Tag Archives: Basics

Dried not Fried Bread

25 Apr

How do you make fried bread? Or even how do you fry bread?

I thought it would be simple just add a slice of your finest white to a frying pan of hot oil. Doesn’t the name kind of give it away? Fried Bread?

It’s a breakfast staple and I assumed as easy opening a tin of beans to go alongside it but apparently not. I’m not usually a fan of such a greasy unhealthy item – which is why I probably have no idea how it’s made – but thought I would give it a go.

Anyway apparently it’s not as simple as I assumed – silly me. Because judging by the dry, faintly scorched slice I managed to create you probably need a deep fat fryer? Or probably a LOT more oil than I used which means I really probably will never eat the stuff again, let alone try to make it.

BUT if you want some oily toast then I’m your gal:

Toast

Dark Side of the Pizza

24 Jan

Hello and Happy New Year, if it’s not too late to wish anyone that? Sadly Christmas has been and gone since I last posted here. But guess what? I cooked dinner on the big day and no one died. But do you know what has died a little bit? This blog. I just haven’t had the time. No really in the last few months:

  • I’ve been ill. Properly unable to walk and breathe ill
  • I am doing final edits on my proper big novel, and that’s 85k words long. Phew!
  • I’ve written lots of other blogs for Metro
  • And I have two jobs, two dogs and a schoolboy

Anyway, I am not feeling sorry for myself, just busy!

I haven’t done an awful lot of cooking recently so there hasn’t been much to report on (and I was so consumed with cooking Christmas dinner I kind of forgot to take any photos but trust me it was GOOD), however you’ll be glad to know that we had a little mishap recently with the most basic of items – the frozen pizza. My son loves them bless him.

He doesn’t however like them burnt to a black crisp. This is just a simple matter of not having the oven on too high and keeping an eye on it, I failed. And so I present to you The Dark Side of the Pizza – so called because some creative souls on Twitter alikened it to The Sun or a Burning Star – which I thought was quite poetic really:

FullSizeRender

Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?

13 Mar

They say a bad workman blames his tools right? Well sometimes I swear I am hampered in the kitchen by my choice of implements – in fact I have a whole sub-category dedicated to just this subject called ‘Undone by my Utensils‘.

Part of being able to cook well has to surely be picking the right tool for the job? Well I do pick badly sometimes which is why I end up with slow cooked pasta, omelettes the circumference of teabags and citrus zest the size of wood shavings.

This has been brought into sharp relief recently when pondering my choice of knife… I usually favour a very small, blunt serrated edged knife which I have had since I was a student. I use it for everything and have NEVER sharpened it. But I have never known any other way and so continue to hack away at bread, vegetables, envelopes and raw meat with it oblivious to the fact I am probably letting myself down.

When my husband and I merged our stuff part of his contribution was a set of rather flashy, expensive knives which lie in our messy big cutlery drawer and never touched by myself. However, recently after one knicked finger too many I started looking about for an alternative to my trusty blade and seized upon one of these knives and set about an onion with it….

Well – take a look at this:
knifeUnbeknownst to me my husband keeps these sharp and in tip top shape, so much so that it made short work of that onion, in fact I fairly flew through it just like they do on the TV. I almost felt professional!

Just look at the power glinting off that sliver of metal, vegetables surely bow down at the sight.
My poor little student knife has been sent to the great dagger graveyard in the sky…

Alice’s Laboratory – New Year, New Ways With Pasta

17 Jan

It’s the new year, you’re bored, you’re trying to eat sensibly, you’re so poor you’ve only got dry old pasta in the cupboard… ok I’m painting a terrible picture but you get the idea.

I’m always keen to try new things and new ways with old things (not always successfully of course) and thought that cupboard staple dry pasta deserved another turn in my kitchen this boring January. Happily the lovely chaps at Sainbury’s sent me some of their huge range to experiment on (and no not like the time I slow cooked pasta into jelly and broke my crock pot). Time to set up Alice’s lab…

*Puts on safety goggles*
First up – if you’re trying to eat healthier then more veg is in order right? Well as I was weighing up the contents of my cupboards and thought about what a pain it would be to cook both pasta and vegetables at the same time (because I’d have to wash up two pans) I realised I could just cook them together – in the same pan. Well they both need to be boiled in water right? What’s the problem? Well it turned out there wasn’t one. I happily managed to boil up some rather lovely wholewheat tagliatelle (that’s the healthier brown stuff) with some green beans before adding a pot of fresh tomato pasta sauce:

Pasta1Look – it was really great. Not sure why I don’t cook pasta and vegetables together at lot more? I suppose as long as you wash the veg no harm done right? And you’ve saved on the washing up. Win!

Secondly – everything is not always what it seems – I was sent something called Orzo, a little packet of rice. No, I hear you cry that’s not rice that’s tiny little pasta pellets, it just looks like rice. OK right, I still thought it was rice for quite a while and bought some risotto paste I’ve been desperate to try out to go with it. As soon as I realised  that Orzo is not rice it still did not deter me, I decided to treat it as such and made a PASTA RISOTTO. Yes you read that correct.
photo 1I am unable to make real risotto – see here for evidence – so maybe this is the way forward? Certainly worked well, it behaved just like rice, just without that tiresome age of simmering and stirring, it absorbed my risotto paste and tasted pretty good too.
photo 2Well done Orzo, I applaud you.
And well done Sainsbury’s for your large range of dried pasta, I applaud you too!

PastaNext up – using spaghetti as a dessert, no just joking.
Or am I? *Puts on lab coat again*

Alice Celebrates National Burger Day

28 Aug

Or I’m not sure if celebrate is the right word for this?

Yesterday was National Burger Day (special foodstuff, special day) and to mark such a momentous occasion I decided to get some out of the freezer. Well it was actually by co-incidence because it was all that I had but the timing of the date wasn’t lost on me.

(And I really do love a burger, I can’t get enough of these new, trendy burger joints springing up all over the place. Although I can’t resist telling these new young upstarts that some of us have actually been eating burgers for years)

And so I give to you… my dear readers… this:
burgs Continue reading

Sad Lunch

16 Jul

This is my lunch today. Isn’t it sad?
sadIt looked quite nice when I made it last night and all morning I was thinking ‘how lovely I have a colourful, fresh salad to eat on this hot day’
But no – last nights fresh salad is todays limp lettuce. Everything is warm, mushy and discoloured.

I ate the cherry tomatoes (as you can see) but that beetroot will not be worth the shock in the toilet later – I always forget don’t you? I’m always half way to A&E before I remember I had beetroot earlier.

Ho hum. M&S again for me tomorrow.

50 Shades of Orange

4 Jul

I was talking to some chaps on Facebook the other day about how all real picnic food is yellow or orange – not like the beetroot dip and lamb parcels I saw in the M&S ad that made me cry this week – no the stuff you really want to

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eat outdoors – like scotch eggs, sausage rolls, brie, baguettes, champagne and crisps. All the same colour, all great al fresco. Same goes for buffet fare, it HAS to be the same colour, it’s the law.

Now I’m not big on presentation as most of you know but I seem to manage to colour-co-ordinate quite a lot of my food. I don’t plan it but it kind of works out like that sometimes. You know the sort of thing – white fish, mash and parsley sauce – all on the same plate, all the same colour, all sort of blending into each other.

I have a reluctant skill in putting together these colour combined dishes but I’m always happy to share and so here is my latest dried out midweek meal only made interesting because everything on the plate is within the same Pantone range:
orange

Cooking Is Child’s Play

7 Mar

Regular readers will know I cook a lot with my son, sometimes

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successfully, usually unsuccessfully.
Of course being a mother means having to create bespoke meals for fussy eaters, or as I like to call it ‘putting something on a plate he’ll put in his mouth’.
Sometimes this does not include the prerequisite fruit and veg – mothers that are able to do that ‘hiding vegetables in food so they don’t know they’re eating it’ thing, I salute you. And sometimes it means serving up Dairylea Dunkers for breakfast.

Yes, prepare to be shocked, or prepare to be relieved that someone else does this… here I present some my most terrible, most favoured and most easiest (I can say ‘most easiest’ because it’s my blog grammar hounds) kids dishes:

EGG SANDWICH SOLDIERS
I am quite pleased with this, because it looks normal right? But don’t be alarmed, it’s not quite right. Those eggs are rock hard of course. I have taught my son that the soldiers are NOT for dipping but for making little sandwiches out of the spooned out egg. If he ever came for tea round your house and had boiled eggs and soldiers, this is what he would do. He wouldn’t expect a runny egg or know what to do with one. My cooking has ruined his childhood.
kids4 Continue reading

I Made Bubble Gum!

23 Jan

So here’s the thing… if you add cold milk to hot liquid jelly it does NOT make blancmange.
Blancmange is what I was after – but I ended up with this…
Don’t be scared now:
jelly2As the mixture curdled I threw it all into the sink and this remained.

Pink snot?
The creature from The Thing?
No I prefer to think that I made some of your actual Bubblicious…

Boast About Your Roasties…

12 Jan

…even if you didn’t make them!

Who doesn’t love a roast potato? Surely everyone?
I mean really I have NEVER met anyone who didn’t a) love roast potatoes and b) have a view on

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how to make them ‘perfect’?

So what is roastiness? Well it’s all about feeling good for me, good and warm, there is little wrong in your world if you have a roast potato!
It’s the anticipation of opening the oven to see how they’re doing, hearing the family shout from the other room ‘Are the potatoes ok?‘ and then the joy of seeing them there all gorgeous on the plate. And relax…

Like everyone I love them when they are golden crispy on the outside glistening with boiling oil and then fluffy and hot inside.
Oh but how to make them?
Like most chefs today I favour the parboil followed by a plunge straight into smoking hot fat. But of course it doesn’t always work out, oh I can make a super roast dinner now and again but that most crucial part of meal can not be messed up. And believe me I do mess them up, I’ve served up mash because the parboil went on too long, I’ve served up burnt crisps, I’ve served up raw lumps and I’ve served up frozen chips because I forgot to buy the potatoes!
Forget the meat – the roasties are what maketh the meal (and what you will be judged on).

If like me it’s chancy whether or not you’ll churn out a perfectly roasted spud then it’s ok to cheat and BUY THEM! Yes, I confess, I don’t always make my own roasties. I also don’t always eat them on a Sunday, I keep them in the freezer and get them out any day of the week. Roastiness on a Wednesday? Why not. Slightly more exciting than getting those chips out again.

I was asked by Aunt Bessie’s to have a think about roastiness and came to the conclusion that it’s ok to fake it now and again. As roast potatoes are

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SO lovely and SO important you should be able to eat them whenever you like and maybe not leave them up to chance – especially if you don’t have the time, the inclination or like me you just can’t cook…

Yes, roasties are lush but I don’t condone stealing your neighbours ok?

 

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