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

Sunday, November 23, 2014


So last time on Name This Food, I asked what these were...

Here's the answer...

As part of Sparks & Mencer's "Summer Of Flavour" range, these delicious crisps were a limited edition. I hope they bring them back next year!

OK folks, next poser for you... Name This Food!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Time To Celerybrate

Last time on Name This Food  I posed the question... what's this then, eh??

Many of you will have correctly surmised that it is indeed


So... what's so great about celery?

Loads of people cannot stand it. Even I have occasional issues with it. If it's especially stringy. Ew.

In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by the varieties called Pascal celery. Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ little from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems. They are ranged under two classes, white and red. The stalks grow in tight, straight, parallel bunches, and are typically marketed fresh that way, without roots and just a little green leaf remaining.

In Europe the dominant variety of celery most commonly available in trade is Celeriac (Apium graveolens var. rapaceum) grown for its hypocotyl forming a large bulb (commonly but incorrectly called celery root). The leaves are used as seasoning, and the stalks find only marginal use.

The wild form of celery is known as "smallage". It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, earthy taste, and a distinctive smell. The stalks are not usually eaten (except in soups or stews in French cuisine), but the leaves may be used in salads, and its seeds are those sold as a spice. With cultivation and blanching, the stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.

Celery, onions, and bell peppers are the "holy trinity" of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. Celery, onions, and carrots make up the French mirepoix, often used as a base for sauces and soups. Celery is a staple in many soups, such as chicken noodle soup.

Let's have a recipe.

In fact, let's have a whole page of them. There are a slew of great celery recipes on here and they'll all make you sit up and think "have I got some celery? I need celery!" Click the link.


Name This Food!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Problem With Brownbread

In Tenterden every Friday there is a market, with stalls lining one side of the street from Oxfam to Woolpack, and stalls behind the Olde Cellars (now Savannah) in the new "Market Square" area. Among these is a large stall selling baked goods, which are uniformly excellent. Really nice artisan breads, cakes, sausage rolls, cheese straws, pies, focaccias, etc. Cannot fault them on their variety and their quality. I just want to make that very clear from the get-go. Love their stuff. But...

I have some issues with this company, who go by the name of "Brownbread".

The first is that as I am an eco-friendly sort of chap (see my blog about Transition Town Tenterden) I am very into the idea that we should strengthen our local economy by supporting locally owned businesses, thereby keeping the money we spend on goods within the local area and not to some supermarket fatcat's offshore bank account, etc. The more you patronise your locally owned bakeries and your farm shops and purchase items that were made, sourced, and/or grown locally, the better a position you are going to be in when the shit finally hits the fan and the oil becomes cost-prohibitive to even bother drilling out of the ground and the petrol pumps dry up and suddenly we can't buy pineapples or coffee anymore because nobody can transport it. If your local farmer/butcher/baker stays in business then at least you'll be able to buy food when Tesco can no longer supply you with Fuji apples.

So when I learn that Brownbread is based in Chelmsford, Essex which is in fact between 55 and 60 miles away, depending on your route, on the other side of the Thames Estuary, and takes an average hour and a half to drive, I am frankly gobsmacked, particularly when I know that there are other very fine bakers in the local area who have stalls at other local Farmer's Markets.

So let's get this straight. I talked to the people at Brownbread and they are hitting the road at something like 5 am to get down to Tenterden in time to unpack their gear and set it all up by 8am. And since it's all fresh it means they've probably been up all night baking the stuff. Which is crazy.

The other issue I have is their van. Oh, I'm sure it's an excellent van for their purposes. But when I see it I just want to whip out my red pen. Yes, that's right, it has something written on it which makes my inner pedant want to jump out and correct glaring errors all over the place.

What does it say on the side of the van? Well, I'm glad you asked.

More specifically, here's the bit I am referring to.


Firstly... we need an apostrophe. Lots of people make the mistake of putting an apostrophe where it is not needed. These people go the opposite way and omit one where it is essential.

They then put a full stop after the word IT and then add an exclamation mark. As if there was a tiny pause before the exclamation. Which doesn't work. Of course it should read THAT'S IT!

There is a lesson here. Obviously this is a professionally-made van signwriting job, done with the proper equipment. But not proofread, at least not by anyone with any idea of the English Language.

Or was it? Perhaps the signwriter was so convinced of his accuracy he did not feel the need to have it checked, and by the time it was noticed it was too late to change it.

I'm sorry to be so picky, folks at Brownbread. I love your bread and all, but seriously? These things just jump out at me and it's like a moth to a flame. And I noticed it months ago, but have held my tongue till now. I am so glad to have finally gotten what may seem like something small and inconsequential off my chest. But holding these things in just bottles up the stress, which is unhealthy.

If you are a business and want to be taken seriously, at least proofread your ads.

All right, I've had my say. Ta-ta till next time.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sorrel-y You Can't Be Serious

Yes, folks, I am serious. Sorrel was the answer to the last Name This Food! question, and now of course the question remains - what exactly is sorrel and what can you do with it?

Common sorrel or garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa), often simply called sorrel, is a perennial herb.

Other names for sorrel include spinach dock and narrow-leaved dock.

Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salads; they have a flavour that is similar to kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries. The plant's sharp taste is due to oxalic acid.

Some uses around the world...

In northern Nigeria, sorrel is known as yakuwa or sure (pronounced suuray) in Hausa or karassu in Kanuri. It is also used in stews usually in addition to spinach. In some Hausa communities, it is steamed and made into salad using kuli-kuli (traditional roasted peanut cakes with oil extracted), salt, pepper, onion and tomatoes. The recipe varies according to different levels of household income. A drink called solo is made from a decoction of the plant calyx.

In Romania, wild or garden sorrel, known as măcriş or ştevie, is used to make sour soups, stewed with spinach, added fresh to lettuce and spinach in salads or over open sandwiches.

In Russia and Ukraine it is called shchavel' (щавель) and is used to make soup called green borscht. It is used as a soup ingredient in other countries, too (e.g., Lithuania, where it is known as rūgštynė).

In Hungary the plant and its leaves are known as sóska (/ʃoːʃkɔ/ or "SHO-sh-kaw"). It is called kuzukulağı ('lamb's ear') in Turkish. In Polish it is called szczaw (pronounced /ʂʈʂaf/).

In Croatia and Bulgaria is used for soups or with mashed potatoes, or as part of a traditional dish containing eel and other green herbs.

In rural Greece it is used with spinach, leeks, and chard in spanakopita.

In the Flemish speaking part of Belgium it is called "zurkel" and canned pureed sorrel is mixed with mashed potatoes and eaten with sausages, meatballs or fried bacon, as a traditional winter dish.

In Vietnam it is called Rau Chua and is used to added fresh to lettuce and in salads for Bánh Xēo.

In Portugal, it's called "azeda" (sour), and is usually chewed raw.

In India, the leaves are called chukkakura in Telugu and are used in making delicious recipes. Chukkakura pappu soup made with yellow lentils which is also called toor dal in India.

In Albania it is called lëpjeta, the leaves are simmered and served cold marinated in olive oil, it is used in soups, and even as an ingredient for filling byrek pies ( byrek me lakra ).

How about a recipe, Jeff? Don't leave us hanging...

*sigh* Okay....

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Sweet sorrel tart

This delicious pud does require a hefty bunch of sorrel, but the results are delicious: sorrel's lemony tang delicately cuts the sweet, soft-set custard. Serves eight to 10.

About 300g sorrel
Knob of butter, about 15g
2 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
200ml double cream
200ml whole milk
75g icing sugar
50g raisins

For the sweet shortcrust pastry
200g plain flour
35g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
125g cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
About 75ml cold milk (or water)

Make the pastry first. Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and blitz briefly to combine (or sieve into a bowl). Add the butter and blitz (or rub in with your fingertips) until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, and enough milk or water to bring it together into large clumps. Tip out on to a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a ball. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and put a baking sheet inside. Roll out the pastry to fit a 24cm tart tin. Line the tin with the pastry, leaving the excess hanging over the edge. Prick all over with a fork and chill for 10 minutes more.

Line the pastry with greaseproof paper or foil, making sure the edges are covered, fill with baking beans or uncooked lentils or rice, and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for another five minutes, or until the pastry looks cooked but not browned. Leave to cool, then trim off the rough edges. Reduce the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Remove any tough stalks from the sorrel. Wash the leaves, dry thoroughly and shred finely.

Heat half the butter in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add half the sorrel and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until collapsed and drastically reduced in volume. Transfer to a colander to cool. Repeat with the remaining sorrel. When cool, squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands.

In a wide bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, cream and milk. Sift in the icing sugar, whisk to dissolve, then stir in the raisins and wilted sorrel. Pour carefully into the prepared pastry case, using a fork to distribute the sorrel and raisins evenly. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until set and just golden. Leave to cool, and serve warm or at room temperature.

OK, what's the next food?

Name This Food!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Foodie Pics From Recent Months

Believe me folks, I am painfully aware of how much I have been slacking on the food blog recently. To make up for it, I've rounded up some pics from recent months to tantalise your taste buds and get me back into the habit of posting. I mean, it's not like I've abandoned blogging altogether - far from it. I just have other new projects started and have found it hard to find time to give all my blogs the attention they desreve. Anyway, here are some pics, which I shall add footnotes to.

After having received some of these brilliant tortillas in a "Degustabox" we were staggered to find them available in a grocery discount store for just 79p for a big bag. They come in several flavours - hot chilli, nacho cheese and lightly salted. They are awesome- they beat Doritos hands down.

Home made pizza.

More home made pizza, with mini mozzarella balls and a sauce made from a soup! Here's a link to my never-ever-fails pizza dough recipe, which is super easy, and freezable for up to three months! http://www.womansday.com/recipefinder/easy-pizza-dough-recipe-120432

Muddy Buddies, made with Shreddies, which are basically the UK version of Wheat Chex. Recipe here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chex-muddy-buddies-2/

Good Scotch, good ginger, good drink. Google Rochester ginger and find the full range.

Waitrose do a lovely "Sweet and aromatic pulled pork noodle" microwaveable meal... I've eaten it three times and it is really, really good.

This is The White Lion in Tenterden's House salad with Smoked Mackerel. Really nice.

And this is their standard burger. Can you say big?

Waiting for your other half in Beautellies in Tenterden to get their nails done or body parts waxed? Well, they'll make you a nice espresso if you smile sweetly enough.

During the month of January I took part in Cancer Research UK's Dryathlon which meant no booze for the month. So I devised this tasty treat. OJ on the bottom, ice, tomato juice on top and a zhuzh of soda water.

Some tasty beers.

So I bought one of these...

Added some of that...

and that... and it was gooood.

Seen in town.

More lovely beers.

Local brew gets a write-up in a national Sunday supplement.

This is actually Old Dairy's Silver Top, a dark porter. Spring Top in the background.

Happy Easter.

Hello Kitty chocky egg kitty.

I don't always get it right. I made an amazing looking fish pie, which unfortunately didn't taste amazing. It was edible, but flavourless.

We use the services of Zafer's Quality Kebab van frequently, so I'm giving him a plug.  He's at the car park opposite East Cross Clinic in Recreation Ground Road, Tenterden, every night from 6 till late. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Name This Food! - Beetroot

I'm sorry guys, but when I asked you what this was...

it was a trick question. Because this is actually beetroot risotto, and made of more than just one thing. How on earth could you possibly know, unless you've made it?

The photo and accompanying recipe for this delicious treat can be found on the wonderful blog Nip It In The Bud, along with various other tasty morsels one can create from the very versatile beetroot (or just plain beet for my US chums).

Anyhow, what's the next one?

Name This Food!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Name This Food! - Marrow

Well folks, it has literally been months since the last edition of Name This Food! so I aim to correct the situation right here and right now. If you recall (I know, I know...) I asked you folks what this was...

Well, wonder no more. I am sure you will recognise that it is clearly a squash of some description, but those of you in the UK will know that it is a marrow. Marrows are basically zucchini (courgettes) that have grown huge. What can you do with a marrow? I am so glad you asked.

Traditionally, here in the UK we stuff our marrows, meaning we half them horizontally, scoop out the seeds, fill the vacant space with a stuffing of some sort (usually sausage meat - based) and then bake it. This usually turns out to be terribly dull. Not only is the marrow part still tasteless, but all anyone ever eats is the stuffing part and so there are a lot of leftover chunks of marrow kicking about. So what can you do with a marrow that folks will actually consume with gusto?

I was given a marrow a couple years back and was faced with this particular dilemma. I didn't want to do the baked stuffed marrow but I also didn't want to waste a free marrow, so after a bit of hunting on the Web I discovered that there were several recipes for a lovely marrow and ginger jam, which I made, and it was freakin' delicious, especially on toast with a bit of peanut butter.

There are several recipes out there for this particular delicacy but I have found that they all call for an equal weight of sugar to marrow which I think is silly - I know I didn't use an awful lot with this jam and it was fabulous. Using the recommended amount would have just made it too sweet and killed the subtleties of the flavours which make it such a unique taste. Some call for powdered or ground ginger which is fine in a pinch but I recommend using a knob of root ginger for a fresher, more vibrant gingery twang.  So here's my version of the recipe.

1.8kg (4 lb) marrow, peeled and diced
1kg (2.2 lb) sugar
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1lb apples such as Jonagold or Cox's, peeled and cored
80g (3oz) root ginger, grated (you could use a food processor)
2 tablespoons stem ginger or ground ginger

In a large saucepan or preserving pan, place the ingredients except the sugar and slowly bring to the boil, then turn down heat to a simmer. If you need to, add some water. Add the sugar. Simmer the whole shebang for 30-40 mins. When everything is soft enough, use a potato masher to mash the mixture to remove big chunks. Test for setting point by dropping a little jam onto a plate and letting it cool a little. If it wrinkles when you press it lightly, it's ready.

Try it, play with it, I think you'll agree this works. But there is one other recipe you can try...

I was told a few months back by one of the good ole country lads that populate the bar where I work that the almost-useless marrow has potential in making home brew. Yes, it appears that Marrow Rum is a genuine corker of a drink and must be consumed carefully. Here's a great blog article about that very topic...

Anyhoo, that's it for marrows. Now it only remains for me to ask...Name This Food!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

At HunnyBeez With Rosie

Rosie loves HunnyBeez, and the staff sure love her. She tried her first herb scone yesterday. She wasn't sure about it, but she gave it a good go.


Cinnamon Delivers The Goods

Best sandwiches in town - and they deliver between 12 and 2. Perfect for a working lunch! Give them a call!


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