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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Not So Traditional Christmas Dundee Cake

dundeeHands up, I don’t like Christmas Cake. I don’t apologise. It seems forced, overly fruity, almond pasted, icing sugared overload. It’s not for me. I am partial to a slice of Dundee cake. The problem with that, of course, is that it doesn’t always come up to what you Christmas cake fiends demand. So there is something to find in the middle. I think this is it – it has the fruit, and some alcoholic richness; but it pushes back the icing for a glaze and blanched almonds (so much better than the paste). It being Christmas time, the cake is fed – with the tipple of your choice –  so that it keeps moist and tastes wonderful with a great glassful of sherry. Nuts, fruit, eggs, alcohol, and in this cake a little mixed spice and cinnamon (hence not so traditional). Don’t complain, it’s not Dundee cake, I know, it’s a Dundee Christmas Cake.

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Hot Smoked Salmon and Couscous

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So sometimes something cold, even at this time of year, can be very rewarding. A dish that has about it something of the Mediterranean with the couscous, dill, olive oil and lemon mix  – but that smell and flavour of chunks of smoked salmon just scream out more a summer time plate.  I love this, it easily feeds two very well or four with a few side dishes. You can mix it up – add cucumber, other peppers, pitta bread even – but really you don’t need much on the side, this dish pretty much does it all.

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In Season – October

October

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This is only a guide to seasonal fruit and vegetables generally available.

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.

 

 

 

 

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Chinese Chicken Curry

There is something wonderful about Chinese chicken curry with rice. I suppose it takes me back to my childhood. Of course I suppose there is nothing authentic about it, but that yellowish creamy sauce, with onions and mushrooms makes it my favourite. You can add what you want to make it vegetarian and substitute the stock for water, personally if I want it veggie I just leave out the chicken. This really is made quicker than waiting for the order to arrive, and it is so simple it can be done after the pub! Feeds two.

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Pie and Mash

IMG_1276I am going through a thing at the moment for food I had as a child (and crave right now). It started when I thought about Chinese chicken curry, and turned very easily to pie and mash. There is something wholesome and deeply fulfilling when you are faced with a pie with a crisp top and suet base, filled with mincemeat. Aside that, comes the mash, and poured over the top the parsley liquor (and a generous amount of vinegar). It is isn’t rocket science, and I can manage to eat two pies even in  the summer. This really works.  Feeds four.

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Maneesh

flatbreadHappily locked away in Cornwall, it’s a wine and ‘pick and lick’ menu at lunchtime. For my contribution at the table it needs something easily made (I am on holiday), and great for dipping or holding food that someone else expertly prepares: in this case spicy chicken, dips, sausages and a varied amount of food that tastes great and makes the lunch. So here was my contribution, a classic Middle Eastern flatbread, with a dough spread with homemade za’atar – herbs and sesame seeds. It really is quick to make with a crusty top with soft dough inside. This makes three breads, or break into smaller amounts if you want more individual sizes.

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July – In Season

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JULY

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