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22nd July 2014

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Fine, but I don’t think I’ll make it again

My commentary on these two Linda McCartney recipes I tried out this week. I’ve been carrying around Linda’s Kitchen ever since I left home 11 years ago. The dirtiest page is the chickpea curry, a student staple if ever there was one! I thought I’d give some of the other appetizing recipes a go, but these didn’t quite work out right. Serviceable and moderately tasty…but we won’t be making them again.

The first is a Lancashire Hot Pot or Not Pot as I used quorn chunks, which is a variation of this kiddie here, but boring-er. This was nutritious and ‘fine’ but massively watery. We tarted it up with garlic chili jam and a cascade of sweet snacking garlic which really got the party started. I guess the best thing about this is that it’s cheap and easy…

Second up this week was Cottage Crunch Casserole, which really piqued my interest as it has all sort of goodies in it: walnuts, mozzarella, courgettes! But it turned out to be a relatively tasty bowl of rubble. I opted not to put curry powder (!?) in as there’s sun dried tomato and mozzarella going on. This recipe seemed to come from the old school of vegetarian cooking where everything was shoved in to make it exciting. I didn’t bother to puree the mince, because why bother? Maybe that oversight cost us this casserole at full force…cos taste wise…it was just bit boring. Texture wise it was a little bit crunchy from the walnuts, but wasn’t that exciting. I’m sated, it was healthy and I’m sure I’ll enjoy my portion for lunch tomorrow but…I don’t think I’ll make it again.

Tagged: vegetarianveganlinda mccartneyquornquornographicleeksmozzarellabutter beanslancashire not pothot potcasseroleCOR!jette

21st July 2014

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JAB & BOB’S BEER FEST

We’ve moved to a swankier part of town, where our local SPAR holds an impressive assortment of craft beers. We were gripped by a stifling heat wave meaning that the only way to cool down was to partake of some fine ales. We spread our beering out over the day so we weren’t a terrible mess by the end of it…so ladies and gents our sweaty and boozy Saturday played out thus:

JB: First off was Wild Card Brewery Ruby Red Ale, this is made in Walthamstow and we’ve been meaning to visit one weekend, but today the ale visited us at home. We drank this on the balcony eating lunch. A rich, robust and refreshing red!

RF: This one was a pleasant surprise. The Wild Card Ruby Red Ale is a full-bodied drank with a nutty after-taste. It looks and tastes classy!

JB: We sampled a Belgium Corsendonk, which was…ok…nothing impressive but a cold treat in the deranged heat.

RF: I can’t say I liked this one much. It was OK, not a terrible beer at first, but it got all congealed and weird at the end, with yeasty chunks sticking to the bottom of my glass. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen!

JB: My camera work is a little blurry like my boozy heat addled brain, but next up was an Anchor Porter, which was grand as far as porters go, but didn’t really have much of a personality compared to some of my fave porters. At this point I was tipsy enough to attack our overgrown garden.

RF: Anchor produce some really excellent beers, particularly their Steam Beer and their Maple Autumn Red, but this Anchor Porter did not make much of an impression. Stick with their lighter offerings for maximum flavour! I’m not proud to admit that I actually had to take a nap after this beer. (  ु⁎ᴗ_ᴗ⁎)ु.。oO

JB: As you can see by my mud spattered face I had almost won against bindweed and it was time for a treat, in the form of Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout. This was ridiculous, the smell alone divulged that we were in for an extravagance! Like drinking alcoholic chocolate – so basically the best thing in the world. Bit nutty, bit caramel-y and very chocolaty. We declared this the best chocolate stout we had ever drunk.

RF: Holy crap, this really is the best chocolate stout in my world. I didn’t even know you could get this, let alone outside a pub! Many competing chocolate stouts give a hint of mocha in their scent and flavouring, but Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout is a truly chocolatey and delicious dessert beer. It’s like drinking a chocolate pie. As demonstrated by his similarly flavourful cherry and apricot beers, Samuel Smith is the master of sweet flavoured beers. 

 JB: Last beer and look at that percentage! The Mud City Imperial Stout at a cracking 9.9% we decided to go out with a bang. This was a beaut and I was in the best mood of my life after doing a heroic amount of gardening and drinking beer throughout the whole day. This was creamy, dark and woozy boozy!

RF: You can tell by the way this beer uses its walk that it’s 9.9%. Pitch black, rich but not overwhelming. It’s very drinkable despite it’s alcohol quotient. This is a beer that I plan to have again in a hurry. But don’t let it sneak up on you! I bet it could quite easily.

I RANK THEE AS SUCH

1. Samuel Smith’s Chocolate Stout

2. Mud City Imperial Stout

3. Wild Card Ruby Red Ale

4. Anchor Porter

5. CorsenDONK

If you’re ever in Walthamstow, be sure to check out the SPAR on Orford Road for its excellent selection of craft beers from around the globe. Get a pizza and some bacon jam while you’re there, too!

Tagged: craft beeralealesbeerporterstoutbelgiumwalthamstowwild card brewerysamuel smithschocolatemug cityrussian imperial stoutheat waveurban gardeningboozy flooziesunderpants

20th July 2014

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Basically the Same Thing

Fig 1. Garlicky Vegetable, Bean and Herb Pot

This is a very easy and cheap recipe that is positively overflowing with beans and vegetables. Good and good for you! I felt like this was a little bit too soupy at the end though, so after cooking was supposedly finished, I dumped this mess into a Pyrex baking dish and stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes. You really don’t have to do this if you don’t want to! I don’t think it did much. You could try under the grill for 10 minutes and get back to me?

Fig 2. Chunky Minestrone

Well here’s a recipe that basically uses all of the same ingredients. I decided to spice things up by adding chili flakes and paprika to this mix, which made things just HAWT enough to be different. Parmesan cheese on top if you please!

Tagged: samey mealshot potminestronevegetablesvegetarianbeansbean feastbens

19th July 2014

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Radishes: Two Ways in One Day…s

It was time to harvest my radishes as they were in danger of becoming woody, as you can see due to me planting them a bit too close, it was not a bumper crop. But my harvest did grant me more top than bottom ;) so here’s what happened today…

Radish Fattoush!

From the economic and sublime Jack Monroe. So the recipe calls for 10 radishes and I had 7 very small ones, meaning that the radish took a back seat in this salad. But not to worry because the combination of lemon, garlic, mint and onion was a mouth trumpet. Robert admitted he was worried about the lemon dressing, but one bite and all his fears were dispelled. I left the oil out of the dressing, as I thought it would be funky enough. Instead I toasted the pitta bread and when that was placed on the salad I draped some olive oil on then. Saves on washing up and gets more or less the same effect. This is a good ‘un because of the different textures,cavalcade of veg and the punchy flavours. We had this for LUNCH.  

Radish Top Pesto

So due to me being a radish novice, I had a lot of radish tops on my hands and splendid Jack had another recipe for these green bits. I more or less followed the recipe but used a bit less oil. It’s sensational, I’ve gotten a great deal of joy making pesto and I don’t see this ending any time soon. It is so satisfying using up the WHOLE of my produce, no waste and lots of dinners. To make it into a MAIN MEAL I grilled some chicken draped in lemon and pepper.

We were also indulging in a private beer festival today, which we will elaborate on tomorrow.

So for now lets celebrate NOSE TO TAIL RADISHES ALL IN ONE DAY!

Tagged: radishradishespestojack monroea girl called jackfatoushpastagrow your ownurban vegetables

19th July 2014

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VEG WATCH!

Since moving and obtaining a garden and balcony, therefore a legit place to grow veg, I have not held back!

See my previous foray into veg:

Which was rudely cut short by our dreary landlady at the time.

Now there’s no stopping me, so what am I growing at the moment? Rainbow radishes, which grew mega quick and are ready to harvest! We will be eating them in various formats this weekend, so STAY TUNED!

Dazzle lettuces, which are taking their sweet time, but are finally starting to resemble lettuces. These guys have been slow and fragile, so I hope they’re worth the wait!

And chilies, loads of ‘em. That’s the plants you see lining our stairs. They will eventually be red and sweet by the end of the summer and we will probably have enough to make chili jam!

This is the first time I’ve grown any of these veg (last year was the first time I ever planted and grew anything ever in my life) so it’s quite a thrill! 

Tagged: grow your own vegetablesurban gardeningurban vegetablesradishradisheslettucedazzle lettucechilichilies

17th July 2014

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It won’t make you more deserving of our admiration. It will just turn you in to a self-deluding, sanctimonious bore.

Tagged: jay raynerclean eatingLOL

16th July 2014

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TEA ME!

I cane herbal teas. I like my piss to be crystal clear but find water tedious, and out of the question in winter. Because of the deranged amount of herbal tea I drink a day, I think I’m at the stage where I can confidently inform you of some of my favourite teas that I’ve slurped this year.

Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice: I supped this for the first time last month and it’s a herbal tea game changer. I tend to avoid fruit teas as they tend to smell better than they taste. This is the full package, it smells like a mince pie and pumps out citrus flavour.

Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime: Or Smack bear tea (look at that zonked out bear) works a treat. I tend to drink it anytime as it’s not like taking Diazepam. It’s a refreshing and complex blend.

Pukka Lemongrass and Ginger: This is great for during the day, as it’s zingy and just one step away from brewing actual lemongrass stalks or ginger – which I highly recommend also.

Pukka After diner: After anything more like or even before! Fennel is one of my favourite things to drink (as well as eat) and the cardamom spices things up a bit.

Pukka Three Tulsi: Again another new tea on my block. I’d never heard of Tulsi or Holy Basil until this year, and this has WOWED me. Refreshing and tiny bit sweet. From going to no tulsi to three tusli, was a risk that paid off.

Yogi Rose Tea: First off I like their tea, but I find the way they ‘do’ totally irritating especially the nothingness statements they print on each bag. This factor alone has almost meant I stopped buying their tea, as I’d open and bag and get instantly irritated BUT I love their Rose tea. I love eating, drinking and brewing roses. This is exquisite and delicate.

Yogi Men’s Tea: It’s for men apparently, but as I don’t believe in gender – you can’t stop me! This is a deep and spicy tea which I adore.

Clipper Wild Berry: I don’t tend to be a fruit tea fan (as outlined above) but this is bold and beautiful.

MY SHIT LIST

Twinnings can eff off they have a range of fruit teas that deliver a pleasant smell but no definitive taste, the ones I’ve tried could all be the same generic herbal tea as far as I’m concerned. Most supermarket brands are similar except for peppermint teas own brands which tend to pack a punch when your wallet isn’t.

Camomile tea ain’t my bag either.  I find the scent strangely depressing, a bit like a hamster cage, and the taste is really boring at best.  I get so annoyed by the taste it’s far from relaxing.

Cherry Stalk tea, I didn’t realise that this was a ‘slimming’ tea and by slimming they mean laxative, literal shit list. I drank 6 cups during the day at work and then shit my colon out at night. That’s not slimming, it’s taking a massive shit…there’s a difference! The tea tasted nice though, but I’m scared to drink any after my bum party!

Happy supping!

Tagged: clipper teayogi teapukka teacelestial seasoningsherbal tea

16th July 2014

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A very Pesci Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday Robert! Now as you’ll all know, his birthday took place at the end of the pier for Hayley and Tim’s wedding this year. It was a fine way to celebrate, but c’mon someone needs a birthday meal out on the town! And before that…a  COSMOPOLITAN!

Robert had mentioned in passing when we moved in that he would like to sit at the breakfast bar sipping a cosmopolitan, so I half made this come true as we sipped ours on our verdant balcony. The recipe for these bright beauts was:

  • A shot of cointreau
  • A shot of vodka
  • A shot of cranberry juice
  • A large squeeze of lime
  • Garnished with orange peel

I forgot the merry boozy buzz a cocktail could bring, we sat chatting in the yard until it was time to hit the town!

We went to Pescatori, a gorgeous seafood restaurant we’d been to before ‘just because’. I’d requested a comfortable and intimate table for Robert and I and we got our own roomy booth. It was quite a contrast to the clinical and awkward ambiance of my birthday dinner, soft rock playing in the background, attentive but not in your face wait staff and a friendly and jovial atmosphere. We were pretty pumped from the moment we were seated.

We ordered a carafe of Falanghina IGT Beneventano Bellamico which sat snugly in an ice bucket to Robert’s side, notable because last time our wine was so far away from us. I’m not a wine expert by any stretch, despite my family links, but this went well with every bite of dinner. We jumped into our starters, I ordered crab and avocado bruschetta which was a gorgeous combination of crisp salty bread with soft crab and creamy avocado, with a shock of peppery watercress a top it.

Bob ordered pan-seared calamari served with Italian sausage and WOW! The calamari was cooked to perfection, being not-too-squidgy but not-too-hard, and each tentacle was accented delicately by its charred edges. It was smoky with a hint of barbecue grill flames, and I like all of these things! The sausage was also excellent, I believe it was the same type of sausage I ate on Spar’s artisan pizza this time last month. Succulent and with a real bite to it.

We both went for the Lobster salad. I’d never had Lob before, so tonight was a night of decadent firsts: cosmos and lobster. The lobster was sweet, meaty and delicate – the salad of peas, broad beans, mint and potatoes was light, fresh and satisfying. We both felt truly spoiled at this point, the wait staff as aforementioned being convivial and helpful. 

As we were having our dinner, a large party of poshos turned up to dine at the table next to us. Justyna correctly identified Australian soap star Isla Fisher as the head of the party, and we both cringed as her doofusy male companion made snide remarks about the menu before mocking the waitress’ accent, all the while not removing his hat through dinner. We were like, “who is this choade?” Imagine our surprise when we used Google to identify him as Sacha Baron Cohen. It was as if he was trying out a new character; the condescending posh fading celebrity. But maybe that would hit too close to home!

I’m not much of a desert person, but when I see a cheeseboard on the menu my heart sings. We decided to share a platter, and LOOK AT IT. It was such a competent selection of cheeses in variety and complexity of flavour, and look at that fan on crackers!

It was the type of food and setting that kept us repeating how great everything was, we left pleasurably sated and full of birthday bounce!

Tagged: pescatoribirthdaysea foodlobstersquidsausageavocadocrabbruschettacheesecheese boardhappy birthday bob!sacha baron cohenwas loud and irritating

16th July 2014

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From Pier to Eternity

One of the GREATEST weddings we have ever been to, celebrating the official joining of long time brilliant people Hayley and Tim. They are sublime and inspirational human beings and I feel privileged to call them my mates. We had a few hints at to what the wedding would be like, but we weren’t prepared for the generous and down to earth celebration that unfolded.

We assembled at the end of the pier, waiting for Hayley and Tim as they walked the length of the pier together, we were entertained by the excellent Guess What. The service itself was minimal and meaningful, I almost cried but not quite. When they tied the knot we were laden with prosecco and all you can eat unlimited Rossi ice cream. The mood afterward was jubilant, even recalling it now I’m overcome with joy.

Whilst still at the end of the pier we were treated to cod and chips and a few rounds of wedding speeches. It’s of EXTREME IMPORTANCE to note that this was Robert’s birthday (talk about stealing his show Hayley and Tim) and it was also our friend Geraldine’s birthday…a little know fact about Hayley is that her favourite song in the whole wide world is Happy Birthday, so this was an opportunity that she couldn’t resist. She made the whole crowd sing happy birthday to Robert and Geradine FOUR TIMES in the style of our friend Andrew Marcus’ family, that is one normal round, one in a high pitch ladies voice, one in a deep man’s voice and one silently. This was one of my personal highlights of the day!

Bob’s note: :O!

I appreciated that we were provided with a jar of gherkins and pickled onions. I polished off two wollys. A kind lady was also doling out mushy peas, which we indulged, but found to be a little too sloppy - even for us. The fish and chips themselves were the right combo of crunchy and squidgy and we went wild with salt and vinegar.

After the speeches, the eating and the happy birthdaying had been wrapped up we trundled back up the pier by train the reception. We danced like mofos to the Tim’s Dad’s band and had a drunken waltz to Rihanna’s umbrella. There was a mighty spread laid on and although I wasn’t too hungry at this point I couldn’t help downing some smoked salmon with the free flowing white wine. Much respect to buffet on a snooker table!

Thanks so much Hayley and Tim for an wonderful wedding, befitting such wonderful people. We know you’re going to have a great life together forever and we’re proud to be your pals!

Tagged: From Pier to Eternityweddinghayleytimproseccofishcod piecechipssalmonbuffet

16th July 2014

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This is hardly a recipe...
…but in Eating Food Is Right style, I’m gonna tell it to ya straight. It’s a cheats fancy pasta. Get a readymade jar of pasta add a roasted pepper, olives, capers, herbs of your choice, a massive can of tuna, some chili flakes and anything else you want to transport down your gullet and heat it through…and put on cooked pasta (we use wholemeal) and add salt and pepper and some Parmesan if you’re feeling frisky. I also added a load of black garlic that Bob gave me for my birthday!
And that’s it…perf for a quick and  dirty after work supper and perf cold in Tupperware the next day!

This is hardly a recipe...

…but in Eating Food Is Right style, I’m gonna tell it to ya straight. It’s a cheats fancy pasta. Get a readymade jar of pasta add a roasted pepper, olives, capers, herbs of your choice, a massive can of tuna, some chili flakes and anything else you want to transport down your gullet and heat it through…and put on cooked pasta (we use wholemeal) and add salt and pepper and some Parmesan if you’re feeling frisky. I also added a load of black garlic that Bob gave me for my birthday!

And that’s it…perf for a quick and  dirty after work supper and perf cold in Tupperware the next day!

Tagged: pastablack garliccapersolivespasta saucepiece of pissbut tastiergarlic farm