I am a great believer that good food makes a happy mind, and so with that in mind I decided that I should compile some of my knowledge of food into a weekly column on the subject. Throughout the following I will list the prices of all the ingredients from both Tesco and from local delis, fish mongers, butchers etc. In my opinion, the quality gained by buying from a good supplier more than makes up for the extra cost, however, we are all students, and so even I will be doing some of the shopping from Tesco!
First of all, I think everybody should have a few cupboard essentials, often not on the student repertoire:
– Olive Oil:
A good olive oil is much better than any vegetable equivalent for almost all European cooking. For £3.00-£4.00 from Tesco you can get a good 500ml bottle of the stuff. They last a long time, I cook with it nearly every night and it lasts me about a term.
Both red and green pesto can be used to brighten up relatively simple dishes. Filled pasta or small ravioli cooked in boiling water then thrown in a frying pan with half a jar of pesto, a good glug of olive oil and a squirt of tomato puree. Stir through until hot and serve with some sausages makes a lovely, quick and easy dinner.
– Tomato Passata
This fantastic essential of sieved tomatoes got me through almost half of my dinners in the Tommy White kitchens.
A fantastically quick (less than 5 mins) and tasty pasta sauce can be made with half a carton of passata, a good squeeze of garlic puree, a little tomato puree, add herbs and season to taste. Add chicken, sausages or un-smoked, diced bacon for a meaty sauce, or enjoy as it is.
Whether in the pre-cooked deli meat form, or the smaller sausage form, this Spanish spiced sausage is a favorite of mine. It goes fantastically with chicken, dice it and put it in an omelette or fry it and use it in place of other sausages in many dishes.
This week I decided to go continental and try an interesting tapas recipe I picked up form Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’.
Kidneys Cooked With Sherry: (for 2, serve with mashed potatoes)
– 8 lambs kidneys, halved and cores removed
– juice of 1 lemon
– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 1 medium onion
– 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
– 1 tablespoon of flour
– 1 wine glass of dry sherry
– 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
– freshly ground black pepper
Marinade the kidneys in the lemon juice for at least 10 minutes before you begin cooking.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over a medium heat until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Turn up the heat to boil away any liquid, being careful not to burn it all! Drain the kidneys and dry them on some kitchen paper. Add the kidneys to the pan and brown them on all sides, stir in the flour, and add the sherry and an equal amount of water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsley, taste, and season with the salt and pepper.
Kidneys can be a scary prospect for the inexperienced, Anna was quite apprehensive at first, but ended up loving it! The core is the white bit in the middle, it can be easily removed by cutting the kidney in quarters, once down its length, and once through the middle before using a sharp knife to cut out the white core from the corner. My kidneys absorbed all the lemon juice, and couldn’t practically be dried with the kitchen paper, so when I put them in they released quite a lot of liquid. If this happens, don’t worry! It will boil away to a thick liquid in about 2-5 minutes, then continue with the recipe as written above.
For this recipe I bought a nice medium dry Amontillado sherry from Oddbins on little Clarendon street for £7.50. (cheaper than Tesco, at £9.50). The kidneys were from Organic Meats in the covered market, they cost more than Tesco, but still only a couple of quid. (Tesco lamb kidneys £1.80 for 450g).
Also in the covered market, the Oxford Cheese Co. do some fantastic interesting cheeses, at the time of writing they stocked a lovely Austrian cheese ‘Tommes aux Fleurs’, at around £3 per 100g its not cheap, but its lovely nutty taste, and yeasty after taste make it fantastic for something a little different.
On the way into town I popped into Taylors, the Deli at the end of little Clarendon street. They stock all the normal deli things, meats, cheeses, olives, and jars and tins galore. They also do fantastic coffee! I bought a medium latte for £2.20, it was much nicer than the standard Costa fare, and about the same price!