Cooking At Zero Degrees

This is a blog about what we eat at home.  Starters, mains, sauces, side dishes, cocktails and links to local shops. It’s all here.

Food is fun,  it should be fun to make and fun to eat. For some people making a meal is a chore. If it is then don’t do it;  but please, it’s better to eat something, anything, that you make at home from scratch, because prepared, packaged supermarket dinners  and food have about as much flavour as the plastic or cardboard package they come in.  Food cultivation and husbandry is not just a moral argument.  Eggs that don’t come from battery hens do taste better, cattle properly reared have more flavour –  and just think about it: at its most simple, if they’re not being pumped full of chemicals then you’re not being pumped full of chemicals. How good is that? If you can buy local, use your neighbourhood shops, you will miss them when they are gone.  Most of all, have fun making a meal of it!  Oh, and why at zero degrees? Because that’s where we live – in Greenwich, London.

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Cheese, Ham and Onion Tart

Cooking At Zero Degrees

Rustic Flan

I refuse to call this Quiche. Not because I don’t bake Quiche, but because this is not one! It is a tart, good and proper, or if you are feeling a little more up market a flan. It is also a tart so I dont have to tidy up the edges – and it makes it look less shop-bought.  It is also a case of take a look in the larder and see what you have left. The only reason that this is cheese, ham and onion is because they were available. You could take your pick on what is on offer, or you could follow this recipe. Either way, you could do a lot worse for supper on a blustery saturday evening.

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Tempura Squid with Garlic or Curry Mayonnaise.

Cooking At Zero Degrees

We fancied having a sort of Spanish-style afternoon meal.  Any excuse of some nice white Spanish wine. Anyway, choice was limited at the fishmonger, we got there late, so the result has been some Spanish cheese (manchego) and some battered and deep-fried squid. There is a choice of dip, mayonnaise in both but then one with lemon and garlic and the other with lime and curry. Both are really easy and the whole meal takes only minutes to make. If only we had the weather to go with it all.

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In Season – June

June

This is only a guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables. Of course, many are available all the time because of imports, and some are now grown for most of the year and they are included on these lists. Supporting local farmers and producers is by far the best way of eating good food, and helping local agriculture or fishermen; but the best person to ask what is in season is your greengrocer, fishmonger or butcher.

VEGETABLES

Asparagus
Aubergines
Beans
Beetroots
Broccoli
Cabbages
Cauliflowers
Courgettes
Cucumber
Fennel
Globe Artichokes
Horseradish
Lettuces
Lettuce
Mangetout
Morels
Mushrooms
Parsely
Peas
Peppers
Potatoes (early)
Peppers
Rocket
Samphire
Sea Kale
Sorrel
Spinach
Spring Onions
Sweet Potatoes
Sweetcorn 
Tomatoes
Radishes
Watercress

FRUITS

Apples
Apricots
Avocados
Bananas
Cherries
Elderflowers
Gooseberries
Grapefruits
Grapes
Kiwi fruit
Lemons
Limes
Oranges
Pears
Plums
Raspberries
Redcurrents
Rhubarb
Strawberries

MEAT

Lamb
Wood Pidgeon

FISH

Coley
Halibut
Haddock
Hake
John Dory
Lobster
Oyster (rock)
Plaice
Prawn (cold-water)
Salmon (Atlantic and Pacific)
Trout (brown)
Turbot
Whiting
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Prawn Cocktail

Cooking At Zero Degrees

Prawn Cocktail Prawn Cocktail

Well, it’s hot in London. So hot, that it reminds me of the last time it felt this way – to me at least – and that’s back in the 1970’s. So, what am I to do but revert back to a favourite from then, Prawn Cocktail. There is a reason it is still going strong today; cold crunchy lettuce, sharp hit of the Marie Rose sauce, and the beautiful taste of the sea from the prawns. This is an absolute treat when the weather is like it is. Silky, cold and a reminder of summers. Eat with some toasted crusty bread, serve with lemon on the side. Feeds four.

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Chocolate Brownies

Cooking At Zero Degrees

Trust me, I’m not searching the world for recipes that are a heart attack on a plate, but sometimes things are just too good not to try. Brownies (more about their history below) are one of those wonderful food creations that can be eaten at almost anytime. Great for tea-time, on picnics and even as a dessert after good meal (just add a spoon of ice cream). This one has extra chocolate chunks running through it – I used mostly dark chocolate but the choice is yours. I have a recipe for a brownie cake, squidgy on top with wonderful chocolate goo on the base. When I’ve tried it I will share it. Well, maybe.

Cuts into 16 squares or 32 triangles. Ready in 1 hour  (inc cooling)

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Tres Leches

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So it’s a cake, soaked in whole milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk – topped with cream. Really?  This sweet, moist wonderfulness of a creation can only make you feel that God exists and bakes. I first tried this in the US, but it has a long story in its history (more about that below), a bit convoluted and not entirely clear. What is undoubtedly true, once you have made this your friends will always, but always want more.

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Mackerel with Capers and Chili

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Time to have a fish dish. Mackerel is probably my favourite fish, it is full of flavour and being an oily fish is very good for you. We are also heading into summer, so the meal needs a bit of that Mediterranean feel about it. I have taken this recipe and changed it out a little. While the original is nice, the peppers and potatoes can feel a little bland, so it has been perked up a little with pinch of chili flakes and I have exchanged the white wine for vermouth.

This serves two as a big meal or four as a regular one.

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