Fat Bottomed Girls

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I always think of that Queen song “Fat Bottomed Girls” when I think of those indispensable baking essentials, loose-bottomed tins.

I know the term “loose-bottomed tins” describes exactly what they are, but it all somehow sounds highly dubious to me :-)

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After the recent devastating loss of the side portion of my favourite loose-bottomed quiche tin, leaving just the base – a slip of metal – bereft of it’s companion and utterly useless for anything on it’s own, I have re-examined my relationship with my bakeware and realised that my old ceramic and pottery quiche and flan dishes just aren’t going to cut it.

The pastry either sticks to the dish, or else it goes soggy.

I have reached the age, and my kitchen cupboards have reached such capacity, that unless a quiche dish or a cake tin performs its function excellently that it simply has to go. There is no room any longer for sentimentality or a pretty pattern.

As such, I’ve bought a couple of new, professional-grade loose-bottomed tins and I will be pruning my old baking sets severely over the next two weeks.

Goodbye old flan dishes. And hello new fat bottomed girls.

Lobster Spaghetti

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I managed to get hold of a couple of lobster tails yesterday and decided to make lobster spaghetti with a light but creamy tomato garlic sauce.

I wanted something comforting and luxurious that wasn’t too much effort, and lobster is an occasional treat that I enjoy more than any other seafood.

I cooked the lobster tails for two to three minutes, then cooled, cracked and chopped the meat. It was so soft and succulent that it I could have waved a butter knife at it and it would have fallen apart.

Then a handful of chopped spring onions from the terrace, garlic, fresh chopped tomatoes, thyme, sugar, seasoning, a slug of lemon oil and a few minutes cooking down to a light tomato sauce, finished with a small spoonful of creme fraiche and my secret ingredient, a spoonful of soft garlic cheese (I had Boursin, but any would do).

At the very last minute I tipped in the chopped lobster to warm through for a minute or so and spooned the lot over freshly cooked spaghetti until all was coated with deliciousness.

I could feel it doing me good.

Honestly

On recovery and strawberries

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On the mend at last, and I know that I’m recovering as I’ve started to look forward to food again.

Its hot and humid here today, and the strawberries have been calling to me. I bought a large punnet of them this morning and decided to whip up a quick cheesecake.

Sadly I hadn’t checked what I had in the way of other ingredients before I set out..

It was only as I was beating the marscapone and cream that I realised that I didn’t have any vanilla, essence or pod, which was necessary for the mix.

I’ve always got a vanilla pod somewhere, but it simply refused to be found, and the heat and residual head cold was rendering me short of patience. Rather than turn all my kitchen cupboards out I decided to improvise and added the juice and zest of two limes to the mixture instead.

I then discovered that my round loose-bottomed tin was also missing and in exasperation found the only other one that I had in my kitchen. Of course, it wasn’t the right dimensions for the recipe so I’ve ended up with a slightly thinner version than I’d planed for. And it’s square!

Luckily neither of these frustrations managed to ruin the taste, and the combination of sweet strawberries and sharp lime proved an unexpected delight on such a hot and cloying day.

And much nicer on the throat than cough medicine :-)

Cold stops Play

Sorry for the lack of posts over the last week, folks.

I have been laid low by a dratted virus and as there is only so much that can be said about cough syrup (other than it tastes vile) I will wait until recovered before blogging again.

I’ll be back soon.

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Tempting Tempura

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Supper this evening was at Mushu, the little Japanese canteen across the road from work.

After a hard day there’s nothing better than a cold Asahi beer and a bowl of Japanese food. Today a bowl of simple rice and vegetables was about the limit of the complexity that I could cope with.

I usually eat the same thing here (their potsticker dumplings are to die for and if in doubt I could eat these to the exclusion of all else), but tonight I decided to try their mixed vegetable and prawn tempura rice bowl.

Good tempura is a thing of beauty, and theirs is feather light, freshly cooked and fabulously crispy. This mix contained red and green peppers, aubergine, courgette, king prawns and sweet potato pieces.

A happy meal was spent dunking the tempura in soy and ginger sauce and trying to elegantly convey them via chopsticks to a hungry mouth. I say elegantly – I really mean that they just needed to make the journey in one piece – that’s the limit of my aspiration.

The fact that my chopstick dexterity isn’t the greatest and that as much ended up on my shirt as in my mouth shall be glossed over swiftly and we shall say that it was still damned good, despite the need for stain remover.

Walk AWAY from the Burrata

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I have a bit of a thing going on for Burrata.

If I see it on a menu, I simply have to order it.

I know it’s extra lush and fattening, stuffed with cream for even more gorgeousness, as if just being mozzarella wasn’t enough, but I can’t help myself.

Eating it is such a wonderful experience that I’m sure that passers-by glance strangely and somewhat fearfully at the look of pure ecstasy on my face as I’m savouring it and imagine I’m some sort of drugged-up old hippy.

Which of course I am.

My drug of choice being Burrata.

Thank God it’s legal.

And thank God I can get it locally in Neal’s Yard, that Hippy Cheese Nirvana in London.

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Herbal additions

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The weather has been completely undecided about itself all weekend, with spells of hot sunshine interspersed with thundery showers, so we’ve been a bit undecided about whether to eat in or out for the last two days.

Lunch today was simplicity itself with a couple of small steaks grilled on the plancha, and to perk things up a little, a few herbal additions from the garden.

Chimichurri sauce is an old favourite and I make it with the herbs and ingredients that I have to hand rather than sticking to a fixed recipe. Intensely green and strongly flavoured with garlic, it adds a piquancy to any food, but I especially like it with steak.

Today what was to hand was was fresh basil, coriander, chilli flakes and garlic, although I usually make it with parsley.

I popped a couple of small potatoes into the bottom of the oven to bake and served these alongside the steak with sour cream and chopped chives.

Simple food with fresh herbs.

How fabulous is it to have such things in the garden!