Preparations are afoot. For Christmas. For collaboration with local traders. For prepping food.
Spent a couple of hours this morning, feeling a bit unwell, but relaxing and making preserved lemons. Let me know if you want me to reserve a jar for you. I use preserved lemons in all sorts of ways……. stirred into a cinammon and spice lamb tagine with a sprinkling of chermoula; chopped into a parsley and tomato laden tabbouleh; tucked inside a chicken before roasting, or chopped and scattered over a tray of garlic and olive oil rich roasted pumpkin, tomato, onion and feta. When you use them remember to either adjust the seasoning (because they are preserved in sea salt and olive oil), or brush the salt off them before adding to a dish. They will bring a wonderful frangrant piquancy, a tartness and an ability to enhance the main flavour of the whatever dish you are cooking.
In my kitchen, preserving lemons is not a precise science. Simply take a few spare lemons chop into 6-8 pieces (leave the skin on). Pack into a sterilised jar with plenty of sea salt. Add some lemon juice and top up with olive oil. Sometimes I add caraway seed, or chilli seed or fennel seed. Then just seal tightly and put in the fridge. They will last 8-12 weeks in the fridge.
On Wednesday I am meeting with Keith Charlish to work up some recipe cards to sell with his meat and game at Christmas. So look out for one-pot-pheasant, warm pigeon breasts with juniper and sloe gin, partridge and hock pie and gingered duck at The Paddocks Butchery before long. I also noticed he had made some South African ‘Boerwors’ sausages. Had to buy some but haven’t cooked them yet.
Finally. Today I realised a lifetime’s ambition and have a knife block. I’ve looked at them for years and felt rather ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ about them. But then I found this little beauty. My knives are a bit special to me – sad I know – and collected over the years. Many are Japanese and came from TKMax, purchased as one’s and two’s rather than as a full set of kitchen knives. So they are a raggedy bunch, nothing matches. But I love them. The Japanese chopper, the little Sabatier paring knife, the Saji chef’s knife, the foot long gravadlax carver. All spotted in the same way you spot a handsome guy across a room – it takes your eye, you smile, and sidle over…………. etc. The biggest crime in the world was committed by my dear mum when she attempted to remove a plug which was stuck in the sink with my best paring knife. Which resulted in her snapping the end off trying to lever it out. Its a long time since I have been as angry – and kept the lid on it!