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Mostly Concerning Food

This is the first food blog since April. For new readers (and old) a quick outline of my approach to food blogging.

These are point and shoot photographs of meals enjoyed by the family Johnson. Nothing is prepared specially for the blog. Presentation is as it comes. The food is served and a couple of shots are taken just before eating. I choose the better of the two. I sometimes remember to dandy up the plate, wipe away a drip or a drop but it’s pretty slapdash. This is deliberate. There are plenty of first class food blogs around. I follow and enjoy a number of these. This one is neither foodie, nor meant to impress with complexity or cleverness. This is what we eat. We’re two fifty somethings both fully occupied with the world of work and a lot of interests besides food. We like to eat well but can’t afford too much time. The average meal takes less than half an hour and doesn’t cost a great deal. It’s a celebration of eating without being fancy or extravagant. I don’t do recipes. If it’s pasta and mussels in a cream sauce then the recipe doesn’t take a lot of working out. I use quite lot of fresh herbs and dip and delve into the spice box. Apart from that there are few secret ingredients. We try to have something different most nights though old favourites have a habit of cropping up. It’s an unusual month when I don’t treat myself to a cooked English breakfast or a decent steak.

The following meals were served between May and July when I had the camera handy.DSC_0057Linguine with mussels and green peppers. I forgot to add that we try to use our own grown ingredients. No we haven’t got a mussel bed but we do grow a lot of peppers. This was a while back and I can’t remember whether the sauce includes fresh cream or creme fraiche. I’m very tempted by it. May very well make it again in the next few days. I love all pasta dishes but seafood pasta dishes are a particular favourite.DSC_0063There we go. Mr Heinz originally marketed his tinned baked beans as a luxury item. These were intended for the sort of people who shopped in Harrods and Fortnum and Masons. I was shocked on finding out how much sugar he puts into them. These days I tend to go for the low sugar option. I can’t tell much difference in taste. W Somerset Maugham once wrote that “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.”  It’s as much a damning statement of the fare on offer in the early twentieth century as it’s a celebration of this unbalanced, unhealthy, but oh so tasty, contribution to the world of food. I like a cooked breakfast but try to limit it to no more than once a week, often once a fortnight.DSC_0065Salmon roe caviar on little bits of toasted bread with a decent cream cheese. By decent cream cheese I mean anything that isn’t and doesn’t resemble Philadelphia. It’s a wonderful State but a poor imitation of what proper cream cheese can be. Should be filed with Dairylea and McDonalds. Acceptable but only in emergency and when very hungry. And even then…only just.DSC_0066Simple sourdough pizzas. Take a bit of sourdough. Work it into a pizza shape. Add some tomato sauce (your own preferably) and cheese. This cheese looks like cheddar. It’s ok for pizza so long as you eat it straight away. If you allow it to cool it goes a bit plasticky in texture. I like anchovies. They usually find their way onto my pizzas.DSC_0071Desert Island food number one. Good bread (in this case home made sourdough loaf) with a selection of cheeses and some tomatoes. A grating of black pepper is all that is needed. This is food of the gods. Enjoyed at its best with tea served in cups and saucers and made in a pot. I don’t drink wine, in fact I don’t drink any alcohol. Tea does it for me! DSC_0077Desert Island Food part Two. Once again sourdough bread but this time with air dried Spanish ham and a strong soft French cheese. I cannot remember what type it was. I’d know it again if I saw it. Certainly if I tasted it.DSC_0081Roast beef and lettuce sandwich with a couple of dill pickles. Seem to remember that this was while I was watching a match in the European Football Championships. The bread is shop bought but it made a decent sandwich.DSC_0083Now there are only two of us at home I tend to cut the roasting joint in half and make a stew out of the remainder. Every country has its own dumplings recipes. A beef stew with dumplings is about as English as food gets. And about as tasty.DSC_0085Serve it with new potatoes and green beans. Happiness on a plate.DSC_0089Asparagus: the joy of an English spring. And a doping story that was quickly buried. Many were accused. They denied it. That’s alright then.DSC_0091Lunch the next day. Nothing heats up better than a stew. The dumplings lose something in texture but nothing in flavour. One of the delights of the modern world is the easy availability of asparagus. During my childhood this was kept for the extremely rich and for landowners. If you’ve got the right soil and plenty of space it isn’t difficult to grow. I’m happy to leave it to the farmers.DSC_0092There are a lot of variations on the English breakfast. The best is the simple combination of bacon and eggs with good bread and butter. It has to be butter.DSC_0093DSC_0097Inside the box from Bettys is a Yorkshire curd tart. There aren’t many places to get these. Do not pass one without buying. It is a real pleasure to eat. My grandma used to make these and they were wonderful when still just warm from the oven. I’ve never tried to make one myself which seems something I ought to put right. I never go to York or Harrogate without visiting Bettys and I never leave Bettys without a curd tart; unlike Dr Spooner. Be careful what you order!