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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Elderflower Gin Cocktail

Here’s a new one. We were given some Elderflower Liqueur (it’s called St Germain but I have no idea why). What to do with it, will it work? At 40 percent proof you can hardly go wrong. So here’s the thing to do:

In a glass of your choice add equal measures of Elderflower Liqueur and Gin (or vodka) over crushed ice. Top with apple juice, or if you are feeling really decadent champagne.

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Elderflower

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In Season – April

April April

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.

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US Conversions

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Lamb Meatballs with Warm Yoghurt

So I have eaten at Ottolenghi but never cooked the food. It always seemed a little too fiddly, too many ingredients and, I thought, would take too much time. Anyway, I apologise and say I am wrong on all counts. This is a lovely novel way to have lamb this weekend, and this is taken from the Nopi cookbook. It has all the flavours of the east, with a delicate sauce over the gently cooked swiss chard (now in season and stocked in good greengrocers).  Most if not all these dry ingredients will be in your store cupboard, and brought together in this recipe produce a highly flavoured and wonderful meal. Serves 6, can be made the day before and reheated (and like most things in that category improves the flavour).

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Classic White Loaf

IMG_1436There is on this blog a recipe for a wholemeal loaf. However, sometimes there is a need for white bread – and for some sandwiches I think only white bread will do. Here is a simple, straightforward version for a 2lb standard white loaf.

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Saturday Morning Potatoes, Chorizo and Eggs.

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Saturday morning’s a great time for brunch. Up later than normal, too early to bother with a wait for lunch, but looking for something more substantial to see you through the shopping or the rest of the day until dinner. Sometimes there are left over chips from the fish and chip supper the night before. Never throw them away, they cook up well and with some added chorizo, onion, garlic and a poached egg they make the morning go with a bit of sunshine. Serves two.

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Bacon Wrapped Mackerel with Side Salad

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Bacon Wrapped Mackerel

So Spring has sprung. Yet the problem is that the weather can be so variable. Yes, I want to move (ok with some resistance) away from the heavier and warming foods of winter, but I am not yet willing to embrace the light dishes of summer; and anyway not everything is in fully in season. So, something must replace the intensity of flavours I am giving up if I am to embrace the change. Here it is. Mackerel. I love this oily fish, the rich, deep flavour, and it needs something equal to its weight and that is a wrapping of thin rashers of smoked bacon with a balanced side-salad as a (not so) welcome nod to the new year. Actually, you could look at this as a deconstructed BLT – but there is a reason why those flavours work so well and why that sandwich is such a hit. Anyway, this is something akin to that, but without the need of bread. It will serve two as good main course, or four as a starter.

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