Monthly Archives: April 2012

no messing around

“So, here’s how you make my crab mousse lasagne.”  Oh, blimey, OK – hello, nice to meet you.  We’ve started already have we?  No gentle introduction just straight in there.  Get your crab meat and some other stuff, wack it in the blender – off you go.

Neven Maguire is a ‘celebrity chef’ in Ireland with many awards and books under his belt.  He has a fine array of pullovers too.  He looks like he’s just come from the golf course and decided to rustle up a couple of dishes.  Which he does.  He follows up his lasagne with roasted butternut squash, pancetta and pine nut pasta which doesn’t look the most appetising but maybe that’s me.

Now, this series is called ‘Neven’s Food in the Sun’ and after the commercial break we briefly see him perched by a beautiful bay where he introduces the pasta dish he’s about to make.  This is the only time where we see Nevan outside the snug confines of the kitchen.  The show could have been filmed anywhere – maybe he has just come from the 18th hole?

Just when I thought Nevan was bordering on dull and uncontroversial, I happened upon this 2009 story of a Food and Wine magazine cover which involved recent Celebrity Big Brother inhabitant Georgia Salpa – blimey!  Unfortunately this tale of swimwear and hors d’oeuvres doesn’t make him cool.


reader, i mangled him

James Reeson.  WHY?  Why are you relaxing on the sofa of your modern, Australian, open planned apartment in khaki shorts and baseball boots?  “Today I’m gonna make a chocolate filo fruit basket and a lovely oxtail soup – OOOH, they’re all so TASTY!”

The enthusiasm keeps coming, terrible jokes, and boring stories.  Heard the one about his dad living in the UK not being able to sell oxtail soup coz, yuck, oxtail’s GROSS?  He renamed it end of year soup instead and people started to order it!  Y’know, ‘end of year’ – you eat it in the winter and the tail is near the rear of the beast … [sigh] or something.

This is all meat and potato stuff – well, not literally.  This is similarly styled to Justine’s Everyday Gormet; home kitchen style studio, no messing around.  Unfortunately though James likes to mess around.  He flips his leeks in the air like Tom Cruise with a cocktail shaker and, in a particularly embarrassing bit, after peeling a cucumber into pretty ribbons he decides to lay one across his forehead to alleviate a headache then demonstrates how it “looks like a long TONGUE! :)”

FFS, James.  Get on with it.

The food itself (sorry, got a bit sidetracked there) seemed nice enough and not too difficult.  The standout dish was the lamb salad on a bed of cos lettuce (“why is it the best?  COS!”), tomatoes and the ribboned gourd.

It seems James is a local lad afterall, starting off in Bristol then hopping across the Channel to work in Paris.  Look, I’m sure he’s top bloke but I don’t think I can take any more tomfoolery, you dag.



adj., n. pur-fikt

So, home alone for the night, I decided to start watching my eight hours of cookery nonsense that’s stacking up.  First up is two episodes of ‘Perfect…’

‘Food For Friends’ and ‘Curry Night’ were on my telly menu.  The deal is thus:

  • two chef types duke it out to see who ‘wins’
  • each cook a simple starter, followed by a ‘classic’ and ‘ultimate’ meal
  • a panel of three food writers/presenters blind taste each dish and vote

FFF pitted Paul Merrett against Allegra McEvedy and the starter dishes were so-so (ham and pea croquetas and crab on toast with serano ham/fig ciabatta).  The classic round is where both chefs make the same dish.  It’s quite interesting to see how each chilli con carne, in this case, differs and little vox pops of other chefs tell you their favourite way of cooking it.  I love that chefs have no qualms on things like baked beans being an essential ingredient of chilli!  Now, the ultimate dish was quite interesting too.  Allegra’s rabbit lasagne sounded pretty awesome with Paul’s bouillabaisse also looking exciting if a bit too much fanny dangle. Read the rest of this entry »


It’s wrong but it’s right

It’s all been really enjoyable telly but the Italy episode of the The Hairy Bikers’ Bakeation was a particularly good one for me. I generally prefer savoury to sweet baking and the emphasis was on bread and pizzas – obvious but it’s always worth repeating how simple and satisfying this stuff is to make.

The real highlight though was the PASTA PIE. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Baking, BBC, Hairy Bikers


two lovely italians

Filling the Blanc shaped hole in the BBC schedule is the return of the greedy Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio.  Sadly the first series passed me by.  I must catch up on these as it was an absolute treat.

Gennaro Contaldo and ... Barry Cryer?

In a similar vein to Raymond’s trip across France, the two ex-pats return to Italy to create some lovely dishes and generally make mischief.

The two old friends drove a beautiful car, stole fruit and butchered a pig.  Like you do.

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to season and to flavour are not the same thing

Or so said some bloke called Larousse 😉

I continually ponder ‘what is the ideal amount THEN?’ in response to a judge’s critique that ‘it could do with a bit more seasoning’.  I’ve heard that chefs are not your average bear when it comes to taste – of course, their palate is refined and sublime and their tastebuds are advanced and enlightened.  So, what about the normal schmoes like me?

Having typed ‘what is the correct amount of seasoning’ into three search engines, I am none the wiser.  Responses are generally to keep adding until it tastes right.  Hmmm, that’s not the answer I’m looking for … I’d like to taste a dish with zero salt and pepper and compare it to the same dish that’s been seasoned ‘correctly’ to a chefs standard.  Would each chef come up with a different tasting dish?

I think I will make something basic (mashed potato?), see if I can add measured amounts of salt n pepa and see what occurs.

‘Salt from the Pepa and my name is Cher
From Queens, New York not Delaware
I like my steak well-done cuz I hate it rare
And I’m lovable and huggable like Yogi the Bear’


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Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Adventures in Cookery



Saturday Cookbook is just fucking weird. ITV’s stab at getting the early doors Saturday Kitchen ‘market’, it’s on at the frankly unpleasant time of 8.25am, with Nadia Sawalha and Mark Sargeant, a Michelin chef but with the demeanour of… well, a Saturday morning TV host, really. He’s arrived.

From the opening, stagey, yes-we’re-really-here-drinking-tea-right-now onward, it’s an awkward television exercise. The format is a straight rip of of SK, with really basic GSCE Home Economics recipes, but the producer has decided to distinguish it from the BBC rival with seasick handheld camerawork (WHY?), constantly cutting to close-ups of faces (WHY?), crap sound, shitty graphics and deciding to ignore blatant innuendos rather than celebrating them – Harry Hill would tear this to shreds. The special guest is ‘chef’ Aaron Craze, proper-tat-geezer who occasionally interjects with “Gotta say you’re lookin’ fresh!” and the like. Nadia Sawalha looks happily confused as the lay sleb, breezily dropping in what she reckons at every opportunity.

There’s a clunky ‘what’s in your shopping trolley’ bit (with a real trolley), as guest Fay Ripley tries to squeeze her cheery, healthy schtick past Sawalha’s Partridgisms, then some more just-splodge-it-around cooking before Aaron Craze turns out an everyman mixed herb and nut pesto which is actually pretty interesting.

The whole thing appears to be put together with the cheapskate, oh-fuck-it-they’re-idiots grace characteristic of off-peak ITV these days. I know it’s not aimed at me, and not every food show requires Pierre Koffman cranking up the sous vide to get me going, but the game has changed, sorry. Must try harder.



Posted by on April 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


watch with martha

That was very nearly the name of this blog.  I thought Martha Stewart may not be totally familiar territory but it summed up the site’s theme nicely.  I was very happy to spot Martha Bakes on the schedules of the Good Food Channel so, yeah, I dabbled.  What of it?

This is essentially Delia Smith for American TV.  No fuss and no frills, as the photo illustrates.

Cookery’s favourite jailbird shows us how to make blueberry muffins and popovers (whatever they are) while extolling the virtues of organic produce – Ms Stewart has 200 chickens on her ‘property’.  I bet her property is humongous!

A nice touch was to see an ice cream scoop being used to place the muffin mixture into the cases – just the right amount and not much mess.  We then move on to the mysterious popovers.  Ah, pretty much a Yorkshire pudding, I see.  One sweet, one savoury.

Yep, OK, that’s Martha done – not much to see here, move along.



baking bad

SIGH Unfortunately I have to blog the good, the not-so-good and the bloody awful.  The Fabulous Baker Brothers are getting a repeat on More4.  Baking powder? Ex-squeeze me?  Yes, if there’s one thing I don’t want repeating on me, it’s this.

Now, I like to think I’m a reasonably nice person who tries to see the good in most people.  I feel bad at bitching for no real reason and I often default thus: “oh, I’d have a drink with Gareth Southgate no problem but his post-match interviews leave a lot to be desired …” etc.  However, even I would struggle to nip down to the local boozer for a drink with the Herberts (even if I was in Chipping Sodbury).

A butcher, a baker ...

I would politely request that anyone currently finding Rachel Khoo annoying watch one episode of FBB – you will never complain again.

Read the rest of this entry »


Run, Pig, Run

Keeping with Fanny’s rock theme, I decided that as I have at least ten other things I ought to be doing, it was time to urgently seek out the episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservation where he makes pulled pork with Josh Homme, queen of the desert.

Groans all round of course; Josh Homme is, for the disinterested, the man responsible for such audio greatness as Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal and more generally the Desert Sessions, living as he does on a ranch of grown children in the middle of the Californian desert. Anthony Bourdain writes, travels, eats and smashes guitars. An ideal combination that (I thought) set Twitter alight last year when rock met pork in an instructional video.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized