Posts Tagged ‘panzanella’

Kiwis, curries and rats with style

It’s that time again. Time to see what Chat has to offer this week. Once again, I am blown away by their fabulous witticisms, sprinkled throughout. For example, I open the magazine and the first thing which greets me is a photo of a pig in a picnic basket, with the caption ‘designer ham bag?’

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Brilliant. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why the massive photo of the pig is there, just a little sentence about how the pig looks so comfy, “there’s no way we could ‘rasher’ to go anywhere.”

And on we go, to the photos page and there are a few good ones this week. The first is a here-are-some-cupcakes-I-made photo. The second is a here’s-me-with-a-huge-plastic-ape picture. And no, I’m not kidding. Someone really thought that the world would be interested in a picture of her with a huge plastic ape. Check it out.

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There are some others of dogs and cows, which aren’t even worth mentioning in any greater detail.

So onward we go, past a story about a girl who had a maggot living in her back and a story of scandal with a 9.9 shock factor (!), to the Blimey, That’s Clever page.

And what have we here today? I think my favourite might be the kiwi fruit tip. Put it in an egg cup, we’re told. And that’s it. That’s the tip. Eat a kiwi out of an egg cup. £25 they got for that.  

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Maybe I’ll make up some top tips and try to get £25 from Chat. Watch this space. I’ll think some up for tomorrow.

Another of the top tips is to use toothpaste to clean your mugs if they have tea stains. While I can’t see anything initially wrong with this, it just sounds a bit dodgy, cleaning a mug with toothpaste. You’re bound to have toothpaste-tasting tea for the next few days, I reckon.

Another tip seems to be, my granddaughter chewed the straw bit off her favourite beaker, so I put a new straw in. I don’t know whether that really warrants a place on the Blimey, That’s Clever page, do you? It’s not as though, previously, people have been throwing away their children’s beakers every day with no clue how to fix it and then they open Chat, see this tip and go ‘Wow! I’ll just stick a new straw down the hole where the old straw was. That’s genius.’

Next we have some more scandal, a murder, some letters, some weight loss stories and then the baby photos page. Ahhhh, the baby photos page. Photos of babies. Doing nothing at all. Just being babies. A whole page. One is a baby on a slide, one is a baby swimming, another is a baby and a cat, one is two children smiling a bit. A whole page.

To the side of this page, we have the recipe section. Now previously, I have seen some amazing gourmet recipes that opened my eyes to a whole new world. The week they had a recipe for mushrooms on toast was a week that changed my life. This week’s recipe? Onion and potato curry.

Mmmm. Doesn’t that sound great? Onion and potatoes. In a curry. Like when you look in the fridge and you don’t have anything in so you bung together some nonsense and fill up on ice cream afterward. Mmm. Nothing-in-the-fridge curry. The ingredients? Olive oil, 4 potatoes, 2 onions, spices and mustard seeds. And the attraction in making this meal? It’s only 54p per head.

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it’s not 54p because Chat are so great at providing good meals on a budget. It’s because there’s NOTHING IN IT.

If you want great meals on a budget, I can give you far better, go-to ingredients – squid is really cheap, people. Fry it with fennel. Re-use old bread by chopping tomatoes, adding red wine vinegar and basil and ripping your old bread up and mixing it in for a panzanella salad. If you want a curry, spend your money on some chicken and chuck it in a pan with tomatoes (tinned or fresh) and add whatever combination of spices you find in the cupboard, depending on what country’s cuisine you are chanelling.

See? All those will probably be about £1 per person but don’t resemble student food or invoke severe depression in the person who is eating it.

Anyway, back to Chat, the finale is the ‘Ratwalk models’ story on page 46. Yes, RATwalk models. You know what’s coming. It’s a story about a lady who designs and makes clothes for rats. Yes. Rats. It started with making ‘couture creations’ for her pet chihuahua, inspired by a dress worn by Penelope Cruz to the Oscars.

A few years later, business was booming, she went full time into her pet clothing designing and her friend asked her to help “raise the profile of her annual rat convention.”

Honestly, this is not a joke. It’s all true. Her friend runs a yearly rat convention.

So she designed and made the dresses. There was a fashion show with 12 of the ‘models’. Post-show, fame and fortune came her way, she got calls from everyone, even David Letterman.

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The article finishes with the touching line, “After all, every single pet should feel like a star.”

That’s something we should all remember as we go on with our days today.

I hope you have learned something here.

An Italian feast – the vegetarian version

I must apologise in advance as I forgot to take photos of the antipasti before we dug in and devoured it all… Oops!

After my last post about food, which was posted to Facebook, a friend I haven’t seen in a while read it and jokingly asked to come to dinner in a “You-can-invite-me-to-dinner-anytime,” kind of way. Spotting an opportunity to prepare another feast, I responded with a genuine invitation. Another friend was invited and the date was fixed. I had a day off so scheduled my day around preparing the food.

We decided to go vegetarian as one of the party doesn’t eat meat and I couldn’t be bothered to do two sets of food.

And so the fun began.

I started by making the tiramisu slightly wrong by whisking the sugar with the egg whites instead of the yolks. I just kind of put it all together and fridged it and hoped it would taste fine. Then I made little things called Esse biscuits, which are quite specific to Venice, although why a biscuit shaped like an S should be Venetian is beyond me.

Then I ploughed on through the grissini, the music paper, the pesto, the gnocchi, the soup, the lentil dish and some salads. It was 3.30pm, two and a half hours before my guests would arrive. So I did what any reasonable person would do at that point. I had a nap.

I woke up about 5pm and dived back into the kitchen, spearing mozzarella and basil, toasting (burning) bread and taking the truffle butter out of the fridge.

After a little help with directions, my friends arrived, one of them taking charge of toasting new bread as I couldn’t seem to stop burning things.

So the antipasti was grissini, music paper, truffle butter, pesto, bruscette with ricotta, broad bean and mint, more bruscette with roasted grape and thyme, roasted walnuts, and goat’s cheese. O, and a white bean houmous-type thing, which was unexpectedly delicious. I just used some tinned cannellini beans and heated them gently in a pan with a bit of water, an onion, some bay leaves and a bit of olive oil. Then I removed a few beans, whizzed what was left and left it on a low heat to thicken. I put it in a bowl once finished and put the beans I had removed back on top with a little lemon and white truffle oil.

As mentioned earlier, I only afterward remembered to get a photograph of the antipasti. Here it is.

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Yep. That’s all that was left to photograph by the time I remembered…..

Next up was the mains.

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A panzanella, which was well received. In case you are unfamiliar with a panzanella, it’s a bread and tomato salad, basically. It’s one of those things that I’ve had a few times and it’s been pretty average. A nice homemade panzanella, though, is well worth the effort.

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Here we have; bottom left, a chickpea, fennel and leek soup; above that, the white bean houmous; front right, gnocchi in a cavolo nero sauce; top middle, a zucchini, basil and rocket salad.

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There was also this vegetable lentil dish dressed with basil oil and mozzarella.

Once we’d eaten all that, we were stuffed and couldn’t even think about dessert. No, honestly! I can’t fit a single thing in! I’m so full. I need a while to let it all go down. What’s that? You’re getting the dessert out? Just to look at? Ok. O… Well, maybe I’ll just have a little try….

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Baked figs on the left and tiramisu in the glasses on the right. We obviously scoffed them. I admitted my sugar-in-the-egg-whites mistake but it was generally agreed that we couldn’t tell. 

Next we had coffee and the Esse biscuits.

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A discussion about the film version of Roald Dahl’s The Witches then took up the remainder of the evening and I went to bed dreaming of being turned into a mouse….