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Brixton Boxty

boxty 2I have to admit that boxty wasn’t something I ate as a child. Popular in Monaghan and Leitrim, it’s a type of potato pancake made from grated potato, but it was so alien to me as kid, I basically thought it was made up until I was older. I first saw it as a real thing in my beloved potato bible The Humble Spud and I’ve been meaning to make it for years, but I disappeared down the tangent of rosti instead and forgot to back up until recently.

Half of you are probably lost by now. Isn’t a potato pancake just a potato pancake I hear you cry? Well, no, rosti are made with semi cooked grated potato with a high starch content, mixed with onion and fried on each side in butter and is eaten as a savoury side dish. Boxty uses raw grated potato before being fried and can be sweet or savoury. Potato farls are made with mashed potato before being cooked on a griddle and then often fried until golden. And I’ve never yet made a latke, but I’ll bring you breaking news about them when I do…

Some recipes for boxty use mashed potato in with the grated spuds but I thought I’d some pureed fresh corn instead since I have tonnes left over from a recent Brixton Bugle recipe. Combining corn and potato gives a autumnal feel and a taste of Brixton which I thought I’d enhance by adding some chopped Scotch Bonnets, fresh coriander and lime. I then served it with some grilled tomatoes for a really good brunch. Read more

Sweet on corn…

It’s still theoretically summer and that means just one thing to me right now….fresh corn on the cob! I can’t get enough of those sweet juicy bursting kernels of sheer goodness in the past few weeks. And with tightly wrapped ears of corn a mere £1 for four at the farmers’ market last week, I can afford to indulge this lust with wild abandon.

I’ve been eating the corn straight from the cobs, lightly boiled and slathered in chili and butter, dripping down my hands and smeared over my face as I eat the barely cooled corn over the sink with glee. I’ve stripped the kernels from the cobs with a knife and added these yellow nuggets of joy to the classic Chilean stew of porotos granados to put my munchkin squash to good use. And I’ve made stock with the denuded cobs and warmed up these increasing autumnal evenings with the delicious chicken and sweetcorn soup from the Leon Cookbook. And yet I still can’t enough corn so when I stumbled across a recipe for double corn muffins, I just had to make them…

A Dan Lepard recipe from the Guardian Weekend magazine, this is an incredibly simple recipe which combines fresh corn kernels, cornmeal and grated courgette, making it perfect for anyone with a zucchini glut! I decided to leave the bacon out as I wasn’t sure if I was serving these to any vegetarians and replaced it with a scotch bonnet pepper for a bit of a tingle. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.

And it is a particularly easy recipe to follow. A quick softening of the onion, pepper and corn while I measured out the dry ingredients, beat an egg and poured the wet ingredients in my beloved measuring cups, then stirred it all together in one large mixing bowl. No folding, no faffing and absolutely no chance of over working the flour because it all combined beautifully. I mixed up this chunky flavoursome batter and popped it in the fridge overnight, so I could make the muffins fresh on Sunday to take to accompany a fried chicken fest at a friend’s house.

In the morning I spooned one dessertspoon of the batter into a regular sized bun case. Obviously these are meant to be muffins, but I’ve run out of muffin cases and couldn’t be bothered going in search of some over the Bank Holiday weekend. I planned to reduce the cooking time slightly to balance up the smaller sized muffins, but since I’m not at my sharpest early on a Sunday without at least two cups of tea in me, I actually put the oven on at 180° instead of 200° and ended up having to leave them in for 15 minutes longer after turning the oven up a bit to get them both cooked and appetisingly golden brown.

The mini muffins came out looking rich, glossy and golden but the paper cases looked soaked in oil even though I think I might have undermeasured it, but definitely had a bit less courgette in there that might have helped soak it up. I left them to cool slightly on the advice of the recipe to firm up before sampling the smallest and least appealing looking of them just to make sure I wasn’t going to poison anyone!

They were pleasingly firm, breaking apart cleanly and without disintegrating into crumbs. They were deliciously moist and studded with chewy kernels of corn with a good kick from the scotch bonnet and tasted so intense I could have sworn there was a bit of mature cheddar in there too. And despite the marked cases, they weren’t at all oily on the tongue, remaining light and chewy.

While these were a good accompaniment to chicken and would be a good breakfast dish too, they didn’t really make the most of the corn as it ended up tasting suspiciously like tinned sweetcorn after I’d cooked it. In fact with the scotch bonnet added, it tasted a bit like that weird tinned corn with bits of peppers in which was not what I was expecting. They would have been better with the sharpness of cayenne instead of the fruitiness of scotch bonnets or chilli sauce to minimise the tinned feeling. I might even go crazy next time and add some cheddar or parmesan to oomph up the umami undertones they already have.

But if you ever find yourself with a forlorn tin of sweetcorn, a courgette that’s seen better days and 30 minutes to spare, you couldn’t do better than making a batch of these, preferably full sized, and serving one split in half with a fried egg on top for a top class store cupboard supper…

Vive Colombia!

Mister North happened to be in London at the tail end of last week and after a late night watching election results and bemoaning the state of the nation we needed fortified and soothed by some hearty food. Inspired by Mister North’s recent purchase of Felipe Rojas-Lombardi’s The Art of South American Cooking we decided to visit the Colombian butcher in Brixton Village for inspiration.

A purchase of some of the plumpest meatiest sausages (or chorizo colombiano) I have seen in a long time had us so engrossed in conversation about what to do with them that before we knew it we were on 2nd Avenue and found ourselves standing outside Restaurante La Cabana. Realising we could indulge our craving for Colombian food right then and there, rather than going home and cooking for an hour or two we were seated inside with a menu in front of us before we knew it. Read more