Category Archives: Adventures in Cookery

oh now paula. I think it’s time that you should go

It was a while ago now but in April we took a trip across the pond to NYC.  This was my fourth visit so I’d been up the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building – I’d done the tourist stuff.  This time I meant business.

Staying in Williamsburg, we took in the sights of Bedford Avenue, the High Line and some art by Chelsea Pier.  Of course, I’m married to a beer freak/geek so we drank at some very nice pubs and as a confirmed wine drinker I was slightly fearful of our guided tour of the Brooklyn Brewery.  It was great; I sampled some beer!  I didn’t really like it!  Never mind.  We previously visited the Ginger Man where I consumed a bottle of the only beer I actually DO LIKE.  I really like.  Carsmile tells me “typical that you like Duchesse de Bourgogne – the only beer that is unlike any other beer!”  Unique.  Classy.  That’s me.

Apart from the wrasslin’, it was all about the food for us this year.  Our flat had the Food Network so I got a chance to witness the goddess of fried, sugary, homely food that is Paula Deen in all her glory.  I was familiar with Ms Deen through watching Top Chef and was chuffed to see her in action.  Wow, so much butter, cream, sugar and syrup.  Still, she looked like she was having a lot of fun.  Maybe she was on a sugar rush – I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that she may not have her own full set of gnashers.  That must help in some way with the awesome amount of sweetness and richness of her desserts.  I really think that if Gregg Wallace met her, it might be love.

“we must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”

“we must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”

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‘taters and tattoos

So, while looking for photographs to illustrate my recent Q&A with Chef Pizarro, I came across this link from the Financial Times of all places.  Yes, it shows that my favourite chef has indeed got ink and as a fan of tattoos myself, it got me wondering what weird and wonderful culinary tattoos there are out there …

     knuckle food tat food-tattoo-designs-9 food-tattoos-2

The answer is quite a few!


question time

Having gone on about how awesome Jose Pizarro is, I thought I may as well put my money where my mouth is and got my people to contact his people.  After lengthy negotiations and hardball tactics, Chef Pizarro cleared his busy schedule and answered a few questions for me!  

Yeah, OK, not much negotiating took place, in fact Hannah at Nourish PR was absolutely delightful.  Take it away:

Thank you, Jose for taking the time to answer my questions.  I am a huge fan of Spanish food and drink (you and your food especially!) and have lots to ask.  SO ..!

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music to wash gills by

… or something (sorry!).  Laura Barnett wrote a fairly pointless Guardian piece on music and food which seemed to be nothing more than an advert for a terrible sounding album of bog standard tunes accompanied by a set of sleeve note recipes from Gino D’Acampo.  It’s THREE discs containing 54 songs that can be found on any generic box set.  Jessie J, ABBA, Ronan Keating, One Direction … I could go on, but I might vomit all over my keyboard.  It seems to be aimed at a female clientele which also annoys me but I guess there’s no accounting for taste (theirs or mine).

Cooking Songs

I’ve not listened to music on the radio for the last few years so my own personal choice is to listen to 5Live as I love hearing Steve Claridge wax lyrical on the defensive frailties of Portsmouth FC and Pat Nevin moan about the quality of music played before the match at Stamford Bridge.  Most of all I love to annoy Carsmile with the football phone in on 606.  Of course, there is nothing better than dancing round the kitchen, knife in hand, singing along to T-Rex or Girls Aloud or Marilyn Manson … I highly recommend Sleigh Bells as a good kitchen band too!  Turn the volume up, and off you chop.

I’m not sure why our Laura’s wearing headphones in the Guardian article, a health and safety issue waiting to happen, that.  She goes on to discuss matching your cuisine to your tunes; a bit of fado with your feijoada or bhangra with your butter chicken … mmmmmm … it’ll no doubt get you in the mood but feels a bit restauranty.

The Turntable Kitchen which, I’m reliably informed (via twitter), Lauren Laverne has a subscription to is all about ‘connecting food and music’.  We can all connect food and music.  By ourselves.  How we want.  Thank you!  That gets my goat.  Mmmmmmmm, goat …

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this makes me feel like the only one at a karaoke who doesn’t want to sing.  I want to laugh at the silly men talking about sport and shout at the idiots who think Arsene Wenger should be sacked.  But it’s also great to shout “PENNSYLVANIA 6-5 OH OH OH!!” every now and then.


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Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Adventures in Cookery


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 »


what’s the crack?

My name is Fanny and I am a dealer.

I am new to this business and I’ll admit that I’ve clearly not thought this through.  I accept no money.  My reward is the expression on the faces of the uninitiated as their addiction takes hold.  It only takes one hit and they are mine forever.

Yeah, OK.  Enough of the Baltimore crap.  I make brownies.  People love them.  What of it?

“The game is the game. Always”

I saw the cover of BBC Good Food magazine earlier in the year and thought “I can totally make that for colleagues as a birthday treat”.  The recipe was really easy to follow and I was pleased with the results.  The next day they disappeared in a feeding frenzy.  “OH. MY. GOD.”  “YOUGOTTAMAKESOMEMORE!”

It took me a while but last week I did (after a not-so-subtle reminder from Boss Lady).  We recently merged departments and I thought it a good excuse to make friends and influence people.

Colleague1:  “Would you like a brownie?”
Colleague2:  “Ooh, yes please … did someone make these?”
Colleague1:  “Yes, Fanny made them – they’re amazing!”
Colleague2:   “Oh wow, thanks, Fanny”
Fanny:          “You’re welcome!”
Colleague2:   Eats brownie.  Frowns.  Turns to me.  Nods head.  Smiles.
Colleague3:   “Oh my god.  That was practically indecent!”

You get the drift.

The next day Colleague2 made the mother of all tea rounds so I asked if he’d like one of the last two remaining slices.  His hand was in the cookie jar before I’d finished my sentence.  Another one bites the dust.

Imagine my horror upon returning to work that morning in a post-deal high to be told “Colleague4 made brownies yesterday but we voted yours best”.  WHAT?  EXCUSE ME?  What craziness is this?  I’ve clearly wandered on to someone else’s patch.  Shiiiiiiiiit!  Apparently Colleague4 made salt caramel brownies as well as chocolate and raspberry ones.  You couldn’t make it up.

I’ve been informed that the other offerings were firmer and drier – this recipe tends toward the gooey.  It depends on your preference I guess.  I am currently making a new drug batch for friends but feel there is no need to head towards the New Jack City method of ‘cooking’.  No naked chefs in my crib, mofo.  For now.



adventures in cookery pt 2

Having a borderline obsession with Spanish food and liking Rick Stein, I was thrilled at the prospect of his new show as it aired on BBC 2 last year.

Rick Stein’s Spain saw the Steinmeister travel across my favourite country visiting the regions of Valencia, Extremadura, Andalucia and Catalonia to name a few.  As always with Rick you get a bit of poetry here, a reading from Don Quixote there and reminiscences of childhood holidays.  A little later in the year, the series was followed up with a Christmas Spanish Special in London where he cooked a seasonal feast for all the people he’d met along the way and worked alongside Jose Pizarro.  Man, I love JP, he’s my favourite and totally awesome.  It also helps that after recently tweeting my intent to cook a pork stew recipe from his book, he replied “love it!” and followed it up the next day with “how was your stew, did you enjoy it? :)”  YES, IT WAS VERY VERY TASTY, THANK YOU, CANIBEYOURFRIENDPLEASETHANKYOU?

Jose Pizarro with Rick Stein

Ahem!  Anyway, my reason for telling you all this is that whilst glued to the TV, vegging out on the sofa and making Homer Simpson style drooling sounds, I made notes on what recipes I’d like to cook.  Come on, Fanny, stop imagining how lovely this would all taste and do it yourself!   Read the rest of this entry »


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


adventures in cookery pt 1

So, along with discussions of food on the telly, I thought it might be nice to share our culinary experiments with the world.  Have you ever been galvanised by Galton or motivated by Madhur?  I have.  I’ve mainly been stimulated by Stein on his recent Spanish trip – we had a whole day of making tapas.  More of that later.

In the meantime I shall leave you with the thought that this rock n roll chick is about to embark on the creation of her very own wine cellar.  Not just any old wine cellar.  One that, quite literally, rocks…

Yep, some Shiraz chez Fanny.  Not sure why the Sauvignon is from New Zealand though. Soon to be added to the collection, Motorhead, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Rolling Stones and Motley Crue! 

Most of these seemed destined to remain in my cellar, gathering dust – not because I think they’ll be worth anything but I don’t like red wine 😦  It seems a good Cabernet is what all the rockers are dinking.

For those about to booze, I salute you  \m/