Looking for a bit of inspiration in the latest edition of the Good Food magazine, I stumbled across a Very Berry Loaf Cake, from a chap who almost won last year’s Great British Bake Off. A thing about the particular programme; it’s becoming a little, well, stale. Somewhat dry. A tad soggy on the bottom. There are, after all, only so many times you can watch someone create a Bakewell Tart.
And think about the presenters, Mary & Paul. Last time I saw it the contestants had to make a three-tier cheesecake with different cakes for each tier. There were nine of them baking so that’s 27 cheesecakes. And then Mary & Paul test-tasted them all. Blurgh.
This Very Berry Loaf Cake, on the other hand, is so light and fluffy you could eat it all day. Which I am currently in the process of doing.
Now this was a bit full on. Create five dishes in less time than it takes to holler ‘I’m starving, feed me noooooooooooooow!’
Holler? What the hell kind of word is holler? Let’s change that to ‘yell’. Or scream. In Hell’s Kitchen (and I would have called this blog Hell’s Kitchen if I’d thought of it at the time, but I didn’t so there you go) you sometimes have to cook fast and cook clever. Generally that happens when a) children are around and b) wine is not flowing too quickly.
Chinese food is characterised by salty, sweet flavours. It’s also supposed to be made fast.
After the stunning let down that was ‘Low Calorie Tandoori Chicken’ I decided to try something else. Which is a stupid thing to write because I’m hardly going to try the same thing again.
Eggplant, or aubergine (that’s ‘o’ver-gene with a soft ‘g’, or ‘Or’-bergine as the wife says) is a main-stay for those of the herbivorous persausion, with a sort of chunky substantiality (is that a word?) that doesn’t turn to mush, unless you overcook it, which I nearly always do.
So a quick online search led me yet again to the BBC Good Food website and Spicy Aubergine Stew with Coriander and Mint. ‘Interesting’ combination but I assumed the liberal application of chilli would drown out any conflicting flavours, and all for a purported 178 calories (really? Not 179?).
I have been following with interest these past few month Diane’s Kitchen Table, where the host of that blog has been undergoing a major kitchen refit. The results are spectacular to say the least. Wondering what was going to be created in this new space, I was informed that lobster risotto has already been completed.
Now in that part of the world lobster risotto might be an everyday dish; over here most people don’t even know what a lobster looks like (I know however that it is not supposed to look like the strange squashed frozen thing shrink-wrapped into a tube we Brits can find in the back of the freezer at the local supermarket).
And this got me thinking about what is common-as-chips or totally acceptable in one part of the world is completely outlandish and bizarre in another.
Take Sannakji for example, a dish I read about on a blog (sorry I cannot remember which one). It’s a Korean delicacy comprising octopus, sesame seeds and oil. Not bad if you like that sort of thing – straightforward, simple food. Except for one important feature. The octopus is still alive.
Yes that’s right. They chop it up, splash some oil on it and serve it with the tentacles still squirming around on the plate as you pop a yummy morsel in your mouth.
But here is the best bit. You have to watch how you eat it. Because the suckers on the tentacles are still working. People are known to have died because the suckers have attached themselves to the inside of the diner’s throat and choked them to death. Mother didn’t tell you to chew your food because she liked the sound of her own voice you know. She had a point.
Seriously ridiculous way to kill yourself. Better off sticking with chicken-based creations like this easy-peasy chilli dish. Mexican Chipotle Chicken Stew benefits from a smoky chipotle paste. Chicken is altogether less likely to wake up and nip you on the tongue than an octopus (although I am aware of the fact that chickens can run around the yard after their heads have been cut off). Seems a bit late to kick off about being beheaded though.
I just remembered that while I was stuck on that plane last week coming back from being an international businessman (shame I don’t get international businessman pay BTW) there was a salesman sitting behind me next to an English undergraduate.
I know this because the guy didn’t stop talking from the moment I sat down until the moment I got up, opened the rear door and threw myself out at 22,000ft.
Okay I didn’t do that but honestly I would have rather been stuck next to a 300lb screaming monster-baby. With a bad vomiting bug.
Now this guy couldn’t stop talking because a) he was a salesman and b) he was nervous (probably because of the dodgy engine; see the last post). But he was scaring the hell out of the student. She was laughing in that hysterical way you would do as someone explains to you that the reason they say get into the ‘brace’ position if you are unlucky enough to be in an airplane disaster scenario isn’t to try to save your life, it’s to try and keep your teeth in your face so they can identify your body from dental records. Nice.
That guy was an arsehole but his buddy was worse – some kind of Eastern European who was trying to chat this girl up by explaining that his girlfriend had left him and that he was looking for love because he had ‘biological needs’. Really? Keeping looking mate you’re going to be in it for the long haul.
Anyway, after a particularly stressy work week I decided to unwind with a serious dose of cooking. I decided to try Coq au Vin again. This time with croissant!