Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Me and my Food Quest

At home Dad had a few signature dishes, corn beef bolognese, which I loved, chilli con carne with vinegar, beautiful, he also made a Spanish omelette with potatoes. He taught my mum to cook.
The kitchen was mum's zone though, you could sit at the table and watch.
Dad, with his penknife, would cut me slices of apple either with slices of cheese or with cinnamon sugar to dip the slices in.

For me in my little speccy head; Tea making was dangerous, I was too short for the sink, couldn't use the sharp knives, the flaming cooker was a no-go.

I left home at 16, clueless about food.
It was all about economy sausages and pesto-pasta. I would often nick other people's food at dinners, I still do. I remember some idiot laughing at me because I didn't know how to make a white sauce, I was embarrassed and annoyed and concluded he was an arse.

My main cookbook was Get Stuffed, from the tv show Get Stuffed, which my friend Gid was in back in the day.

Later I lived with vegans and veggies and gradually learnt to prepare veg, with tips on cutting onions, and learnt to fry veg for my pasta. I continued to hang off other peoples meals, which was handy with the vegan chefs and I was taught to make onion bhajis and became the Queen of Onion Bhajis and covered half the kitchen in batter.

What I lacked was/is confidence.

I have a funny relationship with food, when I get really nervous I cannot eat.
When I got ill with nerves I refused all food except olives.
Olives were full of positivity and nutrients and led me back to eating properly again.

I started eating meat again around the same time I started smoking again.
The first meat I ate after 13 years was a Peperami. It was a rare treat when I was a kid and I love dried cured meat particularly Chirizo. Chewy and juicy and salty and tangy, sweet savoury.

I had no idea how to cook meat though.
Growing up we were skint so often the meat was cheap with gristle and it was the same at school with school dinners.
I developed a gag reflex to bone, gristle, certain fat. It's awkward and embarrassing as I will have to get it out my mouth before I start retching.

I also spill food down my front. It turns out I am incredibly clumsy. I knock over glasses, miss my mouth, cutting food awkwardly flinging it across my plate. I am known for having food down my top, a kind friend said that was an endearing quality. I am unintentionally goofy.

In present times, I have a rough idea on cooking rice and pasta. I can make a nice cous cous salad. Roast vegetables is a signature dish.
That's about it really except for pre packaged things, I can do them.
I like chopping veg and prepping food and I understand a bit about timing.

So this week My Big brother is going to teach me about buying and cooking meat.
Day 1-Roast Chicken
Day 2- Fish 2 types in 2 different ways
Day 3- Beef Mince- Jamaican Patties and Pork Mince- Gyoza

Mostly he's going to help me build up my cooking confidence.

Thanks Bruv!
Bill with his homemade Chive Flower Vinegar

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Day 1: Bacon Butty

As I came through the door of my visit to Leeds my first cookery lesson began.
How to make a bacon butty.

Streaky bacon is full of fat which makes it crispy
Smoked vs UnSmoked? is just a matter of taste
Pancetta is like bacon and good for frying
Bacon is best on the grill, the fat drips away.
Super hot grill so it sizzles
Don't need to flip bacon as it's thin enough
Defrost finger rolls in microwave, as bread is frozen.
Add Balsamic vinegar to your cherry tomatoes, add as you fry them.

When buying a bunch of rashers from a butchers, separate it before putting it in freezer so you can defrost small portions and not the whole batch.

Shopping in Kirk Gate, Leeds

We headed out straight away after our bacon butties, taking a cab to Kirk Gate Market.
Outside there were loads of stalls with people calling out their deals on fruit and vegetable, "2 banana for 1", shouting over each other, standing in front of their stalls waving their fruit in the air.
Everything was so neat and tidy and lots of colour.
We brought sweet pepper, carrots, parsnip, cherry tomatoes and some herbs.
I thought that was it for the market but I didn't expect the insides. We went through a big arch to one market were we grabbed our spices at the Spice Corner.
Bruv was mesmerised.
Then we went down a corridor to a whole row of butchers shops, all tucked into the sides, with the butcher on the doorstep, shouting their deals like in the vegetable market. They were helpful of where to buy stock they didn't have. The Butchers row is good because it keeps prices competative and standards high and people know to go there to get their meat and not a Tesco in sight!
We got Pork mince, Beef mince, small chicken and bacon.
We went around a corner into this large beautifully structured interior, with florists and plants.
And parallel to the meat corridor is the fish row. All the different types of food were together.
We got Mackerel and scallops as I'd never had scallops before.

Bill's Words of Wisdom: Microwaves

Microwaves don't have different heat settings.

They are very basic and are more about timing than higher or lower heat.
All they need are 2 buttons, one for Time and one for how many times it buzzes (which is the microwaving)

The heat in a microwave is a standing wave, hence the spinning plate. 
That's why you can't microwave an ant, because it walks around the hot spots (see QI)
If you're defrosting meat, put it on lower than the defrost setting and be patient, as it's a timing issue.

"Microwaves with lots of buttons are for stupid people" says Bruv.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Day 1: Roast Chicken Dinner

So we buy this little chicken from the poultry butchers.

When we get in we let chicken relax to get to room temperature for a while (not days just an hour or so)

When ready to start cooking Weigh the Chicken, ours was 2lb 12oz.
Now wash it.
I really like this peeler, Bill don't.
I got the task of chopping and peeling vegetables and herbs for the herb butter.
We checked inside the chicken to see if it had any gizzards in it -it ddin't.
I helped rub the herb butter into the chicken skin.
I was a bit squeamish as the chicken was heavy and floppy but it is good to be aware of where your food comes from and recognise what it is you are eating.
I was a veggie for so long and the food industry separates us soo much from this experience that it was quite surreal for me. Bill took over and showed me how it's done really massaging the chicken with herb butter and salt.

Wash herbs for butter rub
Herbs and garlic chopped into melted butter

We then put halved lemon inside the chicken which helps moisten the chicken.
We propped up the chicken in the tray so it wouldn't get soggy in the juice.
If you are going to cook and eat an animal you must make it the best way it can be made.
This is the ultimate sign of respect from a carnivore.
I have been reading MEAT by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal and he makes some very good arguments about eating meat and how to care for the animal.
Not Ice-cream, Duck Fat!
Parboiled and covered in herbs
We cooked the vegetables in duck fat, parboiling the potatoes first.
Parboiled potatoes in microwave- full power for 6-7mins

Arrange shelves in oven
Lift chicken with bits of foil or veg so chicken gets crispy not soggy in fat
Rub in the herb butter and put lemons inside
We searched through multiple cook books and websites for a general consensus on times and oven temperature.
Stick veg on the top shelf covered in duck fat at GasMark7
Chicken in middle for 20mins
After 20mins Baste chicken and veg
Swop around veg to lower shelf and chicken to top shelf
Lower tempreture to GM4
After 30-40 minutes turn off oven and leave door open
and let chicken sit in oven for 15mins

nom nom nom
Chicken Gravy
Chicken stock cube and boiling water in pan
add chilli jam 2 tspoons
add smooth english mustard 1/2 tspoon
Melt butter in mini bowl
add plain flour and make a roux
add to liquid in the pan and slowly heat

Post Chicken Dinner Stock
Place all bits of chicken dinner -the bones, veg etc (though not the lemon)
into a slow cooker.
Place on a low heat overnight add herbs and gravy.
The next day sieve out the bones and give the meat and veg to foxes.
Keep the juice, sieve into a container.
Sit for a while so the fat seperates and pour off the fat.
Then store in the freezer for future use.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Bruv's Allotment

Farmer Bruv
Bruv has inherited an allotment which he's bringing into line and tidying up.
It's absolutely full of fruit and vegetable plants.
It's nestled in the city farm opposite his house, so has a constant supply of manure for the veg.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Day 2: Teriyaki Salmon Morning Preparation

First thing we did when we got up in the morning (after 3 coffees and a bacon butty obvs) was start preparing the salmon and marinade for that evening meal.

Bruv taught me to always consult cookery books and the interweb to find a united idea of how to cook something. Knowing my brother, I think he enjoys the learning aspect of using another persons recipe. He is a walking encyclopaedia of facts and ideas.

In his kitchen he has set up a little shelf for his netbook and recipe scouting:

The marinade we decided on was from Daring Gourmet and was called Homemade Teriyaki Sauce.

So first off we gathered the spices which included Ginger powder, molasses, honey, garlic, mirin, dark soya sauce, sesame oil, bit of water.

The recipe actually had a few different things that we swopped for what we had, so the recipe said brown sugar but we used Molasses.

So based on the recipe all these ingrediants were mixed together in a pan on the hob brought to a boil, and then simmered for 6 mins.

Meanwhile Bruv is used his very sharp paring knife to gently and carefully cut the skin from the salmon

Once the sauce had cooled, the salmon placed in the dish, covered in cling film and left all day to marinade.