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Posts posted by cfm

  1. Has this thread become entangled with the one for Masterchef, the professionals? Which teams on the Restuarant might have Michelin aspirations, or have been coaxed into expressing them? I can imagine the guys at the Gallery saying this, possibly the now defunct Sorbet and Seasons, or True Provenance. I'm not sure what's going on down at Ray White's, we never seem to see them. The others are different sorts of set up - if they had been persuaded to say this on camera, that truly would be remarkable.


  2. Edinburgh - Khushi's on Victoria Street is a good and big and buzzy curry spot. The Cambridge Bar on Young Street does remarkable burgers in a pleasant pub setting. The turkish restaurant Hanedan on West Preston Street is a personal favourite of mine, small but they have everything you need for a good meal to hand. On a "best in genre" type list, we would probably claim a place for David Bann's vegetarian restaurant on St Mary's Street - a classy modern bistro style place that often gets great reports.


  3. I don't have any of my bottle left. The label said it would be a nice addition to a gin and tonic. I added it to a gin and tonic, thought it was delicious, and drank nothing but elderflower gin and tonic until the bottle was gone. Certainly worth a try, in my view.


  4. Dairy free potatoes. I drew the line there. The line is: not everyone has to eat dairy free potatoes because someone has an allergy. I admit that most of my dinner parties rely on gratin dauphinoise for their oomph. Planning dairy free potatoes for everyone made me nervous. Butter free mash? Obviously not. Butter-your-own boiled? A bit like my high tea in granny's back kitchen. Roast? Not a talent of mine. So I drew the line there, made the gratin for everyone else and did a tray of oven chips for diary free option.


  5. Candyfreak by Steve Almond (subtitled "A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America"). Part history, part reminiscence, and lots of chocolate. This could have been a rather ordinary tribute to candy, but the author is such a good writer, it's one of those books I want to read over and over. For instance, this is his description of watching marshmallow bunnies being enrobed in chocolate:
    They rode the conveyor belt three astride, looking nonchalant in profile, as curtains of milk chocolate washed down onto their white fleshy pelts and enveloped them and seeped off to reveal the dimensions of their bodies in a lustrous brown. Saborin [his guide] was saying something or other, involving, I think, starch. I was watching the bunnies.

    I enjoyed this enormously. I am British, and the chocolate bars he writes about are mostly beyond my ken. This didn't detract from the fun of reading it at all - it probably enhanced it since I never had any cause to question the author's judgements on what makes a good bar of chocolate. Just took him at his word and ate the whole book up.


  6. Especially when it comes to dipping nigiri in a little soy sauce, I find the chopstick maneuver almost impossible, because you're supposed to invert the piece and dip the fish, not dip the rice as many do.

    Aha! I read once that this dipping of the fish not the rice would get the best results, but I couldn't get it working for me with chopsticks. I'll be deftly dipping my fish with my fingers from now on.


  7. Here is a savoury peanut butter idea that I have used since reading a book by Jane Clarke in the "Bodyfoods" series. Her plan is a bit more elaborate than this, but this works:

    Grate carrot, shred white cabbage. Season all this with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Sandwich into brown bread with peanut butter.

    Maybe this will make a more tempting peanut butter option for you.


  8. I think I agree that the skills go beyond amateur when the emphasis moves at the end of the list towards the memorisation of proportions. It is hard to see how this sets your food apart once it is made - is there any shame in checking the recipe? And if I "know" the proportions for shortcrust pastry (which is something I make a lot) then it is only because I am simply making the same Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe over again without consulting the book. Yes - choosing good recipes is half the battle (it is a good recipe with a very high proportion of butter to flour.) Perhaps the key home cooking skill is knowing only that pastry needs butter and flour so that you can stop off and pick some up on the way home if necessary.


  9. River Cottage hampers for Christmas. The Pig-in-a-Box based around a large ham was particularly well put together. Everything in the Three Bird Roast hamper a couple of years later was delicious (especially the Roast!) but the fun of the "theme" was missing. Mind you there was a lot of fun in telling the Christmas guest in charge of wine that she was required to match chicken-duck-and-partridge.


  10. The highlight of our recent run through Yorkshire was late lunch/ afternoon tea / high tea at Betty's Tea Rooms. They also sell their bakery things to take away. I had a thin crumpet like thing soaking in butter which was, perhaps understandably, just delicious. I was bowled over by the way they presented an exceedingly lengthy menu of tearoom type treats. I am not a bun eater by nature, and I prefer a short menu as a rule, but studying Betty's list got me really excited. There is a slight and interesting spin on the cake side of things, which come from a Swiss tradition, and so are more in the gateaux line. There are enough branches to call it a local chain, so you might be near one - Harrogate and York are key locations.


  11. Julia Child was a big proponent of using dry vermouth instead of white wine.  I've done it forever and am pleased with the results.  In my experience, if you get the wrong bottle of wine--white OR red--you can end up with some pretty funky flavors. 

    The vermouth keeps, in or out of the refrigerator, for quite some time.

    So, if I was to try this one more time - what type of vermouth - ie what brand - are we talking about?


  12. Yes, I used tequila once, and that was fine... Going back to the question, I don't know if I keep the wrong kind of vermouth in the house, but I would use nothing rather than putting it in my cooking - anytime I have substituted it for wine (typically a Nigella Lawson suggestion) I have found the flavour obtrusive and unpleasant.


  13. Once, when we were the last customers in a well-known small county town restaurant, the last remaining visible member of staff slipped on her coat, picked up her shopping bags and, without saying a single word, walked out the front door.

    We had already paid, and the atmosphere was such that we felt entirely comfortable left to our own devices to finish off the wine or whatever it was that was holding us up!

  14. I made my usual breakfast, which I was told as a child to call "Swedish Breakfast." I now think that this was a mix up and that the reference must have been to Swiss Breakfast - something like the recipe known as Bircher Muesli. But my breakfast isn't too Bircher-like, as there is no over-night soaking involved.

    Recipe: - Put rolled oats in bowl. Grate over half an apple. Add three chopped brazil buts. Squeeze on a bit of lemon juice, splash in a tiny bit of milk. Stir. Add blueberries if it is a blueberry-adding day.

    This is a very good recipe for people who do not like milk on their cereal, and I know I'm not the only one. Because of the grated apple, you only need a tiny bit of milk, and the lemon juice means you don't really taste it.


  15. Not bizarre, but unusual --- "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog: Which It's a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels" by Anne Chotzinoff and Lisa Grossman Thomas. Aimed at reader's of, and tied directly to, Patrick O'Brien's British novels, it includes nineteenth century recipes for Burgoo, Ship's Biscuit, Skillygalee, Drowned Baby, Sea-Pie, Figgy-Dowdy, Soused Hog's Face, Solomomgundy and much, much more. And no, I have not tried any of it.

    Yes, that one is quite nice, actually. Makes me want to read the novels.

    So true! I spotted this in a shop and thought that if someone had enjoyed the books enough to write this recipe collection then there had to be something in them. I went off and read them all, thought they were great, and duly bought my own copy of Lobscouse and Spotted Dog.

    I don't seem to have many stranger books. "Cooking Weeds" is a contender partly because I feel sure that many people would have called it "Cooking WITH Weeds."


  16. The stripey hardback edition that I have of "A New Way to Cook" is such an attractive book - pretty in a businesslike way - but so difficult use. It feels as if you'd have to make notes from several different bits of the book onto one sheet of paper so that you would have something to refer to once your hands were dirty. Lifting it off the shelf, I see that I have put some post-its in it - this is a sure sign I'm trying to will myself to use the book. One thing that worked very well was Slow-Roasted Stone Fruits, but to follow the recipe, you have to study the "guide to improvising" for roasted fruits on the previous page, making some omissions that turn out to be re-added later on. After this, the recipe comes down to the insight that "peaches taste good halved and roasted at 275 for 2 hours with a little butter and sugar and maybe lemon juice." Which insight is almost completely obscured by the presentation.

    Anyway, the reason I wanted to add this post was to ask if anyone had participated in the Barnes and Noble BookGroup for this book and if that had helped? I noticed that B&N had had this in the past, but couldn't find any storage facility on their site which would allow me to refer to it now that it is finished. It seemed an unusual choice of book for a bookgroup, but I was intrigued to know what went on because of my long evenings putting post-its in the book while watching TV which were later put to no real use in the kitchen.

    Catherine MacColl

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