Saturday, March 24, 2007

life is not too short...

... to stuff a tomato. At least not in my opinion. I mean, how long does it take? 20 minutes maybe? I must confess, I am not such a busy efficient important kind of person that I don't have 20 minutes to prepare some food...

I'll admit though - in the past, I have been a bit suspicious of stuffing vegetables. I didn't really see the point. Often the vegetables were better off by themselves. It seemed a ploy to make vegetarians think they were getting something exciting; a proper dish, just because it was all shoved together.

However, I've been converted by these little tomatoes, which I tried the other day. The cheesy stuffing goes all soft and oozy inside the roasty red shells. They are a little messy to eat - cutting into one can initiate a kind of landslide effect; but to eat, pretty good...

Tomatoes with a Goats Cheese and Chilli Stuffing

Per person:

1 largish tomato

about 30g goats cheese

1/4 of an onion, diced

about 1/2 a small red chilli, finely diced

2 dessertspoons wholemeal bread crumbs

tsp chopped walnuts

1 dessertspoon Creme Fraiche

Sweat off the onions in a little oil, and add the chilli

Mix onions and chilli with the breadcrumbs, walnuts, goats cheese and creme fraiche

Slice the top off the tomato, scoop out all the insides and stuff with the mixture.

Rub a little oil on the outside of the tomato, replace its 'lid'

And pop in a preheated oven at 180C for about 10 minutes, until the tomato looks cooked.

Serve with a little salad perhaps.

failures and freebies

myah ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..

...that was approximate to the sound I made as I walked away from the new Daylesford Organics shop the other day with a bag of swag. No, I have not - as a mid-twenties crisis - taken up middle-class shoplifting; it was the sound of freebie glee, heightened by the fact that the freebies were not meant for me.

I had walked past the newly opened store in the morning, and - anything to prolong the pleasantness of walking in the morning air and delay the inevitable arrival at work - I stopped for a quick look. It's like a kind of foody roman palace - all made of marble, with completely ott displays of willow branches and other springlike decor. Food is piled up in seductive arrangements - bounteous fruit and veg, a well-stocked cheese stand, breads, beautifully presented cakes...

My eyes alighted on some jewel-pink rhubarb, sprouting proudly from a pot on the fruit table. A friendly man in a white coat informed me he had picked it personally at 6am that morning...

And so it was, that on my way back from the office I suddenly decided to buy the beautiful rhubarb and make a little pudding I had been sketching and planning in my mind for some time. When I reached the shop however, they informed me a prvate function was taking place. I explained my purcasing plans and they let me sneak in to get my wares.

The place was packed with people - your typical Daylesford clientele I would imagine. What I always find strange about rich people (or at least the kind of rich people who live in West London) is how clean they look. They look like they spend inordinate amouts of time being scrubbed and polished. Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but evidently it can buy you cleanliness.

Anyway, they were happily tasting English sparkling wine and various artful organic nibbles, comparing red corduroy trousers and bouffed up hairstyles, whilst I made my way towards the rhubarb and picked four superb looking stalks.

After paying some absurd amount of money for them, I made to make off into the night, when a tall man politely stopped me and offered me one of the goodie bags, no doubt for the official guests of the private event.

And so it was that I walked back to the tube grinning maniacally and inspecting my swag. There was a loaf! and a carton of milk! a pot of marmelade! a little spoon! (I think it rather a blessing, do you not, that free bread can cheer up my day so?)

As for the rhubarb - well, I had been thinking about a carrot terrine I had seen in The Cook's Book, where you layer up roasted carrot sticks, dipped in a carrot-juice and gelatine mixture, to make a glisteningly orange terrine. Rhubarb, I thought would suit it beautifully, make a grown up kind of jelly slice, which would be appealing on the eye, and tasty to boot. I was going to make a ginger cream to serve it with. Unfortunately I forgot how soft rhubarb gets when cooked, and how difficult then for it to hold its shape, even when set in jelly. So I ended up with a kind of sloppy cold rhubarb coated in jelly dish. Not so great. Ah well, nothing ventured nothing gained...

For more on Daylesford see here : . Yes, it is all a little bit expensive and chic - not your muddy farm shop kind of organic, but the food does look pretty good. And of course I am quite fond of them now, as I am easily bought with free food...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Home again, moving home again

So after five weeks working out of the office, crunching numbers in various delightful locations across the UK, I'm back to London for a little while. I've become inured to the humungous lumps of solid scrambled egg and tinned mushrooms that are customary to hotel breakfasts; sampled the delights of numerous staff canteens; got bored of a multitude of chain restaurants; sat in my hotel room eating avocados and grapefruit in front of the TV. And now finally I'm back; I've settled in to my second short-stay home of 2007, and I can cook for myself again... hallelujah.

So, recipes to come - soon I hope... Sorry it's been so long. What with the security on work computers preventing me from uploading photos, and the lack of a laptop, internet access, kitchens or fresh food recently it's all been a little difficult to stick to my regularity resolution... In the meanwhile, a picture of something green and fresh and unadulterated - the antithesis to the processed mass-catering I've had recently...