Num Num

eat. cook. write.

July 22, 2011

My advice for Tourists in Paris

Wear Birkenstocks, sneakers, or your choice of can-wear-all-day-sans-blisters footwear. The pavements are hard and the queues are lengthy.

Take a whole day for the Musee d’Orsay and the Louvre. I did, and only saw about an eighth of the Louvre. But you can only do THAT MUCH museum, eh?

Try to find yourself two European art- history fanatics to be your guides through said- museums. They can sometimes be found at bars across from backpacker hostels (I’m just saying). If you don’t stumble upon any knowledgeable new friends, I would recommend those earphone gadgets that tell you about the artwork you’re viewing. For me, those stories bring art to life.

July 15, 2011

The last Elderflower in England

I recently took a train to the Cotswold's, that ancient place where the cottages are all cute and crumbly, and where strangers wave at you as they pass you in the lane. We were just entering one such cottage when my friend Muppet and her sister Eva started to lament their laziness at not picking elderflowers earlier, as the season was nearly spent.

I was a little confused. Days previously, I had collected bushels of elderflower (or so I thought) on the side of the road. The white heads were absolutely everywhere. The only reason why I hadn’t made my cordial yet was because I couldn’t find any citric acid. (I must mention at this point that I had never really seen elderflower before, but was going on a vague memory of something I'd seen on google image once.) I pointed out to Muppet, sheepishly.. that there was loads of elderflower in their driveway.

July 10, 2011

Chunky fig and white chocolate biscuits

I am sneaking some recipes onto the site Food 52- Just because its great and I feel bad for using other's recipes there and never sharing my own. Take a look here

July 07, 2011

Berry Picking for jam

It turns out you can’t pick berries for ‘jam’ in the unpaid-for sense of the word at all. I was shocked to find that after one drives 33 miles, gets down on your knees and scratches around some bushes; you end up paying more for your dusty berries than you do at the supermarket, where they come conveniently packaged and wiped down.
By the way, these are NOT supermarket berries. They were handpicked, by yours truly. 
But mine was a beautiful day for berry-picking. The sun was out but not beating down exactly. And because I  ‘picked my own’ at Hildred's, there was a 100% guarantee of no miff berries in my punnet, no pale unripe contenders, and I got to taste before I selected. Bonus! (note- I found out later that you’re not really supposed to eat-as-you-go, oops.

July 06, 2011

Elegant Asparagus starter

An elegant starter that is easy to prepare is a lovely thing indeed. This is fresh, textured and an all-round monument to summer. Another idea from Smart Food.

As a student I had the privilege to work at very very fine hotel in Bantry Bay, in Cape Town. On my first day at work, a chef's meeting was called. We all sat around a conference table, facing the head chef. This was serious business. I expected a 'to do' about off days and tardiness but no. Peeling tomatoes was the first topic on the agenda. Their would be serious repercussions if anyone was seen being lazy about blanching tomatoes. To this day I cannot bring myself to cool them under running water or throw them all in at the same time. Getting drilled about perfect concasse was a valuable lesson, the taught and shiny flesh is worth it.

Serves 4. Increase quantities for more

  • 1 large beef tomato
  • 6 fresh quail's eggs
  • 8 pieces best parma ham
  • about 100g thin asparagus spears, ends trimmed off
  • olive oil
  • some baby leaf salad (I got mine from Turnips)
  • a drizzle of truffle oil (get from Tartufaia truffles at Borough market or even at Waitrose)
  • maldon salt and black pepper

Borough Market

Our feet found their way to the top of the Borough Market stairs. We descended, expectant, into the courtyard surrounded by ancient walls where stallholders were making their first sales and unpacking their crates. I liked it immediately. The joyful spirit is not contrived- the sellers are truly laughing inside, and the customers are curious and giving. The sound of trains rambling loudly over the bridge above adds a sense of surreal drama. You feel as if you are caught in a dry thunderstorm, but with tasty morsels to sample all around you.
To curry or not to curry?

This is far removed from Cape Towns’ Biscuit Mill market- (a flurry of fashionable woman in bitter heels, leaning up against hay bales and sipping organic strawberry daiquiris on a Saturday morning). We did not come here to be seen. We came here to behold, to taste, and to shop for the week.

Heavily laden with delectable treats
Juicy and nice! 1 pound a slice! 

And behold we did. We saw the first, powdery purple figs from Europe. We saw vegetable treasures- Yellow courgettes and green ones in flower. We saw organic carrots in unimaginable colours. We saw heaps of eggs, and barrels of beer. We saw an array of olives and heartening flowers. We saw tiger tomatoes, green and ruby. Then yellow ones, tiny ones, organ- shaped ones. We saw cheese. We held out our palms for slithers to taste. We ate our way around in a manner that startled us at lunch time (our bellies were already full, you see). We nibbled biscuits, and cakes. We drunk the finest Darjeeling tea. We ate breakfast on the sidewalk- a cherry tart. Oh! It moved us to eat more, to taste more. To buy more ( I confess).

July 01, 2011

Chocolate Sorbet in Snap!-ity baskets

Oozy Schmoozy dark chocolate sorbet

I undid the silver and brown wrapper of a bar of Green and Black's Organic dark chocolate recently and chanced upon this gem of a recipe. I can't even remember what my original intention for the chocolate was.I switched my plans to sorbet immediately.

I've decided that chocolate and sorbet are better  friends than chocolate and ice- cream. This is because dairy is an over-bearing character at times, hiding the best of chocolate's tasty traits away. We can't have that.

Of course the hazard involved in preparing a recipe from a wrapper is that someone will find the paper later, and, wondering why Carina is littering in the kitchen, will dispose of it. Of course, a guest asked for the recipe to be passed on.. and on discovering it's absence my mind immediately flew to a scene in film Charlie and the Chocolate factory (adapted from Roald Dahl's fabulous book). That horrible girl Veruca Salt's father orders his whole factory of nut workers to engage in opening chocolate bars in the search for a golden ticket. My imagination exploded with images of supermarkets selling out of Chocolate bars at an alarming rate as we all searched for the the golden recipe.. a fantastic chocolate frenzy would ensue of, course.

Then my imagination calmed down, rid itself of chocolate fountains and silvery- fireworks and sensibly googled Green and Blacks, who thankfully have their recipes online.. We were saved from having to buy a million more chocolate bars. Dammit.

Lollipop lamb with Zingy dressing

George took one look at this at this dish and said "Sis Carina, did you just get that from the abattoir?". Funny cat, that George. He likes his meat cooked through. I prefer my lamb to be super-tender, still red, but rested enough not to bleed. Medium rare is how it should be.

A friend forwarded me this recipe of Jamie Oliver's.. please see it here. I didn't see fit to barbecue for a lunch for just 2 tiny ladies so I did mine under the grill.

Also, I'm not really into shop- bought humus, so rather did it with crispy baby potatoes (cooked on the rack in the oven at 180 for about 40 minutes), along with pan fried tomatoes and asparagus squeezed with lemon juice and good olive oil.

I also made this zingy dressing: 

  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 5 olives, de-pipped and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste (from Waitrose) or you could just chop up a couple of sundreid tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Whisk all of that together. The dressing was originally planned as a dressing for a salad of fennel, raw celeriac and celery... but it tasted so good on the lamb that it migrated across the platter to get drizzled over the meat. 

The lamb was purchased at Waitrose...just remember that when it comes in a packet the bones won't look so neat and clean- that takes some effort with a paring knife so do factor that in. I followed Jamie's recipe as far as the marinade is concerned, then I got some olive oil and butter very hot in a frying pan, and browned the rack on all sides. I finished it under the grill (exactly 8 minutes is perfect for medium rare, sorry George) and left it to rest under tinfoil for a good 5 minutes.

Better than a Fizzpop, hey?