Junior’s table is back!
This blog has been on an extended break, which somehow ended up lasting a bit longer than I thought it might. There are of course, multiple reasons and excuses for that: 1. Junior’s table has moved! The eponmyous table was in transit to our new home in the modernist hills of Dulwich, and there hasn’t been much cooking going on. 2. It was really hot in London this summer. Our old flat had the unsatisfactory choice between a poorly ventilated living space, or one that was thoroughly inflitrated by the not-always-tasty-smelling odours of the chinese takeaway next door. We chose to be hot and got some very good value from a cheap standing fan from Argos. But again, the heat meant we were (a) too hot to eat (b) way, way too hot to cook, and (c) not at all willing to sit in front of a (hot) laptop. 3. I’ve been back to my roots, and in primitive countries like Greece, there’s no internet. This is not actually true anymore, sadly. These days, you can get wifi everywhere, there’s no escape. No more remote destinations where you can literally say, I’m not accessible. Because this makes me sigh and tut, my way of dealing with it is to selectively pretend that I am not accessible. Minimal Screen Time ensues, particularly when on beautiful Aegean islands…
But I have been eating, and cooking, and thinking about food of course. And as the nights draw in, I return to the comfort and warmth of ~~my glowing screen~~ the kitchen, and sit down at the table.
In the process of moving/being sweaty/the cat ate my homework, we’ve done our best to clear out the odd bits and bobs of obscure grains and pickled things that lurked in the back of cupboards and fridge. I find larder dinners one of the most pleasing and satisfying types of meals (it must be all those episodes of Chopped.
Mograbieh is one of those grains in the aisles of Khan’s and the cookbooks of Ottolenghi that I’ve never given more than a curious glance at. It’s often described as ‘giant couscous’ which I suppose it technically could be. More endearing I think is a description I read of it being ‘like tiny dumplings’. But, more importantly for the sake of convenience, it cooks like pasta.
I had bought some ‘land cress’, which has the same bitter, peppery taste as its water-borne cousin, but is much tougher to chew. If chickens eat watercress, maybe cows eat land cress? Anyway it’s not really great for salad as a result, but held up well in a pesto type concoction.
Land cress pesto
Wash the cress well and pat dry. Put the cress in a food processor or moulti and roughly chop with a drizzle of olive oil and a bit of salt to help lubricate it. You want it to be a coarse consistency, but not total mush. When it’s done, transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl. In a mortar & pestle, mash the garlic and sea salt into a paste. Add the toasted walnuts a handful at a time, and a bit of olive oil too again for the lubricating effect. Dump the garlicky nuts into the bowl with the greens. Mix everything well together, adding more olive oil as needed and a bit of salt to taste. If you are adding feta, make sure you account for the cheese’s saltiness too.
For the mograbieh
To be honest I’d never made it before, so I am far from authoritative. What I ended up doing is cooking it like pasta, until al dente, then leaving it in the liquid for a bit while I got the other things ready. It soaked up more of the water during this time.