Monsanto

I don’t usually reblog, however given my general aversion to GM foods, this seemed important.

Horrors.

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Stilton & Watercress Muffins

Someone was once heard to say ‘not everyone likes cake’. And to that I say those people are quitters who haven’t the stamina to keep searching for the kind of cake that they like!

But sweet treats aren’t for everyone, so I was drawn to seek out something off the beaten patisserie path. I’m also attending my Uncle’s birthday celebrations tomorrow- Happy Birthday Uncle Pete!- and I do like to take some munchables with me to such events.

Cupcakes seemed a bit girly and obvious, so away to the thinking caps. One resounding image of him is a long ago Christmas at the dinner table, where I enthusiastically but unsuccessfully entered into negotiations as to the liberation of a lump of stilton from his plate. I was about 6 or 7 at the time, but somehow I will always associate him with mouldy cheese. If that isn’t a touching family sentiment, I don’t know what is. 

So tomorrow, we debut the stilton muffins, and if you read on you can make your own. Dead simple, dead yummy, and not girly at all. 

Ingredients

250g plain white flour
150g stilton cheese (no rind please!)
1tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
150g carrots, finely grated
50g watercress
225ml milk
90ml good quality sunflower oil
1 egg

Start off warming the oven to 170C and lining some muffin tins- the above quantity will make 8-10 large muffins or about 20 smaller cupcake sized ones.

Grate the carrot finely, set aside.

Take about half of the water cress and chop very finely. Chop the rest roughly, add to the carrot.

In a separate bowl mix your flour, salt and baking powder. Crumble up your stilton into small lumps and mix gently into the dry ingredients.

In yet another receptacle, combine your egg, milk and sunflower oil and beat vigorously. Add this to the flour and cheese and stir gently with a metal spoon to combine. It should be lumpy from the cheese but be careful to not leave any floury patches. Be very light handed and take the time on this stage.

Now add the watercress and carrot and mix again, gently.

Spoon your muffin mix into the cases and then put them in the oven. Check after about 15 minutes, they don’t rise very much so don’t expect them to be very rounded. The tops should be just going golden and some melty cheese should be oozing from the top. If in doubt, an inserted skewer should come out clean.

Set aside to cool. You’re done. Check you out.

Stay tuned for a bacon and brie variation, coming soon.

Super Simple Coleslaw

I love coleslaw. 

It’s all crunchy and moreish and versatile and it goes with all the best meals in life- you know, the BBQs and Boxing Day Buffets and summer Sunday cold cut lunches. 

Strictly speaking it should include cabbage and carrot in a creamyish sauce but you really can put your own stamp on it. I love versions with fennel, apple, beetroot, radish maybe even a pear if the mood takes me. Then so many choices of dress- mayo for convenience, crème fraiche for bite, yoghurt for the health conscious, cream for the indulgent, I  love a dollop of horseradish in the mix too. The only thing that absolutely shouldn’t be involved in a coleslaw is a sad little plastic pot, with a mock cling film lid that shreds into a million bits when you try to peel it off to get at the sad little chips of carrot and thin vinegary sauce full of E numbers. Tesco, I’m talking to you.
I will bow to an M&S creamy or Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference once in a while, maybe even a Be Good To Yourself if I’m feeling saintly but it’s so easy (and so much nicer!) to make yourself at home, why add to the recycling with all that packaging?

Below is my staple coleslaw recipe. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s done in less than 10 minutes with readily available ingredients most of the year round. Parsnips will of course be sweeter in the late Autumn but I still make this well into spring and early summer with no bad results to date. 

Serve it with your BBQ or a nice summer salad with gammon ham, or cold roast chicken, hell you can serve it with anything. Enjoy. 

You will need:

About 1/3 of a head of white cabbage
1 Parsnip
2 medium sized carrots
Mayonnaise
French’s American Style Mustard
White wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper

First off very finely shred the cabbage. If you have a mandolin or some form of QVC super shredding/grating/julienne contraption great, otherwise a sharp knife and a steady hand will suffice. Remember to cut across the leaf to get long, thin strips, rather than little chunks. Top and tail your carrot and parsnip and grate, add to the cabbage.

The dressing is something of a personal preference, for the above quantities of veg I would use about four tablespoons of mayo to one of mustard. Up it for extra sauciness, cut down if you like a suggestion of dressing rather than a good lashing but keep to a 4 to 1 quantity. I have no mayo snobbery, full fat, low fat, hellmans, extra value, whatever you like but I would avoid the extra extra low fat ones as they don’t mix as well and tend to taste a bit eggy after a while if you don’t eat it immediately.
Now mix it all up until your veg is evenly coated then add about a teaspoon of vinegar. This gives a nice, subtle sharpness and will also help to stop the veg softening or going brown, particularly if it’s out in the garden as part of your BBQ spread.
Salt and black pepper to taste and you’re done. How easy was that?

There are too many variations to list, so standby for more like this in coming weeks. 

Are you going to eat………..Kangaroo?

Are you going to eat that? Or more specifically from this handily borrowed wikipedia image, are you going to eat her?

If you hadn’t already gathered, today we’re talking about Kangaroo meat. Indigenous Australians (we’re not to use the ‘A’ word any more) have unsurprisingly been chowing down on Skippy’s family for a very long time, but it isn’t something that graces many butcher’s counters that I have ever seen.
Kangaroo never really featured on the menus or shopping lists of the UK until the new variant CJD or ‘Mad Cow Disease’ traumas of the mid 90’s that made us all scared to order a steak. Many previously unheard of animals suddenly became fair fodder in that time, including ostrich and crocodile. This was a short lived fad, thanks mostly to changes in what farmers were allowed to feed cattle and how the slaughter houses were allowed to turn whole cow into consumer ready beef. BSE stopped haunting the headlines, and we all forgot about it.

But Kangaroo is coming back into fashion, particularly in the increasingly competitive market of poshed up burger vans vying for your custom at outdoor events and festivals everywhere. 

F your I, kangaroo is a hearty, low fat meat found to be easy on the palate and high in zinc, B vitamins and a little compound called CLA which I’m told is anti carcinogenic and works against the progress of diabetes and heart disease. Fab! Kangaroo farming also has a much lower impact on the fragile Antipodean ecosystem than more traditional cattle and due to some kind of stomach freakiness Kangaroos produce negligible amounts of the greenhouse gas methane and so are better for the ozone layer than a beef herd. Double fab! So why has it never really taken off?


A brief poll of people I know delivered the resounding result of
Naaaw, not a Kangaroo! They’re so cute! Personally, I’ve never been affected by this kind of sentimentality and have no qualms at all about munching Daisy, Thumper, Dolly, Donald or Bambi’s Mum. It’s all fair game- pun fully intended. If anything, I might be put off only by the fact that as far as I can tell a Kangaroo is basically a really big, jumping rat. Rat does put me off a little bit. Yet I recently found myself at one of the earlier mentioned pimp-my-burger outlets and yes, kind man at the grill, make mine a Kangaroo please, extra onions. 

Rooburger.

Now at this point I didn’t know that Kangaroo is good for you or low fat or any of that gubbins, I just researched that in the last couple of days. I ordered it quite simply because it was on the menu and unlike every other option, I had never tried it before. 

Initial impressions: it looked good and it smelled great. Salad and sauce options were available and after some consideration I went with a nominal splash of ketchup. I then retired to a handy grass bank to consume. 

It was good, but that’s not saying much as I’m pretty sure I never met a burger that I didn’t like. The taste is subtle and if I could compare it to anything the closest I can think is the flavour of dark turkey meat with the texture of a steak mince burger. Filling and satisfying, but that’s all she wrote. I wonder if it might be better suited to dishes where the meat is the substance rather than the star- I’ll bet it makes a good curry. 

I certainly wasn’t disappointed, but I’m not desperate for any more. I wasn’t even struck enough to text my foodie brother to tell him about it, and I tell him about all kinds of much less interesting things. I heartily support the nutritional value and the positive farming aspects but I can’t see Kangaroo becoming big news outside of food festivals or trendy gastro pubs. 

So the conclusion on Kangaroo: It’s no substitute for an Aberdeen Angus burger, but try it. You should try most things once. 

 

Thanks everso to http://www.macromeats-gourmetgame.com.au for reference material.

A Little Plug- Tess’s Cakes

I’d like to take a moment, if I may, to draw your attention a fine foodie establishment local to my neck of the woods- Tess’s Cakes. 

Quite frankly, their work is amazeballs!

The Taz Cake

You can check out their full range of services at www.tesscakes.co.uk but if you are too lazy to click on that link I can tell you that they will rustle up pretty much any kind of cake you want, for any occasion- birthdays, weddings, corporate do’s, ritual animal sacrifices, you get the idea. They offer a range of cake flavours from Chocolate Mud (mmm, chocolate mud) to Rich Fruit cake and even offer variations for diet restrictions too so food allergy types needn’t suffer the horrors of not being able to have their cake and eat it.

Oh come on you can handle one bad ‘cake and eat it’ joke, surely?

Awesome campervan cake. Please pretend I made a clever joke about happy campers.

And if that wasn’t enough, not only will they sell you these edible masterpieces, you can learn how to make them yourself at one of their cup cake decorating courses. I say it again, amazeballs! Just check out their website for the details. I may even see you there at one of them.

Think you could try your hand at turning out some of these little beauties?

Tess’s Cakes. Marvellous.

Are you going to eat………….Laverbread?

Hello, and welcome to the first snippet of Are You Going To Eat That? Here is where we, by which I mean I, look at rare, controversial and out and out weird foodstuffs. 

Today, it’s Bara Lafwr, Welshman’s Caviar or as it’s widely peddled, Laverbread.

It’s not any sort of bread, by the way.

On a recent trip to Wales, my other half voiced an urge to try some ‘actual Welsh food’. Being a many time visitor to the biggest county in England (I jest, I jest) I am aware that we already eat some of the best Welsh produce frequently at home in sunny Essex- you know, leeks and Caerphilly cheese and Welsh Lamb. But now here is this Laverbread. You don’t get that every day.

Laverbread is not bread. It is, however, Laver, or porphyra umbilicalis if you prefer- a single cell thick seaweed which is plentiful on the Welsh coastline and easily tinned.

Concern number one was that despite being plugged by many as a ‘Traditional Welsh Delicacy’ we ventured into many fooderies in the costal town of Aberystwyth and couldn’t find any Laverbread until we happened upon a small healthfood shop, where we quickly snapped up the last dusty tin on the shelf for a bargain £2.49.

Concern number two was that this stuff is plugged as the aforementioned ‘Traditional Welsh Delicacy’. I’m all for delicacies, but get suspicious if they are defined as traditional as this suggests that you eat it because your granny and some other people now older than her and likely dead ate it back in the day so now you have to too regardless of how evil it tastes.

But I put aside my concerns and took my little tin of seaweed and, well, did nothing for a week. Because I didn’t know what to do. Google told me to make a pate with cheese and cockles, or to fry it with eggs or to cook it with a bit of orange juice (no, really) and slather it all over my roast lamb. Logic demanded that I contact a friend who has A: Never served me a bad dinner and B: Is violently Welsh. We’ll call her Ange (because that’s her name) and Ange instructed me that Laverbread is a breakfast food and that I was to fry it in the bacon fat and serve alongside, but not mixed into, my eggs. Ok, I can do that.

Just so you know, the Laverbread is the sticky looking green sticky stuff.

So, it went in the bacon pan, was cooked through and served.

It is now that I am going to take a moment to tell you that Laverbread is rich in vitamins A, B, B2, C and D not to mention magnesium, calcium and iodine. Expert types speculate that it could also have anti viral properties and even protect your tummy from the effects of radioactive poisoning. In short this gunk is good for you. And you know it’s good for you when you taste it, because that can be the only reason people have been eating it for generations.

The taste is hard to describe, it’s mineraly (not a word, I know) rather than just salty. It certainly tastes of the sea, but the bits of the sea you go looking for dubious mutant crab creatures in, not the fresh bracing surf you’d like to take a dip in or use as a romantic backdrop.

As a single foodstuf on the end of my fork, I couldn’t manage it. The overpowering taste was worsened by the texture which is exactly the sticky gunk you would expect to result from boiling seaweed for hours on end before mushing it up and canning it under high heat and pressure. Speaking of heat, it got worse as it cooled. Determined to persevere, I spread some over a nice chunk of baguette, topping with a thick slice of bacon, and attempted to ingest it once more. Adding the texture of the bread and the flavour of the bacon, it  became a billion times more palatable, maybe as it stopped being the chief flavour. In this fashion, I managed to consume my half of the laverbread without further incident, or sadly enjoyment. But I felt stocked up on vitamins and nuclear fall out protection so hey, small win there.

To quote my breakfast companion, who’s need for going native induced this whole episode ‘I wouldn’t really call it nice’.

So there you have it. Laverbread. I wouldn’t really call it nice, and I am not going to be eating it again.

 

thanks to wikipedia and http://www.laverbread.com for some useful reference material.

Moon Munch

Hot from the oven. Mmmmmmmooon Munch

These yummy, crunchy biscuits with oats and nuts were a staple treat when I was growing up, both in their construction and consumption. I still revisit these as a winter treat or whenever I need a quick comfort fix. Plus with superfood oats and all the omega 3 and 6 oils in those walnuts they are are doing your insides as much good as your tastebuds. 

Moon Munch are incredibly easy to make and cook in about 12 minutes, a great one to make with the kids. Eat them warm and still gooey in the middle or with a nice bowl of good vanilla ice-cream. They’ll keep for up to a week in an air tight box. As if you can resist for that long. 

Ingredients- makes about twelve

1 cup museli (or half a cup each of oats and your preferred dried fruit)
1/2 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup brown sugar
2oz butter
1 egg
1tbsp honey (or golden syrup if preferred)
1tsp vanilla essence

Set your oven to 170 C and grease two baking sheets.

First combine your museli, flour, nuts and sugar in a large bowl and mix well.

Cut the butter into small cubes and rub into the dry ingredients with your hands- a good point to get stuck in with the kids!

Now add the egg, honey and vanilla and stir until evenly combined- this is actually easier done with the hands than a spoon!

Put spoonfuls of the mix onto a well greased baking tray about an inch apart and straight into the oven. Check after 10 minutes, if they are not starting to brown cook for another two to three minutes.

Once out of the oven only cool for a couple of minutes before carefully removing to a plate or cooling rack as they will stick to the baking sheet once they start to cool properly and you will need a chisel to remove them!

Variations- a mixture of oats and dried apricots work well swapped for the muesli and you could try pecans or brazil nuts rather than walnuts. I’d avoid almonds or hazlenuts in this one and must insist on the brown sugar rather than white or caster, it’s just not the same.  You could bulk up with a pinch of cinnamon for extra indulgence.