On Your Marks, Get Set, Go...

Saturday 4/12/2004

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Diary and Notes

I have 1 hour to cook dinner, eat dinner, have a shower, get dressed and go. Tonight is Nickolausparty night and I'm running late. I got into the kitchen with no idea of what I would be eating, only that it had to be quick. Now normally I'd just have some bread, salami, cheese etc... but if I did that, what sort of a blog would this be? No, we don't want bread and cheese, we want something tasty. I checked the fridge, made a decision and pressed the stopwatch function on my wristwatch...


I wasn't planning to make eggs Florentine this week, I'd not bought any spinach nor milk (I don't normally use milk in coffee etc... and don't always have it in) however one of my flatmates is away and has left the contents of the fridge at my bidding and she has some fresh spinach and some milk. It's as if the gods of the ancient Florentine warriors were smiling down on me.

I turned on the rings and the grill. We have these really awful electric hot plate things that take ages to heat up.

1 minute gone...

I started collecting my ingredients.

2 minutes gone...

Water in one pan, knob of butter in the other. Time's pressing on, can't be late Jonny Boy. It's like that TV show, Ready, Steady, Cook..., where people bring in a bag of ingredients and celebrity chefs have a go at whistling something up in half an hour (although for them, the ingredients are agreed days in advance, a team of researchers has worked out what to cook, done three dry runs to test how long it takes, what it tastes like etc... and the chefs themselves have had a practice run or two, well before anybody in the studio says 'action').

Water's bubbling, in with the spinach. I should have invited Bilbalar, the ancient Florentine god of water and plants which only grow on the banks of rivers (such as watercress), to dinner, I think he might have liked it.

5 minutes...

And so it went on. Me, whizzing around the kitchen like my pants were on fire. Luckily, somebody had also left a half bottle of Italian white wine in the fridge and a glass helped speed the flow. (I believe there is an ancient Florentine saying: Ail ahil Curbis, ni portus um quiddi - or something to that effect).

So today's dinner is in many respects fast food. Vegetarian fast food. I even had enough sauce to be able to save some in a jar for later in the week. I washed up the pans while my plate was under the grill with the cheese melting on the sauce. Put out a knife and fork and some bread and butter, took the plate from under the grill, turned everything off and sat down:

20 minutes, 38.11 seconds.

I could have done it in under 20 if we were cooking with gas.

Cake Blog

A superb cherry sponge crumble from cafe Hemer. Fast becoming my baker of choice.


  • Eggs Florentine,
  • French Bread.

  • Pinot Grigio.


  • Eggs, spinach, butter, flour, milk, cheese, nutgmeg, white wine, salt, black pepper.


  • Cheese sauce: Melt some butter in a pan. Add the flour and stir, make sure the flour is given a chance to cook a little before you add the milk. If you have time, heat the milk up first (if I had a microwave this would have been handy), the roux dissolves much easier if the milk is warm, I was too pressed for time however and so had more stirring to do. When the sauce has begun to thicken, add a dash of white wine, some nutmeg, black pepper and a handful of cheese (I used Gouda, some Parmesan would have been good as well, but I'd run out). Keep stirring so as to prevent burning.
  • Blanch some spinach in bubbling water then rinse under a cold tap (helps to keep it green). Use the same water for poaching the eggs. When poaching eggs, have the water simmering but not boiling. Add a little lemon juice or vinegar to the water and stir the water before adding the eggs (get a little vortex going, when you plop the eggs in the centre, the spinning water helps to hold them together). Also, buy some good, free range eggs and make sure they are fresh. Don't overcook them, the yolk should be still really runny.
  • Make a ring of the spinach on a plate and place the eggs in the middle. Pour over some cheese sauce and some more freshly grated cheese. Place under the grill to melt the cheese.