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My philosophy

This blog is dedicated to my love of eating, cooking, writing and reading about food. In it you'll find recipes, book reviews, restaurant reviews and various other food related bits and pieces.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Cookin' with Coolio- the chaos continues...

So, I saw a few videos of Cookin' with Coolio on youtube, which you may or may not have seen on my facebook page but oh my lord- you ain't seen nothin' yet! The horrors have reached new heights! Rap-man Coolio's only gone and released a cook book!

Splashed across the cartoon-like cover is his ethos of 5 Star Meals at 1 Star Price- a condensed ideology perhaps? In my book, the self-proclaimed Ghetto Gourmet who has penned chapters such as How to become a Kitchen Pimp and Salad-Eatin' Bitches has safely set the tone from page 1.

A sneaky peek inside the cover reveals Coolio's culinary philosophies, including several outbursts of Shaka Zulu... so is he a kitchen warrior in his own right? An interview with the Boston Globe explores some of the influences behind his acclaimed catchphrase, and why this rapper has donned a chef's hat and pen to become a cook and author.

So, with Christmas in mind, can you see this book nestled in between Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith? Perhaps not... But maybe this ghetto gourmand could be starting a new revolution in food making cooking hip and accesible for all.... the jury's still out on this one i'm afraid- Shaka Zulu!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Blog of the month...

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm sick of food snobbery, elitist attitudes taken to food, people criticised for not knowing what a roux is...... Sometimes you just wanna say 'shut up' and run away to quickly look up the definition, simply to fit in.

Anyway, to hell with that. I love food. I'm learning all I can about it. My likes, my dislikes, my strengths and my weaknesses. My style- which I like to think is rather humorous, and is reflected in this months chosen blog of the month, simply for the irony....

Suicide Food sees the lighter side of life and indeed, death. Using advertising campaigns where animals are seen to "celebrate their own demise" offering themselves in the form of pigs, cows and other barnyard favourites, barbecuing their own flesh and feeding it to the wolves.

This site reminds me of a book I read as a child: A Trip to Lazibonia, in this book cows and pigs walk around with carving knives and forks lodged in their backs, eager for you to slice off a succulent loin, or steak. Chickens in this land simply fly straight into your mouth to save you the trouble of cooking and killing them... This is anthropomorphism gone wild!

As much as I love reminiscing, lets get back on track. Suicide Food's best bits are: the noose rating and classification system- which rates pictures, signs, menus and posters on their levels of how disturbing they actually are.

My particular favourite has to be the Green Cow Green Beef Tripe, which blogger Ben describes as, looking sedated or drugged, powerless to the dogs which will undoubtedly consume its bovine innards- ewww! This one only got two nooses though, which rates as simply, appalling (see psych evaluations on page). If a spaced out cow on a tin of dog food seems happy to advertise its own offal for consumption, then how could these ratings get any worse?

This take on food, with a humorously and disturbing tone really lightens the somewhat stuffy, pretentious vibes which I often get when visiting restaurants and reading blogs. People seem blind to the ridiculous emblems which they see fit to promote their BBQ menus or cook-offs! Sheesh! Why bring the animals into it? Sick!

New beginings...

Sooooooooooooo. There's been a bit of an absence again- what can I say? I got engaged last week, so my head's been in the clouds (and pretty much still is), although i'm able to function relatively normally now!
I'm not starting on planning anything until next year, but
I can't stop thinking about food, cake and Pimms cocktails! A girl can dream!

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Rise of The Underground

Well folks, after a hectic week of contacting various influential food people such as the charming Pete Luckett and the esteemed Peter Brears i'm feeling refreshed, and inspired. Rather than feeling woeful about the cultural climate, I've come to realise that I can't wait for opportunity to come to me- I gotsta make my own! And so comes the inspiration for the following article.

It hasn't taken television production teams long to latch onto the up and coming trend of people setting up their own restaurants or 'pop up restaurants' from home. These underground restaurants, or supper clubs are popping up all over the country and beyond, challenging the aesthetics of dining, taking a more back to basics approach.

Usually set up by a small group of like-minded people, these supper clubs are becoming as popular as Channel 4's 'Come dine with me' where people play host, chef and entertainer for the chance of a prize. Celebrities have leapt at the chance to promote themselves as good hosts, and youtube users have even gone to the lengths of re-creating their favourite show (see below).

Another show that's caught on is Virgin 1's 'Restaurant in our living room' a TV show aimed at beating the credit crunch. The concept involves two couples inviting complete strangers into their homes in a bid to battle it out for a grand prize. At the end of their 'dining experience' customers are asked to leave however much they think the meal's worth in a box outside... but is this fair game?

Realistically, you couldn't do this in a restaurant, but this is the dawning of a new age in dining. People are showing more interest in local suppliers, growing their own vegetables, and cooking a lot more.

The BBC, along with Good Food have explored this uprising and the merging of chef, host and homeowner. Facebook plays social matradee, as people set up pages and groups introducing their new enterprises and arranging themed dining events. The Underground Restaurant
group is one, very popular example of the way social networking and exposure work well together.

Sure, you have to be careful when booking a table in one of these 'establishments', but I think the risks are outweighed by the fact that a revolution in dining is taking place- this is non-exclusive (unless you're a terrible cook) something we can all be part of!

For more information visit: BBC
Good Food

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Cornish Culinary Adventure- Days 6 & 7

Well my 'ansome's, I'm afraid these are the two final pieces of my Cornish Culinary Adventure- but fear not.... I'm so loved up with the place at the moment, that I've just baked some pasties. So if you're all good little Piskies, I'll share it with you!

Day 6-

This always happens to me when I go home, I think that i'll eat a Pasty as soon as I return, but the facts are, I still hadn’t had a Pasty until today! After a short shopping trip out, I begged my pops to visit a bakery. Not one to settle for second best on the Pasty stakes, I went to Hampston’s of Hayle- a local butcher and pie/pasty maker famous for their wares.

It was past two o’clock, so my hopes of getting my desired lunch were slightly hindered due to the sheer demand of the wonderful hand held lunch. I didn’t let it get me down though- ‘I’m in Cornwall for Christ sake- the whole county can’t be out of Pasties by now....can they?’ I thought to myself.

I wasn’t expecting the answer to the above question to be ‘nearly’! The butcher only had three pasties left in the whole shop! That just goes to show how popular this traditional mining fodder still is to this day!

Anyway, despite asking for a steak Pasty, I received one with steak mince. It was still lovely, although it didn’t have that wonderful gravy that saturates the crust that you get with the beef skirting. So be warned people- I’ve lived in Cornwall for most of my life and I slipped up my order- make sure you ask if the Pasty is made with mince!

After my mammoth lunch, I made sure to leave plenty of room for this evening’s offerings. As with most other ‘family occasions’ we celebrate at local Carbis Bay restaurant- La Casita, tonight it was my brother’s turn to celebrate his birthday.

I ordered garlic mushrooms in a creamy sauce with a Mozzarella crust. They were rich, buttery, not soggy- the only thing that could have improved them would have been a bit of bread on the side. That sauce was too good to waste (so I frantically slurped it up like a rich soup)!

Always a stickler for local produce, especially fish, I opted for the special Hake fillet with a herb crust and a tomato and basil sauce with Boulangere potatoes. When the dish arrived, it looked wonderfully colourful. The plump white flesh of the fish contrasting with the scarlet sauce peppered with flecks of basil.

However, no matter pleasing a dish is to one’s eye, it has to please the palate as well. And unfortunately, no amount of salt and pepper could remedy this flavourless dish. This really saddened me, as it was such a beautifully cooked piece of fish, but I had to be sent back.

I felt like I'd ruined the evening, embarrasing myself, and my co diners. But the night wasn't over yet! The propietor came over to our table, and quietly discussed the problem. I explained to him that I wasn't satisfied, and he offered me another meal- which I gladly excepted.

Although at first I felt like the evening had somehow been stunted, I'm glad I stood my ground. After having worked in the catering industry for the past 10 years, I've always liked honest customers, who actually give you the chance to compensate and correct your mistakes, rather than leave dissappointed, and never return...

I'd been eyeing up my father's dish of Beef fillet stroganoff. So I made the quick decision to have that as a replacement. And my God, was I glad! It was tender, beautifully cooked with a side of fluffy white rice, I have to say, it was an informed choice (as i'd already shovelled some of my dad's meal down my gob already!)

After quaffing the last of the Rioja, we returned home to eat some birthday cake (which I had made earlier on in the day, along with the Christmas Pudding). And I have to say- Delia, you've come up trumps again!

It was a simple recipe- 6oz Self-Raising Flour, 6oz Sugar, 3 Eggs and 6oz Butter. I added some vanilla essence, and when it was cool, I split the hefty sponge in half and spread with some good quality Raspberry Jam, and whipped cream (of course).

We settled down to watch a fillm, our stomachs full, our appetites supressed (for now!)

Day 7

Since arriving home, I quite fancied doing something a bit different. Maybe leaving the county for a day trip, perhaps?

My father suggested this idea to me again, and we were going to visit Greenway House in Devon, former home to my favourite author, Agatha Christie. But this proved problematic, as neither of us knew how to get there, or wanted to wait up to two hours to be shown around... perhaps next time, eh?

Instead, we opted for the more easily locatable, Exeter. A city full of history, with its Gothic Cathedral nestled between cafes, bistros and gift shops.

As a teenager, I had visited the city quite frequently and often admired a place that used to have a piano permanantly parked out on the pavement. I can only assume that the memory of this place relates to The Pitcher and Piano on Queen Street.

This being a casual father-daugther day out, we decided to have a laid back meal in this sophisticated Georgian style eatery.

Despite having had steak at the meal last night, neither of us could resist the charms of the Rump Steak baguette with caramelised onions...just thinking about it's making me salivate!

The substantially sized sandwiches arrived brimming with pink, plump slices of beef, dotted with wholegrain mustard and slithers of onion. I have to say, for £7.50, these were pretty good value too!

All in all a great time was had by all. I'm sure i've gained a little weight, but who's counting? I'm storing it up for the winter to keep me warm anyway! I look forward to returning home for Christmas, where I'll be making Christmas dinner for 6 people (for the second time!)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Reaching boiling point....

Arrrrrrrrrrr! I'm so annoyed at the moment! I don't know what's going on
with blogger at the moment, but it keeps on changing fonts before I publish stories.
I keep ending up with a post using three different fonts- how unsightly!

Can I just say- this is NOT down to me! I'm not crazy enough to think it looks good, or different
it just makes my work look weird to be honest.

So I apologise for the layout at the moment. I'm looking into possible solutions, but at the end of the day, it's the content that matters!

A Cornish Culinary Adventure- Parts 4 & 5

Well, well, well. I guess I got caught up in the hoo-hah of Halloween. I neglected to update my tour of the south-west. So with apologies, here you go!

Day 4-

I awoke to the smell of traditional Cornish Hog’s pudding sizzling in the frying pan. The crackle of bacon, got me salivating straight away. A cup of freshly brewed coffee set the tone for this ‘Full Cornish’ ; scrambled eggs, hog’s pudding, westcountry smoked bacon and sausages from a local farm.

Unfortunately, this meat heavy breakfast left no room whatsoever for lunch... so no pasties for me today.

Later on, after no lunch, and despite having had fish and chips before, I simply couldn’t refuse the offer of Becks fish and chips! Just a stone’s throw away from my father’s house in Carbis Bay, Becks has been a family favourite for years- always a real treat!

The portion sizes at this place are simply astonishing, a piece of fish, and a portion of chips could easily feed two hungry people. With this in mind, I ordered the Haddock which in true Becks form, arrived in its polystyrene casing golden, crisp and bubbling.

It was as good as I remember it. You know how people have a romanticised idea about food, the kind of nostalgia which reminds them of being a child, and can often be quite sickening? Well this is my memory. Fish and chips on the beach, gritty sand between my toes, the sharp acid vinegar cutting through the fluffy potato... bliss.

Day 5-

Sunday at my house, is a very traditional occasion-and my father never scrimps on portions, always buying a whole chicken, or a whole joint of meat even if he’s only feeding himself! He often curries leftover chicken, which is a quick fix if you work late etc.

The hearty meal consisted of Organic chicken roasted with onions, lemon, garlic and herbs. It was beautifully moist without being soggy, and the skin was crisped to perfection (until I soaked it in gravy!) The roasties had a herb crust, and were lovely with their skins on. Carrot, Broccoli and roasted Parsnips made the perfect accompaniment to my favourite British institution.

As usual, I couldn’t resist having a sweet. So I popped across the road to the local shop, and I have to say- I’m no food snob. I do prefer making my own desserts, but I put my trust in the nation’s favourite relative- Aunt Bessie.

Her Bramley Apple Pie had a crisp, almost biscuity crust. Not too sweet, as you often find with shop bought puds, and a lovely bite to the filling (you could actually recognise the chunks of apple!) I was impressed! Smothered in Rodda’s Clotted Cream- you can’t go wrong.