To start at the end, we finished the weekend with Anjum Anand’s South Indian-inspired salmon wraps. We’ve cooked it quite a few times before (see here) but perhaps not often enough - I don’t mind that though, because when we do have it, it feels like we’re rediscovering an old favourite. The fish is cooked with fresh coconut flesh, which gives the sauce a more interesting texture than a regular curry. You can find fresh coconut in some branches of sainsburys for about 80p, or at an Asian grocery shop. Lemon juice and fresh tomatoes provide tang, which is needed to balance the strong salmon flavour. To be honest, I generally avoid pink fleshed fish and go for white varieties instead, as I find the flavour of salmon etc too strong - no matter how much I enjoy it at the time, after eating a salmon dish I usually feel like I could quite happily avoid the stuff for a few months. Not so with this meal.
Earlier today Karl and I took our first ever independent drive to Ikea – so exciting! Probably not quite so exciting to anyone else, but it was just nice to be able to set off on our own instead of depending on someone else (usually my mum) to ferry us to and from the homewares superdooperstore – and then lug our purchases from hers to our flat on the tube. That’s not so great. We bought a bunch of stuff we needed, as well as more stuff that we didn’t even know we needed, and then some stuff that we didn’t actually need at all – including a laundry basket that has turned out to be less that a foot high. It’s basically a fabric bucket. But still, the shop and drive were both successful, even if we did find ourselves accidentally joining the M11 on our way home. But it’s fine, you can always write that sort of mishap off as ‘an adventure’.
One of the best bits about the trip was lunch. Karl went for the classic meatballs, mash and lingonberry sauce. I, believe it or not, went for a SALAD. It was prawn & egg, in mayo, on rye bread (so far, so Scandinavian, I guess?) and although it was a little dinky, it was a snip at just £2.75. Good old Ikea. For pud we shared a wedge of apple cake.
Rewinding further back to this morning, we started off the day with a new breakfast from Jamie’s Great Britain – smoked haddock and poached egg on toast with mustardy wilted spinach.
To make it, fill a biggish frying pan halfway with water and add a couple of bayleaves, a few peppercorns and the juice of half a lemon. Bring this to the boil, and then slide in your smoked haddock. After 4 minutes, crack in a couple of eggs (gently) so that they can poach in the same liquid alongside the fish. They’ll take a further 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, pop two thick slices of bread in the toaster. In a separate frying pan, heat a knob of butter. Once it’s bubbling slightly, add half a teaspoon of mustard powder (or just some jar mustard/bashed up mustard seeds), a pinch of nutmeg (freshly grated is best but use what you have) and the juice of the other half of that lemon. The recipe also called for an anchovy paste called Gentleman’s Relish, but didn’t have any and had never heard of it, so I went without. Add two big handfuls of fresh spinach and use a pair of tongs to turn it around in the pan and coat it in the butter until it’s wilted and turned a dark but still vibrant green. If there’s a lot of liquid, bunch the spinach up to one side of the pan and let the juices reduce a little.
To serve, pile some mustardly, lemony spinach onto your toast, and top with the poached egg and flaked haddock. Pour over any juices left in the spinach pan, and season with salt & pepper.
Timing is quite key to this dish as you don’t want anything going cold. I’d suggest getting the spinach started as soon as you’ve put the haddock on to poach, rather than waiting until the eggs go on.
The sun was making a rare appearance so we followed breakfast up with a stroll down to Roman Road for a coffee, almond croissant and the Sunday papers (or in my case, the food supplement of the Sunday papers…)
Friday and Saturday were spent apart again, with me taking advantage of the full fridge at my mums, filling my face with good foods and bad (the good being the meals my mum made, of course. And the bad being processed stuff from the supermarket - chicken nuggets, microwave pizza, etc). As much as I love the bad stuff, my mum’s cooking obviously always wins out – she made egg curry, a bean and aubergine curry, and muthia (snacks similar to bhajis) made from dudhi, a long, pale-green gourd. I’ve noticed a couple of branches of Sainsbury’s now stock dudhi (esp. those with nearby Asian communities), but it’ll be cheaper from an Asian grocery.
So it’s been a great weekend. And between now and next Sunday, I’ve got Karl’s birthday, glamping with friends, and a cousin’s wedding – so hopefully it’ll be a particularly good week for food!
This week I’m excited about… the opening of two new places! The Flat Iron steak pop-up on Redchurch Street (upstairs at The Owl & Pussycat pub), which promises fabulous steak (well what else?) and cocktails. And Burger & Lobster is opening in Soho! It already has a place in Mayfair, and the new venue will offer much the same menu of burgers and, uhm, lobster. Simple is always best.