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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.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Seasonal Ingredient of the month- Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a herbaceous plant from the Polygonaceae family. Usually available between the months of February and March, this plant is popularly grown both indoors (in greenhouses) and outdoors too.

As an ingredient, Rhubarb is very versatile. It is also known to have medicinal properties, as it was grown way back in 2700 BC by the Chinese often attributed to the Yan Emperor (its roots were often used as a laxative, but we won't go into that!). However, it wasn't until the 17th Century that it became widely used as a cooking ingredient in the UK, coinciding with the common availability of sugar (because no one likes sour Rhubarb!).

Rhubarb reached it's peak of popularity between the two world wars, but I feel it's an ingredient that's coming back in vogue.
We might see less Rhubarb crumble on the menu, but we're seeing a rise in the production of relishes, chutneys, pickles and jams which include the bright, crimson, complexly flavoured stalks.

My recipe below marries two British favourites; the scone and of course, Rhubarb. These scones are easy to m
ake and make a nice change to sultanas or cheese. The apricot sweetens and contrasts with the tart fibrous Rhubarb and the cream adds the finishing touch- enjoy!

Rhubarb and Apricot Scones
400g Plain Flour
50g Golden caster Sugar
2tsp Baking Powder
50g Softened Butter
1tsp Vanilla Essence
125ml Milk (plus a little extra for glaze)
250g Tinned Rhubarb (drained)
Apricot Jam (to serve)
Whipped cream (to serve)
50g Icing Sugar (sifted)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  2. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a bowl, rub between your fingers until it turns to the consistency of breadcrumbs
  3. Add the vanilla essence and milk to the bowl, stir until combined
  4. Add the drained Rhubarb to the mixture (this will make the mixture very sticky, so you might need to add more flour)
  5. Carefully place the mixture onto a floured surface and roll out with a floured rolling pin
  6. Gently cut out 20 circular shapes (these will be quite delicate so use a palate knife to scoop them off the floured surface if neccesary)
  7. Place on a greased baking tray and brush with a little milk
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden
  9. Remove scones from the oven and leave to cool on the tray
  10. When cool, smear ten scones with a generous teaspoon of apricot jam, then smear the other ten scones with cream
  11. Sandwich the two 'halves' together and dust with a little sifted icing sugar.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Product of the month- Brianna's Ginger Mandarin Dressing

After searching the shelves high and low, I sought inspiration in the form of a bottle.
But this bottle didn't contain alcohol, or some other intoxicating liquid, it contained a simply delicious and versatile dressing.

Brianna's Ginger Mandarin Dressing is part of a growing range of dressings, sauces and marinates created in the southern state of Texas. They are adaptable and accessible in that you can use the same product to dress a salad, as well as marinate and cook your meat in!

These are the kind of products I love. They're not attributed to one specific use (apart from being very tasty), which means you can experiment, which is something I very much enjoy in the kitchen.

When I read the label on the back of the bottle some of its ingredients read; soy sauce, ginger and mandarin- which to me simply screams- pork, fresh green veg, noodles and a nice sticky sauce! So I give you my product of the month featured in the simple and easy to prepare dish:

Ginger and Mandarin Pork Chops

1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
2x Pork Chops
2x Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
3x Closed Cup Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1/2 Green pepper (chopped)
1x Small Carrot (peeled and chopped into matchsticks)
4x Spring Onions (chopped)
2x Tablespoons Brianna's Homestyle Ginger Mandarin Dressing
A pinch of salt
Boiling water
Soy Sauce to taste
2x Nests of Egg Noodles

  1. Gently heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over a moderate heat
  2. Place the pork chops in the pan and fry on each side until the meat is sealed and slightly golden
  3. Remove the pork chops and set aside
  4. Place all the vegetables in the pan and fry gently until tender
  5. Add the dressing to the pan (along with enough boiling water to make a thinnish sauce)
  6. Return the pork chops to the pan reducing the heat to a simmer
  7. Boil a large pan of salted water and cook the noodles according to the instructions
  8. Continue stirring the veg around the meat, turning the chops to ensure they're cooked evenly
  9. Once the noodles are cooked, drain them and return them to the pan
  10. Drain some of the juice and vegetables into the noodles, stirring to distribute them evenly
  11. Pile the noodles on a plate with the pork chop on top and a drizzle of soy sauce and enjoy!
Serves 2

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Sin-Free Quiche

This recipe harks back to simpler times, times when I'd have the most serious fights over who'd dared to open my pint of milk, and special meetings to discuss the neglected cleaning schedule.... I'm talking of course of my student days!

One of my flatmates, Sophia, who usually lived exclusively off Caesar salad and Baked Beans, sometimes liked to throw a third food group into the mix... Sin-Free Quiche.

Much like Delia's How to Cheat collection, this recipe uses ready made items such as macaroni cheese from a can, so you can literally just thr
ow it together- great if you're busy studying or holding down a full-time job.

The recipe was given to Sophia by her kind sister, Jody and simplified to meet our meagre budget. So here it is, I give you S
in-Free Quiche!
1x Tin Macaroni Cheese
250g Cottage Cheese
6x Eggs
1x Courgette (cut into chunks)
A Handful of Mushrooms (cut in 1/4s)
1/2 Large Red Pepper (cut into chunks)
A Large Onion (cut into chunks)
A Tablespoon Olive Oil
Seasoning (to taste)
A good handful of grated cheese (for all you sinners!)

1. Start by pre-heating the oven at 180 Degrees
2. Next, gently fry the vegetables in the oil until golden
3. Remove the pan from the heat and beat the eggs together in a bowl
4. Place eggs, macaroni and cottage cheese in an
ovenproof dish and combine.
5. Add cooked vegetables and combine.
6. If you're a sinner like me, cover the top with grated cheese (I use Cheddar) and season.
7. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.

This dish makes enough for 4 massive, student sized portions, so if you're feeling generous, share the wealth!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

The way to a man's heart....

is through his stomach, apparently... so ditch those dinner reservations and get creative in the kitchen! Whether things go to plan or not, it's the thought (and taste) that counts!
So dust off your Delia's and seek out your Rick Stein's and cook your love a meal to remember!

Wishing you all a happy and memorable Valentine's Day!

Friday, 5 February 2010

Not eggsactly sure what happened...

Well, can I just say folks I am a little disappointed in the responses to my last post! I thought Goremet would work really well on my blog, but no one's sent me any grim pictures from their recipe books- what's that all about?

So, in vain I shall prattle on with goremet, as I enjoy exploring the culinary and the grotesque... here's this weeks installment:

Described by its manufacturer as 'gross and functional' this egg separator 'snot' appealing in the slightest! If you're too lazy or stupid to partake in the simple act of separating a yolk from an albumen, then you shouldn't be cooking, least of all using this disgusting creation!

Who the hell designs these things? Who would find it attractive? Oh yes, I know, I'll make some kind of freakish device modelled on the future death mask of Gerard Depardieu, that'll sell!

Not the most aesthetically pleasing item to have in the kitchen... it's enough to turn you vegan (and that's really saying something!)