Words

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Disappointment

Is it just me or is everything shit? Sorry, but that's the title of a book I recently read (very funny, by the way) and it seems particularly apt this morning. Why? OK, I'll tell you why. I just ate a Jaffa Cake. Yes! A Jaffa Cake! Those things were seriously lush when we ate them back when we were kids, right? Moist sponge topped with awesome chocolate and a super tangy orangey centre. 


So why is that these days they not only seem a lot smaller than the used to be (I guess because our hands are now bigger? Naah) but they taste like cardboard dipped in Tesco Value Marmalade with some bog-standard choc plopped on top? I kid you not. I am sorry, but this is not the only instance of this kind.

Remember Wagon Wheels? Those things were friggin' HUGE when we were kids. Now they barely take two bites to eat. 



What's the deal?


Here we see proof that Aussie Wagon Wheels are bigger than English ones.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Food List


  • Turkey. Very important one, this. Really. If you miss this one, you may as well forget about everything else. Unless you are a vegetarian. In which case, Nut Loaf.
  • Roast potatoes. It really does not matter if you have two or three different kinds of spuds - mashed, sweet potatoes, potato salad, even - but this is the important one.
  • Veg. We had: Carrots, brussels sprouts, savoy cabbage, braised red cabbage and Bramley apple, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, parsnips (roasted).
  • Stuffing.
  • Cranberry sauce.
  • Bread sauce. I've spoken about it before on this here blog. This year on a visit to Tesco I noticed the Cranberry & Port Sauce and Bread Sauce were on a special deal - 2 for £2. So I cheated. Sue me.
  • Gravy. 
  • Cakes. Tunis cake, mainly. 
  • Biscuits. M&S version of the Fox's chocolatey ones. Nice.
  • Beer. Pedigree & Beck's Vier.
  • Wine. Cheap Spanish plonk from Waitrose.
  • Cream.
  • Plenty of tea and coffee.
  • I cooked the turkey the night before to free up some space in the oven. It was a big bugger - 7.75 kilos, or 17.09 lbs if you're Imperial. Took about 4 hours.
  • Now I am completely stuffed.
NB: oddly enough, we didn't buy a Christmas pudding. Now I love the stuff, but no-one else really cares in my house. So we didn't bother with dessert at all.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lazy Mince Pies


So let's say you're like me and you are a naturally lazy person, but you want to make some impressive holiday sweet treats. Look no further. Here are my delicious Lazy Mince Pies.

What you need:

1 pack frozen large puff pastry vol-au-vent cases
1 jar mincemeat (I used homemade vegetarian mincemeat that was given to us by a friend)
Caster sugar
Vanilla extract

First, cook those vol-au-vent cases according to the package directions. If you like, brush them with milk before cooking. I didn't bother.

When cooked and cooled, fill them with the mincemeat.

Easy so far, right? Now comes the tricky bit. (OK, it's not very tricky).

Take some caster sugar (2 or 3 tablespoons) and a clean (very important) CLEAN coffee grinder. Put the sugar in the grinder, add a tiny drop of vanilla extract, and grind that stuff into powder. 

Next you need a sieve of some sort. I couldn't find one but I did have a strainer that came with a bottle of port. Put the sugar in the strainer, and sprinkle all over the pies. 

This kind of thing. £6 from Amazon.  

Serve and enjoy. Merry Christmas.


Om nom nom.





Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrivé!



Serious business, this wine tasting lark.
Excellent stuff, easily 4 and a half yums out of a possible 5.

Kooshti sante!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Save The Potato Shop

Here's a link to a post on my other blog Transition Town Tenterden. The reason it's here is because a local supplier of delicious and amazing spuds is under threat - a neighbour wants to restrict access to the farm they are part of, and this will directly impact their business. Have a read of the blog and then go sign the petition!

http://transitiontenterden.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/please-save-potato-shop.html

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Woolpack

A while ago Tenterden's most ancient (15th Century) and beloved public house The Woolpack reopened after an 18-month closure. After a refurb and new owners took over, I decided it might be worth going in and sampling its delights and taking a few pics for all to see and admire.

However, me being me, I promptly forgot all about these pictures and now, a few months later, I present them to you in all their glory.










You're welcome.

Jingle Bell Sammies

Every year the supermarkets add Christmassy extras to their ranges of ready-made sammies, and Waitrose have a couple of nice ones:

No explanation needed, just a well tasty sandwich.

The roll is made from soft pretzel dough, with a cross cut into the top before baking for the star shape. Salt beef and slices of pickled gherkin  make for a delicious roll on the go.
Of course as always I hope you guys are following my advice and only buying these sorts of things when it's (a) absolutely necessary; and (b) marked down to a reduced price. Waitrose is expensive, and you can sure as heck make sandwiches cheaper yourself. I just present these as examples - now go make your own (better) sammies!

Kooshti sante!


Costa, Caramella, Custard Cream

I suspect you folks are probably aware by now that I am a bit of a fan of coffee, and a fan of sweet things also. Not only that but I am somewhat of a nostalgia freak. So when I can get all three things in one big hit, I am a happy boy.

The other day we went into Costa. Now, I have to say this upfront: Costa is not my favourite coffee joint. There are others I prefer, but where our particular branch wins is ease of access. Ramp up to the big front door, ramp down to the lower seating level. And we had the baby stroller with us, so we were all over it.

While deciding what to have we noticed an ad on the board for a new drink - the Caramella. It sounded good, so we ordered one each. While waiting for it to be made I noticed in their cabinet something that made me drool. A custard cream biscuit. But not just any old custard cream biscuit. A humongous one. I had to have it. It was sitting next to some similar-sized bourbon creams too.

Now, normal custard creams are quite small - I could lay two of them on top of my cellphone. This custard cream, I can lay two cellphones on top of it.

See what I mean?

I placed it next to Rosie so you can see how huge.

Oh, and perhaps I should mention that it was quite delicious. The best Custard Cream I have ever tasted. Really authentic flavour, a real blast from the past.
The Caramella is basically a latte or flat white-type coffee with a shot of caramel syrup with a drizzle of caramel on top.


Not a bad coffee by any means, just not spectacular. But pair it with the giant cookie - BOOM!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Quino-Wha'??

Remember when I asked you to Name This Food?


Tough one, I suppose, because this is not the form in which one usually sees it. It more often looks like this:

Uncooked

Cooked
It is Quinoa!

Quinoa is a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium),a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the true grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds.

So what can we make with it?

Funny you should ask.

Some good ideas here - http://www.the-gluten-free-chef.com/quinoa-recipes.html
http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/recipes/prawn-and-avocado-quinoa-salad
http://chefinyou.com/2010/04/quinoa-bread-recipe/
http://chefmom.sheknows.com/articles/1154/kid-friendly-quinoa-recipes-apricot-quinoa-cereal-sesame-orange-quinoa-salad-and-quinoa-turkey-burgers-with-easy-guacamole

OK, so what's our new Name This Food! food?

Name it!



Monday, October 22, 2012

New Stuff

It's been a while, I suppose, or at lest it's been long enough to make me think maybe I should check in with a digest (if you'll pardon the pun) of recently consumed comestibles and potables.

I am not normally a regular vodka drinker, but this affordable British Vodka from Pure Star is pretty decent, nicer certainly than Smirnoff, and reasonable in price at under £20. What I have done recently is to come up with a little cocktail of my own. Start with a few ice cubes in a rocks glass. Pour in one part Pure Star Vodka...

..and one part of this Five Valleys  Lemon & Mint Cordial, then top off with tonic water. Nice.  This cordial is also useful in cooking - the other day I made an apple pie. I put some demerara sugar in a pan on a low heat, and slowly let it melt and caramelise. Then I added the apples and some mixed spice, and a glug of this cordial and let it simmer a few mins before transferring to the pie dish. I think it worked nicely and gave an otherwise boring pie an interesting twist.
A limited edition cider from Magner's - Spiced Apple and Rhubarb. Nice tart twist ad suitably spicy enough to be a Halloween brew par excellence.

Speaking of All Hallows Eve, this dark mild with a citrus note is truly wonderful. Available in Marston's Inns.

 
Rekorderlig is a Swedish cider company - who knew?  There are two main varieties. A pear one, and this little beauty - a strawberry/lime concoction.

KFC's latest attempt at making a new sandwich is basically a Fillet Tower burger with a zingy sauce and a giant tortilla chip inserted near the top, so nothing really new, but pretty good all the same.

See the chip? Under the lettuce?
A friend of ours recently went to Turkey and brought us back some Turkish Delight.

Generously swathed in coconut.


The problem I have with Turkish Delight is that there are two types of it - there's the soft gelatinous type that usually comes dusted with icing sugar and tastes of rosewater or lemon. This is the kind I like. The other kind is more chewy and nougat-like and contains nuts and other things, like the kind you see above. I'll eat it, but it's not as good as the gelatinous rosy kind.
The other week my Sis and I went to purchase some locally grown fruit and veg for an activity we were going to do at Harvest Festival about Food Miles. We went to Gibbet Oak Farm, a local farm shop. It's kind of weird going to Gibbet Oak for Sis and I because when we were little our grandparents lived and worked there so we spent some considerable time at the farm. Now when we go there, it not only looks a lot smaller than we remember but it's a little bittersweet. The farm shop is housed in what used to be the shed where the apples were graded and packed.



Cox's Orange Pippins, to give them their full name.


Bramleys, I think.

Kentish Mayde pies have been mentioned before on these pages, and they are terrific.

Locally grown chillies. 

These two apples were sitting over by the till and were easily as big as my  fists.

The final purchases - apples and plums from Tenterden, mixed salad from Appledore  and runner beans from West Malling.

We placed them on a table next to apples from South Africa, runner beans from Kenya and plums from Spain, then asked people to guess where these items were grown. We didn't use the salad - it had gotten a bit soggy by that point.


Kooshti Sante!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Don't Waste Food (Supermarkets)




Do you know the difference between a ‘best before’ and ‘display until’ date? If not, the likelihood is you're throwing away a lot of food unnecessarily.

’Use-by’ dates mean chuck food away after this date, as otherwise it’s a health risk. ‘Best before’ dates mean food is usually still OK to eat after this date, so don’t waste money by throwing perfectly edible produce away.


  • The use-by date: Bin it! Use-by means just that. Eating nosh beyond that date is risky, even if it looks and smells fine. Typical foods include diary, milk, fish and eggs.
  • The best before date: Still edible after the date. Best before labels usually have nothing to do with safety, they're just the manufacturer's view of when they're at optimum quality. This is usually longer lasting foods such as frozen meals, tins, sugar, pasta and cereals.You can eat after the best before. Use taste and sight - the only downside's the food may lose some flavour and texture.
  • Display-until and sell-by: Instructions for shops' staff, not for you. These dates are instructions for shop staff to tell them when they should take a product off the shelves. Check the ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates instead.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Quinoa, Cheddar & Zucchini Bake: Adapted


 Laura saw this recipe via Facebook the other day, on the page of The Fountain Avenue Kitchen. She asked me to make it and so I did. Here's the original recipe: http://fountainavenuekitchen.com/quinoa-cheddar-and-zucchini-bake/

However, I adapted it. I skipped the milk part from the recipe, figuring that the liquid content of the courgettes (zucchini) would be enough. It was. I also didn't use straight quinoa, I used a Waitrose blend of quinoa and bulgar wheat. To the quinoa mix (which I toasted with olive oil before adding any liquid) I threw in some baby spinach I had left.

I just blended the eggs, zucchini, mixed dried herbs, cheese, salt and pepper together.


Added that mix to the red onion. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup minced onion but I say, onions rule! So I used a whole medium red onion, diced.

Added a whole chopped orange bell pepper to the quinoa and spinach.

Mixed the whole shebang together in my baking dish, and topped with the sliced zucchini I had reserved.

Added the rest of the cheese to that.


Baked about 40 mins at 180 C.




Mmmmm mmmm! Good stuff!

Kooshti sante!

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