If I have received one generous comment over the years that I don't get too embarrassed over, it is that I make a good curry. I am quite proud of this, though I have to admit that the true compliment should be to my grandmother's Indian cook who, without knowing it, has inspired a generation of curry cooks in my family. But whichever route the knowledge came, I hold my hands up and say that yes, I do cook a good curry and the real heroes are three really important ingredients – onion, garlic and ginger.
The Food Lover's Recipes
I have just eaten four wonderful rashers of fried bacon – not grilled, but fried. For some fairly obvious reasons, we tend to grill bacon these days. It can be a bit easier and it reduces the amount of fat by dripping it out into the grill.
The problem is that assuming you have found decent tasting bacon in the first place, half that taste is now sitting in the grill pan where it will get washed away later
It is very easy, sometimes, to be overly complicated and forget that even very simple dishes cooked right can be delicious and satisfying. Cooking dinner every day I occasionally remember this philosophy and do something that I have not cooked for ages.
If you have chicken lurking in the fridge and a nice punnet of mushrooms, then this simple recipe is a delightful way of feeding several hungry mouths.
The French have a dish called Oeuf Sur Le Plat, which translates as Eggs on the Plate. However, this dish is not simply an egg put on a plate, but a baked delight often mixed with other ingredients such as bacon, cheese, tomatoes and so on.
I remember this being served in round glass dishes on the ferry when we travelled to France from Newhaven to Dieppe many, many years ago, and again on a train in France when I was small. This is easy to cook, and even easier to eat.
Year and years and years ago I used to try to make my own yoghurt. I am not sure why I did and am even less sure why I stopped trying, but it is definitely there in my memory. I think it involved my mother’s airing cupboard in some way, but I am not terribly sure. If you are going to make your own food, bake your own bread, make pickles perhaps, even cure your own meat, then knitting your own yoghurt is probably a pretty sensible place to start. But I warn you, it can be filled with hurdles, disappointments, and quantities of something quite disgusting.
I have to say that I haven’t cooked a chicken and mushroom pie in yonks. This is at least partly because I have been on a diet for years and pie does not fit well with that enterprise. The rest is bone-idle laziness which is stupid because they are so easy!
When it comes to this sort of pie I just don’t like the shop-bought pastry. Pastry is so quick to make that buying it off the shelf feels idiotic and is never the right texture for me.
The other day I found some huge King Edwards potatoes and thought I could happily marry them to the big Cumberland Sausages our local butcher makes. Okay, I don’t live in Cumberland so these are our butcher’s version of them. I am a great believer that local foods should be protected, so true Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausages should have to be made by local companies in the area. But apparently, the large manufacturers think they should have the right to ruin and undermine local produce without a care in the world, damn them. Despite that, these are still good sausages.
There is something about a pile of tortillas, hot and soft, all wrapped up in a tea towel, that is just a wonderful gift when put on the table.
In Mexico, they make their tortillas quite small, whereas in the USA they tend to make them, well, American size. I tend to aim for the latter simply because they look more impressive on the table. But if you want to keep your girth manageable, the Mexicans have probably got this basic bread right.
There is something especially wonderful about harvesting great product and dropping it straight into a pan. These Jersey Royal potatoes were dug up at eleven o’clock in the morning and by six o’clock at night were boiling away in water. All that was required was to dress them up a little with rosemary and garlic to give them the respect they deserve.
This is a super simple recipe for pork and potatoes that allows the spuds to shine, while the pork and pancetta adds a rich saltiness to the dish to complement the sweetness of the veg.