“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”
— Dorothy Parker
So one night recently I was watching Springwatch on the Beeb and sipping a wee dram of Scotland’s finest. After the show I went to waste some time on the machine – Empire Deluxe Enhanced Edition being my latest addiction. At some point I thought a bit of Cointreau would finish off the evening, so I poured a small slug. It was late and the room is not well lit – at least that’s my excuse for not noticing that a small amount of single malt still remained in the glass.
On the surface this looks like a recipe for disaster, but the result was intriguing. The main impression was the dry intense orange flavour of Cointreau, but somehow the smoky, peaty malt added a very pleasing edge to the concoction.
Continue reading Burnt Orange – A new cocktail
For a long time I failed to see the point of guacamole. It was a tasteless green paste that occasionally showed up on your plate at natural foods restaurants, the proprietors apparently believing that its sickly chartreuse hue contrasted pleasingly with the dish you had ordered.
Then in 2002 I had a religious experience. At the end of a fine week at a cycling camp run by Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo (see link to PAC Tours), we now-hardened roadies decided on a night out in Tucson. Imagine if you will a mile long strip of Mexican restaurants, only very few of them were mere generic Mexican – instead they featured cooking from the Yucatan, or Oaxaca, or Veracruz or Chiapas, and so on. A veritable cornucopia and only one meal to eat. Happy sigh.
Once we chose a place and ordered drinks, the waiter asked us if we wanted guacamole. The consensus was yes, so I went along with the crowd. Shortly thereafter the guacamole lady showed up with her cart, and after asking how we wanted it, proceeded to mash up the avocados and our chosen condiments in a large bowl. The result was a revelation – fresh, flavourable and very satisfying. I kept a close watch on how she made the stuff and have developed this recipe based on her technique plus a bit of experimentation. It’s dead easy to make and extremely delicious.
Guacamole is a rustic peasant food. It should be fairly rough in appearance: basically a well blended mass but with lots of chunks of avocado of various sizes. Looking a lot like this:
Continue reading Guacamole
Seriously. One of mankind’s greatest inventions. Make a basic stir fry, then just before you thicken it, mix in two or three heaping teaspoons of the magic elixir. Result – nirvana. Or to be more correct, ambrosia (food of the gods).
This is a good brand, but they’re all pretty much the same. Chili, garlic and salt. Normally I would tend to shy away from products from the People’s Republic – their problems with food producers using dodgy ingredients are well documented – but I have to admit that the Lee Kum Kee sauce has a nice fresh taste. Speaking of fresh, remember that this ingredient is very inexpensive. It will last forever in the fridge but if it’s been open for six months or so why not splurge on a new jar?
OK, I hear you thinking, what’s a basic stir fry?
Continue reading In praise of chili garlic sauce
Rôti de porc poêlé
(Adapted from Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1)
This has become one of our all-time favourite recipes and a great option for small dinner parties, but we came across it in an odd way. We were planning a big dinner because my sister Marianne was coming to visit us in Edmonton. I had come across a recipe for pork roast that sounded great – the sauce included madeira and three kinds of mushrooms. We were in Safeway picking out some chanterelles when Lynn said “does Marianne eat mushrooms?” Zut! She hates them and has been known to pick them off of pizza before eating it. So what to do with the large pork roast we had already acquired? A quick scan through the cooking “bibles” led us to this recipe. It is easy to make, delicious and not at all fiddly. With the exception of a bit of mashing at the end, the work is done and cleaned up long before the guests arrive.
Continue reading Rôti de porc poêlé
Simple and delicious! This recipe comes from my late and dearly missed mother-in-law, Eleanor Kerr. Unlike most Swiss Steak recipes there is no tomato included – just pure beef for beef lovers. It must be served with mashed potatoes so you can mop up the gravy.
This could be made with the finest artisanal heritage locally sourced Wagyu beef, but actually it works really well with whatever you have.
- 1 lb round steak
- 1 good-sized onion
- Beef stock or red wine
- Flour to coat
- Salt & Pepper
- Fat. The best thing is to get a piece of beef fat from the butcher. Otherwise render the fat from your beef and add oil to make up the required amount.
Continue reading Swiss Steak – Eleanor Kerr’s Recipe
Pa amb tomàquet is basically bruschetta Barcelona-style! This is not only one of the most delicious foods imaginable, but also one of the easiest and cheapest to make.
Continue reading Pa amb tomàquet
Chocolate Brownies (Jane Kaduck) These are the Best Brownies Ever, but don’t skimp on the ingredients! Use butter (not margarine or any other substitute) and good chocolate. Baker’s is the standard but you could push the boat out a bit more and go for Valrhona.
1. Melt: 4 sq unsweetened chocolate with 1 cup butter
2. Sift together: 1 ½ cup white flour, ½ tsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt
3. In a large bowl: Cream together: 4 eggs and 2 cups white sugar Beat in: 2 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbsp corn syrup Then beat in melted chocolate/butter, followed by the flour mixture.
4. Bake in a greased 9×13 pan at 350F for 20 – 25 minutes. Brownies are done when they test done (with a toothpick) about 2 inches from the edge of the pan (not the centre). (They continue to cook in their own heat after removing from oven). In British ovens you may need to cook an extra 5 minutes or so with a piece of aluminium foil draped loosely over the top to prevent over-browning on top.
Top Tip: Don’t overcook these brownies. They should be very moist, Cool. Frost with chocolate icing if desired.
Chocolate Frosting Melt: 3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder, 2 tbsp butter, 1 ½ to 2 cups icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tbsp (approx) milk. Beat together. Add more icing sugar/milk to achieve desired consistency.