Thursday, 31 July 2014

Burgermeister! Das bin ich!

I'm not one for a regular burger diet but you know, once in a while. These were easy to cook and very tasty 4oz burgers from The Co-operative. Simply fried and topped with Leerdammer Original cheese and dropped into bun with a baby leaf salad, thinly sliced tomatoes and a few black olives. Super tasty.

I have to say I did struggle to eat all of these burgers but I did it. I am the burger master!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

An afternoon in the sun. Bresaola beef and beer.

Today is the first day of a ten day holiday. Hurrah!!! I can't afford to go away but I do have plans.

Today I have caught up on a bit of clothes washing and clothes ironing and have the weird satisfaction of seeing several ironed shirts hanging in a line to dry off and the pleasure of a sunny day to let the rest of the ironed washing dry outside on a clothes hanger. The ironed shirts in a line has an under current of Gatsby of The Great Gatsby. Although I doubt whether Jay Gatsby would ever have considered a job at Tesco.

With the German radio station Die Neue Welle streaming radio on the background I have enjoyed a few beers and continental lunch of brie, pitted dry black olives with herbs, Bresaola beef and Serrano ham, chorizo and salchichon. For those unfamiliar with Bresaola beef, as I was until today, it is topside of beef infused with spices and extracts of black pepper and garlic and then air dried in Northern Italy, developing it's exceptional flavour. I brought it from the Co-Op store in my village. It had a light delicate flavour of pastrami. If I am honest I would say that I would have preferred the more dominant peppery and slightly wet taste of the thicker cut pastrami. More satisfying to the palate.

I am not a big eater of bread but I was tempted by the beetroot and apple bread from the Co-Op for £1.59. Best eaten on the same day I really quite enjoyed this bread and its subtle tastes of beetroot and apple and the crust was just enough to bite through without fear of tearing into one's gums.

Next door's cats posed for a few photos and then fell asleep in the sun. A good Sunday far removed from the usual Sunday that I work in the Tesco supermarket.

Harris stretching in the sun.

me enjoying a cold beer

Mdme Soufie in the shade.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Japanese style stir fry for a change.

I have been trying to eat more healthily of late and due to the fact that I have a lot on regarding my writing commissions and creative commitments this month I have been looking for tasty and quick options. In this regard I have made liberal use of my wok and whacked up a few yummy stir fries. A pack of stir fry veg can last two days as can 'straight to the wok' noodles. Boneless chicken pieces appeal not only to me but also the cats next door as they enjoy a titbit from Uncle Phil. Plus I got a bargain from my Local Sainsbury shop in a reduced pack four pork an pepper kebabs for £2.50. I got two good meaty stir fries out of that! Plus an almost out of date pack of mushrooms added bulk and a packet of Tesco's finest Japanese style stir fry sauce ( intensely flavoured Japanese style stir fry sauce combining Japanese 7 spice with zesty orange, sesame seeds and soy sauce.)

It certainly makes short work of the alternatives in preparing an evening meal and gives me some variety.

Monday, 14 July 2014

A beer and taking time out to glance at the flowers.

Midday I sat outside my house with a cool San Miguel  beer from the fridge and watched the energy saving flowers prefer not to sway. My bare feet suffered the heat of the path, lifted up and suffered again. A fervently keen trilogy of bumble bees landed on the lavender and took off again, each seeming to know what the other two proposed to do. The aged rosemary bush practically vibrated in the heat. The washing I had hung out only an hour ago was now bone dry. Soufie the cat lapped eagerly at her bowl of  tepid water. She ignored the small dead fly in the corner.



Lunch at Wagamama in London and time spent with a well known playwright.

Howard Brenton
This time last week I had the privilege of being invited down to London to interview the playwright Howard Brenton for the high quality amateur theatre magazine, Sardines. Time was short and I arrived at St Pancras, fresh from a two hour train journey from Nottingham and took the most direct route possible on the underground to the river Thames. I had never been to The Globe Theatre before but had a rough idea where it lay. The south bound Northern Line took me to the London Bridge station and I exited through a closing market and made my way out on to the Thames embankment via throngs of people and an old ship in dry dock. The area looked very thriving. After a brief call on my mobile I met up with Paul Johnson, Editor in Chief of Sardines magazine. Despite the title the magazine has nothing to do with food but takes its title from a running gag in the comic- play Noises Off. As I suspected from our numerous phone calls he was a very nice, intelligent fella and great fun to be around.

Paul and I had a short meeting to discuss the forthcoming interview. We sat next to the cafĂ© bar at The Globe and then we headed to the box office to announce our presence and shortly afterwards had a very pleasant interview with renowned playwright Howard Brenton. Full interview can be read in the August edition of Sardines.

Pleased with the interview, Paul and I headed off in search of lunch. London was particularly busy due to the Tour de France event that day and even though we were a few miles away from the main action the crowds were evident. After perusing a few places along the riverside we settled on Wagamama's. This was the branch at Clink Street - Bankside. I hadn't eaten at this establishment anywhere in the country before so the menu was new to me and because of our convivial chatter it took me a while to decide on what to eat. To start off we ordered a couple of chilled beers. It was a hot day and a good choice. Neither of us were bothered about starters as such. Nor were we bothered about slurping up steaming bowls of noodles either. Something more, how shall I say - dignified - was preferred at this, our first, casual and relaxed business lunch.

After some deliberation I settled on the chicken raisukaree; an unctous stir fried chicken and vegetables in a coconut and lime curry sauce, augmented with mange tout, peppers, red and spring onions served on sticky white rice and garnished with red chillies, coriander and lime. Paul went for the chicken katsu curry - a bread crumbed chicken breast deep fried in panko breadcrumbs and served with sticky fried rice, garnished and dressed with mixed leaves and red pickles.

chicken raisukaree
Due to the ginger and chilli in my meal (exacerbated by the fact I had the remnants of a head cold)  I developed an irritating cough that was only halted by a very enjoyable dessert of coconut reika ice cream; three scoops of dairy coconut ice cream topped with a fresh, tangy mango sauce and very edible and crunchy toasted coconut flakes. I discovered that, as well as being a popular Wagamama  dessert, reika is a Japanese word used for chilled sweets or ice cream. The tangy mango sauce was so rich and tasty it remained on the palpate long after the ice cream had dissipated.

During lunch I showed Paul an image, on my tablet, that I had taken of a dish I had made recently of fresh rope grown mussels cooked in a Mediterranean style with lots of garlic, onions and tomatoes in a white wine sauce and fresh coriander. He seemed impressed and I was forthcoming about this blog and its contents and origins. Over lunch was a good time to chat and get to know each other better.

Sardines kindly paid for the meal and Paul and I took a stroll towards the London Eye and Paul headed home via Waterloo as it began to rain. I headed off to familiar haunts around Covent Garden and Piccadilly and took a few photos before returning to St Pancras and the train home.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Delicious fruit and veg box from Woodlands Farm

I've never ordered a vegetable box before mainly because of the very close proximity of a fine fruit and vegetable shop in the village but during my visits to food fairs across the East Midlands I have often spoken to the providers of such services. Such is the case last year when I chatted to the guys from Woodands Organic Farm, Kirton in Lincolnshire. I took one of their brochures as I often do for information and was delighted when, very recently, they asked me, as a food writer, to review one of their vegetable boxes. I was so pleased that I said 'yes'.

I rang and spoke to a very friendly lady called Rachel and arranged a delivery date. It turned out that they chose to send me a whopping great Large Veg box that would be worth £17 with no delivery charge. The box was very lovingly packed and it was a pleasure taking everything out and enjoying the fact that this was all organic. It was like a veggy box Christmas! And like the Christmas stockings of my childhood it had some oranges in too. And blueberries - one of my favourites!

Looking at all the contents I would say that it was great value for money, very fresh and some of the items gave me 'food for thought' as I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. The artichokes I recognised from various food programmes but the purple roots foxed me for a while until I discovered they were Kohl Rabi, (German name meaning cabbage-turnip) and very popular  across Europe as a flexible root and with the Chinese as it can be used peeled and thinly sliced in stir fries. When eaten raw the taste if peppery with a hint of radish.

So far I have created a meal of new potatoes, carrots, broad beans and chard with a small beef steak. There was something very satisfying about preparing all the veg - popping the broad beans, washing the soil from the potatoes, snipping the greenery from the carrots and even washing the fine soil from my kitchen side. The chard and broad beans were steamed over the carrots (kept whole) and new potatoes and I decided to cut the steamed chard up very small and added a little parmesan at the last minute.

It was one of the most satisfying meals I have cooked in a while and although quite simple and very tasty it was because of the love that had gone into the products that Woodlands Organic Farm had put into their products. Highly recommended and do check out their prices in the  picture below. I think they offer very good value for money.

The box contents would be different each week because of the changing seasons and you can tailor your box so that you can be assured of no waste. Well I can assure you that this delicious fare won't be wasted and thank you Woodlands for this opportunity to enjoy a fab fruit and veg box.

Tel: 01205 724778

email for info at

Friday, 6 June 2014

News of a new Rachel Khoo TV show airing very soon!

This is a copy and paste blog from an email I received today from Rachel Khoo about her new TV show. If you are as excited to hear about this as I was read on!

'For me, travel and food go hand-in-hand. I love nothing more than creating a recipe inspired by a recent adventure. My kitchen is sprinkled with bits and bobs that I’ve picked up on my travels, from enamelware unearthed at a French flea market, to handmade crockery from Sweden. Whilst filming my latest television show, I was lucky enough to be able to combine my love of food, with a touch of wanderlust.

I’m so excited to announce that my show (divided into two seasons) is airing in the UK next week! It has been lovely to receive feedback from my viewers in other parts of the world (ranging from Poland to South Africa!), but I’m really thrilled that the show will now be airing here in my own stomping ground.

Things kick off this Monday June 9 on the Good Food Channel (Sky 247 or Virgin 260), with back-to-back episodes from the new series. First up, I explore how fashion influences food in the first episode of Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London.

The fun continues at 9:30pm with Episode 1 of Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: Cosmopolitan Cook (my second series), when we discover the culinary delights of bustling Istanbul. Click here to try some of the mouth watering recipes featured in my new show, all inspired by my adventures in London and beyond.

Did you spot my Instagram snapshots from my recent press trip to South Africa? It was great to meet some of you at the BBC Worldwide press events, and thanks for coming along to the Delicious Festival in Johannesburg.' Rachel.