Category Archives: Food and drink

Six pies, and more lessons learned

It’s been a while since I did some experimental baking. This evening, the mood took me, and I made six small pies which made just about enough food for the four of us to have a light meal. Here’s the process.

First, I did a dumb. I started with a pack of ready-rolled puff pastry, which was completely the wrong pastry for these pies. I should have just made up some shortcrust. We’ll see the consequences of this in later photos. Continue reading

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Just a little late-night snack

I’m working late, so I treated myself to this small plate:

The cheeses:

  • Parmesan (Italian)
  • Manchego (Spanish)
  • Saint Agur (French)
  • Wensleydale with cranberries (English)

The meats:

  • Parma ham (Italian)
  • Chorizo (Spanish)

And of course the wine: Rioja, from Spain.

Please don’t take me out of the Single Market. I like it here.

In one month, I’ve lost 6.4 kg (14.1 lb, 1 stone)

On the 13th of last month, having just got back from a fattening week in the USA, I weighed myself after my morning shower, and registered 105.4 kg. Today is the 13th, exactly one month on, and I weighed in at 99.0 kg. That’s a loss of 6.4 kb, which is almost exactly 14 pounds or, as the England have it, one stone.

Here’s how it was done:

(That’s just a single spicy crab roll in the photo, by the way: I cut it into twelve narrow slices instead of the traditional eight thicker slices.)

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East meets West! It’s the English breakfast sushi roll

I’ve been eating sushi a lot recently, as part of a (very successful) diet where I don’t each much, but everything I do eat is something I really enjoy. Then this morning, I smelled the eggs and bacon that Matthew was frying and I realised that what the world needed was something that combined both.

Voila!

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Bolognese sauce, done right

Everyone knows how to make spaghetti bolognese … after a fashion. It’s classic student cookery, isn’t it? Onions, minced beef and tomatoes into a pot, simmer for a while — bam, done. But it can be done right, and then it’s a glorious thing.

Photo from Kok Robin’s blog.

And the good news is, it’s not difficult. It doesn’t need the ludicrous over-complication of Heston Blumenthal’s version. The main thing it needs is elapsed time. What you can’t do is make it in a hurry. But most of the time is simply simmering, so it doesn’t need to take up much of your time.

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Chicken Dhansak

This recipe is my homebrew attempt at synthesising my favourite restaurant/takeaway curry in a quick-to-make form, since all the dhansak recipes I’ve seen are very involved and don’t read like they’d produce anything very similar to the curry I know and love.

This is not my curry, but it looks pretty much like it.

As with all my cooking, quantities are very approximate: I never measure or weigh anything, so the amounts I’ve specified below are just my rough guesses at the amount that I tend to slop in. Although I work this way due to laziness, I argue that it’s positively a good thing, since the subtly different proportions every time you cook the same thing stop the palate from getting so used to it that it becomes boring.

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Heston Blumenthal: In Search of Perfection

I watched the first episode of this program tonight. Verdict: disappointing. It’s clear that Blumenthal truly is an extraordinary chef, and must have unique and valuable insights into how cookery works; but In Search of Perfection doesn’t tell us what they are.

In the first episode, he cooks bangers and mash (followed by treacle tart). There is a lot of messing about visiting pig farms and suchlike before we get down to business. He makes his own sausages by what seems a ludicrously over-complex method that involves toast stock. There is lot going on; but we never find out why any of it is going on.

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