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 ...

PALAVER FINISH!

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

Black Garlic ~ "The latest 'it' ingredient in chefs' kitchens"

Look what I’ve got ...

balsajo-black-garlic-paste

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.

Bonus!


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?).

black-garlic-paste
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 ...

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



Use Black Garlic Butter 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.


Other Ideas for Black Garlic ...


~  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.~ 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 Alfredo 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.

mushroom-and-black-garlic-alfredo-recipe-suzy-bowler

~  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 genius no-churn ice cream recipe) and it was excellent. At the time I had to purée the garlic cloves with the cream but now this won’t be necessary.

black-garlic-no-churn-ice-cream


More Good News about Black Garlic!

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.

black-garlic-cloves




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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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