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eG Foodblog: Prawncrackers (2010) - Cooking with Panda!


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Mmm, day 2 and I've only cooked one dish so far. Sorry for the slow pace folks, I mentioned earlier that I don't have breakfast on a workday and as there's a free canteen for lunch I don't need to prepare a lunchbox either. At work there's always a choice of three hot mains - today it's Chilli Con Carne, Salmon & Dill Fishcake or Creamed Mushroom & Peppercorn Tortellini. Plus there are Deli, Sandwich, Salad, Fruit and Pudding counters. You are limited to a certain combination of counters though, you can't just pile it all on like an all you can eat buffet. Though trust me some people do try. I'm really rather ambivalent about the food in the staff restaurant, but for the price I can't really complain. The quality is what you would expect from mass-catering operating at cost. What I do find puzzling sometimes is the insistence of some people that if it's free then you have to eat there, it's like the choice has been taken away from them. Maybe once or twice a week I would pop out for lunch and buy a freshly prepared sandwich from the next door farm shop (freshly baked bread is the bedrock of a good sandwich) but the notion that I would spend a few pounds to buy food just seems ridiculous to some! Yet I find it ridiculous that they wouldn't even entertain the idea of spending some money to buy food that you enjoy! I suppose that is the difference between eating to live and living to eat. Anyway, I stayed in the building today and had a salad, sausage roll, mini-samosa and a slice of watermelon. I tend not to have a big lunch as it spoils my appetite for dinner where all the good food is at!

The fridge hasn't magically replenished itself overnight, it's funny how they don't usually do that. But I remember that I do have some small cartons of passatta in a cupboard somewhere and there are those homemade salamis. I think I feel a pizza coming on…

Blether, yes that Chilli oil is the same stuff I put on my rice. It's good on roasted meat and fried stuff but really you can put it on anything you like. It's definitely more of a condiment rather than a cooking ingredient. Looks like you've had a couple of spoonfuls already, did you like?

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No, no you weren't stepping on any toes. :smile: In fact maybe having the blogs start and end on the same day is a good idea, since starting days at least for you and I seemed a little slow.

I was happy to see your egg fried rice recipe, I've been planning on trying this with quinoa, which I'm sure you saw on my eGullet blog is my grain of choice. Do you think you could post or point us to a char sui recipe? The photo looks gorgeous.

Great idea to have friends stop by. Can't wait to see what you whip up. I definitely learned that we all like to hear about the simple stuff as much as the more complicated dishes. Your fried rice is a great example of this. I'm inspired.

Take care,

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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Thanks Chris for posting those links.

Jenni, my camera set-up is very simple, just an Olympus DSLR (model E520) and when it's needed a flash pointed upwards so that the light is bounced off the ceiling. I don't try to compose my shots too much, just get it on the plate in a presentable fashion, take a couple of snaps and eat before it gets cold! In the early days of my photo-food-OCD folk would look at me like I'm mad but after a couple of years they've come to accept it.

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Thanks for taking us along through your week. You noted that you do not eat breakfast before you leave the house. Do you have a morning beverage of choice in a particular format? Do you grab something along the way to eat before lunch? Oh- and I think so many of us are market freaks so any little glimpse of even the most simple market would be a treat (if photos permitted...)

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On the 15-20 minute drive home from work I pass by 2 Sainbury's, a Tesco and a Waitrose. If I continue to drive past my house for 5 mins then there's whole parade of Asian grocers. So i'm never stuck for groceries, today I popped into Waitrose because i wanted to pick up some cheese for a nice sloppy pizza. I have meat in the form of chorizo and salami that I made a couple of weeks ago (there's that pork theme again!):

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I'm not from Naples, never been either, in fact i'm not Italian so i'm not in anyway precious about pizza making. At the moment, I like a thinnish base and today I used only 200g of flour to make the dough which I try to roll out as thin as possible. But because of some kind of madness I try to put on as much topping as possible, it's like a game of pizza jenga! I've absolutely convinced myself that I don't like mozarella on pizza and over the years developed the rather unorthodox combination of Tallegio, smoked cheddar and parmesan! Waitrose is the only supermarket I know that sells Tallegio and I like to see the deli-counter assistant struggle to get the thin slices that i like for pizza topping. I like the Tallegio thin also because that stuff is so expensive. A little bit of smoked cheddar for me gives a nice base and i usually add that first onto the passatta with some oregano. Then cover as thickly as possible with sausage, anchovy next, then tallegio and parmesan. Actually looking at the photos now, I've only just realised that I forgot the olives and red onion! Anyway I build the pizza on a wooden peel dusted with semolina and slip onto a baking stone that's been heated in the oven at around 230C. I pulled this pizza out after about 13 minutes, the topping won today and some of the cheese had spilled over. Before slicing I dress it with some rocket. It was a good one today, a little mis-shapened but the base was cooked well. If anything I think i could have got away with a little more topping...

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Do you have a morning beverage of choice in a particular format? Do you grab something along the way to eat before lunch? Oh- and I think so many of us are market freaks so any little glimpse of even the most simple market would be a treat (if photos permitted...)

I'm not a big coffee drinker but i will have a couple of small cups in the morning from the free vending machines. To tie me over till lunch I have a cereal bar and I drink plenty of water during the day. It's a conscious decision on my behalf to practise a little abstinence at work, it would just be too easy to snack all day otherwise.

I'll try to take photos of the wholesale market tomorrow morning but be warned it's a very unlovely concrete carbuncle. Hopefully the produce will make up for it.

Damn, you just reminded me I meant to make pizza dough yesterday for dinner tonight. That looks fantastic. Where did you get the recipes for the charcuterie?

Thanks Chris, the Charcuterie recipes are from Ruhlman & Polcyn of course. More with them later.

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Blether, yes that Chilli oil is the same stuff I put on my rice. It's good on roasted meat and fried stuff but really you can put it on anything you like. It's definitely more of a condiment rather than a cooking ingredient. Looks like you've had a couple of spoonfuls already, did you like?

Funnily enough, 'not completely full' is how it came, but yes, I like the flavour well enough. Not too spicy, and as well as the sesame I suspect a hint of star anise ? I like the idea of having it on salad - it having turned cold, maybe I'll try dressing some hot veggies. I've been eating my way through a big batch of Thai pork curry and haven't felt the need for much more spice in the last week or more.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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A little bit of smoked cheddar for me gives a nice base and i usually add that first onto the passatta with some oregano. Then cover as thickly as possible with sausage, anchovy next, then tallegio and parmesan. Actually looking at the photos now, I've only just realised that I forgot the olives and red onion!

Brilliant. I love all these flavors. Would great stuffed in mini calzones too.

Grace

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I'm not a big coffee drinker but i will have a couple of small cups in the morning from the free vending machines.

Okay, please. Just shoot me now.

I know i know, it's not good stuff but I'll make it up to you today by brewing my own!

Is there a market in the UK that is akin to Whole Foods in the US

There are Whole Foods shops here in the UK but the only ones i've seen are in London. The impression I get of the way Whole Foods is marketed is that they are a cut above the average, is that right? If that's the case then the closest thing we would be a cross between a Selfridges/Harrods food hall and Waitrose. If I want high-quality produce here in Brum then I shop around, fish at the market, meat at my trusted butcher, veg from the farm shop or the Asian grocers is usually better than the supermarkets. But then i think our supermarket veg is pretty good in general:

Do you have a curing chamber?

I have a garage and a thermometer and my fingers crossed:

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Edited by Prawncrackers (log)
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Birmingham Wholesale Market is the biggest in the country, it probably is the ugliest too:

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Even at 7 in the morning a lot of the trading has been done and it's just the odd shopper like me in there:

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Chatting to the more jolly fish merchants today (they do exist) it's as i feared, the bad weather has limited today's choice little. Especially disappointed that there were no native lobsters but the Canadian ones look good and lively. No native razor clams either, which are usually the size of Churchhill cigars, the ones today are from the Med and are little smaller - more panatella! Massive prawns though, Madagascan, £49 a box!! Not today mate. I was particularly impressed with the huge halibut in the yellow bin, it must have been 150lb! They were selling it's brother cut up in tranches to order. You know I've only just thought about it but has anyone tried Halibut liver? I wonder if that fish has been gutted...

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There were some interesting items in the poultry section, I have my eye on one of these for xmas:

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In the end, this was my early morning haul. Yup, couldn't resist the lobsters and the razors. The turbot was spankingly fresh and had more slime on it than I've ever seen (always a good sign). Even though I was planning a seafood meal tonight, my wife last night requested Chicken rice too, so when I saw my favourite Label Rouge chickens there today I knew I had to make some. Oh and I picked up some quail eggs for a dish I'm thinking about tomorrow:

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I've changed my mind about a thousand times about the menu for today and tomorrow. I've decided that there's too much a la minute cooking if I include razor clams in black bean sauce today so i'm saving them for tomorrow. Lobsters I 'm going to stir fry in my nice big wok with scallions and ginger, classic Cantonese style and serve them over soft noodles as a first course. The second course is chicken rice, steamed turbot and veg. Hopefully my guests will remember to bring dessert.

Today is officially a study day so I'm actually doing some right now. Dinner is planned for 6:30, what time do you think I should start cooking?

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Hi Prawncrackers, Great to see your process up close. Your food is always gorgeous. I have been through those actuarial exams so I know of what you speak! Best of luck to you. During those gruelling study days I used to throw some chevre inside of a half avocado for my 5-minute allotted lunch. I saved the good food for the evenings.

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