The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Month: March, 2010

The Americans are comiiiing!

I received an email from AMERICA a couple of months ago, asking if we had any Shed things planned for the 2nd week of March. We didn’t, but on hearing that two nice folk were coming to our fair city for a holiday I was delighted to organise something in their honour; a slap up (almost) British Sunday lunch was born. The starters weren’t very British in origin, but are dishes I consider to be firmly planted in the British psyche anyway so….go away you pedantic sticklers, they were tasty.

Forman’s Smoked Salmon with Buckwheat Pancakes, Shallots, Capers & Creme Fraiche
Smooth Chicken Liver Pate with Date and Apple Chutney & Brown Bread

Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding,
Carrot & Swede Mash, Green Beans, Cabbage & Gravy

Rhubarb & Apple Crumble with proper Custard

A selection of Cheeses from Neal’s Yard
Colston Bassett Stilton, Montgomery’s Cheddar, Innes Log
with Cotswolds Honey & more homemade chutney

As much homemade beer as you can drink!

All of the above, along with Monmouth coffee and haphazardly served tea (and failed-peanut-brittle-fudge-balls…tasty but sticky), £12 a head, though diners generously gave a wee bit more, thank you! I’m the first to admit that I’m not amazing at roast dinners yet, but no one complained and some even hinted for a doggy bag which I was more than happy to supply 🙂
We hope our American chums didn’t find their British food-fest too stodgy, but like everyone else who came they made fantastic dinner companions. Last night really emphasised why we do our Shed things, and I found the loveliest email in my inbox this morning; I’m touched beyond belief.

We enjoyed today/tonight SO much that I had to write and tell you straight away! We were so happy to have found you guys – the perfect combination of relaxed vibe, lovely home cooked food, great atmosphere. We felt so at home and comfortable. The food was truly delicious – can’t even pick out what I loved best! The pate, the beef, the gravy, crumble, cheese, special first time ever seen peanut fudge balls! Exactly what we always thought a supper club should be! Truly, we had a super night!

Sniff, how niiice!!!!!! If you’re anywhere near as exquisite as our guests last night and you’d like to join us for a meal one day, email and I’ll stick you on the mailing list. Thanks again to all of our guests, I had a great afternoon.


What to do with my life

The title of this post belies the triviality (word?) of content, but it sums up exactly why I love the ‘Google suggestions’ that pop up when you start typing into the search field.
“What to do with an excess of creme fraiche?” (as you do) was what I was going for, but paused on “with” to marvel at Google’s helpful suggestions. In order of popularity, they are as follows;
– my life (!)
– the kids
– leftover turkey (make it into dinosaur shapes to entertain the kids?)
– short hair
– egg yolks (who ever has spare egg yolks? Custard, man, CUSTARD.)
– frozen pipes (one can only hope this is a home-plumbing query and not DIY reservsel of a serious medical procedure)

I mean, who ACTUALLY Googles “what to do with my life”?!?!

Anyway. So – quelle horreur – nothing really matched my exact search phrase, but then I remembered one of my favourite weird-but-tasty comfort dishes, which seemed a good idea given the BLOODY COLD weather we’re having right now. Stay with me, it’s not as ming as it sounds;

Spicy (!) Creme Fraiche (!!) Kidney Bean (!??!?!) Pasta

3 banana shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 hot red chillis, with seeds if you’re not a total poof, finely chopped
Your preferred pasta shape, enough 2 massive portions (fusilli, penne…whatever)
1 small tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
2 big tablespoons of creme fraiche or sour cream
Olive oil
Cheddar cheese – optional

In boiling salted water, cook the pasta to your liking. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-based frying pan, fry the shallots in olive until soft and golden. Add the garlic and chilli and leave to mingle on a low heat while your pasta finishes. Drain the pasta, and add to the shallots-chillis-garlic pan, along with the kidney beans and creme fraiche. Stick on a lid, and let it all get warm, but not too hot or the beans will go hard. Season well, and if you want to, grate some cheddar cheese on top (or a squeeze of lemon if you’re feeling fancy), and dive in.

A well easy – if odd – meal, ready in 15 minutes. Protein, carbs, fat, done. Don’t worry if you’re thinking of coming to The Shed – I wouldn’t dream to actually serving this to people – it’s just one of those lazy ‘vice*’ meals that I like to eat every now and then. Everyone has their foibles.

*you know it’s a bit wrong, but you love it anyway.

Underground Farmers’ Market 28th March – The Shed Menu

I had a little panic after seeing the line up of talented producers and cooks on board, but here are what I hope are interesting and tasty bites. They will be available to eat on the day, or take away for later. Excuse the poncy wording on the first one, I totally couldn’t resist.

Buckwheat Pancakes with a Trio of Vegetarian Caviar
Homemade buckwheat pancakes with beetroot, aubergine, and mushroom ‘caviars’,
with optional garnishes of crème fraiche, capers, and shallots

Welsh Cakes
Homemade Welsh cakes served either on their own,
or with butter and Gorwydd Caerphilly Cheese

Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding
An Easter-themed take on a British classic, finished with homemade
plum preserve

A range of Granny Annie’s knitting will be on sale, from jazzy teapot cozies, to pretty little scarves, egg cup holders and knitted corsages. A full list of contributors can be found on Ms Marmitelovers blog.
Tickets are just £5.50 and are available here; I hope to see you on the day! Come and say hello….

Catching up

I am a wee behind with this whole blogging thing, disorganised shrike that I am, so you’ll have to excuse the lack of chronology, flow, or meaning. This post is about pancake day, but there is also a small snippet of What We Ate On Valentine’s Day to come, when I get my arse in gear and upload the photo* on to my computer.
*completely non-dodgy, worry not.

I love pancakes, but was sadly unable to do proper justice to the ones we served up for our Shrove Tuesday shindig. I sliced off a teeny-tiny-weeny piece of my index finger at 7:10pm, with 10 guests due to arrive a mere 50 minutes later. Epic host-fail. I was furiously [carelessly] chopping chives ready to fry 44 savoury pancakes when the misdemeanour occurred, but rather than schlep off to Homerton hospital (yuck) I carried on, finger temporarily bandaged and held above heart level. Thank you guests for putting up with my moaning, and especially to Matt who came straight over with bandages, camera (see the photos! how artful!), and an admiral readiness to pitch in. Legend.

Buckwheat Blinis, Forman’s Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche, Capers and Shallots

Savoury Pancakes baked with Gruyere, Artichokes, Ricotta, Leeks and Spinach, served with Balsamic Dressed Rocket

Sweet Pancakes with any combination of; homemade toffee sauce, bananas, lemon wedges, sugar, Belgian chocolate or double cream

The first and last courses were lovely, though – shamefully, considering my day job – could have done with a smidge more salmon, duly noted for next time. Buckwheat blinis are an almighty faff to make, demanding two separate ‘rests’ totalling nearly four hours – but worth it as they were dead good; click here for the recipe.

The main course was nice enough, though due to my last minute medical slip up didn’t have the creamy cheese sauce it was supposed to, and was instead weighed down with a ballast of pure, unadulterated Gruyere. Almost, but not quite. Oh well.

But – great company as always, reasonable food, all for the modest sum of £8 (though everyone very kindly gave us a tenner, thank you!). If you want to come to a future event, email and I’ll stick you on the mailing list.

P.S. to anyone who cares, and has managed to get this far without dropping or wandering off; the finger is fine – it really was only a miniscule piece, mainly “nail bed”. After blithely assuming that the first aiders at work could deal with it the next day, I was sent to aforementioned hospital where offending finger was furnished with a comically large bandage, and after several days in captivity, realised into the wild and has even started typing again.

Roll up, roll up!

We’ll be taking part in the first Underground Farmers’ Market on March 28th, hosted by none other than Ms Marmitelover in her wonderful Kilburn home restaurant.

I will be making a few edible goodies but my mum (Granny Annie) will be the highlight of The Shed stall with her fabulous knitted goods and wool-based expertise. If anyone has their needles in a twist, bring them along and she’ll do her best – with over 45 years’ knitting experience! – to set you right.

There will be cooking demos and foodie talks, as well as lots of awesome, handmade stuff to buy, from cupcakes and chocolaty things, to soups and stews, retro table linen and zingy Indian chutneys.

Tickets are £5.50 (including booking fee), and can be purchased here. See you there – come with a hungry tum and a few quid in your pocket!