Weep though I may at the huddled, sorrowful image
of the few stallholders who comprise the Peckham Farmer's Market, the fruit and veg stall there has some fine produce: the other Sunday I picked up a big bag of lovely chard, the thinking man's spinach. A few paces away along the High Street you can find United Meats
whence came a small halal chicken.The sourdough is from the fabulous local bakery Brick House
I got the idea for the chicken from this recipe
by Maria Elia
. The low oven temperature keeps the flesh succulent and avoids too much burning of the marinade, although you do sacrifice a little crispiness of skin.
The spatchcocking bit, if you haven't done it before, is easy-peasy, as you can see here
If you're serving this for one or two people, use the leftover chicken in a salad and/or in a sandwich such as this
or this one
Hello, is there anybody else here?
Only a very short time ago, it seemed like the only food event round these parts was bumping into another poor soul at what is officially The World's Most Pathetic Farmer's Market (every Sunday morning outside the library
). No longer.
It's now all kicking off here in Peckham food-wise. Just last weekend, for example, no less a personage than Jay Rayner gave Peckham Refreshment Rooms
a stonking review
; I'll leave it to you to decide whether the fact that (according to Time Out
) the "hipness quota really cranks up in the evening, attracting Peckham’s edgy [edgy?] art scene/boho crowd"
is a plus or a minus.
such a crowd exists, you may find their presence difficult to reconcile with Vice's considered opinion that Peckham is now "Dalston without the cunts"
, but these Jamesian social distinctions are, sadly, beyond my grasp. The last time I
was 'edgy' was when I was off my tits on billy whizz at a Toots and The Maytals' gig in the eighties. But back to the food: this weekend we've got the MUNCH food festival
happening in Holly Grove Park (that's the tiny strip of green running along the side of Peckham Rye station):
This is just one half of the sandwich.
treme, pronounced treh-MAY, or TREH-may, or tree-mee, or...
Have you seen Treme? It's co-created by David Simon, the man behind The Wire, and quite a few of the actors from there appear in Treme as well. There's a fourth season due later this year.
This was quite the nicest Sunday lunch I've made myself in a very long time. I'm not normally one to fuss over presentation, but that looks a bit flippin' Masterchef-ish, don't you think? I don't know what came over me.
We all have our favourite ingredients. Take a gander at the recipe archive
and you'll see I use thyme quite a lot, love sherry vinegar, and am rather partial to the odd splash of Henderson's Relish. Well now you can add hot pepper jelly to the list. Specifically Jules & Sharpie's
. Sainsbury's sell it at £1.99 for 220g. Ocado sell it as well, at £3.49 for the larger size of 300g. They (Jules & Sharpie that is) also have a section on their site where you can enter your postcode to find your nearest stockist. Any road, I've been using it to enliven many a sandwich/toastie but yesterday had the frankly inspired idea to use it in the gravy for this recipe, rather than the dollop of redcurrant jelly I'd have normally used. It made for a luscious jus. Yes
, I did just write jus.
Wood pigeons are, bless the little buggers, available all year round. And if you are delicate of nature and have not tried game before, they are a perfect introduction - just gamey enough, but not overpoweringly so. It's a piece of piss to remove the breasts, but you can, of course, ask your butcher to do it for you.
This recipe might seem ever so slightly fiddly, but it's all dead simple and you can do the majority of it well in advance.
It's times like this that I really wish I could take a better photograph - because this looked, as well as tasted, absolutely gorgeous. The peerless Soper's
are selling wild Irish trout at the moment for £9.95/kg. Hard to resist. The fish I bought cost £5.12 and produced two nice sized fillets.
Fresh garlic is now in the shops. If you're unfamiliar with new season garlic, a whole head shared between two might seem like a lot, but it's not - it is much milder than the dried variety, especially after roasting.Panzanella
is normally a rough and ready affair, pungent with sharp and rustic flavours. But for this dish I've come over all elegant, omitting the capers and onion, adding the sweetness of roasted pepper, and chopping the ingredients into tiny dice.
I'd like to emphasise that you need really good olive oil for this - the best you can afford. Otherwise I'd suggest making the mash with potatoes, butter and milk , and frying the trout in butter instead of oil.
I can't tell you what a buzz it is to be back in the kitchen and rattlin' those pots and pans again. This would make a great brunch, although I had it for my tea this evening.
I bought one of those Bury Black Pudding Co. packets of four slices from the supermarket for £1.25 - ideal for this recipe.
I go to the bin
I throw the laundry in
Dig out the cleanest shirt
When all at once I'm seized again
By an exquisite hurt
That untouched take-away
I brought home the other day
Has quite a lot to say
The evidence is clear
On every side, piled high and wide
About how lately I've let things slide
I'm just about holding on
But lately I've let things slide
- from Lately I've Let Things Slide by Nick Lowe
Well that was fucking boring. I mean, really boring. I'd almost have preferred waking-up-naked-on-a-traffic-island batshit crazy; or end-of-days-slash-your-wrists-(up-not-across) technicolor melodrama; instead it was just eighty-odd days of unremitting, listless tedium. [Before we go any further, a big thanks to all those of you who took the trouble to ask after this miserable sinner, only to be met with a stony silence - I will try and reply to you all.] Anyway...
Sausages and mash
Sausages and mash with onion gravy: words to stir an atavistic yearning in the hearts of all stout yeoman throughout this fair isle. And me. They're also words to be found on pub lunch menus beyond counting, a seemingly reassuring presence amongst all the Thai curries, lasagnes, burgers, pesto pastas (V), BBQ chicken wings, risottos, pies of the day et al. Sadly, however, what you tend to end up with gravy-wise is an unedifying, overly sweet, gloopy paste (see also 'French onion soup').
Neither, it must said, have I liked the stuff whenever I've tried to make it (once every couple of years). Until very recently. Until circumstances (the purchase of two majestic faggots from Flock & Herd
a month or so back) forced me once again, heroically, to have another bash at it.
I was given a kilo bag of calasparra rice
last Thursday (birthday gift, valentine's day - don't, I know,
very fucking hilarious).
The previous evening I'd written out the next week's menu (my 'week' tends to start on Thursday, because that's when the money comes in) which, dinner-wise, read:
Thu: onglet + gratin dauphinois
Fri: macaroni cheese
Sat: sausages + peppers
Sun: spaghetti + broccoli
Mon: rice + chicken
Tue: cod + lentils
Wed: omelette + salad
intended to use this recipe
for the rice and chicken, but the gift of calasparra prompted a change of tack away from a risotto and more towards a kind of paella (and I've always got a chorizo sausage or two in the freezer and a tin of spanish paprika in the cupboard).
a fear of béchamel
A minute or two ago I googled 'macaroni cheese' and got 22,300,000 results. Room for one more do you think?
I love the combination of pasta and cheese. One of my favourite quick suppers is spaghetti tossed in butter, a spoonful of cream and plent of grated parmesan and black pepper. But I have issues with most macaroni cheese recipes; well two issues to be precise.
Firstly, I have an irrational dislike of béchamel sauce. Not a phobia exactly (is there a word for a fear of this culinary wallpaper paste? Probably) but such that I find it difficult to make the stuff. No doubt this stems from some maternally inflicted childhood dinner trauma. Although I have no specific memory for this, I do remember her once force-feeding me butter beans until I spewed them all out again.
Hancock: I thought my mother was a bad cook, but at least her gravy used to move about. Yours just sort of lies there and sets.
Griselda: That's the goodness in it.
Hancock: That's the half a pound of flour you put in it!
- from Hancock's Half Hour: 'Sunday Afternoon At Home'
Secondly, a lot of versions of this dish are singularly lacking much in the way of one of the two main ingredients, viz cheese. And whatever you might think of the recipe below it certainly doesn't fail on that score. It is rammed with cheese. It is cheese-ageddon as far as the macaroni is concerned. But no more of a quantity than you might easily polish off from a cheeseboard at the end of a meal, or in a supper of welsh rarebit.
Speaking of the macaroni, I used cavatappi (a type of elbow macaroni) from Morrison's at 95p/500g (or two for £1.50):
Anyway, here's my version: rich, filling, comforting, simple: cheese, pasta and cream.