20 Questions with the OMS

jon

The Older Male Sibling hard at work in the kitchen. Fiver says not one of those bananas got eaten. 

 

Yup, it’s time to take five minutes to appreciate the culinary musings of the Older Male Sibling: food flogger, Pomme D’Or alumni and champion crispsndips hogger since 1977. He ain’t heavy.

1: Describe what you do without being boring?
I work for a company who make all sorts of lovely food for the big retailers. I sell and help develop food for Marks and Spencer.

2: What’s great about what you do?
Working with a truly foodie customer and business dinners!

3: What sucks about what you do?
Early starts, office hours and never escaping emails thanks to the work phone.

4: Do you eat breakfast?
Yep – as soon as I get to the office. Some form of heart healthy cereal to make up for the rest of the week.

5: Where/who is your favourite local food/drink business (other than your own)?
The White Oak in Cookham. They are as welcoming for a pint and a packet of crisps as they are for a four course dinner party. Good beer and beautiful, British, seasonal food. Great Sunday lunch.

6: Which celeb chef would you want in your gang in the event of a zombie apocalypse and why?
Ken Hom – have you seen him with a cleaver?! Also I reckon I could out run him.

ken

Three guesses where those chopsticks are going if you question his cardio skills again.

7: What’s your go to comfort food?
Pizza.

8: Who taught you how to cook?
My parents. Both awesome cooks in very different ways.
Ed- neither of which will ever forgive you for not specifying them first. Unlucky!!!

9: What’s the weirdest thing you have ever put in your mouth? Keep it clean!
Ants.

10: What one food would you erase from all existence?
Lychees.

11: What’s on your kitchen playlist?
It changes so much. Recently Haim, The Milk, Vance Joy, Michael Kiwanuka. And always Fleetwood Mac. And Springsteen. How many am I allowed?!

12: If you could eat out anywhere tonight where would you go and who would you dine with?
Osteria Barberini in Rome. Our best honeymoon meal so obviously with the wife! Great value tiny restaurant. If you’re early they make you wait outside but the food is amazing.

13: Do you have a signature dish?
Tarte Tatin. Award winning. Just saying.
Ed: I won first prize Cornish Pasties when I was in the Brownies you know, I’m not still going on about it. 

tarte

Tarte tatin for the purists, no pears or salted caramels here (yes this is one of his).

14: Confess your biggest food sin………..
Eating too many nibbles and spoiling dinner.

15: If you had to restrict yourself to the cuisine of one country which would it be and why?
Italy without doubt. So simple, so tasty and I’m growing to love their wine.
*insert inevitable Nice Chianti gag here*

16: Cake or biscuits?
Cake.

17: Tea or coffee?
Coffee. Black, no sugar as nature intended. Tea is up there with lychees!

18: Chunky chips or curly fries?
This is tough. Chunky chips.

19: Wine or beer?
I couldn’t choose. Beer is so good and so varied now.

20: Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
Yep – I never order a Hawaiian but I’d gobble up a free one!

Feel free to insta-troll him @jonboybarton

Next time, the brains behind Two Brews, possibly the best retail idea in history (or at least in Colchester).

Last time, Chef Tom Russell from The Rosebud (click link)

Advertisements

20 Questions with Chef Tom!

scallops

Tasty offerings by our guest interviewee for this week

This week we share our deep and meaningful quick fire questions with Tom Russell, who runs kitchens from afar as well as getting knee deep in the action and is partially to blame for my many boring tweets and Instas about my favourite home town pub in Brightlingsea.

1: Describe what you do without being boring?
I get to manage the most upcoming Seafood Restaurant in Essex, designing new and vibrant dishes using the great fruits of the sea.  I also macro-manage 4 other venues across the country.

2: What’s great about what you do?
My guests. Myself and my team strive to create the best experience possible. There is no better feeling than having happy guests.

3: What sucks about what you do?
The hours and the bills!!

4: Do you eat breakfast?
Most days I try and eat something.  A lot of the time it’s the only meal I get in my working day.

5: Where/who is your favourite local food/drink business (other than your own)?
Now that is a tough one, there are several but if I had to choose just one, then I would choose Bosco Lounge in Woodley, Reading.
Ed- good looking vegan options here for those who care about such things. 

6: Which celeb chef would you want in your gang in the event of a zombie apocalypse and why?
That’s an easy one.  I would have to say Gordon Ramsay.  Doesn’t mince his words and is a vicious git.
Ed- Vicious Git indeed and as such wouldn’t think twice about leaving you behind as Zombie fodder, best stay on his good side……

7: What’s your go to comfort food?
Pot noodle!

8: Who taught you how to cook?
I have had a couple of great mentors over the years, but Darren Foster (my old head Chef) is at the top of the list

9: What’s the weirdest thing you have ever put in your mouth? Keep it clean!
You’re asking a Chef to give you a clean answer??   TRIPE!

10: What one food would you erase from all existence?
Tripe! Disgusting stuff.

11: What’s on your kitchen playlist?
I currently have a mix of Richard Clayderman, Boyce Avenue, Motorhead and of course Buddy Holly.

12: If you could eat out anywhere tonight where would you go and who would you dine with?
Rocksalt in Folkestone. Best Seafood Restaurant in the country (in my opinion) and Mark Sergeant is one of the Chefs I aspire to be as great as.

13: Do you have a signature dish?
Yes.  Seared Scallops, Spiced braised Rice, Red Amarynth, Micro Coriander, Truffle Oil.
Ed- Gah! Amarynth, my old nemesis!

14: Confess your biggest food sin………..
Soaking a nice slice of bread in my Gravy at the end of my Sunday Roast. Yummmm!!

15: If you had to restrict yourself to the cuisine of one country which would it be and why?
British. It’s a classic staple of my cooking style.  Simplicity at its finest

16: Cake or biscuits?
Biscuits. Chocolate Hob Nobs.

17: Tea or coffee?
Coffee

18: Chunky chips or curly fries?
Chunky Chips

19: Wine or beer?
Neither. Tee-Total.

20: Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
Whatever floats your boat.

consv

The cosy conservatory at The Rosebud, where you might find Tom taking a dirty Pot Noodle break between services.

Thank you Tom! You can check out The Rosebud here http://www.rosebudpub.co.uk/ (save me a seat when you book) or tweet to @chefgrouch as you wish.

Next time we get out of the kitchen and into the scary mind of a retail foodie. 

Last time, home cook and social media star Samia

The Skinny Thing: Pizza Tortillas

pizza header.jpg

‘healthy’ pizzas under construction, but should they be called pizzas?

Some time ago I was the subject of some unduly harsh criticism of my general ranking as a Significant Other  after Instagramming evidence that I was about to serve the Mr a weight watchers esque fake pizza for dinner. A weight watchers esque fake pizza with mange tout on it.

I will defend myself as follows:

  1. The Mr is free to cook his own dinner, any time he bloody likes.
  2. I really like mange tout, and if millions of freaks across the world are allowed to put the salted bony evil that is anchovies on their pizzas without rebuke, then I’m putting mange tout on mine.

There is one thing, however, that I cannot let myself off the hook for and that is calling these creations ‘pizzas’. I often moan about the negative effect on the perception of unusual food creations by trying to palm them off as just like something better/fattier/gluten free or whatever when they are nothing like that at all. But let us not get bound up again in my vegan fish and chips rant and instead admit the mistake and say: It Was Not A Pizza.

So I am not going to call it a pizza. What is was, was a wholemeal tortilla, spread with salsa and topped with some fresh vegetable items then finished off with black olives and half fat cheese. You chuck the whole thing in the oven and end up 20 minutes later with a satisfying dinner edging up your five a day target for well under 400 calories or about 10 smartpoints (or 6 if you use weight watchers branded tortillas). I promise you this is a lot less than you would score for a proper pizza for one or a fully loaded cheesy burrito type thing.  And not a ground up cauliflower in sight.

You will find the recipe easily enough on the Weight Watchers site but I despise their own brand bready items so I use standard wraps and have found it easier to bake these in the oven vs grilling, so whilst I pay total homage to Weight Watchers for the inspiration, here’s how I do it.

pizza 1

the finished tortilla pizza open wrap cheesey type thing

Per person:
2 tbspns jarred salsa
1 wholemeal tortilla wrap
Veg such as mushrooms, red onions, peppers, courgette ribbons and MANGE TOUT!!!!!
30g half fat cheddar cheese, grated
5 pitted black olives, halved
Dried mixed herbs

Construct this on a non-stick baking tray. Spread the wrap with salsa which MUST be a fairly thick, jarred sort rather than the fresh dippy type as this has far too high water content and will result in a sloppy mess of a fake pizza dinner. I particularly enjoy the co-op’s own brand fiery salsa for this. If you don’t have jarred salsa use tomato puree instead (but less).
Very thinly slice your veg and scatter it merrily ‘cross your tomatoey tortilla. Don’t layer it too much else you risk the previously mentioned sloppy mess. Top off now with the grated cheese then olives and a sprinkling of herbs. If you want to go hot try chilli flakes or jalepenos too.

Chuck it into a hot oven at 170 for 12 minutes, then whack the heat up to 200 for a further 3-4 minutes or until the tortilla edges begin to crisp up and the cheese is fully melted and bubbly.

Slice and serve with whatever you want, but remember that the low points on this won’t counter out an entire tub of lux coleslaw and garlic bread. It really wont.

20 Questions With Samia’s Recipe Store!

samia header

Our Samia on the Tellybox!!!!

Today we are interrogating Samia, an enthusiastic home cook who’s cooking snaps and recipe tips have created a phenomenal social media following and even the odd TV appearance!

1: Describe what you do without being boring?
Cooking…!!! It’s fun, therapeutic and the end result can be enjoyed by yourself and others…. win win all way round!!

2: What’s great about what you do?
The coming together of family and friends, enjoying the meal prepared and the creating of priceless memories ….. my food equation is Family & Friends + Fine Food = Fun Festivities

3: What sucks about what you do?
The washing up of the pans, pots & utensils

4: Do you eat breakfast?
No

5: Where/who is your favourite local food/drink business (other than your own)?
Anywhere they serve fresh whole food, where you can see what you eating rather than get confused how to dismantle the art exhibition on the plate.

6: Which celeb chef would you want in your gang in the event of a zombie apocalypse and why?
Gordon Ramsey – like him, I am a big fusspot about food & flavour.

7: What’s your go to comfort food?
Lentils & rice with mango pickle and kachoomar Salad
Ed- I have googled this salad and found a million very different recipes for it. And they all look good!

8: Who taught you how to cook?
Self taught

9: What’s the weirdest thing you have ever put in your mouth? Keep it clean!
Katakut, it’s a Pakistani specialty made with kidneys and brains.

10: What one food would you erase from all existence?
Trotters ….. I mean why, just why??

11: What’s on your kitchen playlist?
Anything upbeat

12: If you could eat out anywhere tonight where would you go and who would you dine with?
With family at a Turkish Grill

13: Do you have a signature dish?
Main: Afghani Kharai
Dessert: Gulab Jamun

14: Confess your biggest food sin………..
Using too much oil/butter

15: If you had to restrict yourself to the cuisine of one country which would it be and why?
Pakistani food …. I grew up eating that and nothing compares to it

16: Cake or biscuits?
Cake every time!

17: Tea or coffee?
Tea

18: Chunky chips or curly fries?
Curly fries

19: Wine or beer?
Neither

20: Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
No way….. what next chocolate on Mac & Cheese!
Ed- and yet, you ate the kidneys and brains……

 

Check out Samia on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/SamiasRecipeStore/

samia

Next Time, a local seafood chef from my favourite pub……….

Last time, Paul from Lunch By Lancasters! 

Grow Your Own! An Onslaught of Pumpkins 

GP_KeyArt_Pose8

Earlier in the year whilst planning my garden efforts I picked up some pumpkin seeds to try in my little patch of green. I opted for the ‘Invincible’ variant as I had never grown them before and wanted a good chance of one of them surviving my lack of squash nurturing skills.

Oy.

Well I needn’t have worried. After planting six seeds in my conservatory I gifted one young plant and put four more outside (one never woke up). I tried one in a pot, three in the ground. They got regular watering, a couple of babybio feeds and a sparse anti-bug spraying. The one in the pot has grown steadily and sent out two vines and is currently holding an orange sized fruit.

The three I planted in the ground have formed their own democracy and are currently negotiating trade terms with the hoards of ivy next door.

Suffice to say they are thriving. By which I mean spreading, daily, over and through whatever crosses their path. They have covered the back third of the garden, choked out my irises and had a damn good go at strangling the silver birch. You see when I hear ‘Invincible’ I think Superman, I think benevolent higher power that will save the day and keep it’s gracious super strength to itself until it is needed for the greater good. These pumpkins are the other kind of invincible.  It’s funny because all the online info for pumpkin growing suggests that you care for them by fighting pests and watering exceptionally regularly as they are very thirsty indeed. That’s all. No one tells you that they need all that water to power their underground lair from whence their  sentient super computer will soon reprogram the sun and bring forth the zombie apocalypse.  I was hoping for some unique black halloween lanterns and a decent stock of pumpkin chutney for the winter, now I will just behappy to escape with my life and a jar of Branston’s. I haven’t slept in days. Come the evening with the windows open, I can hear the low incessant creak of their creeping limbs, gently extending by moonlight ever closer to their goal of invading my foundations, assuming my identity and then after my inevitable enslavement drinking all my gin, the bastards!!!

I was not ready for this. I was not prepared to foresee the effects of the heat blasts of spring and the downpours of summer and the perfect growth conditions they would support. I was sucked in by the innocuous greenery and tasty blossoms and turned my back on their blooming advancement for a second too long and here I am now, doomed and imprisoned with only the hope that some kind of jack o lantern carving prince will breach their defenses and save me before they offer me up as sacrifice to the Great Pumpkin himself!

Please send help. And a really big pie dish.

kins

Are You Going to Eat…..Quark?

clean

Now that is a clean plate…..

Did everyone see that rather brilliant long read By Bee Wilson in the Guardian this week about the rise and (arguable) demise of the clean eating phenomenon? It is a very well written and astute commentary around current attitudes to lifestyle, the evils of social media and the assumed right to violently defend a factually wrong ‘opinion’ at any cost. If you haven’t read it it is linked above and at end of this post. I think you will find it well worth the time to stick the kettle on and find a comfy spot to digest (ha food joke) this self confessed long read.

One thing that stood out for me in this article was the concept of certain foods being perceived as better than others; the horrors of #eatclean peddlers trying to sell you almond milk because it is “a superior alternative to cow’s milk”. I am a big almond milk user, because of all the reasons that it is DIFFERENT to cow’s milk. And those differences make me choose it, willingly, because I don’t want cows milk. When we start calling ingredients ‘better than’ or  ‘just like’ you need to put in an awful lot of very specific comparison points to avoid becoming a mass bullshit artist. I wont go into clean eating, I’ve dipped a toe in that ethos before and to be honest I find it a little boring and obvious, but this kind of ‘better than’ marketing of food types really, really pisses me off. There is an infuriating idiocy of ‘vegan fish and chips’ being bandied around recently and it is unfathomable to me. There is no such thing as vegan fish, unless it is swimming in the sea, so if it is on your plate and about to be eaten with chips, it is either vegan or fish, not both, so just tell the bloody truth. Call it a vegan fry or tempeh and chips otherwise will turn up to eat it and not really like it because it isn’t fish and that’s what they were expecting. You can’t compare them meaningfully, so why bother?

20839424_10154784345866981_1276001487_n

My quark of choice.

What in the merry heavens does this have to do with a northern European curd cheese product, you may ask? Well, I really like quark, it is a useful and potentially slimming friendly ingredient and I meet so many people who think it is absolutely disgusting, mainly because they have been sold the ‘just like’ lie and been subsequently turned off when their baked-quark-with-splenda-and-lemon-zest came out absolutely nothing like a luxe-brand Sicilian lemon cheesecake.
Like so many things in this world, it is absolutely fine if you don’t like quark, but I probably wouldn’t like marmite if it was sold to me as hairspray and if you just freeze quark with some strawberries in the vague hope that it will be idential to your fave icecream with less calories then you are going to be disappointed. However if you use it in the way a slightly sour, soft curd cheese product thing is meant for, you might like it.

So what it is this Quark? In the least palatable terms it is the curds skimmed from heated sour milk. Yummo!!! Not to be confused with those slippery lumps of cottage cheese, quark can range in consistency from a fluffy soft cheese like Philadelphia to a french-set yoghurt. It is sharp and savoury with a clean and creamy finish. It has a great protein profile (full nutrition info here) and when bought in its most common form in the UK as skimmed milk quark, it is virtually fat free. This means it is a great option for those of us following weight watchers or slimming world or trying to reduce our fat intake for whatever reason. This does not mean it tastes just like or is ‘better than’ all other dairy products. It is not ‘just like’ all other creamcheese.

I think it is established that I generally like cheese in all it’s forms but the big selling point on quark for me is adding some creamy depth to a dish without ramming up the calories. Many Germanic baking recipes make use of quark and your traditional Polish cheesecake is based on quark, but is quite distinctively different to what we call cheesecake in the UK or USA. It’s sharp tang means that quark makes a truly excellent frosting for carrot cake when whipped up with icing sugar, but enough about cake because I think quark is best enjoyed in its savoury form.  Like similar ingredients such as generic soft cheese, sour cream and fromage frais, quark goes very well as a base for dips and sauces and works best combined with sharp and pungent flavours- try mixing it with chopped spring onions and lots of black pepper and tipping it over a jacket potato or combine with plenty of fresh green herbs and stirring into hot pasta. Add cucumber, chilli and a good squeeze of lime and serve it as a dip with nachos or crudites if you love a 1974 house party like I do. One of my favourite quick dinners is stir fried onions, mushrooms and chard with a bucket load of garlic and red chilii finished with a dollop of quark stirred through it.

Quark is actually a ‘free’ food on Slimming World or the No-Count method from Weight Watchers. When compared to whole milk sour cream, a 2 tablespoon serving of quark will save you 40 calories and about 5 grams of fat and give you roughly four times as much protein (about 4g). It has next to no net carbs and is thus not likely to cause hunger making blood sugar spikes, and if I have it on my toast in the morning instead of peanut butter I save 4 smart points per serving. That’s per slice of toast so on a standard breakfast I’ve saved 8 smart points for something important later on, like a glass of wine. Unlike so many other things low in fat, sugar and smart points quark is really nice on toast! But it’s not like peanut butter, obviously, and its not like full fat philly or laughing cow or whatever either. It’s a different thing, a good different thing. Don’t hate it because it isn’t something else that you aren’t eating, that’s just daft.

So yes, I am going to eat quark, I like it and it isn’t likely to make me any fatter, but I’m not going to pretend it is something it is not, because if I want a cheesecake then dammit I’m just going to have a real one and not destroy myself over one ‘dirty’ full fat dessert made and enjoyed exactly as it was supposed to be.

Give it a go.

 

That Guardian article is here: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/11/why-we-fell-for-clean-eating

20 Questions With Lunch!

Welcome to 20 Questions, where we ask for clarity on many burning issues from people across the food, drink and hospitality world.

We begin with Paul Lancaster, proud owner of Lunch– a fab American inspired restaurant in my neck of the Essex woods. And he is kicking us off with a seriously controversial tenth answer.  Let’s get on with it.

lunch

1: Describe what you do without being boring?
I am the owner of ‘Lunch’ an informal eatery and corporate caterer in Colchester Town centre

2: What’s great about what you do?
I am my own boss, I have full creative freedom and my shop really reflects what i believe in.

3: What sucks about what you do?
I can never fully turn off from work. The buck starts and stops with me. Smart phones are a curse, although I do now leave my phone on silent downstairs at night.

4: Do you eat breakfast?
Nope, it’s an early start and often don’t eat until mid afternoon.

5: Where/who is your favourite local food/drink business (other than your own)?
The Noodle Bar, in and out quickly, food is cooked fresh. Quite an inspiring business model.

6: Which celeb chef would you want in your gang in the event of a zombie apocalypse and why?
Anthony Bourdain, he is not the squeamish type and I think given the opportunity would go very “Rick Grimes” plus the guy will eat literally anything meaning I can eat the fillet whilst he munches on the brains and eyeballs.

bourdain

Braaaaains! Pic from http://www.homeonderanged.com

7: What’s your go to comfort food?
Chunky peanut butter on granary toast with the bread buttered.

8: Who taught you how to cook?
I really learnt to properly cook from the very first Jamie Oliver book. First recipe was his lemon and thyme roast chicken and I still cook it the same way now.

9: What’s the weirdest thing you have ever put in your mouth? Keep it clean!
I’m both too squeamish and stubborn to try anything that sounds disgusting. I tried traditional sarsaparilla in California years ago and that’s just about the worst drink I’ve put in my mouth.

10: What one food would you erase from all existence?
Marmite, I cannot see how anyone can put it in their mouth. So much so, if someone likes I question their palette.
Ed: I am flashing back to a heated twitter row on this very subject and have to again point out how very, very wrong you are. 

11: What’s on your kitchen playlist?
As long it’s from between 1987 and 1997 and there is a guitar being played I am happy.

12: If you could eat out anywhere tonight where would you go and who would you dine with?
This is a tough one, the best value food I have had was in La Gabotte in Nuit St George so would like to take my wife and little girl there as I was on a works trip whilst in the wine trade when I visited.

13: Do you have a signature dish?
At work it’s the North Carolina panini, at home it’s a Stroganoff.

14: Confess your biggest food sin………..
I am considered a foodie, but can take or leave olives, think goats cheese is poison and believe the white of an egg to be God’s way of punishing us.

15: If you had to restrict yourself to the cuisine of one country which would it be and why?
I am going to go with Italy, it’s family food for everyday that I love to cook with my 11 year old. It’s ingredient led and also gives you an excuse to crack open a bottle of something nice to drink with it.

16: Cake or biscuits?
Could live without either, but will go for cake.

17: Tea or coffee? 
Coffee from a barista, tea from a kettle.

18: Chunky chips or curly fries?
Chunky chips

19: Wine or beer
Don’t make me choose

20: Does pineapple belong on a pizza? 
Yep but only with ham. Don’t go putting it on your any old pizza.

 

If this has given you the urge to seek out Paul in the defense of Marmite lovers everywhere, you might try one of these:

Website: https://www.lunch-colchester.co.uk
Tweet to @LancastersDeli

Think the world needs your 20 Answers? Drop me a line at foodieboomboom@hotmail.com