Thursday, 29 July 2010

DIY Coleslaw

For DIY coleslaw you require

1/2 cabbage, a firm cabbage not a savoy
1 carrot peeled and grated
1/2 an onion grated
salad cream or mayonnaise

Cut a cabbage into two down the middle with a big knife.

Cut a v shape out of the core and discard it.

Cut the cabbage in two.
Put half the cabbage cut flat side down on the cutting board. Cut into several lengths.

Squeeze the lengths together with one hand. Chop across the lengths to make shorter pieces.

Grate carrot and onion to add to it.

Add salad cream or mayonnaise to bind it all together. Mayonnaise is thick and coleslaw works better with thinner salad cream.

Top with your favourites, Nuts, Cheese, or Pumpkin seeds. Goes well with baked potatoes, cold meats and in sandwiches.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Food producers and suppliers

I would like to have a section of Cumbrian suppliers of food on my blog as the quality of the meats and cheeses in this area is superb. In researching this piece I was delighted to have found a local supplier of Willie's Cacao. Willi Harcourt made a BBC programme about his mammoth task over about 15 years to grow and produce his own cacao and produce chocolate products from it in the UK. is a deli in a larger garden centre. They have meat from local and scottish farms and cheese from award winning Thornby Moor at Wiggonby near Carlisle.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Heston Blumenthal does Willy Wonka

I think this channel 4 item was first broadcast in April 2010. It is amazing. It even has an edible golden ticket as well as a chocolate fountain. How Heston thinks it all up is stunning.

Blackcurrant jam

This is a family favourite and and annual event when it happens. With lots of looking at the bushes to see if the currants are ready and a scramble to pick them when its not raining. The recipe is from a battered WI cookbook that has a rubber band around it to stop the pages falling out. It comes under something worth making yourself as the taste is sooooo good.

1350g blackcurrants
1.7 litres water
2250g white sugar

Picking the stalks off is messy and sticky. keep running your hands underneath the tap to keep them wet and the currants will not stick to your hands.

Clean the currants and put into the jam pan with the water. Cook until soft. Add the sugar, stir until disolved before boiling on a full rolling boil to set. Keep testing a drop on a plate every 5 minutes to see if the jam wrinkles. Pot and seal while hot.

What knife to use for what job

Looking at a knife to buy for your kitchen can be a bewildering experience. There are many different types of knives to buy from the supermarket or specialist kitchen shop and what knife to buy for what job is essential knowledge.
The blades should not bend or flex or they will not be rigid enough to get through hard food to chop it up.

I would like to first talk to anyone who has tried to cut up a turnip which is hard, large root vegetable with a small vegetable knife, the green handled one in the pic. Which is the type of knife most folks would have in their kitchen. The larger of the two orange handled knives would be the one to use to cut a hard root vegetable in two or four pieces, then peel it with the small knife. What larger knives do is use the weight of the knife for the cutting. Like cutting anything up you have to be careful it does not skid and the knife will go into your hand. Find a flat piece of the vegetable you are cutting up and put that on the flat side of the cutting board. If your work surface is smooth put a damp cloth underneath the chopping board to stop it slipping.
The serrated riveted handled knife is a bread knife and is good for crusty bread.
Do not ever store sharp knives in a drawer. Its easy to put your hand in and get hold of the blade. Use a knife block with slots for the blades. Do not put knives in the sink with the other washing up for the same reason, wash separately. Blunt blades skid as the pressure you have to put on them is hard and either the blades or the food being cut up skids.
Below is a link to a site that sells kitchen equipment including knives.

Friday, 23 July 2010

coming soon

on their way soon

* how to sharpen knives

* carrot and coriander soup for some friends of mine who like it.

Food from Amazon

There was a report on UK TV this morning saying that online retailer Amazon were doing food deliveries. Mainly for items hard to get out of London. My local supermarket which is a national chain have not heard of pomegranate molasses. Has anyone experience of buying from Amazon food?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort-pasta, Pecorino cheese and grilled juicy baby plum tomato's

This is no ordinary cheese. Sometimes a small portion of cheese that tastes great is worth it.

Pecorino Romano is a hard salty cheese from sheeps milk. In the UK readily available from supermarkets. It is perfect in salads and sauces.

It taste great with pasta and tomatoes and mixes in well. It is the quality of the ingredients that gives the fantastic taste.

Cook as much pasta as you need for the people you are serving. Grill tomatoes until they are soft. My pic is 4 for one person. These are baby plum tomatoes and great for taste. This cooking time is about 10 minutes for pasta and grilling.

Put the cooked pasta on a plate. Put grated Pecorino cheese over the top and then the soft grilled tomatoes. Tear some basil leaves over the top and grind some black pepper to finish. I added a sprinkling of green olive oil as well.

Storing food - fridge thermometers then lettuce

Storing food is a big subject. If you are throwing food away you are throwing money down the drain, in the dustbin or garbage. In the worlds current climate money is tight and most people do not have money to throw away. Anything therefore that can save waste, food miles and money is therefore worth considering. The first item in this series about storing food is a fridge thermometer which hangs on a shelf with a hook. Unless your fridge is running at the right temperature food will deteriorate more quickly than it should. The pic of the thermometer shows a small blue block half way along which is the right temperature for your fridge, 0-5C degrees as recommended by the UK food standards agency. It will save you money.
Only a couple of days after I wrote this I looked at my fridge thermometer and lo and behold the little red line had not gone down to the little blue block and my milk was turning sour. My old and trusty fridge had given up and I could not get it mended as it was too old. What was interesting was the fridge felt cold.
The new one has glass shelves that get quite cold and I can understand they will keep food chilled. I was interested in if the settings of 1 2 3 4 took the temperture down to where it should be. The factory setting was 2. I tried 2 and a half, it was still 10 degrees above after 1 hour. I have ended up running it at 3 to get it down to 5 degrees. It is July in the UK and should be hot air but being the UK its only about 18C. So the ingoing air was not hot.
Please be aware that the temperatures as quoted in the food agency standards are too cold for tender items like lettuce. They are better kept in the salad drawer so they are protected.
However I thought you might like the story of keeping lettuce ' before fridges.' Which seems unthinkable now.
Wrap a lettuce in newspaper. Wet the newspaper all over until quite damp. Store in a pan with the lid on. As the newspaper dries out re wet the newspaper. It really does work and I have kept a lettuce in a pan for a week and it was quite fresh. Let me know if you try it.

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort-cauliflower

Cauliflower only takes a few minutes to boil to a stage where it's still firm and tastes nutty. The yoghourt and tahini dressing on the side for this dish is courtesy of Otam Ottolenghi although this is a simple version. The dish is dressed with toasted hazlenuts and toasted pine nuts. Dry frying them adds to the depth of flavour and is worth doing. The tahini and yoghourt dressing thickens when mixed so put the yoghourt in the dish first then add the tahini to make sure the dressing is not too thick. Chop the nuts with a knife. The electric chopper will make them too fine.

1 boil half a cauliflower in salted water until the stalks are still firm but soft, and drain well.
2 Mix 2 tablespoons of plain yoghourt with 2 teaspoons of tahini.
3 In a frying pan dry toast hazelnuts and pine nuts. Sometimes UK supermarkets sell already toasted chopped ones in a packet. Chop whole hazelnuts with a knife.
3 Put the warm or cold cauliflower on your plate and scatter the toasted chopped hazelnuts on top. Top the dressing with the pine nuts.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort -green bean salad

This is a very simple dish and fits in with DIY cooking and little effort. French Beans, herbs, french dressing and peanuts.

The pic on the left shows morjoram and chives from the supermarket now in my garden in pots.

Cook the sliced french beans in boiling salted water. While they are still warm toss them in french dressing. Mine has grainy mustard in it. Top with chopped chives marjoram and peanuts.

This can be part of a buffet or a main meal.
Eat with crusty bread or a rice salad.

Still doing red currants

Fresh from the garden.

This is the easiest way to take the redcurrants from the stalk. Hold them lightly between right hand thumb and forefinger and pull the stalk away from you with the left hand. Cook the red currants with just enough water to cover them. When soft they have to drain in a jelly bag overnight to extract the juice. Measure the amount of juice and for every 600ml of juice 450g white sugar. Dissolve the sugar in the hot juice in the jam pan and boil until set and then put into pots.
The finished jelly.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Red Currant Jelly

It's that time of year when the berries and currants are ready to make into jam. What is not clear from this photo is how much plastic netting is round the bushes to stop the birds eating them.

In my walled garden I have red and blackcurrants. Victoria Plums, Damsons, Conference pears and James Grieve apples. To day the red currants are ready to pick and are to be made into jelly.

Good for glazing or even on toast.

I bought a new jam pan last year which fits my cooker ring exactly. If the jam pan does not fit there are parts of the pan contents which do not boil and the jam does not get to a full rolling boil to enable it to set.
When I work out how to get more than one pic on a blog in the right place this will carry on a bit longer.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Food Writing in Devon

Hi Everyone

here in Devon with a great group of writers and Chefs Peter Gordon and
Yotam Ottolenghi with Arvon Foundation Food writing course at Totleigh Barton.

The evening meal has turned into quite a competition between the course members with bigger and more elaborate dishes each night. Peter and Yotam cannot resist passing through the kitchen to see if they can help. They are fabulous Tutors and are accessable all the time to ask questions of any kind. It's great being with like minded people with such a wide range of talents and experience.

Groups of four people cook each night and here are some sample menus created out the ingredients on hand.

This is beef day Menu.

Mossaman Potato and sping onion curry
Vietmanese Braised beef with hot and sour salad
Gado Gado
Sweetcorn and spinach fritters with sweet chilli raita
pack choi with soy and roasted peanuts
Pineapple carpacoo with mint and sugar
the ginger taramisu was so authentic as it was mad by an Italian lady. Yum

Fish day menu

macarel sashimi
scollops with charizo chips
grilled seabass with lemon tomato and bay leaves
courgette frittata with blue cheese
Linguine with chilli,crab, grilled squid and mushrooms
stuffed courgettes with cous cous
tomato salad green herb salad
beans and raddish butter and herb potato salad
rhubarb charlotte
gooseberry fool

More Menus and photos to follow