Flour and faff relocate

I have been away from the kitchen for a while, 3 months of slow and occasionally non-functional internet, in Kenya visiting family.

Now I am back. I have recently moved from Leeds to Manchester, and wow, the changes are endless. I am a great fan of Leeds, the market is great, you are never bored and you can get pretty much everything you could ever need (with some hunting at times). In Manchester, there seems to be everything but bigger, better and a wider variety.

I’ve decided to re-start my blog, still fairly faffy food. Lots of international cooking, plenty of baking (waistline permitting) and fabulous feasts – food just seems to taste better in a whole themed menu.

On my first attempt to find a replacement for Leeds Kirkgate Market I did some online searching and made a list. First attempt was a bit of an adventure, I ended up in Southfield Market, which is amazing – if you go in the middle of the night and want to buy wholesale. At 10 in the morning there were hardly any people around and those there gave me, my friend and our bicycles confused looks. We decided to leave the lorries behind and move down the list of markets, which took us to a smallish market, mainly butchers and polish grocers. Not bad, but nothing compared to Kirkgate, though conveniently next to a Tesco Extra. With millions of supermarkets and so far no all-in-one market we have been bargain hunting in supermarkets, pretty successfully so far. Pork shoulder £1.50 a kg and lamb shoulder £3 which have led to a wide variety of curries and roasts.

So far the best things here are the HUGE spread of foreign and speciality food markets;

–          China Town in the city centre which has a wide variety of Chinese/Thai/Malaysian/Japanese ingredients. Though seems essential to go in with a shopping list as differentiating lots of varieties of fermented bean curd is pretty tricky under supermarket pressure. My favourite buy from China Town is our new 2 tiered bamboo steamer, so far only used to make wontons (absurdly easy snack food – recipe to follow)

–          Rusholme, or as it is known here ‘the curry mile’ due to the high concentration of Indian and Pakistani restaurants up and down the main street. Along here we have at least 2 gigantic Indian supermarkets, selling every kind of pulse, spice and rice in large (and cheaper) quantities. Last night I spotted some fresh methi (fenugreek) which I really want to use in a dal. We curried half the lamb in a Dhansak from ‘World Kitchen India’ (again recipe to follow – essentially; lamb, spinach and toor dal, aromatic and rich) with a lighter Dal Saag (also with spinach) which went a lovely colour thanks to turmeric and asafoetida.

–          Fish Market once a month on our local high street, we stumbled across this gem while taking books to the local charity shop, there is fish monger form the aforementioned Southfield wholesaler who comes once a month, £1.50 for sea bass and a tenner for a WHOLE SALMON, all completely fresh and British sourced – there are a pair of sea bass in the freezer waiting for inspiration

Next on the shopping list are ingredients for Thai red prawn curry, but for now I leave you with the choux pastry I have just made for profiteroles for pudding today – a simple recipe so long as you whisk and whisk when it says to, which I have just whipped together waiting for the rain to stop.

Choux Pastry for Profiteroles (Adapted from Delia online)

These are super simple and have few ingredients; the trick is to get all your ingredients weighed and ready before you start heating anything. Once cooled they can be stored in the freezer and either filled with whipped cream and covered in chocolate (my favourite) or filled with a fluffy fishy mousse for a super seventies starter…

Heat 150ml water and 50g of cold butter (cubed) and bring to the boil, as soon as it starts to simmer turn it off and tip in the (pre weighed) 60g plain flour and a tsp of caster sugar (leave this if you are making savoury pastry). Beat with the back of a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth paste – at the start it will look like it’s curdling but keep beating and the flour will go smooth.

In a mug lightly whisk 2 large free range eggs and gradually add these (in four stages) to the paste, beating vigorously – at this point I had to switch from my wooden spoon to a silicon whisk to keep it smooth.

Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment (run the parchment under the tap and tap off excess water – as Delia says this will create a steamy oven for the profiteroles). Spoon a teaspoon at a time onto the parchment, leaving room for them to rise – I used a heaped teaspoon, but would use slightly less next time, but obviously all personal preference.

Put the trays in a preheated oven at 200° for 10 mins, after which turn the oven up to 220° for 15-20 mins (watch them in the last five minutes as they need to come out as soon as they are golden and crispy).

Turn onto a cooling rack and pierce each one to let the steam out – I used a sharp knife with a pierce and twist motion. Leave to cool completely, and only when you are minutes away from eating, whip 300ml of double cream, and either spoon or pipe (I pipe) into the holes of your profiteroles. Melt 200g of dark chocolate and 50ml of water in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water to make the pouring chocolate sauce.

Serve in a messy creamy chocolaty mess (or a neat tower…)

What d'ya think?

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