The Ploughman’s Lunch: Not your typical Sandwich

It has certainly been a while since I touched on any of those books I picked up at the library so long ago, and even though they are long returned to the library and I am many states away from them I can still remember them fondly and pass on to you only the best suggestions. This one here for example:

The Ploughman’s Lunch and the Miser’s Feast

Brian Yarvin

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What a book. Now, this one was certainly a stretch away from my comfort zone. Yes, I love to cook but my real preference is baking. There is not a single cake in this book, no cupcakes or even very many sweets really (the fried Mars Bar doesn’t count). This cookbook harkens straight back to “Full English Breakfasts”, lunches that could  make you swoon in anticipation or fear, (depending on the strength of your stomach and international bearings) and dinners you would expect to find in one of those traditional pubs you can only find after getting lost.

This book called out to me from the shelf, begging to be read. With bountiful, color glossy photos on every page and more text than a mere recipe would require, I knew it was worth a second look, and I wasn’t disappointed. I wouldn’t describe this so much as a cookbook, but more of a travel log with some recipes thrown in. (Truly the best kind of cook book if you ask me , especially when dealing with international/ foreign cuisine.)

The only thing I enjoy more than baking is traveling and learning about new places, peoples and cultures, and while I have never been to the UK, I am lucky enough to know people here in the states that have grown up across the pond and are willing to share some of their culinary favorites with me. It was interesting to see a recipe for baked beans when I had only ever tried them out of a can on toast, and the “mushy peas” just aren’t to be missed! You have to take my word on that one! Think, more substantial pea soup with the buttery, salty notes of a baked potato!

If you ever see this book flitting around in your local library, or peeping out of the shelves in the bookstore, I can’t encourage you enough to have a look. If nothing else, the anecdotes of Brian Yarvin will keep you interested from page one!

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Tuesday Tip: Alton knows Best

I love Alton Brown.  He is clever and funny and best of all he can explain why things taste good. There is a science behind food that has always drawn me to cooking. Needless to say, when I found out that not only were full episodes on youtube, (the Great Alton Brown is too good to us!) but that there was an “egg files” episode featuring the humble meringue, I just had to indulge.

So, considering I am off on vacation to the wild wild west, I thought I would let Mr. Brown share some of his tips with you this week.

Enjoy!

Reddit: Kitchen Goods Exchange

I have to say, Reddit is my guilty pleasure.

I admit, there are areas that can get shady and scary and you wonder what deep parts of the internet you have wandered into. Overall though, Reddit is comprised of groups of people, wildly passionate about such a wide variety of topics – Think High school clubs where everyone gets in and you can be as involved as you want.

One of the best parts of Reddit, for me, are the Reddit Exchanges. Recently, due to high demand, there have been more and more of them. Essentially it is a Secret Santa type even where people all over the world can exchange snacks or presents (depending on the exchange) anonymously. It is all about making someone smile!

Yesterday I got an email informing me of such an exchange, a “Kitchen Goods” exchange. How much fun will that be?!

I have already signed up, Go Here and you can sign up too! Happy Sharing!

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Meringue Nests

I have wanted to try making Meringue Nests for a while. The process is not so different from the meringue cookies I love making, they are simply piped differently. I found a recipe just in case, whipped up the meringue mixture, and remembered I didn’t have my favorite trusty pastry tip with me. Yes, I had forgotten it in the “big move” (along with my laptop charger) but luckily both crucial items have been delivered safely!

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So in any case, in a “make it work” moment Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame would be proud of, I used a large freezer bag with the corner cut off, a couple of spoons and a rubber spatula. The over all look was not to die for. They aren’t anything glamorous or even adorable. I also ran into a little humidity problem and had the learning curve of a new oven…

P1000225But all in all, the end result was not a poor one. They came out perfectly edible and topped with some sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream, they were absolutely the most stunning summer dessert. I wish I had some pictures to share, but they were definitely eaten far too quickly to even get the camera out. Now with pastry tip back in hand, I am certainly looking forward to trying these again soon!

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She may be humble

She may be humble, but boy is she a beauty.

There is nothing better than the humble chocolate chip cookie. It is a little taste of home, a little taste of childhood. So what better to make in some free time, when all the unpacking in a new apartment is finished?

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It certainly isn’t the light and fluffy I so enjoy in a meringue, but what I truly miss when I get into a spree of cooking lovely meringue desserts is the smell of some strong dark chocolate mixed with deep tones of sugar. It may not be the pick of refreshing summer time desserts, but these little bites certainly made my afternoon!

Tuesday Tip: It’s all in the Bowl

There is nothing more annoying than opening up the dishwasher and finding those filmy white spots on your dishes. Generally you can just rinse and get on with your life. But when your life involves whipping up some egg whites to make a fluffy Pavlova or delicate cookies, marks on your work bowl can mean death to your meringue before it even hits the oven.

An egg white is a delicate combination of protein and water molecules, next week we will explain a little more of the science behind it, but suffice to say, that delicate combination whips up, creating little air bubbles that make the meringue. If there is dust, oil, soap, grease, anything, even a drop of water in your bowl, those small particles will combine with the egg whites and prevent them from whipping up properly.

Follow these tips to avoid the disastrous!

  • Try to use a metal or glass bowl, plastic has a greater tendency to hold onto particles creating a film in the bowl that will prevent your egg whites from whipping.
  • Always dust, or better yet, re-wash your bowl by hand before use – let thoroughly air dry or dry well with a paper towel.
  • Give the same attention to your whisk or mixer and other equipment that will come in contact with egg whites.

Home is….

Home is where the mixer stands and the wireless connects automatically! This New England girl has packed her bags and moved south, to the land of crab cakes and boiled peanuts. I am already looking forward to all the adventures, culinary and otherwise, that I may encounter.

When it comes to changes though, there are certain things that should stay the way they are. Even though my car was packed to the brim, I knew I had to find a spot for my clunky stand mixer. To me there is no comparison between a hand mixer and a stand mixer. Even after 10 years, my hand me down machine is still going strong. I have no scientific reason for this preference.

I would love to know what you think! What do you prefer? Which piece of machinery is your favorite? Which kitchen tool could you absolutely not live without?

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with! …and stay tuned for more book reviews coming shortly as a new town means a new library to explore!