Things that made me go 'mmm'
In no order whatsoever...
AMARETTI ICE CREAM
This was dished up by my oldest friend when we went for Sunday lunch. She's recently got an ice cream maker and has enthusiastically embraced its potential, experimenting with all kinds of original flavours. For this one, she combined Greek yogurt, custard and crushed amaretti biscuits, and served it with whole amaretti biscuits.
This is a type of pancake made in sotuhern India from fermented ground rice and lentils. Mine was filled with spiced potato, veg and paneer (Indian cheese) and was a clever balance of soft and crisp with a lightly acidic bite. I ate it in a south London restaurant my family has been going to for years, in honour of my mum's birthday this week. She made the waiter laugh after we'd finished, by telling him how glad she was that the restaurant was still there, and that we'd been there shortly after it opened in 1987. 'Wow,' he said, 'that's just before I was born!'
AUBERGINE IN SOY SAUCE
One I made myself. I chopped aubergine into chunks and gently fried it with sliced garlic, then added quite a lot of Japanese soy sauce (slightly lighter in colour and flavour than Chinese). In went a blob of miso (for all-round savouriness, or 'umami' flavour) and a squirt of tomato purée. A sprinklling of chilli flakes and a dash of water were next. Then a simmer for around 20 minutes before serving with brown rice and peas.
SPINACH AND COCONUT SOUP
It's another one of mine: fry a chopped onion and garlic in some oil, stir in 500g of frozen spinach, add enough stock to cover, and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add a tin of coconut milk, salt and pepper and ground nutmeg. Liquidise and serve, embellished with a little swirl of cocnut milk if you're feeling decorative. Very smooth, quite subtle flavour - and there's enough left to go in the freezer.
SLOE GIN AND TONIC
I first tasted sloe gin courtesy of my step-great-uncle Alf, who made it every year, and dished it out at Christmas. More recently, I've made my own, and although it's now sold in supermarkets, it's quite rare to see this on a drinks menu, so I was delighted to see it at the Dean Street Townhouse, where I was meeting a business contact. One sip recalled sloe gins and Christmases past, and reminded me to buy a bottle of gin to continue making this year's batch.
I picked some sloes (pictured here) on a walk a couple of weekends ago, and they're in the freezer. That's the lazy way of pricking their skins; otherwise you do it by hand, whereas in the freezer the cold does it for you. All you need is sloes, gin and sugar. For your quantity of sloes, you need about half the weight of sugar, and double the quantity of gin (using grams equals millilitres as your rule, eg if you have 200g of sloes, you need 400ml of gin). Prick the sloes (by hand or in the freezer), put them into a bottle (wide-necked is easier), add the sugar and pour in the gin. Shake to combine and put in a dark place. Give the bottle a shake every day until all the sugar has dissolved. Drink on its own, with lemonade or tonic. I'll be drinking mine this Christmas, but it does improve with age, with the sloe flavour becoming stronger, if you can resist it.
What have you enjoyed eating or drinking this week, at home or elsewhere?
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