Sunday, 15 February 2009

Cheesy Potatoes, Chocolate desserts, and whatcha been drinking.

OK, so I've written about games and the art of swearing without swearing, time to hit the food. I am a big fan of the English food writer, Nigel Slater. I think his approach to food is spot on, and here are some recipes from his Kitchen Diaries that I have cooked lately.

Cheese smothered potatoes. This is proper winter food, and ranks up there with Swiss Rosti to me as being one of the best ways to cook potatoes. Floury potatoes are essential, and being in the UK, I tend to favor the King Edward. Why wouldn't I? The Cheese is as important as the potatoes here. Taleggio smells strong but tastes mild, melts like mozzarella but is less stringy to my mind. Having acquired your cheese and potatoes, as well as onion, olive oil and garlic, you are good to go.

Slice the onion finely, slice the garlic finely, heat them gently in a frying pan with the olive oil. You want them to soften for 5 minutes. Whilst they are softening, slice your potatoes to 3mm thick slices. You can also slice the cheese now as it will save time later. I choose to cut the rinds away, you can do as you please. Put the potatoes in the pan with the onion, cover, and cook for 25 mins at the same low heat, turning once. They should be a light gold in parts, and soft to the point of a knife. Lay the sliced cheese over the spuds and cook for a further 3-5 mins so the cheese melts over the potatoes. Serve up. Whether as a main with a salad, or as a side to grilled meat (I love this with lamb), these potatoes will impress.

Sometimes we do eat out on valentines day, this year we decided to have a meal at home. The main course was grilled lamb, chickpea mash and spinach, washed down with a sparkling rosé, but I would like to tell you about the dessert. A home made chocolate dessert is a food of love, and I'd like to think that this one sealed my status as the Barry White of our kitchen.

You'll need 200g of dark chocolate, the best you can lay your hands on. Greene and Blacks 75% cocoa did it for me. 200g of caster sugar, some Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, 3 eggs and some ramakins. Interesting aside – in my younger years, I was convinced that 'I know you got soul' was by Eric B and Ramakin. Fail.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water. Separate the eggs, put the yolks in a blender and the whites in a bowl. Add the sugar to the yolks and blitz till thick and creamy. Enlist the help of your significant other to whisk the whites till solid-esq and peaking like home made clouds. Fold the melted chocolate into the yolk mixture. Add two teaspoons of chocolate spread, in this case the afore mentioned Nutella. Fold the whites into the chocolate yolk mixture. Make sure no big drifts of white are left. Butter your ramakins, pour the mixture in, and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. They look like a cross between souffles and cakes. Dust the top with icing sugar and serve warm from the oven. This recipe makes four, so you have two for the next day. Serve with pouring cream.

Have noticed I am drinking more this year. Don't worry, weekends only. I am a huge fan of bitter, especially from small regional brewers, but have decided to try and cut back a bit. So Larger is back on the menu, Corona and Heineken for preference. I love wine but as my partner is nearly teetotal, I rarely buy bottles as they don't get finished. I bought a bottle of vodka back from Moscow in December, and Bloody Marys have been prominent as a result. I have a 10 year bottle of single malt that gets visited occasionally, but Friday always seems to end with me, a can of coke, and my good friend Jack Daniels. It's funny, having a drink seems to make me play pool better – but it does not work for CoH!

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