Words

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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Greengages!

You may recall that I asked you to name this food...

Well, they are greengages, which are a cultivar of the plum. They were in fact developed in France from a wild plum variety Ganerik that is native to Asia Minor. The name greengage evidently comes from the fact that the first people to bring them to the UK were members of the Gage family. At one time they were grown in the USA, even being grown on the plantations of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, but their popularity Stateside has dwindled since that time. Which is a shame really, because they are delicious, honey-sweet and rich. They are ideal for jams and jellies, but here's a fabulous dessert recipe.


Greengage fool

Serves 6-8


1kg/2lb greengages
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
The peel of one unwaxed lemon
One-third of a cup of water
250g/8oz caster sugar
300ml/10fl oz double cream

Start by slicing the greengages in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and place in a heavy-based saucepan along with the vanilla pod, lemon peel, water and sugar.

Place over a low-to-medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit is soft. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Place in the fridge until well chilled. Softly whip the cream. Remove the cooked greengages from the fridge and fold through the whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Okay folks, now it's time for a new one. Name THIS Food!

Hint: Think late September.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cornish Pasties: An Extra Bit

So you recall that recently I was going on and on about Cornish Pasties. Well, yesterday I went to Maidstone with my girlfriend Laura and as we exited Monsoon, a ladies' clothing store in Week Street, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a Cornish Pasty shop: you read it right here!

Lots of lovely fillings available in addition to the lovely choices above (click to enlarge pic), including a chicken curry version. Mmmm.
And not only did they have pasties, but turnovers and sausage rolls, and and and...
Oh yeah.
We saw some interesting food items on our shopping excursion...
Appetizing.

Willy cookies.



Inside House Of Fraser we passed by the Christmas giftie section. I know, it's only just Fall, but the Xmas fever is upon us.


Goes without saying.

Some lovely Tiptree preserves in a fab mixing bowl.

It really wouldn't be Christmas without some chocolate coins, would it? Except these ones are as big as a dinner plate.
These look like some vintage radios, right?
Wrong. Schnapps!
What about these cool fridges?

Schnapps again!

And it wouldn't really be Christmas without a bottle of bubbly. Cheers! *hic!*



Friday, September 24, 2010

The English can cook: Pictures from The 2nd Underground Farmer's & Craft...

The English can cook: Pictures from The 2nd Underground Farmer's & Craft...: "Phew. Still recovering. It was better than last time even. We had a fantastic selection of stalls with good high quality produce: one per..."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon: Nero and Gerard

Moody shot at Caffe Nero, Tenterden. I would have taken a shot of my full cup of Fruit Booster (delicious orange, pineapple and banana ) but I was so involved in drinking down its juicy goodness that I clean forgot. No matter, just trust me that it was delicious. 

Here we have my Nicoise salad from Brasserie Gerard. Believe it or not, this is just the starter size. Beautifully cooked tuna steak, new potatoes, tomatoes, red onion, mixed baby greens including rocket (arugula) and Swiss chard, green beans, and a lovely egg... beautiful light dressing too.

Laura tucks into her Tuna Nicoise with gusto.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cornish Pasties: Name This Food!

This...

is a Cornish Pasty. That's 'pasty' with a hard, short "A" as in 'magic', not 'pasty' with a long "A" as in 'mayday'. Too many times have I heard our Colonial cousins talking of "Cornish pasties" as if they were some sort of burlesque stick-on nipple covers. It's pasties, pasties, pass-tees... thanks. Whew.

So what's in a Cornish Pasty? And why is it Cornish? And how come some of them look like the one above, while others look like this..

A pasty is a filled pastry case, commonly associated with Cornwall in the United Kingdom. It differs from a pie as it is made by placing the filling on a flat pastry shape, usually a circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package. The traditional Cornish pasty is filled with beef, sliced potato, turnip or swede (also known as a rutabaga) and onion, and baked. Pasties with many different fillings are made; some shops specialise in selling all sorts of pasties. In a proper pasty, the filling ingredients must never be cooked before they are wrapped in the pastry casing; that is the main difference between a pasty and an empanada.


The origins of the pasty are largely unknown, although it is generally accepted that the modern form of the pasty originated in Cornwall. Tradition claims that the pasty was originally made as lunch ('croust' or 'crib' in the Cornish language) for Cornish tin miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat. The story goes that, covered in dirt from head to foot (including some arsenic often found with tin), they could hold the pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry. The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the knockers, capricious spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger. Pasties were also popular with farmers and labourers, particularly in the North East of England, also a mining region.
A researcher in Devon found a reference to a pasty in a 16th century document, and argued that this showed the pasty originally came from Devon, although this was refuted by Cornish historians claiming that evidence for the pasty's roots in Cornwall go back millennia. The earliest known recipe for a Cornish pasty is dated 1746, and is held by the Cornwall Records Office in Truro, Cornwall. Outside Britain, pasties were generally brought to new regions by Cornish miners, and this strengthens the argument that pasties are a Cornish invention.
The pasty's dense, folded pastry could stay warm for 8 to 10 hours and, when carried close to the body, could help the miners stay warm. Traditional bakers in former mining towns will still bake pasties with fillings to order, marking the customer's initials with raised pastry. This practice was started because the miners used to eat part of their pasty for breakfast and leave the remainder for lunch; the initials enabled them to find their own pasties. Some mines kept large ovens to keep the pasties warm until mealtime. It is said that a good pasty should be strong enough to endure being dropped down a mine shaft.

And of course, being of Cornish origin means that there are various Cornish dialect names given to the pasty, such as 'tiddy oggy' or 'tiddly oggy' or even 'tiddy oggin'. What is the meaning of all this? You can find out in a wonderful little article at  http://www.cornishpasties.org.uk/tiddyoggy.htm


There is an extensive article about Pasties on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasty.

 There is a great deal of debate among pasty makers about the proper traditional ingredients and recipes for a pasty, specifically the mixture of vegetables and crimping of the crust. The crimping debate is contested even in Cornwall itself, with some advocating a side crimp while others maintain that a top crimp is more authentic. It has been said that the difference between Devon pasties and Cornish pasties is that the Devon pasty has a crimped crust running along the top of the pasty and is oval in shape, whereas the Cornish pasty is semicircular with a thicker crust running along the curved edge of the pasty, however it is more probable that the choice between top and side crimp versions is highly dependent on the whim of the cook.


Cornish Pasty Recipe for 4 Pasties (using a six inch diameter tea plate)


Ingredients for short crust pastry


1lb plain flour
1/2 lb either lard, hard margarine or butter or a combination of these
pinch of salt
cold water to mix

Method


Rub the fat into the flour but not too finely. Add the salt and then start adding the water gradually until it works together into a ball without being sticky. Put aside in a cool place.

Ingredients for filling (these are traditional ingredients, but there are many other variations)


3/4 lb beef, not stewing beef
raw potato
raw swede (also known as rutabaga or yellow/swedish turnip)
small onion
salt and pepper
a walnut sized piece of butter

Method



  • Cut the steak into small pieces but do not mince.
  •  Slice potato and swede into thin, small pieces about half an inch across. 
  • Chop onion finely. 
  • Dust the work surface with flour. 
  • Roll out the pastry to about 1/4 inch thickness. 
  • Using a small plate cut out circles. Moisten the edge with milk or water and support half of the pastry nearest to you over the rolling pin. On the other half, put a small layer of prepared vegetables then a layer of beef. 
  • Repeat this once but be careful not to have too much filling which would cause the pastry to burst during the cooking process. 
  • Sprinkle a dusting of flour over the filling (this helps to make the gravy). 
  • Fold the other half of pastry which has been resting on the rolling pin over the filling and squeeze the half circle edges firmly together. 
  • Starting at the right side whilst supporting the left side with other hand, using first finger and thumb turn the edge over to form a crimp. Repeat this process all along the edge. This will come with practice but you must get a good seal. 
  • Brush pasty with beaten egg wash to help with browning process and put a small one inch cut in the centre of the top to allow steam to escape. 
  • Bake in a hot oven 220 degrees centigrade for about 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 160 degrees centigrade for a further 40 minutes. Smaller pasties need less time. If they are browning too quickly cover loosely with greased paper.


Then just eat and enjoy!

Okay, what's the Name This Food! food today?

Name This Food!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chinese and Coffee

Went on a trip to Ashford on Thursday, and during the morning a coffee was called for, so we went, the girlfriend and I, to Muffin Break. Very nice place, quite cosy.


Loads of muffins, in some dead exotic flavours. Mango. Pineapple. Caramel. Mars Bar. Mars Bar!?! Yes.


More baked goods than one can shake a stick at.

Happy smiley mug.
 We ate at Yeung's Oriental Buffet for lunch, and of course it being a buffet, you have to eat as much as possible to make it worthwhile, otherwise what's the point, right? Yeung's had a ton of delicious foods to choose from, as evinced by the pic below of plate load number one (I had three...)

Chicken with black bean sauce, Special Chow Mein, Crab Stick, Pork Ball, Beef in Mushroom Sauce...

Dessert menu.
 Then it was time for another latte after a while...



Loved the name of this Fish and Chip Shop.


Was quite perturbed by the idea of cranberries being involved in a 'Taste Of The Deep South'



When we got home we were in the mood for Fish & Chips. However, in town we discovered the local Chip Shop had a line out the door, so we went to... the Chinese Restaurant and got some takeout. Yes, that's right, I had Chinese twice in one day. Do not judge me.

When I got home I cracked open a nice bottle of wine from the fridge.

Bought this little beauty from Lidl's in Ashford, for the princely sum of £3.49.  Great wine, awesome price.

Here's my plate of Chinese. Sweet & Sour Pork Balls, Special Fried Rice, Prawn & Cashews, and a bit of Chicken & Mushroom, with some lovely Prawn Crackers. Mmmmm.

So do I regret eating Chinese food twice in one day? Hell, no.

Food Roundup

Hi folks. Had a lot of cool food stuff happen this last week, during which I have had the cold from Hell, but nevertheless, we press on gamely.

Last Sunday we had a lovely BBQ (for photos, see Garden Party), and several of our guests brought food, wine and desserts. However, we didn't get through the desserts very fast which means we had a lot of desserts to get through during the week... here's some...

Mmmm, chocolate fondant torte...

I bought some lovely cheeses..


My girlfriend brought a delightful dessert with her last night... she's the best :-)

My Sis and I went to eat lunch at Bloomsbury's in Biddenden yesterday. Lovely place...





Nice coffee, great lil biscotti.


My fishy platter... smoked salmon, cured sardines, anchovy-wrapped olives, a mixed olive, sundried tomato and onion bowl, salad, and some lemon-basil hummus. With crostini. Oooh-ee.

Sis had a lovely quiche lorraine with coleslaw, new potatoes, salad, hummus, wow. Good good.

Anchovy-wrapped olives.


More to follow...

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