19 October 2014

Barking Mad Choccy!

Oddly enough today is the last day of both National Chocolate Week and of National Curry Week so when better, I ask you, than to write about, ta da ...




kid you not, I saw this mentioned on Twitter a few days ago and made a comment of some sort – I think I may have said “you buggers!”, and shortly afterwards was offered an opportunity to try a sample. After my happy acceptance I received a message saying ...

3 flavours of choccy have left the building. Don't worry they are all barking mad
but do work, enjoy!

I was a bit nervous but like the staunch foodie I am gave them my best shot!

With each flavour I put a bit in my mouth (did you guess?), closed my eyes and concentrated on the texture and flavour as per the chocolate tasting instructions given by the Independent Newspaper here.  The only thing I didn't do was try tasting with others as this sort of interesting, exciting food is really not my real man’s sort of thing.  Luckily.

The Results

The chocolate in all three bars is lovely high quality Belgian chocolate and melts smoothly and lusciously in the mouth.


Pina Colada – the most normal of the three

As the chocolate melted I immediately thought "Rum" (mind you I often do!!) which was followed by a pleasant fruity taste, I couldn't quite identify coconut and pineapple (the other pina colada ingredients) but the overall effect was a bit tropical and certainly very pleasant. 

Bubblegum

I’m afraid I don’t like bubblegum and I didn’t really like this but I didn't chicken out. I think that it is pretty true to the taste I remember as a child and if you like bubblegum then maybe this is for you! 

Orange Jalfrezi 

This was gorgeous – honestly!  A very orangey start with a hot spicy curry finish which sounds incongruous and wrong but certainly isn't.  It contains cumin, coriander, paprika, onion, salt, chilli, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, bay leaves, turmeric, garlic, ginger and black pepper no less and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

These surprising chocolate are made by Choc Amor award winning chocolatiers with tea rooms, The Chocolate Rooms, at Tarleton in Lancashire. They also have a shop at Botany Bay and luckily it’s the Botany Bay in Chorley just off the M61 rather than the Australian version.  I don’t have a list of their flavours but have read that they include things as chilli & lime, peanut butter, banoffee pie, salt liquorice & lemon meringue.  All very good ideas but nothing to rival the lovely Orange Jalfrezi Chocolate

By the way ...


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14 October 2014

8 Wonderful Chocolate Recipes

It being National Chocolate Week I think now is the time to share my 8 favouritest chocky recipes ever – all of these have been big sellers in the posh and not so posh restaurants I have cheffed in and also go down well with my real man (except the peanut butter tart ‘cos he can’t stand peanut butter).

Firstly some guidance on melting chocolate ...

~   Break the chocolate up a bit. The easiest way to do this is to throw the cold sealed bar violently onto a hard floor or maybe bash it on the edge of the counter.  Unwrap et voila ...



~   Put the broken chocolate into a bowl and the bowl into a small pan of simmering water to come about a third of the way up.  Here’s a tip – stand it on a metal jam jar lid or similar to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
~   White chocolate is a little more delicate than dark and must be melted carefully over very low heat.
~   Don’t mess with the chocolate as it melts just let it sit till there till it’s ready then stir till smooth.
~   WARNING – if you get water into the melting chocolate it will go all hard, lumpy and useless.  For this reason Do Not Cover as steam will condense on the lid and fall back into the chocky.

To the recipes ...

1.  Dark Chocolate & Kahlua Marquise

This is a classic and my sister and I made vast quantities of marquises in our Cornish restaurant. When I went to the Caribbean the slices seemed to soften quickly as we plated them so I took to serving from frozen, which worked really well – a kind of semi freddo by the time it reached the table!

You need 3 bowls and a loaf tin to make this, I prefer to use a silicon loaf “tin”.

200g dark chocolate
200g soft butter
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp cocoa
3 eggs – separated in yolks and whites
another 40g caster sugar
275ml double cream
2 tbsp Kahlua (or other spirit or liqueur of your choice)

~   Melt the chocolate as above in the first bowl.
~   Whisk together the butter, first batch of sugar and the cocoa in the second bowl.
~   In the third bowl whisk the egg whites till still. It is crucial that you whisk these in a clean dry bowl or they won’t work.
~   Fold the butter mixture into the melted chocolate.
~   In the empty butter bowl whisk together the egg yolks and the second batch of sugar.
~   Fold this into the chocolate mixture.
~   Finally whisk the cream (together with Kahlua) and fold that into the mix till no streaks are left.
~   Decant into the loaf “pan” and either chill or freeze.

Serve thickly sliced, probably with more cream!

2.  Chocolate Sorbet

This recipe is taken straight from my little ebook Sorbets &Granitas which gives the key recipe for sorbet , 40 more sorbet and granita recipes, ideas, serving suggestions and what to do with leftovers and only costs 77p!

A lovely rich chocolate coffee mix. If you don’t like coffee use a plain syrup in the same proportions and add a drip or two of vanilla extract.

250ml strong hot freshly brewed coffee
125g sugar
150g dark chocolate – coarsely chopped

~   Stir the sugar into the coffee till dissolved.
~   Immediately (as it needs to be hot) pour the syrup over the chocolate and stir or whisk to melt and amalgamate.
~   Cool, chill, freeze, mashing scraping the sides of the sorbet to the middle occasionally and mashing to make a smooth sorbet.


Easy Peasy or what? I also make wicked chocolate ice creams which are also based on a key recipe but whilst it is another favourite recipe it’s a bit too much to go into here. 

My ice cream book explains how this quick, easy, no churn method works and gives over 100 recipes, ideas, suggestions, recipes for accoutrements such as cones, sauces and inclusions.

3.  Chocolate Mousse

Or in more detail ... 



4.   Chocolate Topped Peanut Butter Mousse Tart

Whatever my real man thinks of this it is wonderful! You need a 24cm (9½”) pre-baked (preferably by you but bought in is fine too) tart case, either pastry or a crumb base as with cheesecake.

120g smooth peanut butter
50g soft light brown sugar
100g cream cheese
½ tsp vanilla extract + see below
180ml double cream + see below
150g dark chocolate
another 80ml double cream
another couple of drips of vanilla extract

~   Whisk together the peanut butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract till combined.
~   In a separate bowl whisk the first batch of cream till thick.
~   Whisk ¼ of the whipped cream into the peanut mixture.
~   Fold in the rest of the whipped cream and put it into the tart case, levelling the top.
~   Chill.

Now for the chocolate bit ...

~   Chop or break the chocolate into pieces and put it into a bowl.
~   Bring the second batch of cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate together with the second vanilla extract.
~   Allow to sit for a few minutes (during this time it is advantageous to make yourself a coffee to accompany scraping the bowl).
~   Stir till smooth.
~   Pour the chocolate gently over the peanut mousse and smooth the top.
~   Chill till needed.

5.  White Choc Mousse

200g white chocolate
15ml water
75ml sour cream
juice of ½ a lemon
240ml double cream

~   Melt together the white chocolate together with the water as instructed above.
~   Mix together the sour cream and lemon juice.
~   Fold the cream mixture into the melted chocolate.
~   Whisk the cream till thick and fold into the chocolate mixture.

 

 6.  A Wonderful Thing to do with Chocolate Brownies (and a wooden spoon!)

~   Make a batch of your favourite recipe brownies.
~   Whilst they are baking also make a batch of the chocolate ganache topping in the peanut butter tart recipe above. 
~   Turn the brownie out onto a rack and then take a wooden spoon and lightly butter the handle end! 
~   Carefully insert the spoon handle straight down into the brownie at 1” intervals twisting gently it on the way in and out twisting to form lots of deep little wells.
~   Fill each little hole with chocolate ganache and then allow the brownie to cool completely before cutting into squares.

This is lovely served at room temperature, gorgeous chilled and if you heat before serving the ganache melts and you get a self-saucing brownie which is also utterly wonderful.  

7.  Gorgeous Chocolate Chip Cookies – makes about 16 fairly large cookies so serves 1!

I make these sporadically and then try other things and then go back to these.  They really are the dog’s thingies!  People keep asking for the recipe – so here it is for everyone.

125g soft butter
125g caster sugar
100g soft light brown sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
225g self raising flour
a pinch of salt
200g dark chocolate – thrown onto the floor and any larger lumps cut into smaller pieces
OR
a similar quantity of chocolate chips

~   Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Cream together the butter and sugars.
~   Beat together the egg and vanilla and then add it to the butter mixture together with a spoonful of the flour (this helps stop the mixture curdling).
~   Stir (or munge) in the flour, salt and chocky, it is pretty thick so easiest with your hands.
~   Roll into walnut sized balls and place well-spaced on ungreased baking trays.
~   Bake for about 8-10 minutes till just gold round the edges (if you want them squidgier cook a little less).
~   Cool on a rack.
  
The dough can be rolled into a sausage shape and frozen and then it is possible (if you are careful and use a sharp knife) to slice off just as many cookies as you need and bake them from frozen. Useful in emergencies.


8.  Chocolate Quesadilla

This is not actually a time honoured recipe of mine, just a Really Good Idea I had a couple of years ago and wrote about here.



And here’s another thing I like to do with chocolate.


In Other News ...

~   Primroses still flowering in our garden – perhaps they are stuck.
~   I am just starting to upload all my ebooks to Smashwords so that they are available in other formats that pdf or kindle. Not quite there but if you sign up to my email list (by clicking on the free book link below) I’ll let you know. 
~   I don’t know if it’s news exactly but I’d be chuffed if you’d click here to retweet this post!
~   And of course, if you haven’t already got it ...

  
Just Click Here! 
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12 October 2014

Home Alone with Too Much Cauliflower!

We are now entering that glorious time in Cornwall when the centres of operation of major supermarkets fail to come to terms with the huge drop in customers once the tourists have left the area. The shops are overstocked and what bargains we glean!

A few days ago my real man gleaned quite a bag full including a lovely cauli for 10p which is great but I already had a lovely cauliflower in the fridge and he was going away for a short while to visit an ailing cousin – he’s back in a few hours, yippee – so I had to cope with it on my own. 



This gave me a chance to play with my food, sorry Daddy, and this is what I came up with.

Roasted Cauliflower “Steak”

This is something I've wanted to try for years but never got round to which is shame because it's lovely. I decided rather than start researching into what must be a simple thing I’d wing it.

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180C fan/gas 6.
~   Cut a slice or more of cauliflower, crosswise and about 2cm/¾” thick.
~   Coat slice(s) with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
~   Lay in a shallow roasting tin and cook for about 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through, till just tender and prettily golden.

It worked ...


What does one do with a roasted cauliflower slice?  Well it could be a side dish or perhaps n alternative cauliflower pizza base (I often read of these  but don’t fancy them; sort of cooked cauli and cheese pressed into a pizza shape).  A vibrant dressing would be good on it perhaps with cauli enhancing flavours such as garlic, capers, olives or walnuts but I decided to savour it with smoked garlic, fresh sage(I took a cutting from the enormous bunch my neighbour gave me a while ago) and Parmesan. 



Roasted cauliflower is surprisingly delicious so whilst the oven was on I also roasted some florets which took just about 15 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower Curry – for 2 as the main dish

 1 small cauliflower broken into florets and roasted as above
1 large onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp curry paste
a squeeze of lemon juice
fresh cilantro – if possible

~   Peel and halve the onion. Cut crosswise into thin half moons.
~   Heat the oil in a small pan and toss the onion slices in it separating the layers.
~   Carefully cover the onions with a piece of foil (or a butter wrapper) to cover completely.
~   Turn down the heat to low and cook gently, stirring from time to time, till the onions are completely soft and maybe just starting to caramelise.
~   Stir in the curry paste and lemon juice and cook a couple of minutes more.
~   Taste and season (remembering that the roasted cauliflower is already seasoned) and spoon the spicy onions over the roasted cauliflower florets.
~   Sprinkle with chopped cilantro – if you can.

Cauliflower Cheese Fritters

These are a good idea which I have already written about here.



Cauliflower Soup – for 4-6

Especially good as the weather is turning colder (I just put the heating on for the first time since the spring). This is, of course, based on my key recipe for soup.

1 onion cooked as above in the curry recipe
1 tsp minced garlic
500g peeled floury potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper – thinly sliced
1 head cauliflower – divided into florets
500ml or more good stock
a little double cream optional
salt and pepper

~   When the onions are almost tender add the garlic and continue cooking a little longer.
~   Add potato, and enough stock to just cover it.
~   Bring to a boil, cover the pan, turn down the heat and cook till the potatoes are almost tender.
~   Add almost the cauliflower and cook gently till that too is tender.
~   Purée the soup adding more stock and cream till the soup is just the way you like it.
~   Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  


More ideas …

~   Cauliflower Cheese, naturally – cook the cauli al dente, drain well and toss in hot cheese sauce, sprinkle with more cheese and breadcrumbs and bake till hot, bubbling, crisp and golden.
~   Salad – turn freshly cooked still hot and just tender florets in a vinaigrette and chill till needed..
7.   Coat just cooked florets in a batter and deep fry.
8.   Reheat cooked cauliflower in a little cream together with a scraping of nutmeg which goes very well with this vegetable.
9.   Sauté cooked cauliflower in a little butter together with garlic, stir in grated cheese and serve on toast. I have had enormous success (well I thought so) doing this using black garlic and St. Agur blue cheese. Oh yum!

In Other News …

~   Despite the cooler weather our primroses are still flowering – I’d like to know what their plans are for the spring!
~   I’m afraid I’m going to bang on a bit about my Christmas book, which I have just updated, by posting this informative picture again. 
  

 ~   Oh and …


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11 October 2014

A Rant & a Very Funny Thing!

Rant First ... scroll down for the Very Funny Thing!

It’s not the first time I have ranted about this; the eating habits of overweight “poor” people!



It was brought to my attention (again) by a picture on Facebook which has received, as I write, 158,939 comments. I haven’t read them all, of course, but I have scanned down for a few hundred and haven’t seen anyone supporting her. 

I thought it fair to look into the lady’s story further and it seems she may have been misquoted in the FB picture above because in an interview I read she says that her GP sent her to a gym but she just had a few sessions because she didn’t have the willpower to stick to it and she was embarrassed.  I can sympathise, I’d be embarrassed too. On the other hand being slimmer and healthier would surely be worth the embarrassment.

She also said ...

"I tried swimming but it cost £22 a month and it 
meant I had to cut back on my favourite 
pizza and Chinese takeaways."

And I slightly sympathise with that too, £22 a month would certainly be a lot to me. Mind you in my thoroughness I looked up the price of takeaway Chinese meals in Wigan, her home town, and the average price of a main course for one seems to be about £5. Probably there'd side dishes too. I could cook a damn fine meal for that – and not just for one!

On the other hand Cristina (that’s her name) who gets more than £20,000 a year in benefits said in an interview ...

 "I need more benefits to eat healthily and exercise 
and it would be good if the government offered a cash incentive for me to lose weight. I’d like to get 
£1 for every pound I lose."

I don’t sympathise with that at all, at all – I think by the look of her that she has enough incentive to lose weight!

I have niece who was very overweight (caused initially by a health glitch) but in the past year or so she has worked absolute wonders. Yes she does go to the gym, every day at her own expense because she works hard to be able to afford it. She also eats only what she is allowed on her very strict diet despite belonging to a very foodie family. Even on special occasions she brings her own rice cakes or whatever instead of digging in with the rest of us. She has lost a phenomenal amount of weight looks absolutely beautiful and I am so proud of her. 

She didn’t need government help, she didn’t need any more incentive than her health and happiness being at stake and she had the intelligence and gumption to sort her own life out.

Having said all that I suppose that being a bit low in the IQ department is no more blame-worthy than being short sighted or hard of hearing – not sure about lazy or greedy though!

I so wish that people like this girl would learn to cook. It is said and I agree that more education is needed but information is as easy to get as logging on to online bingo so that’s not much of an excuse. On the other hand if someone hasn’t learned by the time they are grown up with kids they probably aren’t interested. What a shame, it’s mostly easy and can bring so much pleasure into your life and the lives of those you care about. 

It is to this end that I keep publishing my humble little ebooks – yes, I’d like to make some money but what I’d really like is for people to discover how easy cooking delicious food is and to have a go.  Firstly, therefore ...



And that’s enough ranting for now – it just this sort of thing really gets up my goat!!!

In Other News ...

I have completely revamped and updated my book on stress-free Christmas cooking. The contents have doubled and it now contains over 50 recipes and every helpful hint and tip I can think of.

I also changed the cover and have to say I am dead chuffed with my artwork!



And this leads me to ...

The Very Funny Thing

I was bemoaning to some friends that however hard I try, even sending out free copies, I never seem to get many reviews for my books (although those that I do are usually 4 or 5 stars). I was pretty boring so by way of changing the subject, and I don’t blame them, they asked if I had seen the reviews on Amazon for methylated spirits, Of course I looked immediately and was utterly delighted - see what you think!  



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1 October 2014

As Interesting as a Beetroot!

When my niece Jenny was little she thought that “as a beetroot” was an expression of extremity which didn’t only apply to degrees of redness.  Our Jenny used to run as fast as beetroot, be as cross as a beetroot and so on.

Unlike Jenny I was, like many people, frightened by beetroot as a child (the pickled stuff in school dinners) but am beginning to pull round now which is, to a large extent, thanks to Tesco’s beetroot salad– even my real man likes it!



There is a surprisingly high proportion of beetroot to leaves in the salad so I often end up with just beetroot which, of course, is not a problem.



Today, for instance, I had a very sudden lunch, as is my wont – my survey of the fridge yielded the beetrooty end of a bag of beetroot salad, a little sour cream and three inches of leek.  Obviously the answer was soup, as is often the way.  Not borscht, of course, just beetroot soup.

Not-Borscht for 1

3” leftover leek – sliced
15g butter
1 small-ish potato – peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful leftover beetroot julienne – or even purpose bought
250ml vegetable stock
dollop of sour cream

~   Cook the leek very gently in the butter till very tender.  This is best done by pressing a piece of foil or a butter wrapper onto the leeks, putting on the lid and turning the heat down low.
~   When the leeks are tender add the potato and beetroot and enough stock to just cover the vegetables.
~   Bring to the boil, turn the heat down again, put on the lid and cook till all is tender.
~   Mash with a masher or purée in an electrical appliance together with the sour cream.
~   Taste and season and add more cream, stock or water till it is just how you like it.




This is, of course, based on my key soup recipe which I expound upon in “SOUP (almost) the Only Recipe You’ll Ever Need” – there is even a recipe for Borscht in it!

Quick – Free Offer!


"SOUP" is actually the third book in my Key Recipes series but as we are expecting autumn any day now I thought this would be a good time to run a freebie so download it here if you are in the UK or here in the States. It is only free 1st and 2nd October but not much money even after that! 
Once you’ve downloaded it (and by the way you don’t need a kindle to read it – get this app  from Amazon and read it on whatever you like) please do two things for me ...
~   Enjoy it.​
~   Review it on Amazon and maybe also Goodreads – because reviews help so very much. Some sites won’t even let me mention a book without reviews!
Incidentally see the end of this post for another free book offer – this one is permanent!


Other ways to use leftover beetroot julienne include ...

~   As a very pretty garnish as on this ‘ere Finnan Crispy Pizza.  




~   To make coleslaw turn a romantic pink. 



~   Add to stir fries, other soups, bean dips, potatoes when cooking for mashing etc.

I haven’t as yet forayed far into the World of Beetroot but I’ll tell you who has – The Guardian! 









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27 September 2014

How to Feed a Real Man!

It has occurred to me that I often write about the meals that I eat, all the delicious black garlic, spices, blue cheese, blah de blah and although I spend more time cooking the food my real man likes (his type of meal is not as spontaneous as mine – by a long thingy) I have never gone into details. 

As we are now in the midst of Great British Food Fortnight I think it is might be a good time to extrapolate on how I feed this British chap who is possibly a supertaster or maybe just a fussy git!

Either way he doesn’t like strong flavours or “foreign muck” such as garlic (although Britons have been growing and eating garlic far longer than they have potatoes) or chilli.  I on the other hand have very eclectic tastes in food and as eating is so important to us both I make sure that neither of us has to compromise. 

I cook 2 completely different meals every night, I love cooking so this is not a problem, rather the contrary!  Sometimes what he has even influences what I have for instance if he has steak I lop off a little and have a peppered steak saladbut we do eat very differently.

Here are some recent examples ...
  


Mince & Dumplings

He has this once a week and when he does I often have pasta as they are both stovetop meals. In this case I have a creamy tomato sauce, chorizo and some crunchy croutons on tagliatelle.

1 large onion – coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
500g minced beef
1 tbsp flour
about 600ml good beef stock – hot

~   Fry the onion in the oil a large deep pan with a lid.
~   Cook till turning golden in parts, even a little darker in parts, to give good flavour.
~   Add the mince and break it up in the pan, tossing and stirring till starts to brown.
~   Stir in the flour completely.
~   Stir in the stock – you need just enough to come to the top of the meat, no more. Add a little water if necessary.
~   Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes/
~   Make the dumplings ...

225g self-raising flour or plain flour + 1 rounded tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
60g cold butter or margarine
100ml oz milk

~   Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder (if using).
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved.
~   Add the milk and mix in, by hand is easiest, add a little more milk if too dry or a little more flour if too wet – work just enough to form a soft dough.
~   Form the dough and roll it into walnut sized balls – makes about 12 so enough for 3-4 standard people or 1½ Geordies.
~   Drop the dumplings, spaced out a bit so they don’t touch, into the simmering stew.
~   Turn down the heat, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes till the dumplings are risen and firm.
~   Take the lid off the pot and allow to steam for a couple more minutes to dry out the tops of the dumplings.
~   Ready!

Now here’s an interesting thing, this is exactly the same dough as I use for scones, rock buns, griddle cakes, doughnuts, crispy sugary biscuits and more and so it qualifies as one of my key recipes - see here.

Pie!

Most weeks my darling has a pie and sometimes two, but not at the same time – I do have some rules.  Sometimes chicken and leek made with leftover roast chicken, sometimes steak and kidney and quite frequently minced beef because after serving his mince and dumplings above there is plenty of meat left for another dinner.

When I make a pie I often have a tomato-ish soup (like this one with white beans) so that I can have cheese “rags” (pastry trimmings rolled with grated cheese and baked) with it – lots of other ideas for pastry scraps here.


Fry Up 

A fry up for him which typically comprises 2 sausages, 2 rashers back bacon, 1 slice black pudding, 2 lambs kidneys, a small piece of steak, onion rings, chips, roast tomatoes, mushrooms and sometimes peas.  In the picture, however, he has 2 slices of black pud as no steak available. With this he eats 4 slices bread and butter (well he is from Up North!).  Obviously the chips and onions rings are bought in and I am not entirely comfortable with this (feel like I’ve let the side own a bit) but he likes them that way.

I often have roast salmon and sweet potato chips when he has a fry up because I can cook the sweet potato and the salmon in the oven.



A Roast Dinner 

The blurry streak in the picture is a bit of knife action, he was keen to tuck in. In the traditional British way I tend to cook my man a roast on Sundays and I rarely participate. We recently picked up a reduced lamb rack, however, so whilst he had roast beef together with his standard mushy (aka sloppy) peas and six Yorkshire puds, potatoes and veg, I roasted myself half the rack together with potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beetroot tossed in oil and also roasted alongside it. I deglazed the lamb pan with port, added lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper and had roast dinner my stylie (touch of the Jamie Olivers there!).

Yorkshire Puddings

I have given the recipe for these before and might even do it again – they are so quick, so easy and very cheap!  I make the Yorkshires whilst the roast meat is resting.

Three important points …

~   You MUST use plain flour and no raising agent or it won’t work! Strange but true.
~   Make the batter at least an hour before you need it.
~   The oil in the pan must be seriously hot before you add the batter.

1 heaped tbsp plain flour
a little salt
1 large-ish egg
a little milk

~   Beat together the flour, salt and the egg till smooth.
~   Whisk in enough milk to make a runny batter, as runny as runny double cream.
~   When ready to cook turn the oven up to (220ºC/425ºF/200ºC fan/gas 7)
~   Put ½ tsp of oil into each little muffin hole in a muffin pan for individual yorkies or a little more oil in one dish and put in the oven for a few minutes till hot.
~   Pour the batter into the pan and immediately put in the oven.
~   Do NOT open the door for about 10 minutes and even then do it with caution.
~   They are ready when seriously puffed up and golden but sadly they do tend to go down a bit once out the oven.

Good idea – if you stand the Yorkshires on a preheated baking tray in the oven the will have crisper bottoms.

The mushy/sloppy peas are a Northern tradition – I buy a box of dried peas, cook the lot and then freeze in single servings.
  

Toad in the Hole

A popular real man dinner this uses the above the Yorkshire pud batter – see here for moredetail and an anecdote! I use a full batch of batter but only 4 sausages when cooking this just for himself.

Toad in the hole is loveliest, to my mind, served with onion gravy and English mustard but my guy likes “plain” gravy (chicken or veg stock), mashed potatoes, veg and no fancy stuff, like mustard, whatsoever.

When he has this I usually have ... whatever I like!

His and Her Pizzas

See here for my pizza base recipe which works really well. His pizza uses two thirds of the dough and I top it with 250g minced beef (I lightly fry this and drain off the fat before putting it on the pizza base) and 2 pork sausages relieved of their skins and broken into pieces.  A mixture of cheddar and mozzarella finishes the job.

My pizza can have all sorts of wonderful stuff, usually leftovers of some kind, on it.



You may imagine that my real man is on the plump side but au contraire! He is very private and doesn’t want me putting his photo or even his name on the internet but here is a photo of his torso which, as a cunning disguise, I have turned into a pencil drawing using the wonder of Photoscape (a brilliant and free photo editing program) which will give a clear idea of his build. Lucky me!


Incidentally I took the above photo to commemorate the day when he weighed himself on some supermarket scales which said that he is obese. Must be the weight of his shoulders!

The Great Cornish Food Festival

My friend Carol and I visited The Great Cornish Food Festival yesterday and I have to say I was a little disappointed!  It seemed smaller than usual and some major players,in my opinion; Healey’s wonderful ciders, Vicky’s superb bread and the fascinating Nature Kitchen weren't in evidence. Hopefully this is because they are all so successful now that they didn’t have time! Of course some of my favourites were still there; Deli Farm Charcuterie and wonderful Davidstow Cheddar for instance.



Speaking of cheese I was delighted to taste a new version of Lynher Dairies’ Cornish Yarg, a delicious semi cheese, invented by one Alan Gray (coincidentally – NOT – his name is Yarg backwards) some 30 years ago. 




Until recently Yarg has always been wrapped in nettle leaves but now there is a wonderful new version is wrapped in one of my favourite ingredients – wild garlic. Gorgeous.










On another stall I tried a piece of black bread the flavour of which I couldn't identify and no wonder – it was sepia (squid ink!!!) and cranberry. What a surprise!







I also had a brief chat with Nathan Outlaw – Carol knows him – he seems a nice guy.  I have a feeling one of our chefs went to work for him after we left Cornwall – if you ever dine at Nathan’s and see El Rupo’s Kentucky Chicken Soup on the menu then he got it from our Rupert!


Whilst you’re here  ...


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