Red mullet

Saturday morning I was stood at the counter at Ward’s Fish looking for red mullet. The original intention had been to buy something to cover in bread crumbs and deep fry but as I made my way down to the market I persuaded myself that if they had red mullet then we would have that instead. At first I couldn’t see any so I let my eye wander to where the white fish lay on the ice but then I caught sight of a flash of golden pink. There was only the one of them but it was big enough to feed four.

I asked for it to be filleted and turned my mind to how I might cook it. On the way back to the car I regretted not keeping it whole. It had been big enough to roast in the oven. No matter. I would roast it anyway.

That evening I par boiled some potatoes. When they were done I sliced them so they were as thick as a thick pound coin, doused them in olive oil and put them in a pan in a hot oven. As they continued to cook I sliced up a mixture on red onions, tomatoes and lemons which were tossed with crushed garlic, olive oil and more lemon juice.

I gave the potatoes a stir after 20 minutes as them were just starting to take on some colour. After another ten minutes I covered the potatoes with the onion tomato mixture before giving it all a gentle stir and putting it back in the oven. After another ten minutes I laid out the two fillets of red mullet on top of the softening onions and tomatoes. It was all given a good slug of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper before going back into the oven for about 12 minutes.

Red mullet are still my favourite fish.

Sunday and the sun was out and so time was spent rearranging pond life, admiring my garlic

and artichoke plants before planting seeds and drinking a beer in the garden.

Sunday evening and we ate a sweet curry listening to blissed out funk jazz.

Get your freekeh on

I am not sure I have been effusive enough about the freekeh I made at the weekend and I have not given sufficient credit for where I first read about it and took the idea of what to do with it.

With regards to the credit I should lift my hat (again) to Sabrina Gayhor and her second book on Persian cooking Sirocco. Having bought the bag of freekeh and having had it sat on the side at home I went through various books of middle- eastern cooking to work out how best to deal with it and the only mention I could find was in the Sabrina Gayhor book and whatever she suggested to do with it worked a treat.

The only misfire was in the quality made and that was my fault and worked out ok in any event. I should have spotted that the recipe said “for 8” and applied the appropriate discount for the 3 that were eating . Of course I did not and we were left with a vast bowl of the stuff to get through.

So I have had it for my lunch over the course of the last three days with added chicken, tomato and Turkish green pepper.

It has been a welcome break from the normal dry (but smelly) cheese sandwich.

I am likely to be back on the cheese sandwiches tomorrow so I took myself into town over lunchtime today to see if I could track down a Liverpool supply of freekeh. It transpired that I could but at 3 or 4 times the price of the bag I bought in Oxford a few weeks ago.

So it would appear that only next visit to Oxford I am going to have to make my way down the Cowley Road to stock up on both mograbeh and freekeh.

As for the taste – because it has been lightly smoked it has about the hint of a far away BBQ which is not too bad.IMG_2015



There are normally three butchers at The Farmers Market and each month when I go I like to try and buy something from each of them.

I started at the stall at the end from where I normally buy an ox heart. Yesterday my eye was caught by some shins of beef, the meat dark, almost black, with age. I bought one and then finding myself with more change in my pocket than expected I went back and bought a second.

They are in the freezer now. When they come out they will be cooked for many hours with tomatoes and red wine. I might even try have a son to hand to share them with me.

From the Bryn Cocyn Organic Farm stall I bought piece of rump steak to stuff into a baguette for my lunch and from the Dolwen Farm Shop I bought five fat lamb chops and some off cuts of bacon.

I ate most of the lamb in the evening along with a vast bowl of freekeh salad.

I spotted the bag of freekah two weeks ago when I was in Oxford. The name rang a bell as being one of those ingredients I occasionally read about but am not quite sure where to get it from. So I bought the bag half confident I would work something out to cook it with.

Freekeh is young green wheat that has been lightly smoked. It needed to be cooked in boiling water for about twenty minutes. I then stirred in a mixture of pomegranate seeds, blanched almonds, dried blueberries and finely chopped onion, dill and coriander.

It went very well with the lamb.

Things change

The last time I ate in a St John restaurant was almost 25 years ago. It was the original restaurant in Clerkenwell and Tracy Emin was sat at one of the other tables. After the meal we were given a bag of over cooked Eccles cakes from the bakery.

The son and I ate at the St John in Shoreditch this evening. I told him about Tracy Emin and he told me that in a few years time there might be others who talked about the time they sat down for a meal in St John with him being sat at one of the other tables.

We ordered what we each fancied from the menu and then shared each plate down the middle.

We started with a whole crab with garlic mayonnaise followed by brown shrimps with kohlrabi and chervil. We were tempted by wine but stuck to beer. As a third course we had blood pudding with brown sauce. Unexpectedly this came with a fried egg and I had to overcome my scruples over eating an egg cooked by anyone else than myself.  I am still not sure about it.

Rather to my surprise we moved on to a plate of braised rabbit. We sucked at the bones and ran our fingers round the edge of the plate to pick up every last blast of what we were eating.

It seemed a shame to end it there so we finished with a slice of salted chocolate and caramel pie and a glass of sweet thick sherry.

So for the second time this week the son was sent out into the night replete.