Archive for the 'Eating In' Category

Avocado on sourdough snack

I just got back from my sister’s first stand up comedy gig having only had 2 amazing scotch eggs from The Prince Albert in Brighton. It was 23:30, I needed a quick snack so toasted some sourdough, mushed half an avocado, a squeeze of lime and shake of cayenne pepper into the top. I wanted to write home about it, and this seemed a good way of doing it.

If anyone’s got improvements or other versions of this, I’d love to hear about them.


Lavender & honey ice cream

There’s flowers everywhere in our garden at the moment, the bright magenta rose flowers can be seen from the alley and hints at what’s inside.



The roses inside are hang their heavy heads, and I remember Morfudd Richards had a recipe for Rose Petal & Lemon Verbena ice cream and it seems a shame to waste the roses. Unfortunately, what the roses have in colour they don’t make up for in smell. So that idea is on hold until I can find some nice smelling roses. I browsed the neighbour’s roses along the street, but with all the rain its hard to find any smells at all.

A small pot of lavender is in bloom, giving enough flowers for an alternative ice cream and one that hopefully will remain long enough for a flower ice cream sundae.

350ml milk
6 heads lavender flowers
5 egg yolks
100g sugar
1 tbsp honey
300ml double cream

Bring the milk to the boil and drop in the lavender flower heads. Simmer very gently for two minutes, then remove from the heat and leave for 30 minutes to infuse.

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and honey until pale and creamy. Strain the milk into the egg mix, stirring well, then heat this custard gently, stirring all the time, until it has thickened slightly. Cool the custard completely, then stir in the cream. Freeze the custard using an ice cream machine.


Asparagus & Lemon Carbonara

I was curled up under a blanket on the sofa at the beginning of the week, watching 2 fat Italians tromp and chomp their way on a religious pilgrimage. Mrs Fly used up the last of the asparagus from the farmer’s market and we had a go at this recipe which we found in the Waitrose Summer Harvest magazine. It was pretty good, although I reckon a traditional carbonara with some bacon and asparagus would be superb. At the time it was just what I needed.

Serves 2
200g spaghetti
230g asparagus, woody bits snapped off
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped or crushed
1 large egg, yolk only
100g half fat creme fraiche
1 lemon, zest and juice of 1/2
Handful of Parmesan cheese

Boil the spaghetti per the instructions.
Cut the asparagus into 5 cm lengths. Heat the oil in a frying pan, then add the aspargus and fry for 3-4 minutes. Toss in the garlic and turn off the heat. Beat the egg yolk, creme fraiche, lemon zest, 1 tbsp juice and the parmesan together, then season.

Save a cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return to the pan, add the creamy sauce and asparagus, then stir. Add a little pasta water if the sauce seems dry. Serve topped with parmesan and black pepper.


Rhubarb & Vanilla Jam

Prompted by an old chum on Facebook to get this done, do happy jam making Ed.

Rhubarb jam will always be synonymous with my Irish grandmother’s clove scented rhubarb jam smeared onto homemade soda bread. It was pretty much the first thing I ate after walking through the door and hitting my head on the low lintel.

I feel happy enough with this jam to know that I’ll be making it every year, using my own with a bit of gardener’s luck. The Timperley Early is still very small.

The recipe comes from the Waitrose Summer Harvest supplement which was entirely vegetarian too and it makes about 5 jars.

1.2 kg rhubarb, cut into 3 cm chunks
2 vanilla pods, split
1kg jam sugar (I used golden caster sugar with no ill effects)
1 orange, juice only

In a large stainless steel saucepan or preserving pan, layer the rhubarb and vanilla with the sugar. Or if you’re like me, bung it all in and stir it around. Pour the orange juice over the top, cover and leave overnight.



Put a couple of saucers into the freezer. You’ll see that loads of juice will have leached from the rhubarb. Fish the vanilla pods out of the pan, scrape the seeds and stir them into and the pods back into the rhubarb, with 120ml water. Gently warm, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved.

Boil for 10 minutes until the bubbles look large and a sugar thermometer reaches 105C. Alternatively, check the jam has reached setting point by putting a teaspoon of jam onto a chilled saucer. Freeze for 30 seconds; it’s ready when a skin forms that wrinkles when prodded. If not, bubble the jam for a few more minutes and check again.

{This bit didn’t work for me so well. I use a jam thermometer, but thought it would be interesting to see how this saucer trick worked. To start with, the jam was too runny, so I licked the jam off my finger and put the saucer back. A few minutes later the saucer wasn’t quite as cold, but I thought it was still worth ago, but it still didn’t wrinkle. So I got to eat more jam.}

Skim any scum off the surface, let it cool for 10 minutes, then pour into warm, sterilised jars. Seal, and use within 6 months. Once open store in the fridge and use within 4 weeks. Which shouldn’t be hard.

As always, I’d highly recommend using your nose for this, even though using a thermometer I caught the jam just as the sugar was catching at the edges of the pan. It had pretty much hit 105C and I’m not fussy over whether I have set jam or not.

To test, I buttered a slice of bread, spread the remains of the pan jam thickly over and chopped it into dainty triangles. It made a perfect food photo. It’s not here because the lure of the jam was too great. I considered setting up another photo, but this story’s good and a fake would be contrived. Although I would get another slice of bread and jam….

A sick note

Dear readers,
Please excuse foodfly from blogging last week as he had a horrible cold and exams.

Yours sincerely
foodfly’s mum

PS. He has plenty of homework to do including:
A review of Scarpetta in Teddington
Asparagus and lemon carbonara
A broth-all: Kneidl soup or asparagus stalk broth with leftovers and dumplings
Rhubarb and vanilla jam
Mrs Fly’s veggy bolognese
Mrs Fly’s veggy rogan josh
Lavender & Honey ice cream

Seasonal swag

After a marvellous night at The Southampton Armsin Kentish Town, the only specialist pub selling independently produced ciders and ales in London, a typical overcast bank holiday weekend dawned in the UK today. The upshot of which is that the produce at the farmer’s market hadn’t nabbed before me.

I get so excited over the provenance of my meals. Today, asparagus picked at 4am! 1kg of ungraded for £6! This is my drug. I asked how long until the end of the season, “next Wednesday”, she said. Eeeeep! Get your skates on folks, or it’s gone until next year. Unless you’re happy to get it flown in from Peru, up to you of course.

Broad beans at last, and 4 bundles of rhubarb for jam. It’s going to be a busy and filling weekend. Enjoy!


Beetroot risotto with broad beans, goats cheese & lemon-fennel oil

When I saw the vibrant photos of this dish in Denis Cotter’s new book, I knew two things. I was going to have to sneak the book into the house past cook book customs, and then I’d have to make it.

The first of the broad beans are hitting the shelves in the UK right now, but it seems that whenever I go shopping someone has been in moments before and cleared the shelves. Swines. Even so, this tasted good even using frozen broad beans, but I expect if they’re fresh it’ll be even more delightful. We didn’t plan any for the allotment this year but now the weeds have been cleared we’ll have space next year.

For a weekday evening it can be a long dish to make if you get home at the hour I do, so you can make boil & peel the beetroot the night before which means you just have to roast it whilst chopping the onion/shallots and garlic for the risotto. Don’t lose track of time like I did the first time, and leave the boiling of the broad beans to the last minute. It takes a while to peel the blighters, and even though you may be tempted not to, it’s well worth the effort.

Lemon-fennel oil
100ml olive oil
Grated zest & juice of half a lemon
2 fennel leaves finely chopped (you’ll find enough on a supermarket bulb of fennel)

The risotto
250g beetroots (I used 3)
2tbsp olive oil
150g risotto rice
Small onion or a few shallots
2 garlic cloves
125ml red wine
30g butter (a large knob)
100g broad beans
60g goats cheese, crumbled
600ml vegetable stock (about that, if you need more just add some hot water)

Make the lemon-fennel oil: put all the ingredients in a jug or jar and shake or whisk thoroughly.

Boil the beetroot for 30-40 mins. Test the biggest one for tenderness by poking it with a knife. When tender, drain, peel by rubbing the skins under running cold water. They should just slip off in your hands. This also stops the beetroot making your hands look like they’ve been murdering, and keeps your chopping boards pristine. At least until the next bit.

Chop the beetroot into 1cm sized chunks, place in a roasting tin and toss with the olive oil. Roast in a preheated oven at 180C for 15 minutes.

Remove half of the beets from the oven and add to the stock and blend. Denis recommends you sieve it, but it works well without so it’s not worth the hassle in my opinion. Return the rest of the beets to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes or so until they caramelise.

Meanwhile, start the risotto by heating 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion/shallots and garlic for 5 mins. Then add the rice and cook for a further 5mins stirring often. Then add the red wine, and avoid scalding your hands from the busy fizz as it hits the pan. Stir now and again to avoid it sticking and start adding the beetroot stock a little at a time until it’s absorbed. This should take about 20 minutes.


Get the broad beans going in a small pan for about 5 minutes. The skins should puff up a bit and look pale when they’re done. Then peel the skins off, place in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of the lemon-fennel oil.

When the rice is done add the roasted beetroot and butter and stir.

To serve add a few spoonfuls of risotto to warmed bowls, drizzle the lemon-fennel oil around and scatter broad beans and goats cheese over.

It’s probably the most gorgeous risotto I’ve ever seen.


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