Monday, 25 April 2011

How to dress a cow…

Cold rare beef is one of the nicer things to have loitering in your fridge. (Can beef be said to loiter? It might be a bit regal for that). Its first outing was on Friday, with cubed roasted potatoes with rosemary, a simple tomato salad dressed with olive oil and seasoning, a green salad of watercress and pea shoots and a mustard mint dressing of Nigel Slater’s that is so utterly luscious and wonderful I shall share because I am kind and want only to enhance your day.

Whizz together 2 egg yolks, a large handful of mint, a tbsp grain mustard and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Trickle in 4-5 tbsp olive oil until the mixture has amalgamated and season as you will.

The lovely thing about the meal above is that the beef need not be piping hot and the sauce can be made at the last minute, so you have masses of time to do your sides. By which I mean the side salads, not your own sides. What quite you might be doing with them I can’t think. Moving swiftly on…

If you want to go Continental with your cold beef, think anything Thai, New Yorker style with gherkins and mustard getting involved or even just eat with any of the leftover sauce from above, perhaps on a piece of toasted sourdough with some peppery green leaves. Or you could try the following take on a Banh Mi – a Vienamese pork baguette and a particular addiction of mine that, I think, adapts well to other meats.

Grate a carrot and a courgette coarsely and toss together in a bowl. Throw in some leaves if you have any; other additions might even be a tin of beansprouts if you’re wondering what the hell to do with it. Cool and crunchy is the idea. Slice up a chilli, red or green and add to the vegetables. Whisk together a tbsp sugar with a couple tbsp white wine vinegar and taste – you want sweet and sharp and lip-smacking – then stir through the grated vegetables and leave for a few minutes.

Split a baguette in half and layer with the beef, as thinly sliced as you can, and the grated vegetables. Press together and enjoy. Alternatively, do without the carbs and have it over more salad or even tossed with noodles.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Saturday, 23 April 2011

How to dress a cold chicken…

It needs less layers than you think. Whisk together a couple of tbsp mayonnaise, 1/2 tsp of honey, a good squeeze of lemon juice and 2-3 tbsp olive oil. Check it – you may need seasoning and more lemon juice – then pour over the shredded chicken, which you may have arranged over some mixed salad leaves, slices of avocado etc.

That’s it. It’s just really really good. Next time, how to dress a cold cow.

Monday, 18 April 2011

So Belinda Carlisle did have a point…

Well, at least a minor one… There actually could be truth in ‘Oooh Heaven is a place on Earth’ – and it might be Dorset. Pretty much all of it, apart perhaps from Poole. I’ll get to that later.

A quick round-up:

Favourite place to eat: Tricky. I loved The Olive Branch in Wimborne Minster, because it had a lovely garden and clever platters for sharing.

The Royal Oak in Cerne Abbas serves really excellent pub food in a village already gorging on good places to eat. And they don’t do children’s food, as such but prefer to do a smaller appetites menu. This makes me love them.

FishyFishy Brasserie on the quay in Poole looked amazing, Unfortunately we didn’t get to eat there because MCD invoked his right to eat lobster on his birthday so we went instead to Corkers which was deserted, with curiously old-style patterned swirly carpets and creaking waiters and lobster Thermidor, naturally.

West Beach in Bournemouth again is worth a stop – particularly for their takeout fish and chips, or indeed tempura prawns, to eat on the beach. Again I didn’t get to actually eat here because we couldn’t bloody find it the first time around and MCD Jr was gagging for lunch. And when I did find it, on a return solo trip, I wasn’t actually very hungry, but I am assured it’s good.

Where we stayed: Grange holiday cottages are beautiful.

Dorset Holiday April 2011 005

Dorset Holiday April 2011 006

This is Petersham, a one-bed cottage which suited us perfectly. I’ve never done a holiday cottage before and didn’t know what to take. Tip for the future: you don’t need washing up liquid, but do take ketchup, bin bags and check, if you have a small person, where you can bathe them. This had a wet room which was rather fabulous for us, but somewhat trying for MCD Jr, who had to be bathed in the sink each night and soon got tired of it.

Favourite village: without a doubt, Cerne Abbas. I expected it to be weirdly, horribly touristy but it was delightful, mostly because of the plethora of fabulous pubs, a sweet tea-rooms, a General Stores that was actually a proper, honest-to-goodness place where you could buy useful things, such as local meat, cheese, veg – in short, like nothing in London. Also because of the notices around the village informing everyone of an upcoming funeral of a local resident (I am assuming this was because she was much-loved, but this might not have been the case; still, the devotion to population was touching). And the giant on the hill with the big willy was quite far enough away not to impact really upon it. It’s not like it was looming priapically over the village or anything. Obviously seeing it all in early April means we missed the hordes, so it may become a hell-hole come late summer, but still – fabulous.

Least favourite place: Poole. Ok – not everywhere can be amazing but, considering its position so close to Sandbanks etc, it was strangely down-trodden, dated even. Apart from the quay – well, a bit of it – it just wasn’t very attractive. The shops were tired and clearly struggling slightly; we worked hard to find a decent place to eat (see above); it all felt as if no-one cared very much. And – this may be a very unfair comparison – we had just come from a buzzing Bournemouth, which although it can be seaside hell, still felt as if people wanted to be there. All very strange and I stand to be corrected.

Weirdest tourist attraction: The combination of the only exhibition outside China to be showing the Terracotta Army and The Teddy Bear Museum. MCD Jr loved the latter; MCD Sr loved the former – everyone was a winner.

Bonus pics:

Dorset Holiday April 2011 081

This is actually as close to the Cerne Abbas giant as we got. But this was a good thing: if it is a fertility aid, I don’t want to be near it for some time.

Dorset Holiday April 2011 087

A house named after my sister. Or maybe it’s the name of the resident. Either way, I rather like the idea of naming my house like this. ‘Come to Stanley’ I might roar, exuding bonhomie in my Dorset idyll.