Archive for November, 2007

A RECIPE: Profiteroles with pumpkin caramel sauce

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The problem with cooking for friends and family, whilst working in the food industry is that more is expected of you. Or, at least that is how you will undoubtedly always feel. If your dish isn’t paid a compliment or duly noted then immediately you recoil into a state of panic and melancholy that you might have chosen the wrong career path, that you are not as good a cook as you thought you were or that you will never be good at anything and so on and so forth. Alright, so perhaps it’s not ‘you’ I’m referring to but rather just myself. It’s not that I spend days panicking over what to cook for an upcoming event, or find myself with a shaky hand at the stove, it’s just that I’m hopelessly competitive and I’m always looking to out-do myself and quite frankly anybody else who chooses to wear an apron. It is perhaps this mentality of “I can do better than this or that”, which is why I keep working towards my goals. But then of course, there are those momentary setbacks, where you try to be too clever and end up out-doing even yourself.

So, here they are, the profiteroles with pumpkin caramel that appeared so strange amongst their more traditional Thanksgiving neighbours’. An attempt to be clever and unique when really I ought to have stuck with a pumpkin pie. Originally I had wanted to fill these little choux buns with pumpkin ice cream and drizzle with dark chocolate, but the demands of work left little time for churning batches of ice cream to get the right flavours. This was in all honesty a compromise, suggested by my colleague Deb, who, like me always wants her culinary endeavours to be a touch more perfect than perfection. I dread to think what might resolve from a work potluck dinner!

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Profiteroles with pumpkin caramel sauce’

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A very sweet thanksgiving

The very concept of Thanksgiving gives me pleasure beyond belief- friends, family, an excuse to cook-up a huge meal, wear your fat jeans and enjoy a long weekend to recover. Now, that’s my kind of holiday! No last minute present-buying panic or having to witness the disgust on my sister’s face as she opens the gift that I spent hours choosing for her. Cooking food, I can do. Panic over.

Of course, what I haven’t ever gotten my head around is the how different the that Americans’ serve on Thanksgiving is to what my British blood is used to. One of my most visited bad-food memories was my first Thanksgiving in Philadelphia, aged nine. Utilising the eyes-bigger-than-the mouth policy that most young children do, I mounded my plate with turkey and mashed potatoes and drowned it in half a boats worth of gravy. It was only when I’d sat down recited my ‘thank you Lord’s and Amen’s’ that I came to regret my greed. The gravy turned out to be flavoured with apple juice and I was then forced to sit, as if moribund, in front of a plate of food ruined by my own gluttony.

It was a lesson that has stuck with me throughout my years of celebrating Thanksgiving- to urge on the side of caution as you never know what might not be what it seems.  In the run-up to Thanksgiving one of my lovely friend’s, Megan, hosts an event aptly named ‘Friendsgiving’ and in the true American-style everybody brings a dish- a ‘potluck’, if you will. Now, as somebody who leans heavily towards the anal side when it comes to food pairings, I find this a difficult concept to fathom. I love the idea, but having had it drilled into me at cooking school that no course should contain any of the same ingredients or colours in succession the reality of a potluck is, well, potluck.  Potluck also implies that any Tom, Dick and Harry will be producing something that you will out of politeness and fear of being seen as a food-snob or even worse as a fad-dieter, spoon onto your plate. I would urge on the side of caution.
Continue reading ‘A very sweet thanksgiving’

A RECIPE: Emptying the cupboard cookies

Emptying the Cupboard Cookies

If you’re anything like me then you have an overstocked baking cabinet full of half used or nearly empty packets just waiting for an influx of moths that you just can’t bare to waste.  When I was getting ready to move last week I pulled out all sorts of ingredients, which I couldn’t bring myself to toss away and yet also didn’t want to haul to my new home in Brooklyn. These cookies could have been a complete disaster- lets face it the very title itself suggests that they are a real hash of things thrown together. Which they are. But somehow, by chance, perhaps,  they came out to be really good and proved to be a superb source of energy as I barked out orders to my boyfriend about what to carry next and how to pack it in the van.

I’m not going to begin to suggest that you should go out and buy all of these ingredients to make these cookies, nor that you might have all of them in your cupboards already- but the great thing about these is that they’re flexible. So, you only have walnuts in your cupboards- no almonds, coconut, hazelnuts or peanuts- just make up the weight with the walnuts. You can also exchange the dried fruits, drop the seeds altogether and if you don’t have whole wheat flour then just use plain. This recipe is yours for the taking. I personally like them because they are packed full- every nibble has a nut, so to speak. And even if the ingredients’ list does read much like my list for Santa this year, the directions are very short (again, much like my directions for Santa: “buy these gifts for me”).

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Emptying the cupboard cookies’

A new home and kitchen woes

I’m finally moving to Brooklyn tomorrow having spent months going through the process of buying a ‘Cooperative’ apartment. One would think that the seller would just want to take my money and be done with it, but alas, no; buying a co-op is like making croissants- it’s a long and painfully drawn-out process. Before you hand over a large cheque and say your thank you very muches you have to be approved by The Board (oh, yes, there’s a Board of neighbours- who decide your fate; a new reality TV series is coming to mind). To be approved by The Board you have to hand over copies of every document that pertains to your very existence and then go to an interview where they can ask you any questions that they choose. If I had a shrink, which currently I do not, I doubt that they would know more about me. I do not know as much about me. In fact the only thing that The Board don’t now know about me is what I eat for breakfast but then again they probably worked out from my bank statements, that I regularly swipe my plastic on cooking equipment and food. Hopefully, they do not know about this blog. Purchasing this apartment could either be a very savvy investment or a hell of an opportunity for a member of The Board to steal my identity. Continue reading ‘A new home and kitchen woes’

A RECIPE: Chana masala

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With a huge percentage of India’s population subsisting on a vegetarian diet, I had little to worry about in giving up my carnivorous instincts for the duration of my two-week trip. Being unaccustomed to a strictly vegetarian diet and as a person who has to wrack their brains for ideas when they have a non-consumer-of-the-flesh over for dinner; I ultimately found the trip as an inspiration for my veggie repertoire. Rarely, on going out to eat at an Indian restaurant have I given a second glance to the ‘vegetable preparations’ that are notoriously placed at the end of the menu. So, it came as a surprise to me at how many choices of vegetarian curries that there were on the restaurant menus in Rajasthan. And not just how many choices that there were of curries but how many different breads, dosas, chutneys, samosas and pakoras that there were to accompany it.Taking cooking lessons completely altered my attitude towards cooking Indian food at home, which had previously concluded that Indian food was unapproachable due to its laborious nature and its endless lists of ingredients.The premise of cooking in Rajasthani cooking is however, very simple with each curry containing the four main spices, chilli powder, turmeric, ground coriander and salt- and sometimes garam masala*. The flavours are not all directed towards blowing your head off either but as well as spicy also include, sweet, sour, creamy and cool. I noted that much of the cooking in Indian homes is done using a pressure cooker, though it is possible with a little more time on your hands to cook on the stove. One of my sister and my favourite dishes was Chana Masala or chickpea curry. Here is a barely altered recipe that we learnt to cook- the only changes being a slight reduction in oil (for health reasons), the use of tinned chickpeas (for convenience), and the use of ground garam masala rather than the individual components. This can be served with rice, breads or even as a side to a meat dish for those who aren’t willing to give up the meat. Certainly, in India you wouldn’t eat a bowl of chana masala without several other accompanying dishes. I think that the trick with this dish is to let it sit for 10-15 minutes (or longer) before you tuck in- eating it piping hot won’t bring out the complexity of the flavours. Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Chana masala’


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