Monday, 6 February 2012

R is for...

... Rusty Nails with Romesco and red pepper rice rolls, razor clams with remoulade, razor clam broth and radish and radicchio salad dressed with raspberry vinegar and rapeseed oil. Next up, we had Richard's rocket and Roquefort risotto, followed by rabbit ragù ravioli. The main course was rosemary-crusted reindeer with red currant reduction, röstis and red cabbage followed by a pre-pudding of rose petal jelly-topped rose mousse. Pudding was raspberry and Ricotta roulade, roasted rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet and raspberry coulis. Next, we had a cheeseboard of Rachel, Red Chester Thomas, Reblochon and Roquefort served with rye bread and raisin relish and finally, rooibos tea with rum truffles.

R night began with a rather exciting development in the Alphabet Soup kitchen. The hob, which only had three working rings from long before I even moved in, got fixed. I asked the oven cleaner if he thought there might be something he could do about it and, within 15 minutes, he had worked his magic and given me an extra burner. I could have kissed him (I didn't), and I might have done a silly little dance (I definitely did) and it may just have been the best £45 I've ever spent. To be fair, the hob fixing was technically free, as the money paid for a full professional oven cleaning service which I am not ashamed of using because, frankly, I'd rather go without a few non-essentials for a while than have to clean the bugger myself. Life's far too short and I'm far too lazy for scrubbing.

R night played host to a lovely mixture of guests. We welcomed the talented poet and playwright, Richard Marsh and his girlfriend Tammy, a freelance reality TV producer, along with lead singer of the excellent band, This Sporting Life, Matt Hopkinson and his ravishing teacher and theatre-maker wife, Claire Davies. Finally, R night greeted theatre maker and newlywed, Alex Ferguson, alongside applied drama practitioner at the Young Vic, Lily Einhorn. Lily is also a newlywed. She just married Alex! Romance! I made their cake.

Richard Hurst made a wonderful R-themed playlist, including Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, Rose Royce, R.E.M., Diana Ross and Rihanna.

Rusty Nail

If you're partial to Scotch and you're partial to Drambuie, then the chances are, you'll be partial to these little lovelies. Warming, sticky and strong, perfect for cold Winter nights. They certainly hit the spot  on R night and paved the way for a resplendent and raucous repast.

We forgot to take a photo of the rusty nails on the night, so here is an image from The Edinburgh Reporter
Equal parts Scotch and Drambuie stirred over ice. Bosh.

Romesco and red pepper rice rolls

Romesco sauce is a thick, full-flavoured Catalan sauce that works beautifully with fish or, if like Richard you can't eat fish, it's also lovely with chicken. R night's rather eccentric use of Romesco was actually quite delicious, if a little on the messy side when it came to actually eating them.



for the Romesco

2 roasted red peppers, skinned and deseeded
1 thick slice of stale white bread
1 tomato
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
A handful of blanched hazelnuts
A handful of blanched almonds
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
A couple of tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
1 lemon
A good few glugs of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper


First, skin the tomato. Simply score the top with a cross, plunge the tomato into boiling water, leave for a minute or so, then plunge the tomato into cold water. The tomato skin should be easy to pull off now. Toast the nuts in a dry pan until lightly golden, turn the nuts out onto a cold plate and leave the nuts to cool. Whizz the bread in a food processor until you have fine bread crumbs and transfer to a bowl. Blitz the nuts until ground - but don't overdo it and pop the breadcrumbs back in the processor with the nuts. Add the tomato, garlic, roasted peppers, chilli, vinegar, some olive oil and the juice of half the lemon with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Whizz again until you have a nice thick sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon and/or salt and pepper and oil if needed.

for the rice paper rolls

A packet of rice wrappers/ spring roll wrappers/ rice paper (available at Asian/Chinese food stores).
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into long thin batons.
Romesco sauce

Soak the rice paper in warm water until completely soft - it usually takes about 30 seconds. When soft, lift the rice paper out of the water and spread out on clean surface. Place a little pile of red pepper batons in the centre of the rice paper and blob on a nice amount of Romesco sauce on top. Fold the edges of the rice paper near the tip ends of the red pepper batons over. Take the piece of rice paper in front of you and fold it tightly away from you over the filling and then roll it up into a tight little sausage. Repeat until you've run out of rice paper or you get bored.

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