Project Food Blog

Jerusalem artichokes – curse of the veg box?

Opinion is divided on the humble Jerusalem artichoke in our household. I love it when they turn up in my Abel and Cole box at this time of year, all gnarly and knobbled, like this. Others, less so. At least, I'm the only one who ever cooks them when they arrive.

And, like all of the more unusual veg that arrives on the doorstep, I like that its arrival makes me think a tad harder about what to cook, and takes me out of any hamster-like repetitive cooking patterns that I may be developing (I know if I shopped for veg at a supermarket, I'd be very dull and largely buy the same things every week.)

Anyway, I've been saving last week's delivery of Jerusalem artichokes to fashion a dish based on one that the wonderful Lucas Hollweg cooked up in the Sunday Times Style magazine a while back.

Here's my version:

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a roasting tin and place in oven preheated to 180
2. Peel and roughly chop 3 onions, and slice one head garlic in half through the middle.
3. Peel and chop 8-10 Jerusalem artichokes into 3cm cubes
4. Cut 2 lemons into quarters
5. Add to the heated oil in the pan along with 6 chicken thighs, 1 tsp chopped sage, and seasoning
6. Cook for 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Perfect for a sodden Feb evening served with boiled potatoes and a green veg.

High Tea

As a kid, I always used to love going to my friends’ houses for tea.  Whenever I was invited to Jane’s I remember getting particularly excited, as her Mum would push the boat out and do a proper old school High Tea. French fancies, cucumber sandwiches, brown bread rolls with sandwich spread,  which I have never had any where else. Really posh, crusts off the sandwiches, home made lemonade, just lovely.
Fast forward a few years, and I find myself at Time for Tease, (at The Volupté near Chancery Lane) a rather more risqué affair, every bit as Posh (with a capital P) but just a bit more grown up and saucy.... A mixture of delightful finger food, including sandwiches, scones, home made jam and clotted cream, plus a variety of teas, champagne and cocktails, with a big dollop of Burlesque Cabaret thrown in for good measure!
Kitty Von Strumpet played her ukulele, a variety of Gateaux Vivants appeared to titivate, French Maids served us our tea, all within the beautiful 30’s inspired décor of The Volupté.
My High Tea at home nodded to both these elements, although as it was for my daughter’s 13th birthday, we stuck to 1930’s music and Pink lemonade, the only buns on view were those on the cake stand. I’ll take her when she’s older though, as it is such a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Sinner's soup

Here's what we're cooking up this morning – it feels right after the excesses of yesterday! It's fat free, vegan and packed with vegetables.

- Peel and dice 2 sticks celery, 1 onion, 3 carrots.
- Place in a large pan with 1 tin chopped tomatoes and same quantity water
- Add 1 tsp oregano, 1 stock cube and 2 bay leaves
- Simmer for 50 mins

Add anything you fancy once this stage is done – you could turn it into a minestrone with some pasta and grated cheese, add fried pancetta and spinach leaves and serve with crusty bread, or just eat as is.

Flipping half term fun

Being a working mum with leetle girls, you hope that special days fall in the school holidays. So this year, it feels like we've struck gold with Pancake Day happening in half term. What better excuse than Fat Tuesday to invite some friends over for a big cook off?

We're saving the pancakes for tea time, so what to cook for a lunch for 5 year olds?

This sausage and mash mountain with a baked bean river seemed to go down really well, as you can see!

We then followed this with ice cream sandwiches, made with wafers, traditional block of Cornish Ice Cream cut into slices, and lashings of chocolate and strawberry sauce.

Pancake update to follow…

Just Burlesque

Out on a School night! Now that doesn't happen very often (for me anyway!), but on Wednesday 10th February Kath and I were delighted to accept Handpicked Media's invitation to meet up with our fellow writers and bloggers at the Just Oriental Bar in Piccadilly. I braved the blizzards, had a quick stop in Fortnum and Mason on the way, (research purposes of course!)  and arrived at the venue, excited and a little bit nervous! Kath and I had a great time, meeting other bloggers and websters who contribute to the HPM site. We sounded all clever,  discussing Strategy and Analytics, whilst drinking gorgeous Vanilla and Strawberry Tom Collins cocktails, and gaining a greater understanding of where we are going as a group (literally for us as it turns out, as we are now planning a Road Trip!)  It was great to put faces to names, as we have exchanged many e mails with Krista and Rita from HPM, and Gigi from MumsRock but have never met before.
The venue was stunning, the conversation flowed along with the Tom Collins, and the food was divine, little platters of seafood, duck pancakes and tempura. All in all, a great evening.
Now it has been reported by Gigi that Kath and I later went on to The Met Bar for a Burlesque Lesson... can I just say Gigi that this is NOT true! We did pop to The Met Bar, it was a Burlesque evening, but we were definitely not participating! It was a fantastic night, and I was even tucked up in bed by midnight!

The 5th Element

Regular readers will know we get a bit obsessive at times, especially about new developments, products or discoveries. For the best Sushi rice, we use the "Blue Dragon" Sushi Rice, available in 500g packs in the UK from Waitrose. Check out your local Asian grocers for more exotic items, although Tesco's and Sainsburys are getting better at stocking more unusual ingredients. Whilst researching different ways of making Sushi, we discovered that there is a 5th flavour, in addition to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. This 'moreish' taste has been carefully developed and packaged by the truly imaginative Laura Santtini who describes herself simply as a writer who cooks, although if you look at her website it is clear she is much more than that.
For £2.99 it's definitely worth a try! And her other products are just as enticingly named and beautifully packaged! Can't wait to try them out!
(Available from Selfridges and Waitrose from mid February.)

We Love Sushi!

Kath's latest tweet asking what people ate during labour got me thinking back to the day after I'd given birth to my youngest, when I decided to invite our friends round to eat home made sushi to celebrate our new arrival. 'What were you thinking?' I hear you gasp, but Sushi is one of my all time favourite foods, and having been careful during my pregnancy, although I did succumb to temptation once while on holiday in Canada (the fish was fresh from the sea that day and absolutely delicious!) I felt I deserved a treat. 
London has a great selection of really delicious, authentic sushi bars and restaurants, while they are much  fewer and farther between up here in Oxfordshire....
To my great delight, I saw a post from Bread and Milk on Twitter this morning that got me all excited! Sushi Saturday! In the next village to me! This definitely needed further off  I went!
I have since discovered that there is a wonderful lady named Adrienne Baba, a ceramicist and cook, living not 2 miles away from me. She is passionate about Japanese food and pots, making the most delicious authentic sushi and creating beautiful tableware on which to serve it, supplying leading  Japanese restaurants including Zuma, Roka and Soho Japan. She even collaborates with the head chefs to design and produce pieces to match their menus.
Her interest and experience in cooking Japanese food has led to her establishing a Japanese cookery school, and she also provides Japanese food for dinner parties, all served on her own tableware of course! For now, I am going to have the most delicious lunch of the week so far, and will be booking myself onto one of Adrienne's courses very shortly!