Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Open a Bottle of Champagne

Wed 31 Dec 2008

Almost time to ring in the New Year, so, as promised (albeit a day late), here at Eating Leeds we're bringing you a video on how to open a bottle of bubbly - so you don't douse yourself or your friends and waste the bottle's contents!

There's been a few technical issues (ironically not with making the video but with getting it on to the web) - hence the delay. However, we're confident that it won't be an issue with future videos.

And ... most importantly - we want your feedback! What do you want to see a video on? Do you never want to see a video on Eating Leeds ever again?! Do you want to see wine? Cooking? Something else altogether? Corrections, criticisms and compliments are all welcome!

Happy new year!
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Lemon Syrup Cake

Thurs 18 Dec 2008

I've recently had some time off work (hooray for 'having to use up holidays') and took advantage of a lot of the time to do some cooking. At one stage I was faced with a glut of lemons. I've been using delicious for ages now and find it a brilliant way of keeping track of recipes. I no longer need to maintain a folder of scraps cut from the newspaper - I can keep my chaotic recipe hoarding on someone else's server. Excellent.

So - faced with lemons, it took me no time at all to track down a Nigel Slater lemon syrup cake, from January 2007. Being a huge fan of this man's cakes it didn't take long before I found myself in the kitchen.

And only slightly longer before I began adapting the recipe. Seriously - why does anyone put orange in anything ever?!

This is a great cake - quick to assemble (although the syrup takes a bit of faff) and the nuts and syrup ensure it stays moist long enough for a family of two to plough through it.

I began by taking 100g of roasted hazelnuts I already had in the cupboard and giving them a quick whizz in the Magimix. Grind them as finely or as coarsely as you like. I suspect Nigel Slater errs more coarsely than me. Set them to one side. Then, cream 210g of unsalted butter with 210g of caster sugar. Add three large eggs and mix until well combined. Next, add 125g of ground almonds and 150g of polenta. Finish with a teaspoon of baking powder, the hazelnuts and the juice and zest of a lemon. Don't be alarmed - it's quite a stiff cake mixture.

When it's all combined, tip into a greased, base lined 20-23cm springform tin and bake in an oven preheated to 180°C (160°C fan) for half an hour. Then, turn the oven down 20° and bake for a further half an hour or so. If your cake is beginning to colour too much, cover with foil. As always, cook until done. As you will be adding syrup I suspect slightly overdone is better than slightly underdone.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool a little while you make the syrup. Grate and zest two lemons into a measuring jug and then top up, with water, to 250mL. Pour this mixture into a saucepan with 100g of caster sugar and bring to the boil. The sugar will dissolve and the syrup will thicken and reduce. When reduced to about 3/4 of its original volume, remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of liqueur of your choice. In my case, it was rum.

Stab your cake (still in the tin) all over with a skewer and then pour over the syrup. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin (it's likely to look a little saggy in the middle, but don't worry) before inverting on to a plate.

lemon syrup cake

You really don't need to ice this cake, but there's no harm in serving with cream or mascarpone.

The nuts and polenta alone would keep this cake moist - add the syrup and it keeps brilliantly. A trifle sticky perhaps, if it's spent the morning on your desk wrapped in tin foil, but a luscious addition to a supper for New Year's Eve!

So there's the sweet fix as promised! Tomorrow - I'll be showing you (quite literally) how to open a bottle of bubbly for New Year's Eve. Last time I did this was at a wine tasting and I ended up drenched ... does the same thing happen when I'm at home with a camera pointed at me?!
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Simple Pork Chops

Sat 13 Dec 2008

Last Saturday, after our visit to Leventhorpe Vineyard, we drove home via the Methley Bridge Farm Shop, hoping to pick up something for supper. We ended up leaving with two fat pork chops.

My last Simple Supper proved very popular, so here's another recipe in the same vein. Don't forget - if you like a recipe, stumble it!

Although this recipe is very quick and simple you end up with something that looks more than presentable, so you can serve this to guests, even in non-emergency situations.

Pork can be tricky to deal with - people often complain about it being dry and tough. Partly the problem is modern pork: it's bred a little too lean and butchers often strip off a lot of the fat. Personally, I think pork fat is delicious but if you don't like it - cook with it on, cut it off on your plate!

When cooking pork chops I find it best to muck around with the meat itself as little as possible.

Heat some butter and oil in a pan and get it good and hot. Lightly season your chops and, once the pan is hot, add the chops ... AND DON'T TOUCH THEM. As soon as they go into the hot pan the meat will start to catch and if you start prodding at them and trying to move them around it will tear and you'll have opened up a world of pain. The meat will seal in the hot pan and you'll know when this has happened because you'll be able to move the chops around easily. They'll have picked up a lovely colour on their underside and, keeping the pan hot, you can turn them over and repeat the process.

When the pork is almost cooked (personally, I think people overcook pork, but I leave the degree of doneness required to you!) take it out of the pan, put it on a plate, cover with tin foil and rest in a warm oven (the oven might be on for roasting potatoes ... you never know).

Now, to your pan, which should have all sorts of lovely porky goodness in its base, add a generous glug of something alcoholic - we had some Amontillado Sherry lying around so that's what we used, but you could easily substitute Brandy, a dry Sherry, Madeira or Marsala. Even, at a pinch, white wine.

As the alcohol bubbles away, make sure you give the pan a good scrape to incorporate all the porky bits in your sauce. Add some single cream and a generous teaspoon of grainy mustard. When that's incorporated, taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary (in our case, more mustard went in, followed shortly afterwards by more cream).

Serve your chops on hot plates, topped with this sauce. We paired the chops with steamed carrots and brussel sprouts and roast potatoes.

With the creamy, mustardy sauce I think you are better off pairing this with a lighter red wine. Something Italian springs to mind, as Italian reds tend to have reasonable levels of acidity that will cut through the cream and they're usually not too aggressively fruit forward. I'm thinking Chianti - but don't forget many good Australian Sangioveses can be found, particularly from McLaren Vale.

I feel like I haven't posted anything sweet for a while, so to rectify that, next up will be a lemon syrup cake. If want to know when that's posted - subscribe to our RSS feed or emails!
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pipe and Glass Inn

Sun 14 Dec 2008

Back in July I'd tried to take Andy to South Dalton's Pipe and Glass Inn and had been turned down because the pub was playing host to a wedding. The nerve.

I'd subsequently spent some time looking around for nearby accommodation but it finally dawned on me that I'd have to drive or we'd never go. I was horrified when it was mentioned recently on Saturday Kitchen. I thought we now had not a hope in hell of securing a table.

Of course, things are never quite that bad and, by Friday lunch time, a table was booked for a late Sunday lunch and the car hire was in place. We took a scenic route from Leeds (not the M62) and, after somewhat disconcertingly driving through a park, we arrived in the village. My tip - if you're not using sat nav, make sure you take the route involving the B1248!

Pipe & Glass Inn

The village is truly tiny: the pub and a handful of houses. The pub's car park is a significant part of the layout. The pub itself is a typical, gorgeous country pub. With winter and Christmas now upon us, the pub was even more pretty. And this was certainly true inside, where the Christmas decorations were stylish, the fire was blazing and the leather sofas fat and welcoming.

As it was 2pm we were quite peckish, so we chomped away on some olives while inspecting the menu and specials. It was all proper winter food and our choices were predictably seasonal. I started with spiced potted Gloucester Old Spot piggy, with a crackling and quince salad, followed by cider braised pheasant, with baked apple, thyme mash and black pudding and chestnut stuffing. Andy began with rabbit rissoles and finished with the most enormous plate of roast goose imaginable.

I was driving - so alcohol was limited to a couple of pints for Andy while I had an orange juice and water. I didn't even look at the wine list although there was a selection of reasonably priced Champagnes available by the glass.

The pub indulges in the weird (to me, at least!) practice of letting you sit in the lounge more or less right up until the moment your starter is ready. Once seated, we took our slices of bread and were presented with our starters. The first indication of how relaxed (a little too relaxed) service was came as Andy's neatly piled rabbit rissoles went tumbling around the plate as it was placed in front of him. Although both starters seemed quite small portions, no doubt enhaced by how famished we were after the drive, the food was delicious. I definitely thought I had won: my coarsely chopped pork was presented in a tiny pot, with matching spoon and was perfectly spiced and seasoned. The word 'spice' instantly conjures up all sorts of ideas of chilli, heat and exotic flavours from the far east - but this was spiced with sage, capers and pepper and was delicious. My crackling salad was generous with the crackling but, while I enjoyed the candied quince very much, I felt the salad had been dressed with just a little too much of the syrup. Andy's only complaint about his rissoles was of a similar nature.

In fact, this was something of a theme throughout the meal - well balanced flavours and perfectly cooked meats rather drowned in sauce.

Our main courses were both very generous portions, Andy's ridiculously so! He had a massive plate, with sliced roast goose breast piled high on creamed cabbage, accompanied by a very festive redcurrant sauce, with potato and deep fried haggis (and yes, that is as delicious as it sounds!). My pheasant (with just one piece of shot) was as described: the baked apple was gorgeously soft and sweet, the stuffing and the mash did a valiant job of mopping up the excessive sauce, and the meat itself was lovely. Our mains were accompanied by three dishes of vegetables: roast potatoes, braised red cabbage and a mix of broccoli and courgette.

The menu was the height of seasonal eating and our food was ideal for a cold, winter's afternoon.

After finishing all of that (Andy did a far better job of clearing his plate than me) we weren't technically hungry but, faced with the dessert menu, we found ourselves sharing cinder toffee icecream with chocolate honeycomb with a pot of coffee. The icecream was served gorgeously soft and the coffee was really, really good.

The bill came to just under £70, which means we rated the experience as pretty good value. Our only complaint with the food was the excessive saucing. Now, a large part of that is personal preference - and we did notice that some dishes were coming out with sauce boats. Maybe this should be extended to more dishes. I know it's hard with something like pheasant, in particular. The meat tends to dry and you want to make sure the diner has plenty of gravy. However, my gravy was so rich (helped in no small part by the cider) that I would have preferred a degree of control.

The service at the Pipe and Glass was good: friendly and efficient, but a bit too casual for the overall ambience. The chef built the little tower of rissoles presumably for them to stay that way, I don't like people unnecessarily leaning across me to collect my bread plate, and there's no need to collect so many plates at once that you create a racket by having the glass jar from the potted pork skittle across a plate.

That's only two small grumbles - both of which could be fixed easily. At the end of the day, the food is good and the restaurant is spacious, well laid out and has a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. It is also worth mentioning that it's very child friendly, and that you might find yourself feeling slightly under-dressed in your jeans!

1. The Pipe and Glass Inn, West End, South Dalton, Beverley, East Yorkshire, HU17 7PN, phone: 01430 810246, map.
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Leventhorpe Vineyard

Sat 13 Dec 2008

Last Thursday I hosted a tasting of Latitude's wines at The Bowery in Headingley. At the end of the tasting proper a question was asked about the quality of English wine. Aside from a brief encounter with a very old Nyetimber and a couple of glasses of Chapel Down sparkling rosé I was really only in a situation to discuss English wine from the textbook point of view, rather than personal experience.

Time to remedy that, then. Here in Leeds we have, on our doorstep, one of the most northerly vineyards in the world. It's one of those generally accepted facts that most wine making grapes are grown between 30 and 50° latitude north and south of the equator. Leventhorpe Vineyard sits at 53°45' north of the equator, just outside the Leeds ring road. While the south coast has almost a preponderance of vineyards, Leventhorpe was, until recently, all by itself* - dealing with even more rain than its southern cousins.

Leventhorpe Hill Field

True to form, our visit was a cold, rainy day - inside the tiny winery cum tasting room it registered a cosy 4°C. We'd rung in advance (as advised) and were greeted by the winemaker himself, George Bowden. He was more than happy to spend quite a long time chatting to us and telling us all about his wines, as we tasted them (yes, wine geek heaven).

Leventhorpe Winery & Tasting Room

We began with the 2006 Hill Field, which is a Yorkshire Regional Wine (how cool is that?!), 11.5%abv, and a blend of Seyval Blanc (a hybrid) and Madeleine Angevine (technically Madeleine x Angevine 7672). Hill Field is the name of the field which houses the vineyard and it has been known as such since at least the Doomsday Book, in which it is mentioned. For this wine, the grapes have been fermented together and the result is a wine with quite a floral nose, but plenty of lemon and citrus on the palate. The level of acidity is quite high, no doubt helped by the chilly conditions, so initially the wine seemed quite tart. It did soften a bit when we warmed it up - which makes me think it would be a good wine for a hot day, or for cutting through the a fatty, warming dish, such as fish and chips.

We moved on to a 2006 Seyval Blanc, of which 10% had been affected by Botrytis Cinerea. At present, this wine is not for sale. Here, similarly high levels of acidity were well balanced by flavours of fresh and dried apricot, with some good citrus fruit.

The 2006 West Riding Red is a blend of five grapes. Again, they've been fermented together, rather than blended. The wine is 60% Triomphe (another hybrid), Pinot Noir, Gamay Hatif des Vosges (a different clone to the Gamay you'll find in Beaujolais), Dornfelder and Rondo (another hybrid). The wine had some quite pronouned Port like characteristics on the nose - apparently from the Triomphe, and they should disappear with age. Underneath this developed fruit there was also some fresh redcurrant. The palate featured plenty of tobacco with some vegetal notes. Of all the wines we tried this suffered the most from being far far too cool. I was unconvinced by the wine (hardly fair, given the conditions), but we ended up buying a bottle and we'll make sure we try it drink it closer to the 15°C recommended by George.

At this point, we realised we'd skipped the 2005 Madeleine Angevine (clearly too much chat) so we back tracked. The nose was very floral - perhaps the reason why Riesling is rumoured to be amongst the grape's parentage. On the palate, plenty of stone fruit matched with good acidity. This was our star wine of the tasting and I'm really looking forward to trying it at a more appropriate temperature!

We ended up buying 2 bottles of the Madeleine Angevine, one of the West Riding Red and one of sparkling wine. The still wines are all £7 a bottle at the cellar door, a price point which puts them up against some stiff competition once you're in a retail environment. Because of our climate, the wines are very high in acidity, which might not be to everyone's taste. In addition, as the wines are made from grapes we don't see often, there's very little to compare against. Drinking one of these wines will most definitely NOT be like drinking a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc! Having said that, I think the quality of the wines certainly elevates them above being curiosities. It is clear that the wines are being made not only with love but with consideration and an open mind.

For those of you who can't enjoy a trip to the vineyard, you can order the Madeleine Angevine, a straight Seyval Blanc (not tasted by us) and the sparkling wine from the Yorkshire Deli.

* It is now joined by Yorkshire Heart, at almost 54° north, which should be producing wines for sale in 2009.

1. Leventhorpe Vineyard, Bullerthorpe Lane, Woodleford, Leeds, LS26 8AF, phone: 0113 288 9088
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Books for Cooks, Eaters and Drinkers

Mon 15 Dec 2008

The chances are that, by now, you've either finished your Christmas shopping or you're facing the next week or so with an increasing sense of dread.

I've already done some of the work for you by suggesting places to shop. Now, I'm raiding my bookshelf to offer up a list of my favourite books, in case you need last minute inspiration. I have linked through to Amazon, but I'd also urge you to pay a visit to any local bookstores and charity shops. The chances are that, by browsing, you'll find something far more interesting than anything I list here.

If you need to buy for someone showing an interest in wine, but not delved too far into wine geekdom, I recommend Oz Clarke's Introducing Wine. It covers a lot of information but in a chatty, approachable and, most importantly, memorable style.

For the fully matured wine geek, my favourite book (at the moment) is The World Atlas of Wine, by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. The current edition has the green cover, and the book covers the wines of the world by focussing on geography. Maps and wine all in one book!

Eating wise, my personal all time favourite book is Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries. It's chatty, focusses on seasonal eating and the majority of the recipes are low fuss affairs. It's size might make it intimidating for the novice cook, but all you should need to do is point such a person in the direction of the chocolate brownies ...

In terms of self promotion, you should all be buying The Fairtrade Everyday Cookbook, and heading straight to page 146 where you can make my recipe for Japanese style duck breasts! Other than my excellent recipe this book will highlight just how many Fairtrade ingredients are available and what you can do with them.

As far as I'm concerned, the best part of any cookbook usually has something to do with cakes and puddings. If a book is ONLY about puddings ... what can go wrong? For the aspirational cook, look no further than Gordon Ramsay's Just Desserts. Most of us will recognise James Martin as the King of Puddings and the desserts in his Desserts book cover very solid territory: I've not had a single duff experience from this book.

I also love the two Marcus Wareing books I have but if I had to choose one it would be One Perfect Ingredient. I received this as a review copy and promptly made about two recipes a week from it for about a month.

Finally - for the very serious, the one book that should be in everyone's collection is Larousse Gastronomique. It's not called an encyclopaedia for nothing. Just make sure the recipient has suitably sturdy bookshelves!

Finally - some quick non-book gift ideas. Threshers are re-running the 40% off promotion. This time you have up until 31 December to redeem this voucher and it includes sparkling wine. Last time round I picked up a bottle of Moët & Chandon 1999 vintage Champagne for around £30 (normal retail price over £40). Not only should this sort any panic present buying but it will serve you well for New Year's Eve. Remember that these vouchers are redeemable at stores that are part of the Threshers family, such as the Wine Rack and Victoria Wine.

And, if the guest recipient is based in West or North Yorkshire, Karen at The Wine Academy will be more than happy to provide gift vouchers for either WSET courses or the 'Just for Fun' events.

Best of luck with the gift buying!
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

WBW52: Value Reds from Chile

Wed 10 Dec 2008

This month's Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by Cheap Wine Ratings, who has chosen value reds from Chile. The 'rules' are a red wine from Chile that retails under $US20. At the moment, that's about £13, and no one (not even me!) thinks that £13 for a bottle of wine is cheap (of course, there's a monstrous difference between cheap and value, but bear with me). There's been some discussion and, for those of us not spending US dollars, there's some flexibility.

So ... I rolled into Latitude Wine and announced I needed a cheap Chilean red. My last cheap Chilean red outing (an Andes Peak Merlot, at about £6 a bottle) left me underwhelmed. This time round, I went for the cheapest Chilean red in the store: a Casa Roca 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, at £4.75 a bottle.
Yes, a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot. As you might expect, it made a big purple splash in the glass and had a very open, punchy, cassis rich nose with some vegetal notes. Now, I'm not someone who has a problem with vegetal in my red wines at all: back in April I very much enjoyed a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, precisely because of the green pepper and bramble leaf action. However, on the aroma front the Casa Roca begins and ends with cassis and vegetal.

On the palate, things were equally, um, unsophisticated. A big, big hit of fruit and ... um ... not a lot else. To me, it was unbalanced - all fruit and nothing else. No weight, no mouthfeel, no structure and no length.

Andy's comment sums it up well: there's a lot of fruit and it's not very nice.

Now - there's a huge part of me that says we're being very unfair here. Let's face it, the wine was under a fiver. While it's not impossible to buy wines that punch well above their weight at this price, it's certainly tricky. Also - I, in particular, have quite a taste for developed reds. Fruit bombs don't work for me at all - I like plenty of structure, I like complexity, I like smoke, leather, those vegetal notes ... Let's face it, if I wanted to drink Ribena ... I'd drink Ribena.

Personal preferences aside, for £5 this is a wine that would do to take to a BBQ or a party. However, if you're heading to a dinner party, I'd save my pennies and opt for something more expensive. The wines from Errázuriz, Montes, Amayna or Casa Lapostolle (which are among the Chilean reds with which we're familiar) are a little pricier but they are all more interesting to drink.

Perhaps I should have gone with the £13 price limit after all!
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Monday, December 08, 2008

Moroccan Mackerel

Sat 6 Dec 2008

A couple of weeks ago Saturday Kitchen featured part of a Rick Stein episode where he visited Morocco and made a very tasty looking sardine dish. Of course, we didn't pay nearly enough attention, deleted the episode from iplayer and subsequently couldn't find the recipe on the web. Oh, or spot sardines at the market.

Still, the inspiration was in place, and the end result was Saturday night's dinner. I doubt Moroccans would recognise this dish but it was incredibly tasty and very easy to put together. This is now firmly on my list of dishes to serve others - especially on those occasions when I've rashly invited people for a mid-week meal ...

We used one very large mackerel (just over a kilo), and this has served the two of us for two meals. Any firm fleshed, oily fish, that can stand long slow cooking, will do.

The recipe begins with chermoula - a spicy marinade (that can also be used as a sauce or for dipping). I used the recipe from Made in Morocco: make a coarsely textured paste from a small bunch of fresh coriander, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and paprika, a red chilli, a pinch of salt, some lemon juice and some good quality olive oil. If you are planning on using this as a cold sauce or for dipping you will want to be less generous with the garlic. Also, depending on your audience you may want to omit the chilli, use less or substitute chilli powder to taste. You can make the chermoula in advance and store in the fridge.

Chermoula made, heat some vegetable oil in a pan, add the chermoula and fry it off. Add a couple of good handfuls of chopped tomatoes (skins and seeds are OK). We used about 8 small tomatoes. I'd avoid using tinned tomatoes as they will be too wet: our feeling was that using passata at this stage would be an improvement.

You don't need to cook this mixture for too long: just so that the raw edge comes off the garlic and tomatoes. Empty this mix into a baking dish and even out, so that it forms a layer.

Peel and thinly slice enough potatoes to form a generous layer over the tomato/chermoula mix. Next, add your fish, tuck a whole red chilli between the pieces and then cover with finely sliced lemons. Roughly chop another 4-6 small tomatoes and cover the lemons. Finally, top with a combination of finely sliced and chopped green pepper. Drizzle (generously) some olive oil over the top, cover the dish with foil and put in a slow oven (fan 140°C) for about an hour.

After an hour, check on how saucy your dish is. At this point ours was very saucy, so we increased the oven temperature to 180°C and removed the foil for a final 15 minutes.

We just served this in bowls, with spoons (no need for knives and forks with that slow cooking!), but you could add any type of North African inspired side: couscous, tabbouleh, or a minty-onion-potato salad would all work really well. To drink, we chose the Raimat Albarino, £8.49 a bottle from Oddbins. Although it might seem a bit strange to a wine from north eastern Spain, it's not such an odd choice. Fish is a huge part of the Catalan diet, and the wine's acidity and weight paired well with the richness of texture and flavour.

A different way of treating mackerel (but with similar flavours) is this spiced mackerel.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Simple Supper

Mon 01 Dec 2008

A very quick supper idea tonight. Normally, because I graze, I'm a light evening eater - for me, a couple of slices of toast and a cup of tea usually does the trick. However, the cold, cold, cold weather is making even me want something more substantial.

So - what to have on a weekday when you're home late (or you've been busy doing chores), or even on a Sunday when you've just come in from the pub? Eggs - of course!

This is my take on an fritatta/omelette/tortilla (henceforth, fromto). Reasonably exact quantities for a change, and this will serve two cold, possibly wet, hungry people.

Begin by heating some vegetable oil in a deep, and grill resistant, frying pan. Chop four rashers of bacon and fry them off. When the bacon starts to crisp up, add one finely sliced (not chopped) onion. When the onion is soft, add one potato, peeled and very finely chopped. It's important that the potato is cut into very small dice, because, as well as it adding body to the finished dish, you want it to cook!

Turn the heat down and stir the potato through the bacon and onion mix. Leave this to cook for 5 or so minutes before adding one chopped green pepper.

Beat 6 eggs (I said you had to be hungry!), whisk through a splash of milk, and pour the eggs into the pan. Give the pan a shake, to ensure the egg mix is distributed evenly. Finish with a generous grinding of pepper.

Leave this (still on the low heat) to cook for about 10-15 minutes or so - until the top is actually starting to firm up. Grate some parmesan cheese over the fromto and finish off under the grill. You want the eggs to be firm (this is the tortilla and fritatta territory here - don't even think omelette) and if the top is golden, even better.

When you're happy with how things are looking (probably five or so minutes), remove the pan from the grill and (this is important), cover with tin foil and leave it to sit for 10 minutes. Don't worry - it's not going to go cold!!!! Letting the fromto sit will make it a lot easier to get out of the pan - it sort of relaxes, moves away from the sides and releases its grip on the base. This handy tip I picked up from Tom Norrington-Davies' book Cupboard Love (good Christmas present territory for anyone in need of a variety of store cupboard recipes!).

10 minutes up? Uncover the fromto, slice and serve (perhaps with a salad or some lightly steamed vegetables). Any leftovers will work well in a packed lunch and, because this can be eaten cold, it would also work as a canapé - remove from the pan, cut into cubes and skewer with cocktail sticks! As there's no salt added to the recipe, you may need to adjust seasoning (particularly if you're eating this at room temperature).

The onion and potato (aside from the eggs!) are the two critical ingredients here - add whatever else you have lurking in the fridge. I imagine left over roast chicken would be good, and mushrooms could work well too, or perhaps something with chorizo and a hint of chilli ...

Other eggy cold weather food? You can't go past toad in the hole or gougères (red wine essential!).
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Monday, December 01, 2008

7 Places to Find Foodie Presents

Mon 01 Dec 2008

In the run up to Christmas I thought I'd intersperse some gift idea lists amongst the usual posts. Today, we start off gently with a few places in Leeds (and across the country) where you should be able to find gifts for food loving friends.

1. Harvey Nichols (Briggate, city centre). Yes, obvious, but it is a bit of a one stop shop. The fourth floor food market might not be huge but you'll be able to tick off an array of gifts, from biscuits, to cook books and wine. And if you need to recover, the bar's handy. Harvey Nicks also has stores in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol and Dublin. And you can order hampers on line.

2. Peter Maturi (Vicar Lane, city centre). My favourite shop in Leeds! Extreme cookware on the ground floor and interiors on the second: you'd be hard pressed not to find a gift for a serious cook in this place. Online shopping is now (dangerously) available. Also in Manchester.

3. Salt's Deli (Swinegate, city centre). As well as hampers for friends you'll find a good array of cheese, wines and other artisan foods.

4. Latitude Wine (The Calls, city centre). If you're looking for a good selection of wines (across all price points), as well as an impressive collection of spirits, drop in to Latitude, put together a case and, if you've spent over £30, delivery is free within Leeds. At the moment, the shop is running themed tastings on Thursday nights from 6 - 8pm. This Thursday, they're pairing poultry with Pinot Noir ...

5. Salvo's Salumeria (Otley Road, Headingley). Plenty of goodies like biscotti, quince paste and cakes can be found here. If you know someone who loves Italian food you need to head to Headingley. There are also themed meals throughout the year, if you want to spoil yourself.

6. TK Maxx (Headrow, city centre). Sounds ridiculous? Not at all. If you don't have a particular gift in mind, browsing at TK Maxx (in the big new store on the Headrow) can yield all sorts of food-oriented gifts. I've picked up everything from cookbooks to Le Creuset. All you need is a bit of patience!

7. Beer Ritz (Weetwood Lane, Far Headingley). If you're shopping for a beer lover Beer Ritz should be able to supply you with plenty of different beers (and often the matching glass!) to keep his or her Christmas interesting. You'll also find wines and spirits - but it's really all about the beer.

Finally, in the run up to Christmas it will be worth checking out the various farmers' markets: the main one is held at the city centre's Kirkgate markets on the first and third Sunday of the month (so head along this Sunday!). The Headingley farmers' market will be held on Saturday 13 December outside Trio on North Lane. And the Chapel Allerton farmers' market Saturday 20 December at the Oakwood Clock.

If I've missed your favourite supplier - let us all know!
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