19 November, 2006

juice this

I know, there's nothing worse than a new convert to ANYTHING. I don't care if it's religion, or Pilates, or the World Cup, or in our case, The World of Juicing. Converts are annoying. So I promise to write only one post about our new addiction, and you can just picture us the rest of the time, I'm not saying a word about it tomorrow, but you'll know we're... juicing.

First of all, no one can just convert. One must be converted. In my case it was my tea at the Wolseley with my friend Twiggy, who is so charming and appealing that anything she's addicted to becomes, very shortly, extremely attractive to other people. This includes her husband Ed, who I met once in New York as a coworker of John's at Reuters. He was lovely, friendly, intelligent. But it took meeting him again in Twiggy's presence to see him as the absolutely full-stop English charmer that he is. Why? Because Twiggy was there to provide the light in which he could properly shine. Now, odd as it may seem, she had the same effect on the notion of juicing. I'm not a juicing virgin by any means. Many afternoons find me at the organic shop in Moxon Street on the way to school pickup, carrying away a nice pear-apple-ginger-beetroot juice. But I was always happy to leave the actual process to others. In fact, I confess to going to that shop partly just to make contact with the Juice Boy, strung about in macrame bracelets and necklaces, wearing a t-shirt that said "Acai rocks,", arm muscles rippling as he handled his celery and purple kale. I'll have to find something else like organic quinoa that I can't live without, so I can hear how it's going with his attempts to dye his own fabrics with the pulp he takes home. I'm not making that up.

But I am distracting myself from the point. Which is, we are the proud owners of a Champion 2000+ Juicer, and it turns out there's just about nothing that doesn't give enough juice for us to try it. Having never tried to get blood from a turnip, I'm not going to put a stone from the garden through my Champion just to see if it's got what it takes, but we're close. We came home from the farmer's market (odd blogger's note: be patient with this particular link: you have to read through some really quite good stories to get to the farmer's market, but I hope it's worth the trouble, or you can just cruelly scroll down) laden with things that we reckoned had acceptable liquid content, and John is sitting with a beetroot-carrot-ginger-kale drink, while I opted for the sweeter choice and had beetroot-orange-pear-strawberry. I know we'll get tired of it, but so far it is really strangely entertaining. We made some Bramley apple juice for Avery, but last week she objected to the bubbles on top. Hmm, quality control to the rescue. I'm sure my 129-page "Instruction and Recipe Booklet" will help.

Continuing with the "foods you can get through a straw" theme, I also came away from the market with some raw milk from the Guernsey cows at Hurdlebrook Farm. Once you've had it, you wish you never had to go back to the nasty homogenised, pasteurised stuff you live on day in and day out. The cream actually rises to the top like cows used to make it. And the flavor? It has actual taste, not just like white water. I remember we got some at the Food Festival of the Royal Windsor Horse Show last year, yum yum.

Before you get scared, though, that dinner here next time you come will be in a glass and not on a plate, I also bought some organic mince beef from Perry Court Farm in Canterbury, which along with some onions, celery, carrots, white wine and tomatoes will become Bolognese sauce tonight. So all is not lost. You can still count on chewing when you're at my house. But guard that bouquet of roses and lilies you brought: I've heard they're really... juicy.

Bolognese (wonder how it would taste put through the juicer?)
(serves 4 easily)

2 tbsps butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
2/3 cup white wine
2/3 cup whole milk
2 soup-size cans (400 grams) whole tomatoes
1/2 tbsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

So, melt your butter and olive oil together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add garlic, onion, celery and carrots and sweat till onions are translucent. Here's a trick for OCD people dicing carrots: you slice the carrot in half lengthwise, then lay it on its flat sides and slice each of the halves lengthwise three times, then line those babies up and just slide your knife right down those little sticks. It's so satisfying: the bits are almost exactly the same size, and by laying the carrot halves flat they don't roll around.

When the vegetables are soft, add the beef and stir constantly until it is broken up into a nice mince. Don't overcook, though. Add white wine and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, then add milk and let it absorb as well, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and break them up with your spoon, then add nutmeg and parmesan and turn the heat down. This can continue to cook for as long or as short as you like, but no less than half an hour. The longer the better, and it will be better the next day if you have any left. And if you have a lot left, or you made a double batch, you can have:

Cottage Pie (or Shepherd's Pie if you used lamb)
(serves six at least if you use a whole batch of Bolognese)

leftover Bolognese
4 medium potatoes (my favorite this week is the Nicola), peeled and quartered
1 tsp salt
1 cup light cream
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cover your potatoes with water and add the salt, then bring to the boil and let cook for half an hour. Mash well with cream and butter. Set aside.

Spray a 9 x 13 glass dish with nonstick cooking spray. Then spread the Bolognese out evenly, and cover with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 400 degrees for about a half an hour, or until bubbly and slightly browned on top. Serve with a good baguette for mopping up juices, plus a really good salad to salve your conscience:

Really Good Salad

1 large bunch watercress, washed thoroughly and spun
1 large bunch baby rocket (also called arugula)
1 large bunch spinach
1 large bunch lamb's lettuce (also called mache)
a dozen tiny heirloom tomatoes, halved


1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced extremely fine
handful curly parsley, finely chopped
juice of half lemon
1 little hot red pepper, finely minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano, thyme or marjoram (or a bit less if fresh)
pinch salt

Mix all these ingredients together and set aside. Toss lettuce leaves together and throw tomatoes on top. Just before serving, pour as much dressing as you would like, but not to soaking point. Save the rest for tomorrow night.

Goodness, it smells good in this house.

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