Friday, 29 June 2012

Lord of the Rillettes

Over the years, I have discovered that there are certain responsibilities in life that I am not entirely sure that I should be left solely in charge of. Firstly, don't leave me in charge of my own children, for that route leads to chaos. Many's the time has Mrs FU come home to discover a living room turned upside-down, settees arranged into an island camp with flour dotted about the place and cushions soaked from water pistols. By all accounts 'Pirates vs Dinosaurs' should be played outside. And don't leave me in charge of a fire, for that route leads to danger. Oblivious to the combustible nature of things like sheds and fences and dry grass, there has been many a time when I have inadvertently sparked a mini-inferno. All manner of insects, small mammals and birds seem to flee the area whenever I load up my Sankey Premium Incinerator for a bit of a burn off. And most definitely, do not ever, ever put me in charge of making rillettes, for that route leads to........erm, empty terrines dishes and no actual rillettes to serve.

I always start off with the best intentions. Pork belly gets slapped onto the board and patiently and carefully I slice away a thin layer of be-nippled skin, leaving behind a fine band of fat and white lined, deep pink meat which is salted thoroughly but not excessively. The flesh is then plonked into a tray along with some crushed garlic, a couple of bay leaves and a smattering of thyme and then topped up with some water. Or if I am feeling flash, some wine. Or Strongbow, if that's all I've got. Into the oven it then goes, covered with foil, on a low, low heat, for at least three hours. After a while, smells begin to permeate the kitchen and seep out throughout the house. I could be upstairs in the bedroom, sorting out my socks and pants when all of a sudden, I'll feel a ghostly, aromatic finger tickle under my chin and then comes the Pavlovian response.

"Come Dan, it's time," whispers my brain and slowly, I make my way back down, trance-like, stupefied, head leaning slightly backwards. The oven door is opened and the tray is retrieved with fan blaring, the foil is peeled back and beautiful, porcine steam billows forth, intoxicating my nostrils further. An independent arm reaches up to the cupboard and scrambles about for a stainless steel bowl and the shrunken, tender, quivering belly is placed gently inside, brushed clean of caramelised garlic and withered herbs. A pair of forks are taken from the drawer and slowly and gently they begin to shred. As the moist ribbons start to appear, I stare down and focus just for second before my face starts to numbly morph into this dopey, lecherous repose. Think of Frodo from the fil-ms, every time he vinegar strokes that ring of his and you'll get the picture. "Taste it Dan," whispers Sauron, who curiously looks a lot like Nigel Slater and so I lift a forkful of hot, succulent, fatty joy to my mouth. And then I am gone, vanished.

When I appear again, the room is dark and cold. The moon shines through the window and the light bounces off an empty, hollow, stainless steel bowl that lies in between my splayed legs. I touch the bowl and then I touch my face and it feels greasy. And then suddenly I feel greasy. Greasy with hatred and contempt. I've done it again. I've eaten all the f-king rillettes again.

And this is why Mrs FU has made the rillettes for our supper club tomorrow night, as I can't be trusted anymore.

Especially since we've put duck in this one.

 One Rillette To Rule Them All
 Deeper
 
And deeper into the abyss

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Bee Keeping

I always thought one day I would take up bee keeping. Ever since I read Virgil's Georgics in grad school. And I've consistently kept my eye on equipment and where to find bees. I never expected that bees would find me. I spotted a few outside the kitchen window about a month ago before I left town. Then the next time it approached a swarm. And now there are hundreds upon hundreds, especially in the late afternoon flying around in the shade of a trumpet vine a few feet from the Dutch door in the kitchen. I expected there would be a hive, the sort you see in Winnie the Pooh, and that I could just ask the bees for some honey, nicely of course. But no, they're in the wall. I put my ear up to it, and it sounds like the roar of a jet engine. Clearly thousands of bees busy making honey, flapping their wings to cool the Queen and do whatever it is bees do in their spare time. This is a whole city of bees, replete with a mall, supermarkets, even an airport. My first instinct is to live happily with them, but apparently the hive continues to grow and it's not at all good for the house. And there's no way to ask for honey politely if it's in the wall.  I'd definitely rather not kill them, given the status of honey bees in general. Does anyone know if they can be moved? Or if there's a way I can live with them? Or even transfer them to a conventional frame-hive? Or convert the wall somehow???

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

SLOW COOKING fever hits the food dept. It's winter here and the kitchen is the place to be. So cook up some gorgeous slow roasted lamb or maybe follow the hot new trend and do a pork slider.




A big thank you to our friends at Dinosaur designs who lent us these lovely white and black platters from their Earth collection, they are called Earth Art Range Medium Temple plate and you can find them on the dinosaur design website!



































::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Vietnamese pulled pork sliders with Asian slaw
Makes 24 sliders
Roasted meat sliders are the hot new food trend to pop up in café's and truckstops all over Sydney, could this be a worldwide trend? Our version is like a mini pork roast in a sweet soft roll, so serve up these cute little sliders at your next party.


• 1 onion, roughly diced
• 1 x 2kg skinless pork shoulder
• 1 stalk lemon grass, bruised
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 tablespoons grated ginger
• ½ cup char siu sauce
• ½ cup rice vinegar
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 24 small brioche buns or small bread rolls
• extra, char siu, for serving
1 quantity Asian slaw

1. Sprinkle the onion over the base of a slow cooker and place the piece of pork on top. If the pork is too large for your cooker it can be cut in half. Add the lemon grass.
2. In a jug, combine the garlic, ginger, char sui sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, stir to combine, pour over the pork and cover the slow cooker.
3. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for 8 hours. When cooked the pork should just fall off the bone. Place onto a large tray that will collect the juices and gently tease and pull the meat apart with your fingers or 2 forks. Before returning the pork to the juices, skim any excess fat. Return the pork to the slow cooker and toss through the pan juices. Cover and keep warm.
4. Slice open buns and lightly toast, top with a spoonful of the pulled pork mixture. Drizzle with a small amount of char siu sauce if desired and spoon on some Asian slaw. Serve immediately.

food dept fact: If you don’t have a slow cooker, place pork into a baking dish and cover tightly with foil, bake in a low oven 110°C (225°F) for 8 hours. Extra pulled pork and can be frozen in its juices for up 3 months.

Asian slaw 

• 2 cups finely shredded wombok cabbage
• 1 small carrot, peeled and shredded or finely grated
• 6 snow peas, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
• ½ cup coriander leaves
• ½ cup mint leaves
• 2 green shallots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
• ¼ cup rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons fish sauce
• 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
• 1 small red chilli, seeded and finely diced

1. In a large mixing bowl toss together cabbage, carrot, snow peas, herbs and shallots.
2. Combine rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chilli in a jar and shake until sugar has dissolved.
3. Just before serving toss the dressing through the slaw ingredients and use as required.






::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
12 hour roast Moroccan lamb and quince served with toasted Israeli couscous with pistachio and preserved lemon
Serves 4 – 6

• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoons ground ginger
• ½ teaspoon saffron threads
• ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 x 1.5 – 1.7 kg lamb shoulder
• 3 quinces, peeled, quartered and cored
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1 quantity Toasted Israeli couscous with pistachios and preserved lemon

1. Combine the onion, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger, saffron, pepper and olive oil in a processor and process to form a paste.
2. Rub the paste onto the lamb shoulder and place into a non-reactive bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 110°C (225°F). To bake the lamb, make a large bag out of baking paper and place the lamb shoulder and quinces into the bag in a baking dish. You could also place the lamb and quinces in an oven bag or simply cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for 12 hours.
4. Remove the lamb and quinces from the baking dish place onto a serving platter and spoon over any pan juices, drizzle over honey and serve with the Toasted Israeli couscous.
 


Toasted Israeli couscous with pistachios and preserved lemon
Serves 4 – 6

• ½ cup raw pistachios
• 40g butter
• 1 onion, finely diced
• 1 ½ cups Israeli couscous
• 2 ½ cups chicken stock
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 1 bay leaf
• ½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
• 2 tablespoons finely julienned preserved lemon

1. Toast pistachio nuts in a large saucepan over a medium heat until brown, remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in the saucepan and sauté the onion until golden, add the couscous, cinnamon and bay leaf, continue stirring until couscous has slightly browned.
3. Pour over the chicken stock and simmer until couscous is tender and the stock has been absorbed, season to taste.
4. Stir through the parsley, preserved lemon and pistachios. Use as required.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Rabbit and porcini ragout with papperdelle and fried sage leaves
Serves 4 – 6

• ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
• 100g speck, finely diced
• ½ small leek, finely diced
• 1 small carrot, finely diced
• 1 small stick celery, finely diced
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• 1.2kg rabbit, cut in to 6 pieces  – ask your butcher to cut this for you
• 20g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in ½ cup boiling water
• 1 large field mushroom, finely diced
• 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
• 2 cups good quality chicken stock
• 6 sage leaves
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 stalk rosemary
• 500g fresh papperdelle pasta
• extra, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• extra 18, sage leaves
• optional, ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese


1. Heat olive oil a large, heavy based, casserole dish over and a medium heat and sauté speck for 3-4 minutes. Add the leek, carrot and celery and sauté
for another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
2. Move the leek, carrot and celery mixture to the sides of the pan and brown
the rabbit pieces well on all sides.
3. While the rabbit is browning, drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the soaking water. Finely chop the porcini and once the rabbit is browned,
add with the soaking water to the casserole dish.  
4. Add the field mushroom, diced tomatoes, chicken stock, sage, bay leaf and rosemary.
Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 2 ½ - 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bones. Once cooked remove the rabbit pieces from the casserole dish and carefully pull the meat off the bone, shred into bite size pieces. Return the meat to the pan and season to taste.
5. Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling water til al dente.
6. While the pasta is cooking heat the extra olive oil in a small shallow pan over a medium heat. Fry the extra sage leaves until crispy and drain on paper towel.
7. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Toss ragout through the pasta, adding a little of the cooking water if needed to loosen the pasta. Serve topped with fried sage leaves and parmesan cheese to your liking.

food dept fact: You can substitute 6 chicken thighs on the bone in place of the rabbit pieces.




::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Slow roasted tomato and capsicum soup with sour dough croutons
Serves 4
Rich and bursting with flavour, this little red engine soup may take a little longer to cook than a regular soup, but don't be surprised if it is quickly slurped up!

• 1kg ripe tomatoes
• 2 red capsicum, halved and seeds removed
• 2 large red chilli, halved and seeded
• 2 red onions peeled and quartered
• 8 small cloves garlic, leave the skin on
• olive oil, for drizzling
• sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
• 2-2 ½ cups good quality chicken stock
• extra, 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ sour dough loaf, crust removed and torn into 3cm crouton pieces
• olive oil and black pepper, for serving
• optional, 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F) Arrange the tomatoes, capsicum, chilli, onion, and garlic cloves in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season to taste
with the salt and pepper.
2. Bake for 1½ hours or until the tomatoes and capsicum are charred and softened. 
3. Place into a large saucepan with the chicken stock and using a stick blender, blend until smooth. Bring to a slow boil over a medium heat, reduce heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Increase oven to 200°C (400°C). Place croutons and extra olive oil in a bowl and toss until the bread is coated in the oil.  Place onto a lined oven tray and bake for 10 minutes or until bread is golden and crispy.
5. Serve soup in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, season with black pepper and serve topped
with sour dough croutons and parmesan if desired.




::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Crisp roast pork hock with spiced red cabbage and apple horseradish
Serves 4
This recipe from Jane Lawson is just so good we just had to include it in our slow story. Jane's beautiful cook book, Snowflakes and Schnapps, is a treasured favourite, not just because of the yummy recipes but the styling is divine too.

• 4 x 750g (1 lb 10 oz) fresh pork hocks from the hind legs, lightly scored around the hock
• 2 tablespoons sea salt
Spiced red cabbage
• 60g (2¼ oz) butter
• 1 red onion, finely sliced
• 1.5kg (3 lb 5 oz/about ½ large head) red cabbage, thickly shredded
• 65g (2½ oz/½ cup) dried cranberries
• 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated 6 juniper berries
• 60ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) red wine
• 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 bay leaf
• ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 3 tablespoons soft brown sugar
• ½ teaspoon ground allspice
Apple horseradish
• 65g (2½ oz/¼ cup) apple sauce

• 2 tablespoons bottled horseradish

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Place a large wire rack in a roasting tin. Stand the hocks upright on the rack, balancing them against each other with the small end pointing up. Rub well with sea salt. Cook for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3). Pour a small amount of water under the rack and cook for 1 hour further.
2. Increase the temperature back to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7) and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until the pork is very tender, dark golden and crispy. Remove from the oven, cover, and rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
3. While the hocks are cooking, make the spiced red cabbage. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cabbage and stir for 10 minutes, or until the cabbage has wilted slightly. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the allspice, and stir to combine.
4. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and there is very little liquid left. Stir in the allspice and season to taste. turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
5. For the apple horseradish, combine the apple sauce and horseradish and mix well. Set aside.
6. Serve the hocks on top of some cabbage with the apple horseradish sauce on the side.
tip: this dish is perfect with smooth mashed potatoes whipped together with a good dollop of mild, savoury mustard and some tender steamed green beans or spinach.




Dinosaur designs white platter Earth Art Range Medium Temple plate 
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
20 hour apple cake with spiced crème anglaise
Serves 6 - 8
10 hours in the oven and 10 hours resting definitely seems like an eternity but when the apple cake is baking all you have to do is relax and wait or maybe make some spiced crème anglaise to have with them. It’s definitely worth the wait!

• 6 granny smith apples
• 6 Fuji apples
• ¼ cup caster sugar
• 40g butter, melted
• 1 quantity Spiced crème anglais

1. Preheat oven to 110°C (175°F). Grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake pan.
2. Working with 1 apple at a time, peel and core the apples. Using a mandolin slice the apple on the thinnest setting.
3. Fan the apple slices over the base of the pan. When the base is completely covered with apple lightly brush with the melted butter and sprinkle over a little of the sugar. Repeat with remaining apples (alternating the types of apples), butter and sugar until all is used.
4. Cover with baking paper and then foil, seal tightly. Using a small knife puncture the foil and baking paper about 20 times. Place a smaller cake pan on top of the foil and fill with baking weights or dried beans. Take care not to cover all of the holes you just have punctured.
5. Place on a tray and bake for 10 hours. Remove from the oven and place onto a cooling rack, remove the pan with the pie weights and allow to cool to room temperature. Do not remove the baking paper and foil.
6. Once cool place the pan with the weights back onto the apples and rest in the refrigerator for a further 10 hours. Removes from the refrigerator, uncover and gently run a small paring knife around the edge of the tin. Turn the apples onto a serving platter and cut into wedges, serve with Spiced crème anglaise.

food dept fact: These apples make a delicious tart or pie filling or simply can be served over vanilla ice cream. You could also make in individual ramekins of the apple, cut back the cooking time to 2 – 3 hours.

Spiced crème anglaise
Makes 2½ cups

• 300ml cream
• 300ml milk
• 1 star anise
• 1 cinnamon quill
• 4 free range egg yolks
• ½ cup caster sugar

1. Place the cream, milk and spices in a saucepan, bring to a slow boil over a medium heat, remove from the heat and allow the spices to infuse into the milk for a couple of minites.
2. Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk approximately ½ of the spiced milk into the egg mixture.  Return the egg and milk mixture to the remaining milk in the saucepan and whisk well.
3. Place over a low heat and stir the custard until it has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow to boil or it will curdle.
4. Once thickened cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and keep warm. Use as required.



A little about Jane's cook book
Snowflakes and Schnapps (Murdoch Books)
From the seaside towns of
 Scandinavia, to the alpine villages
 of Austria, from the ski fields of France, to the fairy-tale castles 
of Germany, and as far afield as the 
white-blanketed cities of Russia and beyond, comes this enticing collection of traditional recipes with contemporary flair. Beautifully designed, Snowflakes and Schnapps features recipes for everyday meals and special occasions, including a Christmas chapter, perfect for Christmas in July celebrations.
Celebrate the season of winter and enjoy this irresistible selection of simmering soups, hearty meals and indulgent desserts that will warm you to the core. from humble and satisfying classics to glamorous feasts worthy of a celebration, you are sure to be inspired by the mythical winter wonderland of Snowflakes and Schnapps.
Available in all good bookshops


the food dept would like to thank our lovely friends who kindly helped us on our slow shoot day
Food assistant: Nicola Mayes
Photography assistant: Lauren Chant

Monday, 25 June 2012

Pizza Perfect

I have been having explicit pizza fantasies for several weeks now. And somehow every time a pie presented itself, I thought, "This can't be it. Don't waste your opportunity on this specimen of mediocrity." But I did succumb a few times. There was that weird practically crustless perversity in the suburbs of Chantilly VA: a lot of cheese and meat and nothing else. Hardly anything even vaguely pizza like. I couldn't bring myself to eat pizza in Germany either, though it looked good. Perugia offered a decent one two weeks ago, but it was all crust, a hint of dark tuna and broccoli rabe. The idea was pure genius, but the execution so imbalanced and off center, that it was very unpizzaic in the end. And then NY this past week. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? I ate no pizza, but certainly ogled, smiffed and dreamed about it every moment. So, I am home today and thought I must just cook it. And the idea Perugia was still stuck there. And it truly is genius. Not my idea, but the ingredients must be right. Sautee the rabe first so it comes out crisp in the oven. Canned (YES) solid tuna in water, ordinary mozzarella. But all in perfect balance. Got to be a paper thin crust or you would lose the tuna, but very crispy. And it is beyond beyond. If you can think of a better unusual combination, let me know.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Is It Fudgy?

It doesn't happen that often but every once in a while, I have the misfortune to come across the sort of swollen, pompous, know-it-all, misanthrope who's only endeavour in life is to look down their snotty nose and lixiviate their ill-formed, arrogant opinions all over the place. Spluttering, through rubbery lips and with an air of disdain, the words they speak are usually only ever self-serving, sneering and sardonic. After issuing forth, they will often then gaze down from their imagined pedestal or cushioned cloud of indulgent wind and smirk, safe and warm in their own smug coitus. Their unwanted declaration the equivalent of a five second wank.

For want of a more crisper, concise description, for now, let's just call them 'Food Snobs'. And like I said, I've met a couple in my lifetime.

I'll never forget the suited gentleman queuing behind me in the sandwich shop who guffawed after my order.

"I think you'll find it's pronounced chor-ee-tho."

Or the sommelier who bulked at my appraisal of a glass of red.

"Hmm, farmhouse isn't really a word I would associate with this. Earthy, straw, robust maybe but definitely not farmhouse."

Or the time, when asked what I like to do with leeks, a well known food writer and editor, retorted, somewhat vehemently, "Well well, make soup eh? My God, that is so imaginative."

Naturally, I take these sorts of encounters in my stride, often compositing a scenario in my mind where I simply smile back and then suddenly lunge forward and rip their heads off with one bare hand, Wing Chun style, blood spraying everywhere, howling like Bruce Lee. And then I am back in the room, carrying on with the rest of my day. However, a couple of weeks ago, a particularly horsey female character very nearly got the real deal.

I was in Neal's Yard Dairy in Borough Market, set with the task of buying some cheese, as you might well expect. In fact, prior to this, I had put a shout out on Twitter asking what I should buy and the resounding response came back as "Cheese", therefore confirming my suspicion that the majority of my followers are sarcarstic bastids. Although, thankfully, I don't believe them to be snobs. Well, maybe some of them. Anyway, in the shop I approached a rather solemn but helpful and attentive, bearded cheesemonger (another thing, why are there mongers in cheese and fish but not in meat or baking? I'd like to meet a meatmonger one day) and simply said that I was after an all-round selection. Without further ado, he pointed me towards the goats cheeses, asking if I had any particular favourite and I replied that really, I knew sod all about goats cheese. So with a swift swish of the knife, he peeled off a slice Tymsboro, an ash-coated unpasteurised cheese and handed it over. As I put it up to my mouth, I was shoved forward and a scatter gun shriek burst my left eardrum.

"IS IT FUDGAAY? IS IT? I LIKE MY TYMSBORO FUDGAAAY. IS IT FUDGAAYY?"

I turned around to look and zero in on where the penetrating, nasal cawing was coming from and behind me stood a Barbour quilted, doggy smelling, faux-blonde bouffant with flashing eyes and hints of rosacea. She stared at me hard and long and brusquely asked yet again, "Well, is it fudgy?!" At least I think that's what she said, I suspect that class and years of in-breeding had left her without adenoids or any propensity to form words such was her clippyness. I simply shrugged, as if I no speakadaenglish and so she huffed at my apparent moronity, scooped the remaining goats cheese that was on Beardy's knife and then went to the other end of the counter whilst shovelling it into her mouth. Or maybe it went up her nose. I can't remember.

The rest of the shopping experience went past rather uneventfully after that. Beardy and I just carried on with our business and I left Neal's Yard happy with the decisions I had made. Yet as I walked back to the office, a sense of paranoia and annoyance crept up on me. What was that all about? Was she simply making an enquiry in her own special way? Or was she, via some extraordinarily loud bleating, asserting her own authority on the matter? "I BLOODY WELL KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT AND YOU DON'T, YOU PLEB!" It sort of felt like that. And that narks me that does, that sort of bloody food snobbery. So I have been making enquiries, as part of a plan to fight against it, to strike out whenever it occurs and stamp out this disease once and for all.

It comes in the form of a stamp actually, a custom made rubber stamp that will languish in the inside pocket of my jacket alongside a red ink pad. It will say "Food Snob." With "twat" in a smaller font and in brackets. And if I ever come across this sort of pretension again, I will simply pull the stamp out, calmly emboss it with ink and casually and silently press it on the forehead of the perpetrator. And then walk away.

It's not quite the same as ripping heads off but it will be just as satisfying.

 Tymsboro (lovely, tangy, creamy but not really that fudgy)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Cooking in a Castle in Germany


This past week I was in Nideggen, Germany cooking in a medieval castle. It was, oddly enough, for a documentary on the life of 17th century Italian composer Claudio Monteverdi. They wanted cooking segments with food that reflects the same Baroque aesthetic as his music. Cooked in a wood-burning oven and over an open flame. I chose a few dishes, a kind of gnocchi from Cesare Evitascandalo, an asparagus dish from Bartolomeo Stefani, and then a grand veal pie from Vittorio Lancellotti, who was an exact contemporary. Now, you have to imagine this. It is veal chopped finely then pounded in a mortar into a fine paste with sugar and candied citron, plus grapes set inside. This is in a rather sweet thick flaky pastry that is glazed and decorated with flowers. It's upside down here, but heart-shaped. Apart from being totally over the top, it is absolutely baroque in flavor and form. Lancelotti doesn't have a recipe, but it is featured in many of his menus, so reconstructing it wasn't too difficult. The best part was of course watching the crew wince at the idea of a sweet veal pie. But it was quickly devoured after shooting.

This magnificent photo was taken by Claudia van Koolwijk.



Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Rotisserated Pineapple with a splash of TibuRon

 A Pineapple

To be frank, the past few days have been a bit of Blur. I jumped aboard a metaphorical fairground waltzer last Thursday and have only just got off this morning. During the mad spinnings and the queasy dips, corks have been popped, lager has been sloshed, the clams never opened but hey, the duck sausages, at least they sizzled and spat with life. Rotating round and round further still, brides were snogged, and some old friends too, flags were waved, shoes and socks became drenched, arms were linked, tequila was slammed and a back tooth was broken. Tears, laughter, snot and screams of joy on bouncy castles, rock star poses, water balloons and cake. Lots and lots of cake. All set to an Elton John soundtrack, complete with gyrating wig and the flashing colours of red, white and blue, red, white and blue, everywhere. Gawd bless 'er and the feverish, manic grip that takes hold of our country, the days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers. Bank holiday comes with a six pack of beer and then it's back to work............

A.G.A.I.N

So yes, here I am at my desk this morning trying to piece together the muddled events of the public holiday and I am sure that at some point in proceedings, we grilled some pineapple. After checking the pictures on my phone, it seems that we did and spying the caramelised, juicy husk brought it all back. A downpour, a retreat to the kitchen and a proclamation that we didn't need a bbq to cook our pineapple, for we had the Rotisseratorisor! If you haven't tried hot, sexy, grilled pineapple before, you should. Even if the fruit is still a tad unripe, cooking pineapple brings all it's inherent tangy, sweetness right up to the surface. It also helps if you coat it in icing sugar of course. The real swift stroke of genius came when I decided to melt some plain chocolate, adding a healthy dash of TibuRon, to drizzle over the pineapple. TibuRon for the uninitiated is a coconut and tropical fruit, rum based liquor that you can find in Aldi and is just the kind of random purchase you would make from the el cheapo German superstore. Along with fishing rods, pipe cleaners and frozen doner kebabs. TibuRon by itself is disgusting. But blended finely with the chocolate in a glass bowl over a bain marie, it gives this dessert just the right alcoholic kick, enthusing much gusto and screeching of the national anthem. The alternate one I mean. To a crowd of stern looking patriots.

Oh the embarrassment.

I think I need a holiday to get over this holiday.

 Naked pineapple
 Sugar is a great sweetener
 Plain chocolate
 TibuRon - Drink of Champions
 Rotisseratorisingating a pineapple under a grill takes about 30 minutes
 Caramelized....hmmm
 Sliced
God Save The Queen! The fascist regime! They made you a moro.......ooops

Friday, 1 June 2012

UNDERGROUND EXTRA – create colourful jars of pickled root vegetables with your left over vegies.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Pickled root vegetables
Makes a 6 litre jar or use a variety of smaller jars

• 1 bunch baby purple carrots
• 1 bunch baby yellow carrots
• 1 bunch baby turnips
• 1 bunch radishes
• 1 bunch baby beetroot
• 20 peppercorns
• 10 bay leaves
• 1 litre white vinegar
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• 2 teaspoons vanilla salt or 2 teaspoons sea salt and 1 vanilla pod

1. Wash and trim the vegetables, pack into a 6 litre sterilized jar, alternating with the peppercorns and bay leaves.
2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, water and vanilla salt in a large saucepan. Heat over a medium heat until simmering and the sugar has dissolved.
3. Pour the hot vinegar over the vegetables and seal the jar. Allow to cool and then store in the refrigerator until required. Keeps refrigerated for 1 month.

food dept. fact: Thinly slice a selection of the pickles, toss with a handful of salad greens some thinly sliced red onion to make a refreshing and crunchy salad. They make great Christmas or birthday gifts for friends or family.