Not massively food related but still very important…..


Tomorrow is my birthday, so far I have already received the following presents:

1) A cheese making kit from my father very apt, until I found out my new housemate doesn’t like cheese

2) the gift of love from a friend, apparently “something I can cherish or dismiss”,

3) the promise of “a” drink from my boss, who opened my cheese making kit from my father, he claims by mistake

4) an email from amazon telling me it’s my birthday

I am very aware it is my birthday tomorrow, so why amazon felt the need to remind me irritated me, I don’t think they appreciate how much I have matured over the last year, long gone are the days of flaming sambucca nostrils and discovering after 26 years I actually do like white wine and then making up for the 26 years I haven’t drunk it, I am now a refined and respected individual, who still hasn’t grown out of hangovers or travel sickness.

This is a list of things I would like for my birthday, please chat amongst yourselves so I don’t get 2 of some and none of another, some are available on amazon, others not:

1) A Mr Frosty machine

2) A flying pony

3) A lifetime supply of wasabi peas and or coconut ice

4) A micro pig

5) Dinner at El Celler de Can Roca

6) My own cookery show

7) Sea Monkeys

8) George Michael to sing “Faith” to me (I normally hate people singing at me but he makes me swoon)

9) A castle made out of swiss cheese

I thought 10 might be asking a little much, so have stuck with 9.

Thanking you in advance

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Dear Father Christmas, please may I have a new right butt cheek


I am sure every family has festive traditions of which they stick to year after year, otherwise “it just wouldn’t be Christmas”. I finished up the last of the festive ham last night, so I feel I can now wax lyrical about the festivities (as a note I tend to put festive in front of everyday nouns at this time of year, festive ham, festive hat, festive ribbons, festive valium I feel it differentiates between the standard ham, hats, ribbons and valium and therefore far more superior, I would normally never keep ham in the fridge and eat it after 10 days, let alone tie ribbons around the dogs necks). The Christmas traditions for me tend to stem from disasters of Christmasses past. It is like a series of friends episodes, the one where I decided I was going to be a vegetarian, the one where Daddy had an ulcer and the one where the dog eat the turkey all spring to mind. But all these taken into account this year will be the one known as “the one where I nearly lost a chunk of my but cheek to a prickle”.

I say nearly as so far I seem to be hanging on to my vital money maker shaker, but there is a possibility that it still may fall off. I will fill you in without going onto to much depth, as it gets a little intimate. Any simple task undertaken with my sister nearly always ends in me having to rescue something, someone or remove something from somewhere or someone, in this case a prickle from my bum. And a very toxic prickle at that. A simple dog walk may be my downfall or my sisters lack of common sense,whilst trying to remove the dog from a bush, and a blackthorn bush at that which if you are to familiar with, are the vicious little buggers who produce sloes, which makes excellent gin, so if definitely worth the exercise, I loose my normally very steady footing and end up in flagrante with a prickle, potentially very Jilly Cooper!

You may think this not to be so bad, but my father has a friend who lost a finger because of these prickles, no one is entirely sure how but my sister and I were bought up on horror stories of it just dropping off, like a lambs tail, it may have been one of those stories to stop us from ram rodding bushes, a favourite past time of mine, my lifetime ambition is to sleep on a yew tree hedge. But my god it work, I have been discussing my right but cheek with anyone who dares make eye contact with me! It was however all worth while as I have two bottle of sloe gin onto of the fridge next to the bread machine, which will probably remain there until desperate time call for desperate measures.

20120104-092043 PM.jpg puppies not a fan of festive ribbon!

Pepperamis are not a canape…..OK


There was man on my bus this morning eating a Big Mac. 7.45am and he was troffing his way through a Big Mac. An Egg Mcmuffin could be forgiven but not a Big Mac. People eating on public transport is in my Room 101, there are plenty more things locked away inside this nasty little room in a not so dusty corner of my mind, but none are really relevant to the man eating the Big Mac on the bus. It is so anti-social to eat on a bus, I do not want to smell your breakfast, I do not want to look at you chewing with your mouth open and I do not want to hear you slurping your mc shake. Plus it smells, and therefore in childish retaliation, you smell too. I was so glad when he spilt ketchup on his tie, although not so smug when I slipped on his mc wrapper he had left behind.

This was not how  actually my carefully planned BOTW (Blog of the Week) was meant to begin, I planned to slate another celebrity chef which is now other than napping, competitive board games, and swivel chairs, a new favourite past time of mine, but I was so utterly disgusted my Chompy Mc Chomperson on the bus that my artistic vision was marred (I am not sure is that is a word but I always hear people saying their vision was “marred”, and I think it sounds good, having said that it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realised that Stalin’s first name was not Conrad, as in Comrade Stalin, so what you hear and real English is most definitely not the same thing).

Back to the BOTW plan, slating celebrity chefs , ( I am now very aware I am not allowed to write/abuse celebrity chefs online, I had a little discussion with a lawyer friend of mine, and I am not going to get sued for libel, so lets just say it is the same word as an  80’s savoury custard tart with bacon and is equally as unpopular in the list of things that I like).

 Now I like just as much as any other budding wannabe celeb chef to think that I could host my own TV show, as some of you may remember I like to pretend I am on my own show when I am alone and cooking, and no I do not cook naked, an incident with a hot marshmallow put a stop to that fun, but I am damn sure that I could do better than her, in fact I think almost anyone could do a better job than her. For a start her understanding of sentence structures is appalling, (yes I know pot calling kettle), but her idea on canapes were, I thought shocking, and very poor. So I googled canape, just incase for the last 26 years I had been misunderstanding what a canape actually was, and wikipeadia (the same gospel as the Daily Mail) states:

A canapé (hors d’œuvre, open faced sandwich is a small, prepared and usually decorative food, held in the fingers and often eaten in one bite),

………it is most certainly not a pepperami twist, and hopefully in  my lifetime never will be. Especially when the two ingredients are:

1) shop bought pastry

2) pepperamis (which does not even constitute as food)

 Not a canape…..

To say I was disgusted is a mild understatement, I am very aware of a bit of a retro food revival, trust me people it’s my business to be aware of food trends, but when a product is so relatively new to the market that it has only ever been sold out of tetra pack organ bags, it is too soon for a revival.

A pineapple and cheese hedgehog, maybe yes, in fact I was so convinced by this idea, that I googled in the hope of claiming it as part of my new Spring Summer canape menus, and have discovered that someone has beaten me to the post and “re invented” “deconstructed” or “another cheffy term” the genius idea of reviving what was the epitome canape party centre piece, well that and a vol au vont, but the less said about those the better. I could never tell which was the rank fish or the not so rank mushroom and spent a lot of time a parties as a child spitting into napkins and hiding the evidence in other people handbags!

 Chalky the dog a true food hero….

Glynn Purnell, I take my hat off to you, you my friend have made it to my celebrity chef hot list, along with Valentine Warner (who winked at me once I swear), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (secret celeb crush), and Chalky (Rick Steins amazing terrier RIP), you will never be abused on my blog, anyone that can make cool cheese and pineapple is a true hero in my mind, even if you are from Birmingham.

I have almost forgotten how to do this….it’s been so long!


My father once had a birthday card and on it was written “what do we want…procrastination, when do we want it…..next week”, for some reason this little ditty has stuck with me, and it seems to have applied to my blog of recent months. But it has been over the last few days that destiny has been calling me, the kettle has been whistling with “whippetsnippetand rabbit” the bacon has been hissing under the grill, “ssssseriouly whippet ssssnippet and rabbit sssort it out”. Reading that back, I feel I sound like the evil snake in Harry Potter, maybe that is what my inner person sounds like. Ssssstrange. and ssssslightly worrying.

Only this morning I logged on, to find I had a message from my friend Caroline (hi Craw) of the orange cous cous fame, begging me to re connect with my inner author. But last night was the real deal braker for me. Last night I attended the Observer Food Awards, and as the award was handed out for best food blog………… I thought I want that to be me….Have I ruined it for you all, did you think maybe I had won??? I didn’t but I got something so much better, keep reading for more.

So to sum up my activies over the last months, in a nutshell….

I tried to write I got the job in the actual nutshell, but as we know my computer skills are a little lacklustre, and I failed massively. But yay, yay, yay I got the job.

But first of all I really should explain as to why I was at the Observer Food Awards last night or OFM as it in known to those in the know, which is me. Well my very shiny and not so new job as a menu designer for THE events caterers in London, if not the world, Create Food and Party design (hi work), were sole caters for the event, shamze I know. Sadly it was not because I was put forward for Food Blog of the year, I was robbed I am sure you will all agree, but I am gunning for next year. Who need prizes when I got within a rabbits whisker of Valentine Warner, who is my new Dan Snow. (sorry Dan but your married, you missed out, and Valentine definatley gave off that vibe of smouldering singleton, just looking for a girl like me, and he winked at me, nb wink not wince).

I now spend my days writing menus, scouring the internet for trending foods, and eating seriuosly yummy things, pretty ideal, I have taught myslef Italian, increased my knowledge of kosher food, made edible Circus Big top tents, and dicovered it is possible make chocolate sauce which sets on ice cream, without all the additives and chemicals.

I now like to think of myself as Willy Wonka’s madness, Heston Blumethal’s creativeness and Niglla Lawsoms bosom all wrapped up in a tweed jacket.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly……


We have cause for celebration! As of this morning I have had 1000 views on my page! What a momentous occasion this is! Although I can’t be sure how many of the 1000 actually enjoyed my slightly opinionated views on cooking and my appalling spelling, I thank each and every one of you for reading and  those very special few have provided me with the inspiration! Whether Good, Ferrero Roche Easter Egg, or Bad , Caroline and the orange infused cous cous, and the Ugly, the cheese and pineapple hedgehog, it has been such fun. For those of you that are yet to inspire me, I wish you all the best of luck.

I am hoping that my run of luck will continue into Thursday, dream job D-Day. The two days I spent with them last week, were throughly enjoyable, Having spent 2 days in possibly the most organised kitchen I have ever been in, and created some of my finest food, I am hoping that all the other applicants set fire to their apron strings and burn their trout, I want this job, a lot , a lot! What could be better than spending the days designing menu’s, styling food and living the foodie dream. Having donned my whites again on Wednesday to create my visions, something I thought I would never do again, I was amazed at how easily it all comes back to you. For those of you that have never been in a professional kitchen, there are a few things you must remember:

1) Gordon Ramsey is not God

2) Swearing is cool.

3) Kitchen porters are the most important people, and they like bribes.

4) If you can’t remember anyone’s name, “Chef” is very effective.

5) Making jokes about having a pet rat who preps and cooks all your food and lives in your hat, a la Ratatouille is not funny unless you have seen the film, especially when the Health Inspector turns up for an impromptu visit.

Although I am pretty damn sure I could never go back into the kitchen permanently, I cannot handle the hours, the constant smell of garlic and the potty mouth, and being locked in fridges until you agree to go on dates with people, there are a few saving graces. One is that you always get a seat on the tube or bus, apparently the regular Londoners do not appreciate the smell of a chef fresh out of an 18 hour shift,  the scars are a great talking point; boys dig scars, and you get to wear Crocs without being judged; boys don’t dig Crocs.

 

I promise to cook Fajitas on Sunday…..


Absence makes the heart grow fonder, or so the expression goes! I bet you have all missed me ever so much! Well fear not I am back, and like a fat kid on a cupcake, I would not recommend stopping me!

So it seems my little foodie world has crumbled around me like a packet of dropped digestives, weeping crumbs in the corner of the reduced section! I have joined the massed ranks of the unemployed, having been made redundant last week. As a silver lining to all clouds thinker, I have decided rather than relying on Jeremy Kyle and the Loose Women to perk me up, I will now be baking and cooking a lot! I say I will be, as last week was very busy with endless parties of friends cheering me up! Which started off very well with Caroline, my American friend cooking the most inedible meal she has possibly ever cooked and the week ended with a cheese and pineapple hedgehog. Seems redundancy is going to be a stretch of un-apetising food, best find a job soon before any Spam fritter related meals crop up!

I had a bit of a wobble mid week, where I feared I was turning into my mother a little earlier than planned, when I found myself boiling an egg at 1am post champagne and canapes, but spent  the next day was spent drinking ginger ale out of the can reading Closer magazine whilst sending my CV out to anyone and everyone. I did get a little creative in the afternoon when I bought my cheese and pineapple hedgehog to life with the addition of some edible glitter I had lurking in the cupboard behind the icing sugar and Rich’s secret stash of tinned tuna and mackerel and sardines, which are only allowed to be eaten when I am out of the house.

View photo.JPG in slide show

*Hmmm, it seems I have lost my computer touch and I cannot get my pineapple to rotate, think of it as a Magic Eye. And I promise I will ration my Jeremy Kyle watching next week, and concentrate on honing computer and baking skills.

 Seeing as I cook for him every night, Rich has got rather out of the habit and I fear his natural culinary skills may have abandoned him as I came back from dinner not all that long ago to find Rich wincing on the sofa, and a strange lumpy brown sludge in a bowl on the side. He managed to utter a few words in between grimaces, and it was conduced that he had in my absence attempted to cook for himself. In my opinion, cooking involves carefully selecting the finest ingredients and combining them together with love and stirring occasionally over a gentle flame. Rich had assembled an impulsive feast of mackerel and cottage cheese on Ryvita. The problem being, the cottage cheese which had been lurking next to a bag of very sad spinach for some time had gone off, but poor starving Rich just did not realise until half way through his fishy feast, at which point it was far too late. I would have been sympathetic but Rich then admitted through a further series of grimaces that he was so hungry that he had tried to pick out the mouldy bits of the cottage cheese, and eventually given up and eaten the whole lot.

I think the both of us need to settle back into our genteel routine, of mince based meals and fajita Sundays. I will put my hands up and say all my domestic godessity has slipped somewhat in the last week, but as Rich reminds me as he wakes me up at 7.30 in the morning with a cup of tea (no bacon sandwich I hasten to add, massive hint), “Job hunting is a full time job Lulu”. So in my rare breaks from job hunting, my choice of light entertainment is fort building, reading a great website called Pimp my Snack, where the baking elite make super size versions of their favourite snacks and watching a video on you tube of a dog, called Ultimate Dog Tease which I have shown below, and is food and dog related, so my it seems I haven’t lost my touch for seemless links, as well as photo of mine and Rich’s fort.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw

Rich in the fort defending my honour with a foam cricket bat, Jeremy Kyle in the background on TV, my 2 favourite men!View photo.JPG in slide show

So it seems I have not much to talk about food wise this week, but next week I have lots of very exciting food related interviews so please keep all greasy fingers crossed for me, and we have some asparagus to throw into our Bank Holiday Monday Fajitas!  The thought of a Spam fritter meal is spurring me on!

Supermarket Sweep


Is it wrong I want my face on a cupcake? Everywhere I seem to look at the moment there are cupcakes, some of them faceless, others not. Mainly there are a lot of Royal cupcakes, Kate, William, Corgis, I even  saw one recently of the Queen. Now, as lovely as she looked on a cupcake I am sure there is an olde worlde law about using the Queens image, even more defiling it, if you can’t even stick a stamp on the wrong way round  I highly doubt that you can put her face on a cupcake and eat it, especially when found in the reduced section of Asda next to a beaten up packet of stuffing mix and an unknown tin of something. Which to me is always the greatest section in any supermarket. I am stickler for anything with a yellow label or a BOGOF deal, it is like waving a red rag to a bull. I will literally buy anything if it is reduced or on a deal. I resisted temptation to buy the battered cupcakes of the Queen for fear of being arrested but could not resists the lure of a BOGOF mince deal and fairy liquid deal. And then struggled to get home with all my deals.  Must buy a pack horse.

This is my pack horse I have called him Carl.

Supermarkets have an overwhelming hold over me, actually any food shop in general has the Svengali effect. I get so over excited with trolleys, clubcards and self-service, and now that you can take your own bags I always get a sense of smugness for saving the environment too. But recently they have started to depress me and not because the novelty cupcake sales seem to be slowing down, and I can’t afford a Hummingbird but because I keep seeing charcoal and bbq’s and having moved out of house with 2 perfect bbq areas to a maisonette with no bbq area all I want is a badly cooked sausage and a limp salad. It is all down to those bastards in the Visual Merchandising department, and the predictability of the human mind. The minute the sun comes out supermarkets will whack a BBQ where the reduced Easter Eggs were, and where in about a months time the pumkins will go and then they will make way for the Advent Calender around late October. That little 2m square floor space smack bang infront of you is prime real estate, it’s the Buckingham Palace of product placement.

I actually went on a product placement course a few years ago, and it was one of the more interesting courses I have been on, not that Microbiology for the Non Microbiologist, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points in the Workplace weren’t enjoyable but they taught me things about bacteria that ensured that I will no longer eat rice in restaurants, and I like rice.  Product placement is actually quite exciting it’s all about doing things in odd numbers, putting new, exciting goods,  and expensive things down the left hand side of shops and why you will always find the milk at the back of a supermarket. As a human we are very predictable, we as women will be drawn to yellows, pinks and greens. Ever wonder why reduced stickers are yellow? or why Fairy liquid comes in Original- Green, Lemon Fresh-Yellow and Apple-Pink, men will be drawn to blacks, reds and navy blues, hence why all motor oil is in such ugly packaging. Sexist I know, but it is an International fact that men are 33 times more unlikely to buy anything with a reduced sticker on it for fear of looking cheap, but love a good deal,  so the standard practice in most supermarkets is to make the stickers red for offers and yellow for reduced.

 Once you know all of these rules it takes the element of surprise out of shopping, maybe this is why I find the disorganised chaos of the reduced to clear section just so damn exciting, I can spot a reduced free range roast chicken from 20 paces. I will buy it unless I have actually seen someone lick, it kick it or wee on it.

I often contemplate Freeganism, which is ever so trendy at the moment, and I think an all round excellent idea. You raid supermarket bins in the dead of night and steal all of the food with has gone out of date. Obvioulsy you select carefully, and never admit to friends you are a dustbin diver. But it is highly illegal and of course I would never condone this type of behaviour or any kind of criminal activity but it appears there is such thing as a free lunch.

This is an American in a bin, they called in Dumpster Diving.

An article in the evening Standard the other day introduced me to Wayne (I don’t think it was his real name, and I promise this is not another Dan Snow obsession). He is a Freegan, he lives in a rather leafy area Putney, has a wife, 3 children a dog and does something in the city with statistics, he drives a BMW, holidays in the South of France (that’s why I didn’t think his name was Wayne, in my opinion Wayne’s like holidaying in Lanzarotte, drive rovers and work in sales), he does not wear hemp, sandals and 6 different shades of beige all at the same time but Wayne hasn’t been into a supermarket for 3 years. His milk is delivered by the milk man, but everything else he has found in bins, apparently his wife finds it a bit of a turn on, she kept referring to him as a real life Robin Hood, but just one fundamental floor he doesn’t give to the poor, as Wayne’s 6 figure salary does not constitute as poor in my opinion. But I admire him none the less. I am actually quite tempted to go raid my local Tesco’s bins to see what I can find, I have a laddered pair of tights that will become my makeshift balaclava, and I will sew the letters SWAG onto my backpack and head out in the dead of night  to heist some potatoes and maybe a donut or two, and I will try not to think of the Microbiology for Non Microbiologists course and all the horrid things they had to say about bacteria.

Beef cake and chocolate……


I have eaten a lot recently, I claim I am still carb loading, replacing all of the vital nutrients that I lost while haul assing round the marathon ( not sure how many nutrients are in a scotch egg but I know  they are all vital). I don’t know how much longer I can use this excuse for. It was vaguely plausible after my second helpings to dinner on Saturday, but when I polished off my Easter egg on Sunday post brunch pre walk we all knew I was pushing boundaries. Big Ferrero Roche egg shaped boundaries.

It seems like rather a lot has gone on in the last week, but when I come to think of it I cannot remember, it may have something to do with the fact that my abstinence from alcohol ended last week, in celebration of the marathon and my birthday. All of the brain cells I recovered during my 4 week dry season , I killed spectacularly with limoncello and tequila, apparently being 26 gives me a taste for the exotic, if tequila and limoncello constitute as exotic? So things I can remember from last week, I eat a metre long pizza, I drank tequila, I eat a lot of eggs, I eat a lot of cheese,  I eat a chocolate egg the size of my head, and I had a disaster in the kitchen with a chocolate mousse. Gosh no wonder I am such a spotty horror this week, that reads like Kerry Katona’s breakfast.

I spent the Easter weekend in Lincolnshire, home of the sausage, Margaret Thatcher and not much else. It hasn’t much to offer culinary wise, (apart from my mother of course but she is originally from Yorkshire), so I decided to do a bit of research, and found out that Lincolnshire is famed for 3 things; 1) the aforementioned sausage, 2), Plum cake and 3) stuffed pigs back bone locally known as Chine. I stopped searching after that.

I am all for offal, (and offal for all), but somehow stuffed pigs back gives me the heebie jeebies. I think it has something to do with ribs, as they give me the willies too. I always imagine someone playing the xylophone on my rib cage ala Flintstones and it gives me the hiccups. Which is one of many reasons that I can’t eat racks of ribs, other than the fact that I am a mucky pup and I tend to miss the meat and bite the bone and end up with a bbq sauce smile. I am pretty rubbish at eating meat of the bone in general. I would make a rubbish cave man’s wife.

Me as a Cavewoman , I think I wear the loin cloth well….

Which brings me on to my semi subject for today’s blog. What an excellent seamless link that was……The Caveman Diet, whilst happily watching re-runs of Come Dine With Me, there was a rather weedy looking man who made some big claims about the benefits of his Palaeolithic diet, I strongly disagreed mainly because my guns were bigger than his and also because you should never trust a man who cannot fill a pair of skinny jeans, technically, that said you should never trust a man in skinny jeans. So I researched this too. I thought at first it sounded rather fun, this is my attitude to most things, but as someone who has never been on a diet I think they probably are rather fun, as long as one doesn’t go too far! You get to eat out of Tupperware everyday and you can have treat yourself days, or themed days, today I am only eating purple food or food  that begins with C. That sort of thing. On the Cave Man Diet you get to eat lots of meat, game, fish, mushrooms and herbs and spices, tea is recommended as a healthy drink and grape juice also, which technically is wine, so I liked it even more. Then there was  a photo of a beef cake, I swooned at his one leg on rock pose, and blushed at his “one day my body could be yours” look and I was all set to remove Dan Snow as my screen saver and swear my allegiance to my beef cake, but then I read a bit further on and the beef cake said lots of people are put off by the regular intake of “organ meats”, as I said I like some offal (oh another seamless link, I think I am getting the hang of this) but I will not be regularly chowing down on a goat heart (apparently very high in iron), and then the side effects, “due to the high iron content of the diet spontaneous hair growth can occur more often than not“, I will not go into the other side effects but let’s just say it has put me off my beef cake.

So I am now in a rather morose mood, my new diet was extinct before lunch and my beef cake has flatulence, I have lost my faith in Come Dine With Me, and I have spotty chocolate face of bubonic proportions, so to cheer myself up I goggled my cave man name and it came out as:

Your Caveman name is: Lives In Own Little World

It may have a point…..

 

 

Rhubarb Crumble Cake

 

I used to make this cake a lot, when I was baking for the amazing Stewart and Co in Newcastle, it was always the first to sell out, even before chocolate brownies. I added some crushed and toasted hazelnuts to the topping which added a bit more bite, and the orange as well, as rhubarb and orange I think are very nice together. And as we know what I say goes!

Ingredients
3oz butter, 3oz caster sugar, 2 eggs, 3oz SR flour, 1 tsp ground ginger, zest of an orange Pinch of salt, Milk, 1lb rhubarb, 1 tbsp Demerara sugar

Topping – 2oz butter, 3oz plain flour,1oz caster sugar

Method

  1. Heat the oven to GM5/190’C/375’F. Grease and line an 8’’ round cake tin. I am not sure I have ever measured a tin, but this cake is very forgiving, I used to triple it according to whatever tin I have, and have even made it in a La Creuset pot before.
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar, beat in the eggs and fold in the flour and salt. Add enough milk to give a dropping consistency.
  3. Slice the rhubarb into 1’’ pieces and toss with the Demerara sugar, ginger and orange zest.
  4. Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and stirring in the sugar. Just as you would a crumble, and add the toasted and chopped hazelnuts
  5. Turn the cake mix into the tin and arrange the rhubarb on top. Sprinkle over the Demerara sugar and the topping mixture and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the cake feels firm on top.

 

Avocado & Scallop Ceviche

 

This recipe comes from the official Caveman Diet recipe, I thought it sounded rather nice, it was the best of a rather disturbing bundle of recipes and was pretty much the only one which didn’t involve “organ meats”. I have changed it ever so slightly and have re written it from the rather basic grunts and series of snorts from its original.

The idea behind a ceviche is that the acid cooks the scallops, so technically it is raw but very delicious, and originating from South America it is excellent with a bit of guacamole. But make sure that you use fresh scallops and if you can keep the shell as they are pretty. A few years ago when I was working on Embankment there used to be a lovely man selling the Evening Standard, yes you used to have to pay for it!!!  He used to yell all day, “Standard”, but he had a slightly funny accent, or maybe my hearing was awful, I thought he was yelling “Scallops”, I finally told him and he gave me a free paper every day, so this my  Scallop yelling Standard friend is for you.

4 Limes juiced

2 Lemons juiced

3Tbs Olive oil

1 Red Chilli

1/2 red onion finely chopped

1 big tomato finely chopped

Good handful of parsley chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

4 lb of fresh scallops cubed

For the Guacamole:

2 Avocados

Pinch salt and pepper

1 Lemon juiced

1 clove of garlic

1 green chilli chopped

1 TBS Natural Yogurt

Quite pathetically easy really….

 Finley chop the following:

 Red Onion, red chilli, parsley, tomatoes.

 Roughly chop the scallops

Juice the lemons and limes.

 Add salt and pepper.

 Throw into a bowl and mix around a little put in fridge for an hour or so, the scallops should go opaque.

For the Guacamole

 Blitz all of the ingredients in the blender and season to taste…

Er done….

Really yummy with flat breads torn up and toasted in the oven with a little olive oil some salt and turmeric.

Will Cook for Twiglets……


 

I realised something last week, my friend Little Vicky, has had the same lunch every day for a very long time. This does not include weekend lunches. That is something different entirely, but equally as repetitive usually involving a cherry tomato and some salami. Occasionally Port Salut cheese to mix it up a bit, and always Pork Pie, from Dickinson and Morris in Melton Mowbray of course. (Vicky has actually been to the factory and poured the jelly in; they don’t let just anyone do that). For the last 7 years Vicky has eaten for lunch a mozzarella, pesto, sundried tomato and Parma ham sandwich every day. The sandwich is almost as big as her, yet she remains so small. I am well jell.

This has got me thinking about all the slightly bizarre food habits we all have. My mother is famous for her boiled eggs, no matter what road trip we are heading on, nor the time we are leaving, she will hard boil an egg for the journey, actually a few eggs, just in case. Just in case of what….what conundrum can a boiled egg possibly solve?  She even has a special boiled egg pan, it has no handle and it’s orange and as far as I am aware it has never had anything cooked in it other than a boiled egg. Poor pan, ugly and defunct.

 Boiled eggs I do not see as a cool food, not hard boiled eggs anyway. Don’t get me wrong I will secretly snaffle a boiled egg with the best of them, but they are just not cool. Not like the soft boiled egg. The soft boiled egg is effortlessly cool, in fact most eggy things are, poached-cool, scrambled-cool, fried-cool (anything that sorts out a hangover as quickly as a fried egg in my opinion is cool, screw the fatty boom boom aspect), baked egg- very cool. There is a massive runny yolk revival sweeping gastro pub (I hate the word) menu’s at the moment. It seems there is a theme, if in doubt shove a soft poached egg on it, or quails eggs.  Actually I stand corrected a quails egg is the only cool hardboiled egg, especially with celery salt. One of my earliest food memories is of a quails egg, we had a party at home once all the food was cooked by the amazingly titled Delores Precious, (years later I named a puppy after her), I kid you not that was her actual name, I know poor puppy, I named the others Manatee, Earring and personal favourite Jethro E’spaniel, so Delores got off pretty light! Anyway she, Delores (human not puppy) had clearly spent hours boiling and peeling quails eggs and dousing then in celery salt and I went round licking the celery salt off and popping them back in the bowl. 

I am not entirely sure what constitute as cool food these days, but in my opinion the following is not cool:

Spam, pork scratchings, tongue, gherkins, Palma violets, Turkish delight, black pudding, prawn cocktail and tofu.

 

A walnut whip is also not cool, but I am afraid it does not even constitute as food in my book. Of course there are more, lots more, but anyone can write a list.  Worryingly I like 4 of my list, but I won’t reveal which, I don’t want to be cyber bullied, although I could then possibly sell my story to the Daily Mail, and earn some pocket money to buy kitchen gadgets and a cheese shop or a puppy. After all my deliberating of cool and un-cool I feel a bit like Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in Top Gear fighting over their cool wall, although I am battling my foodie conscience not a man that has a balding poodle stuck on his head.

Sadly, when a food becomes so un-believably un-cool, it becomes cool. It is the Heston effect, Spam may one day do for food, what glasses and a high waisted trouser did for fashion. I think food deliberately evokes memories, whether good or bad, in people. I don’t particularly like fish, after my Father fed me two packets of fish fingers telling me they were chicken nuggets in 1990, needless to say I was very, very sick. Chicken nuggets were a special treat, which I now see through, they weren’t a treat but a good excuse to get my sister and I to behave, and for my Mother to have a night off cooking.  I also remember a girl at prep school didn’t like dried apricots because they reminded her of eating ears. I never asked how she knew they reminded her of eating ears, but on the off chance she is reading this, Anna Robinson, Have you ever eaten an ear?

 

Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table

There is a brilliant book by Nigel Slater, whose voice I cannot stand (sorry Nige), but his written words are lovely, it is called “Eating for England: The Delights and Eccentricities of the British at Table”, and it filled my stocking very well a few years ago. Whilst I have your attention this year in my stocking I would like a pestle and mortar please and a puppy. Thank you.

 Nige is a food purist, he will not put in an ingredient just for the sake of it, and his recipes always work. If I was a generous type who lavished gifts on my friends, for those that either can’t cook or won’t cook, I would buy them a Nige book, they have pretty pictures too. Within my selective group of friends, a few can cook and cook very well, others will invite me round for supper, set in the direction of the direction of the fridge and ply me with wine and twiglets until I agree to cook. And there are those that just plain can’t.

 I often will get phone calls from friends or family asking me cooking questions. My sister a prime example of this called me at 6.30pm one Sunday asking me how to roast a chicken, or my friend Daisy, who finally managed to get her housemate who doesn’t eat wheat or dairy out of the house one evening, was determined to make a lasagne. Daisy who is not known for her cooking prowess, and see’s opening a jar of Chicken Tonight as a culinary challenge, (think of the Bridget Jones scene, with blue soup, omelette and marmalade, and we are about half way there), decided to invite a small group of friends round for supper last Friday, I am called into action on Thursday, sadly unable to attend Daisy’s prep evening, I send a pretty comprehensive do’s and don’ts email, yet about 8pm I get the phone call as Daisy has concerns over her lumpy roux, this is before she has even added the milk. To give Daisy her credit it was a lovely lasagne, although she forget quite a few ingredient so put them on top, a deconstructed lasagne if you will. Ever so trendy!

There is a text service called AQA, or Any Questions Answered, where you can text any question and they answer it, we once had an AQA themed dinner party, where the whole night was dictated by AQA, ineviatbly we ended running naked to the 24hour bakery up the road hiding our modesty with sausage rolls and eccles cakes. If I could come up with a catchy title for my own personal cooking questions answered I would, any suggestions welcome please. Just don’t expect me to answer after 11pm or may I tell you where to stick your sauasage roll….

Dumping the Dumpling……


I had a photo shoot at work today. Lots of very expensive camera equipment and lighting rigs for me to walk into as I stride around the kitchen between sink and stove, like Mrs Pac Man, with a cleaver. In case anyone actually sees the article, I should probably fess up right now, I thought I was going to be the centre piece, (piece not fold, definitely not centre fold), me chopping chillies, me tossing something pretty in a pan over a fierce flame looking cool, me receiving a delivery of some very fresh looking herbs, and laughing at the delivery drivers insolence. I wasn’t, I am the black and white blur just to the right of my bosses, holding a cleaver. I will be fuming in anyone says I have a face for blogging.

Having spent most of the winter dreaming about gingham table cloths, pimms, summer salads and bbq’s, I have to say I am probably the only person who feels slightly cheated that summer has come early. It is no longer seen to be appropriate to be buying suet in the supermarket, instead there are people hovering over the cous cous and the “fresh herbs” seem to sell out faster than they did the last week. There are processed lamb kebabs neatly lined up ready and waiting for the bbq assassinators to bulk buy, and the underrated chicken drumstick suddenly takes on a new lease of life with the addition of honey, mustard and thyme and of course fire lighters, the bbq flavour of the UK. All other nations use delicious wood chips, and expertise and we use, quick light charcoal and a liberal dousing of kerosene, says a lot about British determination to BBQ!

It seems all the slow cooking and patience and love for your ingredients in the  winter months evaporates when one can toss and skewer and spinkle, people are no longer happy buying lamb shanks, they want chops to go with the yummy mint, feta and pomegranate salad recipe they ripped out of the weekend supplement last summer. Just so you know pomegranate season runs from December to March, not so summery after all. Rather than cooking stews people will compromise and cook tagines, a hearty curry will be replaced by an aromatic Thai Green curry with baby vegetables, and the British staple the potato will be replaced by quinoa and other offensively lesbian grains, which are all very healthy and delicious but make my teeth squeak.

Pomegranate, feta, cucumber and mint salad

I do love summer food, it is so much better for the waste line, and I do find that I end up with less stains down my front, well I should say less visible stains, lemon dressing doesn’t stain as much as gravy…..

So in all honesty I am struggling with the weather at the moment, don’t get me wrong I love the sun, but I am not ready to give up on my stews, always with dumplings, my hearty roasts, always with goose fat roast potatoes and my eggy puddings always with ice cream  just yet. I do not feel I have eaten enough stodge, enough game, enough gravy to last me until the Glorious 12th. I am a seasonal eater, well I try at least. I often get led astray by a special offer for half price plums in February, and am smug until I get home and realise they taste like cardboard soaked in PVA glue, and cannot even be salvaged into a decent crumble, for fear of insulting the integrity of the humble crumble. Just like an out of season strawberry I am only semi seduced by the warm weather. I may look good but there be no substance, I am also a little bitter!  So for me the 12th stands for the day I officially start eating porridge again after my summers of Special K and toast and fresh fruit. No one can walk a moor with only a fruit platter to sustain them. A good carb loading session is what is needed. I will probably not be so overly enthusiastic about carbohydrates, complex or otherwise come Sunday, as I am hauling my food baby around 26.219 miles of London’s most irrelevant Boroughs, (sorry Isle of Dogs, but you really are misleading, you have no dogs that I can see and therefore I dislike you). So me, Paula Radcliffe and 40,000 other rather nervous fools will be gorging on pasta this week,  which I am very very pleased about. Not about the marathon, but that  I freakin love pasta, bows especially, or the teeny-weeny stars we used to buy in a sweet little deli in Stamford, which has now probably been taken over by a Costa Coffee or a shop which looks as if Country Living magazine has vomited all over the neatly buntinged interior. I could potentially find them in Wholefoods I am sure, but I cannot be trusted in that shop, they have a walk in cheese fridge, need I say anymore…..

 My next extravagance, after the ice cream machine  may well be a pasta machine, I am getting a little tired of using a wine bottle to roll my pastry or pasta dough, or naan breads out, and everyone is probably getting a little tired of my rustic approach to cooking.  Hopefully by this point there will be no space left on top of the fridge to keep my new toy so something will have to give. With their being 1 million and 1 recipes for pasta sauces, which I believe are all a poor substitute for a good imagination and a well stocked fridge and store cupboard I am certainly not going to tire of my pasta party for one. If you ask any Italian worth his salt, he will reel off a list of regional sauces and pastas, none of which are served with garlic bread. This week  as a carb loader I will relish the added bread, and whether it is common or not I need all the help I can get, see you at the wall Italian etiquette.