Tag Archives: olive oil

Courgettes in red wine

First, let us praise the author for not ****ing about regarding the title of this book. Ms Elaine Hallgarten, freelance food and travel writer, is the creator of and contributor to many works, including the Jaffa Cookbook, Mince Matters, Cookery Do, The Yoghurt Cookbook, Gourmet’s Guide to London (1992 ed) and Reminiscences and Recipes of the Bakharian Jews of Samarkand. I’m not mocking her oeuvre  –  someone on Amazon has called Mince Matters an ‘excellent practical cookbook‘, something many, many cookbook writers fail to achieve (I should know).
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Boiled Carrot Salad

It’s a travesty that this is the first time we’ve made something by the queen of all things aromatic, Claudia Roden (a short bio of whom  can be found here), however to me the interesting thing currently about this recipe is what it represents in terms of time and cost.

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Chicken Piccata

This is from the I’M IN THE MOOD FOR cookbook published in 1982 by Wear-ever Aluminum. Whilst it concludes in all cases that you are in the mood for food, it does helpfully divide  the recipes into occasions such as Rainy Afternoons (Cheese Popcorn), The Pleasure of Your Own Company (Lemon Soup), and Romantic Notions (Stir-fried Cucumbers). I’ve chosen a recipe from the Winding Down section, which seems to link relaxation with violently attacking some meat.

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Chick Peas and Spinach

This is from the Penguin book of Portuguese Cooking and was one of the hot dishes for the Eurovision party. I did not serve it with bacalhau, as I do not like it much.

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Mamaliga fripte (cornmeal fritters) and Balkan nut and garlic sauce

It’s National Vegetarian Week, so find a vegetarian and eat them! Mmmm – corn-fed!

Ahem. I was a vegetarian in my mid to late teens (around the time I started cooking) and eat meat a two or maybe three times a week currently (and no, I don‘t refer to myself as a ‘flexitarian‘, a ‘vegan until 6pm‘ or any such precious, guilt-addled nonsense). We have lots of vegetarian recipes on the blog (as you can see from the index), several of which have become things I eat  regularly – particularly fasolakia, porotos granados and artichoke dip.

First off however, is a simple recipe which I remember my mother teaching me to cook as a young ‘un, though I haven’t made it for years. (Mamaliga is the Romanian term for this dish, incidentally.)

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Mexican Gazpacho Salad

To go with the Camarones y Arroz Blanco as recently blogged I served this salad from Ursel and Derek Norman’s Salad Days (1975). I really like this book, and am looking forward to summer when I shall live entirely from its recipes. Here’s the recipe and picture:

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Camarones al Mojo de Ajo

Mexican food. Not something I’ve been very bothered about ever. I’m given to understand that decent Mexican food is hard to come by in London, and indeed, I think I’ve only been to one Mexican restaurant here, where it was all nice but nothing special. Things like burritos, fajitas and what’s the other one, tortillas have never done much for me either. Perfectly nice, but I’ve never craved them. Couple this, let’s call it cuisine indifference with a 1983 Sainsbury’s recipe book and you might forgive me for not expecting much from this dish. Plus it seemed too simple to be that good. All I can say, is, wow, was I glad to be proved wrong.

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Poulet Antiboise

I inherited Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food from my great-aunt along with several others, including Florence Greenberg’s Jewish Cookery Book and the second volume of Julia Child (from which I have never cooked anything, although my eyes have glazed over trying to read the whole nine page recipe for Progres cake, which Ann Seranne manages to capture in half a page of much larger text. I imagine if I ever want to cook something complicated, it‘ll be invaluable.).

Mediterranean Food  was Elizabeth David’s first book published in 1950, though I have the 1955 edition, which has jaunty, (now  faded) cover art and illustrations by John Minton. David’s influence on Jane Grigson is clear: recipes are interspersed with anecdotes and quotations, assume a moderate level of competency in the kitchen and variations are offered.

Slice 2lb of onion and put them in a deep casserole with a half-tumbler of olive oil, a little salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

On top of the onions place a cleaned chicken seasoned with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole and cook very gently in the oven for about an hour and a half. The onions must not brown , but melt gradually almost to a puree, as in Passaladina. Add a little more oil during cooking if necessary.

When the chicken is tender carve it into pieces and serve on a dish with the onions all round, garnished with a few stoned black olives and squares of bread, fried in oil.

If the chicken is of the elderly, boiling variety, it can be cut into joints before cooking, so that it will not take so long to cook, although whenever possible I think that chickens should always be cooked whole to preserve the flavour and juices and carved into joints for serving.


  • I modified the quantities to 3 chicken thighs and one medium sized onion.
  • I didn’t measure the oil, other than making sure there was just about enough to very lightly coat all the onion.
  • I think I may have also accidentally used chilli instead of cayenne.
  • I cooked it at gas mark 5 for 1hour before checking it and when it was still a pale sloppy mess, I basted the chicken and cooked it for half an hour longer uncovered, so the skin would crisp up and some of the liquid would evaporate (except neither of those things happened).

I was so very excited about this and… it didn’t work.

When I took the dish out of the oven, I had pale chicken with damp skin in a green sea of onion slices, olive oil and chicken juice.


In order to turn this into something edible, I put the cooked onions (not the liquid) in a frying pan with a pinch of  fresh rosemary and cooked them until they browned slightly, then I stirred in  half a dessertspoon of flour and added some of the water in which I had boiled the potatoes for mash and  half of the olive oil and meat juice mixture from the baking dish as well as a little shake of Worcestershire sauce and left it to reduce by about a third. The chicken had been keeping hot in the oven and I now gave it a blast under a hot grill to crisp up the skin.

Voila! Meat and two veg – with some very photogenic gravy:

There are adjustments that could be made so that this dish works –  the chicken could be browned very briefly before being placed in the oven and the whole dish cooked for much longer. Alternatively the whole dish could be cooked very gently on the hob. Many using a metal dish rather than an enamel one would help the onion cook. I’m not sure when or even if, I will ever try these however, I’m feeling a little jaded.

Antiboised by Elly

Courgette Salad

Courgettes are one of my very favourite vegetables and I would gladly eat them all year round, if they tasted of anything in winter.  Anyway, it is now courgette season and if you have been organised enough to plant some, you’ll be reaping the rewards.  (I’m mostly enjoying things in my garden which have seeded themselves, although, apparently, urban pigeons have so much littered food to eat, they can afford to ignore my cherries. Hurrah!)  Here is a quick salad from Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (Penguin, 1978).

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Caldo Verde

portugueseI have eaten this delicious dish in Porto, in its native country, and fancied creating it at home. The recipe is from Portuguese Cookery by Ursula Bourne (Penguin, 1973) and features a very simple ingredient list, which as I’m on a rather tight budget at the moment appealed.


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