This is a diary of what I cook and what I eat.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Red wine risotto- colour and class

Its definitely, officially, totally my favourite thing to eat and probably the best thing to cook, if only for the creative possibilities available. I'm talking about risotto. The Italian dream that us English butcher and ruin to create a thick, clingy, rice pudding- esk mess.
I usually go with my mother's recipe. Some white onion, softened in a pan and then rice is added alongside a glass of vermouth. Then I ladle my chicken stock gently spoon by spoon. Usually it is cooked for twenty to thirty minutes and then I add a handful of parmesan cheese and ket it rest.
This week I had no Vermouth and went for a rich and smoky shiraz as an alternative and the results quite frankly were outstanding. It was able to stand up to the strength of my mushrooms and create an aroma that helped to enhance the flavour in the cheese. Top marks for the red wine risotto. In addition to this is enhanced the richness in the colour which is always a winner.

So next time you are thinking about your risotto, reach for your red wine for a change, you might enjoy the results.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Stuffing: Cavity or no cavity- that is my question!

On making my chicken dinner today, based on Heston Blumenthal's four step process as demonstrated yesterday on saturday kitchen. I made some yummy stuffing but approached the question in my mind. Do we stuff in the cavity or not. I decided to approach this dilema through the medium of two lists. A pro list and a con list. This is sad foodie action at its best.

Pro to stuffing cavity:
1. saves on washing up
2. Can give the chicken the aroma from the stuffing
3. Cooks really well alongside the chicken and remains moist and flavoursome

Cons to stuffing cavity:
1. Messy to stuff
2. Slows down cooking time signficantly
3. Does not allow you to shape them and create a lovely crust on the outside

I didn't stuff my cavity and I reckon it was a good decision especially since the Heston recipe requires 41/2 hours cooking without stuffing as it is cooked at 60 degrees. The link to watch it is below:

I hope I return this week with some more lists!

Friday, 30 October 2009

Oh and you can follow me on twitter from now on as I now have a twitter name - betterfoodie!

Pizza perfect?

I have lately enjoyed the delights of the pizza which has involved trying to create the perfect pizza base. The ideal being the correct balance of lightness and crispness with the correct amount of delicate olive oil to not only flavour but give the right consistency to the dough. I have to admit that since moving in to my new home my priorities have slided towards rent and bills as opposed to updating my kitchen; I haven't got any kitchen scales. Basically I am waiting until I have enough pennies to really invest in some decent ones. I am toying with the idea of going for the traditional balance scales with the weights. These can set you back anything up to 150 squids so I will have to wait a while. That being said I'm going by cups and iffy measurements but I have eventually developed a nice basic recipe that never seems to fail. I even have conversions.

300g 'oo' flour
6g dried yeast
large pinch sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch cracked black pepper
200ml warm water- might need more/less so add slowly until all flour is absorbed

1. Mix the dried ingredients together and then add the oil
2. add the warm water bit by bit until all the flour has been absorbed into the dough
3. If using a mixer then knead in the mixer, if not knead for five minutes on a floured work surface

I leave mine to rise for 45 minutes in the grill section of my oven with my main oven on low. Then I roll them out super, super thin. I roll them on greaseproof paper with flour to make sure they don't stick. Then they are baked on the greaseproof for half the cooking time and then I release them onto a wire rack in the oven to brown underneath.

Toppings can vary and very often it depends on what the deli has.

I definitely reckon its worth making your own and certainly its more healthy than some take out places but that depends on your toppings. I hope you can make your perfect pizza!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

A feast Indeed...

Its been some time since I visited my blog and for that there is no excuse however I have been off on holiday discovering more foodie delights to enhance my appreciation.

I attended just this weekend the Conwy Food Feast in North Wales and was not let down by its culinary genius with tasty samples of some of the finest foods from in and around the North Wales area. I watched some of the local food heros make some homely recipes with their traditional and more importantly, local ingredients.

A few stood out from the crowd and I'll let you in on what was in my shopping bag. I purchased some fantastic fudge produced in the Conwy area, some Halen Mon sea salt. This is fantastic sea salt which melts beautifully into sauces and is produced in the Anglesey area of North Wales. Daring to be different I bought the celery seed sea salt. This I will try with some pork fillet as it was demonstrated. Its flavour can be surprisingly subtle, although undoubtedly its scent is powerful and a quick dab on the finger can produce an overwhelmingly liquorice taste. Nevertheless I am in love with the salt!

Other purchases were smoked garlic from a local farm also producing various other types of garlic including elephant and pink varieties. I also indulged in some smoked chicken from the LLandudno smokery. This is a fantastic product and very , very tasty. It can certainly brighten up a salad but its exceedingly good when served with some decent pasta.
Besides this I was literally wowed by the variety of people producing food which had so much dedication to producing the best quality and finest representation of North Wales.
The overall message of the weekend was that of buying your local ingredients and investing in food which is of good quality and, if you can get it, produced on your doorstep.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

So I have a friend round for dinner this evening and trully I do not know what to cook. The idea behind a friend coming round is really so I can brag about 'how well i'm doing'. Which is quite amusing. I have recently taken up a post at a local High School as a Chemistry teacher and I am discovering that it is certainly no easy feat. I come from Stockport and my friend who is coming today is coming to view our new home. 'Our' being myself and the life partner. I haven't seen her since the new boyf and I moved in and well its my chance to say here is my house and more importantly this is what i've cooked.

Lets actually get back to what to cook. I always think that something like a roast dinner or something where the guest can help themself is the best option. However, it might be better to serve something more inspiring and exciting. It got me thinking about the extreme dinner parties people must throw and the variety of options people might have. My opinion is that something like a guest coming over or a dinner party should be a relaxed affair where you, the cook, has the opportunity to treat your guests to an enjoyable experience. It is not to unfluence with your foodie ways or encourage them to change to your way of eating but gives a small window of opportunity where someone can take the stage and in doing so enjoy themselves immensely.

I have definitely has plenty of fun whilst entertaining friends with food. Something like a leg of lamb with rosemary potatoes or a really lovely and fresh pasta meal can make as big an impression as something like a truffle infused, venison tartared, micro salad sprinkled and scallop foam covered meal. Which will cause you so much stress and heartache that the only aromas your guests will smell will be the BO escaping from your armpits.

So I know what I'll do and it will be the chicken recipe from earlier in the blog. Tried, tested and absolutely bloody lovely.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Just made meatballs- and were really quite tasty.

1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
pinch of paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 egg
brown bread crumbs
red chilli- finely chopped
drizzle of olive oil
500g good quality beef mince

Mix together- make into balls and pan fry the balls after them being dusted in plain flour.

Nice with a bit of mash, pasta, salad or risotto even.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

One rather quick entry. I have just cooked a whole chicken with a spicy rice accompaniment and this is hands down the best recipe I've ever used. Who'd have thought the odd teaspoon of spice could equal such an immense flavour sensation.

Will be using new camera to upload pics soon.

Recipe for spicy chicken:

3/4 glugs of olive oil
1 large tablespoon of lemon juice
large pinch of maldon sea salt
1 level tsp paprika (I used hot but sweet is just as nice)
1 heaped tsp hot red chilli powder
1 pinch ground coriander
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
large pinch cracked black pepper

I rubbed the dry ingredients over the skin and tried to push it under the breast skin and then drizzled plenty of the oil over.
Roast according to the weight of the chicken and serve with some long grain rice which has been rinsed in cold water. Add a generous pinch of saffron and salt alongside a tsp of olive oil to separate the grains and boil in just enough water for 10 minutes.

If I had been out to the shops I might have had a fresh tomato salsa with it. Toms, pepper, chilli, red onion, garlic and skinned cucumber all finely chopped with a pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Its definitely rustic and easy and Michael Roux isn't exactly an advocate of it but I think it worked and for that reason I'll certainly make it again.

Roast Loin of Pork

Well I started my new foodie efforts with a fantastic traditional pork loin roast on Sunday. I had never cooked pork before but honestly it was melt in your mouth stuff. Trully tasty meat and very crispy crackling. I used plenty of sea salt and chopped some whole bulbs of garlic and used them as a base- underneath the loin.
I had already made some stock fresh and then used this with some light australian wine to make a jus. I can still taste the flavours of the meat and when I had it for my lunch on Monday it was even better.

The crucial taste test from my significant other was less than impressive and to be fair its not really his fault being what I call taste challenged. His favourite food is chicken, no actually his only food is chicken. Chicken in breadcrumbs in particular is like a religion for him so he was kind of less impressed by the pork and more impressed by my mother's chocolate cake for afters.

Never mind.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

First Post

Well finally I am able to write about my latest foodie escapades after what seems like an age. Having already written one on another website I found that this blog has disappeared but never fear I have started this one.

To get introductions done with then I'm hels, a twenty two year old food fanatic and having felt like writing about food for a while I thought this might be the way forward. Whether anybody reads it or not is another matter of course.

I am going to attempt to become a better foodie and I wish to do this through cooking, baking and living with food. I already enjoy the many highlights that being a foodie can bring including cellulite and excess weight around the middle!! But recently I have found that I have more time- outside my not so busy schedule of teaching Chemistry to really find out more about my favourite topic.

Hopefully I'll discover more foods over the next few months that further sparks my interest in what is a fascinating and complex world.

Tonight starts with Roast Loin of Pork and I hope to make a lovely gravy with my homemade chicken stock. Which I think will work although I'm not entirely sure whether it will stand up to the flavour of the meat. I have some excess fat which I intend to make crackling with although, having never made crackling before it should be interesting. Here goes!!