Archive for November, 2009

When Food Bites Back.

Monday, November 30th, 2009

You know the old phrase, “monkey see monkey do”, well its pretty applicable in all walks of life, but it is shocking just what people will do/buy, should our culinary deities beamed out to the masses give the nod.

St. Delia had everyone buying “must have” pots and pans throughout the nineties, Jamie could seemingly sell chicken eyes if he sticks his name on it, while Heston sent the nation pestering their butchers for all manner of animal cheeks, trotters and gizzards!

This got me thinking, how many keen devotees of the culinary arts has Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall sent to an early grave? I can see it now, all too morbidly clear, “just popping out to do a bit of scavenging my love, will be back soon!”…Next thing you know, Wham! That collection of wild Chanterelles and Ceps (Mushrooms), turns out to be a big poisonous basket full of Webcaps or something else hideous and toxic, next thing you know is Hubby lying in the toxicology wing of hospital with rapidly deteriorating kidneys.

An Isle of Wight women, Amphon Tuckey, died after eating the renowned “death cap mushroom” in 2008, the coroner summing up that if you are thinking of eating wild foods… don’t.

Of course, not all wild harvesting and gathering leads to the icy touch of death’s cold, lifeless hand. At a recent lunch held for the launch of a new magazine in Leeds, I was lucky enough to sample some wild plants collected from the banks of the River Aire. Ok, so the thought that these leaves and stalks had grown up amongst the more traditional riverbank crops of syringes, used prophylactics and dog dirt put me off a bit, but when I had my first taste of wood sorrel, all my fears dissipated into taste over drive. My good friend and star of SCTV, Mufadal Jiwaji, has assured me of the edible riches that lurk amongst our hedgerows, miles of sandy coasts and riverbanks, and to be honest I have become more curious. On a recent trip to Scotland I spent a good three hours trawling the beach, with a bucket and a bag of Tesco value table salt, trying to coax razor clams out of their subterranean kingdoms without any luck (though I must say, they are cheap enough to buy and make a great ‘poor mans’ alternative to scallop or squid meat)

Eating wild foods is like driving or casual sex, very fun, not too expensive but there are risks to one’s health and trust me, having your insides destroyed by Orellanine (nasty little poison found in Webcaps which causes kidney failure) is less preferable than a dose of the clap! There are plenty of great books and websites offering advice on wild scavenging and you can save your self a bit of money collecting wild foods. Think about it like this, when Mr. Fearnley-Whittingstall goes out collecting mushrooms and herbs in the wild, he probably has teams of botanists, ex special forces men and doctors protecting his precious curly headed self, you on the other hand do not, so be careful!

The Winning Recipe

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Chilli Citrus Stir Fry with Rice

(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients- 2-3 Chicken Breasts

1 pack of Mangetout

1 pack of beansprouts

1 Yellow pepper

1 small-medium red onion

2 large carrots

1 lemon

1 lime

2 chillies (1 red, 1 green for colour variation)

Ginger powder

Black Pepper (Seasoning)

500g long grain rice

Cooking oil

1. Veg prep- Remove the stalk and middle from the pepper and cut the rest into even strips

Slice the carrot into even strips again (thinner pieces will cook faster)

Remove first few layers of onion and then chop the rest into small pieces

Remove the stalk and middle from the chillis and cut into tiny pieces

Roll the lemon and lime in the palm of your hands to release the juices, and then cut into halfs

2. Pour rice into a sieve and rinse with cold water, then leave to stand

Fill a large suacepan with cold water and add pinch or two of salt

Add the rice to this and leave to come to the boil

3. Rinse a wok/ large frying pan with cold water, then put on heat.

Add cooking oil after a minute or two

4. Remove any fat and nasties from the chicken and cut into cubes or strips

5. Put the chicken into the wok and keep moving it around the pan so that it cooks evenly

6. After a few minutes add the onion, chilli, ginger powder, black pepper and squeeze the juice of one half of the lemon and lime over the chicken. Continue to stir fry.

7. If the rice is now boiling, bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes (may be longer depending on the rice you use, check packet instructions)

8. Once the chicken and onion is starting to turn golden brownish (cut the largest piece in half and check that it is white coloured inside), add the yellow pepper, carrots and mangetout

Add a drizzle more oil and half a cup of water, plus slightly more seasoning (ginger and black pepper)

Stir fry for a few minutes, continuously moving the ingredients around.

9. Once the vegetables are cooked (they should be hot but firmish) and the chicken looks golden brown, add the beansprouts and thouroughly mix the ingredients round for another few minutes.

10. Turn off the heat for the stir fry but leave it where it is.

Take the rice off the heat and drain it. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes.

Add the remaining juice from the lemon and lime (if there is any left over drizzle it over the stir fry)

Carefully stir in the juice and then fluff up the rice with a fork.

11. Serve up the rice first and then top with stir fry

Jon’s Malaysian Tea

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Jon kindly found the time to show us how to make a traditional Malaysian Tea. To see the video click the link below:

Jon’s Malaysian Tea

8 In A Bar – Beaten but Not Down

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

I chose to cook because it’s my signature dish that I’ve never received any negative comments about so I thought okay I’ll be the cook. It’s probably one of the easiest things you could cook but that doesn’t mean it’s not nice food.

I think it’s link back to the band and the music we play is slightly tenuous but I didn’t want to try something really fancy that I’d not cooked before so we just tried to figure out a way that it might fit. I was a little disappointed with the finished product – it wasn’t the best I’ve ever cooked the recipe for which I blame my bandmates. Turns out too many cooks spoil the broth after all! Ultimately I think that’s why we didn’t win and to be fair the Sal Paradise guys did do a great job.

I haven’t let it put me off though – I’ve cooked the dish again since and got it perfect so it is a shame that I/we messed it up on the day. Nevermind!

Sal Paradise…What do you think?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

It was 100% intentional that we chose Dave to do the cooking for our band. We’ve eaten his food a load of times and like we’ve never been disappointed. I guess he had the advantage of experience because he has done some work in kitchens when he’s done ski season and stuff but it’d have been stupid of us to not make the most of that!

I am a pretty good cook myself…I think. If I had cooked the meal I would have done something much more simple probably. Something like a casserole or a stew because I like cooking things like that when you can just throw everything in and let it cook. It dead cheap, really simple and ideal for the winter because it warms you up! Having said that we were meant to be making something that represented the music we play, which I don’t think a stew does!

If you wanna find out more about the band and our upcoming gigs and stuff go to our MySpace page. Here’s a link:

Summer Memories On a Dark Evening

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Joe: This summer found me in the wilds of Northumbria for a pleasant few weeks with a group of friends.  We did all the usual holiday malarkey, beach, drink, eat, beach, drink, eat…etc.  It was during one such round of drinking that a challenge was set forth as to see who could catch a fish from the murky depths of the North Sea using only a child size fishing rod.  Now this rod was seriously small (apologies, I have just realised that was innuendo of the “Carry On” kind…), like someone had got it from Wilko’s Borrowers department, heck it even made SCTV’s very own Tom white look like he was 5’7 (keep peddling that one Tom!)  Such a task I thought impossible and concocted a devilish plan to buy some wet fish from the local supermarket, attach it to rod and haul it in from the sea thus winning the twenty pound prize from my gullible amigo’s and looking like a big shot fisherman…to cut along story short my plan failed miserably, the line snapped sending my £8.99 Sea Bass into the abyss of the North Sea and leaving Captain Birdseye spinning in his bread-crumby grave.  So the best part of a tenner down I tried to distract the rest of the parties’ thoughts from the fishing challenge to the digging of a huge hole, a hole so deep that I could cover up my meteoric defeat, alas, my good buddies Richard and Matt had taken this opportunity to do a little “fishing” of their own and on hearing a cry from these two modern day Ahab’s, I was horrified to see a beautiful silvery little fish of triumph hanging from the bright pink rod.  Mortified and a laughing stock it was only my Student Cooking TV training that allowed me to identify the fish as a fresh water rainbow trout, gutted and cleaned! and evidently bought around the same time as I had sneaked off to Tesco’s wet fish counter at 6 that morning.  Now for those of you who don’t know, FRESH WATER rainbow trout don’t really like salt water at all…all bets were off but hunger had set in.  Being quite far away from civilisation I decided to light up the camping gas and set to work at filleting the fish with a blunt Swiss army knife and a bottle of Perrier water.  After half an hour I had two beautiful coral pink fillets sizzling away on the camping stove, 5 cloves of slowly braised garlic in butter and a queue of fifteen. I had to perform something of a Jesus and distribute the two fishes and five cloves of braised garlic to the assembled masses but everyone got a mouthful of fish, a bit of garlic and that abundant condiment to any beach dinning experience, sand.  If you’ve had any alfresco sessions over summer, BBQ’s etc send in your pictures and lets us know your stories!

Remember Remember the Food for November

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Well with Bonfire Night fast approaching what’s good to take with us to the firework display?

How about a nice flask of hot pumpkin soup? If they are still in good condition, peel dice and cook the ones left from Halloween, they will be fine and just follow the root vegetable recipe already on the site.

We have also been baking some fantastic Parkin in the Refectory kitchens. Substitute some of the flour for rolled oats to give it a much chewier consistency. Also it just gets better with age so keep in an airtight container and enjoy weeks later.

I advise you to buy your toffee apples from the shop as playing with hot caramel is not advised to the untrained. Have a safe bonfire night and always remember “it’s all about flavour!”

Juggling Out-Takes

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Click the link below!

Juggle outtakes

How To Juggle…Anything but Food!

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

If like me you’d like to have a go at juggling some food but can’t even juggle balls here are some simple steps that can teach you how to juggle. Simply insert the food of your choice where it says ‘ball’.

These instructions will teach you exercises so you can juggle 3 balls. The first few exercises are not complete juggling patterns, but are exercises that will teach you to juggle.

One Ball Exercise: Start with one ball. Throw the ball in an arc from hand to hand about eye level. The pattern will be an arc, not a circle.

Two Ball Exercise: Start with one ball in each hand. First toss the ball in your right hand in the arc to about eye level to your left hand. When this ball reaches the highest point in it’s arc throw ball in an arc from your left hand to your right. Catch in your left hand, Then catch in your right hand. Stop.

Do this same exercise, except start with your left hand instead of your right. Practice until you can do this smoothly.

Juggling 3 Balls: Start with 2 balls in one hand (in this case the right hand, but if you are a lefty, use your left hand) and one ball in the other. Start by throwing the ball in the front of your right hand in an arc to your left hand.

When ball reaches its highest point, throw the ball in your left hand in an arc to your right hand. Catch in your left hand. This is like the two ball exercise. When the ball thrown to your right hand reaches its height . . .

Throw the ball from your right hand in an arc to your left hand. Catch in your right hand. This move can be difficult. It is often helpful to roll the ball in your right hand to the front of your hand with a slight downward motion of the hand before you throw it.

When that ball reaches its highest point, throw the ball in your left hand in an arc to your right hand. Catch in your left hand. And so on . . .

Hopefully this will turn you all in to budding circus folk – as an extra help here is a link to a video of someone doing jugglings.