Pumpkin Publog

Feb 04

Probably the best thing to take away the taste of a Haribo Super Pirato salted licorice drop

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Probably the best thing to take away the taste of a Haribo Super Pirato salted licorice drop is a Swedish Pepper Ball (scroll down).

Feb 04

Snax part 3917: Curried Bean Toast

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Snax part 3917: Curried Bean Toast

This is easier to make than the “curry in a hurry” recipe I posted yonks ago. You mix a can of baked beans in tomato sauce with a spoon raisins and a teaspoon of green curry. While you heat the beans, you toast two slices of bread spread with (olive) butter. Then you slap the bean mix between the slices and, PRESTO, you have dinnah!

Two important facts about peanut brittle:

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Two important facts about peanut brittle: 1.) It is easy to make great peanut brittle. 2) It is easy to make terrible peanut brittle.

To make the great stuff, boil together three cups of sugar, one cup of light corn syrup, and one-half cup water. USE A CANDY THERMOMETER. While it’s heating up, butter a one-half sheet pan. At 230 degrees F (soft ball), add three cups of raw peanuts and a generous pinch of salt, and stir the mixture constantly as it cooks. At 300F (hard crack), add three tablespoons of room-temperature butter and turn off the heat. Quickly stir in a generous tablespoon of vanilla extract, then three teaspoons of baking soda. When the soda is mixed in and the whole thing is a big foamy mass, quickly turn it out onto the buttered sheet pan and tilt the pan so the corners fill in. Let it cool, and all that’s left is the breaking up and the eating.

To make terrible peanut brittle, follow the above directions exactly during humid weather. The sugar crystals will seize all available water vapor right out of the air, and you’ll be left with a nasty product that is sticky to the touch, not entirely brittle, and guaranteed to get in your teeth and never go away. Make this during clear, cloudless days and you’ll have a great candy that will melt in your mouth after the first crunch with caramelly, roasty-peanutty, buttery goodness. The perfect sweet for chocolate-haters.

Exotic indelicacies #1: Super Piratos

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Exotic indelicacies #1: Super Piratos

The horse sausage was indeed fried and eaten, and very good it was too, though the meal’s success relied on the addition of a small amount of super-zingy red chilli relish. As part of the transaction which saw me cooking horse sausage in a flat in Victoria, I was given a packet of SUPER PIRATOS: little black discs of ‘lakrids’, which I assume means liquorice. If only my translating skills had lingered long enough for me to ponder the meaning of another word featuring prominently on the packet: saltlikrids…

Now I like trying unfamiliar foods from strange lands. Don’t we all? And we all love pirates, right? Right. So how could a packet of Danish Haribo products which look like Pontefract cakes be wrong? They’re called SUPER PIRATOS! They have a picture of a pirate on the front! And the pirate’s parrot is saying ‘EN GO’ ST’RK LAKRIDS TIL ALLE LAKRIDS-ELSKERE’, which I don’t understand, of course. It had never occurred to me that parrots could speak any language other than English.

It is my solemn duty to tell you: SUPER PIRATOS are the worst thing I have ever tasted. Sharper readers may have guessed that something labelled ‘saltlikrids’ may involve liquorice and salt, and they would be spot on. These little black doubloons are extraordinarily strong, acrid lumps of badness, all salty and sour. Imagine Mighty Imps pickled in brine and served up in 50p-sized lumps and you may be getting somewhere near. My eyes watered, the taste wouldn’t leave my poor mouth. I’m shuddering now just thinking about them.

more updating

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more updating

The rabbit has been cooked now – he/she got fried and then casseroled in cider, along with lots of carrots and some fennel, onion and red pepper – num num. Fiddly to eat though, the main meat of a rabbit seems to be a barrel of meat right under the rib cage, a chicken like texture but a meatier taste. The juices though – oh my they were great, so savoury.

I understand the horse sausage was like a mild pepperoni, ie it had less of a kick…arf!

Feb 04


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What is Chowki? Is it
a) An Indian Restaurant just off of Piccadilly
b) A root vegetable notable for for being halfway between chicory and potato
c) Where Jonathon Ross gets sent when he breaks the law.

It is of course a), and the schtick is that every month it presents a new menu from three different regions of India. February is the actually oft traveled Punjab, Kerala and slightly more unusual Sikkim. I’ve walked past it loads of times on the way to the Piccadilly from the UGC over the road and thought, hmm – poncey Indian. But then I thought, must try it, I can wear my ponce disguise after all. And whilst we were seated in the cold bit, the waiting staff were snappy to run us through the motions.

There is a piece I’ve been meaning to write on subcontinenental 660ml beers (Three Coins, Tiger etc…) but that will wait. But the Punjabi sourced one was very nice. So I stuck to the Punjabi menu and had the lamb shank with spinach. My companion went lamb kerela style. You can do a ’10.95 three course meal perming three items from the locality – including the oft fear Indian pudding – but this time we just went mains. Next time I’ll go whole hog for the value. You don’t just get your curry for the asking price, you get appropriate rice, dhaal, side orders and bread. And the food was great (espeically sucking the beautifully curried marrow out of the bone).

Chowki is a friendly place with a very friendly ever changing menu (website at www.chowki.com shows you whats on and what is coming). The only frightening bit was the toilet, which with its full on chrome is like pissing in a saucepan. But the food was great and the ambience almost completely drowned out the three travelling salesmen two seats down regaling the restaurant with their prowess in selling sandwich making machines. Just looking at that menu makes me want to go back again to try the Sikkim. And I’ve got a week before its all change in March with Mangalore, Rajasthan and Hyderabad. Hmmm.


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NOTES ON RICE: the Swank Way to cook rice is to use exactly the right amount of water and cook for exactly the right amount of time. I sometimes think this is a kind of Top-Chef Showing-Off, and really evolved bcz Top Chefs employ someone else to clean and deglue the mess from their pans and pots.* With rice which is going to end up dryish (I almost always use American long-grained anyway), don’t be afraid – at least when yr getting used to it – to use far more water than the recipe suggests, and taste and test it, then take it off, drain and rinse it when it’s the right softness. I expect this is very non-authentic – I know Asian steamed rice dishes are meant to be pulpy and sticky – but the point is, it is manageable and tasty and doesn’t require total constant attention better directed elsewhere. Besides, the exact authentic texture is a product of the correct equipment plus centuries of ultra-heirarchical social organisation!!

*I’ve known at least one REALLY GOOD cook – he was a fisherman from the Seychelles – who cooked the rice till it stuck solid EVERY SINGLE TIME: “Oh! Disaster!!” he would exclaim with his lovely grin, and we would scrape off the top, eatable layer, which was about right (unless it had actually started to burn below, which always taints the rest), and leave the semi-ruined pan till after we’d eaten, when we were in a good mood again.


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well, so far we ain’t doing too well, the veal was lovely, cooked with creme fraice and mushroom. The horse sausage is with it’s true owner – Msr Hopkins and the clams? – they ran out of shelf life last night (pub distracted us) but…….. they are still alive, they were placed in clean (salty) water last night and all opened up and closed when tapped, but dare we eat them?……………

Yesterday my book order arrived

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Yesterday my book order arrived (along with a videogame for my soon to be husband). I’ve been trying to find a good indian recipe-book. (Yes, email me recommendations!) As I have only started cooking a year or two ago, I’m not yet experienced enough to make complex dishes. Hence why i started with simple japanese recipes, such as oyakudon and stews. You don’t really need a gazillion spices, just some dashi, mirin and miso. Anyway, I am now delusional/bold enough to try out difficult curries and pilaus. The problem isn’t only lack of experience, I don’t seem to have the right pots. Why does the rice always burn ‘n’ stick to the pots? The indian cookbook also has a ghee recipe. Uh no, not yet ready for THAT. Maybe next year!

Feb 04

A truly heart-warming story

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A truly heart-warming story from grauniad education, combining my two best things LIFELONG LEARNING and BEER here at the beer academy. No dates for when their next courses are unfortunately, but I think this is something the publog should be relatively pro, they don’t seem overly obsessed with cask over everything else, although looking at their gold sponsors perhaps this isn’t too surprising…

Also, ph34r the FLAVOUR WHEEL!!