Burnt Onions

Untitled #69, originally uploaded by Lobstersquad.

Leave husband and one child alone for six days and you can be sure that the soups and vegetables you left, neatly labeled for their consumption, will be untouched. Yes, they have survived happily on pancakes with Nutella and scrambled eggs on bagels.
Obviously my first lunch on getting back was lentils and barley. Duh. Livened up with burnt onions, beautiful stuff. I´ll leave you with the post that sent me down that road, and dash. My life is very crazy and soon you´ll know why.



Weekend in Madrid, friends and more friends. You walk into a bar at five in the afternoon to say hi and go straight home because you´re all fluey and ill, and leave at one in the morning, so happy to have sat there talking that you feel well after all.
Barcelona tomorrow.


Pressure cooked spareribs

I feel spring springing. The trees are still bare and stark against the sky, but there are tiny buds everywhere, and today, the sun is shining. Our garden is a mess of broken bits, torn bushes and ragged grass. A gardener would look at it and see the promise of flowers. I think of grills and barbecues.

However, this is Scotland, and I suspect snow is just around the corner, so here´s the preferred method for grilled meat right now. It also works for summer, though, since the two step method allows you to get ahead of the game and reduce the grilling time.

So. Get your spare ribs and marinate them. This is entirely up to you. I have my Southwestern moments and I have my Chinese moments, and they are both brilliant.
Put the ribs, cut into twos and threes, in a big freezer bag inside a bowl. Now add soy sauce, sherry, garlic, ginger, hoi sin sauce and a few red pepper flakes. Or, soy sauce, sherry, garlic, oregano and barbecue sauce and red pepper flakes.
Leave them in the fridge overnight, or for a couple of hours outside.

Now cut a corner in the bag and as much of the marinade as you can into a measuring jug. Add water or stock or beer or what you want so that you have 250 ml liquid.
Put that and the ribs inside the pressure cooker, bring the pressure up and give the meat 25 minutes.
This is step one. You can smear them with a bit more hoi sin sauce or barbecue sauce and put them under the grill until blistered and dark and sticky. Or you can do that the day after. This is very convenient.

As for the liquid in the pot, you´ll have just over a cup of the most insanely flavorful jelly.
I like to add water, boil it, add dried wakame, cooked noodles, whatever leftover scraps of ribs there are (there never are any, but you can try hiding a few before serving) and some mint or cilantro and spring onions.

This is good stuff, light and bright, and yet comforting while it´s still cold.


Genius crusty potato dumplings

I already did an in depth review of Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson, when it came out, but here´s another recipe from it. Not a recipe, really, just a stroke of genius. The sort of thing that is so brilliant in its simplicity that you almost think you came up with the idea yourself.

Pan fry shop bought gnocchi.

That´s it. No, it´s not rocket science, but you have to admit that it´s pretty darn clever. Those little doughy balls in the supermarket chill cabinet are 96% cooked potato. They just need to be tossed into a pan covered with a thin film of oil and left to crisp up, then tossed again and toasted on the other side.
Nigella says they are like mini rösti, which may be so. I think they are the perfect solution, since they can stay in the fridge for weeks until needed to bolster that bit of leftover stew, the not quite enough smoked fish, the lone grilled pork chop. Good stuff, try it.


Strawberry Syrup

Strawberry Syrup, originally uploaded by Lobstersquad.

you know perfectly well that it's too early for strawberries, even if they look pretty. So wait.
But if you fell into the trap, and came home with a lovely bunch of berries that turned out to be unyielding and tasteless, here's what you do.
Wash and hull them, then put them in a pan with some sugar, a splash of water and a slosh of balsamic vinegar. If you have one, squeeze an orange in there too.
Cook it over a medium flame until it's syrupy, glossy, and has turned a dark ruby red.
Wait for it to cool a little and eat with vanilla ice cream.
this is so good that you won't mind the hit and miss quality of so many strawberries


Caramel in the microwave

I make a lot of flan these days. Flan, and natillas/custard. A friend of J´s keeps hens, and every other week or so J turns up with a carton of muddy, enormous, gorgeous eggs.
If these eggs arrive when I´ve just bought some perfectly all right but otherwise unremarkable eggs from the shops, there are suddenly too many. So I just have to make a pudding with them, and keep the excellent eggs for poaching.

I make the flan in the pressure cooker, and will post the recipe, but for now, the discovery I´m happiest with. Caramel. That tricky, dangerous thing that I´ve always avoided. It can be made in the microwave, straight in the bowl you´ll use for the flan. isn´t that handy?

I use a soufflé bowl that holds about a litre. So put a couple of tablespoons of sugar in it, and a spoonful of water, and put it in the microwave. Give it twenty second bursts until it´s bubbling malevolenty, looks golden and smells delicious, a minute or so total.

That´s it.