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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Rainbow Trout for tea

I want to start adding in more fish and shellfish to my blogs and my diet. So, tonight I simply pan-fried some trout fillets in sunflower oil and ate them with some new potatoes and green beans. Yummy!

Rainbow trout

Light pink flesh with a subtle flavour which is lean and white when cooked and easily flaked.

The North American rainbow trout was introduced into Europe at the end of the 19th Century. It grows quickly and is farmed extensively. In European waters, farmed fish rarely grow bigger than 22lb. It can be cooked whole or as fillets. Its very fine bones can be difficult to locate.


Cooked: Pan-fry, bake, grill, roast.

Preserved: Hot and cold smoked. Salted roe.

Flavour pairings: Classical French: white wine vinegar, butter, lemon, chives, almonds, hazelnuts.

Classic recipes: Trout with Serrano ham; trout in breadcrumbs; trout with almonds; truite au bleu; potted char.

Monday, 29 August 2011

A perculiar yet creative day.

As I am just about to view the Two Hairy Bikers on BBCiplayer, jovially and hirsutely, discussing food in Derbyshire (county of my birth) I reflect upon the day so far. Today is Monday and in the UK, a Bank Holiday Monday, a day in which downpours of rain are a normal expectant.Today did not disappoint in that meteorological aspect. The damp gutters still drip poignantly and the puddles reflect a degas -watery collage of impressionist mucky rainwater and damp crumpled fag packets. Aaah, how one finds art on every street corner. La vie, c'est belle , non?

So arty chums, back to stark reality and, after falling out of my bed at 9am, it is important to know that I furnished myself with a couple of cups of tea and set about typing up several pages of my script for my one man show of 'A Christmas Carol' to be performed in Karlsruhe Germany in early  December 2011.  All this und still casually arrayed in my manly black dressing gown minus cat hairs and no slippers. Reckless ja?

In actuality, I did about five pages of typing so that was a good start to the day. Tapping away with two fingers and, fingernails that really could do with a trim, I stopped my copying and editing at around 11.30am. Then I showered I went to the Co-op store for some bread. Note: I do not say 'strolled along the autumn leaved boulevarde to the witty artisan bakery with devastatingly consise amusing and philosophical thoughts meandering through my brain. We can't all be Sartre or Apollinaire all the time. Especially in the morning. It may pleut a bit but life is unfair, parfois.

A luncheon of some Heinz oxtail soup, a twist of black pepper and an 'unispired loaf that masqueraded as bread' later, I re-positioned myself on the 'sofa of delights' and applied the two afore-mentioned active digits to more work on 'A Christmas Carol'. At this point in diarising, the Cratchits have finished their yummy but cheap Christmas dinner but have yet to apportion a love/hate critique on Ebeneezer Scrooge; the 'founder of the feast'. I have to do this essential work of re-editing 'as and when' I feel like it, coupled with a strong work ethic and sense of 'get it sorted' so I feel comfortable with the final result, sooner rather than sp├Ąter.

I would hate to get off the plane at Karlsruhe Baden Baden un-prepared. Just as long as the basics get done in the next two weeks I will be happy. Then can I add in new structure and the German language element for my Anglo-Germanic audiences.

I have recently downloaded an audio version of Bill Bryson's new book HOME and, having part listened to the first few chapters, am intrigued by the notion of the potential for creating a future theatre piece around the history of the short-lived Victorian cookery writer, Isabella Beeton and her queer prejudices around certain foods like tomatoes and garlic and the general attitude to servants at the time. This is only the beginning for this writing and theatrical adventure. 'Beeton, the musical' perhaps?

The Evening news at 19.00hrs.

Now I need to get flashy in the kitchen and really go to town creating my signature dish of Haricots sur Toast Anglaisse. I'll let you into the secret. Grab a pen folks.

Firstly open a can of economy baked beans. Place in small saucepan. Heat up slowly. Add a touch of British irony, stir well and meanwhile grill toast to a salivating brown colour. If you see smoke its too late for this dish. Spread with President butter (Marge just will not do) and top with hot baked beans. Serve and wolf down immediately. Enjoy without decorating shirt front. Guten Appetit!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tears in the kitchen from Phil the wasp slayer

After my attempts at saving money by making myself lunch from bits left in the fridge and cupboard yesterday I got enthusiastic about using up a found bag of shortcrust pastry mix and using it to make a fruit pie. So, off I pop to the greengrocers and got myself some nice cooking apples and some very good value blackberries (not the mobile phones) and later on I nipped back to get 26p worth of apricots to add to the mix. The apricots were blanched and added last minute before I put on the pastry top and gave it a lick of egg wash. All was going well.

I'd had a couple of beers whilst cooking everything, and with happy-wobbly thoughts, I decided to use up some flour, sugar, lemons and half a bottle of almond oil and create some Madeleine cakes. Well, why not, as the oven was on already. After creating the cake mix and letting it sit in the fridge for a short while I lovingly spooned in the unctuous almondy mixture into the molds and put the first lot in the oven for fifteen minutes. I have done this many times before and they turn out so nice that my six neighbours block the light out of the kitchen window as they gather round, salivating and waiting for generous Phil to hand them out.

I was in a very jolly mood, the food was looking good, there was French music playing throughout the house and Nigella Lawson was descending the stairs in her flimsy night gown. Ahem. Suddenly three naughty wasps entered the hallowed kitchen. I could tell they were trouble the moment they buzzed in without calling cards. Nigella shrieked and beat a hasty retreat back up the stairs and I tried to politely shush them out but they insisted on banging their wasp heads on the closed window before I entertained them or (put them out of their misery) by flicking a tea towel in their general direction. To help myself rid the kitchen of these buzzing pests I jumped up and down a bit and frantically waved my hands defensively around my head whilst putting on the cunning guise of looking demented.Like that worked! Time for more aggressive action, methought.

The first flick of the tea towel sent one spinning to the floor dead, the second hit knocked his mate sideways and it limped (can wasps limp?) out into the garden. The third flying aggressor disapeered, still yet to be found. Hopefully not found - gorged to death - inside my fruit pie.

So, back to the cakes. I opened the oven to find that they had all failed to rise and I left them in a few minutes longer to see if that did the trick. Sadly not, and the second batch faired no better.

I found myself to getting somewhat tetchy even, dare I say it, boardering on tears of frustration. All that effort and anticipation for nothing. Determined not to waste the baked ruins that should have been my yummy cakes I summoned the Oracle otherwise known as my neighbour Jo. Firstly we thought I could use them as a base for a trifle so after a relaxing beer I ground them to a biscuit state in my food procesor. Apparently I shouldn't have done this and we came to the conclusion that maybe a cheescake would be the better option. Nigella came to the rescue. Alas, not in her flimsy nighty state but in a recipe for cheesecake by her goddess self.

Now I had to go to the Co-op store to get marsapone cheese (Nigella would have had some in, I'm sure) and I came back armed with 250g worth and some butter, sugar and strawberries. I used the cake crumbs as a buttery base and when I'd got half way through the recipe I realised, to my dismay, that I needed a full 500g of marscapone after all!  Read the recipe ingredients list beforehand Phil. This was turning into a farce! Back I stumbled to the Co-op and purchased another 250g and upon returning home got on with the final parts of the recipe. This was supposed to be my relaxing day off work. Now where's that Nigella when you need a busomy cuddle?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Christmas thoughts of performing in Germany

"Christmas already!?" you cry! Well sort of. I am currently getting very excited about my plans to perform my one man show of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' in the German city of Karlsruhe this coming December.

The Jakobus theatre have accepted my proposal to perform there for two nights and I have booked my flight. No turning back now. Cripes!

The show is a rehearsed reading that I have performed three times before and lasts about one hour and forty-five minutes and this time I am planning to introduce little bits of German into the text. Being in Germany will be great fun and very atmospheric with a proper authentic German market I imagine. And lots of scrummy German food and wine/beer to sample. Prima!

The image to the below is from a previous performance at the Lace Market Theatre.

I have a fair few friends over there who I know through the twinning events that the Lace Market Theatre does with two amateur theatres in Karlsruhe so it will be good to see them again. Today I designed my poster which will soon be on the Jakobus theatre website.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

things that have appeared in my kitchen this week

black french beans

tarte citron with Chantilly cream

roast potatoes with rosemary

cinnamon bark and star anise

spicy pork chops

spicy pork chops, patatas bravas and black pudding

unwelcome flies

Always welcome cats. Mdme Soufie in the white bib and Mr Harris

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A huge surprise and 'merci beaucoup!' to Peter.

What a lovely surprise I had tonight when Peter, one of my blog readers, called me and called in to my home with a surprise gift which he had mentioned in a previous blog comment. And what a fantastic gift! It couldn't have been more fitting for myself as a huge Francophile and lover of French cookery skills (esp the rustic stuff from the South West France).

This book will be fantastic reference book for my current and future cooking. Peter my friend, you are star. The book (book? that's an understatement!) is the Larousse Gastronomique that Heston Blumental describes as 'The definitive culinary reference bible, it is a must for anyone remotely interested in food and cooking.'

Peter, I can't thank you enough. It's fantastic and so very generous.

Peter with my gift.

I know that my kitchen was baking hot when you arrived Pete. I was cooking a pork, chorizo, tomato, onion and parsely stew and tonight I added a new part of the dish for me inspired by Nigel Slater, a carrot and garden fresh mint mash with butter and pepper. I was also was roasting some slices of pepper and fennel in the oven (hence the heat in the kitchen!) to drain and add to the stew for extra depth. It was yummy.


Monday, 1 August 2011

Egg fried rice and prawns

I made this dish last night after being inspired by a dvd of Nigel Slater's Simple Suppers. He didn't demonstrate this recipe but it was so simple that inspiration took hold and I made it again in daylight.

Simply boil some basmati rice (enough for however many you want to serve) and put aside while you prepare a simple paste of hot red pepper and four sections of garlic and chopped mint in some olive oil. As extra depth you can throw in a few fennel ground seeds and a dash of sea salt. Throw in a small amount of fresh peas for colour and taste.

Now cook through the paste in some hot oil (takes five minutes max) add the fresh prawns and toss. The bigger the tosser you are the better it will taste! Apparently.

Put the tossed mxture aside for five minutes and fry the rice lightly in a wok. When gently fried add two raw eggs and mix with rice forking all the while to seperate the rice from the egg to achieve a clean un-scrambled result.

As all is coming together, quickly re-heat the paste/prawn mixture and place in a bowl on top of the rice adding a couple of garden fresh mint leaves as garnish. Open a cold beer and enjoy!!! Heaven on plate!