The staff night out happened yesterday. It was a supposedly ‘Italian Christmas Special Menu‘ but it didn’t look too special to me. It seemed to be an attempt to popularise some menu items that they may not have been selling much. I didn’t rate the meal highly, but I suppose it could have been my choices. Starter was ‘Butterfly King Prawns‘ and they were a little bit on the tough side. I followed up with ‘Pollo Milanese‘. This was a breaded chicken breast served with a creamy mushroom sauce. I think the chicken was more than a little over-cooked as it was quite dry and didn’t taste any better than the local ‘Chicken & Chips’ shop. As for the ‘creamy’ mushroom sauce, it was more a ‘greasy’ mushroom sauce that was lacking in seasoning of any kind. But at least the dessert of Tirimasu was excellent.
Since I became an ‘OAP’ I have had a consessionary bus pass. I very rarely use it, but I thought it would give the perfect reason to leave the party early if I needed to. I have used it a couple of times when we have used the Park & Ride at York. It gives the holder a return journey for the price of a single journey, but yesterday it was free travel all day. By car, it takes 8 minutes, but by bus it’s more like 25 minutes, so it is understandable, why so many people drive everywhere. I have often considered using the bus for work. But the times are awkward. For me to get to work in time to start at 10:30, I would have to catch the 9:27 bus. Whereas if I drive, I don’t need to set off until 9:55.
We had are ‘family get together and present exchange‘ on Friday. It was another thing that I was dreading. The Americans were coming! K***’s brother married a Californian teacher and moved to America over 20 years ago. They keep coming back, with their daughter every few years to see us and it is usually quite pleasant. However. They are a loud bunch and their loudness seems to rub off on everyone else. It usually seems to end up with people trying to out do each other in the volume stakes.
I’ve been thinking about this for some time now. I’m talking about those food labels that state “Use By”. They seem to be on all food packages these days. I don’t mean the “Best Before” date, which people are beginning to realise are one of the biggest cons ever. No it’s the date by which foodstuffs must be consumed by. I cannot get my head around the idea that at 1 minute to midnight, the food is safe to eat but then 1 minute after midnight the food must not be consumed, and must be thrown away.
There does seem to be a trend recently that is moving away from “Use By” being the ultimate usage date. Some experts (as some call themselves) are now advising a “Look, Smell, Taste” approach to food. If it looks, smells and tastes ok then it probably is safe. Although this approach comes with a warning for people with, in their words “...a delicate constitution…” that they should stick to the said date. This new ‘advice’ comes after the scenes of vast amounts of food being sent to landfill, just because of that date, whilst many are having to use foodbanks just to get by.
So why a con? Well how do you get customers to buy more of your produce? One way is to tell them that their purchase cannot be eaten after a certain date. Where is the scientific evidence for this date, considering all the additives that are used in most foodstuff these days? This happened with the Best Before” date that we see on food. People are now beginning to realise that this is only a recommendation and that the foodstuff is perfectly safe still. A con!
That didn’t go as well as expected. I thought I would have a go at oven crisps (oven chips for my American readers). I found a recipe and thought I would give it a go. I have had a catering mandolin for a few years now, and apart from slicing potatoes when I make a ‘Hot-Pot’ it never gets used. I set it up for the correct thickness, with a straight blade, didn’t want to chance ‘crinkle cut’ on my first attempt.
Then oven was set to around 400 to 450 F and the potato (only using one at first) was sliced finely. I patted them dry and sprayed them with a little oil before lightly dusting with some sea salt. The recipe said 18 minutes, which I thought was a little bit of a long time, so I was determined to keep my eye on them. After about 8 minutes, I decided to turn them over. Another 4 minutes and I realised that the temperature may have been a little too hot.
I don’t think I will be repeating the experiment in a hurry. It was a lot of work and time for very little reward.
I’m having a go at a different type of post today. Rather than my usual ‘rants & raves’ I thought I would have a go at something that might be useful.
I was talking to a friend at work last week and the subject of Spaghetti Carbonara was raised. She was a little concerned about how to cook it, not least a fear of “raw egg” in the dish. I explained as best I could that egg is not raw, but that the heat of the pasta when the egg and cheese mix is added, cooks the egg in a light scrambling fashion. I explained my method, but she wasn’t taking up the challenge. However, another friend I had talking to later in the week, did have a go and has since told me I should write it down. So here goes …
This is my recipe for two portions of a medium size. I’ll start with the list of ingredients.
5oz to 6oz of Linguine or Fettuccine **
Two cloves of fresh garlic, squashed but not chopped
4oz Pancetta cut unto short strips
Small handful of chopped Parsley
3oz of grated Parmesan cheese plus another 1oz for serving
The trick is to ensure all your preparation work is completed before you start the cooking process. (** I prefer either of these two pastas over spaghetti, as they seem to hold the sauce better)
Firstly, put a large pan of salted water onto boil for the pasta.
Next heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large based pan and add the squashed garlic and allow to gently cook without browning
Remove the garlic and add the Pancetta and cook until fully cooked. then remove the pan from the heat
Meanwhile cook your pasta for the required amount of time, bearing in mind that fresh pasta cooks quicker than dried.
Beat the 3oz cheese with the egg and season with black pepper
When the pasta is cooked, turn the pan off.
Add the pasta to the pan with the Pancetta. Do not worry if some water gets in the Pacetta pan as this is what we need.
Now, quickly stir the egg/cheese mix into the pasta and pour into the serving bowl.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and served the remaining cheese separately. Job done!!
I’m fully aware that this is probably not the most classic method, and cheese/egg stirring can seem a bit daunting, but the recipe works for us, and that’s half the challenge
… and that was that … more in the future? Who knows?