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Monthly Archives: December 2012

the gift that keeps on giving

Christmas at Fanny Towers arrived late this year.  Very late.  The tree went up on Saturday.  Oh, presents have been purchased alright, don’t worry Carsmile!  No, I’m not a Scrooge but when the bedroom ceiling falls in and the dust settles (literally), there are plasterers to be found and cleaning to do.  Having relocated drawers to the kitchen and bed frames to the bathroom we were doing all our ‘living’ in the living room.  No room for trees and tinsel.  Still, there is a lot of food and drink and mum didn’t have to swim all the way from Cornwall, so all is good!

Anyway, while searching for ham online, like you do, I found a site where you can buy a Serrano ham bone.  For your dog.  Really?  It’s less that £3.00 with free P+P.  Surely that would be wasted on your mut?  Or am I being too selfish?  Is there actually any reason why this bone can’t be used for a soup or for stock?  Hmmm, maybe it’s treated with something a bit yucky.  What’s the worst that can happen?  “Please note, this bone contains lots of natural juices which may stain.”  Mmmmmm, natural juices.  😀

This got me thinking about ideal gifts for the chef in your life.  At our recent trip to the BBC Good Food Show the tat on sale – I mean merchandise – was mainly Masterchef focused.  You could give your friend a mug, or an egg timer or how about an apron for your MC obsessed partner?  I’m not sure I approve of an apron being available to any Tom, Dick or Harry.  You have to EARN IT!  Do the BBC let you keep the apron once you’ve been kicked out of the kitchen?  Maybe the shot of you hanging it up on the coat hook is genuine and you never see it again.  Let’s hope that it is just for dramatic effect and you and the apron are reunited once more to begin a new journey in a new kitchen after a good old wash.

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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Adventures in Cookery, Christmas

 

it’s good to talk

… and eat.  Yeah, the eating bit’s best.

I recently stumbled upon a retweet by Jose Pizarro regarding an upcoming event at the Jewish Museum in London.  It had sold out but they kindly suggested I emailed in case of any returns.  Lo and behold, I managed to get my grubby mitts on a pair of tickets, hoorah!

Camden was dark, cold and wet but the thought of an hour or two in the welcoming arms of Pizarro and culinary legend Claudia Roden was good enough for me.

¿Dónde está el padron?

¿Dónde está el padron?

We were ushered into the warm and took our seats along with around 60 women of a certain age (plus a few men).  Claudia came prepared with sheets of paper which she basically read from while Jose discussed his culinary ideology and, more importantly, cooked some food on stage.  Little, tasty morsels were handed out and Q’s were A’d.  The starter of salmorejo (from Roden’s book) was gorgeous and when asked to explain the dish, he replied “this is Claudia’s recipe, I make it slightly differently.  It’s made with tomatoes, garlic, bread, topped with hard boiled egg.  And Serrano ham”  Cue gasps.  “Ah!  Do not worry, there is no ham tonight!”  Cue laughter.  Yep, the pork jokes kept coming with talk of Iberico pigs and chorizo.  Next up was a demonstration of Mrs Pizarro’s potato omelette.  Of course, everyone’s mum makes the best [insert regional dish here] but we got a taster along with some sea bass which was jam tasty.  A keen fish eater, my first taste of sea bass was delightful and our chef explained that you cook the fish skin side first.  Frying it this way gives the skin a crispiness of course but it also keeps the flesh moist – if you cook the meaty side first, the juices will come out and the flesh become dry.  The skin protects that from happening.  He gave an example with the sea bass he was cooking: three minutes skin side and about a minute on the other.  Perfect. Read the rest of this entry »

 

masterchef: the cop out?

So, I’ve given everyone time to watch and digest the final of Masterchef: The Professionals.  How crazy was that?

The semi-final pitting Keri against Anton was, in hindsight, an indicator of what could follow.  Both were put through to finals week and a few days later, both were crowned champions 2012.

 

Poor Oli, he fell apart a little bit and in any other year it might not have hurt his chances but this series was special and he finished third.  His back story (which always fills the first 20 minutes of a final) focused on his current location of Camden,  Would love to find out where he works – poor @oliboon1612 has no idea!  He’s been thoroughly confused as hundreds of people tweet their congratulations: “why do people keep saying this to me Dave I can’t cook for shit ha!”  I also loved Keri’s story.  She had her hair down!  She wore a lovely dress!

Right, finals week.  There was the standard, cook-for-a-room-of-Michelin-starred-chefs round along with a day at Fat Duck.  Nowhere as good as previous trips to Noma or Arzak but, there you go.  It would have been nice to go elsewhere.  There were a few chefs at the grand dinner that I wasn’t familiar with – could’ve gone to theirs.

MC Professionals winners

As it hadn’t occurred to me that there could be TWO winners, I thought Anton would win by a very slim margin.  I was half right!

Well done Masterchef.  While I do think there should be one winner, I guess they couldn’t decide.  Next season will have to go a long way to top that.

 

hey now you’re an all star get your game on, go play

So, during the ridiculous, TWOANDAHALFHOUR season finale of Masterchef Australia, I told Carsmile “so, apparently as well as a Celebrity version there’s an All Stars series like what Top Chef do!”.  A few minutes later, after the confetti fell and the credits rolled, what happened?  A trailer for the aforementioned All Stars Australia!

ROCK.  AND.  ROLL.

I’m familiar with the concept: former competitors return with previous years represented.  They take part in challenges in order to win money for a chosen charity.  As far as I can remember, where Top Chef All Stars differed is that winners do not compete – it’s a chance for those who failed to try one more time.  In this, the first All Stars for Masterchef, there are two previous champions (with the remaining one being absent due to telly commitments).

Masterchef Australia All Stars

Does it include the 2012 winner?  A little too soon, me thinks.

This was originally aired during the London 2012 Olympics for three weeks.  I think even me, with my love for all things Masterchef would have felt my enthusiasm flag.  As it was, I watched a few episodes here and there then abandoned the show only to return for the 90 minute finale.

Maybe I’m used to the Top Chef mentality where the contestants are already professional chefs and the competitiveness never wanes.  Back in Sydney, there’s a very relaxed atmosphere, a little too relaxed for my liking; laughs, silliness and what seems to me like faux shock and anguish at the thought of revisiting disaster dishes.  Take it seriously, guys! 😉

It also gave me the opportunity to savor the beauty and vastness of the MC kitchen along with the gorgeous house on the hill in which they live.  Season five will relocate from Alexandria with a new home yet to be decided.  Hopefully it will be Melbourne so when we eventually fly over for the comedy festival and a trip to Chris and Julia’s Josie Bones, I can say we’re in the home of Masterchef, yay!

 

he’s not a pheasant plucker …

he likes to pluck pigeons!  So proclaimed James, one of the current batch of chefs on this year’s Masterchef: The Professionals.  Joining the self confessed huntsman is Anna ‘giggles’ Spooner, a pastry chef who started her career in the waitron department before getting stuck in behind the scenes and Andy, a 20 year old commi.  An early favourite is Karl, a pub chef with higher aspirations and Morton is promising too, with his Danish/Scottish accent.

James Burton: licence to shoot

The group of ten are split in two and the first major test, as always, is when Lovely Monica sets a challenge.  Well, I say challenge.  This is something a professional cook or chef should know off the top of their head, surely.  Butterfly a sardine and make some pommes dauphine – piece of piss.  Or so you’d think.  After explaining that this delightful sounding treat is choux pastry mixed with potato and deep fried, some got the gist.  Others weren’t familiar with the choux element either.  We also had many interpretations of a butterflied fish and after a disastrous attempt, poor Andy was put out of his misery.  “I know, with every inch of my body, I could’ve done better.”  Well, better luck next time, son.

The highlight of the next episode was undoubtedly the ‘cooking for Monica’s boss’ round where Karl explained his French background to Chef:

K:      Yeah, I grew up in France.
MRJ:  So I hear.  You also have your CNP?
K:      Yeah, I do.
MRJ:  The CNP is the [insert full title here].
K:      Yes, it is, yeah.
MRJ:  I’ve got my CNP too, you know!
K:      Oh!  … Well done, chef.

😀 Hil-ar-ious!  They both had a giggle and chef was pretty impressed with Karl’s dish.
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