Thursday, 18 February 2010
I recently bought a Bundt cake tin online. I’m not much of a pastry cook. I’m far too impatient, always get measurements wrong and I find the whole process too slow and laborious. So why did I buy a Bundt tin? Because they are beautiful bits of kitchen ware. They come in so many different shapes and sixes and the shiny metallic moulds are so attractive. Bundt cakes are originally German and were called ‘Bundt’ because in German Bundt comes from the word Bundtkuchen which means to bundle/wrap around. Bundt cakes have a central hole which the batter is poured around. I don’t know why this is exactly, but it does means you get a nice hard coating around the cake, and the hole means more external surface area for more of this nice hard coating.
Bundt cakes were originally eaten during the German harvest, and were cooked in heavy cast iron pans or delicate ceramic which meant it was rather difficult to handle and the cake often came out unevenly cooked. Then a Mr H. David Dalquist (an American) decided to take this nice ‘bunt cake’ idea and improve it. So he started a company called Nordic Ware, which made bundt cake tins from aluminium, which meant they were easier to make and the cake also cooked more evenly. The aluminium also means more interesting shapes can be tried out. Like my Holiday Tree Tin. This is a very different design to the Bundt tins available before Nordic Ware.
So, I can’t have a beautiful cake tin and not use it really can i? So I looked in my cupboards and found crunchy peanut butter and sneakers…. Oh yes! A Sneakers cake! Made the recipe up from the top of my head baring in mind what I had available in the house… and for someone who doesn’t like making cakes, I think I did rather well.
1 cup Self raising flour
1 cup Caster Sugar
1 cup Milk
½ cup melted butter
1 vanilla pod
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1 sneakers bar
Greased the tin…. Put everything in together into a mixer…. put half the mixture in my tin....cut up my sneakers bar and placed it around the tin...
poured the rest of the mixture over the top....and cooked at 175c for 35 mins in a fan assisted oven….Took out of oven to cool in mould for 10 mins…. Took out of mould and placed on cooling rack… had a sneaky taste whilst still warm… dusted cocoa powder over the top… : )
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
I’ve been getting really bored of TV cooking programmes recently. Nothing seems to tickle my taste buds any more. Gordon’s eccentric behaviour is starting to wear thin, and Ainsley is a tad bit annoying. Everyone’s doing the same thing too. Home grown, eco friendly, healthy living…. Blah blah fucking blah. It’s boring already! Okay, so in our student house, we don’t have UKTV Food, otherwise I’d happily be watching re-runs of Rick Stein.
Not all food programmes are bad. Hugh Fearnley’s River cottage is good, or should I say used to be good. When he first moved to Devon and lived in his little cottage… and actually made mistakes. When his home grown veg didn’t grow as expected, when fishing trips were fruitless, when his chickens were broody, and when the camera shots weren’t so choreographed. This is the human Hugh I miss.
So you can imagine my delight when I found A Cook on The Wild Side and TV Dinners on channel 4OD! I was so very happy. For those who don’t know, these were Hugh’s first ever TV programmes. Made in the 90s, A Cook on The Wild Side, was when Hugh left his life as a successful London chef and hit the road to discover the foraged goods of the UK in the most ingenious automobile ever. His ‘van’ contained a compact kitchen, come living space. For hot summer days it opened up to the outdoors. On the back of the van (and I think this is the piece de resistance) he had a bicycle, which when placed stationary and the paddles were rotated, it generated a fire on which he could cook his found foraged goods. Genius. So on his show he travelled the length and breath of the great British Isles. He picked heather in Scotland, made termite patties on his canal boat (another fantastic mode of transport employed by Hugh), he even went bin diving in London. I can not tell you how good this programme is. It’s a shame there is nothing similar to this especially when we all seem to be short on money. We seem to forget nature is our local super market…. And it’s free. Even London has places to forage.
Another gem on 4OD is TV Dinners. A great idea, where Hugh helps out at different people’s dinner parties. Real people, and some wacky dinner ideas. Again, made in the 90s, but not at all dated. A futurist’s dinner part, a hippy wedding, a Chinese New Year dinner, cooking a trout in the sink (and it actually works!), he even cooks human placenta! I can’t stress how great this show actually is. It’s so entertaining, I watched 5 hours straight. The best thing is, we rarely get to see into other people’s kitchen, and their secrets of cooking. There are some great tips and some really interesting recipes. The problem with TV chefs, it’s the same people/chefs, same ideas and they seem to follow the same trends. But when TV cooking programmes go into people’s homes, you see the many different ways of cooking, most of them passed down through their families. The best part of the programme is when the food is shared with their dinner guests. This is what food is about, sharing. Even if it’s with one other person, it’s what all those hours in the kitchen were spent labouring over. Good food, made with passion and love : )
Monday, 8 February 2010
My boyfriend has had two large, still with the shell on, jumbo prawns sat in his fridge for a while. We have been unsure what to do with them. Because they were so big, we wanted to make the most of them. But last night i we were hungry and very poor. Being a Sunday, most places had shut, and for some reason the house refused to give BP another penny. So i looked in the fridge. I found some garlic, some butter, and some parmesan cheese. I knew i'd left some chilli flakes in his cupboard. Perfect, some buttery, garlicky and chilli, jumbo prawns.
Now i'm not normally that squeamish, but those prawns had huge beady eyes ad their heads where massive. Each prawn must have been bigger then an average sized banana. I don't mind peeling prawns when they've been cooked, but when they're raw, they have this still life quality about them. like they could come alive any minuet and strangle me with their large spindly antennas. so being a girl, i got rob to do them for me. at one point the shell came off the head, but the brains and facial muscles were left hanging off the limp body.
Once everything was removed and cleaned, i butterflied the prawns. I fried some garlic and chilli in some butter and oil. I cooked the for around 2 mins on each side then removed and placed to one side. i then put in some cooked slightly undercooked spaghetti and a little bit of the salty water it was cooked in. Not only does this give you more sauce when you're not really working with much, but it is also a really good way of thickening up sauces due to the starch released from boiling the pasta. I coated the pasta with the sauce and then let the spaghetti cook till a little bit hard. i grated loads of parmesan cheese over the top and served up. i placed the prawns on top of the paste and oh my days did we enjoy it!
Sunday, 7 February 2010
I've been missing my mum's cooking recently. I've eaten all her frozen dhal. No where near me does good enough Indian. So i decided after yet another dream about food to make biryani. I have attempted it before, but never properly with saffron rice. From the moment i got up that day, i couldn't stop thinking about this biryani. the whole day i was planning my masterpiece. I know what makes a good biryani for me personally. i was adamant to make the best biryani ever! so, a good biryani to me? Chicken in a medium dry sauce, mushrooms, cashew nut, loads of strips of ginger, garlic and chillies (strips are vital), saffron and cardamon rice, crispy onions and coriander to garnish. but most importantly spice. All the biryanis i've had as a child have always been immensely hot. i think it's a good way to introduce people to the indian way of 'hot hot... cool'. basically this is when you eat something spicy, then eat something else that's spicy but is in a milk product. example, spicy bombay mix, then drink some spicy chai. bombay mix is spicy, the tea you drink is spicy and your mouth gets really hot, but the milk cuts the heat almost immediately after and you get this tiny little sense of relief. so you do it again. so with the biryani, i decided to serve a coriander, coconut, and chilli raita.
mixed with the paste of turmeric, chilli powder, grated ginger, crushed galic, tomato puree, chillies.
marinade for 2 hours
1/2 cup milk,
1/2 cup water,
i cooked this earlier on an let cool. this meant the rice wasn't too wet before going in the oven, so it'd properly crisp up.
Thinly sliced onion,
thin strips of garlic,
fry thinly sliced onions in butter and oil till nearly golden. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook with onions till golden. add the cumin and coriander powder. Add the chicken and let cook. then add the garam masala, cook off then add one cup of water and let it simmer for 30 mins on a low heat. Stir in the cream.
i let the chicken sit for another hour till heating it up again then placing into a deep oven prof dish.i removed to cardamon pods from the rice and spread it on top of the chicken. i placed it in the oven for 20 mins at 200c.
whilst that was in the oven i made my raita.
small dices of cucumber
small dices of shallots,
finely chopped chilli
finely chopped coriander,
the cucumber, shallots and the coconut give it a crunch, the chilli and shallot give it some heat, and the cucumber, yogurt and coriander cool it down. Perfect combination with a spicy biryani : )
i fried some thinly sliced shallots and some coriander(carful cause it really spits)and let dry on some kitchen towel, then sprinkled over the biryani.
i fried some poppadoms and had some cold cobras in the fridge. i plated up and was ready to take a pic for the blog... but my camera ran out of battery. Used a house mate's phone to take a pic... but cause i was so hungry and the food looked so good. so i apologise cause the photo is pretty bad. But i really recommend trying it.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
So I've been at the pub tonight. It's ladies's night and all ladies get 7 drinks for £5. Pretty good eh? Even better, my friend behind the bar gave me a few extra drinks. Nice... : ) So all i've had is a BLT (a very nice BLT as well from my uni canteen) today, and i'm very very hungry and so ver smashed. i want food, something simple and yummy. So me and the boyf decide to cook a stew, come hot pot, come cottage pie kind thing. We eat dinner at 12.30, worth the wait really. It was delicious. Really surprising, contrary to the belief that stews only taste good if cooked for a long time... it's not necessarily always true. Anywho... so i needed something nice and sweet to finish off with, and the first thing that came to mind was Cake in a Mug. Attempted once, but a little bit of a disaster... not eatable basically.... too chewy. Looked up the recipe to remind my self and it was so simple. decided to make a few adjustments with measurements. Poped over to BP petrol station and bought eggs and self raising. put it all together in minuets.... topped with strawberry cheese cake ice cream... OH MY DAYS!!!!! so good! Here's the reciepe... please try it, it's so simple. Really worth the few minuets.
2 Tablespoons Self Raising flour
2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cocoa
3 Tablespoons milk
3 Tablespoons oil
Get a big mug.... mix the flour, sugar and cocoa together... mix the egg in....then add the milk and oil into the mixture and mix well... put in the microwave for 4 minuets on full power... Take out, leave to stand for 1 minuet... add ice-cream... eat... enjoy....