Saturday, 23 July 2011

Amy Winehouse 14 September 1983 – 23 July 2011

Amy in concert at Glastonbury 2008. Pic: Kerstin Rodgers

Three sisters

 Three sisters: maize, runner beans, squashes with some marigolds
 Beautiful seed trays and runner bean seeds: I started in April.
Corn seedlings in May.
Marigolds keep off black fly
The runner beans climb up the strong stems of the maize
An ear of maize
Earlier this year I planted corn on the cob, climbing beans and squashes as part of the Secret Garden Club preparation.
The runner beans I got from The Great British Runner Bean campaign where they sent me fragrant pine wood seed trays, some little pots, and seeds. But this combination of plants is a native Indian version of companion planting known as The Three Sisters. The maize grows high, strong and tall, the beans twine themselves around it's stem and the large leaves of the squash provide ground cover, beating back weeds. 
I've never grown corn on the cob before and in my ignorance I asked gardeners "Where is the actual cob? underground?" A closer look showed that it formed part of the stalk, sheathed in it's silk and leaves. Magic! I can't wait to serve my home grown produce at my supper club. In the autumn the Secret Garden Club will be starting again, with gardening lessons combined with high tea on Sundays. Keep an eye out for new dates which will be up soon.
A copper trowel is a lustworthy gardening tool. Copper, a noble Venusian metal, deters slugs and snails.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Book signing at the book barge: more photos

Tomorrow, Thursday 21st of July, I will be signing my book from 5 till 7pm at the book barge which will be moored at Kings Place, Kings Cross. The boat will be moored next to the Rotunda bar from 5pm. They call it 'boatique book buying' and were recently featured in the Guardian.

21st - Supper Club Cook Book Signing with Kerstin Rodgers / entry free / 5.00 - 7.00pm / Rotunda Bar, Kings Place, York Way, London

Kerstin Rodgers, anarcho-restaurateur, signs copies of Supper Club: Recipes & Notes from The Underground Restaurant.

How cool is that? A book shop on a boat? As I love boats and books, it's all kinds of fun wrapped into one event.
The famous astrologer Shelley Von Strunckel, who lives nearby, came and bought my book!

I hope to meet some of you tomorrow!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Edible flowers: Daylilies

In the garden, Daylilies only last a day.
Snip out the stamens at the centre
Dip in batter (corn flour, 00 wheat flour, pinch of salt, pinch of ajinomoto, fizzy water). Handle gently as petals come off easily.
Fry in good vegetable oil
Move over courgette flowers, Daylily tempura has arrived!

As regular readers will know, I enjoy cooking with flowers. I've done several edible flower based supper club nights and it will be the theme of my menu at Camp Bestival.
As well as the classic fried courgette flowers, I have used nasturtiums and their leaves in salads, added borage and rocket flowers to drinks, turned prosecco a deep pink with hibiscus flowers and steamed brightly coloured tulips with broad beans and tapioca pearls. Rose petals can be candied and sprinkled over desserts while lavender and thyme flowers are plunged into bags of sugar, permeating the crystals with floral hints.
My latest flower crush is Daylilies, possibly the sweetest almost sherbety of them all. Simply steamed, the stamens removed,  the honeyed petals delight. I used the ones from my garden, thereby ensuring that they are organically grown and pesticide free.

Other ideas: crushed into ice cream, as garnish for salad, in hot and sour soup (very Chinese), battered and fried....

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tutti Frutti

O whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo!

I garnished the ice cream here with mustard flavoured candy floss in pink and yellow!

One of the recipes I made for my Maille mustard pop up nights. Classic Tutti Frutti ice cream was invented in the states in the 1950s after the creators daughter 'Toodie' (no this is not an episode of The unbelievable Truth). While no longer in it's heyday in the west, Tutti Frutti remains a popular flavour in India.
Creating a mustard dessert was probably the biggest struggle in my Maille mustard pop up supper. I discovered mostarda di frutta at Theo Randall's restaurant, accompanying a cheese board. I mused upon this condiment with candied fruit and mustard essence as a possible contender in the search for a mustard pudding. Ideas in Food, an innovative blog, suggested ice cream with mostarda di frutta. 
The background flavour consisted of creme fraiche ice cream with lemon, to cut through the creaminess and sweetness. Lemon is a great match with mustard. A version of this recipe can be found in my book (order here).

Mostardi di Tutti Frutti ice cream

150ml whole milk
100g caster sugar (you could replace some of this with the mostarda di frutta syrup)
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
300ml crème fraîche  (whole fat)
Juice of a lemon
Diced mostarda di frutta
1 tablespoon of white mustard seeds

Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Pour a little of the warm milk mixture (this is called ‘tempering’) into the egg yolks, whisking. This stops the eggs scrambling. Then pour all the eggs into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer (good if you have a few eggy bits) and stir to cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
Once cool, whisk in the crème fraîche, then add the lemon and the diced candied fruit. You can also add some mustard seeds. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Then scoop (as best you can) over your dessert.
Tip: take your icecream out of the freezer and keep it in the fridge half an hour before serving. This way it will soften evenly, not just the edges.

I've been candying my own fruit recently. I found it easy though time-consuming to make, but better than shop bought candied fruit where every fruit looks perfect but tastes identical. You'll need light corn syrup though. Here is David Liebowitz's version which took days. I managed in two days to candy an entire pineapple. Just add mustard oil from your local Indian shop to turn it into mostarda di frutta. 

Friday, 15 July 2011

Maille mustard pop up on Bastille Day

 Eat your heart out Renoir. (Vintage yellow aprons from Brick Lane)
 The Maille pop up shop

As it was Bastille Day, accordionist Tom Baker played, as he did last year.
Fat Lizzie, playing the second night. 

"You're getting quite good now aren't you?" said my mum, who took up the last minute free place at the Maille mustard pop up in Spitalfields last night.
"Am I?"I replied dryly.
"Yes I quite liked that food." emphasised mum, drawing breath, nodding vigorously, as if this had surprised her. "I mean the difference now, since the beginning..."she said loudly to the Maille mustard boss who'd employed me.
"Didn't you like the other times?" I asked tightly. She's been to The Underground Restaurant several times.
"Yes. But." The penny was dropping.
"I mean the other times were daytime. I don't like eating during the day." She tried to dig herself out, continuing: "I prefer evenings. Food tastes better..."she shared airily with the rest of the Maille mustard team.
"Well, I must be going." She picked up her peach handbag. Almost everything she possesses is peach or coral with the odd foray into lime green. She had her colours done once and that's what they advised.
"That was lovely. Now, don't forget to wear those support stockings I gave you" she advised, giving me a little wave on the way out. "Although it would really help if you weren't so fat dear".
"Bye mum" I muttered through a rigid smile.
This was my menu:
Mustardy Mary (a Bloody Mary cocktail with whole grain mustard)
Gravad lax with dill on honey mustard cream cheese in red endive boats. 
Steamed artichokes with mustard mayonnaise
Smoked haddock with whole grain mustard and grilled cheese.
Asian mustard greens with wild mustard flowers from my garden
Cheese board from Mons
Moustardier (a mustard seed covered cheese from Dijon)
Langres (a washed rind cheese, one of my favourites)
Charollais (a goat cheese from Burgundy)
Comté (a hard mountain cheese from Jura)
Palmiers biscuits made with the Maille collection of 'boutique' mustards:
Cassis mustard with green peppercorns
Fig and coriander
St. John's sourdough.
Strawberry mustard chutney
Mostarda di frutta tutti frutti icecream with berries and mint sugar

Bourgogne aligoté
Bourgogne rouge by Anne Gross, one of the best and a rare female grower in wine.

Mustardy Mary
Gravad lax with a honey mustard dill sauce, a classic combination. Maille's honey mustard is amazing, you can use it as a dip.
I'm not showing you the artichokes. I'm showing you my hands after dechoking 15 of them. Agony! Then I thought sod it, I'm not dechoking the rest. The artichoke stained my finger nails and the thorny spikes cut them all over. These are a cook's hands.

Smoked haddock with tomato, whole grain mustard and mature cheddar
Asian mustard greens, also known as bok choi
I sprinkled some mustard cress on top of the fish and some wild mustard flowers

Mustard flowers from my garden

Burgundy nail varnish
The glorious cheeseboard. The strawberry mustard chutney went well with the cheese.
A moustardier cheese.
Making the fig and coriander mustard palmiers.

The second night I added stilton
The cassis mustard palmier.

Goat's cheese and pistachios...
Using mostarda di frutta, candied fruit in mustard oil, an Italian condiment, in lemon creme fraiche icecream.
A Chaplinesque figure asked for some bread and mustard

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How to make mustard

Next week I'm hosting and cooking for Maille Dijon mustard at their pop up shop in Spitalfields. The shop, based on existing models in Paris and Dijon, looks stylish and authentic. I'm talking about it on the Joanne Good show (BBC London):
Here is a preliminary drawing of the shop:

Mustard pumps

Mustard is one of my favourite condiments, French Dijon is my preferred mustard, and Maille is my Dijon brand of choice. The mild flavour of moutarde Dijonnais, is perfectly balanced in terms of acid and spices, just right for my signature vinaigrette. 
I've spent some time around Dijon: the medieval coloured roofed buildings of Beaune, the unspoilt Parc de Morvan, the Cote D'or vineyards of the Bourgogne. The route between Dijon and Lyon is the chemin of gastronomes and oenophiles.
After having a go at making Marmite, I decided to try mustard, an altogether easier process. I was inspired by this authoritative tome on Mustard by Rosamond Man and Robin Weir as well as a trip to the Unilever HQ. 
Mustard, one of the few spices native to Europe, is one of the oldest spices and like honey, it never goes off. There are three varieties of mustard seed: white, brown and black. White, the mildest, is often used in American mustard (say for hot dogs), brown is the base for  French mustard while black seed, the strongest, gives Indian cooking it's piquancy. 
Black, white and brown.

A very simple recipe for making mustard is as follows: 

Sweet Wholegrain Mustard

25g (3 tablespoons) white mustard seeds
15g (2 tablespoons) black mustard seeds
25g (3 tablespoons) light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2.5ml (half a teaspoon) turmeric
Up to 50ml (10 teaspoons) white wine vinegar to taste

 Put the mustard seeds, sugar, salt, turmeric and herbs into a pestle & mortar and blend together.
Gradually add the vinegar, 1 tablespoon at a time, blending well between each tablespoon, then continue blending until you have a coarse paste. Use 
Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes, to thicken slightly.

I also tried a more complex recipe:

Dijon Mustard

40g of black mustard seeds
50ml of verjuice (available at Neal's Yard) 
1 clove of garlic
a pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of cinnamon
1 clove
10 peppercorns
1 Bay leaf
1 tbsp of sea salt
Half a glass of white wine
1 tbsp of honey

First of all I soaked the seeds overnight in the verjuice (unsweetened grape must). 
Then I ground in my mortar and pestle all the dry ingredients.
I broke the skins of the seeds in a mortar and pestle as I didn't have a spice grinder. I had to do this as they just bounced around in the food processor.
Then I combined all the ingredients in the food processor. Again, if the seeds are just bouncing around, add some more verjuice or white wine. 
Taste for salt and add the honey.
You could make it a smooth mustard by sieving the mixture through a metal sieve like a chinois. 
The slightly bitter taste of the mustard seeds softens after a few days. 
Heating slightly also makes the mustard milder. All mustard is hot, it's through heating that we obtain different strengths.

Mustard has health benefits and was often used as a paste to stimulate the circulation, to improve the memory and give relief from scorpion bites. Mix up some mustard powder with water and flour, spread it on brown paper and wrap it around the affected part with gauze. Leave for ten minutes or longer if you can stand it. A mustard bath is also beneficial.
I'm swilling all my mustard recipes around in my brain in preparation for Bastille Day and July 15th at the Spitalfields Maille mustard pop up. A bientot mes chers amis!