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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Cook Books Galore

Blog note book (I now have a 2nd)
I have all my blog notes prepared and I am seriously behind since we moved back to England I have been finding it difficult to find the motivation to do anything, it's not been an easy year. So anyway I am very behind and because of that some of my posts are slightly too dated and I am having to alter them slightly to make them more current this one started off like this, "As I have mentioned before I am a bit of a cookbook fiend, my books are slowly taking over the bookshelf." Well that bit is dated because my books HAVE taken over the bookshelf and spilled over into a second, upstairs on the landing. I'll admit that whilst I have seen some peoples collections are far more extensive than my own, mine is probably going to be a life long hobby. A few years ago my cookbook collection was weak at best, and compiled of books which I had managed to pick up for a euro or two, or those that had been passed onto me either by my mother or grandmother. I was able to save a few but a lot got left with my ex, he has probably disposed of them by now as that's what he does with books. During that time cooking was plain, boring and a chore, stick the occasional 20 euro in my hand and I would go and buy a pair of shoes or a handbag, to cheer me up. Pointless really because I always wear the same shoes and use the same handbag. Now that I cook and I am learning all the time about new things, my money is better spent on cookbooks. As I use all of them all none of them go to waste. Unlike when I buy a pair of shoes or a new hand bag that I'll never wear or use.

95% of my books are a calculated resource, bought for one reason or another, most of my books have lots of additional information in them, about food, how to prepare it and tips and tricks. I find different books bring a whole wealth of different cooking knowledge to my table. My books are slowly but surely covering everything about cookery. When I originally wrote this blog out I had 87 including my magazine collection, that's since grown to 188, including my magazine collection - I have put most of them in folders so they are advertisement free, with the exception of a few which are advert free so although sold as a magazine, they are like little paper back books. If you are like me and like to have lots of information about cooking as well as the recipes themselves, it's worth looking around - one author is likely to give you some information you can glean from, two may give you two different opinions. Take an army of cooks and their opinions and ideas, are more likely to give you a whole wealth of invaluable knowledge, whilst I prefer the books with added text, even those with just recipes can teach you about techniques if you read them properly. For example one of the books told me that my "Baking Issues" maybe because my hands are too warm and gave me some ideas on how to rectify this, it was great to know what the problem was, I just didn't know why it was an issue. I was to later find out from Delia Smith that if the fat becomes too oily (through melting) because the rubbing takes longer and everything is too warm. What happens is that it coats more flour grains than it should. This means that the flour can't absorb enough water and the pastry will crumble and be difficult to roll out." This is just one example.

Heston Blumenthal, explained how certain flavours cut into each other and that all our senses make up the taste. It covered about 30 pages in total but was a very interesting read. I could go on for hours about what chefs like Nigella, Jamie Oliver, Tara Ramsay and Anthony Worral Thompson have taught me to name but a few but I'd be here for hours, but what I will say is that each book serves a purpose a little research and a quick flick through of the book (if you are buying in store) will help you to chose your books wisely, don't forget Amazon have customer reviews read the good and the bad to make an informed decision - I recently almost bought a book because of all the good reviews and then read the bad ones and changed my mind. You have to read the reviews and judge by what's written if it will serve your purposes. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tagliatelle with broccoli in a cheesy sauce

Jamie Oliver - My personal opinion of this man is that his heart is in the right place and I think his agenda is quit clear. He is a man on a mission and fair play to him, he's in a position to help people, advise and show. I have read a couple of his books now and can't help but feel a little sorry for him when people criticise him, because I feel these are people who make a split decision, about him and his agenda before hearing him out. He's not saying don't eat pizza, burgers or cookies - or whatever your favourite 'junk' food may be. He is saying eat healthily, in moderation and to eat fresh ingredients wherever possible and to treat yourself every now and again to the things you enjoy. He IS promoting a healthy lifestyle. I think he is wonderful and I am super impressed with his determination and resolve, the more of his books I read the more I realise that he is an advocate for good, tasty food, that's healthy.

Yes, good quality, organic ingredients play a huge part in most of his recipes, but the implication is not that YOU MUST, but the best that YOU can afford. You can't argue with that ethic! I changed this next recipe ever so slightly because I was in Germany at the time, and had to allow for the ingredients I was able to get locally, but it was very good despite my alterations.

Tagliatelle with Broccoli In A Cheesy Sauce
olive oil
500g fresh tagliatelle
for the cheese sauce
250ml crème fraiche
150g Philadelphia
150g parmesan, freshly grated plus extra for garnish
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
400g broccoli
2 large free range eggs (you want the yolks)
1tsp dried mixed herbs
1. First get a big saucepan of water on the hob and get it boiling, next using a bain-marie add the crème fraiche, Philadelphia and parmesan with a pinch of salt and pepper, slowly melt the chesses. While the cheeses are melting prepare your broccoli, wash it, and cut the florets into bite sized pieces.
2. Once the cheeses have melted remove from the heat, then put your broccoli and pasta into the saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta until it is just cooked through. Now is the time to whip the egg yolks and your mixed herbs into the sauce. Take a few tbsp. of the pasta water and place to one side, then drain of the rest of the water, return the pasta to the pan and add your sauce, quickly mixing it all up. If the sauce is a little too thick add some of your reserved pasta water, only a little at a time, you want it to be loose but not so loose it is watery, don't forget to taste it for seasoning and adjust it if need be. Serve and garnish with a little parmesan.
Jamie Oliver also drizzles a little extra virgin olive oil over his, but I am not a huge fan.. Try it and let me know what you think.