Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Port and Jamie

Not much to blog about from this week, as meals have been speedy and unexciting, thanks to me being very busy.

But last Wednesday, I had a very good food and drink evening.

We started in College, for a Port Tasting. There were 20 of us, and 14 bottles of port, which is a pretty good ratio to start with. Even better when 10 of those bottles are vintage port all costing over £50, and two of those 10 are 1963 port, which is £140 a bottle. Not something that I'd ever get to taste normally.

It was a very interesting evening, I learnt quite a bit about port, how it's amde and how it ages, and we looked at how port ages, and compared vintage to Ruby port. We also got to take the leftovers home, so there's a very nice bottle of port in my kitchen at the moment, waiting to be drunk.

Then my parents came up for dinner at Jamie Oliver's Italian restaurant. The food was absolutely fantastic. We started with olives, which came with some crackers and tapenade, while we waited at the bar for a table. We had at least a half an hour wait even thought it was already gone 8pm when we got there.

We shared mozarella with pesto, parmesan with balsamic and grilled vegetables to start, with a bread basket. Then I had amazing mushroom ravioli, mum had prawn linguine and dad had the canneloni. All were really, really good. I'd definitely go back - it's actually not that expensive, either.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Food to Go

Apart from studying, a major part of my university life (both as an undergrad at Leeds and now as a grad at Oxford) revolves around the theatre. I am very involved in technical theatre - the backstage stuff. I like lighting, props, set and Stage/Production Managing. Particularly the last two - I like being organised, and telling other people what to do :D It's hard work though.

This means that I often spend a lot of evenings in rehearsals or shows. And as they often take up whole evenings, that requires bringing in food. I like to eat pretty healthily, so I'm not overly keen on lots of take-aways or bought sandwhiches and things.

For the last two night's I have been in the theatre, op-ing the lights. The first night I took in roasted veg, quinoa, feta and chick peas in a spicy tomato dressing. That's one of my favourites. The second I took in a pea and broad bean salad with feta in a minty dressing. Also good.

The problem now, is that I'll be in rehearsals then performances for the next two weeks. That's a lot of meals to think up....

Cooking Rhubarb

I love Rhubarb. It's strange, because I used to hate it, a by-product of school I think. Can't get enough of it now, and forced rhubarb is in season now, but relatively hard to get hold of. But I found some in Oxford's Covered Market, finally!

During the week I decided it was time to cook some, chopped and sprinkled with sugar, in the oven.

It cooks down so it's all lovely and soft, but manages to retain its shape. The sugar balances out the tang, but maintains that lovely rhubarby flavour. Sadly it does lose some of that amazing colour.

And it goes really well with custard. Even bought custard, as it's not something I'm likely to make for myself. It's very simple, but I'm going to send it to WTSIM: Hot Dessert.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

A Good Food Day

Yesterday was a good day for food and drink. And not so bad work-wise either, I got most of my essay done :)

Let's start with lunch. One of the things about being a student, particularly a relatively broke student, is that I have to think of things to eat for every meal every day. For lunch I like salady or soupy things, not heavy meals, and I get bored of things to have with my salads, especially as I won't buy pork-y things, and I don't really like meat for lunch.

Yesterday, whilst thinking about what to have for lunch (and writing an essay) I saw a lot about Mexican food on blogs. Inspired my one my all-time favourite restaurants, Wahaca, I decided to make feta and broad bean quaesadillas. I had sweet-corn so thought I'd make some salsa too.

I had to go to Tescos, as I had no salad, so I bought feta, chilli and corriander and avocado, along with the other things I needed.

I made a fresh salsa using red onion, garlic, chilli, corriander, tomatoes and sweetcorn. It was quite hot! I also made some guacamole, although only a little, because I don't like to use more than a half an avocado for a single meal for me.

It was a nice lunch, a little different which is always good!I also had some salad on the side, as I do like to have lots of veg.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Miso Soup, two ways

This is one of my newest discoveries, and I love it. Really, I just stole Wagamama's ideas, but it works :)

Now, I have a little secret about this dish. I started making it on Monday night, but I didn't really have time to eat it. I usually eat around 8pm, sometimes later, often watching Masterchef which is on about 8.30. So I'll start cooking at 8, so I can be ready for the show. But on Monday, I was going to a lecture that started at 8. And, after the lecture, I was meeting one of my favourite people at Oxford for ice cream, chocolate and a catch up at Oxford's famous G & Ds.

So I started making dinner, by finely chopping onion and garlic, and stir-frying both with some mushrooms and leeks. I added soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce, and then noodles. In a separate container, I mixed two sachets of miso with water. Then, I poured that into a pan, and after a minute took it away from the heat. But I really only had time for one little bowl, and there were a lot of leftovers.

On Tuesday night, I had a meeting which started at 8, but I didn't think would go on long (it didn't). I also wanted to go to rehearsals before hand. So, after the meeting, I stir-fried some red onion and red pepper, and strained the veg and noodles out of the soup, and added them to reheat. I also added a piece of salmon, that had been cooked and frozen in terriyaki sauce, but had lots its sauce in the car journey between home and Oxford (in the cool bag, luckily, not in the car). Then I added the soup, with a little more water.

It was a lovely dinner. I find the soup very filling! And I'm going to send this to Presto Pasta Nights which this week is being hosted by Noob Cook.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Weekend Catch Up

Goodness, I didn't realise it had been so long since I had posted. As usual in Oxford, it's a little bit nuts and I have sooo much to do. All the time. So, a quick round up, combined with some details about actual cooking I managed to do over the weekend!

Friday night I was at the Oxford Jewish Society. Friday night is the start of the Jewish Sabbath, and it's welcomed in with a traditional meal, as well as prayers over candles, bread and wine. I will, I promise, write a longer post about this at some point. We had a very traditional meal: chicken soup, containing noodles, chicken, carrots and kneidlach (matza ball dumplings) along with challah (bread thats plaited and contains egg), homous and egg mayo. Then roast chicken, potatoes, risotto and salad (ok, the last two are less traditional). Dessert was kosher cakes cut into heart shapes with fruit. All in all, a very nice evening.

Saturday seems like such a long time ago, I can't even remember what I had for lunch! For dinner, however, I decided to make my favourite quick dish: couscous salad with saute'd veg, chickpeas and harrissa dressing:

I always make my couscous with stock as well as water, and then I added some sumac before mixing everything else in.

I saute'd red onion, red pepper, leeks and mushrooms (really the only things I could get from Tescos on a Saturday night, but actually quite a good combination) in a pan, and mixed them through.

Normally I make my own harrissa dressing using spices (cumin, corriander, paprika), garlic, tomato puree and olive oil, but as I was in a rush and going out, therefore not wanting anything too spicy, I used a stir-through jar. Disappointing, the homemade is, of course, better.

But still it was good, shame my party was rubbish!

Sunday I thought was going to be spent entirely in the theatre, but I had a reprieve, so I went to JSoc bagel brunch, for bagels with egg mayo, and smoked salmon and cream cheese. It was really good - lots of smoked salmon.

I then made another of my favourite dinners, as I had time, not being in the theatre: Juliette-style fish pie. Just as I was finishing, I realised that I had forgotten to take a photo of it! But you'll have to take my word for it: it looked & tasted great!

I had bought some reduced smoked haddock during the week, and frozen it, so I defrosted a piece and poached it in some milk. Just quickly, for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, I made some mashed sweet potato, and cooked some sliced leeks and whole cherry tomatos in the oven. And I defrosted some spinach.

I combined it all: spinach (with some butter) and leeks on the bottom, then fish, mixed with some horseradish, then tomatoes, then mash. Lovely!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Presto Pasta Night

The round up for Presto Pasta Night can be found here. I hope I have some time for cooking this week so I can submit something else! There are some lovely looking recipes on there too.


I put a star in the last post. What I had meant to add at the end, but ran out of time for, was that my favourite breakfast at home is one that I can't afford here. It's basically mixed berries, ideally blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries, with plain yoghurt and grandma's homemade granola.

Now, I finally found some rhubarb. What shall I do with it?!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Making Breakfast

Normally for breakfast, at uni anyway, I have a banana, broken into pieces, with a yoghurt. My favourite flavour is Rhubarb, and although I love Rachel's organic yoghurt, it's quite expensive so I usually stick to Tescos.

But, the recent talk of forced rhubarb, which is apparently coming into season here, has made my crave my other favourite uni breakfast*, which is stewed fruit/compote, ideally made with rhubarb. But, unfortunately, neither the Tesco metro in Oxford, nor the bigger Tesco at home, nor Oxford Sainsburys, nor the market, have yet had rhubarb. Eventually I might make it out to the big Tescos, and try there.

So, when I was in Tescos yesterday, I spotted a punnet of plums for £1. Too good to refuse, I so bought those, along with a bag of Granny Smiths to cook instead.

I chopped them up, although left the skins on, and put them in a big pan with some water, bringing them to the boil, lid off, then leave to cook quietly while I did some other things.

It was good to have something warm for breakfast this morning!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Eggs, continued

With all this egg eating, it's lucky that "they" no longer think that eggs are quite so bad as you as was previously believed. Probably not such an issue with cholesterol, unless you are genetically prone to higher cholesterol.

Details of the research, that is potentially funded by an egg-promoting body (!) can be found on The Times website and The Guardian Foodblog.

So does that mean that I can have more eggs tomorrow?!

I think I probably eat more eggs than most, seeing as I love them, but, importantly, they are an easy, cheap source of non-meat protein, and I don't buy/cook/eat much meat.

Making Lunch

Finally, a little cooking. But really, only minor. A good distraction from todays work - which is stats. I hate stats. I wanted to use up the left over herrings in sour cream from home. I love them:
I have to assure you that it tastes better than it looks. Basically, it involves combining the fish from a jar of roll mop herrings, with some of the onions from the jar, chopped pickled cucumbers, chopped apple, and sour cream.

So I made some egg may too, and a salad. And ate it all with some of the bread I brought up from home.

This is a slice of rye, and a slice of black bread. It comes from the Kosher butcher (who also sells bread, and other Kosher things) at home. I'm sure I could get it from the Polish place near my Oxford house.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Weekend Non-Cooking

I haven't done very much cooking in the last few days, mainly due to work, and being home.

I left Oxford on Thursday, to head home before the weather got too bad to drive. We really can't cope with snow here, but then, it's so unusual, it's not something that's worth pouring resources into. Anyway, we all ended up home, so mum made pesto-topped salmon fillets, with couscous, roasted beetroot, roast cauliflower, and green beans. It was really lovely.

I used up the leftover couscous in a good salad the next day, but it was definitely lacking my harissa dressing. I'll have to make that soon, I love it.

Friday night is an important meal in the Jewish religion. We had decided to go all-out on cheese, and had both raclette and cheese fondue this week, as we'd had quite a bit of meat recently. Lovely, but not too much cooking. We had little new potatoes, gherkins & silver skin onions with the raclette, and cubes of baguette, filled pasta, and lots of raw veg with the fondue. Very filling!

On Saturday, we were at my cousin's Bar Mitzvah, which had a nautical theme, and lots of fish. There were a seleciton of canapes, but I only ate the sushi, which I love. The starter was French Onion Soup, with gruyere croutons, which was lovely, but quite messy to eat in smart dresses, and quite filling. The main was sea bass, topped with roasted grated beetroot, potato & mushy pea mash, and roasted veg. Dessert was plum crumble tart with ice cream, custard and mixed berries. All really good food.

Sunday lunch at home is always bagels, and my favourite kind are black bagels, followed closely by rye. On my bagels I like egg mayo, chopped herring, smoked salmon, herrings in sour cream, and particularly, cods roe. All of which we had on Sunday. I bought some extra bagels from the deli to bring back to Oxford, so I can have them here too.

I ended up staying for dinner on Sunday night, because of the snow, and mum was having people over for dinner, so I had some of their puttanesca pasta, and apple crumble.

I left after brunch on Monday, which was bagel leftovers. On Monday night I went for formal dinner in my college. It was our grad guest dinners, which are the nicest kind. The starter was smoked salmon rillettes, smoked salmon wrapped around what I think was salmon and cream cheese, served on bread and butter. The main was poussin - and we literally had a whole bird! It was lovely, but quite hard to eat at a formal dinner in a civilised manner! With it were dauphinoise potatoes, college's speciality, and broccoli. Dessert was pavlova. Overall it was a particularly good night at college, and I'm sorry I don't have photos. The only poor part of it was the veggie option, which was pastry with scrambled egg in, and asparagus on top. Didn't look great.

I was out for lunch today, and for dinner tonight, back to cooking tomorrow!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Pasta Time

So I've been following Presto Pasta Nights for a while now, and as it's the 100'th this week, I thought it was high time I joined in. I even took a photo of my pasta, but sadly, being a student, I don't really have beautiful dishes.

My pasta dish was roasted squash, leeks and red onion, with goats cheese:

I had half a left over Sweet Mama Squash, that mum had given me from her veggie box, however this recipe works very well with Butternut Squash too.

I roasted my red onion and leeks, adding the cubed squash later as it was already cooked. Once nicely roasted, I added the veg to some tricolour pasta spirals, and then crumbled on the goats cheese. There's a little spinach hiding in there too, and I love this recipe with a bag of fresh wilted spinach added to it.

So I'll send this to Ruth and finally enter the world of Presto Pasta!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Planning & Preparation

A little pre-dinner thought for you, should anyone find this blog :)

How far in advance do you plan meals?

For years now, mum has been planning meals for home a week in advance, so that she only has to shop once as week, because of her long working hours, and because of the difficult opening hours of the kosher butchers. So week-day meals usually go along the lines of one pasta, one fish, one chicken/mincemeat, and one other. Fridays being different, as it's Shabbat (more of this at a later date).

Now at uni, it's not possible to plan to that extent, partly due to the ever-changing schedule. But I do try to have some idea of what I'm going to eat, especially as I often eat lunch and dinner at home, and it does get boring.

I was amused this week to find R, my housemate, in the kitchen defrosting a salmon fillet that she wanted to eat then and there. She says she's unable to plan ahead at all with meals. So unlike me, but I wonder if that's unusual. I guess it helps that I love thinking about food!

In other news, have chickened out of going to the Oxford Strategic Studies Group tonight because it's just soo cold. So staying in by the tv instead, and will attempt to start the next essay.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Starting Out

Bearing in mind I spend so much of my time reading food blogs, I thought it was high time I started one. So here it is!

I begin with a blog about lunch today:

Came back from London (my parent's house) on Saturday night with lots of leftovers, including roast potatoes, I ate some last night, and turned the rest into my fave potato salad which is basically left over roast potatoes with mayo, garlic and paprika. I personally like it to be really garlicy, but I know that other people don't! So, (as usual for me) no quantities.

Anyway, for lunch today, I decided to eat the potato salad with some flaked smoked mackerel (as I had some in the freezer) and horseradish, for a bit of a kick. Served with a side salad, it was lovely.