Tuesday, June 29, 2010

UK Pubs

If you're going for a trip to the UK and love pubs like I do, a great place to start before you leave is the Good Pub Guide. It's a fantastic resource and will give you great insight into the pubs in the area you will be going. Things are changing dramatically in the UK with regards to pubs I would suggest getting over there sooner than later.

Enjoy !

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Choco Chunkies

Children's Cottage Cookie Book
Choco Chunkies

1 1/2 cups smooth or crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup flour
8 squares semi-sweet chocolate chopped

Preheat oven to 350 f.

In a medium bowl, cream peanut butter and butter. Gradually beat in sugars. Blend in eggs, vanilla and baking soda. Mix in rolled oats and flour. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop dough on a greased or lined cookie sheet. Keep dough refrigerated between batches being cooked or it gets crumbly. Bake 9-10 minutes. Allow to cool on tray for a few minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Makes 4 dozen.

So when I made these I used natural peanut butter, the stuff where the ingredient list is peanuts and that is it along with whole wheat flour which makes me feel better about feeding to my son and eating myself. No ingredients I can't pronounce. The dough was a little crumbly by the end but they still came out nicely, I should have chilled the dough more I guess.

Ground Beef 4 ways - ways to save a buck

We're always on the look for ways to save when at the grocery store and one easy way is to pick up a value pack or family pack of ground beef. It's up to you whether you buy the regular, lean or super lean (we'll either by regular or lean...regular is cheaper, but you need to drain the fat when you cook it).

This is very inexpensive and you can do much more than just burgers. While these dishes are standard and sort of ground beef common sense, we spice them up by what we add to the dishes. Also, these can all be prepared in advance and put in the freezer so that you have meals ready to go. Here's my list of 4:
  • Meatballs. I know...simple right?...seems obvious. It's what you mix with them that makes it interesting. Also, what you're eating them with. We cooked up a bunch and flavoured them with different spices. Some went for spaghetti, some for meatball sub sandwiches (these were fantastic...we buttered and broiled some sub buns to crisp them up and then added the meatballs that had heated up in a tomato sauce and then added mozzarella and broiled again to melt and crisp the cheese...these and a side salad, awesome)
  • Tacos. Again, simple. But it comes down to the spices and don't bother with the prepacked stuff. Go out and buy a few packages of paprika, chili peppers, etc. It's good to have these handy. Try hard shells, soft shells, taco salads, even a taco lasagna !
  • Lasagna. Too easy. A nice meat lasagna is a great thing to prepare and freeze. We made 3 or 4 using some different ingredients and tossed them in the freezer for those days when you just don't feel like cooking or extra people show up. Use different cheeses, vegetables, etc to change the style.
  • Chili. Of Course ! Every man out there should know how to make a good chili !

This isn't super inspiring from a food perspective, but if you do the above you will notice a difference in your pocket book and how much time it takes to make super.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fried Calamari or How to make your house stink like a greasy spoon

I decided we would give home made calamari a try the other day. Do we pan fry, grill or deep fry ? Hmmmmm. DEEP FRY !

I don't own a deep fryer but I do have oil and I do have a pot. Really, that's all you need...right ?

Anyway, I had some ready to cook calamari in the freezer (I'm not yet ready to grab the fresh stuff and pull the guts and ink sack out) and I hit the interwebs to find a suitable recipe.

I came across what had to be the simplest one. Ingredients were

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder

I substituted chipotle for the chili and went to town. Immediately when mixing the goodies I thought - that's a hell of a lot of flour and not much in the way of seasoning....

So, I fired up the oil in a pan...heated that be-otch up and thought i would give one a taste test. I dropped the calamari in the mixture and then into the super hot oil. I was surprised how fast it cooked. The recipe said a few minutes...I don't think I had to wait even a full minute (the oil was HOT !)

I tried the calamari (which looked awesome) and as I suspected...couldn't taste any of the seasoning. So I added more and tried another. Same result. So I DUMPED in a ton of paprika and this time added a ton of chili powder (a ton = i have no idea....lots...the flour mixture was dark red by this point)....and, finally, a bit of flavour.

All the while I was perfecting my seasoning mixture, I kinda' didn't adjust the temp on my oil...which is why this post is titled, how to make your house stink....

I started getting the smokey come off the pot....so i kicked it into high gear and cooked up all the squid. Note to self, don't put so much freakin oil in the pot and be sure to have the splash cover on from the beginning, not at the end when you're on your last batch.

We added some fresh chives (from our garden) and the wife made fresh tzatziki. We also had a fresh salad with some shaved Parmesan (we scored a huge block of it from the states on our last trip...it was 8$...a block like that here would run upwards of 30-40$)

I was very impressed with the end result. I'll be sure to try a different/better batter mixture on round two...also, I'll be more aware of the temp and the oil...it's been two days and the main floor of the house still has this greasy spoon smell...like a low end British chippy....