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Everything posted by DianaB

  1. I’ve really enjoyed catching up with your gardening exploits. For the first time in years I have some ‘free’ time and this coincides with a mini heatwave in North Yorkshire. First run of summer days with blue skies for around 3 years! . You all seem well ahead of us in terms of gardens. We have plenty of salads and herbs to eat but attempts to get other stuff started in good time didn’t succeed and it is too soon here for tomatoes to be ripe. There are plenty coming on so we look forward to those. Strawberries usually do well here. Plenty of berries were produced and we netted the raised bed as usual. We must have netted some kind of beast in there with the plants because the vast majority were eaten for us. I have no idea by what. Certainly no birds caught in the netting and the damage was far too extensive for the usual slug or snail that gets to the plants. The only thing I saw was a toad, I suspect he or she lives between our raised bed and the neighbour’s fence but research didn’t confirm that toads like strawberries so I’m at a loss really. We were so disappointed being both strawberry lovers. On a happier note raspberries are now ripening. We don’t have many and we don’t net because birds haven’t shown much interest in the past. There are also lots of blackberries to look forward to, and gooseberries. We are trying Romanesco for the first time. Lots of leaves but as yet no sign of any centres forming. These are very much an experiment so we wait and see, checking often to ensure no caterpillars installing themselves. I like to mix flowers and veg, below is a pot with Romanesco, Coriander and some lobelia for colour. Taken last week I think. Salads in baskets, spring onions in the trough on top of the gas bottles. Apparently we can’t enclose the bottles... It looks as though ugh this was taken before I replanted the basket closest to the window and we had eaten the first lot of lettuce. The far basket has oak leaf lettuces still.
  2. Many thanks @rotuts and @kayb for your kind messages. Your blue pans certainly seem to have come from the same place of origin as our ‘new’ collection. Taking artistic photos is not amongst my skills but below are a couple of the new editions. We are sadly lacking in storage space so the whole set is waiting for us to get around to fixing more hooks so that they can join the existing kit hanging from the beams in the kitchen... If there’s an award for the least well taken photo this must be nominated. I know there is a lot of helpful advice elsewhere on eGullet and one day I shall set aside time to improve my food related photography.
  3. Many years ago we began cooking with Le Creuset cast iron pots. They were expensive and generally beyond our budget but gradually we accumulated a reasonable collection. We didn’t get as far as the saucepans that were generally sold as a set of five before the company stopped making them. Over the years I’ve kept an eye out for a second hand set but those that did appear on eBay or similar were generally not in a condition that I would want to use. We were in France a few weeks ago and there was a village sale very close to where we were staying. We hadn’t planned to visit having reached a stage in life where we are trying to reduce the amount of things we own rather than add more but it was a beautiful afternoon and we were persuaded to wander around just as the event was coming to an end. Often these events are populated by regular sellers with vast amounts of glassware and household stuff that they box up and drag from one village to another during the ‘vide grenier’ season. Sometimes there are individuals selling their own stuff, I did exactly that when moving back to England a decade ago. That was a long day and by the end I was happy to give away anything left on my stall. While wandering alone I came across a chap who was selling his own family stuff because, he told me, his wife had insisted that they have a clear out. Amongst the items left was a complete set of five Le Creuset saucepans with their lids; exactly the set we had wanted for many years and given up hope of finding. The pans were in almost new condition, the wooden handles on a couple had suffered from going through a dishwasher but the interiors were clean. I was advised that the set had been a wedding present 25 years earlier but hardly used. By now we already had good pans and I didn’t need the full collection. He wanted 20€ for the lot, I offered 10 just for the smallest of the pans to replace our coming to the end of its life Le Creuset milk pan. Clearly wanting to be rid of as much stuff as possible and ready to go home the guy accepted my offer but only on condition that I took all five pans. I couldn’t refuse. I staggered back towards our accommodation with the set in an inadequate bag. Thankfully our car was parked only a few hundred metres from the sale so I dumped the lot in the boot and reflected on how I might announce the acquisition to my husband. A drink or two later I disclosed my purchase. My husband and my very good friend who was providing us with our holiday accommodation came with me to our car where the pans were sittting in their collapsed plastic bag. Both were amazed at the condition of the pans, save for the handles they looked almost new at first glance. At home the handles were restored to their former glory with the assistance of Ikea wooden worktop oil and they now look perfect. The paint on some of the lids is a little dull, I guess more damage from dishwasher use. Not a problem! We finally have our complete Le Creuset collection.
  4. Also on sale now in the UK: http://www.chocolatetradingco.com/buy/free-sample-ruby-chocolate-chips?by=cat&c=3407&o=2&pz=10&p=1 You can have a free 40g trial bag if you order from this company. I do buy from them from time to time so might take advantage of this...
  5. We recently ate at Skosh ( https://skoshyork.co.uk/) on Micklegate in York. It was a meal that I shall remember I hope for the rest of my life. In brief it was stunning! I was urging friends to make a visit earlier today and realised that while the incredible flavours and textures of the food are vividly embedded in my mind the food is so different to anything else I have experienced that it is difficult to describe. There are some photos on the restaurant’s website and many others on Tripadvisor to give an idea of what is served. Dishes are small and we were guided to choose around a dozen for the four of us to share. Every dish was both a work of art, goodness knows how much time goes into preparing them, and a sensory delight. The menu wasn’t much help because we simply didn’t understand many of the terms but staff are extremely helpful in guiding customers towards combinations. I still don’t know what ‘tteokbokki’ is (I know I could look it up) but I will never forget the ‘Asparagus tteobokki with sour cream’ that we shared. I don’t need a definition. I know that I will never cook food like this at home One of our party can’t tolerate gluten and staff were exceptionally helpful in ensuring that we chose appropriately so that we could all enjoy everything that came to our table. Every detail, every morsel of that food was simply splendid. We paid around £150 for four adults including drinks. We will certainly be going back very soon.
  6. Package does state ‘Ruby cocoa beans’, I’ll try to get hold of a bar from Fortnums and report further...
  7. Thanks for the rotate @rotuts,, it is my understanding that these KitKats are supposed to be made with Ruby choc: https://www.nestle.co.uk/media/pressreleases/kitkat-ruby-arrives-in-the-uk Fortnum and Mason appear to be selling bars of the product now: https://www.fortnumandmason.com/t/categories/food-hall/ruby-chocolate?channel=ppc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8sv3n6Tl2gIVTb7tCh0eGQybEAAYASAAEgLFIvD_BwE
  8. It has been kept at room temp in a sealed container. Taste has stayed great but it is clear that the mix is very very slowly spreading. A pity, am nevertheless delighted to have something edible, if not giftable yet...
  9. Nougat has been my treat of choice for many years but my only previous attempt to make it at home was an absolute disaster. The ingredients are not cheap and I was reluctant to try again after a first batch from which nothing could be salvaged. Until a couple of days ago when I came across honey that I had bought some time ago and which was still in good condition. After reading around numerous recipes I stood for what seemed an eternity to get the sugars to the temperature recommended but the experiment paid off. We have nougat! Any advice from you in respect of stabilising the result would be welcomed. The pictures were taken 24 hours after the nougat was made. In the 24 hours that have followed the rectangles have become rounded as the nougat gently and very slowly seems to be collapsing. I’m wondering if there is anything I might add to the mix to prevent this? The taste is better than I could have hoped for.
  10. Ruby KitKats have been tracked down and eaten! While this didn’t give us the opportunity to properly evaluate the taste of the chocolate I would second @Kerry Beal‘s impression. A nice enough biscuit but I wouldn’t whip my cat across a field of broken glass to get hold of another (not that I need to, plenty of stock at Tesco)! Apologies for the orientation of the photos, I couldn’t find a way to flip them in the time available....
  11. I am certainly aware of the Star Inn at Harome, ate there many years ago before Mr Michelin visited and had one of the most memorable dishes of my life: wild mushroom broth, a starter in those days. The ambiance is beautiful at Harome. Victor, manager of the White Swan at Pickering, was perhaps too anxious to learn about their plates rather than the quality of the food. His menu was also very good in those days. The problem with that corner of North Yorks is the traffic. During the summer months the line of vehicles heading for the coast makes life very difficult for ‘locals’. We passed through a few months ago and nothing had changed. Great to visit Ryedale in the winter but complicated otherwise which is a pity for us as we have extended family in that area. I look forward to trying some of the other suggestions. Today brought a recommendation for Brockley Hall at Saltburn-by-the-Sea; a little further north but perhaps also worth a visit.
  12. DianaB

    Dinner 2018

    Beef Roghan Josh, cooked for me and delicious.: My husband has made enormous progress with creation of various curry recipes since he retired last July. It is always a pleasure to be cooked for and this tasted so much better than my poor photo indicates.
  13. I received a regular recipe email today proposing a chicken in red wine casserole. Nothing unusual until I read the list of ingredients and saw that ‘poire tapée’ was included. I had never before come across this way of preserving pears but very much want to try the result. I can’t share the original recipe, it can only be viewed in Europe; I did find a YouTube video on this process of preserving pears however so am sharing that instead: Has anyone tried pears this way, or attempted a similar process? In the original recipe the cook had a couple of entire pears that were diced and added to the mix. Dried raisins were proposed as an alternative but I’m craving those pears... The technique is traditional to a region close to where we will be staying in a couple of weeks so I’m thinking a search might be made.
  14. Ruby KitKats to make their appearance in the UK: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/apr/10/a-rosy-future-nestle-launches-pink-kitkats-with-ruby-chocolate
  15. DianaB

    Apple pie

    Would your green apples have been like the Bramleys mentioned up-thread? Odd that this topic should resurface after I saw my first Bramleys in years a few days ago! Entirely the wrong time of year for us in theory but they were huge and fresh looking and they reminded me of childhood apple pie never bettered. I need to go back and buy some, perhaps pie or a proper English crumble beckons.... The apples I saw were entirely green, I’ll take a photo if they are still there next time I shop.
  16. This is a fascinating thread, for readers in the UK I’m guessing that we will all be stunned at the sophistication of cooking ranges from decades when at best the average family here had four rings over an oven. The more modern might have enjoyed the luxury of an ‘eye level grill’, for US readers I think you would call our ‘grill’ a ‘broiler’ but I’m sure others will correct me if I am wrong. For us children of England in the 1960s / 1970s a division was whether your parents cooked with electricity or gas. Electric stoves had either solid heating plates or the snail shell style. The latter probably has a name more appropriate but I don’t recall it. My family cooked with a gas stove and in the early 1970s the country gradually shifted from manufactured gas, known as town gas, to ‘natural’ North Sea gas. Supply companies offered incentives to households to update their stove to suit the new ‘natural’ gas. We enjoyed a subsidised new stove: four burners, an oven with warming drawer below and, of course, an eye level grill. There were additional plate warmers either side of the grill I think. Our neighbours, perhaps anti-waste before such became a trend, refused the ‘upgrade’ insisting that their pre-WW2 stove be converted to suit the new fuel. My parents found that ridiculous at the time but with hindsight perhaps they had the right idea. Certainly my mother cursed the new stove on a regular basis but she cursed many things and not always with logic. I can still visualise that old stove, ‘cooker’ as we called it, on its curvy iron legs. Probably a masterpiece of early 20th century design. Today the size of homes in England limits most to some variation of a four burner hob with a single, or 2 ridiculously small, cavity oven. Only those fortunate to have a larger than average property might enjoy the comparatively expensive to buy and to run Aga or similar. The vast ranges that were apparently fairly widespread in the US would have been beyond imagination for the vast majority at a similar time here. Largely perhaps a result of the amount of space available per person. Rural England is crowded in comparison to many parts of Canada or the US (I do appreciate that I am generalising hugely here). A few miles south, across the English Channel, holiday makers have long been jealous of the Godin and similar ranges more common in France. Of course one needs to live there rather than simply visit for a couple of weeks each year to appreciate that for the average family a hob and small free-standing oven is more usual than a range. For the average urban living French family a UK style cooking set-up would, in my experience, be out of the ordinary. It is always fascinating to see to see how everyday objects have evolved, or not; and to appreciate regional differences. Good food can of course be made with the simplest of appliances. Toasters are a good illustration: toasted bread is equally good from a modern device or from a fork positioned over a fire. The former is no doubt more practical for families .
  17. Perhaps starting to get a taste for Suze, made White Negronis tonight using the recipe up-thread and, gradually, the mix became palatable. Very new flavours for us, a pleasure to explore.
  18. DianaB


    Hope you enjoy the Suze version more than we did! Off in search of alternatives for the rest of our bottle. Very inexpensive in Europe so have ended up with a lot to play with... Thanks @blue_dolphin for the direct link.
  19. DianaB


    I appreciate that this thread has been dormant for a while but as Aperol has become an essential ingredient for us of late I thought I would mention the Aperol Spritz again, a very easy to make cocktail available easily in France and England in the many recently opened cocktail bars (using that title in a wider sense than might be the norm elsewhere - these are often existing bars looking to attract new customers with special priced cocktails at early evening hours). I’m all but certain that I first found the recipe on eGullet, if not it would have been via Robert Hess: Aperol Spritz per person 60ml Champagne (sure it will also be good with other dry white that sparkles) 50ml soda water 40ml Aperol Served over ice in a long glass. We often double the wine for a longer drink at home. During our last Paris trip we noted that several bars were substituting other drinks in place of Aperol, no doubt to vary menus while keeping drinks relatively familiar. We saw Suze as a frequent offer, a Suze Spritz being as above but (I know it’s obvious) with Suze instead of Aperol. A bottle of Suze was acquired to give this a try. We had already found that we don’t like Suze on its own but then wouldn’t drink Aperol on its own either. Result? To us, not nice. I will be reading around for other ideas to use up the rest of the bottle.
  20. I realise this is a response to an old post but having recently been in contact with Le Creuset I thought others might find this information useful. We have a good number of Le Creuset cooking pots collected over more than 30 years. Some 20 years ago we noticed that the nom-stick surface of one of our ‘fait tout’ pans was chipping. These pots have an all cast iron body and the lid can be used as a small frying pan. The whole pot can be used on the hob and in the oven and we find it an ideal size for numerous meals for 2. Aware that Le Creuset offers a lifetime guarantee we contacted our local retailer, they sent it to Le Creuset and in due course we received a new pot, this time the pan is lined in enamel, it is only the lid/frying pan that has a non-stick surface, we understand the version with all non-stick was withdrawn because too many people experienced the same problem. We still have the replacement and it is used most days. Very many years ago I came across a Le Creuset milk pan in a clearance sale, also non-stick. I was a student at the time and money was in short supply but even then a genuine Le Creuset milk pan at £12 just had to be bought. This pan is also used most days and that has been the case for more than 3 decades. Recently I noticed that the non-stick was starting to disintegrate in the centre of the pan base. I certainly have no receipt but Le Creuset items are easily enough distinguished from other makes (some, much cheaper, are very good). Remembering the lifetime guarantee I contacted Le Creuset customer service to ask firstly (with little optimism) did the guarantee apply; if not could the pan be refinished and if so at what price and if neither of those options was possible I asked where I might find a replacement. I received a fast and detailed reply. Yes, Le Creuset cast iron pots with enamelled interiors are guaranteed for life on a fair useage basis. Non-stick coatings are guaranteed for 10 years so our pan is certainly not covered and Le Creuset no longer make pans like ours so a new replacement is not an option. Very sad about the last bit of information because I would now pay a lot of money for another pan like ours in new condition. Le Creuset assured us that even though the non-stick is breaking down the pan is still safe to use. I am yet to see any detached pieces of non-stick in our sauces so continue with this pan hoping that one day I will come across a replacement that someone has had stashed in a cupboard for years. I search eBay regularly but in general pans on sale via eBay are in worse condition than ours. In conclusion then, I was really impressed that Le Creuset responded promptly and in detail to my query. We at least know that the enamelled pieces are guaranteed and that one can go direct to the manufacturer rather than having to recall where items were bought and hope they are still trading.
  21. DianaB

    Satay from scratch

    About to try this again at home with the leftover seasonings from the first attempt. Only difference will be chicken thigh meat rather than chicken breast. Won’t be making any peanut butter sauce, the PB stayed in France, not something we eat at home so guess the result might better be called Thai style chicken rather than Satay. Had to come back here to see what I did last time as hadn’t noted elsewhere.
  22. Would the people selling the business you are interested in be willing to have you ‘shadow’ them for a while? That might allow you the insight to work out which skills you will need to prioritise to keep it going while not taking you away from your sushi restaurant entirely?
  23. Like @chromedome we enjoy non-alcohol beers on hot days. The 1664 variety is palatable and refreshing. Having said that we have a crate of the stuff that’s been in store for at least a year. Perhaps says more about recent summers than the quality of the drink.
  24. Fot those without equipment to stabilise a camera the ‘live’ photo option on an iPhone (I have a 7+ but I think the same feature is on other models) can help where tremor is a problem. Going to ‘edit’ from a ‘live” photo allows you to see the series of images the iPhone camera recorded and to keep whichever you prefer as the key frame, that which would show if you shared your pictures. Live Photo’s appear to be very short video clips and while the iPhone software will pick a frame as the key you don’t have to keep it that way. I am fascinated by small growing things such as lichens and mosses and have been amazed at the definition possible through basic iPhone photos. I need to improve food photos, while I have stunning (to me) pictures of lichens I rarely manage to capture food with anything like the same quality.
  25. I’ve been trying to learn chocolate making on and off for some years now. I have no aim to do this professionally, just to be competent enough to create a few bonbons for friends and colleagues. I’ve been reflecting on what has helped me so far, I would stress that I am still very much at the start of the learning curve! First, Kerry Beal’s DVDs are hugely useful because the information is there and can be returned to again and again. She posted them to me in the UK ignoring all my requests to pay postal charges. They are inexpensive when compared to books, they focus on what a beginner needs to understand and following the advice they contain can help beginners to avoid expensive wasted chocolate and time. Second, Mycryo cocoa butter. For me, (as yet) unable to justify an EZTemper this product takes (some of) the stress out of tempering. Next, polycarbonate magnetic molds. As a beginner I stick to simple shapes without sharp corners. Circles rather than squares make it easier for me to create an even and complete modded chocolate. I began with silicon molds but results were unpredictable and the molds grew a white bloom however carefully I cleaned and stored them. I now use those molds to freeze inserts for pastries, herbs for adding to cooking etc Also worth a mention: clingfilm and disposable gloves. I use film to cover everything within range when working with chocolate and find the gloves indispensable to avoid spoiling the few nice shiny chocolates I turn out with unwanted finger marks. I haven’t bought many books. I do use Frederic Bau’s L’essential du Chocolat although some of the recipes are less than wonderful it makes for a good guide to basic techniques. I bought Greweling after reading recommendations here but I haven’t made anything from that book yet. Perhaps too advanced for me. Having read this thread I guess I will be looking again at a small tempering machine. I hint to my husband that he might make me one (are you reading this RB) as a newly retired Control Engineer it might be a good project for him and he has indicated an interest in such from time to time. I know he has joined eGullet so might read this.... I sometimes use my dough proofing oven to melt chocolate, it is sold with tempering as one of its functions but it takes a long time. The proofer has transformed my bread making but that’s another topic!
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