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Friday, 20 August 2010

Last night's venison supper

Venison cheeseburger with spinach and mushroom salad, mustard vinaigrette:

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Some good places at which I have eaten this Summer

Malbec Petit Bistro, Stratford upon Avon - seasonal menu with French accents cooked with exemplary precision - all the fish dishes we tried were out of this world

Pan y Vino, Menorca - she (Spanish) runs front of house with charm and faultless English, he (French) cooks a menu which will leave you the most indecisive you've ever been.  Three courses are a steal at 32 euros

Scallops at Pan y Vino

Gilead Cafe and Bistro, Toronto - according to Mr. F, Jamie Kennedy is Toronto's only celebrity chef.  I'm not sure how true that is, but he is certainly cooking up a storm at his latest venture, which focuses on locally and ethically sourced produce

Asuka Japanese Restaurant, Toronto - no naff conveyor belts round here; it's a traditional sushi emporium serving delicately sliced sashimi (try the butter fish) and picture perfect sushi
108 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, ON M5R 1B9; tel. 416 975 9084

Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles - Mario Batali's one of the folks behind this new LA mainstay, so go expecting hearty pizza toppings, a boisterous atmosphere and wait staff with plenty to say for themselves.  You won't be disappointed

A Coach farm goats cheese, leeks, scallions, garlic & bacon pizza from Pizzeria Mozza

Black bean soup

I don't know about you, but after a period away on holiday where alcohol, bread, rice and potatoes featured heavily on the menu I crave protein-rich dinners to try to regain some semblance of dietary control.  Since returning from Canada (where we made the obligatory post-Bikram visit to California Sandwich) I've been on a serious egg trip, and last night made this Mexican-inspired soup as a precursor to a main course salade nicoise.

It's intensely flavoured and rich, but the addition of plenty of lime juice and Tabasco both during cooking and once it's been ladled into warmed bowls enlivens the taste.  I recommend a spoonful of yoghurt or sour cream drizzled on top, but it would also work well with slices of avocado, salt and lime juice laid on top.

To serve four

250g dried black beans, soaked overnight and then boiled for about 1 hour (or until soft) with 2 bayleaves and a sprig of rosemary
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tin of plum tomatoes
Juice of 1 lime
1 litre of vegetable stock (Marigold Bouillon is fine)
Tabasco, to taste
EV olive oil

To serve - plain yoghurt or sour cream, coriander leaves, Tabasco, slices of ripe avocado, salted tortilla chips

Heat a good glug of EV olive oil in a heavy bottom pan over a medium flame and add the onion.  Saute until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan until golden and fragrant.  Grind to a fine-ish powder in a pestle and mortar.  Add the garlic, chilli and crushed spices to the onion and fry for another minute or so.  Add the drained beans, the tomatoes, the stock, lime juice, a serious shake of Tabasco and season well.  Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes until the contents of the pan have reduced by 1/4 to 1/3.  Check seasoning and then blend using a hand blender.  You can reserve some whole beans to add after blending if you prefer a nubblier texture.  Check the seasoning again after blending and add more lime juice if necessary.  Serve with the garnishes of your choice.


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