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Philip Dundas

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  1. One little tip. Obviously wild game is tougher because it actually does fly to survive during its life. Back in the day, it was common to 'hang' wild game - which is where the 'gamey' smell came from - in order for the bacteria left in the body to break down some of the tough fibres and make the flesh more tender. Once the feathers came out easily the bird was ready to pluck and cook. Clearly we don't do this any more for hygiene reasons but it means that most of the game we can buy is too tough and quite tasteless. As a practical alternative when you buy a brace of mallard or any other game birds, take them out of the wrapper and put them on a covered plate at the back of the fridge for 4-5 days (I've done a week). There is no chance of them going 'off' like this, particularly as they are able to 'breathe'. This period will really help to break down those tougher bits and make the cooking much easier. All game pot-roasts better than in the oven, because it keeps the moisture in and you can even add them to something like sauteed red cabbage or braised fennel. The bitter or anise flavours allow the taste of the duck to emerge - when roasting can rather overpower the bird.
  2. The reason quinces are so rare is more because they don't have so many uses- though it used to be common to leave one in a room as an air freshener - but there would always be one or two quince trees in an orchard. They are more commonly used in North African cooking when cooked with Lamb. You can make a really autumnal crumble with quinces. Just peel 4 of them, cut out the cores and quarter them - rub them with halved lemon to stop them browning. Boil up half a litre of water and 200grms of water in a flat saucepan and add a slosh of cassis or even red wine. Poach the quinces until they are pink and soft. I like to make a crumble that is slightly gooey and drop it in and around the fruit and juice. Put it under a low grill, so that the crumble bakes and the sugary fruit juices caramelise.
  3. For a brilliant literary adventure , try Anne Tyler's Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant. Cooking as redemption. It was published in 1982 but some things are really worth going back to.
  4. Tim, oh the suffering and the delight! Staying drunk for days is surely the only blessing of Christmas. If only one had a Jeeves to ask Cook to make up the bouillion. My pal Charlie Maclean, the whisky writer, favours an Islay Malt held on the tongue - and thus anaethetised - washed down with a bowl of Cock-a-leekie. My own seasonal disorder is reflux, caused I always thought by a year of acid comments about other people's food. But now have decided that mincemeat is the culprit. Uncooked dried fruits with raw suet are in fact not unlike the ingredients of cattle cake, and somewhat indigestible. So I was delighted to revive the 'defrocked friar'. A large-ish measure each of Cognac and Green Chartreuse on frapped ice. No known medication can beat this spiritually uplifting elixir. And oh how it clears the system for a great lunch.
  5. Making bread, as we all seem to agree, is a most satisfying moment for a cook, even one who is hopeless at baking generally, as I am. The only downside is the flour strewn on the floor during the kneading, particuarly for those with a small kitchen. Having the machine to do that part, what greater pleasure than to watch the loaf rise in the oven, taking its own shape. Different every time.
  6. Yes I'm definitely in mourning of the original which though flawed, was reliably so. And having not had cause to venture into the new one we've only got these guys to rely on. For some reason the fish and chip restaurant seems to have done its day. I have a feeling Manzi's in Chinatown closed, is that right?
  7. Geales in Farmer St, just behind the Gate Cinema has long been a staple of Notting Hill though has recently been transformed from batter and mash cheap and cheerful to something posher overseen by Michelin-starred chef Garry Hollihead. Fay Maschler describes it as an exquisite 'New Labour' transformation and gives it 3 stars. Gill thinks it's an improvement as do most of the others. But it's no longer the answer to good value weekday dinners it once was. Should be tried though if £40 ahead is 'cheap-ish'.
  8. Of course. I'm slightly new and just worming my way round here, working out the form, and popping in a comment wherever. It will all be revealed no doubt!
  9. Arbutus in Frith St, Soho is reasonably priced (you'll get away with £60 without wine and they sell all of their wines in demi litre pichets) for a high standard of cooking. See my review on www.goodfoodundressed.blogspot.com.
  10. Monday Moussaka There's not much better to do with the remains of a roast leg of lamb than to mince it up for a moussaka. The cooled lamb fat recooked into the shivering slices of aubergine with the melting flavours of thyme and sage recalls the best of Greek home cooking. I simply mix the remains of the roast, including gravy, add lashings of tomato puree (ideally home made, to get the rich garlickiness or you can use passata or a tin of plum tomatoes, but the flavour is of course less intense), a handful of flat leaf parsley and some sprigs of sage. You can use a mincer but it's just as good on the blade of a magimix. But not too smooth, there's something wickedly reminiscent of the previous meal when you come across little lumps of the richly scented lamb. Sauté the mixture in some olive oil, add some stock if necessary. I find it best to avoid too much fuss with aubergines. Just slice them round into a bowl throw in some salt and oil, make sure they are coated and put them into the oven until they are soft and golden. Line the bottom of the bowl with breadcrumbs (Anna del Conte advises that every cook keeps a jar of breadcrumbs in the fridge - a great way to use up uninteresting bread), layer aubergines and meat until it's full. Sometimes if I have leftover roast potatoes I layer them too. Cook up enough bechamel to cover the whole, making sure you get it down the sides of dish like a comfortable duvet. You can put sprinkle parmesan to grill at the end of cooking if you like but I always wonder how Greek that is. ( RG2042 )
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