Friday, April 03, 2009

Excuses, excuses

I've been an exceptionally bad blogger over the past month. I can only apologise. Life seems to have got in the way. I could offer a whole ream of excuses... Too much work, too little time, a holiday, the flower-sender, illness, a broken fridge... All I will say is that I endeavour to be better in April. Spring is in the air and I'm feeling inspired and ready for action in the kitchen once more.

In case you are concerned that I've not been eating this month, I have a few culinary highlights to share. I've been lucky enough to have been cooked for several times this month. Particularly enjoyable was a visit home to the Isle of Wight and a dish of boiled mutton with caper and onion sauce.

This old-fashioned dish made its way onto the table due to my father. This is a surprise as he rarely takes much interest in the cooking - he can just about fry a rasher of bacon but that is about his limit. Fortunately, my mother more than makes up for it by being a wonderful cook. Anyway, he had heard through a friend in the pub (!) that there was good mutton available at the local farmers' market. He was reminded of a dish he used to enjoy at a golf club in Liverpool in his younger days (he is now in his eighties) and had his heart set on my mother recreating this flavour of his youth!

My poor mother. The recipe that she found was one of the most time-consuming, labour-intensive recipes imaginable. When we greedily devoured the finished dish and declared it delicious, she didn't know whether to be pleased or not. She certainly didn't want to have to make it again in a hurry.

It was the first time I'd eaten mutton and I really enjoyed it - the flavour wasn't as strong as I'd imagined and the meat was perfectly moist. The onion and caper sauce went beautifully too - well done Mum!

A couple of weeks ago, I was also treated to a deliciously good lamb curry cooked by the flower-sender. What was unusual about this curry is that it was cooked in the oven in the same way as one might cook a casserole. I've not cooked a curry this way before but it was extremely good.

Other highlights of the month included a lovely day spent at Borough Market - we bought a good-looking joint of venison which I marinated in red wine and crushed juniper berries before sealing in a hot pan and roasting briefly in the oven. Served with dauphinoise potatoes, it was very flavoursome but a little on the tough side.

Finally, I must mention the picnic I enjoyed with my niece and nephew a couple of weekends ago. It was a glorious sunny day and so I planned to pick up some goodies in M&S before taking them to Battersea Park for a feast of cheese, cold meats, dips, olives, fruit and chocolate biscuits. No cooking involved - I didn't have time. Upon their arrival, I asked my niece to name her favourite picnic food so that I could be sure to include it in our feast.

Her reply: 'chocolate-covered strawberries'!

Not quite what I had in mind. As I opened my mouth to tell her that we couldn't have her favourite item, I realised that we could make our own before heading off to the park. The children loved dipping the enormous strawberries in the melted chocolate and waiting for them to set on the greaseproof paper. The out-of-season strawberries tasted all the better for their coating of chocolate

Here's to being a better blogger in April - lots of deliciousness heading this way soon!


Sam said...

The sauce on that mutton looks and sounds fantastic, do you have a recipe?

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I thought I was the only "bad blogger" who had to post excuses about it every few months.

Seems not ;)

Maggie said...

Lots of delicious food here Antonia. Look forward to lots more postings!

♥Rosie♥ said...

Please don't apologise Antonia we all understand that life can be hetic and leaves little time for anything else. I do hope you are feeling better now too!!...

We'll be here for you when time allows you to post :0)

Rosie x

Joie de vivre said...

Mutton! I've never had that before but I've wanted to try it.