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 29, 2010

Do Not Trifle...

I am seriously beginning to wonder whether anyone really cares about the Name This Food! bit of The Food Of Jeff! So I have decided that this post will be the last Name This Food!, unless there is a mass outcry for its return.


...(sound of crickets chirping)...

Okay then.

I asked last time (and it was a while ago, so you've had plenty of time to think of an answer, which is why I am cancelling etc. etc) what this food was.

I received no answer, not one. Nada. Zip. Smoke. Nuthin'. A big fat goose egg.  Which is disconcerting, since it's probably the easiest one I've EVER posted.

For those of you who have still no clue, it's a TRIFLE. 


So what's a trifle, and why's it called a trifle?


Trifle is a dessert dish made from thick or usually solidified custard, fruit, sponge cake, fruit juice or gelatin, and whipped cream. These ingredients are usually arranged in layers with fruit and sponge on the bottom, and custard and cream on top.

The earliest known use of the name trifle was for a thick cream flavoured with sugar, ginger and rosewater, the recipe for which was published in England, 1596, in a book called "The good huswife's Jewell" by Thomas Dawson. It wasn't until sixty years later when milk was added and the custard was poured over alcohol soaked bread.
Research indicates it evolved from a similar dessert known as a fool or foole (which we covered a few months ago in this very column), and originally the two names were used interchangeably.
While some people consider the inclusion of gelatin to be a recent variation, the earliest known recipe to include jelly dates from 1747, and the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote of trifles containing jelly in 1861.

Many people use a small amount of alcohol such as port, or, most commonly, sweet sherry or madeira wine in their trifles. A trifle containing sherry is sometimes called 'High Church' - apparently! Non-alcoholic versions may use sweet juices or soft drinks such as ginger ale instead, as the liquid is necessary to moisten the cake layers. If you spread a nice jam on the trifle sponges or cake layers before soaking them in booze and gelatin it adds an extra facet to the flavors. Yummmm.

Scotland has a similar dish to trifle, Tipsy Laird, made with Drambuie or whisky. In the Southern US, as well as parts of the UK, a variant of trifle is known as tipsy cake. When I worked at Sissinghurst we often served 'Sussex Tipsy Cake'.

A trifle is often used for decoration as well as taste, incorporating the bright, layered colours of the fruit, jelly, egg custard, and the contrast of the cream.
Trifles are often served at Christmas time, sometimes as a lighter alternative to the much denser Christmas pudding.
A Creole trifle (also sometimes known as a 'Russian cake') is a different but related dessert item consisting of pieces of a variety of cakes mixed together and packed firmly, moistened with alcohol (commonly red wine or rum) and a sweet syrup or fruit juice, and chilled. The resulting cake contains a variety of colour and flavour. Bakeries in New Orleans have been known to produce such cakes out of their leftover or imperfect baked goods.
In Italy, a dessert similar to trifle is known as zuppa inglese, meaning English Soup.

As to WHY it's called a trifle - who knows?

Another variant is one we invented - Gingerbread Trifle.

What we did was to make Gingerbread (the soft kind, more like a tea bread than the kind used for building houses, that you can buy packet mixes of in the Pillsbury/Betty Crocker section), and bake it like you would a jelly roll (Swiss roll) on a baking sheet, then cut this into sections.What you could do at this point is to drizzle the cake with dark rum or brandy or even whisky.





We then took the pre-prepared canned pumpkin and combined it with butterscotch Jello pudding mix or Angel Delight mix, then into your trifle bowl alternate layers of the gingerbread, the pudding, and whipped cream. Extremely decadent but a cinch to make and no need to wait for custard and jello to set!
Well, happy trifling!

Kooshti sante!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How To...

...Make The Best-Ever Hot Chocolate!


At this time of year all we really want to do is snuggle under a blanket with a steaming mug of cocoa, but all too often those store-bought hot chockie mixes leave you feeling, well... dissatisfied. Many of us don't want to try making it from scratch because it's a bit too much like hard work and we're a little unsure of ourselves in the kitchen.

That's why I'm here to help.

I now present to you, without further ado, Jeff's Foolproof Hot Choc!

You need:
2 mugs the same size
Milk
Cocoa powder (not hot chocolate mix - the real deal)
Vanilla
Sugar

In one mug, pour 1-2 tablespoons of milk. In the other, fill it with milk about 7/8ths of the way. Put this one in the microwave on high for about 2 and a half minutes.

While that's cookin', in the other mug add  2 teaspoons of sugar, 1 heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder and a drop or two of vanilla essence. Stir these together for about 30 seconds till it forms a sort of runny paste.

When the hot milk is done in the old micro, take it and pour it into the other mug. Do this over the sink, it might splash.

Stir and enjoy. Add marshmallows, whipped cream or grate some dark chocolate on the top if you wish.

You are welcome!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Turnip For The Books



The turnip or white turnip (Brassica rapa var. rapa) is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock.

OK, that's all very well, but what can I make with it that's delicious and interesting, Jeff? I hear you collectively wail. Well, I am delighted you asked.


Chard and Veggie Bake with a Mushroom, Quinoa and Goats Cheese Crumble Topping

Ingredients

Serves 6

For the bake:

Olive oil
Six shallots, roughly diced
One bag of chard, chopped
500ml stock
Three carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces
Two turnips, chopped into bite-sized pieces
One can of mixed beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

Four cloves of garlic, minced
One punnet of mushrooms, crumbled by hand into large breadcrumb-sized pieces
One cup of quinoa
100g goats cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

Heat the oven to 200C.
Rinse the quinoa well, simmer it in two cups of boiling water until the germ starts to separate, and then drain and set to one side to cool.
Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick stockpot or casserole pan then turn down the heat and add the shallots.
After two or three minutes, add the chard. Cover and wilt down for three or four minutes.
Now tip in the stock, and throw in the carrots, turnips, beans and seasoning.
Give it all a good stir, replace the lid and continue to simmer for around ten minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the minced garlic, cooked and cooled quinoa, crumbled mushrooms and goats cheese in a large glass bowl that you can get your hands into. This is sticky but fun.
Check the veggie mix for flavour, adjust as necessary and then spoon it into a large, lightly oiled baking dish.
Cover with the quinoa mix and bake in the oven for 20 minutes before switching the oven to grill and browning off the top for around five minutes.
Enjoy.




Turnip Slivers

Ingredients

Turnips
a brushing of olive oil
salt or other seasoning

Method

Peel the turnip as normal and then cut it into quarters. With a potato peeler, make lots of slivers of turnip, like you would make carrot curls.

Heat up a deep fat fryer as you would for chips and then fry.

They are ready in seconds - just drain them in kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt or other seasoning. Try a sprinkle of chili powder or grated Parmesan.

Alternatively, heat the oven to around 275C and bake the slivers (after brushing them with olive oil) in a layer on a baking tray for about an hour.




Chili Non Carne

A nice meatless chili.

Ingredients

Serves 4

100g Puy lentils or green lentils
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 parsnip / turnip peeled & grated
1 medium carrot, grated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tin tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
200g kidney beans
1 fresh or dried chili, deseeded and finely chopped
adjust to suit your taste
teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon yeast extract or 1 stock cube
Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

Put the lentils in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, not allowing them to boil dry. They should be almost cooked after this time.

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan and saute the onion, garlic, carrot and parsnip / turnip for 10 minutes.

Add the chili, ground coriander seeds and cumin. Cook for 2 minutes.

Roughly chop the tinned tomatoes and add to the frying pan with the tomato puree, balsamic vinegar and yeast extract / stock cube. Mix well.

Add the lentils and stir well. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Add the kidney beans and heat through. Finally add the chopped coriander leaves.


 Alright, now we have some delicious ideas including turnip. But what about recipes where the turnip is the star?


Turnip Casserole 

yield: 8
Preparation Time: 30 mins  
Cooking Time: 45 mins

Light and smooth turnip side-dish made with eggs and topped with bread-crumbs

Ingredients


2 medium turnips
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread-crumbs
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Recipe Instructions

Preheat oven to 350oF. Butter an ovenproof baking dish. Peel and chop into chunks the turnips and boil until tender, around 30 minutes. Once tender, mash the turnip well and put into the baking dish. Separate the eggs. In a bowl mix the sugar, nutmeg, egg yolks and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold carefully into the sugar and egg yolk mixture. Fold the turnip into the egg mixture.

Put into the casserole dish and smooth with the back of a spoon. Melt the butter and add the bread-crumbs. Spread over the top of the turnip mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

How about a soup?


Turnip Soup with Ham and Croutons

Smooth, creamy turnip soup served with crispy ham and cornbread croutons. A comforting winter soup.

Ingredients

2 lb turnip, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery
1 1/4 lb onions
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock
2 oz unsalted butter
1/4 cup double cream
4 oz country ham, julienned
salt
freshly milled black pepper
olive oil
2 cups medium diced cornbread

Recipe Instructions


Preheat the oven to 400oF. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the celery and onions and sauté

Remove the pan from the heat and remove the bay leaf. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup until very smooth.

Put the ham in a small saucepan and cook until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen roll. Mix the cornbread cubes in olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Put on a baking tray and bake for around 6-8 minutes. Bread should be golden brown.

Add the cream to the soup and reheat until hot. Put into bowls and garnish with the cornbread croutons and crispy ham.

And one more just for the sheer hell of it...


Turnip Masala 

Authentic Punjabi recipe


Spicy turnip curry made with traditional Indian spices. Serve as a main-course with rice and naan bread.

Ingredients

500 g turnips
2 large onion
2 tomatoes
2 green chillies
1 tsp ginger, grated
1 tsp garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 cup water
bunch coriander leaves
salt

Method


Chop the onions and the green chillies. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, and add the chopped chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for 1 minute. Add the chopped onions and fry for around 5 minutes until lightly browned. Peel and chop into small chunks the turnip. Chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, cumin and salt and fry for around 2 minutes. Add the turnips and mix well.


Add the water to cover the vegetables, bring to the boil and reduce the heat. Cover with a lid and simmer for around 30 minutes. Add the sugar, mix well and mash the turnip. Mixture should be relatively dry. If still quite wet, continue to cook over a low heat for 1-2 minutes while still stirring.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with rice and naan.

Okey dokes then, I think we are dun turnipped out.

What's this week's food? And how can I make it tie in with all the jolly ho-ho-ho festivities that seem to be occurring?

Name This Food! (Not tricky, I know - but I love the pic.)
(Drool....)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

E-Z Puff Pastry Pizza

Step One: Gather your ingredients.

Pasta sauce? Check. Mozzarella? Check. Puff pastry? Check. Tomatoes? Check.
Step Two: Lay the puff pastry on a baking sheet. Spread some pasta sauce thinly on top, then top with mozzarella.


Step Three: Add tomatoes, and a tad more cheese.


Step Four: Whack it in a 200 C oven for about 20 minutes.

Step Five: Yum!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Thinks

Well, the season is upon us, and I've been posting entries to this food based blog for most of this year. We've laughed, we've cried, we've eaten, drank, eaten too much, drank too much and regretted it the next morning. Along the way, we've (perhaps) learned a thing or two. In that spirit, then, I wanted to post a little foody-type quiz. Being a bit of a lazy bugger, however, I stole this quiz from the pages of the Telegraph via the TV show QI. My sincere apologies to all involved.  Have fun puzzling these out, and I shall post the answers closer to Christmas.

UPDATE: Well, it's now Boxing Day, and that means you have had a good couple of weeks in which to puzzle these out. I shall therefore highlight the answers in a festive red.


FOOD


1 Why are aardvark cucumbers so named?
(a) They're eaten by aardvarks
(b) They look like aardvarks
(c) Their namers wanted them to appear at the beginning of alphabetical lists

2 Which is true of the Jerusalem Artichoke?
(a) It is an artichoke, but is not from Jerusalem
(b) It is not an artichoke, but is from Jerusalem
(c) It is neither an artichoke, nor is it from Jerusalem

3What do the Danish call Danish pastries?
(a) Danish pastries
(b) Viennese bread
(c) Alsatian cakes

4 Lord Derby, Woodpecker and Fascination are classifications of which fruit?
(a) Gooseberries
(b) Cranberries
(c) Grapes

5 The German word kummerspeck, meaning weight gained through comfort eating, literally means what?
(a) Cream guzzling
(b) Grief bacon
(c) Disappointment candy

6 What is a swede?
(a) A cross between a cabbage and a turnip
(b) A cross between a parsnip and a beetroot
(c) A cross between fennel and carrots

7 What is the main ingredient of Papuan Kungu cakes?
(a) Clay
(b) Mayflies
(c) Bird excreta

8 Which of the following isn't a member of the nettle family?
(a) Hops
(b) Avocados
(c) Figs

9 What is the miracle that gives miracle fruit their name?
(a) They appear to grow with no water
(b) Their juice makes sour things taste sweet
(c) They played a part in winning the Sino-Japanese War

10 The residents of the Island of Guam are the world's largest consumers of what?
(a) Spam
(b) Baked beans
(c) HP Sauce

DRINK

11 Which of these was once the national drink of Scotland?
(a) Claret
(b) Amaretto
(c) Vodka

12 Which of the following flavours of fizzy drink are available in the US?
(a) Yule Log
(b) Turkey & Stuffing
(c) Brussels Sprout

13 The word absinthe comes from the Greek apsinthion, meaning what?
(a) Green Monster
(b) Vomiting
(c) Undrinkable

14 How many pints of Guinness does the Guinness Brewery in Dublin produce every day?
(a) 4,000
(b) 400,000
(c) 4,000,000

15 What did Churchill sometimes use instead of mouthwash?
(a) Pernod
(b) Brandy
(c) Champagne

16 Which game was first played with Champagne corks instead of balls?
(a) Table tennis
(b) Squash
(c) Billiards

17 Which country has the highest per-capita coffee consumption in the world?
(a) Finland
(b) Yemen
(c) USA

18 Ballantine's whisky warehouses on the Clyde are protected by what?
(a) Local Girl Guides
(b) A flock of ferocious geese
(c) The fact that they are underwater

19 According to a study at Cornell University, what happens to plants that are fed vodka?
(a) They grow tall but have no flowers
(b) They still have flowers, but stunted growth
(c) They attract 50 per cent more insects

20 In the 17th century, the Champagne region of France was best known for what?
(a) Wool
(b) Ale
(c) Sausages

QI SELECTION BOX

21 Which of the following was a predecessor of the Milky Way bar?
(a) Fat Emma
(b) Lardy Larry
(c) Penny Plump

22 In the 1960s, "nougat" was a codename for what?
(a) Nuclear tests in Nevada
(b) American attempts to build a spaceship
(c) Australia's kangaroo cull

23 Which of these can be found in the US state of Maine?
(a) A candy statue of comic actor John Candy
(b) A chocolate moose
(c) A caramel carousel

24 Which of the following was sold in Germany with the slogan "Eat this and feel great"?
(a) Chocolate laced with radium
(b) Hashish-centred chocolates
(c) Chocolate-covered dog testicles

25 Which of these was an early use for caramel?
(a) Sticking saddles to horses
(b) Bait to catch sturgeon in the Caspian Sea
(c) Hair removal in Arabian harems

26 Which of the following has never been a message on Love Hearts sweets?
(a) Gay boy
(b) Poke me
(c) Hey Daddy-O

27 Which of these is a popular confectionery in Finland?
(a) Assa Mix
(b) Botte Mix
(c) Rumpi Mix

28 How many pieces - approximately - of dried chewing gum litter Oxford Street in London?
(a) 3,000
(b) 300,000
(c) 30,000,000

29 What was the original name of Jelly Babies?
(a) Jelly Queens (celebrating the coronation of Elizabeth II)
(b) Footy Babies (celebrating England's 1966 World Cup win)
(c) Peace Babies (celebrating the end of the First World War)

30 According to a 2007 study, which of the following may help to reduce blood pressure?
(a) White chocolate
(b) Dark chocolate
(c) Milk chocolate

Happy Puzzling!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Red Ain't Dead

So someone thought it was radicchio, someone else said it was way too easy to answer and then proceeded to not provide an answer, and all this was over a week ago. I know it's the holiday season, folks, but really...


Red Cabbage was the all-too-easy answer.

So...?


The red cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata f. rubra) is also known as Red Kraut or Blue Kraut after preparation. Its leaves are coloured dark red/purple. However, the plant changes its colour according to the pH value of the soil, due to a pigment called anthocyanin (flavin). On acidic soils, the leaves grow more reddish while an alkaline soil will produce rather greenish-yellow coloured cabbages. This explains the fact that the same plant is known by different colours in various regions. Furthermore, the juice of red cabbage can be used as a home-made pH indicator, turning red in acid and blue in basic solutions. It can be found in Northern Europe, throughout the Americas, and in China.
On cooking, red cabbage will normally turn blue. To retain the red colour it is necessary to add vinegar or acidic fruit to the pot.

So what can you do with it, besides the basic coleslaw or braised cabbage with apple? A quick Google search seems to tell us that there aren't many other things you can do. But as Seth Godin says, if your Google search isn't what you want (need) it to be, then change it. So I did... I chose (gasp) a different search engine. I'm not saying which one, but he sings White Christmas.

Well, that told me much the same story. Truth is, it seems that red cabbage is not a really versatile veg. But no matter... we press on.

Back to Google, I tried something out of left field. I added the word 'cake' to my search. Presto! Lots of lovely different results.


From the Cooking With Arthritis website, comes this recipe by Melinda Winner:

Southern slaw red cabbage cake with cream cheese icing



Yield 12 servings

2¼ c. all-purpose flour

1¾ c. sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. nutmeg

¼ tsp. kosher salt

3 eggs

¾ c. buttermilk

1 c. canola oil

3 tsp. vanilla extract

½ c. shredded carrots.

¾ c. shredded (like for coleslaw) red cabbage then rough chop

¼ c. raisins

¾ c. pecans + ¼ c. for topping.

1 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three nine-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and set aside. Using a stand mixture bowl set on medium speed armed with the whisk attachment (if you do not have one, use a separate bowl and a hand mixture), mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. When it is mixed well, add the dry flour mixture to your wet. Start mixer on low then scrape sides and beat on medium high until creamy, about 30-60 seconds, then add the sour cream and mix until creamy about 20-40 seconds on medium high. Next, by hand mix in carrots, cabbage, and ¾ cups chopped pecans and raisins. Mix well. Pour into three round nine-inch cake pans and bake for 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand in pans for about 10 minutes then turn out on cooling racks allow cooling completely. Ice and decorate with the remaining ¼ cup pecans.

Cream cheese icing:

2 (8 oz) package cream cheese (softened at room temperature)

¾ c. butter (room temperature)

2 T. whipping cream or whole milk

1½ T. vanilla extract

7 c. confectioners’ sugar

In a clean standing mixer bowl, cream together cream cheese and butter until light and creamy, about three minutes. Add whipping cream mix on high for about 30-60 seconds then lower speed to low. Add vanilla while mixing and slowly add confectioners’ sugar; when blended, turn mixer to high and mix until creamy and spreadable about 45-60 seconds.


Then there's this one from the Allotment2Kitchen blog:


Cabbage Potato Cakes

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil and extra for shallow frying
2 small cabbages, one red and one green, cut into quarters, then sliced thinly.
700g potatoes, peeled. cooked and mashed and allowed to cool down and divided into two bowls.
2 small onions, finely sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In two separate pans, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and soften in each onions and cabbages, until translucent and cooked through. Turn off heat and allow to cool. When cool, add the cooked cabbages to each potato bowl, combine well and season to taste. Then shape into individual round cakes. Cover and chill for an hour or more. When ready to eat, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Add the cakes and fry over medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side until crisp and golden brown.

And here's a more traditional one, apropos for the season...


Christmas Spiced Red Cabbage


Ingredients

1 large red cabbage (about 1kg/2lb 4oz)
25g butter
2 red onions , finely chopped
finely grated zest and juice 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
150ml port
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Method

Peel off the outer leaves of the cabbage, then cut into quarters and slice out the core. Use a sharp knife or the slicing attachment of a food processor to thinly slice the cabbage.
Heat the butter in a large saucepan, then tip in the onions and gently fry until softened, about 5 minsmins-1 hr until the cabbage is softened.


Alrighty,  now that we are cabbaged out, what's our next Name This Food?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This Nero Ain't No Zero

So, this was a toughie.

What is this food? I asked.


It wasn't until a couple of days ago that someone answered. An anonymous reader living in Oz answered Kale, and that was not quite correct, but the question was such a tricky one that I'm gonna allow it. The correct answer is
Cavolo Nero!

So what is it? Well, it is a close relative of Kale, a member of the brassica family, the same group that contains brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and collard greens. Cavolo Nero is also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Cabbage, Tuscan Kale, Lacinato and dinosaur Kale. 

So what can one do with it? So glad you asked.

Cavolo nero with garlic and chilli

Remove the stems from 2 bunches of cavolo nero and finely shred the leaves.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and gently fry 1 thinly sliced medium onion and 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves until the onions begin to soften.

Stir in 1 finely chopped, seeded red chilli and cook for another minute.

Add the cavolo nero and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until wilted.

Season generously with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

A great side dish for Italian-style fish, chicken, veal or pork dishes.

Cavolo nero, Chestnut and Butter Bean Soup (Zuppa di Castagne e Cavolo Nero)

Serves 4 - 6

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalks celery, peeled of stringy bits with a potato peeler, then chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 x 400g canned plum tomatoes in juice
1 ½ pints vegetable stock
1 x 435g canned unsweetened pureed chestnuts
1 x 400g can white beans, drained and rinsed
About 250g of Cavolo Nero, stems and ribs removed and leaves chopped into pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Tamari (A type of Japanese soy sauce that's made without wheat and is therefore suitable for those with wheat allergies. Tamari is dark in colour and has a rich flavour, making it useful in marinades and dressings. If you can't find tamari, substitute dark soy sauce.)

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot and add the onion and garlic. Let sweat a bit, then add the carrot and celery. Saute for a few minutes, then add tinned tomatoes, the chopped kale, Tamari and seasoning and cook for a few minutes more before adding the vegetable stock. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes stirring occasionally, before adding in the pureed chestnuts and beans and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Transfer about ½ pint of the soup to a blender and process. Return to the pot; give it a stir. Add more seasoning if required and let simmer for a few minutes before serving.



So... what's the new Name This Food! food?




Kooshti sante!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

No Finer Place For Sure

Today is my birthday. I am 45.

I don't feel 45.

In fact I feel pretty damn good.

My sister and Laura took me off for a birthday lunch. I wasn't told where I was going, but I had an inkling. As it turned out, I was correct. I knew I was in for a serious blowout, because my sister very earnestly told me yesterday that I was not to eat any breakfast. I did as I was told, and boy am I glad I did.

We went to a place in Ashford called the Downtown Diner.


At first glance it doesn't look particularly different from any other restaurant, does it? Apart, that is, from the wall in the outside parking area.

But as soon as one steps inside, it becomes a sea of Americana. This is why they brought me here.









It's a bit blurry, but the posters behind the bar are Breakfast At Tiffany's on the left and The Wizard Of Oz on the right.
The walls are covered with classic movie posters from the golden age of cinema...


And the menu contains some amazing items...

I seriously considered the Spotted Dick, I really did.

I AM reading that right, aren't I? A 24-oz steak? Yes.

Even the kids' menu had some enticing items.
Anyway, it came time to order, and since it was my birthday, I kinda owed it to myself and my readership, all 5 of you, to have the (gulp) MegaBurger... two 1/2 lb burgers with cheese and bacon on a bun, with fries... and a trip to the salad bar. Holy hell.

Well, my trip to the salad bar was good... couscous on the bottom, corn, onions, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, beetroot, and a piece of crusty baguette.
But then comes the burger. OMG. What have I let myself in for?

This thing is a monster.


So I manfully waded into this beast like Guy Fieri. It took some doing, but I ate the whole thing. The only thing left on my plate was some cress.

SO my sister, who had obviously planned something because she was talking secretively with the waitresses before we ordered, says "Well, can we squeeze a dessert in?". Of course we can. Who did she think she was talking to?
What did she have?
Some chocolate ice cream, with a heapin' hoppin' helpin' of whipped cream.

Laura went for the Banoffee pie, which was barely visible under its layer of whipped cream and sprinkles.

This is what I had - the Knickerbocker Glory. Layers of fruit, jelly and ice cream topped with a mountain of whip and sprinkles. Except when it was brought to me, it looked like this...

Happy Birthday to me!
Excellent food, good fun, good atmosphere, and I am definitely going back for that 24oz steak.

In other food-related news: I got a shower cap for my birthday. Shaped like a Christmas pudding.

Think I'm kidding?




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pulling Mussels

I decided today to have a bite of lunch at Cafe Rouge, for two reasons. Firstly, my girlfriend Laura had not eaten there (except once, a long time ago). Second, I had a coupon! Yes, my chums, and if you hurry, you can get one too, at http://www.caferougeoffers.co.uk/. This current 2 for 1 on main meals offer expires on the 28th.

Alright, here are the pics. First of all I want to say that they've really done an amazing job of making the interior look authentically French.







Of course the meal began with my ubiquitous coffee.


Oh, and a little bread. Even the butter is French.


Laura had a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon...


I was going to have an 8oz rare steak, the Bavette, but they had just sold the last one. As always, though, I had a backup, so I wasn't disappointed. Mussels it was. There were three choices - classic Moules Marinière, the spicy tomatoey Moules Provençal, or my choice, the Asian-influenced Moules Thailandaise...



Yum. An easy 5 yums out of 5. Delicate, with flavours of coconut milk, lemongrass, coriander and lime and a chili kick to finish. After I ate them all I mopped up the sauce with about half a baguette. Completely delish, and with the coupon, this one-kilo serving was free!

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