Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Soda bread and other animals

So, lately I have acquired two wonderful feline balls of trouble by the names of Tigger and Macavity. Tigger bounces everywhere whilst Macavity hatches demonic plans to take over the world (by which he means catnip mice. He has a bad catnip mouse habit, does Macavity); they are very lovely and are taking up a lot of my time - more about them in future entries (believe me, I speak of little else these days).

Because cats and herbs don't mix, I bought myself one of these :  - I didn't really think it would work in the garden, and the jury is still open on whether the herbs will survive the winter (they certainly wouldn't survive the cats), but it's working a treat on the tarragon, thyme and parsley I have in it now. The temperature inside is more or less greenhouse-like and the plants are trying to take over the world.

For now, I've been inviting people over to meet them, and so I've been doing quite a bit of cooking. Things that have worked for me recently:

  • Salt, flour and paprika rubbed into pork does work well, but keep the paprika down or the crackling gets quite hot.
  • The secret to Soda bread is to use 50% plain flour, 50% spelt flour - works much better than wholemeal.
  • When doing pan-fried duck, remember that finishing it in the oven is what cooks most of it, so don't give it extra minutes in the pan (this is totally obvious, but I keep doing it!)
  • Smoked trout with lightly steamed leeks and (raw) orange works very well. Serve over crushed ice with curly lettuce (Waitrose live growing lettuce seems to be cheaper & nicer than the packaged stuff; go figure .. ).

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