It's been a hectic few days since we got back from France. Trying to finish one book, publicising another and launching a student cooking campaign. I'm not sure where the time has gone
It hasn't left much time for cooking that's for sure but this weekend we made best use of the annual Organic Food Festival in Bristol and did our weekend shopping there.
Interestingly it wasn't that expensive. Sheepdrove, our local organic butcher had a special offer on frozen chickens for £5 each which was unmissable so Sunday night's meal was built around that. Because it had been a balmy late summer's day (what on earth's happened to the weather since?) we served it warm having stuffed it with herbs and garlic. We also had a huge platter of yellow and green courgettes (above) I'd lightly fried in olive oil and tossed with some blanched green beans and some new crop Desirée potatoes, boiled in their jackets, all from one of my favourite local organic suppliers Wrington Greens. I tossed the courgettes and beans with a fantastic dried herb mix I'd bought in Nice earlier this summer (a fines herbes blend of parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives) which really enhanced their flavour though fresh herbs would have obviously been good too. (Most of ours seem to have shrivelled up while we were away).
The next day we had cold chicken with the remaining veg, some fried up potatoes and garlic and some mixed leaves from Wrington which are always wonderfully flavourful. And there's a huge batch of stock which I'm going to use for noodles tonight and risotto tomorrow. Ten servings from one medium-sized bird which isn't bad.
The other good buy at the festival was a huge bag of Za'atar, a Middle-Eastern blend of dried thyme, sumac and roasted sesame seeds. This particular one had been imported from Palestine by a company called Zaytoun which also brings in a very nice olive oil. You can use the Za'atar to scatter over flatbreads, dips and grilled meats or simply dunk bread in oil and then in the mix. It was actually more than I needed but I felt I wanted to support the producer so I've been giving small jars and bags of it away to my friends.
The only disappointment of the weekend were some ultra-cheap peaches I bought at the local greengrocer which had that awful woolly texture that imported peaches tend to have even at this time of year. I rescued them by skinning them, submerging them in sweet wine, scattering over a few crushed cardamom pods and chilling them for a few hours but they still weren't wonderful. Which underlines yet again that locally grown food is best, organic or not.