Some of the fruit and veg stalls at Coventry market sell bowls of fruit and veg for £1. We occasionally buy things like bowls of peppers but this morning we decided to also get a bowl of fennel. Now this is a vegetable which we occasionally buy from the supermarket but then it's only 1 bulb at a time. This time we have 5 bulbs of the stuff to use so we're going to need to be a bit creative.
We have a pizza book which has dozens of different recipes for toppings and sauces. One was a fennel sauce which has diced onion, fennel and garlic which is fried then simmered in tomato sauce. We gave that a go and topped it with salmon, anchovies and capers. And cheese of course. I might try it again if we find ourselves with excess fennel again.
Yesterday Emma bought some smoked mackerel from the supermarket in the city centre. I was looking for a suitable recipe which could be made using items we had in the kitchen. I found a recipe which looked promising. The only thing I didn't have was olives, so I left them out. I also decided to cook it in a pan instead of in the oven.
I started by frying some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil until they softened. I then added a glass of red wine and boiled it for a couple of minutes before adding a similar amount of chicken stock and half a tin of tomatoes (just the tomatoes, not the juice - I didn't want the sauce to be too runny). I added a pinch of sugar, a couple of tablespoons of capers and a sprig of rosemary and let it simmer while I boiled a pan of rice. We thought a slightly spicy rice might go with it so I cooked the rice in the rest of the chicken stock and added a generous pinch of chilli flakes.
When the rice was nearly cooked, I removed the sprig of rosemary and added the mackerel to the pan. When it was ready to serve, I grated some parmesan to sprinkle on top.
The combination of tomatoes, fish and capers reminded me of a puttanesca sauce. The flavours were fairly intense but well balanced without anything dominating too much. The fish was quite good too, despite being from the supermarket's economy range.
Saturday is our regular pizza night and we occasionally struggle to think of new toppings to try. This means we often get stuck in a rut and keep repeating ourselves with various combinations of chicken, vegetables and chilli. Last night we opened one of those Heinz 'fridge jars' of baked beans, which means we have to finish the pack within 5 days. We don't have baked beans very often but Emma suggested combining beans and pizza and replicate the baked bean pizza which was available back in the mid-90s.
I started off by spreading a few tablespoons of baked beans over the pizza base then added sliced chicken, chillies, mozarella and grated cheese.
This post also appears on the Pizza Blog
After a week of poor weather and almost non-stop rain, today started dry so this morning we walked into town. There were old cars on display near various Coventry University including near the Cathedral. The range of cars included Alvis (which were built in the city on a site which is now a shopping centre). There several other old cars and sports cars and also what looked like a Japanese TV camera crew filming the collection.
It has been a long time since I've been to Wing Wah (the all you can eat Chinese restaurant) in Coventry, so when Emma said she was meeting some people there for lunch and asked me if I wanted to join them, I agreed.
The food doesn't seem to have changed in the intervening period but people don't go there for a constantly varying or challenging menu. People go there because it is a great value eatery with good quality food (as good as you can reasonably expect for £7 during the day).
One area where Wing Wah do sometimes get a bit imaginative is the presentation of their desserts. A few years ago I had a jam tart with a sprig of parsley on top so when I saw a jelly with what looked like a green bean on top, I expected the worst.
It turned out to be a sliced jelly sweet - the long tube shaped sweets with a fondant filling.
A few weeks ago I planted two pots of rocket and left them on the windowsill in the front room so they would get plenty of sunlight. I had two different packets of seed and thought it would be a good idea to compare them. Unfortunately I forgot to make a note of which pack went into which pot so now the rocket is grown, I have no idea which is which.
One of the packets is clearly doing better than the other, with the plants growing at roughly double the rate. Unfortunately this is the year when I forgot to label most of the things I planted. I have several different types of chilli pepper and tomato growing in various rooms of the house and in tubs in the garden but in most cases I have no idea what is growing where.
Some of the chilli plants are doing quite well and have a few flowers on them but the tomatoes aren't doing very well. A lot got eaten by slugs and some seem to have been affected by the bad weather and haven't grown an inch in several weeks. The courgettes seem to be doing ok so far so at least there will be some veg from the garden this year. The less said about the strawberries, the better. None of the seeds germinated. Same for the parsley. I will have to buy fresh seeds for next year.