Thursday, 21 August 2008

from the kitchen of 90, highbury and islington

cooking for people who love eating is always a pleasure. last night we did just that and it was very much a communal enterprise. i and i with the help of s and e threw together a rather successful meal that was accompanied by lots of cold citrusy white wine, laughter and fantastic conversation. dinner was… parcels of foil baked haddock accompanied by a new potato salad tossed in a generous glug of olive oil with flecks of fresh dill and dijion mustard. pan-fried asparagus rubbed with olive oil and placed on a bed of finely chopped garlic to flavor it spinach sautéed in olive oil in which i had fried plump cloves of garlic and then sprinkled some balsamic over there was also a large round of bread cut and spread thickly with garlic butter (press garlic through a garlic press or pound in a mortar and pestle, then combine with butter. you can add some dried herbs if you fancy) which we wrapped in foil and put into the oven for a good twenty minutes, at the same time as the fish was baking.

we finished of on a fruity note with grilled peaches that i basted with a syrup that was made of honey and balsamic vinegar warmed slightly over the stove for the two of them to mix together. they were served with greek yoghurt lightly sweetened with honey. there were also red red strawberries tossed with whole leaves of fresh mint, a liberal sprinkle of sugar and a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. 

the final note of the evening was fresh coffee served in large white cups 

i must admit that for me the best part of the evening was the time spent in the kitchen with i, chopped, washing, cleaning and cooking. we got substantial attention from the host and lots of help in putting everything together. m in particular had a field day mixing coin sized thick slices of new potatoes with olive oil, mustard and dill. there was much picture taking of the food as well as smelling of herbs that had been chopped. of course the garlic chopping was shied away from by the boys and i really didn’t want to have i chop garlic when she was all dolled up and looking lovely in a red dress. 

the food itself was thoroughly enjoyed (and no i am not making that up). i think the only leftover’s we had were the potatoes.

here are the recipes
for the fish 
get fresh fillets of haddock (one per person)
preheat oven to a hundred and eighty degrees celsius. 
place a fillet on a piece of foil large enough to wrap and seal it in
baste the fish with olive oil, sprinkle liberally with fresh dill (parsley works really well too)
grind some pepper and salt on to it 
top with a thick ring of lemon

fold the foil over and then seal the edges to make sure none of the juice escapes during baking. 
bake for twenty minutes of when the fish flakes easily

the new potato salad
boil new potatoes in generously salted water (they should be firm, don’t over do them)
cut into thick slices and when still warm toss with a liberal amount of olive oil, dijion mustard and lots of freshly cut dill.

pan fried asparagus spears
wash spears and then do away with the woody bit of stem at the end
rub with olive oil and toss with some finely chopped garlic

heat a frying pan with a little bit of oil until it is smoking hot
then lay the spears on and fry for five to seven minutes
season with a sprinkling of balsamic right before you tip them out of the pan

sautéed spinach with whole cloves of garlic
wash and roughly chop up the spinach leaves (you can use baby spinach if you like)

in a wok heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté whole cloves of garlic until they caramelize. 
then toss in the spinach leaves and let them wilt 
(the leaves should retain the brightness of their color. don’t over cook or you’ll lose the flavor)

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