I found a lobster in the freezer yesterday. Cooked and frozen solid. I'd forgotten about it, languishing there like an extra in Quincy. I gave it a hot bath, and a little shine up before taking it apart, post-mortem.Not having been able to establish a cause of death, and I know it was dead when it went in under some Vienetta, I'll have to leave an open verdict. Frozen lobster is obviously not a patch on fresh. And I'd far rather some plump tiger prawns anyway, unless I'm sitting on the shore watching the fishermen haul them up from their lobster pots and bring them clattering to the shore while singing sea shanties and talking of the sea as a 'capricious mistress'. Seeing as we live in London, this is not a fantasy I can often indulge in and I'm certainly not going to turn down this treasure from the deep-freeze.One of my favourite things to do with shellfish is keep their shells and bits for bisque. You can freeze them after cooking to do this at a later date, although in this case, I just used the one shell and made the soup straight away. I love the grittiness, the deep spiciness of the soup and it also makes a great sauce for pasta. The recipe is here.I would recommend using fresh lobster where possible, this simple dish really sings and zings so the better quality you can get, the better the end result. To state the obvious.The sweet lobster tail, the delicate claws. The quick pickled apple salad, sharp and crunchy with the aniseed hit of fennel. The warmth and freshness of ginger and the cooling cucumber, mixing among the crisp potato (let's call them chips, for that's what they are) and the punchy garlic aioli dressing that will breathe fear into your neighbours. This is a lunch worthy of any table from the city to the huts in Cadgwith or white sandy beaches in Sri Lanka. And all from the freezer and the fruit bowl.Ingredients for two1 medium lobster per person1 Maris piper potato, finely sliced into matchsticks1 apple, cubed1 small fennel bulb, sliced1/2 a cucumber, deseeded and cubed1 thumb of ginger, peeled and finely chopped50ml cider vinegar1tbsp caster sugar1 large garlic clove, crushed2 egg yolks150ml olive oil1tbsp Dijon mustardA little squeeze of lemon juice or sherry vinegar1tbsp chopped chives2tsp fresh thyme leavesSaltRapeseed oil for fryingMethodMake the aioli by whisking the ingredients (apart from the oil) together and slowly drizzling in the oil as you whisk, until it makes an emulsion. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cover and set aside.Do what you need to do to the lobster. Cook it and cool it in iced water (probably about 12 minutes cooking depending on size) or defrost it. Carefully remove the tail and claw meat and keep the shell if you're making bisque.Mix the apple, fennel, cucumber and ginger with the vinegar and sugar and let sit for 15 minutes.Meanwhile, heat about four centimetres of oil in a heavy-based saucepan andfry the potato until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and season well.Serve the salad topped with the lobster and chips, a good dollop of the aioli and a sprinkle of cress and fennel fronds.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. And while this is not pudding and I have nothing to prove, the only way you're going to understand how delicious this dish is, is by making and eating it. I urge you to do this as soon as you can.Read More
I'll explain the ginger later, but this week, we have decided to stop eating refined carbs and sugar for the foreseeable future. So I did what any sane person would and have stuffed my face full of cake, crumpets, pancakes, sandwiches, potatoes in their various, seductive guises, ice cream and chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed it, although my stomach may have had a few complaints.In my daily life working with food, I often munch and graze my way through the day like a goat eating a coat sleeve just because it's there. And while a lot of the recipes are not too unhealthy, when you combine that with three meals a day it's easy to see why my clothes from ten years ago have inexplicably shrunk.When I'm out, I find it very difficult to buy food on the go that isn't stodgy and carb heavy. Now, I think hard about snacks and what I'm eating. It's shocking how much rubbish food we buy. I'm not going to turn into a health nut, but I feel excited by the thought of returning to eating how we were designed to. I will, on occasion, allow myself to revel in a burger, or have a great pile of steamed basmati rice with a curry, or some silken home-made pasta with ragu in a seaside Italian restaurant, or hot, salty chips with vinegar on the beach. I'm not a freak.So, I've stunk the house out with chicken stocks and chinese spices bubbling away in mysterious pots. I've worried about where I can store all the veg in addition to the fruit and veg I was already buying for my morning Nutribullet. These days, a liquid breakfast or lunch means a very different thing... Breakfast this morning, as an aside, was some sliced roast pork from the weekend, two fried eggs and a pile of steamed spinach with herb salt and chilli flakes. It took a little while longer than toast, but not much.This week, apart from the soups and stocks, and leftover meat, I am making a batch of ginger beer. My usual brand, 'Granny Steads' has sugar in it. And while I love its warming ginger heat, it's time to say goodbye. I'll use date syrup in this one. Adjust the quantities as you see fit. Bottoms up! (and with hope, smaller too...)Ingredients:2 large ginger roots, scrubbed and grated2tbsp date syrup250ml water1tsp yeast1 small red chilli1tsp turmericJuice of up to one lemon2l waterMethod:Heat the ginger, syrup, chilli, turmeric and water in a pan until just below the boil, simmer for a few minutes then turn off and leave to cool completely.Strain the syrup and add the yeast. Divide between two litre bottles and fill up with water (I'd use plastic ones at this point, just until you're ready to decant into glass and store in the fridge. You don't want to risk having to redecorate the kitchen. Add the lemon juice and shake well.Leave these for a week at room temperature, checking occasionally for excess gas buildup then transfer to glass bottles in the fridge. This will stop any further fermentation.