moules ‘n more

For some time now I have wanted to try my hand at photographing moules mariners but the opportunity has yet to present itself in any of my commercial shoots. So last week I finally gave up waiting and instead decided to make my own moules mariners to photograph. Having made the decision the next step was to buy some mussels and that of course meant a drive out to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar. Although Loch Fyne is only an hours drive away from Glasgow (assuming that the A83 is not closed by yet another landslide as the road climbs up to the appropriately named Rest and Be Thankful) it’s a world apart, this is especially true at this time of year when roads are relatively quiet and the hills are looking their best; there is no soft cloak of green to mask the landscape and the snow on the hills some how always makes them seem closer and higher!

KG150204291WPLooking across Loch Fyne to the Ardkinglas Estate and beyond to the Kinglas valley and the Arrochar Alps

KG150204296WPThe view from the Oyster Bar at the head of the loch with its steep deeply furrowed hills which hem in the loch on both sides.

Loch Fyne Oyster BarThe Loch Fyne Oyster Bar in 2011 before its 2013 renovation – the Farm Shop has become a deli and there is a new main entrance but otherwise little has changed outside apart from the addition of some giant sized funky New England style chairs a theme which is taken up inside too with the bar stools.high bar stools at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar

The Oyster Bar first made its appearance in 1988 and it has developed as a popular stopping off place as well as a destination in its own right. For more information about the history of Loch Fyne Oysters please visit the company’s web site: http://www.lochfyne.com/about/

Of course any visit to the Oyster Bar inevitably involves oysters so in addition to mussels I also returned home with half a dozen oysters. Eaten au naturale with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of Tabasco sauce accompanied by some good crusty buttered bread and a glass of dry white wine there is little to beat it.KG150205362bWP

As for the mussels. There are innumerable recipes for moules mariners all of which essentially come down to remove the beards, wash and discard any shells that are broken or do not close, cook for 5 to 10 minutes in a large heavy bottomed pan with a lid containing diced onion, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme and a glass of white wine, plus or minus an equal quantity of cream. Discard any shells that don’t open and serve. For a more detailed recipe see http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/655746 or any of several dozen more that you will find with a simple Goole search.

moules marinière

moules marinière

The mussel shell next to the black bowl in the picture below is all the cutlery that you need – use them like tweezers to pick the plump meats from the other mussels and while the bread is used to mop up the juices.Moules, bread and white wineMoules with chunks of fresh bread and a glass of sauvignon blanc a perfect combination.

The moules tasted great; with such great ingredients its hard to go wrong. As for the photography I am reasonably pleased with the results. I like the way that the plump  orange meat of the mussels contrasts with the shells and the black bowl. I also took the opportunity to take some shots form directly above the dishes, a shooting angle which is increasing in popularity, I like the cropped shot where we just see the curved shapes of the pan and the bowl and the way the back pottery contrasts with the stainless steel pan both of which work well with the white boards of the background. In the non-cropped shot more attention should have been given to the placement of the bread board so that it didn’t overlap with the pan handle. A plain wooden board would probably have worked better. The wine glass needs to be brought more into the shot and photographed more directly from above, as it is it looks as if it is falling over, the lines between the white wooden boards need more attention too as they are distorted by the lens, they should be parallel! I would also have liked to have seen more detail and colour in the shells, which would have meant a different lighting setup. All in all it looks as if I have an excuse to make another trip to Loch Fyne in the not too distant future!

As is always the case with seafood take the very best and freshest ingredients, prepare simply and…. enjoy

Baked Cauliflower Cheese

Amazingly cauliflowers, sprouts, broccoli, kale and cabbages not only all belong to the same genus, i.e. Brassica but they all belong to the same species, oleracea! The fact that the single species, Brassica oleracea can produce so many wildly different cultivars is a reflection of the important role these plants have in agriculture right around the world as well as the length of time that they have been under cultivation.

Initially at least there can be no doubt as to the cauliflower’s cabbagey credentials wrapped in a cocoon of heavily ribbed outer leaves, even here in this relatively young specimen where only the inner leaves remain the whole appearance shouts CABBAGE but remove these leaves and the central white mass or curd of the cauliflower is revealed. The curd as the name cauliflower suggests is the immature flower head of the plant.

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Cauliflower has a long, though not necessarily glamorous place in British cooking; those of us of a certain age will remember how, like all other vegetables, it was boiled to the point of destruction before being triumphantly served. However, when cooked sympathetically and with respect this vegetable with its unique flavour has a lot to offer and it finds its way into numerous recipes, especially Indian ones but on this occasion I am going to focus on that all time comfort food dish of cauliflower cheese. The secret to a really good cauliflower cheese is ensuring that the cauliflower does not become too wet or over cooked before adding the cheese sauce. In this recipe the soft mellow creaminess of the cheese sauce and baked cauliflower is contrasted  against the salty intensity of Smoked Black Forest ham combined with a dusting of the wonderful and too little used spice, mace (for more about mace see http://wholespice.com/blog/?p=1468).

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Baked Cauliflower Cheese and Smoked Black Forest Ham

Ingredients

Serves 2-3 as a side dish or if you prefer not to share you have a perfect warming super for one.

 1 x cauliflower medium-sized (approx 15 -20 cm in diameter)

4 x  slices of Schwarzwälder Schinken (Black Forest Smoked ham from Lidl)

olive oil

550 ml milk

1 x bay leaf

2 x cloves

50 g plain white flour

50 g butter

125 g grated cheddar (try using other cheeses that you have to hand either for the sauce and / or the topping)

ground mace (freshly grated nutmeg could also be used)

freshly ground black pepper; crush a few peppercorns in a pestle and mortar

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Here’s How

To start begin making the sauce. Place the milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil and then remove from the heat while adding the bay leaf and cloves and set to one side so as to allow the flavours to develop.

Switch on the oven and set to 190oC (fan oven) and leave to warm up.

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Prepare the cauliflower by removing the leaves and then break the curd into roughly equally sized florets while cutting off any thick stems. Place the florets in a steamer and steam on top of wok for 5 – 10 minutes using a skewer to judge when the florets are cooked through; they should still be firm. Do not over cook. Remove the steamer from the wok and leave to cool with the lid off the steamer; this will help the cauliflower lose any excess water.

Complete making the cheese sauce by mixing the butter and flour together over a low heat to form a roux. Remove the bay leaf and cloves from the milk and gradually add all of the milk to the roux, mixing all of the time so to ensure a smooth lump free sauce. Increase the heat slightly and slowly add all but a small handful of the cheese to the sauce while continuing to stir. As the cheese melts into the sauce the mixture will become thicker and after stirring for a further minute or so the sauce should be taken off the heat.

To assemble the dish place the florets in a suitable oven proof dish and pour over the cheese sauce. Finish with a light sprinkling of mace as well as the remaining cheese and place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

At the same time place the slices of ham on a lightly oiled baking tray in the oven and cook for 5 -10 minutes until they are crisp but not burnt. When done remove the slices and place on some kitchen towel to mop up any excess fat or oil.

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Once the sauce on the cauliflower has begun to colour the dish is ready and can be removed from the oven. Pieces of the cooked ham can then be sprinkled over the cauliflower and the dish served.

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Be careful it will be extremely hot!

 Enjoy

 

 

 

 

Mid Winter (Blues) Greens!

Those of you who know me will be aware that I am not big on seasonality; by that I don’t mean that I am indifferent to the changing seasons, far from it but its more a case of believing that while the dishes we cook should be appropriate to the season and more particularly the weather I am not going to restrict what I cook and eat to what is available locally. Of course this in part reflects where I live. In West Central Scotland the growing season is all too short and limiting, perhaps I would feel differently if I lived in the south west of England or even better California but I don’t!

When I first came to live in Scotland moving from London to Edinburgh during the latter part of the 1970s little did I realise what was in store for me. Visits to the green grocer were incredibly depressing both in terms of the variety and quality of the produce on offer. This was especially true during the winter months with root vegetables predominating large dirty potatoes lurked unloved in dusty bins together with piles of carrots, swedes and parsnips if you were lucky you might also find some beetroot, though rarely raw but instead boiled as if such culinary complexities were beyond the average housewife! As well as root vegetables there was always a collection of indifferent looking greens, though in keeping with the season many of these had a blue tinge including the leeks and cabbages.

While living in London I regularly passed though rarely visited, being only a poor student at the time, Justin de Blank’s shop on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia. The shop had a dizzying variety of wonderful vegetables and fruit and after this Edinburgh was a rude shock! How things have changed! To day the supermarkets are full of the most amazing fruit and veg with near year round availability. Ironically this transformation lead to the demise of Justin de Blank’s shop and many other small independent grocers all of whom could no longer compete against the buying power of the large supermarkets. In Glasgow where I now live we still have a number of small green grocers preeminent among which is Roots and Fruits who have branches on Great Western Road as well as on Argyle Street, sadly they no longer have a store on Byres Road having been forced out of business when Waitrose opened a supermarket next  door to them. Don’t get me wrong, I shop at supermarkets, probably more than most but I also value the independent store with its more eclectic collection of fruit and vegetables and their individuality “shops with personality” perhaps describes it best. A few things still remain very seasonal the most obvious of which include forced rhubarb, gooseberries, Jerusalem artichokes, chanterelle and perhaps they taste all the better and more special for that?

Perhaps as a result of being a photographer as well as a foodie much of my food buying tends to be driven by what something looks like and its photographic potential is rather than it purely culinary merits. Of course this has lead to some interesting challenges in the kitchen after a shoot! Recently I have been seeing something in the green grocers and supermarkets which is not only a great subject to photograph but it is also seasonal, local (potentially at least) easy to cook and tastes great! By which I of course mean the king of winter vegetables; savoy cabbage!

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The sheer theatricality of this cabbage with its blistered blue green outer leaves which curl back to reveal progressively lighter coloured layers of leaves around the dense pale crown is hard to beat. Not only is it good to look at but it stores well and is easy to cook, there are many recipes for savoy cabbage including a number for stuffed cabbage but I prefer to keep things simple:

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Savoy Cabbage, Leek and Bacon

Ingredients

Serves 2 as a side dish or if you prefer not to share just add some slices of crusty bread and you have a perfect super for one.

 1 x savoy cabbage

1 x leek

4  rashers of smoked back bacon

olive oil

butter, about 15 g

freshly ground black pepper, crush a few peppercorns in a pestle and mort

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Here’s How

First, prep the ingredients:

Cut the bacon into roughly postage stamp sized pieces (approx 20mm x 20mm),

Cut the head and base off the leek and remove the first outer layer, rinse in cold water to remove any soil trapped around in the leaves at the top of the leek and then cut into discs, each disc about 5 to 7 mm thick.Depending on the size of the leek you will probably only use about half of the leek, I prefer the greener discs from the top half of the leek for their added colour.

To prepare the cabbage; fold back and snap off the largest of the rough dark coloured outer leaves and discard. Break off as many of the remaining leaves as you can and set to one side. You will then be left with a core of densely packed, almost white leaves and this can be cut into thick slices. Cut the tough central midrib from the leaves you previously set aside as well as from the slices of core and discard. Then cut the leaves into stamp sized place in a colander and rinse in thoroughly in cold water. Leave the leaves to drain but don’t make any extra effort to remove the water as you will need the leaves to be wet when they are cooked.

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Cook:

Saute the bacon in a little olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat; as the fat in the bacon is rendered down it will supplement the olive oil in the cooking so don’t rush to add more oil until you see how much fat comes out of the bacon.

Stir the bacon bits occasionally so that both sides are cooked equally.

After 5 to 10 minutes the bacon will begin to colour, add the leek and cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring as before.

Add the still wet cut cabbage and butter: season with pepper and using a wooden spatula carefully mix all of the contents of the sauce pan until the butter has all melted and the bottom of the pan is deglazed.

Put the lid on the pan; turn the heat down to low and leave for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so as to ensure that the cabbage doesn’t catch and burn. Unlike other cabbages savoy cabbage doesn’t smell while cooking unless you burn it!

After which, taste, adjust the seasoning if required and serve.

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 Simple comfort food perfect for a cold winter evening… enjoy

For more photos of savoy cabbage see http://www.greenshootsphotography.com/#!vegetables—savoy-cabbage/czjo

Foraging for Hazel Nuts

Many of the things that foragers present you with can, to say the least, be a little suspect at first glance. However, hazel nuts don’t fall into this camp, they are easy to find, are unlikely to be confused with anything else, require little by way of preparation and they even taste good!

Foraged hazel nuts by Keith Gooderham at Greenshoots Photography

A hand carved alder wood bowl containing hazel nuts

Going to the woods and coming back with bags, hats and pockets full of nuts brings back many childhood memories. Hazel nut are also strongly associated with Christmas in my mind, bowls of nuts being placed out on the side “just in case you fancied them,” as if the mountain of turkey with all the trimmings was likely to ever leave room for such snacks!

Hazel Nuts and nut crackers

Nut crackers and nuts

Nonetheless, armed with these fond childhood memories I have been covetously watching some hazel bushes and their slowly maturing crop of nuts along a nearby abandoned railway line.  However, after watching them throughout August and September I took my eye off the “ball” for a week and nearly missed them! The expected harvest of plenty suddenly become a very meagre one indeed! Whether I had been beaten to the nuts by squirrels or worse still other foragers, or the ripe nuts had simply fallen off and disappeared into the undergrowth I can’t say, however, if I am honest there were ample nuts remaining and so, after an all too long a gap I have succeeded in collecting nuts once more and next year I will be more vigilant!

Foraged hazel nuts

A hand carved alder wood bowl containing hazel nuts

hazel nuts photgraphed by food and drink photographer Keith Gooderham

Freshly foraged hazel nuts

How about you? Have you been out foraging? What did you find?

VEGETABLES & THE COLOR PURPLE

Alien Invasion?
Have you noticed? Purple vegetables are taking over; purple kale, purple carrots, purple French beans, purple cauliflower and now purple kohlrabi. Conspiracy theorists, ideas please, before it is too late!

Food and drink photography by Greenshoots Photography

Purple Kohlrabi making an exhibition of themselves!

But of course there is a much more prosaic answer. The purple colour in the leaves, stems and “fruits” of many plants is due to the presence of a powerful anti-oxidising agent, anthocyanin which can act as a natural sun screen for the plant, something which is especially important for young seedlings and new leaves but in something like the purple cauliflower below there can be little if any advantage to the plant. Although anti-oxidants in food a widely regarded as “good” their nutritional value must be also limited in that cooking will destroy the purple colour in most vegetables (purple cauliflower is said to be an exception to this loss of colour).

Food and drink photography by Greenshoots Photography

Brain Section or Purple Cauliflower

Food and drink photography by Greenshoots Photography

French Beans

Food and drink photography by Greenshoots Photography

Purple Russian Kale

Food and drink photography by Greenshoots Photography

Purple Radish Sprouts

Have you tried any purple vegetables? Did you manage to keep their colour when you cooked them?

The Colours of Summer

Last year around this time David Craig and his team at Clyde Valley Tomatoes were making a great splash as they entered the market (http://www.greenshootsphotography.com/#!clyde-valley-tomatoes/c21si). Since then the company has gone from strength to strength with the tomatoes not only being a regular and much appreciated feature of the farmers markets both here in Glasgow as well as those in Edinburgh but you will now find their tomatoes in a lot of shops and delis ranging from Waitrose and the Whole Food Supermarket through to Roots and Fruits and the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar at Cairndow as well as many other places I am sure.

I am a great fan of tomatoes and it is one of the hardships of winter that even with the year round availability of fruit and vegetables coming as they do from right around the world tomatoes always taste and smell their very best when they are at their freshest and local.

The following pictures give a little taste of all that summer goodness; each of these tomatoes is as packed with flavour as it is with colour!

 Market Fresh

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Summer JewelsMixed Varieties of Tomatoes

Summer Sunshine

A simple snack: slice fresh tomato, a slice of grilled ham or bacon, a slice of toasted Ciabatta ad  a sprinkle of sea salt together with a little basil and you are close to heaven!KG140525029bWeb1

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2014. All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.

Schwarzwälder Schinken & Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict is, by far, my favourite breakfast dish but I am so often disappointed when I order it in a restaurant. Restaurants seem to specialise in making this most tasty of meals as sterile and as unattractive as possible. Traditionally the dish consists of an English Muffin (despite its name an essentially American concoction!) cut in two and each half is then topped with a round of ham, followed by a poached egg and finally a spoon or two of Hollandaise sauce. The result, while potentially tasty, is often bland and visually sterile – don’t believe me, do a Google image search, there are notable exceptions of course but the majority of the pictures can hardly be called appetizing!

So how to improve on this sorry state of affairs? First, ditch the muffin! A couple of slices of toasted Ciabatta make a far superior foundation for the dish while ensuring that there is enough bread to mop up the egg yolk and sauce without totally dominating it.

Next comes the ham and please, not slices of bland, watery processed ham, Iberian ham is perfect but expensive, back bacon works well but increasingly I find myself using smoked Black Forest ham (Lidl, for more details see the earlier post  https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/schwarzwalder-schinken-and-shopping-at-lidl/). This ham is amazingly versatile and after baking on a good quality (i.e. heavy and non-stick) metal tray together with a drizzle of olive oil at 190 oC for 8 -10 minutes or so you will have wonderfully thin crisp slices of intensely flavoured ham, (any spare slices should be kept in the fridge in a sealed box for several days until required).

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict

 

 

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Slices of crisp oven baked ham make a perfect accompaniment for eggs benedict.

Tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil are roasted in the oven, again at 190 oC, for around about 20 minutes; its worth preparing the tomatoes some 10 or so minutes before the eggs are ready to allow them to cool down, it is impossible to appreciate the flavour of a tomato no matter how good it is if it is scalding hot!

As for the eggs I have for long been a fan of both Burford Brown and Cotswold Legbar eggs from Clarence Court® (frustratingly these eggs are becoming increasingly hard to find in and around Glasgow and are no longer stocked at my local Morrisons, instead I have to trek right across the city to go to Waitrose or in the opposite direction to the Whole Food supermarket (who, for some as yet unfathomed reason sell Cotswold Legbar eggs lose). Both of these eggs have incredibly rich golden yolks and while the colour probably doesn’t add directly to the taste the difference between these eggs and so many others which are in comparison only pale imitations make me feel that these eggs do indeed taste better!

For the Hollandaise sauce I always “cheat” and buy mine ready-made from Maille which has the advantage of both convenience, being able to use just the amount you need while keeping the rest in the fridge for as long as 4 weeks. The Hollandaise is carefully warmed in a bowl over a pan of freshly boiled water which is then kept on a very low heat; be careful not to let the sauce get too hot or it will split.

Assemble the dish on a warm plate building up from the Ciabatta, followed by the Black Forest ham and Hollandaise sauce and roast tomatoes. Finish of with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil from the bowl the tomatoes were cooked in.

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Schwarzwälder Schinken

Rich runny yolks are a must!

Enjoy!

A more detailed recipe can be found at: https://brunchatgoodies.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/eggs-benedict/

Copyright: All photographs and text in the blog “Brunch at Goodies” are subject to copyright. © Keith Gooderham 2011-2013 All rights reserved. Do NOT copy material without requesting permission to do so. If you would like permission simply contact me.