Saturday, 24 February 2007

Shrove Wednesday?

Sadly both of us missed cooking up some pancakes on Shrove Tuesday because of crucial prior engagements, so basically we re-arranged Pancake Day for Wednesday. Fearing divine intervention through our lax attitudes to Christian religious holidays and our embracement of Chinese New Year, we had the savvy idea of providing an appropriate feast for the gods.

Like the Holy Trinity of The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost our offering was to entail three separate entities. The feast was to begin with a double savoury course and then climax in a sweet banana flavoured sticky mess.

Pancake One

Finely chopped bacon
Gruyere Cheese
Shitake Mushrooms
Baby Spinach and Rocket

We began by frying the mushrooms and bacon together and whence this was completed we placed the pan to once side and grated the Gruyere cheese into a separate bowl.

The pancakes were fried normally then flipped over. Centrally to the cooked side of the pancake we added the bacon, then the rocket and spinach and finally Gruyere cheese. When the secondary pancake side was cooked, we folded the pancake over to create a pancake worthy of mighty Ghanesh himself.

Pancake Two

Smoked Salmon
Crem Fraishe
Ground Black Pepper

Lemon and black pepper were key ingredients for this offering, which we felt symbolised both hope and our remorse at missing Shrove Tuesday. We felt chives may have helped both the flavour, and the symbolisation of remorse (Obviously not hope!), however they weren’t in stock at Tesco…

For this pancake we pretty much just made a normal pancake and when it was done cooking added some Crem Fraishe, smoked salmon, a bit of lemon and a shake of pepper.

Pancake Three

Canadian Maple Syrup (preferably from Qu├ębec, although Ontarian syrup will do)

For the climatic and most crucial moment of our meal, we knew we had to pull something special out of our metaphorical hat to appease the gods, and I believe we did. The bananas and rum were added to the pancake batter pre-frying, and when done Maple syrup was lightly drizzled over the pancakes to astounding effect.

postscript - no one has been smited yet...

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Nian Gao - Chinese New Year Cake

With Chinese New Year almost upon us, we decided to embrace our Chinese brethren and make a traditional Chinese New Year Cake, ‘Nian Gao’. The mighty search dragon Google provided us with a plethora of recipes to choose from. Traditional chinese recipes involve hours of steaming followed by frying individual slices. Intimidated we pussied out and went for the baked option, which we believe to be a crucial mistake; we had started with an intrinsically flawed recipe.

We scoured the supermarkets in Chinatown to find the appropriate ingredients, with Azuki ‘red’ beans seeming to be almost as elusive as the green prawns described in a previous recipe. A kind, charitable lady shopping in Woo Sang's pointed us in the right direction. Furnished with a £0.70 bag of of dried azuki beans, some glutinous rice flour, sugar and baking powder, we returned home triumphant.

We set to work - the red beans needed to be simmered for at least an hour in sugar and water, to make a red bean 'paste' and to be frank, this was another big mistake, red bean paste (readily available in most Chinese Supermarkets), would have saved us a lot of time. Whilst I gave the beans a good pasting, my colleague started work on the batter...

For the batter we began by whisking, with a fork, (unfortunately, neither of us count a whisk amongst our possesions), the egg whites for what seemed like pretty much enough time for the next Chinese New Year to roll by. With this arduous task completed, with sore hands and wrists (but triumphant hearts and souls), we slowly added the glutinous rice flour, the milk, sugar and baking powder to the egg whites. With this our batter was complete.

Unfortunately, whilst our bean paste ended up looking rather pro - and tasted good, the batter ended up looked much more like Yorkshire pudding batter than anything oriental. The cake too, when finished, had more than a hint of England's finest battered dish about it...we, however, blame the wack recipe...

Wagon Wheels, as much fun as when you were 8?

I remember when I was eight; a Wagon Wheel in my lunch box used to basically make my day. They were slightly more exotic than the obligatory penguin, a little bit more interesting than a twix. I guess Wagon Wheel nostalgia is the same for a lot of people round my age…So, are they as good at nineteen as they were way back when?

To begin with, I want to state that I didn’t want to diss the wagon wheel in this blog. Really, I didn’t, it feels like chucking out your childhood toys or kicking an old much-loved family pet; but being completely honest they’re just plain rubbish.

For starters I’d like to know where the jam went? It definitely wasn’t in the wagon wheel I bought ...the marshmallow filling kind of tasted plastic-y and the wafer and chocolate wasn’t much better. All in all, it just tasted, well, tasteless.

The only thing that seems like an improvement eleven years on, I guess, was the rather dubious double entendre of a slogan “you’ve got to grin to get it in” printed on the front of the pack; that definitely seemed a helluva lot funnier…

Monday, 12 February 2007

Green Prawn, Chilli Risotto

To provide inspiration from a lacking collection of ingredients, we pretty much just use google. It’s simple; got a crab, some leeks and a couple of eggs, type it all into the said, awe-inspiringly powerful search engine (thanks for the crystal meth and the hookers google!) and in less than a second you can find a recipe for some kind of weird shit quiche.

That’s how we got the idea for a Green Prawn, Chilli Risotto. Little were we to know the super-human effort required in tracking down green prawns in Manchester (our hometown). To be honest neither of us, I think, yet knows what the fuck a green prawn is? I mean, are they green? Where would you get one from, even if they do exist?...We tried Arndale fish-market to no luck.

Our search brought us to China town, where instead, we purchased a mix bag of all kinds of stuff from the bottom of the sea – it included whole Octopi! Very Tasty. There weren’t any green prawns in this veritable grab bag of Marine Biology however. So I guess it’s a lie calling it a Green Prawn Risotto…

When we got back from our quest it was time to kick off with the cooking, we sliced up all the carrots, celery, picked the crabsticks outta the seafood mix and cut up a red onion. We basically fried up the onion and celery and carrots in one saucepan, and got started with the risotto rice in another.

Once the carrots etc. had been appropriately cooked up we added some tinned plum tomatoes, water, chilli flakes and cumin seeds to the vegetable mix. Here’s where the worries started to set in, the sauce just looked far too watery for a risotto - We were lucky and it boiled off in time, it also kind of got soaked up by the risotto rice.

When the rice was just about done we chucked it in with the Vegetable mix, added our eclectic bag of seafood and gradually stirred in some grated Parmesan. Oh and we garnished it with a few sprigs of Coriander. The end product? Let’s just say if this risotto was a record it would be Pet Sounds, if it was a film Casablanca

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Once upon a time there was a young man called Edward who lived by himself with a great amount of dignity. He had so much dignity that when he made his solitary evening meal he garnished it with a jaunty sprig of parsley. That's how he thought the parsley looked: jaunty. Jaunty and dignified. He also made sure he promptly washed and dried his dishes after completing his solitary evening meal. Only lonely people didn't take pride in their dinners and in their washing up, and Edward held it as a point of honour that while he had no need for people in his life, he was not going to be lonely. Life might not be much fun, mind you, but it seemed to have fewer people in to irritate him.

Generation X
Douglas Copeland