18 August 2015

Quick Cheap Easy Way to Improve Almost Any Meal ~ Pangrattato!

Pangrattato (plural Pangrattati) 
Italian ~ breadcrumb

I had lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen at Watergate Bay the other day (with a long time no see good friend which was great) where, on reading the menu, I realised that I’ve been at the pangrattato for many, many years without knowing it! Although pangrattato seems be the normal term on menus I think if I was still cheffing I might say pangrattati as just one sounds a bit meagre!

Pangrattato/ti (from grated bread) is/are crispy flavoured breadcrumbs which are a fabulous way of adding deliciousness and texture to all sorts of meals; I find you can’t go wrong with a crunchy sprinkle! It’s also Very Cheap as you can use stale bread and the additions are a great way of using up other leftover bits and pieces.

This simple garnish (to say the least) can be varied in ways too numerous to mention but I’m going to have a go. I think this is another one of those genius recipes that once you know the basics you can go on to make any number of wonderful things.

Different breads can, of course, be used and all sorts of things such as nuts, seeds, herbs, spices etc. can be added to create the perfect pangrattato for your chosen dish. Make the breadcrumbs by grating the bread, chopping it finely or coarsely, or it running through the food processor. The advantage of this last method is you can add other additions such as nuts or herbs to the crumbs and chop them in at the same time. The disadvantage is the faff of setting it up and the subsequent washing up.

Olive oil is the most commonly used oil in pangrattato, flavoured oils are good, nut oils make a nice change and butter works too, especially for sweet pangrattato.

The breadcrumbs should be crisp which can be achieved by either baking or frying them. Either way you need about 2 tablespoons of oil or butter per 100g of crumbs and if you are adding garlic or herbs or spices it is a good idea to gently warm them in the oil over low heat before tossing with the crumbs, thus infusing the oil and making everything even tastier.

Baking – moisten the crumbs with the oil, flavoured or otherwise and toss with other additions, spread on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4 for about 5 minutes. If you are cooking something else a slightly higher or lower temperature is fine, just keep an eye on the crumbs.

Frying – it is far better, in my opinion, to moisten the crumbs with your chosen oil and then fry them in a dry pan rather than heating the oil in the pan and then adding the crumbs.  My way means that the crumbs have time to absorb the oil and so become uniformly crisp rather than the first bit to hit the pan frying hard and the rest having to catch up!

Don’t forget to taste and season your pangrattato before serving.

 Some Ideas ...

~   Just salt and pepper can be good – warm the oil with some coarsely ground black pepper, cook the crumbs then stir in a little crunchy sea salt.
~   Warm chilli flakes in a similar manner, perhaps with a little orange zest too.

~   3 Garlic Suggestions ...
     1.  Warm finely chopped garlic in the oil or butter before tossing with the crumbs.
     2.  Use the oil from roasted garlic instead of plain oil or butter.
     3.  Black Garlic Pangrattati, (were you expecting this?) stir a little finely chopped black garlic or a teaspoon of black garlic paste into the oil, good dose of black pepper would be good in this.

~   One or two coarsely chopped anchovies and a little garlic – this is an interesting alternative to croutons in Caesar Salad.
~   Bacon or ham or chorizo etc. – coarsely chop and toss with the crumbs in the hot oil, particularly good sprinkled over macaroni cheese type dishes.
~   Pesto Pangrattato – warm a little finely chopped garlic and some coarsely chopped basil in the oil. Add some coarsely chopped pinenuts to the crumbs and as soon as you have cooked them and they are hot and crisp stir in some grated Parmesan.
~   Nutty Pangrattato – actually my first ever Sudden Lunch! post concerned cobnut pangrattato (although I didn’t realise it at the time!) and it was so delicious I remember it to this day. Might make it again in a minute, I’ve got some cobnuts.  
~   Lemon and Parsley – great for fish dishes, warm finely grated lemon zest and some coarsely ground black pepper in the oil and stir in chopped parsley once cooked. Maybe add a few chopped capers and sprinkle over smoked salmon with sour cream!

Sweet Pangrattati

Best to use butter for these and stir in a little sugar too.

~   Hot Cross Bun Crumbs! When making my Hot Cross Bun Ice Cream (our new favourite!) I like it if I have a few cooked crumbs left over; they are great sprinkled on fruit dishes or other ice creams.
~   Stollen Pangrattato, maybe add some crumbled marzipan and/or some chopped almonds – good over peaches, for instance.
~   Brioche Pangrattato – butter, sugar, perhaps some cinnamon or a little vanilla paste.
~   Etc.

As I often say with these genius recipes – “Your turn”!

What to do with your Pangrattato

You can of course sprinkle it willy nilly as the mood takes you but here are a few suggestions ...

~   Add crunch to perfectly cooked fresh veggies eg. asparagus or broccoli or green beans. Anchovy pangrattato is excellent with cauliflower.
~   Egg dishes as in my Toast on Eggs recipe here.
~   Toss with gnocchi – in my opinion they need all the help they can get!
~   Top risotto.
~   Sprinkle a little on cheese (maybe let it cool a little first if using on a cheeseboard), walnut pangrattato would be good on blue cheese, for instance, or pesto pangrattato with goat cheese.
~   Use instead of more traditional croutons on thick creamy soups.
~   Makes an almost instant gratin topping!
~   Sprinkle on salads.
~   Pangrattato is a perfect addition to creamy dishes such as pasta in an Alfredo Sauce.

Pasta con Pangrattato

This is a great emergency meal if you haven’t got much in!
~   Whilst cooking your pasta (any pasta will work) make a pangrattato with whatever you fancy but being a little generous with the oil or butter. It is best for this dish to cook the crumbs in a pan on top of the stove.
~   When the pangrattato is crisp and golden stir in some grated Parmesan (or blue cheese or mature cheddar or nothing) and any other additions you fancy.
~   Set a few of the crumbs aside to garnish.
~   Drain the pasta then toss with the pangrattato in the pan.
~   Sprinkle with the reserved crumbs and serve immediately whilst still crisp.

An alternative to breadcrumbs is tiny weeny croutons (lots more info on Croutonology here).

Sweet Pangrattato Ideas ...

~   Sprinkle over ice cream or top a sundae.
~   Porridge!
~   A quick crunchy topping for cooked fruits.

Jamie Oliver's Fifteeen 

Lunch at Fifteen was good and the dessert, a sort of white chocolate and strawberry cheesecake in a jar, was both large and gorgeous which is one of my favourite combinations!

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6 August 2015

A Game of Scones!

I have been playing with my genius scone recipe a lot recently because so successful was publishing my ice cream book as a paperback  (I made about £6 last month) that I decided to convert The Secret Life of Scones to paperback too.  As a friend recently posted on Facebook …

Mind you I didn't expect the paperbacks to be big sellers, just useful for people without the wherewithal to read the kindle version.

£1.99 Click here to read more.
If you don’t know about my genius scone recipe (which I think might just be the most useful dough recipe in the world) let me tell you! Not only can it be varied to create any sweet or savoury scone, American biscuit, griddle cake or rock bun you can think of, not only is it the base recipe for many traditional and ancient dishes but it also make lovely fluffy dumplings, crisp doughnuts, cobblers, turnovers, pie crust (nicer than pastry, I think, as it’s so short and crumbly) and more. 

It can also be mixed up in a moment or held ready in the fridge or freezer in case of emergencies. 

Whilst working through the original manuscript re-sizing margins and photos, indexing etc. to get it ready for print I also came up with some new ideas and recipes so added them to both the book and to the kindle version.   

Here are some of those ideas (more details in the book) ...

~   Pecan and Brown Sugar Scones – obvious when you think about it!

~   Peanut Butter Scones – this was an inspiration wot I suddenly had; I used crunchy peanut butter to replace most of the fat in the original recipe.

~   Chocolate Scones  no idea why I didn't do these earlier! Replace some of the flour with cocoa and add chocolate chunks.

~   Sticky Orange Buns – rolled with brown sugar and cooked in a sticky orange syrup.  Gorgeous with clotted cream!

~   Roasted Garlic Scones – very yum! Replace some of the liquid in the genius recipe with roasted garlic.

~   Black Garlic Scones! – yes, my favourite ingredient again, made with the black garlic paste I wrote about recently  these cry out for blue cheese and a modicum of red wine. Just add 6 cloves of black garlic coarsely chopped OR 1½ teaspoons of paste to the genius recipe (leaving out the sugar!)

~   Roasted Tomato Scones – for these I used squashed roasted tomatoes to replace most of the liquid in the original genius recipe.

~   Panko Crusted Balls – just a quick idea which I made a s a cook’s treat but was so pleasant I added it to the book, just roll little balls of the dough in panko crumbs before baking. Good for dunking in things.

And quite a few more!

In Other News ~ 3 apologies ...

1.   I’m sorry if you’ve already bought the kindle version, I had heard that if you make changes to a title Amazon will let purchasers download an up to date version but I asked Amazon and they said the alterations have to be serious corrections to problems in the first edition, which I cannot claim.

Having said that it might be worth trying this ...
~    Go to Manage Your Content and Devices at the bottom of the  Amazon half way down the column on the right.
~   Find The Secret Life of Scones (or any other book you want to update) in the resulting list.
~   Click on the three dots on the left and select Download.

~   Download to your chosen device et voila – hopefully! It used to work but I think they might have changed it.

2.   I feel I must apologise for the intrusive cookies thing that you may be seeing at the top of this blog, apparently it is now law. If I can work out how I will try and make it more attractive.  I hate pop-ups, I like a nice clean looking blog and if there has to be an intrusive cookie thing I’d rather it looked like this!
3.  Also a small apology, if you pronounce scones as I do to rhyme with gone, about the title of this post but it was worth a try! I also considered Scone with the Wind but feel that may give people a distorted impression of how very good this recipe is!

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20 July 2015

Lucky find ~ a tatty little gem of a cookbook!

You may remember I referred recently to my lovely one day a week sorting books for charity – it’s so exciting. As you can imagine lots and lots of cookbooks come through but these days I am not much of a one for reading about cooking, I feel I know  ... well, not “it all” exactly but enough already! If I do like the look of a cookbook I apply a stringent test – I open it at random a few times and if I know I can make the dishes thus revealed I go no further.

I did buy “My Life in France” by Julia Child a couple of weeks ago (which was great – what a character and what a boon to cooking and eating in the States) and then this week I bought a seriously dilapidated little book with the pages falling out, it was so tatty I almost threw it into the discard container without looking at it. Glad I didn’t though – it is lovely and makes me grin every time I think of it!

“Mangoes & Monsoons – the best of tropical cooking” by John Kenyon published in 1964. 

When I applied my “test” I almost bought it out of sheer sneeriness – I have lived in the tropics and was not impressed with the first few recipes I looked at...

Hot Tomato Dip – which is a small bottle of tomato ketchup spiced up with garlic salt, ground red pepper and brandy to serve with potato chips.

Frozen Rainbows – three different tinned soups set with gelatine, layered up and frozen (which is actually an interesting idea which could be played with).

Sardine Cocktail – soak toast fingers with oil from a can of sardines, dip the sardines in gin (yes, gin) and lay them on the toast. Sprinkle with pepper and bake or grill, serve hot.

Banana Cutlets – lamb chops with mashed banana pressed onto them, breaded and deep fried.

I flicked on through and then suddenly “I fell in” so to speak, and realised that this isn’t a book on how to cook wonderful exotic and exciting tropical foods (well most of it isn’t but more about that in a minute), this is about how to make the most of what was actually available in many tropical places 50 years ago; mostly imported tinned and packaged goods from the UK

I have experienced this myself; firstly in Dominica in the early 70s, where the shop was full of Heinz tomato soup, Horlicks, Ovaltine, baked beans and other warming homely stuff from Britain. I found the same thing in Asia in 1991 and when I  moved to the British Virgin Islands a few years later it was the same again. Things there have, of course, improved a great deal, the imported stuff is now a lot posher – here is a picture of one of the aisles in Riteways, the main supermarket in Tortola.

Mr. Kenyon seems to have been very well travelled, he mentions Australia, India, Malaya, the Gold Coast, Uganda, Pakistan, Ceylon, Siam, Borneo, Panama, The West Indies and so on. His book, Mangoes and Monsoons, is full of useful advice gleaned from his travels, such as ...

If you are rich enough to employ a cook ... learn to look angry without feeling so inside – it helps”

“If you are the type to get ‘het up’ then have a good stiff drink early in the evening before you begin – I find cooking with a drink on the draining board helps”

And from his Ghanaian cook, Mousah ...

“Some people they no savvy the chop palaver. You give ‘um fry, you give um boil, and palaver finish”

... by which he obviously means don’t just fry or boil stuff, strive for variety in food, cut it up and make something interesting. A man after my own heart.

Of course some of the recipes use fresh local ingredients such as pawpaws, bananas and lotus nuts and even things I’ve not heard of such as under curries one recipe contains ¼ tsp each of metic and funch and a whole teaspoon of jiva! (If anyone know what these are please leave a comment!) There is one small chapter on “Peculiar Things” such as Porcupine in Okra Soup and Blood Stew from Ghana. This is from his directions for Fried Grasshoppers ...

“Having collected your grasshoppers during a minor “plague’ ... use as little oil as possible as the flesh itself is  very oily and rich

Liver Dust

I think it is this recipe that persuaded me to save the book from pulping!
1lb lambs liver
3 tablespoons soya sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1 crushed clove of garlic
red pepper and oil

Soak the liver in salted ware for 2 hours then remove the skin.  Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a frying pan and put in the liver whole with the garlic and quickly brown both sides. Then add the soya sauce, sugar and brandy, and simmer until all the liquids are absorbed.

Remove the liver and put on a rack to drain and dry. When really dry it will literally be as “hard as rock” and you can then grate it on a fine cheese grater like Parmesan cheese. Heap in bowl and sprinkle generously with red pepper.

Excellent for using as a topping for soups, over rice or noodles, with Chines food or as a side dish to curries.

A bit like my Bacon Salt,  I might (or might not) try it sometime!

It’s not all either outrageous or boring, a previous owner has ticked many recipes (and made notes such as to use tinned mushroom soup instead of dehydrated in the recipe for Malidadi Kuku; chicken, frankfurters or saveloys, the said soup, vegetables and paprika). There are lots of perfectly normal recipes, several quite appealing and a few I might try for instance at the end of the books is this ...

Cold Weather Drink

Cover 6 peeled and quartered tangerines (although he says tinned mandarins can be used instead) with 1 tablespoon of sugar till and when the sugar has melted putting fruit and juices into a muslin bag and simmer in a quart of cider for 10 minutes. You then add half a bottle of rum and allow to stand for several hours. Sounds yum!

As Mr. Kenyon says at the end of his book ...


In Other News ~ the Mary Berry bit ...

I picked the last orange off our tree the other day and decided to make an orange drizzle cake with it. I have reams of recipes in my computer, notebooks and head but had heard from a friend that Mary Berry’s easy peasy Lemon Drizzle recipe on Good to Know was a useful one. The measurements seemed both small and odd to me but it was “well tested” with good reviews and seemed a doddle so I did it. It was a doddle and worked really well but was tiny, which didn’t surprise me at all but think it should have been mentioned.  The recipe says it serves six but not six of the sort of people I know! 

So here is the recipe using a lovely homegrown orange and doubled up to make a decent sized and delicious ...

Orange Drizzle Loaf à la Mary Berry

3 large eggs
175g self raising flour
1½ tsp baking powder
175g caster sugar
175g margarine
finely grated zest of 1 orange
100g granulated sugar
juice of said orange

~   Preheat the oven 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Lightly grease a 1lb loaf tin (even when doubling the recipe – see photo above!).
~   Put everything but the last two ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat till smooth.
~   Decant into the loaf tin and bake for about 35 minutes till risen and golden and bounces back when you lightly press the surface with your finger.
~   Remove from the oven but leave in the container.
~   Mix together the granulated sugar and the orange juice and pour it over the warm cake – the juice will be absorbed and the sugar make a crunchy topping.
~   When cool carefully remove from container.

I understand from Good to Know that the original recipe is taken from Mary Berry's Stress-Free Kitchen by Mary Berry.

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13 July 2015

"The latest 'it' ingredient in chefs' kitchens"

Look what I’ve got ...

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a bugger for the black garlic, which makes me cool because I recently read that black garlic is 

“the latest ‘it’ ingredient in chef's kitchens.” 

I love the stuff and now here it is in a seriously handy new form – paste. Yippee!

Balsajo make this gorgeous ingredient and also sell whole black garlic bulbs and peeled cloves which certainly have their place in the kitchen too.


Here’s a lovely thing; at the moment when you buy any product from Balsajo's website they will send one of their eco boxes to a friend of your choice (me?).

I have already experimented with black garlic in loads of dishes and often had to mash the cloves to get the desired result but no need for that any more – this smooth unctuous paste (which smells divine when you open the jar) is so flippin’ useful.

Black garlic hardly tastes of garlic at all, maybe vaguely reminiscent, that’s all. It has a deep, rich, sweet molasses/balsamic flavour which goes well with both sweet and savoury ingredients, in fact I feel the possibilities are almost endless so watch this space!

Here are my ideas – so far ...

Black Garlic Oil

Whisk a little of the paste into olive oil, it won’t emulsify but it still works, and use thus ...

~   brush around the naked edge of pizza before baking.
~   or onto hot fresh out the oven focaccia.
~   toss with bits of bread to make croutons. (Please, please do make you own croutons – it’s ridiculously easy and absolutely pointless buying them!) 
~   roast potatoes.
~   drizzle on salads, soups, meat, fish, cheese or whatever you fancy.

Black Garlic Butter

Cream together soft butter and black garlic paste to taste (crumbled blue cheese and/or coarsely ground black pepper are both good additions to this) and you might as well make plenty and store it, here's a good way ...

a)  Spread a square of clingfilm or baking parchment onto the counter.
b)  Scrape the soft and tasty butter into sausage about 30mm from and parallel to one edge.
c)  Lift that edge and use the film or parchment to roll and shape the butter into a cylinder.
d)  When satisfied roll the butter in the rest of the clingfilm and twist the ends to secure.
e)  Chill or freeze until needed.
f)   Use a hot knife to slice cold or frozen butters.

Use to ...

~   make fabulous garlic bread.
~   add to mashed potatoes – particularly good with steak
~   swirl a little on top of a bowl of mushroom (or other) soup
~   dollop into baked potato
~   sauté mushrooms
~   top a steak with a slice or two of the chilled butter, or, even better ...
~   after pan frying steak set the meat aside somewhere warm to relax, add a splash of red wine, beef stock or even water to the pan and boil, scraping the pan to dissolve any meaty juices, and when there is just a tablespoon of sauce left quickly stir in a knob of the butter till emulsified and pour it over the steak.
~   enrich scrambled eggs. You know when you are scrambling eggs and they are just about perfect? Immediately they reach this point stir in some cold butter (in this case black garlic butter) which will not only enrich the eggs but will stop them cooking any further and keep them perfect.
~   the taste of black garlic goes surprisingly well with eggs so try spreading it on toast for poached eggs or perhaps onto your soldiers!
~   etc.

Stir into mayonnaise  makes for a great potato salad.

Mix with mixture of cheese scraps for an interesting potted cheese – scroll to the end of this post for details.

Shake into vinaigrette - this is a good marinade for beef or duck.

Add to hummus and other bean dips, lots of ideas here.

Toss into freshly cooked tagliatelle or similar not too substantial pasta, together with crumbled blue cheese, lots of freshly ground black pepper and just a splash of the pasta cooking water to make it saucy.

Add to Alfredo Sauce – lovely easy recipe here. Mushrooms (sautéed in black garlic butter if you have some) are a good addition to this and it is equally delicious on pasta or as a sauce for chicken, for instance, or just with bread or toast for a gorgeous lunch.

Stir a little through mushroom risotto.

Black garlic is sweet and molasses-ish so a while ago I experimented with Black Garlic Ice Cream (using my no-churn genius recipe) and it was excellent. At the I had to purée the garlic cloves with the cream but now this won’t be necessary.

With this paste I thought I try something else outrageous ...

Black Garlic Sorbet!

Sorbet and its close relation granita are very easy to make, I whipped up a small batch of black garlic sorbet and it's good. If I was still cheffing I might serve this alongside a wedge of blue cheese as an appetizer or dessert. I made a simple syrup of one part sugar and two parts water, simmered for a minute then cooled and froze it. (Unfrozen this makes a nice drizzle for ice cream - I know because I tried it.)

I have written a small ebooklet on sorbets (part of my Genius Recipes series) with about 50 sorbet and granita recipes plus tips and tricks and suggestions so you can not only follow the recipes you can also make up your own just like I did with the black garlic.

Even More!

There is, however, even more to black garlic than its gorgeous flavour ...

~   It doesn’t taint the breath.
~   Unlike many delicious things it is good for you, apparently it is low fat and high in antioxidants which, as we all know, kill free radicals.
~   It has a good long shelf life – my jar is dated the end of November 2016 and the whole garlics last just as long.

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1 July 2015

Just a Quickie ~ thanks to Ronald Regan!

Today is the first day of National Ice Cream Month in the States and the third Sunday of July (19th) is National Ice Cream Day so will be doubly wonderful on the other side of the pond.

Apparently it was President Ronald Regan who designated this month and day to be so important – how marvellous that he found time to do so amongst all his other chores!  

But that’s not all.

Today is also Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day, I don’t know which president decided this one but good on him because it’s very timely, I have just managed to get my genius recipe no churn ice cream book published by Createspace and it just happens to include this chapter ...

It took me ages to get everything right for printing and the paperback is £11.99 but the ebook (which is the same) just £1.99, about the price of a cheap carton of ice cream and so much less than an ice cream machine – just saying!

It’s very hot here in Cornwall today, as I type, and I understand the rest of the country is headed for a heatwave although our weather forecast says it will be 20º and rainy for the rest of the week here (not that I necessarily believe them – in fact next go round I might be a weather person, it seems to be more creative than scientific!) So what a good time for you lot up country to eat ice cream.  Here’s one I ate rapidly for my lunch pudding – as you can see the Black Pepper Ice cream melted very quickly onto the strawberries.  Still luscious though!

The recipe for Black Pepper Ice Cream is in my said book but the beauty of a genius recipe is the sheer joy and usefulness of being able to make whatever you fancy once you know why and how it works, for instance a while ago I fancied, as one does ...

Bacon Jam Ice Cream ...

... which qualifies  as a creative flavo(u)r I think!

So, enjoy the heatwave!

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28 June 2015

Lunch Responsibly ~ Use a Condiment!

I have started doing a lovely thing – one day a week I sort out literally hundreds of books that have been donated to Cornwall Hospice Care, dividing them into ones that can be sold on Amazon and therefore get a good price, those that are in good condition but readily available so can be sent out to the 30 or so Cornwall Hospice shops in the Duchy and those, sadly, that are in one helluva state so go to be pulped.

If you are a reader you can imagine my excitement each time I open a new box or bag of books and through the day I set aside several of the Amazon rejects to buy myself. The other day, among the books, was a little sign ...

Good advice, in fact I have been known to carry a few readily portable condiments about with me in case I chance upon a bland meal.

A condiment is defined as a seasoning or other edible substance used to improve the taste of food. Salt and pepper qualify, of course, and flavoured salts can be wonderful (make your own such as bacon salt and others) and freshly ground black pepper gives a boost to most things.

Here is a list of other condiments together with some ideas of how to use them, do bear in mind that several of these are very powerful tasting and act accordingly.

Apple Sauce – famously good with pork dishes but here are lots of other ideas – I have also made apple ice cream with it using my genius recipe (see end of post for info about this).

Balsamic Glaze – this is a wonderful tasting and attractive looking drizzle to add to all sorts of meals. I used to make my own balsamic glaze by boiling down balsamic vinegar and then adding a little honey but it makes the place stink and it’s so much easier to buy a bottle these days. It goes particularly well with mushrooms, roasted root veg, caramelised onion dishes, certain pizzas, beef (and kangaroo, apparently), cheese and I always drizzle some on hummus. Oh, and strawberries, of course!

Black Garlic – if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that this is my favourite “new” ingredient ever and I have written about it here and all over the blog!  I’ve even made surprisingly delicious ice cream with it (same genius recipe, see blow!)  

Black garlic goes well with lots of things and exceptionally well with blue cheese, mushrooms, beef and other umami-ish tastes.

Capers (which are horrid, aren’t they?) – if you like them then sprinkle over smoked salmon, stir into mayonnaise (another condiment) together with some lemon zest and juice to serve with fish dishes in general and oily or smoked fish in particular. Coarsely chop and add to potato salad. Add a few chopped capers to breadcrumbs for coating fried fish, add to fish pâtés and salads or sprinkle a few on pizza (particularly if it include anchovies, they get on very well together).

Chutney and Pickles in general – add to toasted cheese sandwiches, mix into cream cheese, enhance a salad dressing or mayonnaise, perk up a sauce with a spoonful of chutney (eg. apple chutney in apple sauce or in pork gravy), brush onto grilled meats as a glaze, and Two in Particular ...

1.   Patak’s Chilli Pickle – I know this is a bit specific but it's so deliciously useful and I find the “sludge”; the oil and spices including mustard seeds, more useful than the whole pieces of chilli so when I open a new jar I purée the lot! 

It goes into a good deal of my cooking and I have sometimes been unfairly complimented (compliments which I gracefully accepted) on the complexity of a dish, which complexity I owe entirely to Pataks. 

Add to cheese on toast, mayonnaise, seafood salads, chicken dishes, mashed potatoes and potato cakes, etc., but always abstemiously! Stir into plain yogurt as a sauce or dip. A little of the thick coconut milk from the top of a can together with a soupçon of chilli pickle sludge and a squeeze of lemon or lime makes a super sauce for scallops and other shellfish. Or simply stir though cooked rice.

2.   Mango Chutney – stir into chicken curry a few minutes before serving to upgrade the flavour. Purée with roasted red pepper to make an excellent sauce, brush on grilled chicken to glaze just before serving, drizzle the runnier bit of chutney onto appropriate soups (eg curried lentil), stir into yogurt as a dip or accoutrement.

Cranberry Sauce – this is a good side to turkey and chicken, obviously, and duck, goose and sometimes pork, less obviously. It is also a natural accompaniment to Brie and is good with goat cheese too. Add to brie and bacon sandwiches, serve with fried or baked Brie etc. Use to glaze chicken, sausages, pork chops etc. Stir a little into braised red cabbage. Warm a little to drizzle onto pumpkin or butternut squash soup.

Horseradish – season up mashed potato, add to fish cakes, add a tad to Yorkshire pudding batter to serve with roast beef and/or a little is good in beef gravy. It’s a great addition to smoked mackerel pate and other smoked or oily fish dishes, Add to dumplings to go with beef dishes, stir into a cream sauce to serve with steak or Bloody Mary, of course. You will notice I have used such words as “a little” or “a tad”; be cautious, you can always add more. Stir together with sour cream as an accompaniment to fish.

Hot Sauce – this is, of course, a biggie in the Caribbean where it is so popular that it is placed on restaurant table alongside the salt and pepper and OFF (which can be confusing to those unfamiliar with the last product – it is mosquito repellent!).  

Add a drip or two of hot sauce judiciously anywhere you fancy to spice up mayonnaise, cream cheese, cheese on toast, pasta sauce, soups, chillies and stews, tomato ketchup and lots more.

Mayonnaise – mayo makes a good alternative to butter or other spread in sandwiches, use instead of milk or cream when mashing potatoes, mix with vinaigrette to make a creamy dressing, use in fishcakes,

Mustard  stir ready made mustard (maybe Dijon for this) into a cream sauce for steak, add a little mustard to beef gravy, use to season dumplings to go with beef dishes.  Beef loves mustard but so does pork and rabbit and cheese and ham. 

Mix together about equal parts of (wholegrain, if possible) mustard and mayonnaise and then add a little honey to taste for a fabulous accompaniment to ham or spread for ham sandwiches. Stir into the cream before pouring over potatoes when making a gratin, adding little hot English mustard makes for a very good cheese sauce,Add a little mustard powder to flour or breadcrumbs when coating appropriate things to fry.
Oils – interesting ones such as extra virgin olive, sesame, avocado, walnut, truffle, etc. or those flavoured with lemon, chilli or basil, for instance.
Drizzle a tasty oil on top of an appropriate soup eg. basil oil on tomato soup or pumpkin seed oil on pumpkin soup (what a surprise), or salad such as, pizza edges are nice brushed with a little roasted garlic oil before baking, truffle oil is great on mushroom or mashed into potatoes and so on and so forth. Good extra virgin olive oil is good all over the place!
(See here for some excellent flavoured oils which can be used to liven up all sorts of dishes. 
Red Onion Marmalade –this is something else that is easy to make at home but easier still to buy. Not only is it a delicious cheese enhancing chutney-like thing it is also great in quite a variety of dishes, stir a little into the pan juices together with a knob of butter to sauce steak or pork, serve with meat pâtés, sausages, cheese, charcuterie and so on.
Sweet Chilli Sauce – I use this a lot to add a certain je ne sais quoi to my meals. It goes very well indeed with Asian dishes ad shellfish but with lots of other things too. Often a tomato dish will require a little sweetness and sweet chilli sauce adds this and a little spice perfectly. If your chilli con carne is lacking add this. Stir into mayonnaise or salad dressings. Add to fishcakes, fish salads and fish dishes in general. (A delicious meal can be made by cooking a piece of fish in butter, setting aside the fish, adding another knob of butter, a dash of sweet chilli sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime to make a sauce).
Tomato Ketchup – you probably already know a lot of ways to use this, some people like to put it on everything! Sauce Marie Rose for Prawn Cocktail can be made simply by mixing 1 tbsp ketchup into 100ml mayonnaise and seasoning with a little cayenne or hot sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce (and, not normally considered a condiment, but a splash of brandy is good in this too!). Tomato ketchup can also be used to add a little sweetness to tomato soup, pasta sauces, chill or Bolognese type sauces. I actually make a very cheaty sauce for pizza using 50:50 ish tomato ketchup and tomato paste and no-on has complained so far!
Vinegars – of all descriptions; balsamic (for cheese, salad greens, mushrooms, beef etc.), cider (pork, chicken, apples), fruit (add a little to fruit salads), sherry (delicious drizzled onto asparagus and other green veggies), red wine (beef, pork, cheese), white wine (chicken, seafood, rabbit), rice (Asian dishes, cucumber), malt (for fish and chips) but not distilled, I don’t think. Match your vinegar to your meal to drizzle, add to pan juices, dress salads, make marinades, highlight dishes and so on, a drip here and a drop there can do wonders.

 Worcestershire Sauce – remember, my American friends, in the UK we pronounce this Wooster Sauce which saves a lot of bother (or you could say Lea and Perrins as that is the traditional make). See here for an Italian guy’s attempt to pronounce it.  
This is great with beef (eg. in burgers or on steaks) and is famous in a Bloody Mary so naturally goes well added to tomato dishes such as soup.  Other good ideas include adding it to Welsh Rarebit  and Cheese on ToastCaesar salad dressing often includes Wooster Sauce, add a little sautéed kidneys and if you make a prawn cocktail (you old fashioned thing, you!) try a splash of the Wooster sauce in that. It is also very good in beef stews and mushroom dishes

In Other News ...

~   Apropos of my opening paragraph please don’t be shy about donating to charity – on my first day someone dropped off a complete set of “gentleman’s’ apparel” comprising a pair of size 12 thigh high lace up patent leather stiletto boots, a rubbery coat, a strange bra-like thingy and studded leather collar and cuffs. This fetched £250 on eBay so thank you, Sir!

~   I am very aware that I am being a bit of a slacker in the blogging department recently and now it is not because I have fallen over or am wandering about Britain, now it is because have been trying and trying and trying to upload my ice cream book to Createspace so that it will be available in hard copy. It was quite a learning curve but, fingers crossed, I’ve done it so have a look here.

This is the front cover ...

And this the back ....

I have changed the cover because I think the red of the original would have been too much on an 8" x 10” book cover, but I’m quite pleased with the new one.  How say you?   See more about the kindle version and the paperback here. 

Now I have to go through Everything All Over the Place changing the image!

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