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Monday, 24 October 2016

A sudden passion for steamed cabbage

I appear to  have developed a passion for steamed cabbage of late. In the latter part of last week I made a big chicken casserole with lots of nice fresh veg and garlic and added some shredded steamed cabbage and today I made a pork chop dinner (from the local butcher) with mashed potatoes and mashed carrots plus steamed spring cabbage and a few capers. I'm even considering making my own sauerkraut!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Waste Not Want Not.

I do hate waste and as the pennies are tight at the moment I have been utilising what food I have in creatively. One night I made four different types of curry when I found some sauces on offer for a pound a jar. Along with some chicken breasts, some peppers and a few mushrooms I happened to have in I spent the evening cooking and once the food had cooled I created four different batches of one person curry for the freezer. The whole lot probably only cost me about £7 for four meals and I can leave the tub to defrost during the day to then warm up at night.

Just yesterday I made some patatas bravas by using up the remaining  home made tomato based sauce that I had made for a pork stew. There were a few bits of cooked pork left in the stew so I ditched those. Then I added some paprika and once my roast potatoes had cooked I drained away the cooking oil and spread the spicy tomato based sauce over the potatoes and returned them to the oven for half an hour to warm through. The patatas bravas were great just eaten on their own.

Tip: If you shop at a Tesco that has a meat counter then check out the pork shoulder at only £3.75 a kilo. It is ridiculously cheap and this is the regular price not a limited offer.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Rick Stein's Long Weekends hardback book and Kindle version now on sale.

Having already become over-excited by Rick Stein's new (partly shown) television series Rick Stein's Long Weekends I was keen to see what other destinations Rick is going to later in the year when the series resumes. The new book to accompany the series has just been released and has already become number best seller on the Amazon Mediterranean Foods listing. Having seen the book I can certainly see why. With over a hundred recipes and some utterly gorgeous food and destination pictures I would say that it is one of Rick Stein's best books to date.

The recipes are all inspired by Rick's Long Weekend trips to Bordeaux, Berlin, Reykjavik, Vienna, Bologna, Copenhagen, Cadiz, Lisbon, Palermo and Thessalonika.

Rick describes them thus: These are recipes to cater for all your weekend meals. For a quick Friday night supper Icelandic breaded lamb chops will do the trick and Huevos a la Flamenca makes a tasty Saturday lunch. Viennese Tafelspitz is perfect for Sunday lunch and of course no weekend would be complete without Portuguese custard tart or Berliner Doughnuts for an afternoon treat.

Accompanied by beautiful photography of the food and locations and, complimented by Rick Stein's personal memories and travel tips for each city. Rick will inspire you to re-create the magic of a long weekend in your own home with his luscious recipes.

This book is so lovely I almost feel inspired to lick the pages of superb recipes and stunningly rich pictures.

Both hardback and Kindle versions can be ordered through the links on this blog post.

Phil xx

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fish set up on Friday.

These photos were taken when the display was mostly done (a few tickets missing) and it wasn't being ravaged by eager customers.

The process is filling the display space with fresh ice and packing it down so it doesn't melt and the smoked region is covered in finoplas (like cling film) to prevent cross contamination. The trays for raw and cooked have to be kept separate buried to their rims in ice and various rules have to be followed in the displaying of the raw fish and prevention of ice burn on the salmon, tuna and swordfish. The whole fish have to have a light covering of ice and the live mussels and oysters are ice cooled from within the pots. All the fish and shellfish products are date checked daily to assure ultimate freshness and quality. Each product arrives with a caught date and a sell by date on the box or plastic tub. We make a strict daily record of  the dates and fish in a product book. It is a good reference point not only for the fishmongers but sometimes to assure customers who are always asking if the fish is fresh. There are many other checks and health and safety rules to follow throughout the working day.

As the serving day comes to a close we make sure all the reductions are done and that the fish counter is stripped of the days ice and scrubbed down and the remaining fish stored away in the fish fridge.

Phil Lowe

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Latest news from a busy writer

Apologies for the small lapse in foodie offerings on this blog in the last week or so. I have been very busy doing overtime at work and trying to keep up with my theatre promotions and reviews on East Midlands It is a lot of unpaid hard work but definitely worth it.

Also for those of you who like the funny side of things that I write I have been re-vamping my comedy blog (new magazine style template and lots of new amusing content). I've been creating and developing more and more comedy ideas and getting very inspired by that. Do have a look and a laugh and feel free to comment. I have also created a Twitter page for the comedy blog so for those on Twitter please check me out at @60pluscomedy and follow me if you are so inclined.

I will be back with more food related blog posts very soon. I have lots of ideas but not always the time to implement them! Off to work now!

Phil Lowe

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Great saving on the Hairy Bikers Chicken and Egg book! Available from 8th September!


'Full to the brim with new ideas, family favourites and modern classics, this is the ultimate collection of fantastic chicken and egg recipes ...Si King and Dave Myers love chicken. They also love eggs. In this, their biggest and best cookbook yet, the Hairy Bikers celebrate these most humble yet versatile of ingredients. What comes first? It's up to you. There are chicken soups and salads, eggy specials, an ultimate roasts section, smoky grills and hearty pies, everyday pasta and rice suppers, sensational spiced dishes and lots of ideas for making a little chicken go a long way. And to finish, there are irresistible puddings and cakes to peck at! Travelling the world (UK, France, Morocco, Israel and USA) to discover the very best chicken and egg recipes, Si and Dave have done it again. Chicken and Egg is a magnificent celebration of good food.'

I have had an excited look at the book today and would like to share how top quality the book is and the contents. Si and Dave say it is a  'sensational savoury celebration of our favourite bird with show-stopping puds, desserts and cakes made with the humble egg.' They are not wrong.

Contents (364 pages of lovely grub)

Soup and salads
Savoury Eggs
Roasts and Bakes
Pies and Puddings
Casseroles and Braises
Fried, Grilled and Barbequed
Chicken with Carbs
Spicy Chicken
Minced and Chopped Chicken
Sweet Eggs
Basics of Eggs and Chicken

Available NOW from 8th September 2016.                                                              

Here it is! Available to order at a great price of £14.30 (RRP £22.00) my fave cookery personalities Dave and Si aka the Hairy Bikers latest book Chicken and Egg! For those that enjoyed the first cracking episode of the latest 'Biker's' culinary adventure last night - 8pm BBC2 Tuesday 6th August there are loads of chicken and egg based world-wide recipes to enjoy experimenting with including a totally delicious looking chicken liver salad! Finger licking good!

I can't wait until next week's programme when the guys are in my beloved France! Cock a doodle ooh la la!

Cluck on the Amazon 'shop now' link or the book image below above to get your discounted copy.

Phil Lowe

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The French eat burgers? Mais d'accord!! But of course! Just like us.

Written to help celebrate National Burger Day 25th August 2016.

The French obsession with Le Burger. By Phil Lowe.

On August 1st 2016 the American burger franchise Five Guys opened its flagship French burger restaurant at 42 Court St. Emilion (Bercy Village) in the 12th Arrondisement of Paris. By 2017 they are planning to open their second Parisian branch at the Gare du Nord. Compared to its competition Five Guys are high end offering menus from fifteen to twenty euros. Oh la la! Customers can even make their burgers bespoke. According to their promotions Five Guys offers simplicity with pretty décor, and the burger meat is fresh top quality product and definitely not from frozen. USA President Barack Obama once claimed that Five Guys make the best burgers in the USA. Could we soon be hearing they are the best in France?

Hang on une second. Surely the nation that prizes quality food doesn't scoff the same amount of burgers as in the USA or UK do they? Well, apparently they are rather partial to le burger these days. In fact in 2015 the French wolfed down around 1.19 billion burgers and burgers have become a feature of even the most renowned eateries. To think that once upon a culinary time the humble hamburger would have been considered malbouffe which means rubbish food.

Of this blog subject – the love of burgers in France - I read a recent article in The Telegraph online today which said 'For the guardians of French gastronomy, the prospect of being served something as unsophisticated as a slab of mincemeat with a bap and slice of cheese would long have been considered sacrilegious.' These days however, the report claims that the tables have turned. The Telegraph continues (sic) 'In a culinary revolution, three quarters of French restaurants now sell hamburgers and 80% of these say it has become their top-selling dish, according to a new study...' Further on the Telegraph report also claims that the average time spent on eating a lunchtime meal in France has dropped from an hour and 20 minutes in 1975 to less than half an hour today.

Burger fact: The French website for Burger King states that in 2014 they created a special burger for a Gay Pride day. The name? Le Proud Whopper!

Before looking into all this for a blogpost on National Burger Day (25th August) I had never heard of Five Guys nor the fast food chain Quick. Quick was originally a Belgian chain of hamburger fast food restaurants and founded in 1971 by entrepreneur Baron François Vaxelaire. They have over 400 restaurants all over Europe. They are similar in theme to Burger King and looking at their online ( French language menus for burgers there appears to be a lot of English styling to the names of the dishes. Here are some examples Méga Giant, Long Fish burger, Cheeseburger, Suprême Chicken Barbecue Bacon, Giant, Quick 'n Toast, Burger sauce à la vache qui rit, Giant Max, Long Bacon, Suprême ClassiQ. Yes that is the spelling on the website – ClassiQ. Académie Française alert!!!! They missed out a u and a e!

The buns (pictured above) for the Quick Dark Vador burgers are dyed not burnt to a blackened crisp and the Star Wars promo launch was apparently very popular. Saying that, it would feel very odd to me to eating bread this colour. A bit like contemplating eating blue food.

So, we have our Quick hamburger therefore what can we have as accompagnements then? Aaah, food with silly names like Funny Carotte & Kiri, Funny Tomate. If we want to go all adulte then we can order La Petite Salade or Frites Plus ou moins salés: à vous de décider" (you put your own salt on if you decide to) or Frites Rustiques. Should you feel very hungry indeed and want a full salad with your burger meal then they offer three salads La Gourmande, La Savoureuse or something totally irresistible such as the aptly named, L'irresistible.

Over to another burger business in France – Big Fernand – who call themselves a French burger bistro. On their menus they also say “Being French we want you to be able to enjoy your meat however you want it, be it blue, rare, medium-rare, medium or well done. And we'll even try not to judge you if you opt for well done. They go on to warn that the Food Standards Agency warn that 'undercooked' meat may increase the risk of food-borne illness in some.

I had a lick of their menu look at their menu. The burger meals did sound a lot more appetising than the Quick menu. Just a personal choice. And so at Big Fernand the selection of burgers are:

Le Big Fernand (dry aged beef) with Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun dried tomatoes, flat parsley and a home made cocktail sauce.

Le Bartholomé (dry aged beef) with Raclette cheese, smoked streaky bacon, caramelised onions, chives, barbecue sauce.

Le Philibert (seasoned chicken burger) Tomme de Savoie cheese, grilled peppers, tarragon, home made mayo.

Le Victor (veal) Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese, caramelised onions, coriander, home made mayo.

L'Alphonse (lamb) Tomme de Savoie cheese, grilled aubergine, coriander, home made mayo.

Le Lucien (veggie) Portabello mushroom, Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, chives and home made mayo.

The sides are fries or a salad of lamb's lettuce, sun dried tomatoes and chives. On top of all this you can also compose your own burger from all their ingredients!

Finally, if you happen to understand French you can follow two hip French guys called Dirty et Richie and their videos on Youtube. They appear to be going to lots of French hamburger joints in Paris and filming themselves eating burgers and commenting on the experience. They call the videos La recherche du meilleur hamburger de Paris. Each place they visit is named and hash tagged with a number comme ça #13.

Whatever you happen to be doing on National Burger Day (25th August) enjoy Les Burgers! Even if they are English. Lol.

Phil Lowe

Twitter: @PhilLowe7