Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Tafel Spitz   Leave a comment

tafel-spitz-mid-cook

The chef, Rick Stein, has this fantastic travel and cookery show called Rick Stein’s Long Weekends. A bit like Tony Bourdain’s shows without the likelihood of a fight breaking out, the conceit is that Rick travels to less touristy destinations than usual but all within an hour or two flight from Britain so you could go on a Friday and return on a Monday and see loads and eat your fill of local stuff. I record these and scribble the recipes down as near as I can manage and have been looking forward to trying the Tafel Spitz (the specialty of the house at Plachutta in Vienna) ever since this one aired.

I’m sure this recipe will horrify the Viennese, but it turned out well.

Put 1 kg of a tougher cut of roast (mine was a silverside) under just enough water to boil and throw in a dozen or so black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, some salt, and a pinch of carraway seeds and simmer just above boiling for 3 hours. Take some marrow bones and roast these for 30 minutes at 200 C while the beef makes its broth.

Plunge the meat into an ice bath and while it chills add about 500 g of root vegetables to the broth — I used carrots, turnips, leeks, and an onion which was cut in half and scorched in a frying pan on the cut sides (this is in every recipe so the carmelization must be important). Throw the bones in with this. When the meat is very cold, cut it in slices about 2 cm thick against the grain; the chilling is necessary as otherwise the meat will fall apart due to the long boiling. After about 30 minutes, slide the beef slices into the soup to reheat and soak up some of the veggie flavours.

 

tafel-spitz-rosti-to-do

Traditionally, this is served in 3 courses. First, the broth and vegetables are served as a soup followed by rye bread with the marrow used to butter it (we had some Austrian style black rye from our baker for this). Finally, the slab of beef is served with a bit of the broth on top, an apple and horseradish sauce, and rosti and creamed spinach on the side.

For the rosti, I brought a bunch of small potatoes to the boil then plunged them in the ice bath and grated them. This pile was mixed with chives and freshly ground black pepper then fryed in butter until crisp and golden brown on both sides.

The sauce takes some baking apples (peeled, grated, and tossed in lemon juice) and freshly grated horseradish at about a 3 weights of apple to 1 weight of horseradish. For each 100 g of apple add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cider vinegar plus salt to taste then whiz it to a paste. This should clear your sinuses, gently; add more horseradish at your peril. I think it will go really good with roast pork, too.

I took the spinach and wilted it over some soy beans then thickened it with buerre manié because Jackie isn’t a big fan of creamed spinach. You do what you got’s to do, eh? A not too dry white wine would go well with the first course but as we kind of scooped everything into a plate and ran with it we just had a chianti.

 

tafel-spitz

A revelation. Thanks, Rick. See if you can get the theme music out of your head:

 

Posted February 21, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Food, Recipes

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Sea Master Fish & Chips, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire   1 comment

sea-master-fish-chips-rickmansworth-cod

Although not as cold as it has been, I was fairly under-dressed for the damp, breezy day and while warm and sweaty I think the run from Uxbridge had depleted my breakfast. Very hungry, I popped into the first chippy I could find, the Sea Master. “It will be ten minutes,” which I accepted, deciding to cut the run short of the last mile and a half to Croxley and to just leave for home from Rickmansworth.

Well worth the wait … the fish was perfectly steamed inside the crisp batter envelope and not at all more salty than absolutely necessary. Why can’t EVERYONE do this?

sea-master-fish-chips-rickmansworth

Posted February 21, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Fish and Chips, Food

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Ocean Fresh Fish and Chips, Ealing, London   Leave a comment

ocean-fresh-ealing-cod

 

The proprietor was nice.

The fish was dreadful … although probably cooked this week, it had definitely sat in the heating cabinet long enough for the flesh to assume the texture and taste of cardboard but, blessedly, there wasn’t much of it under the thick, oily mat of stale batter.  Yuck.

 

ocean-fresh-ealing

Posted February 5, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Fish and Chips, Food

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Tamarinds   Leave a comment

Tamarind pack b

In February 2016, I needed some tamarind paste for a curry recipe and could only find a block of compressed, dried pulp that resembled a plug of chewing tobacco in shape, texture, and smell.  To use it, you soak it in boiling water then after awhile pass the pulp through a fine meshed sieve.  I took some of the seeds from this step, wrapped them in wet paper towels, and stored them under the sink.  After checking on them every other day for a couple of weeks, I forgot about them until I needed some harsh cleaning compound or another mid-May.  The little tub I had them in had a large, pale green sprout inside so I packed it with compost and staked it up and in a couple weeks it grew leaves and started to get a woody bark to it.

Growth was slow after that but on the day after the Brexit vote a second sprout emerged:

2016-06-24 Tamarinds A

 

The guys survived the move and transplantation to a larger pot (which I let dry completely from September till Christmas before soaking it once then adding 50mL twice per week to simulate 15 inches of rainfall per year.  They seemed happy enough through that first winter, and I doubled the watering rate leading up to February to celebrate the 1 year anniversary.

One thing that did happen over the Christmas break was fungal growth.  I’m assured that it is harmless, this white mould atop the soil, but I was disgusted by it and also a bit insulted that it thinks I should nourish it as well as my little tree.  After looking at other remedies (cider vinegar, baking soda, athlete’s foot spray), I settled on scooping away the offensive layer then dusting the remaining soil surface with cinnamon (cinnamic aldehyde, the main flavouring compound, is also an effective fungicide).

2017-01-08-tamarind-cinnamon-treatment

So, here we are at one full year.  It hasn’t grown much in the kitchen window and a couple of weeks ago we shifted it to the bathroom where there is even less direct light and it is warmer and much more humid.  New leaves are emerging and I think it may deserve repotting to a shallow tray and training in the spring.  I’ve seen some spectacular examples of bonsai tamarinds, and maybe in 5-10 years this pair can join their ranks.

2017-02-02-tamarind

 

 

 

 

Posted February 2, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Food

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An Offal Week   1 comment

 

Toast to the Haggis:

Ach! Ye fat bastard, ye.
Ye mid-winter harbinger of constipation.
We thank ye fer showin’ us
That gout isn’t just for rich men.
To the Haggis!

Wetherspoon’s Burns’ Week came around again this year.  I’m a fan of offal but Jackie only tolerates pâté so, except for my Burns’ Night indulgence (she likes the whisky part of it, mind) I tend to fill up during this week (and on occasional trips to Florence).

Friday 20 January: Highland Burger with a pint of Welsh Pride (no Scots beer available on the day), Four Candles, Oxford

2016-01-20-highland-burger

Saturday 21 Jan:  Haggis Tacos, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip

Method: heat some haggis with chilli sauce, cumin, and paprika; put in flour taco shells, add lettuce, cilantro, tomato, and cheese.  Yum.

haggis-taco

Sunday 22 Jan: Haggis Stuffed Roast Chicken, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip

Recipe: like it says on the tin…Stuff a 2-3 kg bird loosely with haggis (it takes about ½ a tube of industrial haggis from MacSween’s), yesterday, and bake for 20 min per 500g plus 20 min at 200°C.  Let rest for 20 minutes before hacking it to wee bits to serve with turnips and taters.

roast-chicken-aberdeen-prep

The result was a very moist bird with the savoury scent of the haggis infused therein — but not overwhelmingly so.  The haggis itself was enhanced with some of the chicken drippings and even Jackie had a small amount of the filling.

Monday 23 Jan: Scots Omelet, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip

Method:  Fry up some haggis and keep warm; pour a shitload of beaten eggs into the pan and lift to allow layers to develop.  Usually topped with a bit of grated cheddar and the warmed haggis, this time it is haggis neat, folded and devoured with some black coffee and a shot of whisky.

haggis-omelet-minus-cheese

 

Tuesday 24 Jan: Another Highland Burger, this time at the Swan & Castle, Oxford

Wednesday 25 Jan:  Burns’ Lunch, The Chequers, Oxford plus a flight of three whiskies and smoked salmon to start…obscenely good, but I can sense the gout taking hold if I keep this up.

Thursday 26 Jan:  Another Burns’ Lunch, this time at the Four Candles, Oxford with some of the folks from work (to remind myself that they’re not all bad … or sober).  They ran out of swede (the turnips bit of the neeps and tatties) with the second order but told me they had run out of the lot so I ordered a double Jura with the intent of sitting with the fellows then walking over to the other Wetherspoons for my own lunch; a prof from biochemistry talked them around to substituting peas (“ach! woman, there’s summinck GREEN on me plate!”) so I got that.  But, they charged the “with beer” price and didn’t give me beer (and I already paid for the whisky).  Fer fucks sake.  EVENTUALLY they made this right.

burns-day-plus-1

Friday 27 Jan: Haggis Stuffed Mushrooms, Slug and Whippet, Ruislip

Method: Fill the caps of baby bella mushrooms with haggis (and some others with sausage, others with a little pesto…y’know: hors d’oeuvres) and bake at 200°C until everything is sizzly or until the cheese, if you top with it, melts.

Oddly, I now crave a big plate of liver fried with onions.

 

 

Posted January 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Food, Pubs, Recipes

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Kebab Centre, Ruislip, Middlesex   Leave a comment

kebab-centre-ruislip-kebab-wrap

 

The reason I made such a big deal about Uncle Jim’s kebab was that it was so unusual: most kebabs you get were like the one I inflicted on myself (or, rather, with which I afflicted myself) at the Kebab Centre in Ruislip yesterday.  Yuck.  I couldn’t decide if it was the meat or the salad that imparted the rotting compost essence but the congealed grease that collected in my mouth and esophagus definitely came from the Beast that was passed off as lamb (as did the salt that had me attached to a water bottle for the next 6 hours: I drank as much water last night as I would, usually, in 2 days).

 

kebab-centre-ruislip

Posted January 11, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Food, Kebabs

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Uncle Jim’s, Richmond, London   1 comment

uncle-jim-richmond-kebab

 

I was hungry after a day of running and drinking and I really wanted a bit of cod but a guy at the Red Cow pointed me to Uncle Jim’s and I hope someday to thank him in person.  The meat was actually chunks of lamb (not some minced and reconstituted elephant leg like in most kebaberies).  The chips were perfect and the chilli sauce actually contained Habanero (Scotch bonnet) peppers and had a real heat to it.  The small was too much food but I would have gorged on two large orders if I had them in front of me.  Yum.

 

uncle-jim-richmond

Posted December 26, 2016 by Drunken Bunny in Food, Kebabs

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