OK, let's start this thing again. I started this blog several months ago on Tumblr. Great as Tumblr is for stream-of-consciousness blogging, it's not so handy if you want a little control over the structure of it. The interface kind of put me off using it. I've moved over to Typepad, which let's me be a bit more of a control freak.
Also, that ear illness I mentioned in previous posts turned out to be a little more serious and long-term than I was expecting. In fact, seven months on from when it started I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with it and fix the problems it's causing. So time and energy turned out to be problem. None of that's gone away, but neither has my passion for food. If anything, it's increased. So I'll try to build up a greater head of steam this time.
I suppose what I should do is update my adventures in food since the last time:
I've bought two new teacups since that first one. I expected to have bought more, but I promised myself that I would only buy them is I truly loved them. Here are my porcelain treasures...
My pea-shoots were a roaring success, although, I found that once they started growing they shot right up far quicker than I was expecting.
The small, tender leaves need to be picked and eaten at exactly the right time if you want them to look dainty enough to garnish a chefy plate. But the larger leaves made excellent salad leaves, stir-fry veg and Sunday roast addition.
The stalks became tough and chewy pretty quickly, so they were re-planted in the ground (by my dad, not me) with the hope of harvesting actual garden peas. Errr, yeah. I looked at them occasionally, but kind of forget they were there and by the time I'd remembered to check on them they were already dried out. Such is the circle of pea life.
I mentioned at the end of my original pea-shoots post that I was planting some chillies. They've been a success too, although they've taken much longer to produce the goods.
It was a proud moment when I heated up my Thai Green Chicken Curry this week with my very own chilli peppers.
There ends my adventures in gardening for now. But I've also made some lovely meals. I played a game of Recipe Roulette and ended up cooking West Indian Curried Mutton with Rice & Peas and Fried Dumplings from The Hairy Bikers' Family Cookbook: Mum Knows Best cookbook. Not having access to a butcher at the time, I had to replace the mutton with lamb, but it was still amazing. Definitely worth a very long prep and cooking session:
In another game of Recipe Roulette from the same book I also made a Manchester Tart; a combination of pastry, jam, banana, custard and coconut. Not being the most elegant of desserts, I expected people to turn their nose up at it. Strangely, it turned out to be one of the most popular things I've ever cooked. Proof positive that you don't have to make fancy desserts to win people's hearts. Not bad for school dinner staple of the North West.
There was the day I was proven wrong, when I made chilli pasties and they turned out to be amazingly tasty. I had been convinced that filling puff pastry with Mexican spiced meat wouldn't work. How foolish. Puff pastry filled with anything works.
There was that Saturday I developed an intense craving for a New York Baked Cheesecake. In the absence of a shop willing to deliver one to me, I made my own using a YouTube tutorial and HobNobs for a base. I might have browned it a little too much, but otherwise it was heavenly.
Recently I was given a large bag of apples by one of my colleagues, who happens to be an allotment owner. I spent one Tuesday evening actively peeling and chopping them to make an incredible apple and cinnamon crumble. It wasn't without its problems. Without ground cinnamon I had to pulverise a cinnamon stick in the food processor, which had mixed results, but did spice it up a little bit.
Inspired by Jamie Oliver's 'Jamie Does...' series on Channel 4, I went about making my own Greek Lamb Souvlaki; with minted lamb, home made flatbreads (nightmare), my own tzatsiki and a selection of salad. It took almost a whole afternoon to bring all the individual pieces together, but it was one of the tastiest meal's I've ever cooked.
This week I made the ultimate comfort food to celebrate the slightly chillier weather with wickedly creamy bacon, potato and corn chowder.....
.....and satisfied another Saturday craving (courtesy of James Martin) for mashed potato. What is it about Saturdays?
I never got round to buying my potted shrimps. But not so long ago I caught an episode of Saturday Kitchen where they appeared in a gorgeous looking risotto, so I'll have to get back on that case.
Where do we go from here? Who knows. But I hope you'll come with me. I can promise lots of food worship and immature humour.
Sorry, Antonio Carluccio.