julesjones: (Default)
Gacked from [personal profile] lexin 

Bold the ones you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don't use, strike through the ones you have had but got rid of.

"I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers (you will have to prise my breadmaker from my cold dead hands), juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders (which actually gets used for grinding whole spices, not coffee), milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers (bains marie), sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, and fondue sets languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards."


I'm not counting a few items which were lost or abandoned during inter-continental moves and not replaced. I'd still be using them if I had replaced them, which  is why I didn't  -- I'm at high risk for diabetes and I don't need the temptation offered by a deep fat fryer or a toastie maker.

The juicer and blender came with the heavy duty food processor, which does get used regularly. I wanted them available in case I had another bout of dental woes necessitating a pureed diet, but fortunately so far I haven't needed to use them.

The piping bag -- I haven't used my piping bag in years. That's because I do my once a year cake decorating elsewhere and use someone else's...

On the other hand, I do have a number of foodie kitchen gadgets not mentioned in the above list, many of which have not been seen outside the cupboard since I moved into this house. Some of them are simply too difficult to use with the level of RSI weakness I have these days, others are fairly pointless if you're not feeding several people and thus preparing food in bulk (my mandoline is brilliant if I'm making food for ten, but a waste of time on food for two). I haven't got that many which were bought for faddish purposes and then abandoned, but I do have to admit to a shameful weakness for the Lakeland Plastics catalogue that would have led me astray had I had more money and kitchen space fifteen years ago. :-)

julesjones: (Default)
While I can still remember what went into the casseroles -- I had a lot of fun at the Savin Hill stall in the Manchester food festival earlier this month, which meant I was busy experimenting with some stewing cuts. Since stewing means having the oven on for a while, I did two casseroles at once to keep us fed through the week. One used blade steak, the other used a mix of mutton loin chops and mutton chump chops. The mix on the mutton was because the stall rapidly got cleaned out of mutton most mornings, and I could only get one pack of each rather than two packs of the same thing.

I approached it as somewhere between a stew and a pot roast. For both, I started with a layer of diced carrots and onions in the bottom of a lidded casserole dish. Some or all of the veg can be sauted first for flavour, but with two on the go it may be easier to fry just the meat.

Fry the steaks/chops at a heat high enough to brown the outside to get some good flavour built up from the Maillard reaction. (I happened to have some beef fat saved from a previous roast, which was useful for adding further flavour in frying.) The browned meat then goes on top of the veg. If necessary, pack spaces around the meat with some more diced veg, although ideally use a dish that the meat fits in reasonably well. Deglaze the pan and add the liquid to the casserole dish. Add enough hot water or stock to barely cover the meat. Since I didn't have any appropriate stock handy, I used commercial stock cubes crumbled over the meat.

Add seasonings. I used HP sauce and worcestershire sauce plus a couple of whole peppercorns to season the beef, and for the mutton used soy sauce, the sad remains of some originally fresh but now dried out root ginger put into the stock whole, together with a couple of tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste.

At this point it could go in the oven as is, but I prefer to cover the meat with potato. I used the remains of a pack of baby new potatoes, and cut some larger potatoes into similar sized pieces. I've done scalloped potatoes in the past but prefer halved, quartered potatoes if there's room in the dish.

Lid on, and into the oven at about 150 C for two hours. These cuts require long, slow cooking to make them tender.

End result -- the blade steak fell apart if you looked at it too hard, the mutton was still slightly stringy but otherwise tender. And rich flavour in both.

Since I'd done several meals' worth, I reheated the blade steak by putting the appropriate number of servings into a covered saucepan and simmering gently until heated through, and then uncovered to thicken the sauce by evaporation, almost to the point of burning. This took the stock done to an intensely flavoured thick glaze. Definitely even better the second night. :-)
julesjones: (Default)
Kalypso_V came round to watch The Wedding of River Song, so I needed to cook something vegetarian (for her) but lowish fibre (for me). I had some pre-pack vegetable stock I needed to use, so risotto seemed a good idea. Alas, the chestnuts are not in season yet, so we went for cashews and pistachios instead. It was a good way of using up some nuts getting towards their Best Before, and the nuts blended well with the mushrooms.

The stock was a mix of a pack of Waitrose vegetable stock (which I wanted to try out), and a pack of organic miso cup-a-soup. The latter is not particularly cheap, but makes an excellent vegetable stock. I thought at first that the resulting stock blend was going to be too strongly flavoured, as it smelt very strong, but in fact it worked very well with the mushrooms and nuts.

Bring four metric cups (one litre) of stock to a gentle simmer in a saucepan. Chop a small onion and fry gently in a large frying pan for a few minutes in butter or oil. For this one I used a blend of butter, olive oil and sesame seed oil. Add 1 1/2 metric cups of white risotto rice (other rices can be used, but a proper risotto rice works best) and stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes. At this point you can add 1/3 cup wine and flash off the alcohol, but I didn't have any wine to hand and couldn't be bothered looking for something appropriate in the spirits cabinet. My normal recipe calls for adding 1/2 to 1 cup of simmering stock at a time to the frying pan and letting it all absorb before adding the next batch, but in this case I was going to steam some of the vegetables over the rice so was keeping it wetter than usual.

Started with 1 cup of stock, then added a punnet of mushrooms which my sous-chef had been quartering in the meantime. Stirred those in and let them heat through, adding more stock as necessary. Then stirred in a handful of cashews and shelled pistachios, and let them heat through. Added the rest of the stock, put some thinly sliced runner beans and carrots on top of the rice, then put the lid on and let the veg steam while the rice absorbed the stock. When the veg were almost done, I added a couple of knobs of butter, put the lid back on and turned off the heat, allowing the risotto to finish cooking and blending on its own heat for about five minutes.

This is fairly low in insoluble fibre as long as you use white rice. If you're cooking for someone with fibre tolerance problems, do not use brown rice. Other obvious potential problem ingredients:

-- the miso soup base is largely soya, which can be an IBS trigger and is an allergen for some people. It also has some brown rice, although not enough that it's likely to be problem just from the fibre point of view.
-- nuts are variable for people on a low fibre diet. Some people can handle them without problems, some can't. And of course some people have nut allergies.
-- butter is fairly low in lactose, but even so it can be a problem for very lactase-sensitive people. And there are people out there with milk solid allergies.
-- don't use flavoured oils such as sesame or walnut without checking for allergies.
-- if the alcohol isn't flashed off it can be an issue for people on medication. (And supertasters will not thank you for ruining the food with the taste of ethanol...)
julesjones: (Default)
From discussion elsewhere on finding lunch options for people who need a low fibre diet:


My Italian friends will send me to hell for saying it, but when I was in California I often cooked lunch by putting some pasta in a Pyrex bowl with enough water, and putting it in the microwave to boil the water. If you have a kettle available, you can start off by boiling water in that and pouring it over the pasta in a heatproof bowl, and then put it in the microwave at whatever power setting is needed to keep it boiling gently. Otherwise start it at full power in the microwave, and once it's come to the boil turn the power down if necessary, and cook it for the time it says on the packet to start with -- you may need to adjust the time.


ETA: Khiemtran points out in LJ comments that this can lead to a lot of condensation inside the microwave. I should have mentioned that ideally you will cover the bowl with something that allows steam to vent rather than building up pressure, but retains most of the steam condensate inside the bowl. I have a microwave bowl lid designed to do this, but a plate sat loosely on top of the bowl will often do.

And yes, you need white flour pasta. Obviously this isn't suitable for people who need to avoid gluten unless you can find gluten-free pasta *and* ensure your pack and crockery are kept gluten-free, but it's a useful option for people who need low fibre meals and have access to a microwave and water but not much else. (The original context was a kitchen renovation leaving someone with very limited cooking facilities.)

Some simple options for microwaveable sauces with ingredients you control. With all of these, you may need to add the sauce to the cooked and drained pasta and then put the dish back in the microwave for a quick blip to heat through, melt, or cook the sauce. Note that *all* of these suggestions have ingredients that will be unsuitable for certain dietary restrictions -- the idea here is to offer some options that are likely to work for a lot of people.

If you like fresh basil, a few torn leaves with anything else.

Just a knob of butter and some salt straight on the drained pasta and stirred in works wonders with plain pasta.

A couple of fresh tomatoes (depending on size), roughly chopped, microwaved in a mug or small bowl on medium or high for a minute or two. Add a knob of butter if you can tolerate dairy. If you're really short on crockery, drain the pasta, stir in the chopped tomato and butter, microwave on medium for as long as it takes to get the texture you prefer.

As above but with tinned tomatoes.

If you're really desperate on the cold storage front, a squeeze of tomato paste from a tube, which will let you keep the rest of the tube reasonably well for a while without cold storage. You'll need to leave more water on the pasta when draining to thin the tomato paste a little.

Cheese -- grated if you want it to melt in, but cubed or sliced will work also. Note that many supermarkets sell pick-n-mix cheese portions, and Marks & Spencers has a range of "try me for 99p" portions that make a good single meal portion size and can be easily broken into small pieces.

A couple of slices of any deli meat you know you can tolerate, chopped or pulled into pieces and stirred in.

Ditto previously cooked bacon (I sometimes used to cook an extra couple of rashers for dinner in order to use them the next day in lunch pasta).

Not tried this one on microwaved pasta myself yet, but a beaten egg stirred in and allowed to cook on the pasta's own heat, as in carbonara recipes.
julesjones: (Default)
Note to self: in future, don't. Not unless there is enough stock or gravy to completely cover the meat, and even then microwave it on medium. Should have gone with my first instinct and put it on a covered plate over the steaming veg. Or just left it cold and put it on a hot plate with hot veg.

I thought I'd put enough stock on to keep it moist, but one plate dried out slightly on the top surface, and both plates were tougher than they need have been.
julesjones: (Default)
Kalypso_v came round for dinner and Doctor Who last night. Dinner this week was home-made pizza, and since our local cheese shop had both water buffalo mozzarella and cow's milk mozzarella (both vacuum-packed in brine), I decided it was time for a comparison. Not a lot of difference in appearance or texture out of the packet, other than the obvious one of the buffalo variety being sold in a larger ball. Tasting them raw, Kalypso_v, Other Half and I all agreed that the buffalo was a little saltier and had a little more flavour, but that there wasn't a huge amount of difference. No obvious difference on the cooked pizza.

So was it worth paying the higher price for the water buffalo version? Not really, if it's a choice between mozzarellas to put on a pizza. But if it's a choice between a good mozzarella and some other cheese, then yes, it makes a very good pizza and I'd rather buy the water buffalo variety if that's what's in stock than a less suitable variety of cheese.

We do not intend to to taste test the pre-sliced low moisture mozzarella that was the only version available in the local Co-op yesterday. They had been stocking the fresh-in-brine cow's milk balls, but have obviously decided to go for the long shelf-life stuff instead. :-(
julesjones: (Default)
Last week's Sunday roast was a Middle White pork belly roast, slow roasted on a bed of potatoes and carrots, with the skin scored in a diamond pattern to release the fat. It carved into four substantial ribs -- and yes, it needed carving, separating out the ribs by cutting through gristle. The flavour was excellent, but it has to be admitted that the result is remarkably fatty. Not enough to bother me, but any future purchases will be for when Spousal Unit is away on business and I'm eating alone. Makes lovely crackling, though. :-)

Savin Hill were back in the market this week, so I picked up some lamb chump chops for Friday's dinner -- flavour good grilled, but I thought my chop was a bit on the tough side. Probably better to pot roast them in future if I have time to do so. Tonight's roast is a small half shoulder of lamb, and there's a Cumberland sausage for later in the week. They didn't have any of the Cumberland patties this week, alas -- I'd have been happy to buy several packets to stick in the freezer.
julesjones: (Default)
Last week I managed to catch up with the Savin Hill stall in the Manchester real food street market for the first time in some months. The farm runs traditional British breeds of cattle and pigs, and also sells traditional breed lamb and mutton from neighbouring farms. A lot of the resultant spending is in the freezer, but so far this week I have eaten:

-- Cumberland sausage patties, or as Other Half said on seeing them, porkburgers. Excellent fried gently, with very little shrinkage, good texture and a nice flavour that wasn't too strong for me (being a supertaster means that other people's idea of seasoning blends can be wildly unbalanced for me). Pack didn't say which of the two breeds was used. I need to go back and get more of these for the freezer.

-- lamb's liver, fried with Middle White streaky bacon, om, nom, nom.

-- traditional pork sausages, grilled -- I thought these were very good quality, but didn't like the taste. I won't buy them again (the Gloucester Old Spot sausages from the local butcher are much more to my taste), but non-supertasters will probably enjoy them.

-- some more of the streaky bacon, fried for a BLT on toast sandwich. Very little shrinkage, lovely flavour, and the fat gives lots of flavour to the fried tomato.
julesjones: (Default)
We went out for a colleague's birthday at lunchtime, to a pub that specialises in doing old-fashioned food very well and charging $LOTS for it. Which is how I came to have slow-braised pig's trotter for lunch. There was a hefty mark-up over what a pig's trotter costs from the butcher's, but I wasn't the one who had to do the fiddly bit to bone and stuff it and then slow-braise it. I've never had trotters as an actual dish before, mostly because they're not widely available and the recipe I had always seemed a bit fiddly to bother with for one person. I wasn't that enamoured of the seasoning they used in the stuffing, but the gelatinous skin, which is a significant part of the point of the exercise, was to die for.

There was also cake. Lots of cake. So it being only one trotter on a bed of mash with no side vegetables has not left me feeling lacking in food today.
julesjones: (Default)
For some variety from the book posts, I would like to give some love to Aubrey's Creperie in Nottingham, which has provided me with several very tasty lunches while I've been on secondment to the office there. English cook with French training, crepe equipment and recipes, in a tiny cafe in the West End Arcade. There's a good selection of savoury galettes and sweet crepes, with French cider to go with the usual array of coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Not the cheapest lunch, but not exactly breaking the bank either at around 6 quid for a substantial filled crepe and a hot chocolate, and the crepes I've tried so far have been superb. If you're in Nottingham city centre, I'd recommend this place as an enjoyable alternative to the usual chains for lunch or early evening meal.
julesjones: (Default)
Well, I *think* it was chicken stock I pulled out of the freezer in a bid to clear down some space. It could conceivably have been pork. However, after I threw in a commercial chicken stock cube and some extra water to bulk it up to a litre, it was definitely chicken flavoured...

So, followed my standard recipe for risotto, with one difference -- while the rice and initial cup of boiling stock got to know each other, I grabbed half a dozen fresh chestnuts out of the bag I bought from the barrowman earlier in the week and then completely forgot to do anything with. Pricked them and put them in the microwave for a couple of minutes, which was 30s longer than they needed, as they announced by starting to explode. :-/ Cleaned the chestnut flour out of the microwave and tipped that into the frying pan along with the next cup of stock, and halved and peeled the ones that didn't go bang, adding those to the pan once they were clean of inner skin.

And in the other frying pan, butter, sliced mushrooms, and some julienned carrots on top. Lid on to let the veg steam in the mushrooms' own juice for a while. Once they were cooked through, tipped the remaining juices into the rice, and put the lid back on to keep the veg moist. A couple of minutes before the rice was ready, lid off the veg to let the mushrooms fry down a little.

Rice and veg on plate, added some hot garden peas and some cold cubed red Leicester cheese. It worked rather well. Will have to try that again (possibly with vegetable stock if there are vegetarians to be fed).
julesjones: (Default)
A teeny-weeny Waitrose has recently opened in the sandwich shop corner of the big Boots branch I walk past on my way to the bus stop in the evening. I'm generally going past at the time they start serious price reductions on the short-dated stock, which is why I ended up with half a dozen packets of fresh egg noodles in my freezer, and have been experimenting with them as and when I have occasion to use noodles.

As per my usual habit, I made chicken stock earlier this week with the carcase of dinner. I'd normally throw the leftover roast potatoes into the soup, but this was a ready-roast bird, so I didn't have any roast veg left from this cooking session. There is always the option of pearl barley or making risotto, of course, but it seemed like a good opportunity to try the noodles.

Brought stock to boiling point, poured it off the bones into another saucepan, and dropped a packet of still-frozen noodles into the stock, setting the heat to simmer. While the noodles were defrosting in the stock, chopped the remaining chicken meat and an onion, then stirred that lot into the stock as well. Added a couple of chopped roast carrots and some of the pan scrapings from the previous night's roast belly pork to add depth of flavour. Splash of soy sauce, mostly for a bit of salt. Simmered the whole lot for twenty minutes to ensure it was heated thoroughly and the flavours blended, then added some chopped fresh chives and basil and simmered for a few more minutes.

It was quite nice last night for dinner, it was even better for lunch today. The fresh egg noddles definitely add a slight richness and texture to the soup compared to using plain wheat pasta.

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