The Last Post

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Yes folks, this is it. The very last post here on messingaboutinthekitchen. I’ve got a lot going on, what with my other blog over on

nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com

reworking my first (unpublished) novel, getting to grips with my second (unfinished) novel, a short stageplay, reviewing others’ work from my writers’ group… It all takes time, and that means I have to give something up.

I’m sad to be going, since this was my first blog before I started putting the effort in on

nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com

(shameless bit of self promotion there.) But alas, there we have it.

But some thanks are due before I go. Firstly to Bronya over on The Vegaquarium. It was dipping into her blog that started me off, so you can blame her.

To some of my earliest followers, Cindy Knoke and SethSnap. You always read what I’d written, and were generally nice about it. So ta ever so.

All of you who found and became followers here and then tracked me over to

nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com (there I go again)

and became followers over there. Too many to mention, but thanks anyway.

I’m not closing this blog, so it will still be here for people to stumble across, and it’s set up so if you leave comments I can pick them up.

Last, a word from the unwise. Cookery isn’t cooking. Cookery’s what you read about, cooking’s what you do. With cookery, it’s a bit like following a SatNav, or a map. Start here, turn there, this is where you end up. Remember though, even if you follow a recipe to the letter, you may not like the end result. You did nothing wrong; it’s just not for you.

Cooking’s different. You know where you’re starting, you know about where you want to end up, but you find your way there by asking directions from someone who says ‘Oh, about 2, no maybe three miles, there’s an old oak tree. Or is it an ash? Anyway, just past that, turn left…’ If you miss a turning, hey there’ll be another one sooner of later heading in about the right direction. You may not end up exactly where you were aiming, but you’ll have a much more interesting journey.

Any newcomers who find this. You’ll have disasters. You will have disasters. Everyone does. Give the remains to your cat and put it down to experience.

That’s about all folks. As the late Douglas Adams said

‘So long and thanks for all the fish.’

PS If any of you megabloggers want to give my other blog a mention, I’d be really grateful. I’ve reblogged or tweeted a lot of your stuff, or mentioned you so you know, quid pro quo. Cheeky little sod aren’t I?

I know you’ve missed me

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Right, I’m back with something really delicious. Chilli chicken with mango

Here’s what you need (for two people)

Two skinned chicken breasts

A mango, ripe as you like

Half a large onion

Two big cloves of garlic

Three dried red chillies

Dry vermouth. You can use Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, but the vermouth works really well

Cornflour

Cooking oil

More salt than you think is needed

Chilli sauce (optional)

Here’s what you do

Cut the chicken breasts into 1” chunks. Put them in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle two teaspoons of cornflour on them, and a heaped teaspoon of salt. Crush one of the garlic cloves onto them, and add two tablespoons of vermouth, and the chillies, finely chopped. Mix really well, and put the bowl somewhere the cat can’t get at it.

Slice the half onion lengthways, then cut it across into 1” pieces. Scumble these a bit to separate the layers, but don’t worry too much.

Peel the mango, and slice the flesh off the seed. Good luck with that. Raw mango has a coefficient of friction similar to oily Teflon. Cut the flesh into 1” pieces. If there’s a lot of juice then add what you can to the marinade for the meat.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a wok till it’s beginning to smoke. Add the onion pieces and a teaspoon of salt. Stir vigorously till the onion begins to brown.

Crush in the second garlic clove, and stir vigorously, or the garlic will burn.

Add the marinaded chicken, and keep things moving. If you’re going for broke, add a tablespoon of chilli sauce.

When the chicken looks cooked (it won’t brown because you’ve ‘velveted’ it in the marinade) turn the heat down and add the mango. Stir gently till the mango has heated through.

Voila, mes amis.

I’m not dead

But I’ve been busy over on

nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com

Plus I’ve been working on my restaurant stageplay, some new stories, running a fake voting system (and rigging the results), attended a murder mystery dinner party, still struggling with my detective novel, writing haikus (in the manner of a South Carolina redneck, which made for soem fun), having the occasional online row…

So I’ve neglected you. I’ll try to post something tomorrow.

Bye for now

Dunk

Inspired by Sybaritica’s amchur prawns

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I was reminded of something I once ate in a small restaurant in Cuba. It was a very pleasant place, but forget a menu. Even the owner didn’t know what he’d have from day to day, so we just bowled up and ate what was on offer.

One of the best things I ever ate was this very simple dish

Butterfly some good sized prawns, or shrimp if you will

Mix a tablesppon of flour with a teaspoon of ground cumin, and dip and turn the prawns/shrimp to coat them well

Deep fry, if you’ve got enough oil (which couldn’t be guaranteed when I was in Cuba), or pan fry in as much oil as you can spare

Serve in soup bowls (plates were in a bit of short supply too) on finely shredded lettuce dressed with lime juice. Don’t be too finicky about draining the oil off the prawns, since any drips mix with the lime juice to make a sort of warm vinaigrette

Delicious with Moros e Cristianos (rice and peas)

Listen up everyone

If you aren’t already following

http://kitchenslattern.com/

then get off your arses and check out the Slattern.

I thought my cookery blog was a bit off the wall. I’m a rank outsider.

And I love her critique (that’s a posh wrod for slagging off) of Martha Stewart, notorious tax dodger (we heard about that even in the UK) and overweening snob/sanctimonious hate figure. Can I get sued for libel over a post? Well, Martha, if you take exception, hard cheese. As the poet said, I have nothing, I owe much, the rest I leave to the poor.

Well done, Slattern.

And a great name for a website too.

Dodgy connection, but I kept my promise. Sort of

I’m really struggling with the connection here, so you may lose this.

But I’d like to talk about turnips.

Turnips. Gawdelpus. If spring greens are the sulky conscripts of the vegetable army, turnips are the hapless souls who spend most of their time painting rocks white, or on permanent latrine duty. Useless makeweights, with all the officers and NCOs wondering how to keep them off the parade ground at passing out.

They aren’t.

I am going to cheat here, but if you follow my blog you’ll appreciate that I’m a great cheat.

Poke about on the Internet, you can find any number of recipes for Bombay potatoes, or aloo.

Buy some turnips, and use them as you would potatoes. Top and tail them, peel, chop into chunks, then just follow any Bombay aloo recipe.

My recommendation is that you lay off the chilli heat, and concentrate on the aromatics. Cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg (perhaps), fenugreek, ginger, garlic. Coriander seeds. Mustard seed, but don’t overdo them.

That is the best I can do. My WiFi is all over the place.

But really, heavy on the aromatics. And a big handful of chopped coriander/cilantro just before serving

Been a bit busy

If you have had too much time on your hands you may have been over to my other blog

http://nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com/

There’s a lot going on there, and I just started another major writing project that’s suddenly making big inroads into the niggardly 24 hours that are allowed in the day.

I will post something here tomorrow, and I’ve got it planned, and it’ll make you go ‘What? He’s off his head. Why do they let him out without an armed escort?’

Auf wiedersehn, pets

I felt lazy

So here’s what i did

Thinly sliced an onion, fried it off in a wok.

Added some Straight to Wok noodles. Stirred them up.

Added some shop bought carrot and coriander soup

Stirred it up, avoiding letting the soup boil

Shoved it in a bowl, a big dash of ketsup manis, and a load of Szechuan and black pepper

Cheating, but yummy

Roast lamb

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Apologies for absence. I’m back after some hearteningly vigorous activity over on my other blog

http://nobodysreadingme.wordpress.com/

Special thanks to Cindy Knoke

http://cindyknoke.com/

for the mildly surreal comment she posted over there.

So, roast lamb

I bet your mind is turning to thoughts of mint sauce, rosemary and maybe garlic in the cooking. Maybe roll a neck of lamb with sage and onion stuffing…

None of these is bad, but they are a bit unimaginative.

So how’s this for a killer ingredient?

Rheum rhubarbarum x hybridum

Rhubarb. You heard me. Rhubarb.

Its acidity works so well with the richness of the lamb. It’s fab, and it’s such a surprise for most people that you can just sit back and take the plaudits.

Here’s what you need

A good big stem of rhubarb. In the shops you tend only to be able to buy it in season, but if you’re lucky enough to have this rhizomic miracle in your garden you can do this all year round. Old rhubarb works fine, so don’t be too finicky and go for small young stems

A large onion. A really big one, maybe a white Stuttgarter Giant. As big as you can get

A big clove of garlic

Olive oil, or ghee, or butter if you want to be indulgent

Salt maybe

A bit of sugar, maybe

Here’s what you do

Trim the rhubarb and cut it into ½ inch chunks

Wash it thoroughly, and don’t drain it too well. Shove it in a heavy pan, put it over a really low heat, wait till the water starts to hiss a bit, then cover it tightly. You may want to add no more than a teaspoon of sugar (or honey), and stir well before you cover it

While the rhubarb steams itself, chop the onion finely, then put a tablespoon of oil, or ghee, or butter in a large frying pan with a lid. Sweat the onions under the lid with a ½ teaspoonful of salt. Keep an eye on the rhubarb now and then, and if you need to add water a ½ tablespoon at a time

When the onion has sweated but not browned, take it off the heat and allow it to cool down, or you’ll burn yourself in a few minutes

Check the rhubarb. It shouldn’t be sloppy but still a bit fibrous, yet be tender enough to mash up a bit with a fork or a wooden spoon. When it is, drain it well, and mash up the rhubarb. Allow it to cool, or you’ll burn yourself…

When it’s all cooled down, add the rhubarb to the onion, add a crushed clove of garlic.

Now what?

If you’re roasting a leg or shoulder of lamb, score the meat deeply down to the bone. Pack the cuts with this mix, then coat the rest of the joint with the rest of the mix, and rub it in a bit

Wrap everything in foil to avoid burning the coating, and roast as per usual. I go for hot and short, so the meat stays pink, but that’s not for everyone, I know

Errmm, I intended to stuff and roll a neck of lamb

Easypeasy. Add a couple of cups of wholemeal breadcrumbs to the mix, stir about. If it’s a bit sloppy, add a teaspoonful of cornflour. Yes, I know I might want to make a roux to stiffen things up, but who has time for that when it’s Sunday and there’s a film you want to watch on the TV?

Stir well, spread the stuffing over the lamb neck, roll up, and tie with string. Loosely! The meat and the stuffing will swell as they cook, and it’s a shame to lose things.

Roast as per your preference.

Any leftover stuffing? Add a good lot of chopped fresh coriander (I think this may be known as cilantro in the US. Let me know.) Oil or butter a shallow dish, shove the excess in. Mix another tablespoon of breadcrumbs with a some oil or butter, spread this over the top.

Put this in the oven, uncovered, about 20 minutes before you expect the meat to be cooked. It should crisp up lovely, but if you’ve used sugar ease the browning bits away from the edges of the dish so things don’t burn

A variant

A tablespoon of finely, and I mean finely, chopped or minced root ginger added to the basic mix

My mouth’s watering

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