A little later than I planned, a few snaps from another weekend spent in and around the Brockley kitchen. Actually, quality time in the kitchen was restricted to Sunday, really, as Friday night's trip to Black & Blue (and particularly the trips to the Market Porter and the Wheatsheaf before and after) compounded a nagging cold and rendered Saturday a bit of a washout. I made it to Borough, in the morning, though (it was like I'd never been away), and stocked up on some goodies.
It was clear I was only going to manage something simple on Saturday so after pondering a number of options I broke with tradition and bought a ready meal. Kinda. I think I'm right in saying I have never bought a boxed ready meal in my life (the microwave that came with the flat's fixtures only ever gets used for defrosting and heating up beans) but my head was turned in France recently by all the cassoulet and other goodies available in jars and tins. I couldn't face bringing any back with me on the flight but I knew I'd be able to get similar fare from Marche du Quartier, the excellent French produce stall opposite Ginger Pig. They had coq au vin in handy kilner jars on special offer so I toddled off home with one having also rather rashly opted for a bottle of something suitably local to wash it down.
I'm not surprised such packaged treats are so popular in France. You certainly feel you're getting a 'proper' meal out of it, something approaching the real thing. I thought maybe the sauce was a bit slick, the emphasis more on the texture than the punchiness of wine or the meatiness of stock. If I'd made it myself I would probably have been disappointed but as I was only good for mashing potatoes on Saturday I couldn't really complain. The accompanying Cahors worked rather well.
Altogether more enterprising on Sunday, kicking of with devilled kidneys, the bloody Mary of the solids world. Not only a perfect pick-me-up brunch, but also therapeutic in its preparation: lining up all the ingredients in the order you'll need them because you know rootling around in the back of the cupboard will be out of the question as soon as the devilling begins. I used Hugh F-W's recipe from Meat, albeit with a few judicious substitutions (someone's been at my cooking sherry again). Very satisfying, all the more so after reading about Jay Rayner's meal at the Rivington. No prizes for guessing which modern Hoxton eatery he sensibly walked away from.
And in the evening, fish pie. I wanted to satisfy myself I could produce something at least as good as the £25 "Royal" fish pie I'd had at Bentley's a couple of weeks ago. I am satisfied. I decided not to go for the lobster and the scallops but found instead a chunk of very good halibut, some decent quality smoked haddock and smallish king prawns and a handful of cute baby octopuses (Chambers says "octopodes" is archaic and "octopi" is just wrong... but lists it anyway). I'm afraid the pre-oven version above looks a bit like a Hoxton pavement on a Monday morning, but you get the idea. The end result, complete with a creamy white sauce rendered pink by the prawn shells, was a real treat and even tastier on Monday and Tuesday's subsequent sittings.
I also picked up some brussels sprouts at the market. Although I haven't got round to using them yet, I always think it's a crime that even people who like them probably only eat them at one meal every year. I am aware, though, that lots of folk think even that is one meal too many, so here's a little treat just for them. Enjoy.