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Cultural Concubine Blog

Neither here nor there…

Tag Archives: food

All clotty and nice...

You know how people say that you can never have too much of a good thing…

After a week of travelling in the deep south – or west countries as they call it in the UK – I have definitely had too much of one of the isle’s greatest delicacies…

Clotted Cream…

It only has a minimum of 55% saturated fat, what could possibly be wrong about that?!
(please note that normal cream has around 30% and heavy double cream has a maximum of 40%)
I am amazed that after an overdose of cream (3 times a day and I just couldnt resist!),  I can still fit into my clothes…

Creammmmmmm...

May be it is all a lie…
May be cream is not fattening or unhealthy for you… or may be there is just something special about the happy cows in Devon and Cornwall?
Surely it has to be the process of the clotting… Or the fact they use un-pasteurised milk… right?
Could it be that the scones somehow balance out the multi saturated fat? or has all the creamy goodness simply got better?

Hmmm off course this can’t be true…

Have mercy!

But I dare you all to try a regime of 3x clotted cream a day…
As a pudding after lunch (meringue pie is a sure killer),
at tea time on a pile of scones (yes how could you resist) and lastly
as a final stroke of mercy after dinner (why not try it in on and next to Summer pudding with red fruit… a mere trifle… This is the British summer equivalent of Christmas pudding… anyone still able to stand?! Get off the floor you or simply roll to the nearest bed…)

Cream cream glorious creammmm

Hope I will be able to find some in the States…
Then again may be I shouldnt…

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Hullo there Cheese Boy...

Upon arrival in the UK I had expected British Cheese to be tasteless and plastic, like all of the cheddar I had eaten in the past…
But after some further research and several stays in the country, I learnt about a whole new revival of hand-made British cheeses…

Neal’s Yard Dairy plays an enormous role in this discovery.

After a lengthy day of office boredom I often visit the ‘Cheese Boys’ at Neal’s Yard to cheer me up and lose myself in the full palet of tastes and smells…

I guess there is nothing that allows you to learn about local culture than local cheeses.
If made well you can almost taste the difference of the grass the local cows ate… You can almost imagine how sunny that summer must have been… or how humid the autumn.

And the best thing: Within some minutes of tasting you can work your way around the country.

Get 'em lads...

Ranging from the famous Lincolnshire Poacher to the bright orange Sparkenhoe Red Leicester, every area has its own distinct taste.  (please note that Gloucester is best rolled down the hill…)

Off course in Holland there are also some brilliant cheeses, like ‘Boeren Gaten Kaas’ or ‘Dutch Hard Goats Cheese’. Most foreigners only know of Gouda and Edam, but they are hardly interesting. Gouda and Edam are mostly of ghastly quality around the world, while only reaching an ‘OK’ level in Holland itself. The only local cheese in the Netherlands I can imagine would be ‘Leidsche Kaas’, with cloves in it…

So next time you go to get some cheese, do it properly and try some local cheese. But better still, try several…

The Big Cheeeeeese... Stichelton.

For instance Colston Bassett is still a well-known place for its blue Stilton barrels. But just try another and taste the difference. Stichelton especially, from the  same area and also blue, but as this cheese is made with unpasteurised milk it can not be called Stilton…

So whether it is hard or soft, yellow, red or blue, cow or goat… come along and have a trip on your tongue…

(can’t wait to find some locals in the States, I hear there are some great dairies in Maine?!)

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Hmmmm.

All my close friends know my great inclination for this Golden wonder…

Butter

Say it loud and say it proud… none of this non saturated nonsense or margarine or worse any named kind of spread…

I prefer a thin cold sliver of the stuff… On beschuit, fresh bread or in almost every possible dish.
Nothing beats a crispy end of a new loaf of whole grain bread. Soft and mushy inside with a  crunchy and crumbly edge topped with a cold chunk of salty creaminess…

Hmmm. I always prefer to serve my butter cold, so you have to slice instead of scrape. (again no nonsense with chemically softened spreadable butter here)

Pretty, but practical?

During a walk in the V&A last week we had a look through the impressive spread of dinner/eating implements throughout the ages. And off course it includes a real Victorian Butter Knife. But personally I think they are never sharp or thin enough…What fool ever designed this tool?

What tha?

It is even worse in Sweden as the butter knives are made of wood?! Is this instigated out of frugality or general health? Either way it is pretty tricky to eat any cold butter in a cold climate that way!

So after a great weekend in France, I am now completely in love again with this god of greasy food. Butter transformed the lovely snails into a really glorious melange of creaminess, garlic and herbs on top instead of rubbery dead orchard dwellers..

Fleur de Sel...

And then there is the glorious kind with Fleur de Sel salt crystals in it…Oh don’t get me started…

Another issue is the different standard shapes in which it gets sold.
This makes buying a butter dish a national activity.
(compare it to the different sizes in pillow cases between the UK and NL… I assume the US has a completely different proportion….) It is funny how butter is also part of this national proportional shift.

Hmmm I hope I will be able to find some proper stuff in the States, in whatever shape (a stick, really?!), as long as it is cold and fresh…

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After living in the UK for a while I started to really miss Indonesian  cooking.

This is pretty strange, as I have never really been hooked on is while living in the NL. As a student I had practiced making Boemboe (spice mixture). I guess I had always taken the presence of a Toko for granted.  (A Toko is an Indonesian shop/deli)

Sateh

In the Hague, where most of the original Indonesian immigrants live there is the annual Pasar Malam Fair (since the 50th anniversary it has been renamed the Tong Tong Fair). I am afraid I will have to miss it this year, all the shiny fabrics, sweet coconut drinks and spicy scented food tent. The most typical food to eat are the eternal Sateh sticks, with sticky soy or spicy peanut sauce. be sure to add some fried onion flakes and Seroendeng for maximum impact!

Off course there are the wonderful Indian curries here in the UK, but somehow the hot and slightly sweet dishes of Indonesia remind me of home. To prevent getting homesick, there is one ingredient that I always have in my kitchen stash: SAMBAL

This Sunshine of a condiment comes in many varieties.

Sambal Manis is my favourite.
It is sweeter and milder than the others and the best possible combination between hot, spicy and sweet…
It goes well with every kind of meat or rice dish and it is great to use to fry up left over rice… Just add some sweet and sour cucumber salad, seroendeng (see above) and a fried egg, and you’re ready to go…

Oily and hot...

I wonder if I can find anything similar on the East Coast…
I could make my own or follow my the example of my Aunt in Ireland, who only allows Dutch guests to cross the threshold if they hand over a large jar of Sambal first…
(I would always get her the super hot home-made variety ofrom Nam Kee Toko in the red light district in Amsterdam, this paste can only be shipped in glass as it would melt away any plastic containers…)

Hope the Americans like it hot?

I guess they do…

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St. George Slaying the Dragon

This morning I found a treat on my desk, in the shape of a Tea Cake.

It took me a while to put 2 & 2 together…
but I now see this was to celebrate St. George’s Day.

In a way this is a curious celebration, over the last years it has been an up and coming tradition, so I am not really sure what makes a real St. George’s feast…

Where Easter has Hot Cross Buns and  Christmas off course has the Christmas Pudding
St. George doesn’t quite have his fix yet…
Tea Cakes are a pretty good choice, undeniably British…

No Tea, No Cake...

The best thing about them is that they hardly include Tea or Cake, how typical! (In Holland they are originally known as Negerzoen, which would painfully translate into Negro Kiss… Since 2006 (?!) they changed the name to just ‘zoenen’… )

True Brits will probably think it should be something more butch.
So tonight we will go out and celebrate with a good pint in the pub.

Happy St. George’s everyone!

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You are certainly in Kansas now Dorothy....

I am not sure how to start this post.

But after my recent posting on organic and home cooked food I have had some pretty disturbing responses.

Amongst the responses was: the KFC Double Down…


Recipe: Two pieces of chicken with double cheese and double bacon and sauce inbetween, only 560 Kcals fried version and 470 Kcals grilled…
The main sales pitch of this pile is that it does not contain any bread… so it doesnt get your blood sugar up.(?!) Luckily that is compensated immediately by the amount of multi saturated fat and salt….   Phew.

And that on a day where I got warned by the butcher about hormones in Americain meat…

There is no place like home…

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Crumble...

Even in a haze of volcano ashes the season for pic nics has finally arrived.

So yesterday we had the great pleasure of having tea in the garden (yay first time, even if it involved extra blankets)

Apart from vast amounts of tea, the main ingredient of this event was Crumble.

For those who do not know this delicacy: it is the simplest thing on earth and also the most satisfying. What could possibly be better than warm fruit, topped with crispy sweet topping from the oven?

A raspberry experiment...

Originally it was my Irish uncle Frank who taught my brother Olivier the recipe when we were little, but over the 4 years in London I have practiced and perfected. (kids love the messy mixing of the topping, the messier the better!)

The main lesson is that it is the combination of ingredients is where the real skill lies.
If the fruit is more soggy (raspberries) > add more flower to the topping
If the fruit is more dry (old apples) > add more butter.

If the fruitis more acidic (mango) > add more sugar.
etc. etc.

Then there is the quality of the ingredients:
Chunky moscova or demerara sugar and whole grain spelt flower are brilliant in the topping, while older apples or a variety of different kinds usually help the filling. Raspberries amp up the flavour of the pie,  but are more acidic and need apple to balance.

Rhubarb with Lavender honey...

Thirdly there is the addition of something extra.
The bog standard Apple crumble is brilliant already.
But if you want to make crumble really exciting, try using fresh ground cinnamon bark instead of powder. (It is an amazing difference) Cardamom is also a great addition to apples and it also works well with raspberries.
Or experiment with honey:  drizzle lavender honey over rhubarb. Or try Lime blossom honey on apples, yum!

If you are really adventurous you could try my New England version (merging a peach cobbler with crumble) adding lavender flowers to peaches. Truly a brilliant combination.
Vanilla pods and Pears are also great friends. (but make sure not to make it too sweet)

Newton's Pride

There are millions of possibilities, each one better than the next.

I remember really enjoying one of my more successful dinners, where one of the guests had brought his own apples… There we all were after the main course, peeling and assembling our own pudding… Ha. The Apples were an ancient race called ‘Newton’s Pride’ and how proud we were of the result 🙂

Sorry I am getting hungry again…

PS. thanks sooo much Bella for climbing in through the bathroom window when we locked ourselves out yesterday. And thanks Victor for letting us in… Hope you both enjoyed the adventure and the crumble. 🙂

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