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

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I posed the teaser last week, not only to Name This Food...

but to answer the question What is so important about this food?

Well, it is obviously Fish & Chips. Everyone knows that one. Duh.

My mum said that it is Britain's National Dish. That's true, but wasn't the answer I was looking for. The answer I wanted was that this year, 2010, is the 150th anniversary of the dish.

So we know now that Fish & Chips was first served in 1860. But where? Ah, thereby hangs a tale.

The earliest record of fried fish is thought to be in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, published in 1837, where he referred to a "fried fish warehouse".

In the 1850s, street traders sold pieces of fried fish with cooked potato shavings wrapped in newspapers on the streets of London.

Yet both Lancashire and London lay claim to the invention of the classic takeaway dish - chips were the staple fare of the industrial north whilst fried fish was introduced in London's East End.

Southerners claim that the first fish and chip shop was set up by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, in about 1860 in east London.

Northerners insist that the first chippy opened for business in Mossely, Lancashire in 1863, set up by a Mr Lees.

Nowadays the UK boasts around 11,500 fish and chip shops.

It comes with a variety of different accompaniments aside from the usual salt, vinegar and ketchup - for starters, there's a favourite of mine, mushy peas...
Mushy peas are dried marrowfat peas which are first soaked overnight in water and then simmered with a little sugar and salt until they form a thick green lumpy soup. Sometimes mint is used as a flavouring.
Then there's pickled eggs....

and pickled onions...

...curry sauce...


..and even a bottle of stout.

Now then... what's the new food item?

Name This Food!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Feelin' Quincy


 belongs to the same family as apples and pears; its shape is similar to a pear, but larger. It has lumpy yellow skin and hard flesh that is quite bitter so shouldn’t be eaten raw. When fully ripe, the quince has a wonderful perfume. Quince paste or ‘membrillo’ is a popular accompaniment to cheese in Spain.  The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam, derives from "marmelo," the Portuguese word for this fruit

My dear mother managed to answer the teaser in just under 11 1/2 hours, which has to be something of a record. Well done, that woman! 

So, what can one do with quince? So glad you asked. Well, of course, there are the traditional uses such as jam and winemaking, adding it to tarts and pies such as apple pie (adding a few cubes of quince to your apple pie will perk up the flavour, and you can try adding it to applesauce too), but in some Middle Eastern countries it is used in soups and stews, and it is also used in some Moroccan lamb dishes, such as this...

Lamb and quince tagine

Preparation time : 25 minutes
Cooking time : 1 hour 30 minutes
Total time : 1 hour 55 minutes
Serves: 4


½ tsp Cumin seeds
½ tsp Coriander seeds
100g Unsalted butter
4 Lamb shanks
1 tsp Ground ginger
½ tsp Cayenne pepper
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
2 Large onions, roughly chopped
400ml Lamb stock
½ Cinnamon stick
4 tbsp Clear honey
20g Fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
1 Quince, peeled, quartered and cored
1 Lemon, juice and 2 strips of rind
½ tsp Saffron, dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water


Grind the cumin and coriander together. Heat 75g butter in a large casserole and brown the lamb on all sides. Remove the meat and set aside. Add all the spices (except the saffron), and the garlic and onions; cook for 2 minutes. Season and add the stock. Add 2 tbsp honey and about a third of the coriander. Bring to the boil, return the lamb to the casserole, then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook over a low heat for 1½ hours until meltingly tender.
Meanwhile, put the quince in a small saucepan and cover with water. Add the lemon rind, juice and the remaining honey. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15–20 minutes until tender.
When the lamb is cooked, remove the shanks and cinnamon stick and keep warm. Add about 4 tbsp of the quince poaching liquid, the saffron and its water. Bring to the boil and reduce to a thickish sauce. Taste and season.
Slice the quince and heat the remaining butter in a frying pan. Sauté the quince slices until golden. Return the lamb to the casserole and heat everything through. Gently stir in the remaining coriander and add the quince. Serve immediately with couscous or bread.

However, this might whet your appetite for quince too, something a little simpler...

Drunken Quinces with Gorgonzola and Mascarpone

Like a dessert and cheese course in one.

Preparation time : 20 minutes
Cooking time : 20 minutes to 45 minutes
Total time : 40 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes


1 Lemon
6 tbsp Clear honey
2 Star anise
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Bay leaf
1 Rosemary sprig
600ml Red wine
4 Quinces, peeled, halved and cored
500g Gorgonzola
250g Mascarpone


Peel 3 strips of rind from the lemon; leave the pith behind. Put in a large pan with the honey, herbs, spices and wine; bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the quinces, topping up with water to cover if necessary. Put a lid on, return to the boil, then turn down the heat. Poach for 20–45 minutes until tender, turning once.
Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Take out the spices and herbs and boil until reduced by a third and slightly syrupy. Leave to cool – it will thicken further. Serve half a quince per person, with some syrup and the cheeses.

My most recent consumption of quince was at The White Lion where I partook of the cheese platter. This was dotted around the edge with little cubes of membrillo, quince jelly. Here's how to make it....


Best made in a small roasting tin as it gives you a good slab from which you can cut pieces. Brilliant with cheeses, game or pâté, it also works well spread onto a joint of lamb before roasting.

Preparation time : 20 minutes
Cooking time : 40 minutes
Total time : 1 hour
Makes: 1.5 kg


1.5kg Quinces
750g Granulated sugar


Chop the quinces – there’s no need to peel or core them, but make sure the fur you sometimes find on their skin is washed off – and put them in a large saucepan with just enough water to cover. Simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the flesh is really soft and collapsing. Push the mixture through a sieve with the back of a wooden spoon, then measure the purée – there should be just under 1 litre.
Put the purée back in the pan with 450g sugar for every 600ml of purée. Heat gently, stirring from time to time to help the sugar dissolve, then bring to the boil and cook gently for 30–40 minutes or until the mixture is so thick that if you scrape a wooden spoon through it, the purée parts and leaves a clean line at the bottom of the pan. You need to stir frequently and get well into the edges of the pan to make sure you don’t leave bits that could stick and burn, and be careful not to get splashed by hot, bursting bubbles of purée.
Spread the mixture into lightly oiled dishes or moulds, or pot in clean, sterilised jars. The membrillo will set firm as it cools and will keep for up to 6 months in the fridge.

Now go to it, my people!

So now we have to replace the quinces with a new Name This Food! food... slightly different this time. It's an easy one, but I want you to not only identify it but tell me what  is so important about it...

Name This Food!


Today Laura and I ate lunch at Prezzo, in the High Street. It is a bit pricey, but I had downloaded a coupon that allowed us to have 2 main meals (pizza or pasta) for £10, and given that the average cost of a main meal is about the £9 mark, it was a substantial saving. Anyway, folks, I'll give you the link to the coupon at the bottom of the page, but in the meantime, here are the obligatory piccies...

Love the decor, lots of Hockney on the walls.

My plate of Spaghetti with Tiger Prawns. The sauce was amazing, lovely and tomatoey with a chilli kick.

Laura's Calzone Il Carltoni. Filled with chicken, pepperoni, cheese, etc. She couldn't eat it all, so I had to help her.
*Urp!* Delicious!
The coupon is good till November 1st, so hurry. Here's the link: http://www.prezzorestaurants.co.uk/pages/offers/

All you have to do is to register with the site, click the confirmation email and print the coupon. Well worth it - the food was absolutely cracking!

Kooshti sante!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Today I picked up a lovely second-hand book by Leon Petulengro, a slim volume entitled Herbs and Astrology. In it Mr. Petulengro, a true Romany gipsy and astrologer, records some of the ancient Romany beliefs about herbs and their links with astrology. He discusses the health patterns found in each of the Signs of the Zodiac and gives recipes for the remedy of various ailments. Each Sign has its own chapter, each with herbs specific to that Sign.

The part that I found fascinating in this 1977 book were some of the recipes. I turned to the section on my sign, Sagittarius, and one of my herbs is sage.

In amongst the folk remedies (one of which is that a tonic made of sage tea is good for reducing grey hair), is this tantalizing recipe for a tasty spread:

4 teaspoons of fresh chopped sage
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 oz. cream cheese

Mix together and spread on... whatever you want, I guess. Does that not sound good?

The other thing I like about this book is that there are herbs mentioned that I have never heard of, such as..





 and Meadowsweet.

From time to time I will post some of the amazing recipes from this book.

Kooshti sante, everyone. (That's Romany for good health).

Celeriac, AKA

So last week's poser was this little item...

which is called Celeriac.
Celeriac (Apium graveolens rapaceum) is also known as celery root, turnip-rooted celery or knob celery. It is a kind of celery, grown as a root vegetable for its large and bulbous hypocotyl rather than for its stem and leaves. The swollen hypocotyl is typically used when it is about 10–12 cm in diameter; about the size of a large potato. Unlike other root vegetables, which store a large amount of starch, celery root is only about 5-6% starch by weight.

So what can one do with said vegetable?

You can roast it, mash it, boil it, shred it and put it in salads, or you can even turn it into hollow straws with which to sip Bloody Marys. Here's a fab recipe:

Celeriac Soup

The flavour of this soup is subtle, but it gives you a chance to enjoy the celeriac, rather than masking its flavour.
Serves 2-3

1 celeriac
1 medium onion
1 pint vegetable stock
2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
Handful of fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, thyme leaves, sage, chives)
1 dried bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste
50ml double cream (optional)


Peel the celeriac and chop into cubes. Peel the onion and slice finely.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the celeriac and onion. Stir to coat with oil. Sauté gently for 10 minutes.

Add the stock and bay leaf. Simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes, until the celeriac is soft (this depends on the size of your cubes!).

Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Add the fresh herbs and then liquidise, until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the cream, if using.

And so... next food...

Name This Food!

12 Secrets the Beverage Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

12 Secrets the Beverage Industry Doesn't Want You to Know Eat This, Not That

Some scary secrets from the Beverage industry, including the alarming news that even a regular latte represents at least 200 calories, and that Glaceau's VitaminWater has at least 8 teaspoons worth of sugar in each bottle. Eeek!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recipe For Rum Cake

Rum Cake
1 Tsp. Sugar
1 or 2 Quarts of Rum
1 Cup Dried Fruit
Brown Sugar
1 Tsp. Soda
1 Cup Butter
2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Baking Powder
3 Juiced Lemons
1 Cup of Nuts

Before starting, sample rum to check quality. Good, isn't it? Now proceed.

Select large mixing bowl, measuring cup, etc.

Check rum again. It must be just right. To be sure rum is of proper quality, pour one level cup of rum into a glass and drink it as fast as you can. Repeat.

With electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl.

Add 1 seaspoon of thugar and beat again.

Meanwhile, make sure rum is still alrighty. Try another cup. Open second quart if necessary.

Add leggs, 2 cups of fried druit and beat til high. If druit gets stuck in beaters, pry loose with drewscriber.

Sample rum again, checking for tonscisticity.

Next, sift 3 cups pepper or salt (really doesn't matter).

Sample rum.

Sift 1/2 pint lemon juice. Fold in chopped butter and strained nuts. Add 1 bbblespoon of brown thugar-or whatever color you can find. Wix mell. Grease oven. Turn cake pan 350 gredees. Pour mess into boven and ake.

Check run again and bo to ged.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Jack-O'-Lantern

A Quarter Of

If you like sweeties and candies from days gone by, and you live in the UK, go here:


It's an online sweetshop filled with retro yummies. They ship everywhere - except the USA and Canada, unfortunately. Something to do with insurance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Knack, Knack, Wie Geht's?

So what was the Name This Food! food?
My friend Angie was close with Bratwurst,  but it was in fact...

And of course, the reason I posted it was because this is October. Oktoberfest... German sausage... geddit?

In America, Knackwurst refers to a short, plump sausage originating from the Holstein region in Germany. They contain ground veal, ground pork, and fresh garlic stuffed into hog casings. The sausages are aged for two to five days, then smoked over oak wood. Knackwurst is often prepared highly seasoned.

The German noun Knackwurst—which, in English is sometimes corrupted as knockwurst—comes from the German words knacken ("to crack") or knackig ("crisp"). This refers to the swelling of the sausage during cooking, so that the skin becomes pressurized and balloon-like, and tends to "pop," often exploding the juices, when bitten into.

So do I have a knackwurst recipe? Does the Pope sha-la-la in the woods?

Glazed Knackwurst

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup vinegar

8 knackwursts, about 2 pound


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté onion in butter until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, mustard, cloves, honey, and vinegar. Place knackwursts in pan, coating well with the sauce. Put back on heat and simmer, covered, turning a few times, for about 10 minutes, until puffed and glazed.

Serves 8.
So, what's next?

Name This Food!


This is the best bread recipe ever. I have used it dozens of times, and the best thing about it is that it is so versatile. After the first rise, you can roll the dough out flat and sprinkle it with various things ( I've done cinnamon and raisins, pesto, and toasted pumpkin seeds to name a few), roll it up and let it rise a while longer in the loaf pan, and then bake it as it says, and you have a whole new bread! Woo hoo! Even plain, though, it's fab. The recipe first appeared in a 1993 issue of Sunset (best magazine ever!)

Pueblo Bread

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm (110|degrees~) water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted and cooled butter or margarine
2 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Choose mixing and kneading method. Sprinkle yeast over water and sugar; let stand until yeast is softened, about 5 minutes. Add salt, butter, and flour ; knead. Let dough rise 45 minutes to 1 hour; mix or knead on a lightly floured board to expel air bubbles and form a smooth ball.

Pat ball to flatten slightly. Roll into an 8-inch-wide round. Dust top lightly with flour; fold about the round onto other side, leaving about 1 inch of bottom rim exposed at center of curve.

With a floured knife, make 2 equidistant cuts about 2/3 of the way across loaf from curved side and down through dough.

Lift loaf into an oiled 9-inch pie pan; spread cuts apart so ends of loaf are flush with pan rim. Lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove wrap. Bake in a 375|degrees~ oven until bread is deep golden brown, about 50 minutes. Serve hot or cool; to cool, transfer from pan to a rack.  Makes 1 loaf, about 14 ounces.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beer - Birthday - Biryani

The other night I went with Laura to the local Indian place, Badsha Tandoori, to celebrate our friend Sheila's birthday. Another friend, Kim, was there, and we four had a good old slap-up Indian feast.
First order of business - get the drinks in and get some pappadums on the table.

Can't beat a pint of Kingfisher lager.

The pappadums come with about four different types of dip/relish to eat with them, and this is the real spicy one. That's why you need the beer.
 Then it was time to order. Sheila ordered a Chicken Madras, Kim had a Korma. I opted for the Mushroom Biryani.
This is the biryani. Sorry about the blur, really low light conditions in the restaurant.

I also had a stuffed paratha. Delicious soft bread with an almost pancake-like texture, stuffed with finely chopped veggies.

This is the sauce for the biryani.
Laura opted for the Tandoori Mixed Grill. Lots of different types of meat, cooked tandoori style, with a side salad.

No Indian meal is complete without Naan.
After dinner, we repaired to The White Lion for more beverages of an adult nature.
Pint of Marston's English Pale Ale, with an Amaretto Di Saronno and lemonade in the background and Sheila's glass of rosé to the right.
Ah, curry and beer - what could be more British?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Honeymooners

Today my girlfriend and I ventured into town and ate lunch at the very wonderful Honeymoon Chinese Restaurant in town. The building itself is very old, dating from who-knows-when (my mother could probably tell you) and used to be a pub way back in the day. As far as I can remember though, it's always been a Chinese restaurant, originally the Loong Sing, and we went there several times when I was a kid. Later, when I reached drinking age, we would often stop off there for some chips and spare ribs to eat on the way home after a night on the razzle.

Around the time I got married for the first time in 1990 it changed hands and became the Honeymoon. The menu expanded to include some Thai dishes too, and it was here that I first experienced satay dishes. Mmmmm.

Well, today Laura and I toddled in to have a lovely bit of lunch. The lunch menu allows you to pick one soup from a selection of 5, and one main dish from a selection of about a dozen, with either plain rice or egg fried rice and a tea or coffee for the paltry sum of £6.50. So we started with some of that lovely Chinese tea.

There's just something about the way it tastes that makes you feel it's doing you some good, isn't there?

We both started with some of fabulous chicken and sweetcorn soup, a real taste from my childhood. It's funny, I haven't eaten Chinese in every region of America, but at least in the ones in Washington and Georgia I could not get this soup. I could get egg drop soup which is similar, but without the corn and chicken it was not the same.

Laura ordered the sweet and sour chicken balls...
...with Egg Fried Rice.
I had the Beef with Ginger and Spring Onions...

...with Egg Fried Rice also.
We were both stuffed after this. They give you a lot of food (and tea) for £6.50. I had to eat Laura's last chicken ball. Well, to be honest, that slipped down pretty easy. Had it not been so early in the day, we might have gone for some dessert.

Later on after trolling round a few shops we made our merry way to Waitrose supermarket.

I have a problem with high-end supermarkets, in that they carry loads of amazing stuff I want to buy, but they are monumentally pricey. Therefore, the best thing to do in places like Waitrose is not to go there with specifics in mind, and just buy things that are reduced or on a special offer. You've got to do your homework, unless you're a Range-Rover-drivin' member of the landed gentry with money just burning a hole in the pocket of your plus-fours, in which case, go nuts! Here are a few examples of just how fancy-shmancy Waitrose is, taken while perusing the poultry cabinet...

Okay, here I should take a second to perhaps explain what is meant by "Spatchcock Poussin". A 'poussin' is typically a young chicken (not older than 28 days) and weighing between 400-450g. When it is 'spatchcocked' it is split open and held flat with the aid of skewers, like so...

Good for grilling.

In case you can't make it out, those are two whole quails.

The best time, therefore, to visit Waitrose is in the late afternoon, when they start marking perishable items such as sushi, dairy items, sandwiches etc. down for quick sales. Today I picked up a pack of three buffalo mozzarella balls normally priced at £3.19 for only 99p, so I grabbed a pack of fresh basil, a can of Waitrose's chopped tomatoes with olives and a pack of two pizza bases and went home and made two lovely fresh pizzas. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture, because I am a twit. But boy did they taste good. 

One thing I did take a picture of though. One of those "look at this product known by one name in America and another in Britain" things. In America you have Sun Chips. Here, they are...

Interesting flavours too.
Anyway folks, those are today's dispatches from the food frontline. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Name This Food! Roast Goose

Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel is a day in the Western Christian calendar which occurs on 29 September. Because it falls near the equinox, it is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of autumn and the shortening of days. Michael is the greatest of all the archangels and is honored for his defeat of Lucifer in the battle for the heavens in the Bible. Why am I telling you this? Because the traditional feast served at Michaelmas is

Roast Goose

Never had roast goose? 'Tis a treat not to be missed. How does one cook it? So glad you asked.


5kg goose (if bird comes with fat and giblets - about 1kg for a goose)
2 leeks
2 / 3 cooking apples
A few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
Goose fat, butter or oil for basting
Salt and pepper to season
A little flour
2 roasting tins

1. Line your two tins with foil and cut two triangular pieces for the legs.
2. If the goose is trussed, untie the string around the parson's nose area.
3. Fill the cavity of the goose with the green top of leeks, chopped and some chopped cooking apples, add thyme or rosemary and seasoning. If you wish you can add stuffing of your choice and put it into the cavity.
4. Prick the fat gland under the wing of the goose and around the back of the goose by the parson's nose.
5. Melt some goose fat in a saucepan, cool and pour over the legs before you place the foil on top of them or you can use butter or cooking oil if you prefer.
6. Cover the goose with foil and place it into a roasting tray on its back, with the breast upper.
7. Put the goose into the oven at 200°C/ 400°F / gas mark 6 for 2 - 2 ½ hours.
8. After the first hour turn the goose so the back is upwards. Unwrap the back of the goose to let it brown. Pour over surplus goose fat, this is when you can put the goose into the second tin and then you have the spare fat for roasting your parsnips and potatoes.
9. Remember to keep the legs covered and place back into the oven. Just lightly place a piece of foil on top of the back.
10. Depending on the size of the goose it will need approximately ¾ - 1 hour more cooking. Turn the goose back again so the breast is upwards. Add no more extra goose fat to the tin. Cover with a little flour and salt to crisp the skin of the breast this takes approx. 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the goose and how hot your oven is. Make sure you keep the legs covered, this stops them burning.
11. Lift the goose onto a carving dish to rest for approx. 20 minutes before carving - keep the goose covered.
12. Place your stuffing balls, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and put some sage, green bay leaves and rosemary around the edge of the dish to make it look something extra special.

Alright then... next!
Name This Food!


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