24 December 2012

Have a good one!

That's about it really - have the wonderfullest time and if I eat anything interesting, especially if it's sudden, I'll let you know.  

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17 December 2012

Geordie~Italian Fusion Pizza

~  Menu  ~

Ham and Pease Pud Pizza
Sparkling Water
(tho' should have been Newcastle brown or a cuppa)
Marzipan Trimmings

Today for a minute or so I was at a complete loss for an interesting lunch so decided to sort out the fridge a bit and see if I could be inspired.  I was, almost immediately.

I took out the almost obligatory ham and pease pudding and behind it was half a pizza base (I have to admit to cheating here - if I am only having pizza for myself I buy roasted garlic flatbread from Tesco, cut it in half and this makes two dinner pizzas for me) and inspiration struck; a traditional Geordie pizza. I spread the base with pease pudding, topped it with sliced ham, baked till crisp and served it with a green salad all drizzled with balsamic glaze.  This was so very much deliciouser than I was expecting!

Almost every week I cook my real, and Geordie, man a ham and make pease pudding with the stock, for details of how to do it see here, it's very easy and worthwhile!

Whilst my pizza was cooking I marzipanned our Christmas Cake and then after eating the pizza I sat down with a cup of coffee and a few marzipan scraps. 

After a little while I went into the kitchen for more marzipan scraps and on my third or fourth visit for more I decided to gather all the scraps (that were left) and keep them to make Chewy Marzipan Cookies - see here for the recipe, I don't think you'll regret it!

The ice cream shown in the picture sandwiching the cookies together was, of course, made in accordance to my super easy recipe which my eBook "Lush Ice Cream without a Machine"  is all about - in this case it was, obviously, Cherry Ice Cream!

In Other News

We have primroses flowering in our garden!  This is extra surprising considering the damage that slugs have done to the plants as you can see from the picture.  How brave they are! 

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11 December 2012

Marmalade on ... Salmon!

~  Menu  ~

Courgette & Lemon Fritters
Hot Smoked Salmon in Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise
Small glass of Sauvignon Blanc
Sticky Toffee Sauce Scrapings

We bought a side of hot smoked salmon, half price, the other day which I portioned and froze all except one piece which I had for dinner that night.  It had been sold with slices of orange and a sachet of orange glaze which I didn't want to open for just one piece (or possibly at all).  I was about to stick my bit of fish in the oven when I remembered the remains of a jar of Cornish Meadows Lemon & Chilli Marmalade in the cupboard so I brushed the top of my salmon with this before baking.  Gorgeous! but of course too much for me to finish in one sitting.

Cornish Meadows make very fine preserves traditionally and using seasonal fruits when they are at their best.  I was going to take a picture of my jar but it is a bit stained and goosome on the outside so here is a clip from their site which you can visit here 

We also bought a few baby courgettes so today I made courgette fritters as per my all purpose fritter recipe which I flavoured with grated lemon zest and a generous amount of the leftover smoked salmon turned in a spoonful of roasted garlic mayonnaise - one of my store cupboard staples.

Lucky girl me. 

Clearing up after lunch I found a StickyToffee Sauce pan from last night with just a little sauce left in it.  To be frank I had kept this back purposely as I was going to suggest my real man cook his morning porridge in it for a little added je ne sais quoi but forgot to tell him about it this morning.  So I scraped the pan and ate it myself with a cup of coffee.

Now I know this post isn't very informative inasmuch as there are no new recipes (although some links to earlier recipes) but it does demonstrate how with a combination of imagination and greed, a collection of bits, pieces, leftovers and bargains can make a lovely sudden lunch.

In Other News ...

Here is a pineapple we bought yesterday, not quite ripe as it happens! 

You may remember I had myself a little rant the other day about best before dates.  I confuse myself because when we get something like this fine pineapple I am simultaneously delighted and cross - strange feeling!  I have decided to do a board on Pinterest to start a collection of irritating, wonderful bargains.  

On my other blog about my writing, here, I have written about a strange experience I had on Stumble Upon.  If you have the time and inclination have a read, I'd be grateful to know if anyone, anywhere has ever seen this.

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5 December 2012

Back Home in Cornwall and eating "Normally"

Not burnt ~ black garlic bread!

~  Menu  ~

Poached Eggs
Black Garlic Bread
Coffee and Vanilla Yogurt

Its good to be home and have all our stuff about us.  We went Up North for 3 weeks but stayed 3 months and I hadn't packed for such an eventuality.  I should have taken my roasted garlic, my black garlic, smoked black pepper, Caribbean seasoning, Tortolian vanilla extract, balsamic glaze, chilli pickle and so on and so forth.  Not being of a spendy nature I didn't want to waste money replacing these items so had eat in a plainer manner whilst away.  Today I got back to "normal".

Our friend Carol gave us half a dozen eggs freshly laid by her "girls" so poaching was the obvious way to go.  Leaving flavour aside eggs poach so much better when really fresh - for how to poach them see here.  I served them with a piece of bread smothered with black garlic butter and toasted till crisp.  I sprinkled the whole lot with smoked black pepper and weyhey!

My dessert occurred as a by-product of my aging process, I believe.  Preparing my breakfast I accidentally added the spoonful of instant coffee to my vanilla yogurt instead of my coffee mug.  Well you know how I abhor wasting anything; I stirred it in and put it in the fridge for lunch pudding.  It worked fine!

In Other News ...

Well nothing much other than I am working hard to promote my eBook about ice cream.  Here's a picture of one I made earlier to tempt you to look into the matter!

Homemade coffee ice cream (just look at the texture on that!) with sugared walnuts. 

Re:  My earlier Best Before Date Rant

Remember my rant-ette a few days ago?  Well, my darling brought home a Christmas wreath yesterday, reduced in price by a considerable amount and much as we appreciate the bargain there is absolutely nothing wrong with the it; no dryness, no sign of wilting, just fine and dandy

The big question for me, though, is what kind of nutter makes a Christmas wreath that is out of date by 4th December?! 

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4 December 2012

My eBook goes Live - also Free for a couple of Days

I am excited to say that my eBook "Lush Ice Cream without a Machine" is now available on Amazon and today and tomorrow it is FREE so can you do me a favour, please?  Download the book here, give it a read and, if you would be so kind, review it on Amazon.  I hope you like it.  Lots more details about the book can be seen here.

To be honest this has taken some time to come to fruition.  You may remember some while ago I was eating a lot of ice cream and writing about a simple ice cream recipe I used in the Caribbean to develop all sorts of yummy ice creams and dessert.  As you know life is not easy out there and in all that warm sunshine ice cream is a necessity.

As I got more involved in writing my other book abut leftovers which is now, happily,  with the publishers and due to be published at the end of March, the ice cream writing was put to one side.

A few months ago I won a Kindle.  Until then I hadn't really fancied one but now I have it I am so delighted.  Not only is it a really comfortable way to read, a great way to store books and excellent when travelling it also opened my eyes to eBooks; both reading them and their potential as a way to publish some of my own work. I had another look at my ice cream manuscript and decided to give this new fangled technology a try.   

In Other News ...

We are back in Cornwall and its good to be home.

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27 November 2012

Is this the World's Oldest Living Orange?

You're not going to believe this.

We are doing the final tidy up of my late father in law's flat and today in the corner of the pantry I found the above pictured orange.  He has been in there about a year and looked a bit rough ...

... but when cut in half was sweet and juicy!  So much for best before labelling.

Obviously I am in No Way recommending that we keep our fruits for ages and ages but on the other hand we don't have to be too nervous about best before dates.  

By best before dates I must stress I Do Not Mean use by dates which are to be taken much more seriously (most of the time - I don't mess with fish or meat but do rely on my own senses with dairy products) as they concern food spoilage.  Best before dates are supposed to advise when a product will be past its best but in my experience many bargains still have some considerable way to go before even reaching their prime.

Our orange is, of course, an extreme case but we are often very lucky getting a little help from our local supermarket, particularly with the “nearly out of date” stuff.  I  have recently bought a small basil plant for 15p, two perfectly good courgettes for 3p and what must have been “ripen at home” avocados (although it wasn’t mentioned) which took over a week to soften but only cost 5p each.

I am truly delighted by such a boon but, you know, the basil plant was and still is a plant for Gawd’s sake. Admittedly he is not the finest specimen of a basil plant I have ever seen but all he needs is a bit of lurve.  The little lettuces in soil also shown in the picture were in date and full price when we bought them but are now 2 weeks past their best before date, I've eaten quite a lot and new ones have grown!

Potatoes and onions treated properly (cool, dry, dark, separate from each other and with respect) will keep a good long time and in any case it’s quite likely the old potatoes for sale this week were dug at the same time as the “almost out of date” old potatoes in the reduced section.

Making cheese is a method of preservation in itself and, as rule, hard cheese keeps much longer that is implied on the label.  Nevertheless wax coated hard cheeses have bizarrely short best before dates. Why? 

And what about honey? It is virtually indestructible as I have mentioned before yet it has a best before date!

If this is a cunning plan to make people buy more food it may have backfired.  I see that my local supermarket recently overshot their waste budget by several thousand pounds, I fear they may have been hoist on their own petard, whatever that is.  Click to Tweet this rant!

Sorry about that.  Changing the subject - have a look at this ...

Big Fish!

... which is a sample of the huge portions at the wonderful fish and chip shop, Gills in Seaton Sluice that we frequent when Up North (you can just see my real man's manly fist in the top of the picture to give an idea of size).  

And here's a picture of the delicious sloppy (or mushy) peas that are served with it.

Being from Down South with my "fancy southern ways" as my real man puts it I did at first demur at this but talk about yum!

In Other News ...

I have just uploaded my finished Ice Cream book to Amazon where it is available for kindle and in paperback ~ yippee!

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18 November 2012

Seafood Chowder & Pepper "Wine"

~   Menu   ~

Seafood Chowder without ...
Hot and Potent Pepper Wine!
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc

You know when you have a little this or that leftover and it's 'not worth keeping'?  Well it is, so there!

I keep several collecting boxes in my freezer; bread scraps, meat scraps and fish scraps, for instance.  This last collection came delightfully into play today when I made myself some Seafood Chowder. 

This was a good idea I had when I was cooking at the Tamarind Club in Tortola.  In theory it was a cunning plan to use up all the fishy scraps we had left over after preparing whole fish for other dishes.  Sadly it became so popular, especially after I had My Other Good Idea, that we were making gallons of the stuff two or three times a day. 

Seafood Chowder

Useful Pinterest friendly
image ~ give it a go!
2 medium onions - coarsely chopped
2 carrots - coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks - coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil.
3 medium potatoes - peeled and thinly sliced
fish stock or water
a collection of fish scraps

~   Gently sweat the onion, carrot and celery in the oil till softening and just starting to colour.
~   Add the potatoes and add just enough water or stock to cover. 
~   Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and cook till the potatoes are tender.
~   Whilst this is cooking prepare your fishy scraps.  As I say this was originally a use up recipe and we had, to my mind, three categories of fish to use up: 1) raw fish, 2) raw shellfish, 3) cooked fish and shellfish.  So, whatever you have of these categories, cut into similar sized pieces but keep separately in their groups. 
~   When the potato is tender mash with a potato masher (grumpy or not!) so that they are almost smooth but a little chunkiness remains.
~   Taste and season and add milk or cream or a mixture to make a rich thick soup.
~   Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and add the raw fish scraps.
~   Return to only just boiling, add the raw shellfish, return to only just boiling one more time and  add cooked fish and shellfish. 
~   Immediately turn off heat and allow the chowder to sit a few minutes to allow the last addition to heat through. 
~   If using later REHEAT GENTLY.

This is such a brilliant method for making soup that I have written an entire soup cookbook, containing 60+ delicious soup recipes based on one easy flexible key recipe together with instructions for stock making, guidance on adding herbs, spices and other flavourings plus additional recipes for roasted garlic, pepper coulis, frazzled leeks, compound butters and other garnishes and accoutrements.

My Other Good Idea was to serve the chowder with a pretty glass bottle of “Pepper Wine” for drizzling purposes.  In this case, as is often the way in the Caribbean, pepper means chilli and wine means rum.  A little really contrasts with and enhances the creaminess of the soup.

Caribbean Pepper "Wine"

Just bung some dried chillies or even pepper flakes in a bottle of rum and wait a few weeks.  After this went on the menu there was no going back!

Soup Fritters!

This chowder featured in possibly the most bizarre thing I have ever cooked – soup fritters.  We had a very on/off function pending and, eventually, it was off,  Then suddenly one Sunday afternoon, half way through a busy brunch, I was told it was on again.  Eighty people were due in a couple of hours hoping for up-market nibbly bits.  I would have liked to panic but didn’t have the time. 

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What I did do was make fish cakes out of the remains of the seafood chowder.  I can’t remember how but if I had to do it today this is what I would do.  

Strain the chowder, reserving all lumps, and bring the juices to a boil.  Thicken quite substantially with a beurre manie (flour and butter munged together) and whisked in.  Cook a few minutes and cool a while.  Mix in reserved fish etc. and enough breadcrumbs to make a malleable consistency.  Taste and flavour up – lime zest and hot sauce spring to mind.  Spread onto a cooled shallow dish and chill to firm.  Roll into balls, flatten, coat in breadcrumbs (panko are great) and shallow fry to crisp and golden.   They were such a success people asked for the recipe but I was too embarrassed to tell them.

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14 November 2012

Kedgeree ~ I'm always surprised when it's delicious!

~  Menu  ~

Smoked Bass (and other fish) Kedgeree
Glass of Secret White
A Sticky Caramel Florentine thing from Greggs the Bakers
(cheating, I know, but it was a delicious gift)

Firstly may I say how very sorry I am not to have posted for so long – almost 2 weeks.  My main reason is that I have not one but two frozen shoulders (I hope I don’t get any more!) and have been trying to keep off the computer in case all that typing when getting my book ready caused it.

I can’t stay off the computer forever though, who could?  So here I am. 

My second reason for not posting is that I haven’t been eating so interestingly as usual not having my “well stocked storecupboard” to hand and we are somewhat out of sync Up North.  Normally I have all sorts of leftovers to play with but it has taken some time to assemble a collection.  I say “assemble a collection” purposely because assembling collections is something I very much advocate; whenever I have scraps of meat, fish, bread or fruit etc. I add them to my appropriate collection in the freezer till I have enough to make something delicious.

A week or so ago we went out for fish and chips which is such a great thing to do in these parts.  My “small” haddock was far too large to eat in one sitting (and you should have seen my real man’s “standard portion”, fnarr frnarr!).  I ate what I could and then had a doggy bag.  Sadly we have no dog so I froze my leftovers till inspiration struck.

I recently cooked some smoked sea bass and couldn’t eat it all so added the leavings to my frozen haddock.

My creamy salmon and leek pie (mashed potato topping) a couple of nights ago was also too much for me so last night I defrosted my frozen fish scraps and munged some of them together with the leftover salmon and leek pie including the potato. The mixture was firm enough to form into a cake which I coated with the old panko crumbs and fried.  This was a yummy dinner with roasted tomatoes, petit pois and roasted garlic mayonnaise.  I was, however, left with a few scraps of thawed haddock and smoked sea bass to use up so for lunch today I had ….


It always surprises me when Kedgeree is nice!  It doesn’t sound very promising; curried rice with smoked fish, cream and boiled eggs.  Well firstly I totally agree with myself about the boiled eggs and never include them in kedgeree but apart from them this is a delicious combination.  Guidelines only …

~   Cook an onion like this – The Best Way to Cook Onions 
~   Stir in a teaspoon of curry paste and cook a minute or two.
~   Add cooked basmati rice and toss all together till hot.
~   Toss in cooked smoked fish (and unsmoked fish if necessary) and a spoonful of double cream till heated through.

Instead of eggs I added some leftover petit pois.

So, in short, I had two very delicious meals from leftover scraps of fish that many people would throw away!  What prannets!

In Other News …

We are still Up North and the weather is still, in the main, very good.  Last week we went to York which as you probably know is well worth a visit.  I wandered around and looked at stuff whilst my darling spent the day at the National Railway Museum - I told you he's real. 

We met up at lunchtime and being outside the city walls had no idea where to eat so dined at the museum and were both pleasantly surprised.  Yes, both of us simultaneously pleasantly surprised in the food department., which is quite an accomplishment.  He had Yorkshire Sausages with all the normal trimmings and I had a Goat Cheese and Roasted Tomato Tartlet with all sort of salads including quinoa and barley and tiny new potatoes in a whole grain mustard dressing.  Not at all the sort of thing one would expect in such a place – so well done them!

We actually chose a stupid time to visit York; a sunny Saturday in half term!  For this reason I didn't go to Jorvik as planned not into Betty’s, in both cases because of the queues.  I didn't go into The Perky Peacock Coffee Shop either but I did envy them their premises.

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1 November 2012

“An Everlasting Meal" by Tamar Adler - a Review

I am a member of The Kitchen Reader – a great foodie online book club.  Every month we read a designated book, food writing rather than recipes, and review it on our blogs.  When I saw that October’s book was, “An Everlasting Meal – Cooking with Economy and Grace” by Tamar (good Cornish name!) Adler I was in two minds whether to read it or not.  On the plus side it is Just My Sort of Thing being about the use of leftovers, both incidental and planned, on the minus side I didn't want it to influence my own book  in any way.  Everything worked out perfectly however because although I ordered the book some while ago it only arrived yesterday – two days after sending my own manuscript off to my publishers.

Even better because of its late arrival I had a good excuse to lie around all day reading!  And what did I think?  Read on …

I was hooked pretty well from the start when Ms. Adler said in the introduction how much she loves M.F.K. Fisher’s book “How to Cook a Wolf” and had modelled “An Everlasting Meal” on it.  Well as M.F.K. is one of the World’s bestest food writers ever (see here for my review of her “The Art of Eating”) this sounded promising.

I find I agree very much with pretty well everything else she says too with one very minor exception.  She states in her section on eggs (written so enticingly I immediately had an egg for lunch!) that Frittatas in Italian and Tortillas in Spanish are called “egg pies” in English.  Well I have been English for bloody ages and have never heard of such a thing in that respect but only, perhaps, when referring to a quiche like dish!  Pernickety of me or what?

Tamar Adler’s writing style in unusual and attractive, she says that “beets … have their own way of being” and that “Capers are odd and wild as birds”!  Her chapter “How to Paint without Brushes” on learning about food from its touch, its smell and its sound is spot on.  As she so rightly says, something is ready when you taste it and “don’t wonder”.  Of course this does take time but is so very, very worth it.

“An Everlasting Meal” is different to my own leftovers book; it is a really good read, something to take to bed with you and enjoy (maybe just jumping up occasionally to cook an egg) whereas my own is a handbook to keep in the kitchen and refer to whenever a leftover occurs. Our thinking, however, is very much the same and I would recommend this book to anyone who wants so learn how to cook from the soul.

On the same theme here is someone else I agree with …

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

Julia Child

About my Egg

I've had a few torn flour tortillas in the fridge for a while so made myself a baked egg in a tortilla nest.  Its easy – grease a ramekin and encourage a torn tortilla into it to form a cup. Break in an egg and top with a spoonful of cream (or in my case leftover Alfredo sauce).  Pop in a medium oven till the edge of the tortilla is crisp and golden, the white is set and the yolk is still soft.  I baked a couple of tortilla wedges alongside, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. 

Speaking of Books ...

Don't forget your 2 Free eBooks by me!

Download "219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find useful" which includes a bonus link for "Easy Ways to Pimp your Food!

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28 October 2012

Just a Quickie to say …

I sent my manuscript off this morning.  Hurrah - a day early!  Bit of a bugger really because now I have no excuse for avoiding all the other things that need doing.  For weeks I have been saying “Well I’d like to help but …” and now I have to sort out cupboards and clean things.

So the first thing I did was have lunch …

~  Menu  ~

Potato and Salmon Hash
Bit of Salad
Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise
Small Glass of Secret White

I bought some bargain potatoes the other day called Blue Belle.  They put me in mind of the Apache potatoes I had a few months ago but l are not the same. 

The label said they are excellent for baking and how right it was.  I baked several specifically so that I could play with them once cooked but they had such lovely creamy, fluffy interiors and such tasty crispy skin that  things didn't go according to plan, we ate all but one small one. 

Today I made a hash with it together with a little leftover salmon.  It was dead simple I just diced and crushed and mashed the potato in a little oil, added the salmon when it was crisp and served it in a terribly fancy way so I could take a photo (which I am not very pleased with!).

I’m just watching Nigel (Slater of course) on the telly – he’s one of my absolute favourite famous cooks but I think he must have been reading Sudden Lunch!  He’s making sudden suppers from what he finds in the fridge!  Good man.

Incidentally I saw poppies in flower yesterday - in the snow!  

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23 October 2012

Testing, Testing (or Frittering my Lunch Away)

I feel that if I am serious about being a writer I need to have these punny titles occasionally, I do apologise.

~  Menu  ~

Fritter Testing Platter
Fizzy Water
Nothing else

Some while ago I suddenly made Cauliflower Cheese Fritters and wrote in the relevant post that I supposed 100g of any leftover could be similarly treated. Today I put it to the test with random stuff out of the fridge.  

Useful All Purpose Fritter Batter  (click to tweet, please!)

2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
seasonings which could include cheese or sugar
1 egg
a little milk
approx 100g of leftovers

~   Mix together the dry ingredients.
~   Stir in the egg and enough milk to make a thick batter.
~   Stir in the leftovers.
~   Fry by the spoonfuls in a little hot oil till crisp and golden on both sides.

I divided the batter in four and added the following - from the back ...

1.    25g of grated Cornish Crackler and a pinch of mustard powder. The dollop on top is my favourite tomato and chilli pasta sauce.
2.   25g of diced courgette cooked with garlic and a spoonful of Parmesan.  It is drizzled with balsamic glaze.
3.   A few more bits of diced courgette which I cooked with about 20g of finely diced chorizo and Exotic Peppercorn Mix (as it says on the grinder!).
4.   25g mashed chickpeas and ¼ teaspoon curry paste.

Doesn't look bad, does it!  Conclusion – yes, that works and I must say today’s lunch was much more … um, cohesive than yesterdays which was, of course, made entirely of leftovers too.

As you can see in the last few days running up to my book’s deadline I am busy checking a few things here and there.  I did find a recipe which I had inexplicably written in a combination of imperial, metric and American measurements.  It reminded me of my funny brother-in-law once saying something was an inch yard and a thick wide. 

All this picking at the thing is daft really because I think it’s about as good as I can do. Once I've sent it off I think I shall have a meal entirely made of brand new ingredients just to celebrate!

In Other News …

We’re still Up North and the weather has finally gone off.  Up to Sunday (2 days ago) it was pretty well constant sunshine up here and Northumbria is very lovely so we went and had a look at it.

Oh, and this made me laugh, especially the comments - Ice Cube Recipe

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