Friday, 25 May 2012

Stir Wars - The Photos

I was supposed to be publishing a witty little post about a lovely lunch I had with my good wife at Pizarro on Food Urchin today. But due to unforeseen circumstances and possible human error, the farking piece which I spent lots of time farking writing, wrangling and rambling over seems to have farking deleted itself causing much untold grief and farking apoplexy. FOR FARKING FARKS SAKE!

Thank God there were no cats around to kick when that happened this morning.*

So by way of composing the blogging equivalent of a test card (please do not adjust your sets) I have decided to put up some lovely photos from the charity Stir Wars event wot I was involved with at the start of the month and to give some long overdue thanks to our sponsors.

The night, though stressful in parts, was a roaring success. Well everyone who came to dine, dress up and exercise their grey matter over a very tough Star Wars quiz (courtesy of Big Spud) seemed to have a good time. But then again, front of house Jedi Masters, Osh and Phil from The Ship did keep everyone well plied with booze. All in all we managed to raise £1600 for Make A Wish Foundation which is an excellent achievement and may well prompt the Stir Wars crew to do another night in the not so distance future. Although next time it might come in the form of Indiana Jones tribute. Monkeys brains anyone?

For the record, my most memorable and personal moment of the evening came when a real life and slightly rotund Darth Vader came striding into Tsuru with a bevvy of Stormtroopers. At that precise moment, the little boy inside, the one who cherished his VHS copies of the original trilogy, all taped at Christmas, who used to spend hours in the garden re-enacting the final Ewok assault on Endor and who used to jump about the sofas in the living room with a home-made, cardboard and ultimately flimsy light saber, well, he did a little wee of excitement in his y-fronts.

As for when the deep fat fryer which died on him during service, well he shit his pants when that happened.

Big thanks go to all these sponsors and donors, without their help, we could not have made the night happen.

And an extra big thanks to the official Stir Wars photographer, Ozzy............I have forgotten your surname........for taking some most excellent pictures of the evening and for letting me replicate them here.

(There are more here btw.)

* I have not and never would, ever kick a cat in anger or frustration. Maybe a chinchila but never a cat.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Chicken Rotisserie

It's been a long while since I last used the rotisserie in my oven. A long, long while. When I first bought the oven in fact, about 4 years ago. One of the principle reasons for the purchase was that it came with the means to spit roast chickens and other large lumps of meat. And yet, when I tested out the damn thing for the first time, the whole experience left me feeling rather unnerved and all unnecessary. You see in eager anticipation to get things going, I made a bit of a hash securing my test flight chook to the metal spit which resulted in a queasy display of lolling and tumbling. I hadn't tied up the chicken's legs with string properly so after a couple of revolutions they sprang free and splayed out, thighs akimbo, causing the action of the rotisserie to judder. As it turned round and round, in some staccato fashion and began to sweat and drip from the convective heat, I felt this deep well of sadness, this was no fitting end for a fine, free range bird. Peering through the glass with my face illuminated by the soft orange glow of the oven light didn't do me any favours at all. There I was, reduced to the status of a peeping Tom, lasciviously watching this poor creature's last, awkward dance and I ended up feeling rather sordid and sick. The fact that Careless Whisper was playing on the radio didn't help either. I never did eat that chicken.

So yes, I have left the rotisserie well alone for the last few years. But then I spotted a tweet on Twitter from Helen of Food Stories, bemoaning that a flat she was hoping to rent had fallen through. Not so much worried about that the fact she needed a roof over head, Helen's main beef was that the prospective new accommodation had an oven with a rotisserie and that all the various opportunities for rotisserrisationing has been snatched away from her. Well, that is indeed a fine display of foodie credentials. Here is someone who couldn't give a flying fig about where she lived, just so long as she had a spit to cook with. Bravo to that cave woman.

And it got me thinking, I really should have another crack at using my rotisserie again. So I went out and bought another chicken this weekend and this time, made sure that everything was fastened in place. The result? Well it reminded me just how brilliant a rotisserie can be. Who needs to worry about dried out, cardboard flesh when you have a device that enables continuous basting, keeping everything succulent and moist? Why did I let that first time put me off? Sure, my guilty feet have got no rhythm and though it's easy to pretend, I know I'm not a fool. Especially when I came up with the idea of sticking some spuds to roast underneath to catch all those lovely juices. No, I am now going to expand my repertoire of rotisserrisationing and am already thinking about recreating one of those elephant leg, lamb doners that you lust after on a Saturday night. Using quality meat of course, although I might have to up end the oven.

This is just the beginning.

Securely fastened this time

Let's get rotisserrrrising!

Sizzling spuds in chicken juices


Perfect roast potatoes

Je t'aime mon poulet chaud (NSFW)

Monday, 14 May 2012

How To Make A Crunchy Mister

It’s British Sandwich Week and whether it has been freshly made or spent some time ruminating and sweating in clingfilm at the bottom of a rucksack, the humble sandwich has been the cornerstone of our lunchtime diet for centuries now. Well, ever since some Earl barked at the card table late one night, “Bring me some meat tucked betwixt two slices of bread!” that is. Of course, familarity breeds contempt and sometimes this snack can become a bit pedestrian and habitual so here is a step-by-step approach to making a sarnie which is just that little bit more special, the Crunchy Mister.

Now, some eagle-eyed readers will have already cottoned onto the fact that the Crunchy Mister, in translation at least, may well allude to that gallic pretender, the Croque Monsieur. And they would be right, it does. But in keeping with our fine sense of humour and eccentricity, this sandwich calls for a lot more than simple French flair. It calls for an iron. The type that you would use to uncrease your undies. And you need to switch it on right now, right up to it’s hottest temperature.

So whilst your iron is heating up, you need to assemble your ingredients; a sandwich loaf, some butter, some good oak-smoked ham and some fine Cornish Cheddar (or something similar, Emmental or Gruyère is not needed here)

Slice your bread into slices, not too thick and slather with a healthy helping of butter. This is not a pappy, unsatisfying, calorie conscious sandwich by the way, the type you can find in the chiller in Boots. This is a sandwich of Kings.

Layer your flaky, delectable, oak-smoked ham down on one slice, resisting the urge to take a nibble. Oh go on then, just a little bit.

Grate your cheddar over the ham. Again trying not to pop any slivers into your cakehole, however nice the cheese is, with its crunchy, crystals of salt.

Lay the other slice of bread on top and then slather both sides of the outside slices with more butter, lots of butter, tonnes of butter. This is not a healthy sandwich.

You will then need to cut two neat(ish) squares of foil and place them atop and below the sandwich and then put the whole construction onto a baking tray.

By this time, your iron should be fiercely hot and ready to thwack on top of the sandwich. You can do this on your countertop or you could get your ironing board out, complete with resplendent and natty dandelion cover.

Leave the iron on top for about 2 minutes. The weight of the iron will press the bread down, creating a panini-type effect.

And watch as the butter and cheese, sizzles and melts and fills the kitchen with wondrous aromas and smells.

After 2 minutes, flip the sandwich on to the other side and place the iron back on top for another 2 minutes. Rub your tummy in anticipation.

When the next 2 minutes are up, carefully peel back the foil to reveal a beautiful, toasted sandwich that would even make John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, weep with joy. If the foil sticks to the bread, then quite frankly, you haven’t used enough butter. I repeat, this is not a healthy sandwich.

With a sharp knife, cut the sandwich in two and enjoy the gorgeous, warm combination of gooey cheese, savoury ham and toasted bread.

And then go for a lie down.

Or a run.

This post originally appeared on the Great British Chefs blog and my sandwich toasty iron was orginally given to me by Browners from Around Britain with a Paunch