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Miss J

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Everything posted by Miss J

  1. I freeze the lime leaves, and they seem to retain their quality really well. I haven't tried freezing the basil, though.
  2. Miss J


    I've just returned from a city break in Paris. As it was my first trip (scandalous, considering how long I've been living in London) and the boyfriend simply isn't as food-obsessed as I am, we decided to make Great Paris Landmarks our focus rather than Great Paris Restaurants. I was utterly content with this plan, and was viewing it as an excellent way to test the "street standard" of food in Paris and/or French cuisine in general. (Steve P, Simon M and Wilfrid, I must confess I had your wranglings in mind. ) However approximately three hours into our first day, as we took in the view from the Eiffle Tower, Mr J asked me to marry him. And so we decided that we ought to have a celebratory dinner, although we had neither a reservation nor a clue of where to go. We ended up at Luna, a one-star on rue Rocher in the 8th. The pleasantly small, art deco-inspired dining room was warmly arrayed in cream and beige, and the lighting surprisingly strong for the couple-heavy clientel. We were greeted at the door by the head waiter, a man so outrageously professional we speculated that he'd been groomed for silver service since birth. (At one stage, we become so mesmerised by his graceful filleting skills at the waiters' station in the centre of the room that we nearly neglected our own plates.) His old skool charm seemed unshakable, although a heartbeat's blink on his part when I selected and tasted our Chablis indicated that he was perhaps at the hidebound end of classic. Not that this reflected the rest of Luna's diners: although one chic older couple appeared (she dripping in her best jewellery and a fur wrap, he in his best waistcoat and tie), we saw one casually dressed regular tell his well-behaved dog to lie down under the table for the duration of his meal. We shared a generous "amuse" of cockles in a chive butter sauce, delightfully sweet and tender though just the tiniest bit gritty. My starter, the house specialty of king prawns roasted in vanilla-flavoured oil, again excelled in flavour but was let down by a slight rubberiness in the texture of the prawns. However, Mr J's starter - a crisply filo-wrapped cake of Dublin Bay prawns and leeks with a smooth drizzle of reduced cream sauce - was superb in every aspect. ("It's a prawn pie," Mr J beamed as it was placed in front of him.) When our mains arrived, it was clear that Luna's dedication to good ingredients and simple cooking had reached full momentum. My (whole) grilled turbot and Mr J's (whole) sole meuniere were presented for approval, and then whisked away to be nimbly prepared as mentioned above. My turbot was offered with a choice of extra virgin olive oil or a small pot of the now familiar reduced cream sauce, of which I selected the EVOO. Both fish were gorgeous: exquisitely fresh and meticulously cooked, with a firm just-a-nanosecond-away-from-raw texture. Their preparation was perfectly suited to their simple presentation. The only duff note was the perfectly smooth but strangely gluey pommes puree that appeared in a small silver dish halfway through our mains. It was a perfect illustration of Luna's focus on the fish to the exclusion of all else. We were so overwhelmed by our seafood extravaganza that we couldn't give the dessert menu more than a halfhearted glance, although we were both alarmed and intrigued by the enormous cream-filled "Zanzibar babas" that were borne in triumph to other diners. Happy to finish with a couple of espressos and a plate of darkly chocolate discs, we left Luna full, happy, and with a new-found respect for filleting. Not bad for an unlooked-for celebration dinner.
  3. Yes Ron, I've done the pinch-the-nose comparison - it was part of the school lesson all those years ago. But I think your point about "compensating" is interesting. How does one compensate for something that isn't there (and in some cases never has been)? And in the case of smoking chefs, do they compensate too? Doesn't that contradict some of the comments made about smoking and its effects on smell/taste? How long does one need to have an impaired sense of smell before starting to compensate? And to what degree can someone do that, anyway?
  4. Well, I've always thought that was the case. But as I've mentioned elsewhere, my partner was born with an impaired sense of smell, and we're damned if we can figure out how it's actually affected his perception of taste. I've seen strong evidence that he really can't smell very much (my infamous snorting-handfuls-of-fresh-crushed-herbs test), but when it comes to describing how things taste he seems to have the same perceptions I do. The taste/smell link is something I was taught in school years ago and have never questioned, but lately I've been thinking it's been over-emphasised.
  5. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    It's liquid gold here, which is why I get mine in Canada or coerce my family to bring it over for me. The problem is it's a bit heavy to cart around by air. I get those litre jugs for around $10 CDN - approx £5.
  6. Or doing a pancake version of huevos rancheros.
  7. Adam, stick with fluffy pancakes. They're very forgiving.
  8. It's also a Canadian thing (rather like Boxing Day). My mum always made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Unless, like me, she forgot. Wilfrid, I do not toss. I flip. Fluffy pancakes turned out well. I made my (thick) batter and after it sat for a bit whisked in a bit of egg white beaten with sugar. As a result, each pancake puffed wildly as it hit the hot surface of the pan. They looked like teeny marquees.
  9. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    Ladybug, I'm deeply envious of your household syrup consumption. I have to ration mine.
  10. Miss J

    Fermenting sausage

    Thanks, mamster. We appreciate it.
  11. As usual, I've realised it's Shrove Tuesday on the day itself, and so will be scrambling to observe it in time. That means that I'll be making bog-standard pancakes (the thick, fluffy North American kind) and serving them with dry-cured English bacon and lots of maple syrup. Is anyone else making pancakes tonight? What kind do you make? (I should probably add that I have no intention of actually observing Lent. That's one of the good things about being a beyond-lapsed/atheist-Catholic. )
  12. Yes, but that was a SUNDAY, Adam. Sunday is fun day. (Hell, I've been known to make puff pastry on Sundays, JUST BECAUSE I CAN.) Sometimes one has to cook amazing, almost authentic Thai food during the week. And I can just imagine Mr J's response if I told him that dinner would be ready after I'd made coconut cream, pounded for around half an hour, THEN started simmering a curry for another half hour-ish. (He would roll around on the floor making starving-to-death noises, if you must know.) Mamster likes to pound. Heh. Mamster, welcome to the collective.
  13. Charlene, for a big, stock-up-on-everything shop I go toTawana Supermarket on Chepstow Road, W2. If I just need fresh ingredients (some of which I expect will be hard to find, like green papaya, fresh green peppercorns or fresh tumeric) I go to New Loon Moon Supermarket on Gerrard STreet. And when I'm in the middle of putting something together and suddenly realise I don't have kaffir lime leaves, I drop everything and run to Wing Yip. Adam: I'm not talking about the pounding quite so much as the heavy sigh you can almost hear Thompson make when he concedes that most cooks simply don't have time to make their coconut cream from fresh coconuts.
  14. Hey, I'm a little surprised by the assessment of the US copy, too. My book is gorgeous, with a heavily stitched binding and lush pics. Sometimes I just like to take it down from the shelf and pet it. As for ingredients, after my brief phase of not knowing where to find things I've now located just about everthing I've needed. I do agree with mamster on the technique front, though - Thompson is absolutely uncompromising. Sometimes I follow his instructions to the letter, and sometimes I cheat a little. But overall, I have learned to love to pound.
  15. Hummous is good. It's especially good spread thickly on wholegrain bread, topped with roasted peppers and sprouts, and seasoned generously before finishing with the second slice of bread. It keeps well, doesn't smell, and manages to both taste good and be good for you. Chickpeas.
  16. Miss J

    Hard Boiled Eggs

    I cannot BELIEVE you've just pointed someone towards The Balic, Adam. That's just plain cruel.
  17. Commercial paste is better than making your own? Oooh mamster, wait 'til David Thompson gets his paws on you...
  18. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    Ladybug, that's the difference right there. You're going through 12oz (less that 500ml) in 2 weeks, I'm going through a litre in 6 months. You're just not giving it time to go off.
  19. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    It does have to be refridgerated. And even then it doesn't last indefinitely. Maple syrup on the turn gets a strange, slightly sour taste. And eventually, it goes mouldy.
  20. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    Carried over from Canada. And now almost finished. Must be time to visit the family.
  21. Miss J

    Maple syrup...

    I have a 1L jug of No. 1 MediumGrade A in my fridge at the moment (which is almost gone). It's my standby. And I've discovered that in the UK, it marks my nationality more than anything else. Almost all of my British friends had never had real maple syrup until I forced it upon them, thereby ruining their pleasure in anything served with "maple syrup" in restaurants here. The only time I've ever had No. 1 Extra Light was in Lac Megantic, PQ. It's such delicate, almost floral stuff I think I'd want to save it for very particular applications. Such as drinking it as shots, for example.
  22. Miss J

    Roast Beef

    Thanks to everyone for contributing to yesterday's smashingly successful roast beef lunch. Particular mention goes to: Sam, Duncan, Steve P and jakal10 for suggesting rib of beef Sam for suggesting Waitrose (from whom I bought it in the end) Duncan for the link to Blumanthal's slow-roast instructions in The Guardian (I did not use a blowtorch, sadly) LML for his tip to leave the beef out for at least 8 hours to come to room temperature The beef was perfectly pinky-red (just the way I like it), disarmingly succulent and outrageously "beefy" in flavour. I stirred together a last minute horseradish sauce (Greek yoghurt, grated horseradish, double cream, lemon juice, chopped chives, bit of salt) to go with it along with a sauce based on heavily reduced meat juices and red wine. Once again, egullet has made me look incredibly good. Thanks, guys.
  23. Miss J

    Hard Boiled Eggs

    But would the texture be changed? Gah.
  24. Miss J

    Hard Boiled Eggs

    Just like that? Straight? Gah.
  25. Miss J

    Posh Nosh

    That's what I love about this place. There's always someone who can be counted on to announce the bleedin' obvious.
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