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Miss J

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  1. Funny disaster last night: I was tired, cooking whilst talking to partner, AND trying something new as well. The sequence of events went something like this:

    1. Put rice on hob.

    2. Take salmon fillets out of fridge. Think about making herb crust. Instead, pull out copy of A New Way To Cook and follow recipe for the Sichuan Pepper rub (recommended for salmon).

    3. Coat fillets. Melt butter/oil in pan.

    4. Sear fish. Turn rice down.

    5. Pop fish into oven to finish off.

    6. Make salad (shaved cukes with dash rice vinegar, pinch sugar & sesame oil) whilst rabbiting away at partner.

    7. Realise several minutes too late that I've turned down the wrong pan, and my rice is now burning.

    8. Rice is ruined. Start warming packaged naan in oven instead.

    ...finally get patched-up dinner together. A few bites in, my partner looks up with a strange expression and says, "Something's weird." Sure enough, something is weird. My high-grade Sichuan peppercorns are doing their high-grade thing, and that tingly pins-and-needles sensation is waging guerilla warfare on my mouth.

    Note to self: when making Sichuan pepper rub in the future, USE SUPERMARKET SICHAN PEPPER.


  2. Nigella Lawson gives a recipe for "Turkish Delight figs" that she saw on Masterchef (UK) - you cut ripe black figs into little gap-mouthed birds, and then nestle them in an overproof dish. Then you make a light syrup of sugar, water, lemon juice and rosewater (or is it orange blossom water?), and pour it over the figs. Bake the whole thing, basting regularly, until the figs are soft, shiny, and sticky. Eat with something tangy, like creme fraiche or thick strained yoghurt.

    They're rich, sweet and outrageously fragrant. :wub:

    Edit: forgot to mention how envious I am of your fig bounty...!

  3. When I was waiting tables during my uni days:

    - At a very elegant wedding, a group of people were nonplussed by nearly every dish I brought out. Especially the gazpacho. They were convinced we just hadn't bothered to heat it up.

    - At another wedding, the bride had requested brioche topped with fois gras as a starter. As I refilled water glasses, I overheard a couple of guys at one of my tables discussing it:

    "Hey, what's that stuff on the toast?"

    "Dunno...tastes kinda like turkey stuffin'. But soft."

  4. At times we've been subjected to ludicrous "post modern" performance art in the middle of the meal and diners have been told to be quiet if they don't show the requisite degree of respect.

    Tony, please elaborate. I haven't been subjected that that particular experience. :blink:

    I agree with your assessment of the food, and I also find the service a bit slipshod. The last time I went our waiter was a tall, attractive, languid Aussie bloke who couldn't seem to hold more than two orders in his head at a time.

  5. Smokers as a rule exhale (and position their cigarette while not inhaling) away from themselves and their companions to avoid sending noxious smoke in their own or companions' faces and/or meals without regard for anyone else in their immediate vicinity.  This practice is utterly indefensible and is tantamount to battery.

    Ah - forget what I said earlier about smoking licenses. Maybe businesses should just put signs up saying, "You can smoke, but please don't exhale."


  6. Why not just put the onus on the bars to get "smoking licenses?" That way it's highly likely that most bars will end up going smoke-free just to avoid the hassel, but a few places that REALLY want to offer a smoke-tolerant environment can do so.

  7. John, I observed something similar in Mexico. My host added a generous dose of bottled green habenaro sauce to EVERYTHING he ate. He said that he found food without chile extremely bland, much the way many people find food without salt unpalatable. And a West Indian friend of mine (who eats a Jamaican brand of hot sauce on everything) found my souvenir habanero sauce too hot even for her spice-addicted palate. It makes my latest fad (sambel olek on everything that doesn't move) seem pretty tame.

    My explanation:

    In the West, lactating women are advised to avoid garlic, chiles and other strong tastes so they don't upset their babies' tummies. When babies are weaned, they're purposefully given bland foods.

    In other cultures, lactating women eat spicy foods because it's considered completely normal to do so. When the babies are weaned, they are given foods that aren't that far off the ones they'll be eating with the rest of their familes as they get older.

    Result: kiddies who are exposed to spicy foods since infancy will grow up thinking that a chile kick to the tastebuds is as normal a flavour enhancer as salt. For those of us who were raised on apple sauce and pablum, it's often a different story.

  8. Spent the weekend decorating (ie tired, covered in paint, irritable, with nowhere to sit down or put a plate) so kept everything REALLY simple:

    Saturday: linguine with wild mushroom ragu (one of my rainy day sauces from the freezer), ricotta and a zap of sambal olek

    Sunday: scrambled eggs with Spanish chorizo and chopped fresh coriander on toast

  9. Mayonnaise.  Shameful, isn't it?


    Whats the problem exactly?

    I can't make it.

    It goes all grainy. I suppose that means it separates, technically speaking.

    Yes - I have exactly the same problem. I have friends who can whip up mayo with a whisk, a blender, a hand-blender - it's always perfect. Me, I just destroy egg after egg after egg. And yet I've never messed up hollandaise or a bearnaise...strange. :huh:

  10. I am not a fan of cereal. Unless it's porridge, which doesn't really count because you need to do something to it to make it edible. Or real muesli, which is the same kinda deal only without a microwave involved. I'm not a fan of boxed muesli anymore, although I used to be a few years ago. Granola's good, but only if it's homemade and therefore unlikely to rot your teeth out of your head after a couple spoonfuls.

    I'm starting to think that maybe I'm just a high-maintenance cereal-eater. :blink:

  11. This Sunday's make-an-effort lunch was done in honour of friends who've arrived back in the UK from their NGO jobs in Cambodia. Having been away for nearly a year, they requested a trad(ish) Sunday lunch. So I made:

    Roast silverside of beef with a red wine, thyme and anchovy reduction

    Roasted new potatoes

    Steamed spring greens with butter and lemon

    Glazed carrots with smoked sweet paprika

    ...I decided to go French-inspired instead of English 'cos I don't trust myself to be able to make Yorkshire pudding as well as my mum does.

    For dessert I made a raspberry tart, which tasted fab but looked a little odd - think I'll have to pick some pastry gurus' brains about that. :smile:

  12. Thanks Jinmyo, I'll try lamb next time. Maybe my cutting didn't help the tofu, as well - I went for large-ish cubes (around 1.5cm), and the refreshed it in a hot water bath. Last time I bought my tofu from a Chinese market, and it seemed a little firmer and not quite as slippery as the stuff I used last night.

    Western palate, you know - still learning to appreciate "slippery." :wink:

  13. ma po dofu - tofu poached in ruddy chili-bean paste oil, black beans and stock, seasoned with sugar and soy, then finished with spring onions, crisply fried minced beef and ground roasted Sichuan pepper. Flavours were great, although my tofu (firm silken, the only kind available at the supermarket) was WAY to soft & slippery for the dish. The texture just seemed a little wrong.

    tiger-skin peppers

    Green peppers shallow-fried until their skins loosen and brown in patchy strips, then drained and dressed with black vinegar and salt.

    steamed white rice

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