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Half Metre Bratwurst

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
03/Oct/2013

I regularly walk past some of the 'street food' stalls in the city centre and sometimes think about trying one of the sausages from the bratwurst stall but until this week I never actually got around to it. I decided to give the half metre bratwurst a go, complete with onions and german mustard. The sausage is so long, only the middle half fits on the bread.

Half Metre Bratwurst

It's pretty good value at £4.50 and the sausage is good quality and tasty. I did notice that they advertised chicken bratwurst on the side of the stall so I'll have to try those next time I'm passing.



Love Shake, West Orchard Shopping Centre

Story location: Home / Blog / food_and_drink /
02/Oct/2013

I used to write about local eateries and review local restaurants fairly regularly but I haven't done that for a while. There are a few places in Coventry which I mean to try out in the next few weeks, including various shops, restaurants or take-aways. I won't promise that it'll be a weekly thing but I'll try not to leave it too long between reviews.

I'll get the ball rolling with my visit to Love Shake in the West Orchard shopping centre. They do a wide selection of milk shakes (made using chocolate bars), fruit smoothies (made using a mixture of juice and frozen fruit) and locally made ice cream. I chose The Immunizer which is a mixture of equal amounts of strawberry, kiwi and pineapple, topped up with apple juice. then liquidized.

The Immunizer

The use of frozen fruit means the fruit keeps its vitamin content but also means you get an ice cold smoothie which you can't drink too quickly without freezing your throat. The fruit flavours come through well and you can taste them all within the mix.

I'll have to pop back to try their ice cream next.



Week 39: Rice Pudding Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
23/Sep/2013

A couple of months ago I made a rice pudding but it curdled slightly. I decided to freeze it until I had a chance to do something with it. I had the idea of doing some kind of cake so I looked up rice pudding cakes on the Internet but they all seemed to be more like set puddings and less like actual cakes. I decided to have a go at making up a recipe myself.

Rice Pudding Cake

I took 2 eggs, ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of vegetable oil and mixed them together. I added the tub of slightly curdled rice pudding (approximately 300g) then added 1 cup of self raising flour. I baked it at gas mark 5 until it looked done. It was a huge improvement over the original rice pudding, which didn't have a very pleasant texture. The cake has a moist cakey/puddingy texture and a good rice pudding flavour. The photo is of the second slice I cut - the first slice got eaten very quickly.



Week 38: Turkey, spinach and goats cheese sausage

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
21/Sep/2013

This meal was based on two recipes.

I mixed the turkey mince, spinach and cheese together and formed sausage shapes out of it. These were fried and put into a wrap along with some salad.

Turkey, spinach and goats cheese sausage



Week 37: Curly Pies

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
09/Sep/2013

This is another recipe from the Hairy Biker's European baking book. They cooked Curly Pies in the Romania episode and their suggested filling included cheese, ham, chorizo and mushrooms. I went with cheese, chorizo and falafel for mine since our stocks of suitable pie-filling foods were getting a bit low.

The pastry is more like a dough and was made by mixing together 200ml of fizzy water, a pinch of salt, a small glug (approx. 1 tbs) of vegetable oil and 270g of plain flour. This was mixed to make a soft dough which was put in the fridge to rest for half an hour.

The quantities above should make 4 pies but I halved the amounts. I split the dough into 2 and flattened them into disks then spread the filling into the centre, folding the dough over to meet and overlap in the middle.

The original recipe suggested a glaze of 2 eggs and 100ml of yoghurt. We didn't have any yoghurt so I used 1 egg and 50g of a mix of milk and cream cheese (remember I was making half the amount). After brushing a generous amount over the pies, there was a lot of the glaze mixture left over - enough to make an omelette by adding the leftover filling which wouldn't fit in the pies.

Curly Pie

I baked the pies for 35-40 minutes at gas mark 4 on our pizza stone.

Cheese and Falafel Curly Pie

The pies were good but the pastry was a little on the chewy side. The CO2 from the fizzy water had helped the dough rise a bit during cooking so the mix might work well for an emergency pizza base.



Week 36: Grapefruit Drizzle Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
06/Sep/2013

I have a couple of cakes to report on this week. The first was a Bounty Bar cake, based on a recipe from the River Cottage Cake handbook. A version of it has been posted here so I don't have to re-type the recipe myself. I scaled the recipe down because my tin was smaller than the suggested size in the book but I might have made a slight mistake because mine took longer to cook and went from sloppy in the middle to completely cooked and dry in a few minutes.

The resulting cake did taste good but was a bit too dry and crumbly. The cake was fairly quick and easy to make so I'll probably try it again. Next time I will stick more closely to their recipe and pay a bit more attention to the cake during baking.

The second cake was much more successful. It was inspired by the grapefruit cake from the The Great British Bake Off but was based on another from the River Cottage Cake book.

The cake part was very similar to this recipe. I didn't get much zest from the grapefruit so I added a tablespoon of my lime curd.

Grapefruit Drizzle Cake

I do like drizzle cakes (they are among my favourite cakes) and this one certainly didn't disappoint. The outside of the cake had developed a slightly crispy sugary crust and the centre had gone a bit puddingy.

I dread to think how many calories were in the cake. I should probably try to cook more new main courses but there are still so many different cake recipes I need to try.



Week 35: Cardamom Cake

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
27/Aug/2013

Earlier this year I bought the Hairy Bikers' baking book, and this is another of their recipes. This week's recipe was described as a coffee cake in the European tradition (a cake to go with coffee, not a cake containing coffee).

I scaled their recipe down slightly to fit our baking tin but otherwise followed the book closely. I didn't want the cardamom flavour to be too overpowering so I used slightly less than they did.

alt_text

It was an easy cake to make and turned out well. There are a few more recipes in the book which I want to try next, half of them cakes, the other half savoury.



Week 34: Pressure cooker pork casserole

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
18/Aug/2013

This recipe came about more or less by accident. I had planned to try a cake recipe but shortly after I had cooked and eaten this I realised it should probably count as this week's recipe. I wasn't following a recipe but simply threw together a one-pot meal based on what I had in the kitchen.

We have had a pressure cooker for several years but all I have used it for so far is to make soups or stocks. Until today I hadn't used it to cook an actual meal. I had recently bought some pork cheeks and thought a one pot pressure cooker meal might work.

I started by frying some red pepper, onion and garlic for a couple of minutes before adding the cheeks. I then poured a tin of tomatoes into the pressure cooker and added some mixed herbs, a pinch of salt, a generous pinch of smoked paprika and a grind of black pepper. I put the lid on the pressure cooker, brought it up to pressure and cooked for half an hour. I turned the heat off and let the pan cool down enough to let me remove the lid. I added some tomato puree, a bit of cornflour for thickening and a tin of beans.

The meat had gone soft and tender and readily came apart, which was what I'd hoped would happen. The sauce tasted very familiar and after a couple of mouthfuls I realised it was very similar to a recipe from our old Floyd on Spain book: a stew using tomatoes, red peppers and chorizo. I had accidentally recreated something which tasted almost identical to a family favourite recipe which I hadn't had for years.



Week 33: Lemon Berry Pudding

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
16/Aug/2013

Every now and again I catch a programme on the Food Network. A couple of months ago I caught an episode of Baking with Anna Olson where she did upside down cakes. One of the recipes was Lemon Berry Saucing Cake. I decided to wait until the fruit in the garden was ripe before I gave it a go. I have managed to collect wild strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries, red gooseberries and blackberries.

The dessert was surprisingly easy to make. I started by making a fairly runny batter which consisted of half a cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1 egg yolk and 2/3 of a cup of semi-skimmed milk.

I took the egg white and whisked it until it started to form peaks. The white was actually quite runny, suggesting the egg was quite old, even though they were only bought a few days ago and still had 10 days until the 'Best Before' date.

I managed to find 4 mis-matched ramekin dishes which I buttered and coated with sugar. I put a layer of berries in the bottom of each, using different combinations of the ones I mentioned above.

Lemon Berry Saucing Cake
These were the only 2 matching ramekins. The puddings were baked at gas mark 4 for 35 minutes. The ramekins were in a bain marie to help them cook evenly.

Lemon Berry Saucing Cake
I was surprised at how well the puddings turned out. The one pictured here had mixed fruit in. The one I ate was mainly gooseberry with some blackcurrant and strawberry. The balance of sharp and sweet flavours was about right and the pudding had a good cakey texture with a good layer of sauce on top.



Godiva returns to Coventry

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /
10/Aug/2013

Last year, in the run up to the Olympic Games, a giant statue of Lady Godiva left Coventry and travelled to London. Today the statue returned to Coventry and journeyed around the city.

Godiva Awakes



Week 32: False Economy Lime Curd

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
04/Aug/2013

A week or so ago I was in the supermarket and (as usual) had a rummage around the reduced and out of date fruit and veg fridge. There was a bag of limes for 30p so I decided to get them and worry about what I was going to do with them when I got home. Gin and tonic was sadly out of the question because I forgot to buy any tonic water.

I found several suitable cake recipes and ended up making some coconut and lime cupcakes. Sadly I seem to have eaten them all without taking any photographs, which is a bit poor and quite unlike me. The cakes were quite simple to make, being a basic pound cake recipe with added lime zest and juice and some grated coconut. After baking, they were sprinkled with toasted coconut and drizzled with a syrup made with lime juice and sugar.

After making the cupcakes I still had 2 limes left over so they sat in the fridge for a few days while I decided what to do with them. I thought I would have a go at making a lime curd in the microwave. It was very simple to make, a few minutes juicing the limes then 7 minutes in the microwave in 1 minute bursts.

If the lime curd was supposed to be a way of using up the limes and avoiding food wastage, it was probably a bit of a false economy. The two limes only cost me 10p but since I needed to add sugar, butter and 1 egg to the juice, the one egg alone cost me 17p so I ended up spending more money than I was saving/avoiding wasting.

Home made lime curd

The limes were fairly yellow with green patches so I shouldn't really be surprised that the curd came out much more yellow than green.

Home made lime curd

The curd was very sharp and sour. I probably needed to add a bit more sugar to the recipe but since limes vary a lot, I imagine it is quite difficult to publish a recipe which will give ideal results in all cases.



Week 31: Stromboli Pizza

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
28/Jul/2013

For this week's pizza night I decided to try a Stromboli pizza, a filled pizza which is often rolled up. The base was a normal bread/pizza base. For the filling I used vegetable chilli, chicken and cheese.

Making the Stromboli Pizza
I started by rolling the base into an oval shape. Closer to rectangular would be better but oval works well enough. I spread the base with the vegetable chilli then sprinkled chopped cooked chicken over the top.

See more ...



Week 30: Onion Muffins

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
26/Jul/2013

This weeks recipe was based on one from the Hairy Bikers European Baking book and was a savoury onion muffin. The originals were topped with poppy seeds but I didn't have any of those so I made a few variations, topping some with onion seeds, some with grated cheese, and others weren't topped but had some chilli cheese mixed into the muffin batter before cooking.

Onion Muffins

I used red onions and one thing I noticed was that they turned green after cooking. The recipe contained baking soda, which is alkaline, so it is likely that this reacted with the anthocyanins in the onion to turn them green.

Onion Muffins



History Live 2013

Story location: Home / Blog /
21/Jul/2013

We regularly go to the English Heritage Festival of History. It was cancelled last year due to the weather but it was back this year, renamed History Live.

In addition to the battle re-enactments, there were old fashioned side-shows such as the fire eaters and a return of the Victorian Gymkhana.

 

Click on the thumbnail to view the image



Week 29: Brioche

Story location: Home / food_and_drink / recipe_a_week /
19/Jul/2013

This year has been largely dominated by baking and bread, mainly because my newest cookbooks are all baking based, mostly cakes, bread and pies. I regularly make normal 'everyday' loaves using either traditional yeast or sourdough without consulting any recipes, but every now and again I feel the need to try something a bit more adventurous. I had intended to try a brioche for a while and finally got around to doing it today, partly because we had 4 eggs in the kitchen which were getting a bit old and needed using up (they weren't off but the whites had gone a bit runny). The recipe I intended to try (from the River Cottage bread book) needed 4 eggs so that seemed to be a good way of using them up.

This recipe is 'all in one' where the flour, sugar, milk, butter and eggs are all mixed together, instead of more traditional ones where a dough gets made first and the butter is mixed in afterwards. I used our electric mixer with the dough hooks but the mix remained very sticky and refused to form a ball. I had to add a bit more flour and knead by hand before it became more manageable and was ready for the initial proving. After a couple of hours in the fridge, the dough had gone nice and firm and was then ready to be put in the tins for the second rising.

I decided to do a standard loaf and a more adventurous spiral shaped bun. I have been meaning to do more shaped loaves and I thought brioche might be a good one to start with.

Brioche

Brioche

I think I slightly over-baked them because the crust was a bit darker than I would have liked. The actual bread had a very good texture and tasted very buttery, possibly a bit too rich even! I can normally eat quite a lot of bread in one sitting but probably won't be able to with this. A very rich brioche like this would work very well with fruit or chocolate, to make a cake. A slightly less rich version would be more suitable to use as a normal bread, albeit a special treat bread.