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My tidy ship

This is the most beautiful photograph I’ve ever taken of food. I find the colours heart stopping. They belong on a catwalk, wouldn’t you say, or in a Rothko. I made it at the weekend for my lovely neighbours, guests and friends, Sue and Graham. For the main I slow roasted a shin of veal (why do we say shin of veal and not veal shin? Maybe we do), with some fennel, onion, celery, bay leaves, thyme, white wine and stock. It was a recipe from Florence Knight’s wonderful book from last year called One. I just realised it’s called that because it was her first! I can be a bit slow, sometimes. She cooks it for two hours but I left it in the oven for six, at 140°. It fell off the bone. We had mashed potatoes that were as much butter as they were potato and french beans with it. It was, even if I say so myself, a triumph.

For dessert I made, for the first time ever, a cheesecake. It was lovely and light and moussey and I don’t know why I’ve waited nearly fifty-seven years to make one. It’ll be a lot less than fifty-seven years before I make another. It was also quite sharp and yoghurty and I wanted something fruity to go with it. I’d bought some very purple, very beautiful, Italian plums a week before. They’d dulled a bit, as well as diminished in delicious number. I cut them in half. The stones were stuck so I gave up the struggle and left them in. They’d be easy enough to remove after cooking. I sprinkled cassis mixed with some vanilla paste over the fruit then a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar. I threw in some star anise and put the tray in a 180° oven for half an hour or so. We ate them at room temperature, the garnet-coloured juices running down the side of the cheesecake.

Best of all there was some meat and mash leftover. I don’t think there’s a commodity in the kitchen I value more than cold mashed potatoes. The next evening I shredded the meat, mixed the mash with an egg, combined them and rolled into croquettes. I let them set in the fridge for a few hours before rolling in breadcrumbs then shallow frying until they were golden brown. Now that was a good supper. The plums were lovely with some yoghurt for breakfast. I’m lying. I had them with cheesecake for the next three breakfasts and I’m not sorry. And I guess this blog post is a way for me to re-use dinner with my friends. No waste whatsoever, I run a tidy ship.

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