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Monday
Dec172007

goats cheese and rosemary mini muffins

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i’ve had a bit of a shopping spree recently and am the proud owner of a couple of silicon baking trays – one for madeleines and the other for mini muffins. i decided to give the mini muffin case an outing this weekend, reasoning that muffins would be more forgiving if the tray misbehaved.

as instructed i lightly greased them before use (this should now be unnecessary unless the muffin mix is fat-free) and apart from having to manoeuvre a floppy tray in and out of the oven, it was a great success.

the resulting muffins, which were baked naked (no paper cases), had a gorgeous slight crispy texture on the outside – a perfect contrast to the meltingly soft centres. these would be perfect for nibbles at a festive drinks party.

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Sunday
Dec162007

eyre brothers, london ec2

i’m in the early throes of a love affair - those heady days when i’m obsessing about the future despite the fact that we’ve only met once. but, given we were introduced by my lovely friend tom, whom i trust enormously, i know that it’s ok to go with my instincts. so my star gazing continues unabated and i ponder when we will meet again and how much time we can spend together...

the cause of my excitement? eyre brothers in hoxton. this sexy spanish restaurant is just fabulous and i really wish it was a little closer to home so that i could indulge myself and visit on a (very) regular basis.

while we waited for friends to arrive, david and i settled ourselves by the bar which was buzzing with the sound of spanish and british voices. we kicked off with a bottle of albariño de fefiñanes 2005, which was so good we stuck with it all evening, converting both an anti-white-wine and an anti-spanish-wine drinker along the way. our waiter was also delighted as it’s his favourite bottle on the wine list.

to start i had the grilled chilli and garlic squid which was served with lentils dressed simply in olive oil and lemon juice. the squid was beautifully tender and the punchy chilli and garlic flavours shone through, contrasting with the smoky blackened bits. other starters for our group, included an intensely fishy lobster, monkfish and pea soup, and migas a alentejana, a hearty mix of beef and pork, prepared using a red pepper paste, bay, garlic and white wine.

tom and i had preordered the pork and clams cooked in an alentejo cataplana (a lidded metal dish) which was a wonderfully rich dish full of chunky pieces of chorizo, meltingly tender pork and an abundance of clams. disappointingly, the flavour of the clams was difficult to identify amongst the rich porky-tomatoey sauce but overall the dish was delicious.

the grilled fillet of iberico pork had been marinated with smoked paprika, thyme and garlic and was full of flavour as a result. the spanish really know how to get the best out of pork, a meat that i have often found either bland or tough. the scallops and morcilla with peas was also excellent.

at this point i started to feel very full and gave up on the food, concentrating instead on a glass on pedro ximenez. well, i say concentrating, i did manage to have a taste of the praline cheesecake with pistachio sauce (a little too rich for me but david was very happy) and the quince tarte tatin (nice enough but not up to the standards of the stupendous apple tarte tatin we had at galvin’s)

eyre brothers is the kind of restaurant that suits any occasion: whether you’re tired and want to be in a comfortable, professionally-run and friendly place which serves good food and wine or whether you want to put your glad rags on and have a decadent and indulgent time. eyre brothers is firmly on my favourites list and i plan to visit regularly.

eyre brothers

70 leonard street, london ec2a 4qx

t - 020 7613 5346

www.eyrebrothers.co.uk

Friday
Dec142007

love food, hate waste

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the recently launched love food, hate waste website reminded me that here in the uk, a third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away. most of this is food that can be eaten, not just banana skins and tea bags.

for every three bags of food we carry home, we are effectively dropping one straight into the bin. as well as being a waste of money this is also a huge waste of resources.

as we approach christmas, a time when many of us are buying more food than usual, it is particularly important that we think about how to ensure that we are not wasting food

read more over at the daily tiffin, a blog that helps people have a healthy family lifestyle. i'll write about healthy eating, over at the daily tiffin, every fortnight.

Wednesday
Dec122007

smoked haddock chowder

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as the weather gets colder my thoughts are turning to warming dishes with gentle flavours. this smoked haddock chowder is a particularly good example of the sort of thing i want to eat and would be ideal for supper on a chilly day. i also think it would be really nice as a christmas eve meal.

the flavours in the chowder are perhaps all rather predictable, but what really lifts it and makes it so lovely, is the addition of freshly grated lemon zest, sprinkled over just before serving.

somehow the contrast of the rich creamy fish soup and the zingy tangy lemon really lifts the dish, emphasising the gentle wintry flavours while reminding us of the freshness of spring that will arrive in due course.

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Monday
Dec102007

menu for hope 4

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menu for hope is an initiative by pim at chez pim to raise money for the united nations world food programme’s school lunch programme in lesotho.

pim has chosen the school lunch programme because, as well as providing food for the children which keeps them alive, it keeps them in school. importantly, the programme buys from local farmers which in turn helps them and the local economy.

last year over $60,000 was raised for charity and this year, again, i am keen to do my bit and get involved. find out more about how the event runs here, but in essence you buy a virtual raffle ticket for $10 (pim’s based in the usa so all monies are in us dollars) for the chance to win the prize of your choice.

the prize that i am offering, which i hope appeals to you, is a customised foodie day out in london. with me acting as organiser, host and guide!

depending on what aspects of london’s culinary abundance you are interested in, we could spend some time visiting the world-famous borough market, soho’s china town or tooting’s asian shops and markets.

or maybe you’d prefer to visit some of the fabulous food-halls in our famous department stores, stopping off at some of their in-house food destinations – laduree at harrods or obika mozzarella bar at selfridges.

or maybe we should explore the capital’s chocolate shops?

it’s all up to you! let me know what you fancy and i will do all the research and create a special day just for you.

the small print:

  • you will have to cover your costs when in london, apart from travel around the city (i will provide travel cards that cover the area we will visit).
  • you’ll have to get yourself (or a friend if you are giving this to someone else as a gift) to london at some point before 1 december 2008, on which date this prize expires. maximum of 2 people to attend.
  • the day out will comprise c4 hours of shopping, eating and exploring.
  • i will cover the cost of coffee and cakes (or equivalent) to keep our energy supplies up.
  • the date we choose is obviously dependent on my availability (i’m not cancelling any holidays!).

donate here for your chance to win this (the reference is uk04), or one of the other amazing prizes – cooksister lists details of all the uk prizes and pim has the total list. you must make sure to check the terms and conditions for the individual prizes before you bid, as some will come with restrictions regarding where they ship to or how long the prize is valid for.

how to bid for a prize:

  • go to the donation page on first giving.
  • make a donation! each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. please specify which prize you'd like in the 'personal message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. you must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code—for example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for uk01 and 3 for uk02. (please use the double-digits, not uk1, but uk01. the code for my prize is uk04).
  • if your company matches your charity donation, please remember to check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
  • please also check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we could contact you in case you win. your email address will not be shared.

check at chez pim on january 9 when results are announced, to see if you have won!