mains. They didn't have it, and in what may be a world first for wine waiters, they suggested an alternative that was actually cheaper than our original selection. I was a little surprised by the assertion that the flavours in the suggested Chilean carmenere were similar, because the carmeneres I have had in the past were pretty big, fruity wines with a bit of smoke, whereas the pinot noir we were anticipating was a lighter, more refined affair. As it happened, the recommendation was absolutely on the money: a much lighter bodied and very drinkable wine.Rib eye with green saladEver since he first had a kimchi burger at Hawksmoor Seven Dials, years and years ago, Paul's been devoted to them, so I was slightly surprised that he pulled himself away from the Foxlow burger, with an optional kimchi topping, opting for a rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce and a green salad. The steak was excellent. Perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned and a very nice piece of meat (as you'd expect from them, really). Also, as you'd expect from the team that brought you the best salad in the world, the green salad wasn't just a garnish, but a properly dressed assembly of leaves. The boy a couple of tables down wasn't having such a positive experience, holding forth loudly about how the flat iron he'd ordered wasn't a flat iron. Not that he said anything to the waitress when she checked on him.Fried chickenMy longed-for fried chicken absolutely nailed the craving. I had a slight language barrier with the waitress though - they offer 2 or 4 piece portions, and I'd asked if a piece was a joint like a drumstick or if it was divided into smaller pieces. She said "Oh no, smaller!" and indicated a size with her hands that led me to believe I wa[...]



Bank holiday barbecue

Mon, 01 May 2017 14:23:00 +0000

 
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It's a bank holiday weekend, and unfortunately it has played into the British bank holiday stereotype of shit weather. We haven't had much in the way of rain for weeks, but it's been threatening all weekend and just been unpleasant to be outside in.
(image)
Pulled harissa lamb
We could've made plans to do something indoors, but we haven't, despite actually getting as far as looking at cinema screentimes. So I have been reading and Paul's been whacking aliens on the computer and the cat has been patrolling the lawn in between lengthy naps.

On Saturday, though, we did a nice, long, low & slow barbecue. A shoulder of British lamb, seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin, smoked gently for 5 hours, then wrapped in harissa paste and vegetable broth and cooked for another 2 hours before resting for an hour. We had it piled onto bread flavoured with dukkah, hummus laden with wild garlic leaves and grilled courgettes in a preserved lemon and coriander dressing. It tasted perfectly springlike even if the weather felt very much like late winter.





Picture restaurant and thoughts on blogging

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 10:25:00 +0000

MenuFor Christmas, Paul gave me a day-long silver jewellery making course. Which I thoroughly enjoyed. One thing that startled me, though, was that when we were introducing ourselves at the beginning of the course, a couple of the other participants announced that they were doing this (absolute beginners) course because they intended to make a career out of it. Without any real background in jewellery making or knowing whether they had any aptitude they were determined that this was going to be their thing. On the one hand I admired the confidence, but on the other that just seems bonkers to me.Warm sourdough rolls and whipped butterAnd I have to say that I am feeling much the same way about food blogging these days. Back lo, these many years ago, when I started blogging, it mostly seemed to be people who liked food or liked writing or both, using a free platform with a shitty layout and rubbish photos. And enjoying it. We made friends with people with similar interests, spent time commenting on other people's posts and took our time over things.Delicious basil martiniNow it seems like a lot of people have decided that there is money to be made and they decide they are going to be Food Bloggers. They come in with professional-looking headshots in their profiles, a business plan, a brand identity and an SEO strategy. They have media kits. They have business cards. They hustle. It's a valid approach, but it's not my approach and it does make me a bit wistful for the days when we made friendships, not networking opportunities. I deeply admire, though, the people who started around when I did who have actually been able to cope with change and adapt to the new environment.Beef bitesThe whole landscape is different. I've stopped accepting PR invitations and removed myself from a couple of databases, because if you want a blog to promote your thing I'm really not your girl. I don't care about my reach. I don't know how many, if any, readers I have. I seldom bother cross promoting my blog posts on other channels (I will put them on the Foodycat facebook page but I won't pay to boost posts, so not a lot of people will see that). I'd rather leave that stuff to the people who are passionate about making their blogs pay.Asparagus, pea and wild garlic velouteIt also occurred to me this week, that while there are products that I have continued to buy and use after initially being sent them to review, there's only one restaurant that I have been to for a blogger event that I have subsequently been back to on my own dime. Since I don't have a lot to offer a restaurant in terms of generating buzz, the point of me really is going to a place, being inoffensive to staff and paying for my dinner - so I have a pretty terrible track record.Beetroot tartare, goats curdI first went to Picture, on Great Portland St, with a bunch of bloggers in 2014. And then again less than a week later. Then somehow I hadn't managed to go back. I knew they'd opened a second restaurant in Marylebone, but I'd never made it to that one either.Pork, pickled carrots, granny smith appleThis week, though, I was looking for a venue for a dinner with a friend (same friend I'd had lunch with at Picture before, as it happens) and Great Portland St ticked the boxes for her to get to Waterloo or Vauxhall and me to get to Baker St or Marylebone after. I'd assumed we'd go a la carte - didn't think I could stretch to the £45 6 course Spring menu (still very reasonable, but once you add drinks and service charge that's probably £65. Not on a Wednesday). But then when I booked I discovered they were doing a Taste on London deal of the Spring menu and a cocktail for £35.Roast cod, charred gem, salsa verde, merguezIt was all wonderful really. In a perfect [...]



Easter Weekend

Mon, 17 Apr 2017 10:32:00 +0000

We're on the last day of the blissful 4 day Easter bank holiday weekend. I love this weekend. It's spring, so there are lots of flowers blossoming and a sense of promise and excitement, but at the same time there's no real pressure to do anything.saffronMy cooking for the weekend made respectful nods to a variety of traditions without being absolutely traditional.Saffron, sour cherry and pistachio bunsSaffron crocuses are an autumn crocus, but at the same time crocuses are such a sign of spring that it felt right and proper to flavour some sweet buns with saffron. The dough was studded with sour cherries, then rolled around a pistachio and cinnamon filling and finished after baking with a hot, tangy lemon glaze. They didn't feel a million miles from a hot cross bun, but also reminiscent of baklava. Just the thing for the luxury of lingering over coffee on a long weekend.I also made a savoury pie. Sort of nodding to some of the Mediterranean ones. This was filled with ricotta, feta, watercress, chard and wild garlic, with eggs cracked on top of the filling to bake under the crust. I should have blind-baked the base - the bottom was a bit soggy - but the flavours were excellent.On Saturday we went for a walk from Latimer through the Chess Valley. About half way along there is a watercress farm (the last working watercress farm in the Chilterns), with a farm stall and honesty box. The farmer had just brought out a fresh batch of watercress so we grabbed a bag.Watercress farmThat watercress formed the base of our salad on Saturday night (with a beautiful Galician bone-in sirloin steak). And left enough for a second salad on Sunday - with radishes and British asparagus (asparagus season, hurrah!). Which was all we needed to accompany a boned leg of suckling pig, rolled around a wild garlic and fennel paste, and barbecued for 6 hours until the meat was jelly-soft and the skin crisp as glass. The leftover pork will form our lunch in an hour or so, but I haven't quite decided how. There's plenty of time to think.[...]



Temper, London

Sun, 12 Feb 2017 12:00:00 +0000


Temper. Fuck yes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.



Pear and blue cheese crostini

Sat, 14 Jan 2017 15:38:00 +0000

There isn't a lot that I can recommend about Paul being away. I like having him around. Urchin likes having him around. But one food thing I really quite like and he really doesn't is fruit in savoury stuff. I have been taking advantage of his absence to indulge.

This was my lunch today - toast rubbed with garlic, smeared with a soft blue cheese, then topped with pears poached in red wine, caramelised walnuts and balsamic pearls. And very nice it was too.



Fig, bresaola and burrata

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 17:03:00 +0000

Paul's in South Africa for a couple of weeks spending time with his mother and brother while I hold the fort here. And the fort needs quite a lot of holding - Miss Urchin is not at all amused by his abandonment and for the two days he's been gone she's been extremely demanding and not very interested in letting me sleep.

I remembered that the last time he was away for a while she was similarly demanding, and didn't understand why I felt the need to cook when I got home from work, rather than dedicating my time to entertaining her. So mostly while Paul's away I am planning to eat very fast, low effort meals.

This was pretty fast and low effort, but still really rich and indulgent for a Sunday lunch. If you find burrata too rich for words, a fresh buffalo mozzarella or even a creamy young goats cheese would also be nice.

Fig, bresaola and burrata (serves 1 as a main course)

50g hazelnuts, blanched
1 small bunch basil
1 small garlic clove
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 slices bresaola (or proscuitto or serrano ham)
4 figs
1 x 100g burrata
extra balsamic

Roast the hazelnuts in a 160C oven until nicely browned and tip the hot nuts into a mini processor.

Turn up the heat to 180, halve the figs and put them on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes.

Add the basil, garlic, mustard, olive oil and balsamic to the mini processor and pulse to a rubble.

Arrange the bresaola and burrata on a plate, tip the hazelnut rubble onto the plate and add the hot figs. Drizzle with a little extra balsamic. A glass of fino sherry would be particularly nice with this, but I didn't happen to have one.





Peanut butter chocolate birthday cake

Sun, 11 Dec 2016 20:51:00 +0000

I hadn't been asked to make a birthday cake for my young friend The Hurricane since 2012. I had assumed that her growing sophistication meant she was well and truly too grown up for my extremely rudimentary decorating skills.However, this year she asked if I would. Of course I said yes. We brainstormed over drinks (prosecco for me, water for her). Chocolate was a given. I offered ideas for additional flavourings and she scorned all thoughts of raspberries or apricots but decided that peanut butter and caramel would be good.Peanut butter buttercream swirled with caramelIt was always going to be the Be-Ro Milk Chocolate Cake. It's obedient, reliable, sturdy enough to slice and decorate and not overwhelmingly chocolatey. The Hurricane may be an unbearably grownup a-couple-of-days-from 12 year old, but she still doesn't like too much intense chocolate.The rest was assembly really. The layers were sandwiched with Perfect Peanut Buttercream (astonishingly good. I used a smooth, organic peanut butter with salt but no added sugar), swirled through with some Carnation Caramel, then covered with more of the buttercream. I'd thought about putting some chopped peanut brittle in with the layers, but I thought The Hurricane's parents and orthodontist wouldn't thank me at all if I buggered her braces two weeks before Christmas.Chocolate mirror glazeThen I topped it with John Whaite's chocolate mirror glaze. I got the consistency a bit wrong with this one - I cooled it so it wouldn't melt off the butter cream but then it was too thick to flow easily. I liked the result of the dribbles showing the underlying buttercream though, so let's call it deliberate. It does have a gorgeously shiny finish though, and a rich chocolate flavour.The final decoration was a bunch of gold sugar stars, white and dark chocolate stars printed with gold stars, and gold star sprinkles. Simple, but effective. When I delivered it, she was pretty darn pleased. I did have to issue a warning that the glaze would show if she attempted to eat any of the chocolate stars off it.I asked them to send me a picture of the cross section - the lairs (as Mary Berry says) have held their definition very well. And they ate an impressive amount! [...]



Peach pecan upside down cake

Mon, 14 Nov 2016 13:31:00 +0000

"BUT HOW", I hear my regular readers shriek, "BUT HOW DARE SHE MAKE A PEACH CAKE IN NOVEMBER!?!?"Well yes. At first glance you would think that I have abandoned my seasonal principles. HOWEVER, this cake was made with lovely fresh peaches that I peeled, quartered and froze in summer, when they were sublime. For the last couple of months they have been staring at me every time I opened the freezer drawer, daring me to do something with them and I finally decided what. A nutty sponge cake, given extra lightness and lift with buttermilk, baked on top of the thawed peaches.I intended to pour a layer of buttery caramel over the bottom of the tins before putting the peaches on, but when I thawed the peaches I was left with about 150ml of the most superbly clear, intense peach essence, so I boiled it with sugar and was left with a lovely peach jelly, which really boosted the peachiness of the flavour. You can go the caramel route, or use peach jam.Peach & pecan upside down cake (makes 2 x 20cm cakes but very easily halveable if you don't want two)150g butter 250g golden caster sugar2 large eggs250g wholemeal self raising flour¼ tsp baking powder pinch of salt ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg1 tsp vanilla extract 150ml-ish buttermilk 100g pecan nuts, chunkily chopped100g sugar, extra & 25g butter, extra OR 100g good quality peach jam4 peaches, peeled and cut into quartersBourbon or Southern Comfort to serve - optionalPreheat oven to 160C. Line 2 20cm sandwich tins with tin liners (it's oozy - you really do need to use either an old-school solid tin and grease it really well or use tin liners if you only have springform or loose-based tins)Line the base of the tins with peach jam or caramel (made with the 100g sugar, a splash of water and the butter). Arrange the quartered peaches on top of it.Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Fold the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk. It may need a little more buttermilk - you don't want a stiff batter, but you don't want it runny, either. Fold in the vanilla and pecan nuts.Divide the batter between the two tins and bake for 50 minutes- 1 hr or until well risen and browned. The skewer test might give a false reading because of the gooey bottom.Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Serve warm as a dessert (flamed with bourbon and served with brown butter pecan ice cream is particularly fab), or cool completely to serve with tea.It'll keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, and even once it's started to get a bit stale, a zap in the microwave with a splash of bourbon or Southern Comfort on it will perk it right up. Which is what my colleague and I did at work last Wednesday when we were in utter despair over the US election results.[...]



Happy Halloween!

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 07:34:00 +0000

(image)
2016 cat pumpkin
 Yes, Halloween was last night. For the first time we actually laid in a supply of fun size Mars Bars in case of trick-or-treaters... only to have Paul panic in the face of human interaction and tell the only ones who knocked that we didn't have anything.

We also had a suitably autumnal dinner of pheasant cooked with cider and apples. It was very tasty, a Diana Henry recipe, but it looked extremely unappetising (I skinned the pheasant so that was all pale and the apples fell apart so it was a very gloopy beige plate). So instead, I present you with our dinner from Saturday night. Really simple venison nachos. Also nicely seasonal, and I think it'd make good party food, although we just had the plate between us on the sofa while we caught up on Graham Norton on iplayer.




Fig and frangipane tart and a long weekend in Paris

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 09:03:00 +0000

Last weekend, we went to Paris. This is a Big Deal. I know people in the UK are supposed to be completely blasé about jaunts to the continent, but a combination of the global economic crisis, Paul not having a sensible (or valid) passport and not having a reliable cat sitter has meant that we hadn't been away together in seven years. Seven. Years.Fête des Vendanges Montmartre - pic by Paul FourieBut we've found a cat sitter who Urchin seemed to accept and we both now have EU passports, so it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of open borders while we still can. Found a pretty good deal on lastminute.com and prepared ourselves in our own ways. Paul's way is to charge batteries and organise electronics, mine is to read blogs for restaurant recommendations and worry about what to wear.Fête des Vendanges Montmartre - pic by Paul FourieWe decided to book restaurants for the three nights we were away, and just wing other meals. And chose restaurants fairly close to where we were staying, for ease of staggering home afterwards. Unfortunately, choosing from restaurants that have a good website, online booking and an English translation does rather mean you end up in pretty touristy places. But that's OK - we were tourists, we don't speak French and we quite liked the idea of eating onion soup at every meal as long as the hotel room had openable windows.Fête des Vendanges Montmartre - pic by Paul FourieUnfortunately our dinner reservation on the first night hit a serious snag. We wandered (OK, puffed and wheezed) towards Sacré-Cœur, and found ourselves in the middle of a food festival, part of the Fête des Vendanges Montmartre. We should have popped in to La Mere Catherine and cancelled our reservation and just eaten ourselves senseless, but instead we restricted ourselves to a modest cornet of charcuterie and a couple of glasses of wine so as not to spoil our dinner.Fête des Vendanges Montmartre - pic by Paul FouriePart of the attraction of La Mere Catherine, as well as the old-school brasserie menu, was the age. Established 1793. There can't be many restaurants in the world with that kind of history - Rules in London is almost as old, but that's going back to the very beginning of what we think of as restaurants. I had a good goats cheese salad, a rubbery steak with excellent potatoes, tried to explain steak haché to an over-tired American tween who was deeply sceptical (although she did try her mother's snails) and a potent rum baba. It was entirely expected and fine for what it was. But my heart was 2 streets over eating foie gras inna bun, wooden boxes of grilled cheese and long glasses of Planteur.Goats cheese saladWe wandered back through the festival after dinner for a glass of Monbazillac and for Paul to take more photos before calling it a night.Next morning we had quite a late start. And then we walked. And walked and walked. Had a restorative croque madame and a couple of cups of coffee and walked some more. I've decided that I don't really love a croque madame. As much as a fried ham & cheese sandwich, topped with bechamel and a fried egg sounds like it should be bliss it's all oddly subtle for my taste. It'd be better with sharp cheddar, a good spoonful of mustard and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. If it was, in fact, Welsh rarebit.Croque madame - that egg is undercooked even for my tasteAfter loads more walking and a couple of stops for fortifying glasses of Kir we went back to the hotel room to change for dinner. The restaurant, Sacrée Fle[...]



Courgette and herb slice

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 10:09:00 +0000

I know it looks like we eat a lot of meat. We do. Especially at this time of year when clear, warm evenings make cooking outdoors appealing. But we also eat a lot of vegetables - sometimes without a piece of meat in sight.One of my former flatmates used to make the most delicious zucchini fritters - heady with herbs, given an added punch with crumbled feta. This slice, which is almost like a less-eggy frittata, is inspired by those but without the labour of making little individual fritters. And as I live in a country that calls zucchini courgette, that is what I will call them. You can call them baby marrows if that's what floats your boat.I start this on the stovetop and finish it in the oven - I feel like that prevents any danger of soggy bottoms and makes it easier to slice and serve.Courgette and herb slice (serves 2-4)3 eggs100g self raising flour500g courgettes (i.e zucchini), grated75g fresh herbs (I used 25g each of mint, flat leaf parsley and coriander), roughly chopped200g kefalotyri cheese, gratedFreshly ground black pepper2tbs olive oilMix the flour into the eggs and mix in the other ingredients, except the oil. It will feel very dry initially. Allow to stand for half an hour - the liquid will draw out of the courgettes and loosen the batter nicely.Preheat oven to 180CWarm a suitable vessel (i.e a skillet or something that can go on the hob and in the oven) on a medium heat on the stove and add the olive oil. When it starts to sizzle, add the courgette batter and smooth down. When the edges start to crisp a little, put it in the oven and bake for about half an hour, until well-browned. It won't rise much, the self-raising flour gives just enough lift to stop it from being stodgy.Allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving with salad. It's good warm or cold.[...]



Barbecued short ribs

Sun, 21 Aug 2016 16:43:00 +0000

Shortribs rubbed with salt and pepperThe weather yesterday was pretty crumby. Which would normally be counter-intuitive for wanting to barbecue, but was actually perfect for what we had in mind. A long, slow cook, indirect and covered, with lots of smoke. Periods of rain are no barrier to that sort of barbecuing.Two hours into the smokingPaul had spotted some cheap but very meaty beef short ribs at the supermarket, and bought every pack on the shelf (there were only three), so I simply rubbed them with salt and pepper before we put them in the barbecue on indirect heat. We added smoking chips every half hour for 4 hours.Then we wrapped them. We couldn't decide what seasonings to add, so we ended up doing each one individually. One we basted heavily in some Germantown Commissary Barbecue Sauce that a friend had brought over when she visited from Memphis. One we just added a bit of chicken stock to (would have used beef stock if I'd had any). The last had a good slug of red wine and several whole cloves of garlic. Then they went back in the barbecue for another 2 1/2 hours before resting for half an hour.L-R Memphis BBQ, chicken stock, red wine and garlicThe meat had a deep bark and was beautifully succulent, slipping straight off the bone. The one with the chicken stock was the most moist, while the one in barbecue sauce had the best flavour. I was anticipating that the barbecue sauce would be a bit sweet, but it was deliciously piquant. The red wine and garlic one suffered a bit, because we managed to poke a hole in the foil, so it didn't retain moisture the way it should. It was still excellent, but the ratio of bark to tender meat was a bit off.I think the next time we do short ribs, we'll add a bit of stock AND baste in the barbecue sauce. And make sure someone goes to Memphis to get us some more.It's very rich meat - you really only need a green salad with it and maybe some pickles.[...]



Forty Dean Street

Sun, 14 Aug 2016 19:43:00 +0000

ProseccoVery much to my surprise my ninth blogoversary has come and gone without acknowledgment. And two months have slipped by since I last posted. I just haven't been feeling it. I have spent much of the last couple of months raging over the Brexit referendum and ensuing economic uncertainty and rise of racial and religious-based hate crimes and, well, none of that has added up to me wanting to cook much or write about food. Food is joy and love and caring and inclusion, which all feels a bit pre-Brexit.Prawns with cherry tomatoes and crostini, and antipasto platterWhich means that this meal, at Forty Dean Street has felt like a wondrous time gone by. It was utterly joy-filled as well as being completely unexpected.There can be a certain predictability about blogger dinners. They are on a Tuesday, of the 15-20 people there I maybe know a couple and PRs are scattered through to keep everyone happy. Everyone's on their best behaviour, determined to enjoy themselves and the networking-inclined hand out business cards. Very pleasant they tend to be, if not always memorable.Linguine with seafood, spaghetti with fresh lobsterDinner at Forty Dean Street was on a Thursday. There were only six of us - three PRs, three bloggers. And it ended up being less a dinner than a dance party with food. The description of the restaurant - affordable, family-run, seventeen years in business - had me anticipating something a bit staid, while "favourite with our regulars, the media crowd and tourists alike" didn't make me feel particularly confident. So maybe my utter pleasure in the food and atmosphere was born of low expectations, but I do think it was genuinely good.Lamb chopsMention had been made of the owner coming to tell us about the restaurant and talk us through the food, but he was far too busy joyously DJing an impeccably selected soundtrack for a 40th birthday in the corner, and dancing with anyone who would stand up with him.  The food didn't need any introduction though. More than two months later I am thinking about how richly flavoured the spaghetti with lobster was and how perfectly tender the lamb chops with mustard crushed potatoes were. Beautifully prepared and utterly delicious.The selection of desserts wasn't quite as good as the savoury dishes - the tiramisu was almost as good as mine, the pannacotta wobbled delectably and the cheesecake was a fair example but... I dunno. I think I'd just eaten enough and was enjoying dancing at the table because none of it wowed me particularly.The bottom line is that it isn't somewhere I would take a first date, or have a work lunch where I was discussing redundancies, but for very nice food at an extremely reasonable price with a jolly party atmosphere... it's just what you want. And god knows the more support we give the independents in Soho the better, otherwise soon it'll be acceptable but dull franchises as far as the eye can see. Which would be such a shame.[...]



A barbecue or two

Thu, 02 Jun 2016 09:11:00 +0000

allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dygR_ahEocn2vfKIPPIzUoENep_nuvD9Ts7ULKdxIs8_Wd7vOa2Vgwxfew9BPnIcGT0k1hkxIVHkuxwOBM-kA' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />It turns out that this week's festival-for-raising-awareness-of-things-we-already-knew-about is National Barbecue Week. It's the 20th anniversary of it, in fact.Apparently the average British family now barbecues nine times a summer. Since we barbecue about three times a week from April to October, that doesn't leave a lot of barbecuing for anyone else, but there you go. Of course, most of our barbecues are simple, after work affairs, grilling some sausages or some veg and minimising the amount of washing up that will need to be done. But on a weekend if the weather forecast is OK, we'll plan something that takes a bit more effort and is a bit more extravagant.Brisket pointProject Brisket was such a success, and we still had the point half in the freezer, so we decided to have another go. With the added complication that we weren't going to eat it at our house. So we rubbed and we smoked, then wrapped it tightly in foil and towels and took it over to friends, where it finished cooking in their barbecue.It wasn't as successful as the first one. I think we didn't give it long enough in the second half of the cook. It was delicious, but not as meltingly tender. You actually needed a butter knife to cut it. Paul was disappointed in himself.Good bark, nice smoke ringBut honestly, if you hadn't tried the previous attempt you wouldn't have felt there was anything lacking.We took a good portion of leftovers home, which made a fantastic salad (cold salad vegetables, warmed-through meat, tangy Thai-ish chilli and fish sauce dressing), with some sweet potato wedges.Having scratched his brisket itch, Paul decided that ribs were to be the next target. According to Neil Rankin's excellent book Low and Slow: How to Cook Meat, American pork ribs have a lot more meat left on them, whereas pork belly is so profitable for butchers here that they trim really close to the bone. He does talk about the conversation you need to have with your butcher to get really meaty ribs, but that wasn't something I felt up for, so I just bought a couple of scrawny racks from the supermarket.We rubbed them with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika and smoked the living daylights out of them in a cool, humid barbecue, then poured on a tamarind glaze, wrapped them in foil and finished the cooking. Then, while they rested, I deep fried some okra and made a salad. The ribs were perfection. Just meaty enough, with excellent flavour, and tender enough to slip easily off the bones.Jalapeno & cheddar cornbread to go with pulled porkHaving conquered brisket and ribs, Paul decided that pork butt was his next ambition. I removed the rind (it was going to cook too long, slow and humid for crackling) and put it in the freezer for some day in the future when I fancy making chicharrón. I scored the fat and rubbed the whole thing with a mixture of salt, pepper, fennel seeds and garlic powder (5g each salt, fennel and garlic, 10g peppercorns - made more rub than I needed).Then the usual routine of long, slow smoking (apple wood, this time), then wrapping for the rest of the cooking time.I couldn't be bothered making a sauce for it, so after[...]