Blog : Posts tagged with 'food' : Page 1

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Tiramizoo

In which we have no bread


As people have been asking, here’s the cake that K’s very kindly made me for my birthday. I haven’t actually tasted it yet – as I write this it’s sitting in the fridge – but as all of K’s cooking is wonderful and delicious, I’m sure it will be fantastic.

My favourite pudding is tiramisu, so K came up with a tiramisu-flavoured cake, with a chocolate sponge sandwiched together with the marscapone-cream-egg mixture that she makes her tiramisu from, all liberally laced with Tia Maria. I am entirely responsible, though, for the suggestion of adding Cadburys Animal biscuits, thus turning it into a tiramizoo.

Tiramizoo!

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More Sheese, Vicar?

In which a correspondent is nauseated


Regular readers might remember that a few days back, in a rant about vegan food, I mentioned a vegan cheese substitute product I came across called “Sheese”, a kind of oil-water-soya paste packed to the gunnels with artificial flavouring to make it vaguely cheeselike.

Well, since I wrote that, I’ve had an email from someone I know in Glasgow, who, coincidentally, has encountered some of the ingredients that go into the stuff. They came into contact with one of their “brown cardboard barrows”, in which the “flavouring” mentioned in the ingredients list arrives at the factory. Their advice: avoid it.

Because the manufacturers, Bute Island Foods, are on an island,* they can’t get their supplies delivered straight to their factory, and have to pick it up from a Glasgow warehouse, where my source was visiting and happened to bump into it And it is, on their account, foul. It comes, I’m told, in sealed barrows, but despite the seal they smell so awful that my source couldn’t bear to be near them; they made him/her gag and want to throw up.

They said:

It’s like cheese powder that you buy in a packet to make cheese sauce, but I swear the smell was awful and the barrows were sealed. Honestly, I can’t even begin to tell you how bad the smell was.

So, there you go. Me, I’m going to stay eating real, low-on-the-additives food – and that includes real milk and real cheese, never mind how much “cow torture” I’m told it causes.

* well, obviously…

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Vegetarian

In which we disbelieve vegan propaganda, and try food made of additives and nothing else


At the weekend: off we went to a vegetarian food event we’d seen advertised in The Spark, put on by vegan campaigning organisation Viva!. We were expecting it to be slightly biased, obviously, but even so the strength of the propaganda they gave was slightly surprising. They claim, according to a poster we saw there, that their “veggie roadshows” have saved the lives of 100 million animals so far,* which sounds like, well, a rather large number. They claim that one person converting to the veganist religion will save “around 11,047 animals”. I love that figure, and, particularly, the “around” part. Around. A rough estimate: it might only be 11,046-and-a-half animal lives, or you might do well and manage a whole 11,047-and-an-eighth! Going by these numbers, that means they think they’ve converted 9,052** people to veganism – or about 650 a year, on average, since they started out. How they count those 11,000 – sorry, roughly 11,047 – animals, I’m not entirely sure. Do animals who will now not be born count as lives saved? Will all those 11,047 (roughly) animals live out their natural lives in some happy, predator-free elysium? Forever cute, as their propaganda posters show? Who knows?

Anyway, we did have a poke round the stalls giving out samples of vegan food from various suppliers,*** and even tried a couple.**** K sampled some vegan “milk” chocolate – “ok, but like that cheap shit you get in advent calenders,” she said. Which is seasonal, at least. Moreover, we both tried “Sheese”, a vegan cheese substitute made on Bute. The one we tried was “Creamy Sheese”, a rather sweet gloop made from water, vegetable oil, soya concentrate, salt, lactic acid, sugar, “flavouring”, and carrageenan gum.***** In other words, not very much. It tasted rather like sweetened processed cheese spread. Looking at the ingredients, that’s not too surprising, because it has a lot of the sort of thickener and flavouring that you get in cheap processed cheese spread. It explains, too, why the non-dairy “milk” chocolate tasted like cheap confectionery milk chocolate: because we recognise the additive taste.

We try to eat healthily, so we thought the Viva event might be interesting to us. Frankly, though, they’re not about eating healthily, at all. They’re not too concerned about the environment either, or about fair trading;****** their main care is saving all the cute fluffy animals. It’s easy: just take out all the meat, milk, and eggs from your diet, and replace it with Brazilian soya and additive-enhanced, flavouring-enhanced artificial food. Personally, I’d rather eat real food, genuinely additive-free food, simple local ingredients grown in ways that respect the land. That’s the way to eat healthily, and that’s the way to help the environment. We don’t eat much meat; but we do try to stick to organic meat. It might have looked cute before it was killed and butchered, but I’d rather eat a pig from five miles away, or cheese similarly, than soya that was grown on the site of a tropical jungle and flown over to a British factory to be turned into something resembling food.

* I know it sounds like a preposterously large figure, but I’m sure that’s what it said. I can’t find the same claim on their website anywhere, though.

** or 9052.2314 to be precise. Don’t forget that .2314 of somebody!

*** and Lush cosmetics, who you’d think were well-enough known already. Some of their stuff does look almost like you could eat it, I guess.

**** not that it was the best place to try food samples, what with the smell of the Lush stall overpowering everything else in the building. Although, K does say, that was probably a good thing.

***** The ingredients list is copied from their website, which stresses that the water is filtered and the lactic acid from non-dairy sources, but doesn’t give any more detail than “flavouring” for the artificial flavourings. It has slightly less energy and fat than genuine cream cheese, but is roughly comparable. By comparison, the Sainsburys organic cream cheese in our fridge doesn’t actually have an ingredients list, apart from “Contains cow’s milk”.

****** to be fair, the stall with the vegan chocolate products did have a lot of organic, fair-trade produce; but it didn’t seem to be a major concern for any of the other stands. And we did pick up two useful things: a list of local healthy food suppliers, and a menu for the oriental restaurant in the Tobacco Factory building!

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The image of popularity

In which we see how popular food is


After posting pictures of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last week, it got me looking at my Flickr account and wondering what pictures are the most popular. Flickr will, if you like, give you pages of tables and graphs to tell you how many people have been looking at each of your photos,* so I thought I’d see if there’s any general pattens in what sort of photos people like to view at full size.

The results were rather surprising. The least popular photos: pictures of random countryside, close-ups of tree bark, that sort of thing.** More popular than that: trains, with steam trains and “heritage” trains being more popular than normal ones. But, what photos get the most hits, and fastest after they’ve been posted? Food. Pictures of food being cooked or ready to be served. I don’t know what you think, but I wasn’t expecting that. Post a picture of a nice meal being made, and hits come up right away.

Given that: here’s some pictures of a nice meal being made. Pan-fried parmesan-crusted chicken breast, with salad. Very very easy, and delicious.

Cooking: bashing some chicken Cherry tomatoes Coating chicken Cooking: frying tenderised and coated chicken
Cooking: salad dressing Cooking: frying tenderised chicken breast Cooking: fried chicken breast with salad

* in my case, the graphs (for individual photos) are generally rather flat with the occasional spike

** That’s not quite true: the very least popular are photos of people at parties. That’s unsurprising, really; photos of people at parties, unless they’re exceptional photos, are usually only likely to attract other people at the same party.

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The quest continues…

In which we go on a quest for condensed milk


After Thursday’s post, Kahlan got back in touch, with a tip-off. Apparently there had been a rumoured sighting of a can of own-brand non-evil condensed milk, in a Waitrose. So our Saturday was spent driving 25 miles to Harrogate, the nearest branch,* to find … Nestlé products firmly on the shelves. Oh well.

To make up for the disappointment, we bought a jar of dulce de leche instead, and tried to make cookies, from this recipe. They didn’t quite turn out as I expected, being rather flat and soft, but they still taste good, albeit so sweet that I can barely manage to eat a couple at once. Not surprising, given the huge amount of sugar in each one.

Cookie ingredients Cookie mixture Cookie mixture Fresh-baked cookies
Sandwiching cookies Sandwiching cookies Dulce de leche sandwich cookies

A quick redaction of the recipe, the way we did it: take 230g of butter, chop it up, and beat it until it’s soft. Open your jar of dulce de leche and taste some just to make sure it’s not off or something. Beat 3/4 cup of light brown sugar and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into the butter, then add 3/4 cup of dulce de leche, assuming you can scrape it out of your measuring cup, and beat that in too, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Lick your cups clean, and your fingers, and anything else the stuff has stuck to. Add 2 eggs, mixing them in one by one, before sifting 2 1/2 cups of flour, half a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of bicarb into the mixture. Rest the dough for a few minutes before putting teaspoon-sized balls of it onto baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, and bake at 160 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before removing them from the baking tray; then when they are properly cold, carefully pair your cookies up into matching-sized pairs before using the last of the dulce de leche – if you have enough left – to sandwich the pairs together. Yum.

* and the only post code district left in the country that’s free of the Mighty Tesco

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Sometimes dreams can come true

In which FP wakes up feeling hungry


No, really, they can. The one I’m thinking of hasn’t come true yet, but I’m sure it will soon. On Saturday night, I dreamed I was boiling a can of condensed milk on the stove, to make toffee.

I have no idea why I dreamed about this. In the dream, it was to use it as a sauce on top of a sponge-cake, but I’m not sure that would work. Ever since I got out of bed on Sunday morning, though, I’ve been trying to think what I could make that would involve it. Cakes, puddings, biscuits – there’s a whole world of baking out there that can involve boiled condensed milk in some fashion. All I have to do is find a reasonably simple recipe, and at least one of my dreams can come true!

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Recipe of the week

In which we use up some strange expensive pasta that was lurking in the cupboard


Pasta, prosciutto, and tomato sauce.

Ingredients:
Lemon pasta. I’m not entirely sure what sort of pasta it was, and I’ve mislaid the packet; but it was a bit like thick linguine. And lemon-flavoured.
125g Proscu Prosch Parma ham, sliced.
1 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1/3 tsp paprika
Grated parmesan

Put the pasta on to boil. Chop the onion and crush the garlic, and fry them in a large frying pan until soft. Roughly chop the prosciutto into pieces maybe up to an inch square, and add it to the pan. Drain the tomatoes, keeping the juice. When the ham is well-cooked, add the tomatoes, the paprika, and a little of the tomato juice, and turn the heat down slightly. If the mixture becomes too dry, add more of the tomato juice. When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and stir it into the sauce, cooking it on a medium heat until everything is thoroughly mixed in. Divide into bowls, sprinkle with parmesan, and serve. Serves two.

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An experiment

In which we cook a fritatta


Back in the days when I was a student, ten years or so ago,* I would be quite experimental in the kitchen. I’d try things out, new recipes, experimental recipes. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, but it made things nice and varied.

I haven’t done that for a long time. My diet’s got a bit boring. So, I’ve been spurred on to try more things, try new things, try messing about in the kitchen just to see what happens.

The other week, we were in a rather nice cafe in York, near the Minster. I was rather enjoying my lunch, and I thought: it really can’t be that hard to cook this, can it? So, at home, I tried knocking a few things together. It turns out: no, it really isn’t that hard. So here’s my rough and ready recipe for: potato and mushroom fritatta.

You need:
5-6 baby new potatoes
7-8 closed cup mushrooms, ordinary button ones or chestnut according to taste
1 shallot
Garlic, if you like
4 very large eggs
A handful of mild grated cheese
Dried rosemary
Salt and pepper

What you do: chop the potatoes into halves or thirds, or smaller, and boil them for about 10 minutes or so. Finely chop the shallot, and any garlic that you’re using. Fry the shallot and garlic, with a little oil, in a non-stick omelette pan. When the shallot starts to soften, add the mushrooms. When the mushrooms have browned and shrunk a little, add the cooked potato.

Break the eggs into a bowl, whisk them, and add a dash of water, the rosemary, and the cheese. Pour the mixture onto the cooking vegetables, and stir slightly to make sure everything is evenly covered. Turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the fritatta is mostly firm, before putting it all under a medium grill for another five minutes to get the top done nicely. If your pan’s truly non-stick, then when it’s cooked it will slide out smoothly onto a plate. Ta-daa!

* is it really that long?

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Gaul

In which we study the markup on an import


This was seen in the large Parisian department store Galaries Lafayette* the other day, in the “Epicerie Britannique” section of the gourmet foodhall:

British food at Paris prices

Click on the image for an enlargement – but if you can’t be bothered, that’s a bottle of salad cream that says “99p” on the label, on sale for €3.24** At today’s exchange rate – just under 68p to the euro – that’s a shop price of £2.20. Slightly less of a bargain than it says on the label, then. The shop was also selling tins of Heinz beans originally from multipacks, singly, for about £1 per tin. Ouch. How much does it cost to import a tin of beans, exactly?

* They do apparently have an official website, which I couldn’t get to work at all.

** That was meant to be a euro sign – let me know if it didn’t work.

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Appetite

In which things are described systematically


I’ve not been too well again, hence the gap in posting. No energy, no get-up-and-go, no appetite.

I eventually dragged myself to the computer to check my RSS reader, thought, and my appetite came back. Because, courtesy of Informationally Overloaded, I read A Sketch Towards a Taxonomy of Meta-Desserts.* Hurrah! At last, someone has invented a systematic way to describe pudding. My appetite came back straight away, and I started raiding the freezer. Must read that blog more at some point – preferably just after I’ve eaten, not just before.

In other news: thanks to Feather Boa for solving my telly-related puzzle from the other day. I would have noticed sooner, but her comment was in the queue and I didn’t spot it until now. Bah. Thank you!

* I particularly like the URL, too

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