Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Creamy sweet potato soup

Monday, May 7th, 2018 | Food

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with soups a little. Nothing too exciting, but I have decided that rather than working from recipes, I’m just going to throw stuff into a pan and see if I can do it off-script. This recipe worked out well, so I thought I would share.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Carrot
  • Fennel
  • Garlic clove
  • 1 tsp crushed chillis
  • Sweet potato
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 100g sweetcorn
  • 300ml double cream
  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • Chicken breasts

Instructions

Cook the chicken breasts in the oven according to packet instructions: usually around 30-35 minutes at 180-200 degrees C will do it. Put some bowls in a plate warmer.

Meanwhile, heat a large pan with some vegetable oil it in. Finely slice the carrot, fennel and garlic and combine it with the crushed chillis. Season with salt and pepper and cook it for a few minutes.

Peel and dice the sweet potato into any size chunks you like. Throw this in and continue to cook for a few more minutes. Add the chicken stock and sweetcorn and bring to a boil. Leave to simmer until the chicken is two minutes away from done.

When the chicken is almost ready, take a stick blender to the pan and destroy everything until there are no lumps. Add the double cream and stir to heat through. You can take the pan off the heat.

Take the chicken out of the oven and slice. Fill your bowls with some soup, then dump the sliced chicken in the middle. Chop some parsley and sprinkle that around the edges.

Coriander seeds

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018 | Life

The Schartz herbs and spices bottles are better than the Sainsbury’s ones. They’re taller and thinner, meaning that you can fit more of them within the same shelf space. The labels on the top are also clear.

But the Sainsbury’s ones are cheaper. And, in any case, Sainsbury’s have refused to stock the Schwartz ones anymore because they want people to buy their own brand ones. So, I buy the Sainsbury’s ones and re-fill my Schwartz bottle.

What is odd, though, is that Schwartz sell 20g bottles and Sainsbury’s sell 25g bottles. But, when you tip the 25g of Sainsbury’s coriander seeds into the 20g Schwartz bottle, they all fit in.

The Real Greek

Sunday, December 17th, 2017 | Books, Food

With a name like The Real Greek, you would expect Tonia Buxton’s cookbook to offer authentic recipes. Does it?

Well, that depends on how accurate greek stereotypes are. Everything had feta cheese in it. So, if that is genuinely all Greek people eat, then yes.

It’s a book of simple recipes. If you want to know how to make a beautiful Greek salad or marinate some spicy kebabs, it is full of that stuff. And often, you do just want to make something simple and delicious, so it works well.

The number of actionable recipes was mixed. I’ve made a bunch of skewers and stuffed some burgers with feta cheese. But, despite a range of other dishes, not much else took my fancy. At first, it felt there was very little, although, on going back through them, I have enjoyed several other recipes, too. It doesn’t match up to the likes of Hugh or Mary Berry, but I have added a handful of recipes to my repertoire.

Hoegaarden

Sunday, August 13th, 2017 | Food

It’s my first time cooking with Hoegaarden. It is producing some interesting colours.

Making food prettier

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 | Food

Since finally giving in and watching MasterChef, I’ve been busy trying to up my game. Poaching pears, for example. And trying to make everything I put on a plate look a little prettier.

Results have been mixed.

This is pigeon breast, served with a sweet potato mash, with croutons, milk gel and chanterelles served two ways: fried and powered. The same ones we picked up in mushroom town, for reference.

Here I have served duck with the skin cooked separately, on mash with an orange gel, fondant potatoes, cranberry foam and a dressing of parsley. There are definitely issues with this dish:

  • My fondant potatoes are rather jagged. Do people use a cookie cutter to get perfectly round potatoes?
  • The duck skin curled up while cooking. I scored it previous to this to try and prevent that, but without success.
  • The cranberry foam was still quite liquidy, which rolled around the plate.

Confit duck on a bed of apple purée served with Asian roast potatoes, coriander and chilli jam.

Lamb leg with parsley, fried potato slices and peas. I like this one because it is simple: plain ingredients, not overcrowded or covered in fancy nonsense, but it still tastes good.

There are some weird combinations going on here. It’s fish and chips, with an added scallop, and some strawberries mixed in with the parsley. I served the chips in a separate bowl to avoid having to cram everything on to the plate.

Conclusion

A lot of the stuff just needs practice: mastering the different techniques, for example, is something I need to work on. But the big takeaway for me is to put less stuff on the plate. It is impossible to be elegant when you are trying to ram too much food on there.

Canapes

Monday, June 19th, 2017 | Books, Food

A lot of my cooking revolves around main courses. It is easy to slip into this pattern: I only do a three-course meal once or twice per week. Therefore, a lot of the starter, lunch and dessert recipes get forgotten about.

However, I have been making a conscious effort to expand this. Adding some new canapes to my repertoire seemed a good direction to go.

A lot of the recipes in this book were too fiddly for me to bother. However, there are some firm favours. The Asian pork balls, for example. And the mini-burgers were not that difficult either.

Pancetta and tomato with basil pesto crostini, and a citrus avocado puree crostino.

Filo tartlets with beef.

All in all, I’ll give this the thumbs up. It has provided me with some great little recipes.

The 4-Hour Chef

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 | Books, Food

Tim Ferriss is a super-star. Jeff Goins nailed it when he said that people didn’t love Tim Ferriss for the message he brings, but just because he’s such a cool person that you want to me like him.

Since rising to fame with The Four-Hour Work Week, he has gone on to push the franchise with The Four-Hour Body and this, The Four-Hour Chef.

It’s quite clever the way he sells it (or sneaky). He sends you the audiobook for free when you join his mailing list. But there are no recipes in it: every 5 minutes the narrator says “please refer to the print or eBook edition for recipe steps and sidebars”.

Ferriss suggests that cookbooks are written for those who can already cook. They are arranged by category and don’t explain what is going on. Instead, this book is arranged by technique, starting from the basics and building up.

It is arranged into five sections: meta, domestic, wild, science and pro. In meta-learning, he talks about how to learn faster and more efficiently. He then takes you through the building blocks of cookery in dom.

In wild, we are treated to a narrative of Tim’s adventures. How to survive a disaster and catch a pigeon, for example. Science is similar: there is some science in it, but also plenty of stories: the time he attempted Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster, for example, or his food marathon: 26.2 dishes in 24 hours. Something I would love to try.

Finally, in pro, he rounds off with talking to some of the best chefs in the world about how they do what they do.

I tried a lot of the recipes in domestic. They’re fun. None have made my regular rotation, but I made the Vietnamese burgers more than once.

I also really enjoyed a lot of the explanations. Why do you need to brown meat? I knew why already, but no cookbook ever takes the time to explain it: it’s more folk knowledge. Why do you need mustard in a vinaigrette? Why do you rest steak? It’s all in here.

The science is a mixed bag. It’s really interesting to learn about all of the different aspects of the cooking process, gels, emulsions, etc. However, I struggled to follow along with the theory. I more felt like I was getting starter points to learn about it on my own. And some of the science in here is a little dubious. Like his original book, I suspect Ferriss doesn’t let the truth ruin a good story.

If you’re a Tim Ferriss fan, this is a no-brainer. Get the hardback: it’s a monster.

Introducing the Human Baby Cookbook

Saturday, April 1st, 2017 | Books, News

Unlock the secrets to cooking human baby with this beautifully presented new cookbook.

Been tempted to try the other other white meat, but been confused by unclear instructions, endless barbeque sauce choices and the law? Never fear: let us take you by the hand. Learn how to buy, prepare and cook a meat that is abundant, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

This no-expense-spared hardback edition contains 31 delicious recipes, each illustrated with a full-page full-colour edge-to-edge photograph.

For anyone who considers themselves a foodie, this is a must by. Nobody could possibly walk past your bookshelf without commenting!

Order your copy now for £29.99 (plus shipping).

Kenwood stick blender review

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017 | Reviews

Our arsenal of kitchen gadgets now contains a stick blender. Despite my reservations about the reliability of my stand mixer, we opted for Kenwood because of a mixer of price and better the devil you know. Also, it has three blades, which is one whole extra blade than normal.

Gordon Ramsay uses a bamix, but that was out of my price range.

The model I settled on was the Kenwood HDP406WH Triblade.

User experience

Initially, I was pretty annoyed by the Kenwood. it has almost no instructions. What attachment does what? It is not clear. It is heavy and hard to lift for any period of time. It gets hot if you use it too much. The power cord is too short.

However, I always give myself a bit of time to cool off before posting a review because I know I usually feel different after a few weeks.

It has been useful. I realised the secret was to use physical force. It struggled to blend everything initially. However, it if you really force the thing down into the jug, it does the job. Whether this will have long term implications I am not sure. But there is really no other option: being able to blend is an essential product feature of a blender.

Attachments

I have not worried about the other attachments. I don’t need them. Perhaps the soup blender may be useful, but you can do the same thing with the standard attachment. Everything else, I will continue to do in the food processor.

Amazing Malaysian

Friday, March 17th, 2017 | Books, Food

Malaysia is a cool country when it comes to culinary history. They have the Malay people, along with large minority populations of Indian and Chinese people. They also have colonial influences from the British and Portuguese. Their food is almost fusion in itself.

I also like that they do not worry too much about food being hot: it all gets served together. This is nice because serving scorching hot food is, quite frankly, a hassle. A hassle worth going to when the food calls for it, but in this case, it is fine to let rice steam for 15 minutes after cooking.

The narrator is Norman Musa. He hails from Penang, but is better known for Ning restaurant in Manchester.

Most of the recipes followed a set pattern. You would start by blitzing a mixture of ingredients: typically chilli, garlic, cinnamon, star anise and onion (or not, in my case) then mixing it with some ground cinnamon and a pandan leaf, before frying it and adding some meat.

It turns out that you can get pandan leaf in Leeds. Many of the other rare ingredients we were unable to procure. Musa also uses dried chilis in most of his recipes. We managed to pick up a bag of a few hundred at the international supermarket.

Fish pate. I have no idea if I was doing this correctly.

Indian lentil patties.

Spicy baked haddock.

Beef with pineapple.

Beef with tomatoes.

Aromatic chicken curry.

Beef with rice.