Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Food proverb: Keep your breath to cool your porridge
Keep your breath to cool your porridge; meaning, keep your thoughts to yourself/mind your own business.

I read somewhere this week that some people can stave off hunger for 4 hours after a bowl of porridge, well for me I need to eat my lunch most days at 11am and that is after a bowl of porridge at around 9.30am!? Nicola can attest to this.

I am an eating machine lately in the mornings, maybe I need to snack before I go to bed?
I do love my porridge to be thick and 'glue like' - that is what someone called it when they came by my desk the other day and saw my porridge sitting very upright in the bowl.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ten things banned in organic food
  1. Aspartame - artificial sweetener (which makes everything taste too sickly sweet)
  2. Genetic modification - which can cause allergic reactions (and makes your apples look like perfect specimens)
  3. Herbicides - destroy the life of the soil
  4. Hydrogenated fat - linked to heart disease
  5. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) - bad for you all around, found in fast food and more
  6. Phosphoric acid - linked to osteoporosis
  7. Sulphur dioxide - can cause problems for asthmatics
  8. Hormones- the level of artificial hormones in food and water can upset our individual levels
  9. Artificial colorings - linked to hyperactivity in children
  10. Artificial flavorings - why do we need them?
*why is any of this stuff in our food?! And if all of this stuff is added why is it more expensive to buy organic - wouldn't it mean less chemicals to buy?

Source: Cooks Pocket Companion, 2007
Pic: cropduster spraying pesticide, Wikipedia

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Easy sweet potato soupAn easy and quick soup to make for a cold winter's day. You only need to chop things very roughly as at the end you just blend it up with a hand blender or a food processor. Have a big batch in the fridge and just had a bowl - so delicious. I usually only make it with potato but adding sweet potato completely changes the taste.

  • Leeks - 1-2 stalks depending on how thick they are
  • Potatoes - 1-2 regular sized (I only used a tiny one in this recipe)
  • Sweet potatoes - 1-2 regular sized (as they are usually larger than potatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • Chili pepper to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Wash and chop up everything roughly (remember to peel the potatoes)
Throw into a pot cover it all with water and let boil.
After 20-30min test to see if your potatoes are cooked through to the core - if they are then voila your soup is ready.
Use a hand blender to blend it all together add salt, pepper and chili or other spices as you wish.
Serve with crusty bread.

So simple!

Pic of sweet potatoes, in NZ they call sweet potato Kumara (said Kumera) in the Excited States of America they call them yams.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It warms the cockles of my heart

Had some very salty cockles at the newly renovated (well polished, as they couldn’t change much to this lovely listed building) Warrington Pub in Maida Vale. Mr. Gordon Ramsay now owns it and the service is spectacular and the staff are super friendly and attentive, sometimes an anomaly in this city!

The place has been scrubbed clean and the original glory of the pub restored – it looks great. We ordered the Honey Monster’s favourite wine, Montepulciano D’Abbruzzo and some salty cockles which didn’t go down a treat as they were very salty - it almost tasted like there was sand still inside them; not sure if you are supposed to eat them that way?! Will try the new restaurant upstairs soon and report back. Glad the local is back open for business!

Some info on the cockle:

  • A cockle is the common name for tiny mollusc which looks like a mini clam. The shells they emerge out of are quite pretty usually in a heart shape and with distinctive ribbing.
  • Cockles reproduce quickly and are hermaphroditic. They are part of the bivalve family which included scallops, clams, oysters (yum) and mussels.
  • The labour of collecting cockles is hard work and, as seen from the Morecambe Bay disaster, in which 21 illegal immigrants died, can be dangerous if local tidal conditions are not carefully watched.
  • Cockles are sold freshly cooked as a snack food in the United Kingdom, and are eaten with vinegar. Seafood stalls sell them along with mussels, whelks, and eels.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bunnykin's Risotto

Pics of the Kiwi’s baked risotto (no stirring over the stove?!) which was delicious – topped with pancetta and rocket it was such a treat! Recipe to follow.

From the Rabbit:

Throw risotto rice, chicken/veg stock, chopped pumpkin (and something else that eludes me) and water into an oven safe casserole type dish. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Then add fresh chopped herbs, parmesan, salt n pepper and serve.

I think that was it. It was a Donna Hay recipe. Easy peasy!

Having net connection issues and will only have the net ‘within the next 21 days’ according to BT and our new provider –it is such a nightmare to sort out and quite frustrating. Will try and do postings at the neighbours for the next little while, unless someone wants to guest post?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Jessica Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - remember that movie? Just another day at the market! Not sure if this budding actress even eats rabbit - will have to ask her during our next market adventure.

Several times while growing up, our dad brought home a few rabbits and sometimes skinned them in the basement after a hunting trip. I think we even had a pet rabbit once that suspiciously 'disappeared' and we were only told after the fact that we had eaten it for dinner! And...our parents told us that everything that was put on the dinner table was 'chicken', including rabbit. Gotta love the tricks parents use to get their kids to eat - apparently Dolce Senior and I were poor eaters when we were little.

Here is a recipe for rabbit stew that I like - there are no measurements - just use your judgment e.g. a handful of vegetables and for the wine about 1-2 cups same with water and one can of chopped tomatoes:

Coniglio (rabbit) stew

Fresh whole rabbit cut into pieces
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped Tomatoes, canned or fresh
White wine
Chicken stock

In a pan, heat olive oil until hot. Add onions, garlic and fry them til they become lightly golden. Add the rabbit to the onions and garlic and cook quickly on both sides until brown. Add vegetables sliced and diced (maybe pre boil the potatoes first or slice them very thinly so they cook).

Once the rabbit has browned nicely add the wine and spices. Let the rabbit soak up the wine and the medley of flavours from the vegetables, onions and garlic. Add salt and pepper.

After 5-10minutes add the tomatoes and some water or chicken stock. Reduce heat and let this all simmer until the sauce thickens. Test a piece of potato and rabbit to see if it is cooked –should take another 30-45min to thicken the sauce on low heat – slow cooking will bring out the flavours so no need to rush.

Serve with fresh, crusty bread and rice!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Maple syrup is Canada's top contribution to the food worldOne of the few pics taken of the dessert pancakes we had with real Canadian maple syrup on Pancake Tuesday / Shrove Tuesday. Mmmmm....not sure there is anything better than fresh strawberries, bananas and blueberries drizzled with maple syrup?

Happy Valentine's Day too...there is no chocolate for me as I gave it up for Lent but flowers and candy are a good substitute!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Evaporating seawater produces...
This sea salt comes from Noirmoutier Island near Brittany, France and is sold at Borough Market. It comes in some lovely flavour combinations e.g. sea salt and sea weed, sea salt and hot spices (cumin, curry & chili's), sea salt, ginger and coriander and more. As Momma Dolce always says, 'it is the presentation that counts', and the vendors know this well as salt is not the sexiest product to sell. With very well designed labels, modern and fresh signage, beautiful large wooden bowls and scoopers and a lovely french-y checkered tablecloth, the stall at the market looks inviting. The two gentlemen who run the stall have created such a simple, yet pleasing way to view and display salt. It made me want to put my hands into the bowls and feel the texture and salt on my skin -which is most likely frowned upon.

Apparently sea salt tastes different than normal iodized salt as its makeup is different. It is generally more expensive than normal salt and usually found in gourmet restaurants and also in those lovely hand baked crisps. I think the sound and texture of sea salt and fresh ground pepper coming out of a grinder onto your meal adds to the experience and theatre of cooking!

I might buy some seasoned sea salt tomorrow and ask the gentlemen who sell it what best to use it with. I am thinking a steak or a nice fish filet drizzled with salt and olive oil and broiled in the oven. Tomorrow is market day.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Which wine do you drink on date 5?I have been having frustratingly bad net connection this week - not sure why, as we pay enough for it from a look at our monthly bill!? So there is a lack of posts and seems like my laptop has exceeded its memory limit so need to get another external hard drive....why don't I have a computer geek as a boyfriend - it would definitely make all this techy stuff easier!

Today it is supposed to reach 17degrees and it has been sunny all weekend, it may be premature to say spring has sprung but the tulips on our balcony seem to be confused and emerging anyway!

The weekend was filled with Shoot BAFTA fun in the sun and some great wine and food with the Am-Dram team in Shoreditch, Trevor and some non-PRs along with a JWT ad agency guru (who has an entertaining 5 date rule) from Toronto.

Kitty announced the name of the wine we were drinking (it is her fave), Montepulciano - d'Abbruzzo in her funniest Italian accent - while C and I enjoyed listening to her funny Italian vocab. I think she knows how to say 'leave me alone' and a few other key phrases to fend off the men - well she is the honey monster so this is probably necessary!

Out to enjoy the sun and blue skies and see Moatsem's latest collection at the Metropolitan Hotel. Good to luck Sabina at the start of London Fashion Week!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fat Tuesday's Menu
  • Chocolate and strawberry pancakes with maple syrup
  • Lemon and sugar pancakes
  • Blueberry and strawberry pancakes with honey
  • Strawberry and chocolate pancakes
  • Spinach/veg and cheese pancakes
  • Ham / cheese / spinach and mushroom pancakes

Kash flipped the pancakes, Neil brought the wine and the Scottish jokes, the batter chilled on the balcony, BH brought some tipsy banter and we mixed the batter sans whisk although someone went to other flats in the building asking for one - how neighbourly!

It took about 4 hours to make pancakes for all but they were delicious and it was good fun. Real pics to come as ours were more like crepes than the fluffy buttermilk ones in the pic above.

Now what are you giving up for Lent? Kash is giving up chips, crisps, biscuits and sweets (and she is doing the Three Peaks Challenge)- I am going for chocolate, crisps and biscuits and others at work were trying to figure out what they were going to give up today. Vicki said she was giving up -going out to eat- but she said that as we were at Dim T restaurant at lunch?! I guess she starts Lenten sacrifices a day later than most; and she said if she gets asked out on a date then she will have to break the rule again, and it doesn't count for breakfast or lunch!
Not a very religious bunch really.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Hidden gem: The Garrison Public House I must have walked by this place hundreds of times but never went inside. I remember a colleague always taking business clients to The Garrison but I never actually paid attention to where it was or what it was like. I just thought it was an average pub near the office as many of them seem to be -- just average.

Mme Andre and I went there the other night for a drink and had a wonderful Argentinian Malbec wine, the bartender even let us sample two of the wines before we went with the Malbec - he was lovely. I think he was enjoying our chat about how terrible our days were...and made us laugh which was a great start to the night.

The menu looks fab but we didn't have reservations so only had a lovely appetizer. Also I wasn't hungry since I over dosed on soup and biscuits during the day - our office has an endless supply of biscuits and I can't seem to control myself! And on Friday's they roll out the trolley with wine, beer and crisps! It is endless! This week am going to nibble on celery and carrots when the biscuit emerge.

We ordered smoked mackerel pate with green tomato chutney & toast...which I actually think was a baked apple chutney as that is what it looked and tasted like, but it was still scrumptious!

A must go - the crowd is chilled and the staff and the kitchen staff and what was coming out of it looked amazing. Definitely will go next time for dinner. And the decor has such a fab shabby chic look to it - I want to furnish my home like that - must learn to paint a chair to look like it is a vintage one...Ms. DeFranco's aunt is a pro at this - need her to teach me the technique as I love it.

Anyhow babbling on...must eat some dinner and start reading my new book, The Sex Life of Food by Bunny Crumpacker (I love this name!) I never thought I would hear of another person called Bunny!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Afternoon snackScones and tea with clotted cream - a lovely afternoon treat at work - sometimes the Brits live it up! Today I am writing a publishing test which is sure to be extremely tough so am pumping the body up with French toast, water, coffee and some new vitamins I bought (calcium and Vitamin E, D & K - as I can't get into goat's or soy milk) but first, after I press send, I am going straight to Pilates!

Jamie O made French toast the other night on tele with eggs and freshly cut chili pepper and used a crumpet / English muffin (as we call it in Canada), it was a nice alternative to using regular toast. There are crumpets in the kitchen today so will try it out!