“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Name This Food!: Shaken, Not Stirred


So last time on Name This Food! I asked you what this was...

The more perceptive among you will have deduced that it is the extremely popular espresso martini. One of a slew of martinis nouveaux that has found themselves suddenly thrust into the limelight, due in large part to the sudden resurgence in popularity of gin, which in turn was caused by the growth of small batch distilleries. Everywhere you turn there are new and unheard-of gins being lovingly crafted in distilleries the size of garden sheds and produced in small quantities with exotic and quirky botanicals for the benefit of these gin aficianados. Even here in Kent, we have several:

Anno, from Marden...

Dockyard Gin from the Copper Rivet Distillery. Also pictured is their Vela Vodka and Son of a Gun Pure Grain Spirit.

Maiden Gin from Maidstone. They also do a spiced gin and a marshmallow gin.

Greensand Ridge,from Shipbourne (where is that, I hear you cry? If you were to draw a triangle connecting Tonbridge, Aylesford and Sevenoaks, Shipbourne would be somewhere right near the middle).

Canterbury Gin, from, uh, Canterbury.

And two from Tunbridge Wells (yeah, they always have to outdo everyone else in TW)... first, Bathtub Gin...

and secondly, 1606 Gin.

And if I didn't give a mention to the village of Mayfield in Sussex and its amazing gin, they'd get upset, wouldn't they?

Anyhoo, the latest one to get in on the act is our own, our very own Chapel Down, the award-winning vineyard in Smallhythe that started out making Tenterden Wine in the 70s and now produces wines of all kinds as well as an award-winning lager (Curious Brew), which was then followed by a darker counterpart (Curious IPA), and Curious Apple, a 5.2% abv cider. Now they have branched out into spirits, with a 23-year old brandy made from their Seyval Blanc grapes, a fantastic Chardonnay Vodka (made from the distilled skins of their Chardonnay grapes) and a beautiful gin made from the distilled skins of the Bacchus grape. Phew!

Anyhoo, back to the answer - what's in an Espresso Martini?

The story goes that a man named Dick Bradsell who owned a bar in Soho in the 1980s was approached one night by a young lady who asked him to make her a drink that "wakes me up and then f***s me up." 

Here's what he created. (Recipe from Jamie Oliver).

Makes one


50ml premium vodka
35ml coffee liqueur
1 shot (25ml) of espresso


Pour the vodka, coffee liqueur and espresso into a cocktail shaker.  Fill the martini glass with ice to chill and then fill the cocktail shaker with ice as well.

Put the other half of the shaker on top and give it a good tap to lock it in, then shake the living daylights out of it. You want the ice to smash up while chilling the liquid down; its what creates the frothy top. Try to use fresh-from-the-freezer ice, as melting ice is too watery and will dilute the martini.

Once shaken, tap the side of the shaker to break the vacuum seal. Empty the ice out of the Martini glass, then place the strainer on top of the shaker and pour the contents through a sieve directly into the glass. Using the strainer and the sieve helps create a rich, smooth, froth.

Garnish with 3 coffee beans and attempt to contain your delight.

Now... can you Name This Food?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

I'm Going Into The Vice Cream Business

Two vices for the price of one. What's that ya say? Booze AND ice cream - where do I sign?

Yes, its true, I'm starting my own micropub and ice cream joint. And funding? Well, that's where you dear people come in. Don't worry, there are rewards, and they are rather sweet actually. But why don't I let myself explain? Head on over to https://www.gofundme.com/thecreamypint and read all about it, and how you can be part of something cool that looks like this:

Stout with caramel gelato in a chocolate-lined glass

or this...
Bourbon and vanilla porter with vanilla bean ice cream

or even this...
Gin and tonic with a cucumber sorbet

Gin and tonic, lime, and G&T sherbet
So help me get my project off the ground!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cheapest "on-the-go" meals for a happier brain. — Nomad. Dork Rock. Folk Punk

Cheapest "on-the-go" meals for a happier brain. — Nomad. Dork Rock. Folk Punk

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Name This Food! : A Pair Of Pears

Hey there! I'm still alive!

A while back on Name this Food! I asked you what these were...

These are Shinseiki  variety Asian Pears. But what is an Asian Pear?

Good question, because sometimes they look like pears and yet other varieties look like apples.

Asian pears, fruits of Pyrus pyrifolia on the left and right, and two fruits of Pyrus × bretschneideri in the centre
The round ones are Pyrus pyrifolia, known as Chinese pear or Nashi pear, usually round, with brown or yellow skin, and the more pear-shaped ones are Pyrus × bretschneideri, also called Ya pear or Chinese white pear and have yellow skin.

Due to their relatively high price and the large size of the fruit of cultivars, the pears tend to be served to guests, given as gifts, or eaten together in a family setting.

In cooking, ground pears are used in vinegar- or soy sauce-based sauces as a sweetener, instead of sugar. They are also used when marinating meat, especially beef.

In Korea, the fruit is known as bae and it is grown and consumed in great quantity. In the South Korean city of Naju, there is a museum called The Naju Pear Museum and Pear Orchard for Tourists.

In Australia, these pears were first introduced into commercial production beginning in 1980.

In China, the term "Sharing a pear" (分梨) is a homophone of "separate" (分离), as a result, sharing a pear with a loved one can be read as a desire to separate from them.

In Cyprus, the pears were introduced in 2010 after initially being investigated as a new fruit crop for the island in the early 1990s. They are currently grown in Kyperounta.

The fruits are not generally baked in pies or made into jams because they have a high water content and a crisp, grainy texture, very different from the European varieties. They are commonly served raw and peeled. The fruit tends to be quite large and fragrant, and when carefully wrapped (it has a tendency to bruise because of its juiciness), it can last for several weeks or more in a cold, dry place.


So how's about a recipe?

Since it's winter, and we all seem in the Northern Hemisphere to be suffering with the cold weather, snow, sleet, freezing rain, yuck, yuck, yuck, and all of the associated coughs, sneezes, wheezes and diseases that occur at this time of year, hows about a delicious recipe that is reputed to remedy such ailments. In China, Korea and Taiwan, this recipe is what you make for someone with a sore throat, and as Asian Pears are high in Vitamin C (as well as fibre, potassium, Vitamin  K and copper), it would be churlish not to try it. Here we go...

Chinese Steamed Pears with Dates and Honey
Rhonda Parkinson (www.thespruce.com)


2 Asian pears
4 teaspoons honey
2 dried Chinese dates (softened in cold water, slitted, and the pits removed)

Optional: lemon juice (to brush on the pears to prevent discoloration)


1. Wash the pears and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the top off the pears and set aside (these will become the lid). Remove the core. If desired, cut off a small slice at the bottom so that the pear will stand straight during steaming. (Note: Depending on the type of steaming equipment you are using, you may find it difficult to stand the pears upright and cover for steaming. In that case, slice the pears lengthwise, core, and spoon the honey and place the date in the hollow in the middle.)

2. Spoon 2 teaspoons honey into each pear. Add 1 Chinese date. Place the top back on the pear. Brush the lemon juice over the skin of the pear if using.

3. Set up a steamer, or place a rack for steaming inside a deep pot. Place the pears on a plate and steam, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the pears are tender. Serve warm.

Now then - Name This Food!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Name this Food! Sloe-ly Does It

Well, on the last Name This Food! from over a year ago, I asked you what these were...

The answer is of course Sloes, or Sloe berries. I know I've written about them before, so at risk of repeating myself, Prunus spinosa (blackthorn, or sloe) is a species of flowering plant in the rose family Rosaceae. It is native to Europe, western Asia, and locally in northwest Africa. It is also locally naturalised in New Zealand and eastern North America.

So what can one do with sloes? Apart from the obvious - sloe gin, that is. A great number of artisan gin makers (which seem to be experiencing somewhat of a boom currently) also do a sloe gin. Essentially sloe gin involves putting the fruit in gin for several months until the flavour and colour of the sloes has permeated into the gin. It's frickin' delicious. Traditionally, sloes used for sloe gin are picked after the first frost as this helps the alcohol to permeate the fruit. Alternatively prick each fruit with a darning needle, or spread them out on a baking tray and leave in the freezer for a couple of hours to simulate frost.

Sloes are too bitter and sour to eat raw, but taste superb when preserved. They are essentially a wild plum and hence have an intense plum taste. Flavour them with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon or almond essence. Preserve them as sloe jelly, sloe syrup, and sloe plum cheese. A spoonful of sloe jelly can be added to plum pies or used in sponge cakes.

Sloe and Pear Cheese

1.2kg (3lb) pears
500ml (half pint) water
900g (2lbs) sloes


Wash the fruit and cut up the pears (or apples if using). Stew with the water for as long as it takes to get them all mushy adding the sloes right at the end.
Push through a sieve and then weigh the resulting puree.  You’ll need the same weight in sugar as you get puree (if you get 500g then add 500g of sugar).  When you have worked out your mush/sugar ratio stir it in over a low heat until fully dissolved.
Bring to the boil then simmer for about 1 hour or until the mixture is thick, it will need to be stirred a fair bit. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Goes well with cheese and cold meats, or just on crackers.

Sloe Jelly

Weigh your crop of pricked, frozen or frosted sloes in a saucepan. Add just enough water to cover the fruit, bring to the boil, and simmer until the berries are pulpy (you may need to mash them a bit).
Add twice the weight of washed, chopped apples (peel, core and all), and the juice and peel of half a lemon for every kilo (2 lbs) of apples. Bring to the boil, simmer until pulpy again, and leave to cool down a bit.
Strain the pulp through a scalded jelly bag or fine muslin into a suitable container. You shouldn’t squeeze the bag to hurry it up or you will have cloudy jelly, so leave it to dribble through overnight.
The next day, measure the juice and add 400g of sugar per 500ml (1lb per pint). Stir it over a medium heat until it comes to the boil, and skim off any scum.
Boil the liquid until it reaches setting point (you can use a sugar thermometer for this, or just keep checking it with a cold plate), then ladle into hot jars and seal.

So now you know. Now - name this food!

Back Back Back! Tea Taste Test

Yes folks, I've been away for over a year - busy with other ventures yet always sure that I would be back one day.

This morning Laura was having a clearout of one of the kitchen cupboards. Going through the random collection of tea bags we have, she saw this, and requested I chuck it out.

Who even knew this was a thing?!

"Nay nay, " quoth I, "let's taste test it!"

Looks OK.

Here, in pictures, is the verdict.

The initial smell is lovely - definitely salted caramel. However...

The first sip is jank. Green tea, but not particularly nice green tea.

Second sip, not an improvement on the first.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

So there you have it. Sorry, Twinings, but some things should just never be.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Name This Food! - Keema Paratha

Ladies and gents, you've had since April to figure this one out. I asked you what this was...

and you may know that it is a lovely thing called a Keema Paratha.

So what is a Keema Paratha, exactly?

Well, I'll tell you. Keema (sometimes Qeema or Kheema) is a traditional South Asian meat dish. Typically, it is a minced mutton curry (lamb or goat) with peas or potatoes. Keema can be made from almost any meat, can be cooked by stewing or frying, and can be formed into kebabs. Keema is also sometimes used as a filling for samosas or naan, or in this case, a paratha.

Parathas are flatbreads, originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is still quite prevalent in the whole Pakistan and north of India , where wheat is grown and is the traditional staple of the area. Paratha is an amalgamation of the words parat and atta which literally means layers of cooked dough. Parathas are generally stuffed with various fillings such as mixed vegetables and/or meats, much like a pasty would be.

How do we make them?

Well, first, you need to make a nice Keema Curry, and there is a fabulous recipe here:   http://thismuslimgirlbakes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/lamb-mince-curry.html

Then, you need to make the parathas so that you can stuff them with the Keema mixture, and here's a recipe for that...


That's all very well, Jeff, but how do we stuff them?

Well, the key is to make your paratha dough, take two circles of dough, put the filling on one and then place the other circle of dough on top. Then seal the edges by either folding or pinching them and fry as the recipe says until golden brown. It's quite labour intensive but well worth it.

Anyhoo, what's the new Name This Food! food?

Name This Food!


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