Words

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

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Favourite Recipe - The Short (dis)Order Cook

Hi everyone, next up with their favourite recipe is Rachel Zenhausern, aka the Short (dis)Order Cook. She writes two blogs, the brilliant and funny Shipwrecked and Comatose and the wonderful The Essential Rhubarb Pie.

Hope you don't mind me using this one, Rachel!


She's from Mamaroneck, New York, and she's "a home cook, an amateur singer, dancer and actor, an equestrian, and a huge goofball", and she loves to cook, although she describes herself as "a bit of a bumbler in the kitchen". She enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and putting her own twist on other people's recipes. She also loves entertaining, but admits to being a picky eater and says she's a failure as a "foodie".

However, she loves all kinds of food and cooking for her husband who is apparently an even pickier eater than she is!

Here's an appropriate recipe for the time of year. She says, "This is as close to perfect as chili can get with three kinds of chili peppers, lots of meat, and layers of flavor.  Enjoy!"


Triple-Spicy Turkey Chili


Ingredients

6-8 dried chili peppers (such as arbol habanero, guajillo, costeno, or other dried pepper variety)stemmed, seeded, and broken into little pieces
1 cup boiling water
2 Tbl oil
1 onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ancho chili powder
1 Tbl cocoa powder
2 fresh poblano peppers, finely diced 
1 1/2 pounds Ground turkey thigh meat
4 links pre-cooked spicy chicken or turkey sausage (such as chorizo or andouille) finely chopped.
1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
1 15 oz can pinto beans
2 tsp salt 

Place the dried peppers in a small bowl.  Pour boiling water over them.  Let sit about 30 minutes to soften.  When they are soft, puree them in a blender with half of the soaking liquid.

In a large pan (I used a big saute pan, but a big saucepan will work nicely too) heat oil and add onion.  Cook until soft.  Add cumin, oregano, ancho chili powder, and cocoa powder.  Stir until onions are well coated and spices are very fragrant.  Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the poblanos and cook until they begin to soften.

Add the turkey and sausage to the pot and brown the turkey well.

Stir in the pepper puree, tomatoes,  and salt. Mix well and then gently stir in the beans.

Simmer for at least an hour.


Serve with tortilla chips and plenty of grated cheddar cheese if desired.




With all the turkey hanging around at this festive time of the year, this would be an awesome recipe to try, don't you think?

If you would like to see your favourite recipe printed here in glorious Jeff-O-Text™ on the ol' blog, then send it to me via my Facebook page or my email  jeffie2k@gmail.com with any pictures or back story to go with it, along with a short bio, and I'll get it up here asap.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Favourite Recipe - Clark Brooks

Today we have a recipe sent to me from my friend and collaborator Clark Brooks.

Mr. Big Time, signing copies of his book.


The inimitable Clark lives in Tampa, FL, and as well as his regular job as a writer for RawCharge.com, the official blog of the Tampa Bay Lightning (an NHL hockey team), he pens his own blog Ridiculously Inconsistent Trickle Of Consciousness thrice weekly, appears as a regular on the Spike On The Mic show (Mondays 7pm EST), has a book for sale , is part of another book, has numerous columns and magazine articles to his credit as well as a documentary film credit and some announcing and acting for good measure. Also, along with myself and Michael Noble, he is a member of The Unbelievables, a humorous fiction blog about three crimefighters, which also appears thrice weekly. How does he find the time? We're not sure, but we're glad he does.

This is his recipe:

BEER PORK CHOPS

Don't you hate it when somebody says, "I have a nice easy recipe for you" and it includes lines like "Be sure to braise the truffles on a Thermite-heated grill with a saffron oil extracted by a surly Egyptian with an eye patch and a scar on his left hand"? I know I do. Well, here's a seriously simple recipe; if you don't already have every ingredient on hand, you will be able to find what you need with a quick trip to one regular ol' grocery store.

INGREDIENTS

• Two porkchops (I strongly recommend boneless; they're going to fall apart while cooking and you don't need to find a small bone by biting or swallowing it)
• One can or bottle of beer (See the note below about beer)
• One onion (I like the Spanish ones)
• One packet of dry onion soup mix (You probably have at least one packet of this laying around; every home in America does)
• One can of mushrooms (optional; I know some people don't dig mushrooms. Leave them out if you want. I like them though, so I will leave them in, thank you.)
• One crockpot (This doesn't work if you don't have a crockpot. If you don't have a crockpot, what is wrong with you? Stop what you're doing right now and go get one. Not just for this recipe, just to have one. Seriously, they're so awesome it isn't even funny.) 

DIRECTIONS

1.Cut up the onion into big pieces
2.Open the can of mushrooms (unless you didn't get any because you don't like them. See note above)
3.Open the beer (don't drink it, you lush)
4.Dump everything into the crockpot (you did open the packet of onion soup mix and poured it in, didn't you? I shouldn't have had to tell you that)
5.Set the crockpot on low, put the lid on and let it do it's thing for seven or eight hours. They'll be done before that but with anything you cook in a crockpot, the longer you let it cook, the better it is.
Serve with noodles, rice or potatoes. You won't get a thick gravy but the residual juice with the onions and mushrooms is really good over starchy food.

ABOUT COOKING WITH BEER 

There are about a million articles written by know-it-alls on the internet about how to cook with beer. Most of them are probably valid because since when are know-it-alls wrong about anything? Still, don't feel like you have to read all or any of them. Just pick a beer you like or that's cheap or whatever you want. You're just looking to add some flavor to make the pork chops "pop". Seriously, whatever you have is fine. If you serve this to some beer snob who doesn't like your preference, kick them out and let them fight alley cats for empty tuna fish cans. In fact, don't even invite them over in the first place because those people tend to be a drag, whether beer is involved or not.

Thanks, Clark! that sounds delish, and since I do have a crock pot, is one I am definitely going to try.

If you would like to see your favourite recipe printed here in glorious Jeff-O-Text™ on the ol' blog, then send it to me via my Facebook page or my email  jeffie2k@gmail.com with any pictures or back story to go with it, along with a short bio, and I'll get it up here asap.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Favourite Recipe - Charlie Hickmott

I recently asked a few good friends and family members to furnish me with their favourite recipe. The one they always do that's absolutely guaranteed to work every time. The standby, go-to recipe that will not let them down.  And I today present to you the first in that series (at least, I hope it'll be a series), from my own flesh and blood - my son Charlie.

Ready to cook up some tasty jazz grooves.

Charlie lives in Portland, Oregon and works in a taco joint. He's a very smart young man (if I say so myself), an accomplished musician (he's drummed in punk bands and jazz combos alike), is well-read, sophisticated, smart, funny, and a good cook. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh? Eh?) It is an honour for me to reproduce here his favourite recipe, partly because it makes me look good and partly because it's less work for me to do I'm extremely proud to be his Dad. So I'll quit waffling and hand over to Charlie.

As my girlfriend Allison would say, my favourite recipe is to walk into a kitchen and use food I find to make a meal, ad lib and without any more thought process than, "Hey, that looks tasty, put it in the pan." But I was asked for a single recipe, not just an amalgam of every recipe. So, after long deliberation, I have settled on not one, but three recipes because 
(1) I couldn't decide after all and 
(2) This makes a charming meal when served all together. 

Part the First; Make The Steak

Okay, I'll not bore everyone on how to make steak. There are a hundred different cookbooks telling you how to cook the perfect steak. I'm sure you can handle it if you are reading a food blog. But my absolute favorite marinade is the simplest you can get. Acid plus oil plus herb equals yummy beef. I recommend lime for this particular meal, and that will be a theme. Grab your steak, whichever you prefer (make it a cheap one so I don't waste your money) and slap it in a roasting tray, Tupperware container, anything you have laying around. Then go wild with that lime. I humbly suggest zesting the peel of the lime onto the steak, then use about half of a lime's juice on each piece of meat. Follow that up with a glug of olive oil and whatever herb you prefer. Let's say cilantro (Coriander) for today for a slightly south of the border theme. Now, the fun part. Rub said ingredients vigorously into your steak and let soak for 15-20 minutes before grilling to perfection.

Part the Second; Potatoes

Potatoes are brilliant. I love them to death. I can hardly live without them. Not many other foods (besides eggs) are so versatile and fun to work with. The next recipe is easy and healthier than what you might find under a sign of golden arches for example, and tastier too. Take your potato (stroke it, caress it) and slice it in half lengthwise, then slice that half lengthwise about seven times or so to get vaguely french fry type shapes out of it. Once you have as many as you like, put them all on a baking sheet that has been covered with aluminum foil (trust me, you'll want it.) To prevent sticking you could spray the sheet with cooking spray or oil or what have you. Be liberal, as potatoes tend to get sticky. Take the time to now pre-heat the oven to about 425 Fahrenheit. Once your potatoes are on the tray, sprinkle them with just an inkling of corn starch, then a good squeeze of lime and some more zest. Maybe Parmesan cheese if you're feeling up for it. Some whole cloves of garlic would not go amiss here, or simple garlic powder if you don't have the real type. Bake these suckers for about 30 minutes or until they're soft. If you can't wait that long, feel free to parboil them first for about ten minutes. 


 Part the Third; Avocado Crema

This last recipe brings it all together. If you live in an area where you can find Crema Agria, then feel free to use that. Otherwise Greek yogurt will do the trick, or creme fraiche, or even sour cream in a pinch. Chop up a good handful of cilantro (coriander) and set it aside. Then, in a Tupperware container, peel and pit two avocados per four cup batch of Crema. Add the cilantro and stir, making sure to get all the avocado off the bottom. Add another lime's worth of juice and this sauce will tie the steak to the fries and make a meal out of it all. Hope you all have fun trying this dish. I take no responsibility if it fails miserably.


Thanks Charlie for that great recipe combination! I'm trying this as soon as I get a chance, and I'll post the results right here on the blog for all to see. 

If you would like to see your favourite recipe printed here in glorious Jeff-O-Text™ on the ol' blog, then send it to me via my Facebook page or my email  jeffie2k@gmail.com with any pictures or back story to go with it, along with a short bio, and I'll get it up here asap. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Recent Food Finds

Hi folks, as sometimes happens I have a backlog of food pictures building up on the hard drive so I need to post them on the blog just to kind of 'get them off my chest', so to speak. Here goes...

I'll start with these. I found a tea-towel lying around at work with some Christmas recipes printed thereon. So since the festive season is just around the corner, here's some pics of said item.








In late September The Woolpack Hotel in town had a food festival, and Laura, Rosie and myself went along for a little nom nom time.

A little Old Dairy Red Top and Green Hop ales, along with Chapel Down wines and Curious Brew.


The roast pork bap.

Lemon sole grilling on the flat-top.

2 pieces of lemon sole, home made mayo and tartare sauce, a little salad, whole wheat roll - heavenly.










Recently went to eat at the White Lion Hotel's restaurant with Amy. This was the night before it closed for renovations, and we are anxiously awaiting the reopening on Nov. 15th.

Salmon Niçoise.

Some lovely nachos.

Burger with fat chips.
And finally here is our trip to Maidstone's Wimpy burger joint. The food is still as good as ever, but the place itself needs a bit of a makeover. Just sayin'.



Eton Mess ice cream sundae.

The Brown Derby!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Windfall Apple Crumble

The other day we went out for a walk and a forage. We picked a few blackberries but we found a load of windfall apples in a local disused orchard. To me, it's criminal that this orchard with its hundreds of trees is not being looked after - we have fewer and fewer orchards in this country and when they aren't even picking the apples for use as cider apples, it breaks my heart. Still, I am going to keep using it for a source of apples until such time as they either use it again or pull it out and build on it (which is likely what will happen).

Here is my Apple Crumble photo essay...

Some of the apples we found.


Peeled, chopped, sprinkled with cinnamon and mixed spice and some vanilla sugar.


Vanilla sugar is easy. When you get a hold of vanilla pods and use them, put the discarded pods into a container of sugar and leave it there. The sugar will absorb the vanilla scent and taste incredible.

2 cups flour, 1 cup vanilla sugar, mixed spice.

With margarine added and blended with the fingers to the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Had some of this left, so...

I crushed it up....

and put it in the crumble mixture.

After topping the apples, baking on 190 C for about 45 minutes, this is what it looked like.
Mm mm mm...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Talk About The Passion

Hi folks, I was out in my garden today and noticed that I had a lot of passion fruits growing on the vine that every year envelops part of our hedge. Laura had requested I give the hedge a trim and I am holding off until all the flowers are gone, because they are beautiful.


It struck me that I have never eaten a passion fruit whole. I've only ever had either the juice or the flavour of it in something such as a pie or ice cream. I would not know how to go about eating one or preparing one. So let's find out together shall we?

Firstly, it seems there are lots of different varieties, as shown in this excellent article from YouGrowGirl.com.
Here are what mine look like right now...






How to eat whole?

This guy knows.




Recipes?

Here's a gorgeous one from Nigel Slater.

Passion Fruit Cheesecake

Ingredients

for the crumb base
120 grams butter
400 grams ginger biscuits

for the filling
250 grams mascarpone cheese
75 grams icing sugar
1 vanilla pod
400 ml creme fraîche
300 ml double cream
4 passionfruit (ripe and wrinkled)

Method

Melt the butter in a small pan.
Crush the biscuits to fine crumbs and stir them into the melted butter. Tip them into a 22cm loose bottomed cake tin and smooth them flat. Refrigerate for an hour or so until firm. You can speed the process up by putting them in the freezer if you wish.
Put the mascarpone and icing sugar in the bowl of a food mixer and beat smooth.
Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and stir them into the mascarpone along with the creme fraîche.
Whip the cream until it will stand in soft folds, then stir it gently into the mascarpone mixture.
Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and cover with cling film. Leave to chill for a good hour.

To serve, remove the cake from the tin, cut the passion fruits in half and squeeze the seeds and juice over the cheesecake.

Here'a good one for passionfruit flummery. I've told you about flummery before, back in 2010.


Passionfruit Flummery

Ingredients

1 tablespoon gelatine
1 cup  water
2 tablespoons plain flour
0.75 cup  sugar
0.50 cup  orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 passion fruit
2 egg white
1 cup  whipped  cream
Use imperial measurements
Method

Method

Sprinkle the gelatine over a 1/4 cup of the water, dissolve over hot water.
Blend the flour with a little of the remaining water and combine in a pan with remaining water and sugar.
Stir over heat until the mixture boils and thickens and remove from the heat and cool slightly.
Stir in the dissolved gelatine. orenage and lemon juice and mix well.
Pour the mixture into a large mixer bowl and beat on low speed until just beginning to thicken and then beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick and very foamy.
Stir in the passionfruit pulp and fold in firmly beaten egg whites.
Pour mixture into serving dish or individual dishes and refrigerate until set.
Serve with piped cream if desired.

But what about its uses in main dishes and starters?

Here's a goodie from dear old Martha Stewart.

Salmon with Warm Passion-Fruit Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS

4 fresh passion fruits
 Four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
 Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons minced shallot (1 large)
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 cups mixed greens, such as mesclun and purslane


DIRECTIONS

Halve each passion fruit, scrape flesh into a strainer, and push through with a rubber spatula to yield 3 tablespoons juice. Set aside.

Season salmon with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add salmon and cook about 4 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate; cover with foil.

Return skillet to low heat; add 1/2 tablespoon butter and shallots; cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add reserved juice, mustard, honey, vinegar, and wine. Raise heat to high; cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat; swirl in remaining butter.

Divide greens and sauteed spring vegetables among plates; place salmon on top and drizzle sauce over salmon.

SOURCE
Martha Stewart Living, June 1996

And finally here's a starter from Atul Kochhar.

Squid salad with passion fruit dressing


Ingredients

200ml/7¼fl oz milk
150g/5½oz rice flour
500g/1lb 1½oz squid bodies, cleaned and sliced into rings
sunflower oil, for deep frying
100ml/5¼fl oz passion fruit purée
1 tsp caster sugar
70ml/2½fl oz light olive oil
4 handfuls mixed leaf salad
1 passion fruit, pulp and seeds scooped out with a spoon, to serve

Preparation method

Pour the milk into a bowl. Sprinkle the rice flour onto a plate. Dip the squid rings first into the milk and shake off any excess. Dredge the squid rings in the rice flour until completely coated.
Heat the oil in a deep heavy-based frying pan until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.) Add the floured squid rings to the hot oil in batches and fry for two minutes, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm.
Repeat the process with the remaining squid rings.
For the dressing, in a bowl, mix together the passion fruit purée, sugar and light olive oil. Pour a little of the salad dressing over the salad leaves and mix to coat the leaves.
To serve, divide the passion fruit salad equally among four serving plates. Place the squid rings on top. Garnish with the passion fruit pulp and seeds.


Well, I guess I'll have to give one of these a go when I harvest those fruits. Watch this space.

Kooshti sante!

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Onion By Any Other Name



These are scallions (also known as green onions, spring onions, salad onions, table onions, green shallots, onion sticks, long onions, baby onions, precious onions, yard onions, gibbons, or syboes).

They are the edible plants of various Allium species, all of which are "onion-like", having hollow green leaves and lacking a fully developed root bulb.

The words scallion and shallot are related and can be traced back to the Greek askolonion as described by the Greek writer Theophrastus. This name, in turn, seems to originate from the name of the town of Ashkelon. The shallots themselves apparently came from farther east of Europe.

Harvested for their taste, they are milder than most onions. They may be cooked or used raw as a part of salads, salsas, or Asian recipes. Diced scallions are used in soup, noodle and seafood dishes, as well as sandwiches, curries or as part of a stir fry. In many Eastern sauces, the bottom half-centimetre (quarter-inch) of scallion roots is commonly removed before use.

In Mexico and the Southwest United States, cebollitas are scallions that are sprinkled with salt and grilled whole. Topped with lime juice, they typically serve as a traditional accompaniment to asado dishes.

In Catalan cuisine, calçot is a variety of green onion traditionally eaten in a calçotada (plural: calçotades). A popular gastronomic event of the same name is held between the end of winter and early spring, where calçots are grilled, dipped in salvitxada or romesco sauce, and consumed in massive quantities.

In Vietnam, Welsh onion is important to prepare dưa hành (fermented onions) which is served for Tết, the Vietnamese New Year. A kind of sauce, mỡ hành (Welsh onion fried in oil), is used in dishes such as cơm tấm, bánh ít, cà tím nướng, and others. Welsh onion is the main ingredient in the dish cháo hành, which is a rice porridge dish to treat the common cold.

In southern Philippines, it is ground in a mortar along with some ginger and chili pepper to make a native condiment called wet palapa, which can be used to spice up dishes, or topped in fried or sun dried food. It could also be used to make the dry version of palapa, which is stir fried fresh coconut shavings and wet palapa.

During the Passover meal (Seder), Persian Jews lightly and playfully strike family members with scallions when the Hebrew word dayenu is read.

Recipe, you say?

OK.

Potato, spring onion, dill & cheese frittata

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
400g leftover cooked new potatoes, sliced
4 eggs, beaten
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 bunch dill, roughly chopped
25g cheddar, grated

Method

In a small non-stick frying pan, heat oil over a medium heat. Add potatoes, then fry until beginning to crisp, about 8 mins. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, spring onions, dill and some seasoning. Heat the grill.
Tip the eggs into frying pan, mix quickly, lower the heat, then sprinkle over cheese. After about 8 mins, once the top side has almost set, pop under the grill for 2-3 mins or until firm and golden. Slide out of the pan. Eat straight away with mayo or ketchup or cool quickly and chill.

Now... Name This Food!


Friday, September 6, 2013

The Churchill Tavern, Ramsgate

We recently went up to Ramsgate to visit with Kylie and baby Clark. There's a two-minute walk from her place to the Churchill Tavern.


It's a really nice pub with a good selection of beers,





 a great menu,




 and £5 lunch specials which are indeed not to be sniffed at. When I looked at the list of beer prices I was gobsmacked. There were easily 6 bitters on the list, none of which was over £3/pint, and one in particular was this fine pint of Greene King IPA which was a mere £1.90.


To those international readers among you, let me just put that in perspective for you. I work at a members-only club where the beer prices are cheaper than most pubs locally, and we charge £2.94 for all bitters. So to see a beer for a whole £1.04 cheaper was stunning. I hadn't actually planned on having a beer but at that price it'd be churlish not to.

So we looked at the lunch menu which had some baked potatoes, sandwiches and other meals for just £5. So here's what we all had.

Kylie's baked potato with beans.

Laura's tuna doorstep sandwich.

My ham egg & chips.

Sis's ham sandwich.

No skimping on size or filling. 
So with the ladies all drinking Coke and my £1.90 pint, we'd all stuffed ourselves silly for just under £7 each.

Urrp!
The pub was beautifully appointed, too.




Here's a flier for the pub. If you are in the Ramsgate area I thoroughly recommend it.




P.S. This is on tap too, by the way.


My verdict: 5 yums out of 5!

Kooshti sante!

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