"It IS all about the TASTE"
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  • Fish Friday – Stuffed Cherry Peppers

    On my last night in the UK and old friend took me to Jamie Oliver’s new restaurant. The fare was Italian / Mediterranean, and as such was geared to pasta, fish and veggies. Of the appetizers, two caught my eye, Fried Ravioli, and Stuffed Cherry Peppers.

    As to the Fried Ravioli, I am glad to see others with my twist of mind. In regards to the stuffed cherry peppers, they were quite, quite nice. After a bit research, I find these are all the rage in Italy as an quick snack, and maybe even a way to get me to eat more fish.

    Now while the Cherry pepper is quite mild, one could apply this to other more piquant peppers as well. (Thinking of appetizers for an upcoming event)

    A pimento or cherry pepper is a variety of large, red, heart-shaped chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) that measures 3 to 4 inches (7 to 10 cm) long and 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) wide (medium, elongate). The flesh of the pimento is sweet, succulent and more aromatic than that of the red bell pepper. Some varieties of the pimento type are hot, including the Floral Gem and Santa Fe Grande varieties. “Pimiento” is the Spanish word. “Pimento” or “pimentão” are Portuguese words for “bell pepper”, while “pimenta” refers both to chili peppers and to black peppercorns. It is typically used fresh, or pickled and jarred. The pimento has one of the lowest Scoville scale ratings of any chili pepper.

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  • Pub-Grub Sausage Rolls

    So, I promise this will be my last pub-grub post until the weekend when I will do meat pies properly.

    Another hand meal, stuffed with sausage, bacon, and possibly cheese or fruit, and rolled into a puff pastry sheet. These can be sized to individual servings or to a main course item, to be sliced and served with either a spicy mustard or slathered with red onion gravy.

    Really this is the source recipe for “pigs in a blanket”, and “cocktail wieners”.

    A Sausage Roll is a type of savory convenience food commonly served at parties and available from bakeries and milk bars as a take-away food item. Originating from the United Kingdom, it is also very popular in the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.

    The basic composition of a sausage roll is generally a sheet or sheets of puff pastry sliced into two, wrapped into tubes around sausage meat and brushed with egg or milk before being baked. They can be served either hot or cold.

    Some variations on the basic recipe include chopped vegetables, such as carrots, onions, or courgettes; other seasonings such as herbs and spices; and the use of split sausages.

    Sausage rolls may be served and sold in various lengths from 1 or 2 inch so called “party” or “cocktail” sausage rolls, up to 6 or 7 inch “jumbo” sausage rolls. In the UK, Republic of Ireland, Australia and the Netherlands, they can be sold as large as 12 inches long.

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  • Pastie

    I am still on Brit time, and still on my pub-grub kick. Today, it is meat pies, but not just a pot pie, a hand meal. Yes, I serve it on a plate with gravy, but it could be eaten out of hand. (in fact the first set out of the oven went that way..)

    And before the Brit’s in the group start marching on the lair with torches, yes, I rolled the damned things the wrong way.

    A pasty, sometimes known as a pastie or British pasty in the United States, is a filled pastry case, associated in particular with Cornwall in Great Britain. It is made by placing the uncooked filling on a flat pastry circle, and folding it to wrap the filling, crimping the edge to form a seal. The result is a raised semicircular package.

    The traditional Cornish pasty, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe, is filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, swede (also known as a yellow turnip) and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and is baked. Today, the pasty is the food most associated with Cornwall, regarded as its national dish, and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy. Pasties with different fillings are made; some shops specialize in selling all sorts of pasties.

    The origins of the pasty are unclear, though there are many references to them throughout historical documents and fiction. The pasty is now popular world-wide, due to the spread of Cornish miners and variations can be found in Australia, the United States and Mexico.

    Despite the modern pasty’s strong association with Cornwall, its exact origins are unclear. The term “pasty” is an English word for a pie, of venison or other meat, baked without a dish. Pasties have been mentioned in cookbooks throughout the ages; for example the earliest version of Le Viandier has been dated to around 1300 and contains several pasty recipes. In 1393, Le Menagier De Paris contains recipes for pasté with venison, veal, beef, or mutton.

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  • Stout Stew for Pie

    I am back from the UK, and already I miss the food. You have to really look to find a “fast food” chain restaurant, but on every corner there is a pub, and the pub sells some of the most amazing bar food I have ever tasted.

    Even walking through Borough Market, whole stalls were dedicated to selling homemade meat pies, for take away and reheat. The basis of each pie is a form of meat stew, some very wet, some almost bone dry, but at the heart of it a stew. For my first attempt I’ll try a simple Beef, vegetable and stout pie.

    But I want a hearty, beefy, chunky, tasty, stew. You know the one that all the canned stew claim to be but always taste like beef flavored library paste with vague vegetable chunks floating in it… A real stew with chunks of no so Gucci beef simmered in a rich broth thickened with a browned roux seasoned with fresh herbs and wonderious spices….

    Wikipedia says:

    A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables (such as carrots, potatoes, beans, peppers and tomatoes etc.), meat, poultry, sausages and seafood. While water can be used as the stew-cooking liquid, wine, stock, and beer are also common. Seasoning and flavorings may also be added. Stews are typically cooked at a relatively low temperature (simmered, not boiled), allowing flavors to mingle.

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  • Meatless Monday – Butternut Squash and Black Bean Soup

    Ok, I am back in the US in body, I think, it is 03:00 and my body says it is 08:00… Today is meatless Monday, and I’ll pick a dish from my recent trip, and try to recreate it. I managed to chat up / slip my way into a rather high-end hotel kitchen and pick up a few pointers from the Chef De Cuisine.

    I am sure the kitchen noise and smells will inflect proper revenge for those who kept waking me at the ungodly hour of 10 P.M. EST… (03:00 BST)

    One can “finish” this dish in soo many ways, add some garam masala and you can take this out as a vegetable curry, add some chili power and you can serve this as a chili, a bit of nutmeg, butter, cream and a session with a blender stick will yield a very nice bisque, pile on the root veggies and have a vegetable stew.

    One can use vegetable stock, or chicken stock, add ham, sausage, or bacon for more flavors / textures.

    Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata), also known in Australia and New Zealand as Butternut pumpkin, is a type of winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine. The most popular variety, the Waltham Butternut, originated in Waltham, Massachusetts, where it was developed at the Waltham Experiment Station by Robert E. Young.

    Butternut squash is a fruit that can be roasted and toasted and also be puréed (to make a soup) or mashed into soups, casseroles, breads, and muffins.

    In Australia it is regarded as a pumpkin, and used interchangeably with other types of pumpkin.

    It is also commonly used in South Africa. It is often used in soup or can be cooked on a grill. Grilled butternut is normally either seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon or the de-seeded centre stuffed with other vegetables for example Spinach and Feta before wrapped in foil and then grilled. The grilled butternut is often served as a side dish to braais (barbecues) and the soup as a starter dish.

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  • Pub Grub – Beef and Ale Pie

    First post from London. Dinner last night was quite the event, (more on that later), even better was lunch yesterday. Just a hope down King Street is a great little pub, been there since horses were all the rage in transport.

    The meal was a Steak and Guniness stew with mushrooms, leeks and other veggies to make a “stout” and hearty stew. Then covered with a thick coating of horseradish flavored mashed potatoes.

    Background

    A steak pie is a traditional meat pie served in Britain. It is made from stewing steak and beef gravy, enclosed in a pastry shell. Sometimes mixed vegetables are included in the filling. Steak pie is subtly different from Steak and kidney pie. In Ireland Guinness Stout is added along with bacon and onions. It is commonly referred to as a Steak and Guinness Pie (or Guinness Pie for short). In Scotland sausages are traditionally added to the steak. This practice goes back to the days when families could not afford more steak and the pie was padded out with cheaper meat. It is still to this day preferable to have the sausages and many butchers still sell them in large quantities. Many people would argue that the sausage enhances the flavor. The dish is often served with “steak chips” (thickly sliced potatoes fried, sometimes fried in beef dripping).

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