Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Weekly Blog #12

I've been trying to capitalise on the success of last week and have made a concerted effort to cook every night.
A high point this week was my attempt to recreate Neil Rankin's green chilli poussin.  He kindly told me the ingredients that I needed and somehow I managed to get it pretty damn close to the original.

If you can't be bothered to make it, go to The John Salt in Islington and get Neil to make it for you.  While you're there, make sure you get the red flannel hash as well - beetroot, goat's cheese, roast potatoes and a crispy breadcrumbed egg.  Really good.  Oh, and the raw beef, pear and sesame.  Etc etc.

I went fish heavy this week.  I made sea bream with ginger, chilli, spring onions, soy and a dash of sesame oil.  I loved this and it was incredibly quick and easy. 

I also made haddock with salsa verde.  I made the salsa verde according to Nigel Slater's recipe in the Guardian which was good, but I think next time I would blend half of it first to really get the flavours going and then add back in a bit of chunkiness.  It just didn't quite come together enough for me although, having said that, I had the leftovers the following day and it was better.

My friend Jordi and I went to the ballet at the Royal Opera House on Saturday, but before that we went for brunch at Balthazar.  Balthazar opened a couple of months ago and, in the main, has had pretty terrible reviews.  Jordi and I sat at the bar which was lovely; the barmen were friendly and attentive without being irritating.  I had a mimosa and brioche french toast with bacon and it was good.  It's not fine dining but I don't think it's trying to be.  While I probably wouldn't rush there for dinner, it's ideal for brunch or lunch.  Plus, the (very good) bread is free.

That evening, we had a party at Shed's house.  Vegetarians - look away now.  Shed had got her hands on a tiny French piglet which was pretty darn exciting.  She cooked it slowly for around 6 hours and then wrapped him up in foil and a bath towel to rest.  The result was the softest, tenderest, most amazing pork I think I've ever eaten.  He's not very pretty and you don't get any crackling (his skin is too thin to crackle up) but he was very special. 

On Sunday I was feeling a little delicate after very little sleep (I'm getting old and rubbish at drinking) so I just roasted a couple of chicken pieces with some lemon, garlic and basil and served with fried gnocchi.  I'm not sure what I thought about the fried gnocchi, truth be told, although they were very quick and easy.

Finally, I made Jamie Oliver's Indian carrot salad last night.  It's a while since I've made this and I'd forgotten just how good it is.  I made it with minced beef because that's what I had in the freezer and, while it suffered a little for not being deliciously fatty lamb, it wasn't a deal-breaker at all.  This needs to go back into my regular repertoire of meals.

Something that I've noticed this week is that my appetite is waning a little.  I'm not finishing everything that I've cooked, for instance I ate only half of the potatoes that went with my haddock, I didn't finish the gnocchi or its accompanying chicken and my portions of fish were smaller than I normally eat.  I find it so hard to leave food on my plate - it just feels so WRONG, but I'm trying to do it more and more when I genuinely stop being hungry before I've finished my food.  I'm also trying to curb my late night cravings for something sweet - this is easier said than done although I'm getting there...slowly. 

And it's working...2lbs off this week and I don't feel like I've been dieting at all. 


  1. Go you! Tell me how you cooked that bream please? Also, loving the domes of rice. Looks so much more appealing!

    1. Thanks!

      So the bream: dry off the fillets and add salt/pepper just before you put in the pan. Heat the frying pan to super super hot and put the fish in skin side down. Press down with a fish slice so that the whole of the skin is in contact with the pan. You leave the fish skin side down until it's almost entirely cooked through - about 4 minutes or so and then turn the fillet over to cook for about 30 seconds on the flesh side. Put them on a plate to rest and then, in the same pan, sizzle some thinkly sliced garlic, and very thin batons of chilli and ginger for a minute or two, pour in a little sesame oil and soy sauce and then pour this over the fish and thinly sliced batons of spring onion. Delish.

  2. Wahay! And what a delicious week it was.

    I think that cooking feels easier when it's light and sunny.

    That little piggy...amazing. You know the best bit? I stir-fried the leftovers with ginger, spring onion and hoi sin - among the best things I've ever eaten. Every weekend should have a pig.

    Had a nice thing for lunch I thought you might like: buy a fresh mackerel, filleted. Lay a piece of foil on a baking tray and lightly oil it. Season the skin with salt, lay skin side down on the tray, season the top. Around 8 minutes in the oven at 210°C. While it's cooking, mix cucumber, lettuce and spring onions with a dressing made of soy, teeeeeny drop of sesame oil, mirin and a small squeeze of hoi sin. Dress the salad thing, eat with the fish (and rice if you want rice).

    It was ace and took 10 minutes (sans rice). I'm totally going to do with sizzled garlic, chilli and spring onion thing.

    1. And to think you were so determined that you wanted to ditch the pig on Saturday night! Glad that you didn't and got to have leftovers. INCREDIBLE pig. I want to eat him all the time.

      The mackerel ounds delicious - I love mackerel so I'll definitely give it a try.

    2. I was JUST going to say that - I'm very glad I managed to scoop (some of) the piggy remains into the fridge, albeit slightly messily :)

      The haddock looks gorgeous - I love salsa verde - maybe tomorrow - I have ling, I think...

      And I'm also pinching that mackerel!

      Is there a weight loss rewards programme? 1lb = 1 stachel or similar? I think I would need rewards.

    3. Well done Jennie! So glad it didn't go to waste - he was too good to be discarded!

      No weight loss rewards programme as such...although I am working towards something that was agreed with my mum about a year ago. If I get to a certain dress size, I get one of her prize possessions which is pretty exciting! I should probably treat for each stone along the way but I'm not sure what with.

    4. I'm in favour of treats.
      Small non-edible but awesome treats.
      I'm not necessarily very good at it, but I think it's a good idea to build in the idea of non-food-based rewards.
      I might market the idea to weightwatchers and become rich :)

  3. This is my favourite of your posts - definitely heading the right way, good for you :) (And please may I have the recipe for the poussin?)

    1. Thanks Nicky. I can't really put the poussin "recipe" on here because it's not mine and I'm not sure he'd want me publicising it...in any event, he just gave me a list of ingredients and no guidance re the quantities so it was a matter of guesswork based on having eaten it at his restaurant! The ingredients should be somewhere in my favourites on twitter if you scroll through. Sorry!

  4. That's alright, I understand completely :)