25 January 2013

Just look at these bargains!

~  Menu  ~

Smoked Salmon with Copious amounts of Black Pepper
Sour Cream and Chives
Hot Freshly Baked Roll
Glass of White Wine

I had a wonderful lunch today, not particularly seasonal but totally delicious and so cheap!!!  The smoked salmon cost 30p, the sour cream abut 3p and the roll ... 0.66p!!!  I love a bargain, me.

Isn't this just amazing?  2p for 6 part baked rolls which were perfectly utterly good and went straight in the freezer when I got home.  The same with the smoked salmon but now I have thawed it I'd better eat the other half this evening.  I didn't freeze the sour cream and chives and it is now a day out of date but, being a bit of a rebel, I am now eating it anyway and it tastes fine, fine, fine. 

The half glass of wine cost about the same as the meal but at 68p the lot I'm not complaining.

In other news  ...

... and completely off subject I have been enjoying reading NewsThump (UK Spoof News and Satire) which is so funny I keep irritating my real man by interrupting whatever he is doing to read articles out to him.  I thoroughly recommend it.

Click Here

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22 January 2013

Knife Skills

~  Menu  ~

 Potato, Spring Onion and Chorizo Pizza
Glass of Red

The first tip in my little eBooklet (see sidebar) is a bit of a cop out in a way; "learn some knife skills".  A cop out because I don't say how to learn them however I recommend watching this on youtube. Being able to use a knife safely, quickly and effectively in the kitchen is a HUGE help. (The rest of the tips are not cop outs, I promise!)

I used to show off by thinly slicing a carrot, onion, potato or similar whilst holding the gaze of the person I was showing off to, i.e. not looking at what I was doing at all!  I can't do it now of course - there's never anyone around when I'm cooking.

Here is a picture of some I did earlier  ...

Thinly sliced potatoes were crucial when making my sudden inspiration for lunch as the raw potato had to cook through in the time the pizza took to cook. 

The pizza was constructed thus ...

~   I coarsely chopped bunch of spring onions (7p as it happens) cooked gently in a little olive oil, in accordance with my favourite method till tender and then mashed up a bit.
~   I very thinly sliced a couple of new potatoes and turned them in the oniony oil together with a fair bit of black pepper.
~   I spread the oniony potatoes over the pizza base and carefully arranged them in a single layer.
~   Scattered with a tiny piece of chorizo I found in the back of the fridge, coarsely chopped.
~   Sprinkled with Cornish Crackler - a king among Cheddars.
~   Baked till the pizza was crisp and flaky and the potato tender.
~   Sprinkled with sea salt.
~   Grinned.

I admit that I sometimes cheat, I buy Tesco Italian Stonebaked Garlic Pizza Bread cut them in half and keep them in the freezer to feed my pizza habit.  I can and do make my own bases but when its just for me these deliciously flaky crunchy breads work very well.  They are thickly spread with garlic butter and I usually wipe most of this off to allow the flavours of my toppings to shine through. 

For my last pizza inspiration using this as a base see here

In other news ...

We bought an orchid the other day, including the "handmade glass vase"  reduced from £10 to £1 - no idea why but who cares!

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15 January 2013

Five Pears for 8p!

~  Menu  ~

Salad of Blue Cheese and Sugar Spiced Walnuts
Pear Vinaigrette
Glass of  Merlot
Handful of Grapes

A few days ago we bought 5 pears for 8p.  I think they were Red Anjou, they were large and firm so I put them on the window sill (together with some of the out of date flowers my real man is constantly buying at 30p a bunch) to ripen a little and yesterday I peeled them, sliced them, nibbled the cores, tossed the fruit with light brown sugar and baked them at 375ºF/190ºC/170ºC fan/gas 5 till tender.

 "And what did I do next?" you may ask.  Well ...

The first thing I made was a Pear Sponge for my real man, I prefer crumbles but he likes sponge and it was his turn to choose.

That used about half so today I took a spoonful to make the dressing for my lunch. This was an old favourite on my menus in the West Indies although it could in no way be considered a tropical dish.  For the sugar spiced walnuts see here  they are great with loads of things or just on their own.

Pear Vinaigrette - 2 ways

The way I make this vinaigrette from scratch ...

1 large almost ripe pear
150ml cider vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
200ml olive oil

~   Peel, slice and cook the pear in the vinegar till tender and the vinegar has gone!
~   Put the pear in a liquidiser or food processor together with the honey and whilst running gradually add the olive oil till the dressing has emulsified.
~   Taste and season.

The way I did it today ...

1 tbsp sweet cooked pear
½ tbsp cider vinegar
60ml olive oil

~   I just puréed the lot and seasoned generously with black pepper.  It wasn't quite the same as my original recipe but was very good and worked well with the blue cheese and the nuts.

For other salad dressing ideas see here.

I have two other plans for the rest of the pears ...

1.   Cooked pears are excellent stirred into pasta with a creamy blue cheese sauce.
2.   Any day now I am going to make Buttered Rum and Ginger Ice Cream (the recipe is in my Lush Ice Cream without a Machine).  We had planned to have it for Christmas but had Far Too Much Food which we are still trying to eat up, so ... later on that one.  Not too much later though because it will be a humdinger with some pears!

In other news ~ 3 items.

I have just read in an article on how to "think like a chef" ...

"BEFORE YOU START COOKING, put on some music and pour yourself a glass of wine, fruit juice or iced tea. A relaxed, composed cook is a more efficient one."

In 30 years or more I never knew that was the way to start work!  Mind you I did often find Chef's Coffee to be a help.


My little eBooklet "219 Cooking Tips & Techniques you might find useful!" is free on Amazon - here in the UK and here in the US. I would be very grateful, if you like it, if you would be kind enough to give it a bit of a review on Amazon.  


On fetching the link for 5 Unusual Salad Dressings to keep in your Handbag! I see I posted that about a year ago and the place was rife with flowers!  Not so good this year but here are some I have seen on my brief "healthy" walk today ... 

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10 January 2013

A Marvellous Chocolate Experience

~  Menu  ~

Sudden Salmon Pâté
Toasted Sourdough
White Wine Spritzer
A Marvellous Chocolate Experience
Black Coffee

I always find salmon rather filling and as it is one of my favourite meals leftovers occur frequently, today I mashed up about 60g of leftover salmon with the remains of a packet of Boursin which was about ½ a tablespoon (isn't Boursin yummy by the way!) and a similar sized dollop of roasted garlic mayonnaise.  It worked very well, I thought it would.

Lindor Balls!

My lunchtime pudding was rather special.  This year Santa brought me a great deal of chocolate and such like (I'd been very good) including a bag of wonderful Lindor thingies.  When I went to eat some I found that being near the fire the middles had melted.  Lush!  They were difficult to unwrap due to being soft but well worth the patience because once in the mouth the chocolate shell broke open to release a gush of lovely liquid chocky goo.

I got this picture off the Lindt site; I hope they don't mind but it just about sums up how lovely an experience my lunch pudding was. I turned it upside down to more accurately portray it pouring down my throat.  I had a cup of black coffee with these for lunch and for dinner pudding ate the same thing but with a brandy.  Sadly they are all gone now.

I doubt anyone noticed but I haven't posted for a few days - this is because (talk about prolific!) I've just published another eBook.  Its only little, mind you, more an eBooklet, giving all sorts of hints and suggestions to make cooking easier or more effective. 

Furthermore this is now utterly free in all sorts formats together with a link for another free book - can't say fairer than that, can I?  

One hint I haven't included is something I read in an article entitled "Think Like a Chef" which started with the following tip  ...

"BEFORE YOU START COOKING, put on some music and pour yourself a glass of wine, fruit juice or iced tea. A relaxed, composed cook is a more efficient one."

In 30 years or more I never knew that was the correct way to start work!

Anyhoo I think I'll do another book now, I enjoy it and as I have no kids it's a great way of passing on what I have learnt and come up with in the aforementioned 30 years.. Umm - any suggestions?!
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1 January 2013

"The Perfect Egg" by Aldo Buzzi - an enthusiastic Review

"The Perfect Egg" by Aldo Buzzi

A while ago I bought a lovely little book in a charity shop, what a wonderful find.  I keep it by me to dip into whilst waiting for something e.g. for my man to come back to the car, or the kettle to boil, that sort of thing.

This collection of 39 essays on the matter of food and food related ponderings is a joy to read, erudite, funny, thoughtful, mouth watering, the writing is sublime and, as the Mail on Sunday says (although I don't always agree with them, I do here) ...

There are indeed a few recipes in the book but as the Mail on Sunday put it they are "almost incidental", they are also in some cases a little strange such as this boiled egg recipe from a fifteenth century chef ...

"Put fresh eggs into cold water and allow them to boil for the duration of a  Paternoster or a little longer"!

Aldo Buzzi seems to have been quite a guy; we was an architect, a food and travel writer and seems to have done quite a lot in the film industry from set design to screenwriting.  He lived to be 99.  "The Perfect Egg" was published in Italian in 1979 and, luckily for me, was translated into English by one Guido Waldman and published in 2005.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough - get it from Amazon here. 

I shall certainly be looking out for his other writings, "A Weakness for Almost Everything" which was published in English in 1999 sounds particularly appealing.

Thank you Mr. Buzzi

In Other News

This is the first fair day we have had since the festive season began; hopefully this bodes well for the rest of 2013.  My darling and I went to nearby Charlestown for a wander and a beer (or cider in my case).  The beach is stony but the stones are pretty and we kept picking up our favourites but at the end of the walk we released them back into the wild.

Also - don't forget to download your free eBooks from me!

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