In My Kitchen – April 2014

 

peter_layton_landscape_bowls

“Landscape” bowls by Peter Layton

I can’t quite believe that a month has rolled by so quickly and that it is time to take another look in my kitchen already!

In my kitchen I have 3 beautiful opaque bowls from the Landscape series by glass blower extraordinare, Peter Layton of London Glassblowing. They sit on the window ledge changing colour, hue and intensity depending on the time of day. Many years ago, I read that London Glassblowing were holding an open week and sale in their workshop so took my son to watch the process at their studio in Bermondsey. I remember walking through the historical old streets of Southwark with him, passing by narrow streets with names like Vinegar Yard, Lamb Walk and Crucifix Street. Where once, as far back as medieval times, the area was known for it’s flourishing docks, leather and food processing industries and later, for it’s slums, now the old brick warehouses hold thriving creative and retail studios. When I finally found it because I did get lost (this was in the days of the London A-Z, waaaay before smartphones and GPS ) we found ourselves in a cobbled courtyard  surrounded on all sides by old industrial units. When we located the studio, the contrast between their gallery; sleek and white with the displayed glass objects glowing like jewels and the workshop; hot as Hades, chaotic and with a true industrial vibe, well, it couldn’t have been more stark or wonderful. We watched great globs of liquid glass being blown and pulled and pushed into gorgeous organic shapes by artisans working next to the blistering furnace – Jake was fascinated. Even as his cheeks started to flush and his hair began to dampen and curl with sweat, he did not want to move. We went again with a dear friend, this time armed with my cheque book! On their  huge sale table were all sorts of wonderful glass bowls, vases, bottles and trinkets but I was drawn to these three bowls – I almost think that they chose me. The design is described thus on their website – “Landscape is one of our classic designs, evocative of meadows, spring landscapes and big skies, sometimes stormy, sometimes clear and bright in the English tradition. Soft gentle washes of colour, emulate the English landscape.” If you click on the photo, you will be able to see them enlarged and in more detail. They have been packed away for some years, through numerous moves, but seem to have now found their home on the window ledge in my kitchen.

fresh_garlic

In my kitchen I have fresh, purple tinged heads of “new” garlic – an odiferous harbinger of spring if ever there was one! As I was walking past my local greengrocers the other day, I noticed a box of these and stopped to buy a few. They are so different from the dry garlic we normally see – their skins are moist and pliable and the cloves themselves are much less strident in flavour. Because they are so much younger and moister than dry garlic, practically the entire head can be used. The green tops can be sliced and sautéed, the skins can be sliced and stirred in with shallots or onions; the layer around the actual clove itself can be blanched and then whizzed with olive oil to make a garlic paste that can be stirred into pasta, salad dressings and mayonnaise and the cloves can be thinly sliced and sautéed or added raw to salads.

fresh_garlicNew garlic does have a fairly pungent smell. A few years ago, a group of us went to Cannobio on the shores of Lago Maggiore in Italy for a hen weekend. We had such a brilliant time, exploring the town, eating gelato, drinking bubbly on the terrace of the boys’  apartment (it was a mixed party!) dancing in the town square with the locals, heading over to Switzerland on the ferry, for lunch, just because we could! There was a big market on that weekend and we had the most incredible lunch in a bustling trattoria where all the specials were market fresh. The mushroom pasta with truffles, I have never forgotten. I got a little excited to see fresh garlic (for the first time ever) and bought a few heads to take home. The smell of garlic was so pervasive – and I took it on as hand luggage so you can just imagine the wide berth I got! I always buy some whenever I see them and am instantly transported to those fun filled few days in Italy.

tiny_figs

In my kitchen, I have (had – they are all gone now) a little plate of tiny figs. Passing by the same greengrocer the other day, I noticed a punnet of these figs which were no larger than walnuts in the shell. They were very sweet with an almost rose flavour and we had them without any adornment whatsoever. I thought I had taken some shots of one squeezed open but they either didn’t upload or I had what my brother used to refer to as, a senior moment!

baby_leeks

In my kitchen I have these gloriously muddy, young and slender leeks. I got very excited about my new veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm last month. You may have seen the post about the Mixed Roasted Beets where I waxed lyrical about the scheme. I am getting a small box every fortnight and really enjoying the quality and freshness of the produce with the bonus of it being a cheaper price than in the supermarkets. It is also forcing me out of my comfort zone of always buying the same vegetables which I tend to do if there is nothing inspiring on the shelves. These babies will be blanched then griddled and served with an smokey paprika aioli.

dry_roasted_cumin

In my kitchen I have a small jar of dry roasted cumin seeds. I love the warm, deep, husky flavour of cumin and use it quite liberally and in fairly unorthodox ways. One of my comfort dishes is rice cooked with chickpeas and cumin and eaten with yoghurt. I buy 100g  or 200g packets from the local Indian grocers and dry roast them, in batches, over a medium heat, in  a non stick pan until they are golden and toasted and the kitchen smells amazing. I store them in a small Kilner jar where they keep for a long time. I scatter them whole, rub them between my fingers to break them up or pound them to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Speaking of which…

pestle_and_mortar

In my kitchen I have a ridiculously heavy pestle and mortar. I bought it in the early 90’s when our High St used to have the most brilliant Oriental grocery shop. They stocked everything you could possibly think of –  galangal, lemongrass, holy basil,  fresh noodles, about a hundred varieties of dry noodles, rice, all sorts of sauces from chili to satay, frozen seafood, bamboo steamers…it was like an Aladdin’s cave of Oriental foodstuff in there. This is when I started cooking Thai food – how could I not when all the ingredients were literally on my doorstep! I went past one day and noticed that they had pestle and mortars in the window and bought one. I make sure that it is somewhere accessible on the worktop as I realised that I don’t use as much it if I have to lug it out of a cupboard or off a shelf. It makes short work of grinding dry spices and making pastes out herbs and garlic. I just wish it wasn’t so darn heavy!

in_my_kitchen

Well that’s it from my kitchen this month. In My Kitchen is is hosted by Celia of Fig Jam and Lime Cordial where she is joined by bloggers from all over the world affording us a glimpse of what they’ve been up to that month. I have been following the series for a little while now, enjoying a little nosey into the kitchen sink dramas of others, everywhere. Thank you to the IMK community for your warm welcome  to my first posting last month – it has been so nice to get to know you and your blogs. And a huge thank you to Celia for coming up with this series and hosting it. This is the link to take you to the archives http://figjamandlimecordial.com/in-my-kitchen/ Please do go over and take a look at what other bloggers are up to in their kitchens!