Tag Archives: foodie penpals

Foodie Penpals the Seventh

7 Oct

Woah there. Seven months of Foodie Penpals … Wahooza! Seven months of getting ace parcels of deliciousness to my door? Wahoooooooooooooooo.
This month I was paired with two Sarahs. Sarah who I sent my parcel to runs a blog about lots of things, but one of the most important aspects is her candid discussion of mental health. You can read about how she found the package at her blog ‘Make-up and Mirtazapine’.

My parcel came from another Sarah, who has her own writing blog here. And once more, what a lovely parcel I got!

I did my usual ritual of saving it and then settling down with a cuppa and some cake, for the unpacking!

What would be inside my box of wonder?

All the amazing things! Sarah had clearly read through other posts and worked out what things I’m interested in and what sort of things I like. She set out by saying that she tried to theme it around Rosemary and sent some from her garden. Then there was some chilli vinegar, some parmesan biscuits, some chilli chocolate, a liquorice bar, some apple and elderflower tea, some rosemary cake and a pot of dukkah, which is a spice blend that you can add to everything! There was also some interesting infomation about rosemary and how it pairs really well with dark chocolate.

A great box of lovely new things to try and lovely homemade things to sample.

The dukkah was pretty exciting – I put it on top of some soup I made this week, which made it super tasty! The soup was a lentil, home-cured pancetta, chard and cavolonero soup. Or a veg box special in a less-pretentious tone.

The powder on top is the dukkah, which is a blend of sesame, almonds, hazelnuts, cumin, coriander, sugar and salt. I really like it. Other suggestions are to dip freshly baked bread into it and to sprinkle it over salads and cous cous. Another flavour of dukkah that the company does is pistachio and sumac, which I might try to re-create at home!

I’m sure I’m going to create some more delicious things from this great box of tricks too!

Thanks again for another lovely foodie penpal month, if you’re inclined to join in, please go over to the lovely RockSalt’s page and sign up.

 

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Foodie Penpals the Third

31 May

So this was my third month of being a Foodie Penpal. I send a box. I receive a box. Said box is full of delicious things. Everyone is a winner. If you want to win like that too, then go and have a shufty at RockSalt’s Sign Up Page.

This month I was paired with Jess to send to and Rhian to receive from. You will be able to read all about what I sent Jess here. (I won’t give any secrets away, oh no!)

Rhian sent me a fantastic package that was pretty generous. So spoiled am I! Her internet presences can be found here, but really you should follow her twitter @rhiandaniel – there’s a lot of good goings-on there.

So Ta-DA:

Here you can see my lovely card with macaroons on at the top left, then clockwise: a packet of Zoo pasta (actually amazing – I can’t wait to eat through the jungle), some handmade cinnamon and coconut macaroons (more later), TWO BARS OF WELSH CHOCOLATE (one dark, one caramel), a recipe book all about iced things (more later toooooo) and finally a packet of Rooibos tea (just because I’d said I like the loose leaf stuff, fancy pants that I am). What a haul. I can’t think of a better advert for foodie penpals than this.

The pasta, I’m waiting to eat because I really want to share it with my partner’s 6 year old son – we’ll going to make a well amazing cheesey sauce to go with it. Lions love cheese. Just like Shaggy loves haslet.

The chocoalte was very delicious. I took the caramel one away with me to my course at Dilston Physic Garden and nommed it to keep my brain cells going on a massively busy couple of days. The dark is delicious, but I’m saving it to make some delicious something with – maybe dark chocolate fudge? Really nice chocolate deserves to be shown off.

The Rooibos tea, I will confess, had my heart fall a bit. Not because it wasn’t a really thoughtful and kind thing to send, but because I forgot to say I don’t really like the stuff on the times I’ve tried it. However, I’m not going to let my pre-conceptions rule my life like that. In fact this rooibos is pretty nice and has very little of that metallic aftertaste I associate with the tea. I think it’ll make a really nice iced tea (maybe the weather will hold enough for a nice jubilee/commonwealth iced tea).

The macaroons turned out to have several lives in them. A flagrant rebel, I put the tea and the macaroons in separate houses (consolidating at the moment) so couldn’t follow Rhian’s suggestion of having them together. Instead I put the macaroons in my handbag *intending* to eat them very soon. By the time they swam to the top of my handbag again, I thought “uh oh I am an ungrateful selfishperson”. Yet, the miracle of Rhian’s baking meant they were still pretty moist and flavorsome. So I apologise, but also thank you Rhian. I’ve enjoyed them in some different ways. One was to crunch one up and add it to my post-netball smoothie:I also crumbled another one on the top of my fudge flavoured ice-cream. Cinnamon and coconut both go well with fudge and ice-cream, so a macaroon of both was bound to be awesome. It was. I felt a bit of a culinary genius. You don’t need to be Nigella and make hot chocolate sauce on a whim. Just crumble a biscuit. (Though these macaroons were a lot more than biscuits.)

Then to the recipe book. I love books. I really love recipe books*. I really love cold things. I under-use my ice-cream maker. What a perfect choice. I’d said to Rhian that I’d enjoyed getting a recipe in my previous packages, so would like one if it was possible from her. A book full of them is indeed inspirational. Lots of ideas for fruity lollies, sorbets, granitas and a host of other iced things. The recipe that caught my eye the most was ‘Watermelon Granita’. It caught my eye because I’d just bought a watermelon from the market and when I got it home and cut it open, well, it had lost it’s bite, but wasn’t manky. Spongy watermelon isn’t what you want.

So I took inspiration from the recipe (I say that because I’ve left the recipe book at my other house and can’t remember it all).

What I did was use my juicer to juice the flesh of the watermelon. If you’re familiar with juicers, you have a pulp compartment and the jug comes out a spout into a jug. After the juicing of my medium sized watermelon, I noticed that the pulp part clearly had a lot of juice in it too. I scooped the pulp into the middle of a clean tea towel and squeezed the rest of the juice out. I think I probably had close to 2 pints of juice.

Then I heated 200ml of water with 150g caster sugar until the sugar was all dissolved. I let this cool down while I grated the zest of a lime to the watermelon and then added the juice of that same lime. The sugar syrup was cool by now, so I swished it in with my watermelon/lime juice. Then I plugged my ice cream maker in and churned it til it was like a slushy that you get at the cinema.

Here my watermelon syrup is churning silkily. I am aware that it sounds like I have all of the kitchen kit. To be fair I do. If you don’t, you can I am sure get the same result by mashing the watermelon and squeezing it all through a tea-towel. The to freeze, put it in a tupperware and keep taking it out and stirring it with a fork. Granita is I think meant to be a bit chunky, a bit crystalline.

I had to try some and it was GOOD. Much more limey than I had anticipated. I don’t think I need to buy a brightly coloured Slush Puppy again. I even caught the last of the sun in the garden. And inspiration struck once more:

I hope growing watermelon seeds inside a watermelon isn’t some sort of fruitarian cannibalism. I do think its a natural plant pot. Maybe even looks a bit stylish? Eat your heart out Chelsea, Beeston is where the cutting-edge gardening is happening. Just you wait til you see my entirely imagainary rockery.

With my muses flowing, I began to make another iced thing. This time a ‘Chilli and Lime Sorbet’, but I had to go to work, so the syrup is growing some muscles in our fridge to be churned tomorrow:

That is some sugar, some lime, some chilli and some honey, waiting to be churned with more lime juice. Tingly tastebud ahoy!

To close, thank you very much for my package Rhian. Little did I know when I opened it that I would be led to ruminations over cannibal watermelons. I did know (pretty much as soon as I saw Rhian’s name on the list) that she’d send a lovely thoughtful parcel, and she totally came up trumps.

Thanks Rhian, Thanks RockSalt.

Keep offalling!

*If you’d like to participate in a cookbook swap – go to SoupTuesday!

Rendering your own lard (and my Lardy Oatcakes)

21 May

Really this should have been part of all my nosetotailings, but for reasons of space and time, I didn’t manage to use the lard until it was over. Yes, the suspense is lifted, I did manage to render some of my own lard. Nigella, eat your pancreas out!

The principle behind rendering your own animal fat into usuable storable fat is quite simply. The thing that makes natural fat go off is the cell tissue and membranes, if you melt it enough the fat will spearate from them and you can size them away. However it is a slow process, and I would do a couple of things differently. Also I’m not sure I’d have done it if I hadn’t had a slow cooker. (You must be converted to my slow cooker by now.)

There are two types of rendering of lard: wet and dry. Dry rendering you very gently over a long time heat the fat on its own until the cells and tissue break down which then forms a crusty surface. Wet rendering you again heat it long and slow, but with the addition of water, which stops the fat from burning. As we all know, fat and water don’t mix so well, so you can just pour the water off.

WARNING. I have no idea about weights and measurements as I used the fat I got off the head of Arthur after we’d feasted on him. There will be a lot of ‘some’s. If you google ‘Rendering your own lard’ there are a lot more precise recipes than mine (for example here and here).

So basically:

  1. Chop you fat very small.
  2. Add it to a slow cooker.
  3. Cover this with water (fat floats, make sure it’s all floating).
  4. Put the lid on.
  5. Switch the low and cook for 4 days. (I forgot to tell my boyfriend to turn it off whilst I was away for a night.) Keep it topped up with water.

When you top it up with water, it will bubble in an alarming fashion. Watch this if you don’t believe me:

When you think it’s melted enough, strain it all through a tea towel (or muslin) into a bowl. Let it cool, then tip the water that will have gathered underneath away. You will now have some lard in a bowl. It’s that simple.

What would I do differently next time? Two things. First I would freeze the fat and then use a grater to make the pieces really small, thus cutting the rendering time. Second, I’m not sure I needed to heat it for 4 days. I think that was excessive, so I would monitor that more carefully next time.

So what do you do with the lard that you have rendered? Well, there’s lots of things – you can use instead of butter or oil in anything. It’s meant to make amazing pastry. It’s a mono-saturated fat, apparently, which is the same as avocado oil, so it’s healthier than the term LARD now suggests. As you may have guessed, what I did do was make my own oatcakes with it. One, I bloody love oatcakes. Two, I thought they’d be a good vehicle for ‘tasting the lard’. (I was also quite proud and wanted the send my foodie penpal something lardy, but wasn’t sure if a jar of lard would be a welcome gift in the post.)

So. Lucy’s Oatcakes. Oatcakes a la Lucy. Das Lutzykuchen!

You need:

150ml water, 8oz medium oatmeal, quarter tsp baking powder, quarter tsp salt, 1 generous tbsp of lard (or butter, or oil), 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp black mustard seeds.

What you do:

Put the water in a small pan and add the lard to it, heat until lard is melted.

Put the oatmeal and seasonings in a bowl, mix them together.

Add the water/lard mixture and mix it all up til you have a firm ball.

Roll this out with a rolling pin on a floured surface, then cut it into bits, or for little mouth-sized morsels, use a cookie cutter.

Put on a greased baking sheet and bake at Gas Mark 4 for twenty minutes, turning them over half way through.

Cool and feast yourself on the Lutzykuchen!

Magen Sie Lutzykuchen? Moechten Sie Lutzykuchen essen? Lutzykuchen schmecht mir gut!*

This introduces something *almost* not offal to the blog – is that a good idea?

(I lost the photos I took, so stole this one off my lovely foodie penpal. It is much better than any I could have taken.)

*I apologise to anyone German, sincerely. Mein Deutsch ist gefahrlich!

Nigerian Trotter Stew – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 2

2 May

The first thing to understand is that a stew is Nigeria is what we would call a sauce. Understand? Good.

In working my way along the animal, after the tail, the toes seemed like the next appropriate spot to move to. There’s recently been some good trotter chat on twitter, so if you want to keep abreast of that, you’d better give me a follow! Acting on the advice of Luke from the restaurant Dough, then disregarding it somewhat (sorry), I slow cooked my trotters in water with four cloves for six hours on high. This makes the most amazing stock. However, I made a beginnners mistake and realised after I’d removed the elbows that what I had were not chunky back trotters, but slimline fore trotters – that equals less meat.

Another thing to note. Always buy your trotters from the back end of the pig. Not the front. No joke.

Then I had a massive bowl of stock with lots of bones and bits of pig in it. I went through the bowl, removing the bones and breaking the skin up and removing any bits of cartilage that I didn’t think would be good to eat. I then had a smaller bowl of meat (included skin and tendons and all the bits, because of the slow cooking they are ALL GREAT TON EAT) and a bigger bowl of stock.

A soupcon of trotter pour monsieur?

Now, time to make my sauce. I got the recipe from my first foodie penpal Jen who runs the Sharing Supper Club. I read it and then did it slightly differently. I must learn to concentrate whilst cooking.

So for a Nigerian stew – which means what? You need:

1 onion chopped, 1 can chopped tomatoes, quarter teaspoon cameroon pepper, half a can of stock, fresh thyme

I cooked the onion tomatoes and spice together for about fifteen minutes, then blended them to smooth and returned to the pan and added some of the bowl of pork trotter stock.

Then I had Nigerian stew. The thyme goes on top as you serve it.

It is very easy. I got the spice from Jen, but if you live in Leeds you could get it from one of the African shops in the market. I almost bought some dried smoked shrimps today – any ideas for them?

I then added my bowl of trotter meat and stirred it all together.

It goes to a really lip-smakcing sauce. We had a few spoons of it with some rice (cooked in the rest of the pork stock) and a couple of tortillas.

Lip-smacking is the word. Even Daz’s friend Bill who shuddered when Daz showed him a picture of the trotter in our fridge, liked it.

Testicles tomorrow! I’d better not balls them up! ho ho *crawls into a corner*