Alas this is not me disparaging Edd and his fantastic new tome. This is me. I have barely ventured out the house this weekend. The weather has been the most glorious welcoming into the Autumn months. Today especially. I ventured out for a run this morning, the air cold, the sun warm, the whole of Sheffield wrapped in the freshness of a recent rainfall. It was perfect running weather.
I got back and, due to a cracked shower tray putting our shower out of commission, ran myself a bath and had a nice albeit brief soak in the bath. I set about three challenging “bakes” ( well you do them in the oven, that was enough for Lorraine Pascal but I thought it a loose definition). First was a braised red cabbage with apple. In a homage to my fearless leader in my newly found domestic bliss, Ina, I’m going to do a segway into a short instruction on how to do foolproof cabbage. Courtesy of Saint Delia Smith of Norwich.
1kg of red cabbage ( calm down dears, it’s pretty much 1 red cabbage, the stalk removed)
1 clove garlic
2 finely sliced onions
2 cooking apples
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons White wine vinegar
Slice your red cabbage. This is the star so make sure you slice it long and I’d say 1/2 an inch thick. Or 2.5 cm if you are impossibly metric.
Peel your apples and slice thinly. The apple and onion is flavour. You won’t see it in the end, it will be a hue of redness immersed amongst the cabbage. Peel and slice the onion. In a separate bowl add the sugar, spices and the garlic, crushed or finely chopped.
In a large casserole, do a layer of cabbage, followed by the apple and onions. Sprinkle over some of the spices and sugar. Repeat until you have run out of ingredients. Over this, add the White wine vinegar. Cover, and put in a preheated oven at gas Mark 2 or the equivalence (this is Delia, remember), and cook for around 2 and a half hours. As it’s covered, the humidity should not necessitate a mid point stir, but as this is so comforting and warm, I did it anyway just to thrill myself. You don’t need to mind.
Et voila, gloriously braised red cabbage. Imagine this, a joint of pork and a glass of Pinot Noir with an episode of Downton Abbey. Or Seven Dwarves. Or Snog Marry Avoid. Fabulous.
I also made a banana cream pie. It looks fabulous.
The custard filling kinda escaped everywhere upon cutting. Next time I must thicken the custard more. But on the positive side? Pastry was baked underneath. Meringue was fabulous. I made custard and it was not lumpy. I must deconstruct it and give myself kudos.
Looked great too.
Anyway, to top it all off I cooked quite possibly the most expensive piece of beef I have ever bought. It was Brisket too, which is cheap, but this was a massive piece. It cooks beautifully, slowly cooked in a sauce of wine, chicken stock and tomatoes, with celery, carrots and onions and Infused with rosemary, bay leaves and thyme. Left alone alongside the cabbage in the oven for 3 hours, the meat carves but threatens to flake it’s so tender, and we have enough for thirds, fourths maybe fifths. I think it calls for a pastry lid. And mash after a long day back in the office.
Yesterday was a quiet day too. I rose from bed, tea and cereal in front of BBC Breakfast (who was that with Charlie yesterday? Some woman I had never seen her before). I made a loaf, with hand made hand kneaded dough. I was a bit flippant when watching the Great British Bake Off when the gorgeous Paul Hollywood was appalled at the people who used the dough hook of their Kitchenaid mixers. I thought, jog on why wouldn’t you? I have real trouble with the joints in my hands sometimes, I surely can’t be blamed for using a touch of help in kneading. But something wonderful happened. I watched an instructional video of Lesley Waterskneading Jon the BBC website, and I actually paid attention. I had been getting it wrong, and I learnt the errors of my ways.
Paul Hollywood said you need to knead by hand (need to knead, like it) as you learn the texture of the dough, and learn to feel the changes, which are so important. He is right, you can feel it. It gets softer, more elastic, it’s shape held, the texture turns in your hand. People used the adjective pillowy, and that does work to describe it. There is a touch of resistance when the dough is pressed. It is a fascinating process.
I attempted the pizza dough from Jamie at Home on Friday. Epic fail. No rise at all, done in a rush. Was not my finest hour. But on the other hand, I did go and see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Amazing film. So well done. It was amazing how a largely CGI film had a real human character driven plot. Really recommend it. Plus it was a great love letter to the city of San Francisco, where everyone I know seems to be going at the moment. Unfair. I want to go desperately.
Made more custard creams too. All in all, a great weekend dans Le cuisine. I went on a lovely run today, saw some gorgeous houses. Must move soon. I need bigger book shelves. This week, only bought one cook book. Could have been 2. I’m contemplating a River Cottage Everyday purchase. Cannot wait to see Hugh. T minus four weeks. Eeek!!!
Waitrose was expensive this weekend. Nearly £100. Gulp. But did buy some lovely stuff. On that note, I’m off to prepare to return to Downton Abbey. I’m so very excited. Hope you had a great weekend folks. Blog later x
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