Cooking for the weekend

There was quite a lot of cooking done over the weekend. So much in fact that I had to spend Friday at home to make a start on it.

Friday started with me picking up a barrel of beer from The Peerless Brewery in Birkenhead. With that in the back of the car I went onto the Grocers to pick up boxes of cherries and figs, aubergines, cucumbers, four or five different types of tomato, including some small Italian green tomatoes, which were the best tasting, onions and aubergines, beetroot and a great hulk of a watermelon.

It was then onto The International Store for long thin green peppers, bottles of chickpeas, pistachios, ground almonds and lamb chops.

Back home I put two bags of mograbiah in a large bowl of water to soak, the beetroot went into a pan of water and was brought up to the boil and then I started on making five caramelized garlic and goat’s cheese tarts. I cheated by using ready rolled pastry. I could get two of the tart cases into the oven at the same time. Whilst they cooked I started on the most boring part of the whole exercised which involved peeling fifteen bulbs of garlic.

Like any good man I love garlic but I find myself getting irritated if I have to peel more than a few cloves. Either the papery skins won’t come off properly or they end up stuck to my fingers which have got sticky with the garlic. If there are about 12 cloves to a bulb of garlic I must have peeled at least 180. By the time I had finished the tart cases were done and I could start cooking the garlic.

This involved blanching it in boiling water for five minutes, straining them off (keeping the water), frying then in olive oil until they had just started to take on colour and then adding balsamic vinegar, sugar and more water and cooking it down to a tart syrup.

The pieces of garlic and their syrup was then scattered amongst the tart cases along with a mixture of hard and soft goat’s cheese and then covered with a custard of whisked eggs and cream. There was then another rota to get them all cooked.

I drank the water strained from the garlic to fortify myself for the rest of the cooking. This included halving a box of plum tomatoes that went to roast in the bottom of the oven covered with more balsamic vinegar and sugar; cooking a bag of Puy lentils; putting the cooked beetroot through the Magimix with some olive oil and a slightly bedraggled horseradish root I found at the back of the fridge; putting tins of chickpeas through the same Magimix to make hummus; roasting aubergines and making a chickpea salad.

As we got to the end of the afternoon I started on the three spiced carrot, pistachio and almond cakes. As I was making it I realised I didn’t have a bowl big enough to contain all the mixture and so I transferred it to an old washing up bowl that was lurking in the basement. Making the cake second time round there was no getting round the fact that the mixture looked like something nasty you might see on the pavement late on a Saturday night.

Once all the food was done it went into the basement to rest and we ate most of it up on the Saturday night washed down with the Peerless Ale and lashings of wine.

Listening now to Sufjan Stephens singing Impossible Soul – all 21 minutes of it.


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