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Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Don't season it till you have tasted it!

Husband with palate of a Labrador has a habit of piling a load of pepper on whatever delicious morsels I set before him before even tasting it.

Last night it was chicken curry (and I didn't stint on the spices) so when he did his usual peppering I warned  him - I will hide a load of pepper in his dinner one day!

I was thinking about this today as I stood in the queue at the local supermarket.  I was pondering my grumpiness as the woman behind me in the queue progressed so far up the checkout aisle she could have packed my shopping.  I hate that.  When the person behind you gets into the space that should rightfully be yours until you have paid and left the checkout.  It happens so often and in my opinion is not helped by the habit that checkout staff have of beginning to put the next customer's shopping through before you have finished packing and putting your purse in your bag.  I often find myself under pressure to move away from the area that I end up doing a balancing act with my purse, the receipt, my card or any change, my shopping ... and it's just RUDE!!

On the way back in the car I was thinking about all the other trivial things that irritate me.  Room 101 may not be big enough to contain them.

Here are a few:

People who stop as the they reach the top, or bottom of an escalator as though they had no idea which direction to go in.  Just move! otherwise there will be a human pile up.

People who drive up the traffic lane that is either closed up ahead or merges up ahead, and jump the entire queue.

Clichés - all of them!

People who don't pick up their dog poo or hang their poo bag on a branch for the dog poo fairy to collect.

Buttons on my shirts that are too small for the buttonholes.

Misuse of the apostrophe

I think I'll stop there!


Sunday, 29 September 2013

New York cheesecake

This cheesecake recipe is easy and pretty much foolproof.  I have been making it for years now and I don't think it has ever failed.  It is also really versatile - I have made it with raspberries and I have made it with blueberries but it tastes just as good with just the lemon zest and juice.

You need
300g ginger nuts
100g melted butter
500g cream cheese - I use Philadelphia if I can't get to the deli
Vanilla - either half a teaspoon of good vanilla extract or scrape the seeds from a pod
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 Eggs separated
125g caster sugar
150 ml soured cream
2 tablespoons cornflour.

Method
Whizz the ginger nuts in a food processor and mix with the butter.  Press into the base of a springform tin.
Chill in the fridge.
Beat together the cream cheese, vanilla and lemon.  Add the egg yolks and half the sugar and beat till smooth.
Mix the cornflour into the soured cream and add to the mixture.
Whisk the egg whites till stiff adding the remaining sugar and whisking again till shiny.
Fold the egg whites into the mixture and at this point gently fold in any blueberries or other fruit you fancy.
Pour into the cake tin, smooth the top and bake at 170°C for an hour.
Let the cheesecake cool and remove from the tin.

Admire your work and enjoy your cheesecake!  The results never fail to impress.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Pork burgers

I had a Nigel Slater moment last week.  In his programme he often goes to the fridge and has a root about to see what he has.  It may be that the TV crew have filled the fridge beforehand with the right kind of leftovers and odd bits of food. ...not the kind that are usually found in my fridge (bendy carrots, yoghurt at least one month out of date, slimy mushrooms, lettuce with brown edges).  No, everything in the slater fridge is deli quality! 

So ...I had, on a whim, made an impulse buy of minced pork.  Not for me the impulse buying of clothes, shoes and handbags.  Oh no.  I was tempted by minced pork.  How sad is that?
I had no real plans for my pork when I bought it so was wondering what to do with it.  A rummage through the fridge proved, this time quite productive and my pork burgers were born.

500g minced pork
A handful of breadcrumbs
Finely chopped red chilli
Bunch of coriander chopped
Finely chopped red onion
Finely chopped garlic
Beaten egg
Seasoning

Mix all together and shape into 4 burgers.

Coat in some oil and fry till brown on the outside and cooked through.  Pop a bit of grated mozzarella on the top and put in a burger bun.

We ate two and I am looking forward the the other two (they are in the freezer)

Friday, 29 June 2012

Celebration Food

It was my daughter's graduation on Monday.  The weather decided that for one day, and one day only, it would be sunny and bright so that made a huge difference.  The main building at Glasgow University and the cloisters and quadrangle are stunning at any time but more so in the sunshine.

We went for lunch at the Pelican Cafe - opposite Kelvingrove museum.  I have read glowing reviews of this place and probably expected something a bit more special.  We were on a tight schedule as we had to be back at the university for the afternoon ceremony (vets - not content with one ceremony have another one in the afternoon!) so we only had an hour.  As we were the only people in the place that wasn't challenging!  I had croque monsieur with skinny fries and the others had burgers. It was OK - but I wouldn't go out of my way to go back.

The evening dinner was in a beautifully decorated marquee and the evening sunshine made it a lovely setting. The food was awful - you would have been disappointed if you had been served this quality of food on an airline.  Cynically - I think that caterers do this because they are unlikely to get complaints from people because nobody wants to spoil the night for their graduating offspring.  What a missed opportunity!  Anyone looking for a caterer (and there were around 500 people there that night) would steer well clear of these caterers.  The soup looked nothing like carrot and coriander - more like dirty dishwater, the smoked salmon starter was minuscule and had a pile of really sad salad with too much red onion on it.  The beef was the worst I have eaten in ages - and I have eaten some awful things - I went to boarding school and also my mother was not known for her culinary skills!  The vegetables were of the type that you sometimes get in restaurants as a side dish.  A couple of new potatoes, some tasteless cauliflower and broccoli and a piece of carrot.  The trio of desserts consisted of a chocolate brownie that was more like a flapjack, a small meringue topped with some cream and a single raspberry and a tiny cheesecake in a thimble sized plastic cup.

On a different level entirely is David Bann in Edinburgh.  I took my daughter there for lunch for her Birthday on Wednesday.  The food is amazing.  It is a vegetarian restaurant in Edinburgh (St Mary's Street).  I had a hot tart with dunsyre blue cheese filling for my starter - the pastry was the best I have ever eaten - it was crisp and buttery and the filling had just the right amount of blue cheese flavour.  I then had a pea and mint risotto with asparagus and a poached egg which was also delicious.  If you haven't tried David Bann then I suggest you give it a go.  Vegetarians get such a rough deal in most restaurants with the one or, if they are lucky, two choices (usually involving ricotta or goats cheese) it's good to go somewhere where there is imaginative and tasty vegetarian food and a whole menu to choose from.

I'm looking forward to Taste in Edinburgh next weekend.  We have tickets for Saturday.  I love grazing round the stalls and trying things I would never pick from the menu if I were eating out.  Last year I took a chance on the lobster bisque creme brulee - it was horrible!!  Let me tell you that is an experiment too far and should never make it onto any menu.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

The big roast beef question

My family are food philistines!
I made roast beef on Sunday- a lovely piece of rib - but the problem is we have different tastes.
I like it rare - they like it well done.
It is almost impossible to cook it so that everyone is happy.
This time I ended up letting them have it the way they like it - but if I am cooking it should I get to have it the way I like it?  Discuss...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

It's been far too long since I wrote!

Ah my poor neglected blog .. it is ages since I wrote.  I used to write on a Sunday but you miss a couple and before you know it it's months since you posted!


Maybe our newly decorated study will make it more pleasant to sit and write.  The arrival of a french exchange student a couple of weeks ago meant we were forced to turn what was a room that couldn't be described as anything other than a dumping ground, into a really nice bedroom/study.  It has been our (my daughter and me) project for the last month.  Shelves have been taken down and stained, walls painted a lovely duck egg blue, a day bed sourced - thanks to ebay - at a good price, matching desk and drawers bought from ikea, a new mattress bought and curtains dyed brown.  Well we tried but 3 packets of dylon later we still haven't really got the desired result.


We took the french student (who was staying with my son) to Edinburgh last Saturday.  We had lunch at Belushi's on Market Street.  Not bad for the price - especially seeing as I have one of those Taste cards that gives you 50% off the food bill - but they do need a bit more effort and attention to what they are doing.  It's quite studenty and fairly basic.  The menu is predominantly burgers - which is fine - but they should try to make sure they remember which burger is which - they hadn't a clue when they got them to the table and I ended up with one I hadn't ordered but we had waited so long I couldn't face making a fuss.  If we had paid full price I would have been really disappointed - but with the taste card we were just over £50 for 6 of us.


It's pouring with rain here today - hasn't let up all day and I discovered this morning when I took the dogs out that both my wellies are leaking.  Having a very un-seasonal dinner tonight - had it been better weather I would have barbecued the lamb kebabs but I'll have to grill or griddle them.  I have a cast iron griddle that sits across the middle of the cooker.  I like the results when I cook on it but it is awful to clean afterwards.  I have some bread already proving and I'll make pitta's with that.  The kebabs are marinading a a dry mix I bought at the local wholefoods supermarket.-  its Chermoula which is used in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian cooking. The  Moroccan version is made from dried parsley, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper. It is the original seasoning for grilling meat and fish in Moroccan cuisine.  


Tomorrow it's roast forerib of beef, roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, roast broccoli with chilli and mint, carrots and creamed horseradish.  Can't wait!


Don't want to over stretch myself on my first post in months and months - so I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

At last – perfect bread – shame about the husband!

Thank goodness the fireworks are over – the youngest dog spent last night in a state of terror – ears back, panting in corners of the kitchen.  Seems calm now though!  







Pretty much everything frightens her…. she tries to bite lumps out of the hoover  when we use it, gets very distressed if she hears me sharpening a knife, attacks my daughter’s hairdryer (while she is using it) and thinks the lawnmower is  a great big scary monster that needs to be killed.
I have been out for out for lunch a couple of times in the last two weeks.  I love going out for lunch – much better in my opinion than going out for dinner.
Had a day off and took my husband to Number 16, which is on Byres Road (No 16 Byres Road obviously!).  I have been once before (years ago) and remember it being good then too.  The pigs cheek starter was fabulous!  Great value – lunch for two (two courses) plus a couple of glasses of wine was just over £34.
Last week I met a friend for lunch at Coia’s on Duke Street, Dennistoun.  It had to be a quick 45 minute lunch – which is fine because service at Coia’s is quick.  I don’t even bother to look at the menu when I go there – I always have eggs benedict.
Today we are having slow roasted shoulder of pork (a sort of pulled pork) with coleslaw, home made bread, salad and filled potato skins.
I have discovered a bread recipe – eventually – that my children say is the best bread ever.  I have a bread baker and it’s OK but you don’t get the flexibility that you do when you make it from scratch yourself.  This recipe is easy and seems to give consistently good results – I have tried it a few times now to see that it wasn’t a fluke the first time.
1Lb bread flour
1 sachet of dried ready mix yeast
1 teaspoon salt
50 ml olive oil
230 – 250 warm water
Mix together and then knead for 10 minutes (5 minutes if using a dough hook and mixer)
Divide into 8 pieces and roll into long sausage shapes.
Lay on lightly floured baking trays – cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 30 minutes
Pre heat oven to 180C
Take the cling film off and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with rock salt (and pepper if you like it as much as I do)
Bake for 20 minutes – take out of the oven and let them cool on the baking sheets.
The bread sticks are light and delicious.






I made little individual apple crumbles for pudding.  I only had a couple of apples so couldn’t make a big one.  Not everyone likes crumble so little ones are more practical anyway.






At the end of dinner husband (with the palate of a Labrador) asked …“does this lamb keep?   “It’s pork” I told him.  I have heard that you can buy a bowl shaped like a dog bowl with “MAN” written on it.  I am seriously considering this for his Christmas present.