Chicken fricassée (of sorts) with carrots

There was chicken, gravy and carrots left over from yesterday’s late Sunday lunch so this evening I made a sort of chicken fricassée the inspiration for which, but not the execution, came from Jane Grigson’s Good Things.


I have never been quite sure what a fricassée is. I just remember having them at home – a bowl of cooked chicken in a pale creamy sauce eaten with plain boiled rice.

The recipe said to thicken the sauce with cream and eggs but I wasn’t sure that was necessary.

I cooked a finely chopped onion in butter with thick chopped carrots and a scrape of garlic until the onion had started to soften. I then tipped in the chicken stock I had made last night with the carcass and gravy and brought it all to a slow simmer. Once the carrots were almost done I stirred in the left over chicken to heat through and put on the rice to cook.

Unfortunately there was no plain white rice in the house so we had to make do with basmati and wild rice despite at least one of the children declaring that they didn’t like the black bits.

It all went down very well as we listened to a dodgy disco compilation that could have been left over from the frugging that went down late Friday night in The Grapes.

Fecundity and a good gravy

And then all of a sudden there is more light in the mornings and evenings and you could fool yourself into thinking that winter is behind us and we are into the first few footsteps of spring.

Out in the garden this afternoon I decided to try ruin what is already a knackered back and dig over those parts of the veg patch where garlic isn’t growing. All of the soil was covered with small shoots of green growth which had to be picked out with my fingers before I could start with the fork.

There was a fecundity about. I was still pulling away the dead brown of lasts years growth and all around another season was pushing its way up about to start.

Then this evening I stumbled on the best gravy ever.

It was the Farmer’s Market yesterday and as normal I bought myself a chicken to roast on Sunday.

All was done as I have done countless times before except that I stirred into the gravy a couple of spoonfuls of quince paste. Almost without me realising what I had done it took the food on to something else. There was no sweetness about it, just a full blooded taste of something good.


More pinchos at Roja Pinchos

We went on a pub crawl last night and ended up in Roja Pinchos for the third weekend running. Next time we will have to try and make it to one of their Sunday lunches when they will give you a glass of Cava and as many pinchos as you can eat all for £15.00.

The only disappointment was the lack of black pudding croquettes – but we did have the mushrooms with quails eggs. A small round of toast covered in cooked mushrooms and topped with a perfectly fried miniature quail’s egg. I had a few of those along with pieces of steak with a cauliflower puree and the balls of cheese rolled in pistachio nuts.

Before the pinchos we had a pint in The Lion Tavern on Moorfields and then two pints in the very fine Ship & Mitre.

After the pinchos we crossed Berry Street and headed for The Grapes. We lost count of the pints in there but there was good music and dancing with strangers until we staggered out into the night and into a taxi and then back home to bed far too late.

It is probably a good thing there no photos of the dancing.


Black pudding croquettes at Roja Pinchos

I have a new favourite food. Black pudding croquettes. A walnut sized piece of black pudding wrapped around some cheese and rolled in breadcrumbs and then deep fried.

As they arrive at the table they are almost too hot too handle and then when you bite into them…..the black pudding is as hot as just cooled magma and has a good earthy taste and then there is a scalding burst of cheese.

We ate them yesterday evening in Roja Pinchos on Berry Street, Liverpool. Our second time there in a week. We were with children last night so didn’t have the opportunity to start the evening off with a couple of pints.

Pinchos are a kind of finger food from Northern Spain. They are smaller than a tapas and each one is really no more than a mouthful or two and they are very good.


We sat ourselves down near the bar. This was a good thing in some ways as all the cold food is stacked there so there was no need to get up to help yourself to more, in fact we could pick the food off the plates and onto our table without having to lift ourselves off our seats. This did mean that we ate more than we ought to and it did start to add up.

There is no menu. The cold food is on the bar and you can use your eyes to see what it is or ask one of the men in a red t-shirt if you are not sure. Each piece of food is pierced with a large cocktail stick. The sticks come in two sizes; small costs £1.50 and large £3.00. So you can see the danger of being sat within easy reaching distances of the good food on the bar.

The hot food was a list of good sounding food reeled off by one of the men in a red t-shirt. This was the first night they had been doing the black pudding croquettes.

So we had:-

– from the cold bar – ham wrapped around a stick held together with a small red pepper stuffed with cheese, tortilla, figs wrapped in ham, chicken salad, smoked salmon with potato salad, roasted red pepper stuffed with potato mayonnaise on a piece of bread and goats cheese encrusted either with pistachio or black seed.

– for the hot food we had – creamed mushrooms on toast with a perfectly formed fried quails egg, pork loin deep fried with cheese, mackerel and sea bass on toast and prawns and of course potatas bravas.

We ate the lot drinking the house white and pints of Estrella trying to lose count of the sticks as they gathered in a pile on the table.

We will be back to eat more of the black pudding croquettes hopefully sneaking the same  seats up near the bar.