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The Secret of Soup…..

Hi! Just a very quick update for you:

I had a few mushrooms in the fridge this afternoon that were on their way to being a little past their best. The obvious thing to make of course, is soup!

My tip when making most soups is to ensure that when “sweating” your main ingredient, mushrooms in this case, you cook them for long enough to bleed all of their juices into the pan, then reduce this liquid as far as possible by evaporating the water to leave a concentrated, flavourful and syrup-y liquid. The trick is to make sure that the liquid doesn’t caramelise and burn whilst reducing. You can now proceed with adding your stock and finishing your soup.

This is a very basic tip, but well worth taking note of for the next time you make a soup to ensure that you make the most of the flavour of your chosen vegetable!

Happy cooking!

Have you ever found a better shop bought Mango Chutney than this?

Hello!

Thanks for looking at my blog!

Sorry it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve been ill since Thursday so have not had a great deal to write about!

Anyway, for this evening’s family meal my Wife, Leann made one of her fantastic chicken curries. Leann’s tried and tested recipe is loosely based around the ubiquitous Tikka Masala but with her own subtle additions/omissions, this is always a winner! Despite this being my second post on the topic of curry, I’m actually not that much of an authority on “proper” curry house curries. This is mainly due to the underwhelming offerings from the very same-y curry houses in our home town of Chester. I’ve made many, many curries from all over the world and keep a wide selection of whole and ground, single and blended spices at home. Simply put, if we are going to eat curry, we eat it at home.

When cooking curry at home, if you’re going to make it from scratch, it can often be beneficial to take shortcuts with some of the extras, such as poppadoms, naan bread and the all important mango chutney. Chutney is a subject that I feel particularly comfortable with, and mango chutney is something that I have made on several occasions. The result every time was acceptable, but not the sticky sweet, slightly spiced and heavenly aromatic condiment that I had hoped for. This has led us to ensure that a healthy supply of the Sharwood’s variety is always in the cupboard.

I’ve never had too much of a problem with Sharwood’s Indian products, they’re acceptable mass produced products, nothing outstanding, nothing offensive. However, a few weeks ago my Mum bought a 1.5kg tub of Geeta’s Premium Mango Chutney for us which we have been dutifully depleting.

This brand really is top notch! I’ve never had the pleasure of trying any of the other product lines from Geeta’s and had previously not heard of the brand. I assume that they’ve been around for a while as there’s a “Gold: Great Taste Awards 2006” accolade printed on the label. I can see why! As a mango chutney this is head and shoulders above any other brand that I have tried. Real chunks of mango and garlic suspended in a thick aromatic sauce with lots of whole spices: black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom, cloves, etc. as well as a healthy dose of ground aromatics. This is far more than your average Indian condiment! Instead of the fibrous pieces of mango in the all too often sickly sweet versions that I’ve tried from other brands, this has nicely sized small chunks in a sweet/acidic/aromatic sauce that lingers nicely on the palate as you chew the whole spices. It has so far accompanied all of our Indian meals very well and has been as at home on a poppadom as being mixed into my curry and rice, before being mopped up with my naan.

A quick look at the ingredients confirms a fine list of “real” ingredients, none of which would be out of place in any recipe made by a home cook. Underneath the bar code, it is stated that this is a “PRODUCT OF INDIA”, which again is very reassuring and confirms Geeta’s roots as a producer.

To sum this product up, I would say that it’s as good or better than most people would be able to make themselves, with as good or better ingredients.

If you like your curries, you have to try this!

Link: http://www.geetasfoods.com/mangochutney.htm

 

A Chilly (Con Carne) Night in Kington

Hello!

Thanks for checking out my blog!

Last time I blogged, I told you about the mountain bike event I was taking part in and the Chilli Con Carne that my club mates and I would be fuelling our bodies with, pre-ride-day.

Primed and ready for action!

I’m pleased to inform you that the Chilli Con Carne was indeed a success and certainly helped in my quest to finish the Rough Ride wilderness route near the Brecon Beacons. I placed joint 126th of 695 riders, which I was very happy with given that the weather conditions were the most atrocious that I have ever ridden in (I’ve always ridden in all weathers) and that more than 200 riders scored a DNF (Did Not Finish).

The secret to a good Chilli Con Carne is allowing it to gently simmer for at least 2 hours, this way the cellular structure of the tomatoes really has the chance to breakdown, which is where the rich and smooth tomato texture comes from. This result is only achievable through a long slow cooking process. Many large industrial food producers attempt to recreate this result by using an additive called Modified Maize Starch. This is the ingredient that gives many big-brand, jarred tomato based sauces their unnatural glossy and gloopy appearance, while still containing barely broken down pieces of tomato. Whilst there are no real problems with Modified Maize Starch in regards to health, it is the principle of ruining good ingredients in an attempt to speed up the production process and therefore increase profits that I disagree with.

The secret I have found to the right seasoning in a Chilli Con Carne is my own very simple blend of herbs and spices, of which the ratios can be varied according to taste. I use plenty of dried Oregano with whole Cumin seeds and dried Chilli flakes. I then put certain quantities of each of the three in a pestle and mortar and crush and grind until it is a coarse grainy powder which is releasing some fantastic aromas! I then add this to minced beef while it is browning in the pan with onions and garlic.

We reheated the prepared Chilli Con Carne on the camping stove whilst boiling the long grain rice. Once both were ready, there were only two things needed to complete our meal; a large dollop of soured cream, and of course, a few bottles of ale. Hook Norton’s Hooky Gold, Black Sheep’s Golden Sheep Ale and Wells’ Bombardier. Perfect!

With suitably large quantities of all of the above inside each of us, we set off to find a local pub with local ales. We were in luck! In fact, we were spoilt for choice! We settled upon a fine tavern with a selection of six local ales served straight from the barrel. Fantastic! Unfortunately, after all of the food we were only physically able to fit one pint in each of us, so it was back to the campsite for a disturbed night’s sleep…..

Thanks for reading!

Jase

 

 

 

 

It’s Friday evening…..

So, what are we all having for dinner this evening?

It’s Friday evening and I’m eventing on my mountain bike at a 75km (but more likely 48km!) wilderness ride this Sunday. My Wife, Daughter and Son have all been ill all week with various ailments, so I was thinking we’d better have something healthy for dinner!  Half a kilo of diced lamb in the fridge and a few basics in the cupboards, what are we going to eat?

As it’s Friday, it must be CURRY NIGHT!!! Well, Tagine night to be more specific. A fantastic low fat, high fibre meal with plenty of carbohydrates when served with couscous and/or rice.

Lamb Tagine served with Couscous and Rice

Diced lamb, cooked with onions and garlic, simmered with dried apricots and dates then thickened with ground almonds. Of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a gentle kick. A few weeks back, I blended my own Ras-el-Hanout, which translated from Arabic literally means “top of the shop”. This stems from North Africans visiting their local Souk or spice merchant who would then mix a blend of his very best spices for a Tagine. Incidentally, a Tagine is a North African cooking pot with a conical lid – the idea being that as the vapours rise while cooking, they condense in the top of the lid and drip back down onto the meat, thus keeping it moist and tender.

This was an easy dish to make and relatively quick to cook compared to many curries. If I’d have served it with just Couscous it would have been even easier, but rice is one of the most appealing carbohydrates to the palates of my two young offspring, so it had to be served with it!

All in all, this was a very healthy dinner which was very well recieved by all. I just hope that the Chilli-con-Carne that I’ll be serving tomorrow at the campsight as a preride-day, carb-loading feast to my fellow club mates will go down as well…..

We shall see! Anyway, I’ll sign off now and wish you all a very happy weekend. I’ll update you next week with how the ride (and the Chilli!) were.

Thanks for reading!

Jase

Welcome to my brand new food blog!

Hi there!

My name is Jason and I’d like to welcome you to my new food blog. Allow me to tell you a few things about myself and what I’m up to…..

I am very passionate about all things food!

I have been involved in the catering industry in the north-west of England for the last fifteen years.
I sold my restaurant business at the start of 2011 and I’m now creating small batch artisan food products for retail, including the very finest recipe for Piccalilli, the best Terrine of Ham Hock, Pate de Campagne and many other delicious treats that will be the finest foods you’ll ever taste!

Very soon I will be launching an e-commerce website hosting a fine food shop, from which you’ll be able to purchase my own hand made produce, as well as some fabulous foods from other artisan producers from the north-west of England and beyond.

In the mean time, feel free to have a look at my blog, where I will keep you informed of the very latest news and my own views about many new food and drink products that I think you’ll enjoy.

Happy eating, drinking and reading!