I make lots of food, not all of it worth writing about. Still, it’s nice to take stock of some of the tastier things that have found their way onto my plate, like the spaghetti tetrazzini here. Questions of authenticity aside, I am highly curious as to who Jamie Oliver tests these recipes on, since it took a friend (S) and I more than three meals, with a little help from my neighbour, to get through one batch which purportedly feeds 4.
It was pretty fucking lush in itself. We added bacon, because bacon makes everything better. But there is only so much cream pasta two petite Chinese girls can get through, I suppose. (And it had double cream! And cascading showers of Parmesan! My arteries were crying post-consumption.)
The above combination: twice in the last month, once with a friend and once alone, a cheap, lazy, greasy-fingers supper of grilled lemon-black-pepper-chicken wings (via Nigel Slater) and roasted cauliflower, the sort of meal best consumed with your hands and nothing else. Grilled wings with a whole lemon, juice, peel and all, generous showers of black pepper, salt and a lick of olive oil. Cauliflower florets curling up in the oven in pools of olive oil and a dusting of salt and paprika. J and I sat in mostly-silence, letting the stress from our exams dissipate for a while, sliding strips of flesh through the juices and Maldon sea salt, licking our fingers every few minutes or so.
A delicious and fast riff on hongshao qiezi, in which a couple of dollops are stirred into noodles and greens of your choice.
Garlic soup with a poached egg from Moro, via this and this. I liked this. I didn’t like it as much as I think I should have liked something with chorizo, a poached egg and an entire bulb of garlic per serving, Why is that? Maybe it was to do with the lack of interesting textures, the lack of something textured or zingy to cut through all that rich, oily liquid. Bread wasn’t much help. There’s something about many European/American soups which do not impress me very much (though I gladly make exceptions for French onion soup, a proper lobster bisque or cream of mushroom soup). Even having tomato soup at its very best still feels like drinking glorified ketchup. Give me a roasted tomato any day.
Also, I had two bowls. Two. That’s two bulbs of garlic, too many even for me, after which I had a mild headache. Not a wise idea.
Much better: this chicken+vegetable hotpot, which according to friend-n is mizutaki nabe (水炊きなべ). My take on her version, then, in which chicken, chopped Chinese cabbage, onions, garlic, carrots cosy up to each other in a bubbling bath of dashi stock. Adjust this with a combination of black/white peppers, Shao Xing wine, fish sauce, soy sauce and/or lemon juice. Instant dashi is totally acceptable; brown your sliced onions for more sweetness. I find that Chinese cabbage is more or less indispensable in making stews like this. I may or may not have consumed an entire head over two or three consecutive meals of this.
Finally, this: a reminder of how much I will miss having good dairy produce relatively cheaply here in London. Pears poached in a light vanilla-brown sugar syrup, draped with some of the most delicious fucking yoghurt I’ve ever had. I did not know it was possible to love yoghurt this much. I might even eat it the way those girls in adverts do, like my entire reason for being born was to eat it out of the tub with a swoon and a sigh, and have nothing but tubs of yoghurt in my spotless fridge. I might even put on a grey hoodie.
No, but seriously. If only I could find a way to bring this to Tokyo…