One of the first things I did when I landed back in Brooklyn was to seek out the latest edition of Edible, where I read about Cathy Erway. Cathy is a fellow Brooklynite who had become bored with spending more money than she could afford on too often disappointing restaurant meals. She decided to take action and pretty much for 2 years avoided restaurants when at all possible. I remembered as I read the article liking the idea, but since my aim was almost the opposite (ie to eat all of NYC) it seemed of little use to me, however it obviously planted a seed.
At the beginning of this week I found myself rubbing my belly as it creaked from the pressure of 4 days of solid eating out (my sister was in town and needed to be entertained) and the memory of ‘Not Eating Out’ sparked. Hence I set myself the modest goal of no restaurants for 10 days, when a trip upstate will necessitate. With cookbook in hand I began to search for ideas. I decided best to avoid meaty dishes just to give myself a break and tried to think more of fish and vegetables as my friends.
First up I decided on some Cauliflower soup. Delia online took care of that one, and while her recipe called for Roquefort I left the cheesy element out but made some tweaks of my own. Instead of adding the cheese into the soup I cooked off some broccoli then added it to the soup and sprinkled some cheddar on top and popped it under the grill. It was delicious, and with an extra helping of vegetables even more virtuous!
Next up I decided on some fish pie. This was one of the classic Melrose and Morgan dishes that the business was built upon, and while I have eaten many, I am ashamed to say this was my first go at cooking one.
Success! For a first effort it worked very well, I used a Mark Hix recipe and while it was good I think next time I will change it slightly as I found the sauce quite rich, I think due to the addition of mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I must say hats off to anyone who does this from scratch cooking often. What with making the stock, and all the other components it took a good 4-6 hours in total, but at least now I have a frozen supply of fish stock and hopefully next time I will be a bit quicker.
It is Saturday now and we have been living off the soup and pie since Tuesday, supplemented by lots of veggies and some delicious leafy clementines. In the meantime I have prepared some more dough and toppings as we are going round to friends tonight for pizza, I have a new batch of sourdough starter bubbling away which will be ready to start baking with on Monday and there is chicken stock reducing away on the stove as I type.
It has been a great week and I have not once had a craving for burgers, fries or any other pre-prepared foods. I am looking forward to more cooking and hopefully a little less belly!