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Saturday, 11 January 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Smart Tart by Tamasin Day Lewis

Not a recipe today, instead its a review of my newest book to add to my collection.  'Smart Tart' by Tamasin Day-Lewis is a book I first came across when I started this blog. After 'following' Tamasin on Twitter, she posted a comment about a new book she was hoping to publish via the Unbound publishing company.  Unbound, if you don't already know, is an online company where writers can pitch ideas to the general public and wait for backers to donate money.  When the target is met the book is published, simple.  Of course the backers get something out of it otherwise why would they bother donating?  Depending on the author most rewards include a first edition print of the book, dedications in the back of the published book, access to addition content and more interesting extras like VIP invites to the release party.  Tamasin offered cooking lessons at her home, acknowledgments in the book and even a tart named after you.  I would have loved to pay for the cooking lesson but missed out due to the book being published early with thanks to Fortnum and Mason.

As with past 'book reviews' please do not expect something as fluent as the reviews you find on Amazon by professional reviewers, this is my simple take on telling you what this book is all about.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Chocolate Truffle Torte

Quick post today as I just remembered that I start back at work tomorrow and for the past two weeks I have done nothing!  The pile of marking has been sitting on my desk since I placed it there at the start of the Christmas holidays and has been looking at me everyday since.  Thankfully tomorrow is an INSET day so I don't have to stress tonight or iron my work clothes (hopefully I still fit in them).

I have just over three months before I jet off to Thailand and I have set myself the goal of losing two stone in weight and seriously sorting out my now misshapen body by visiting the gym I pay for but never go.  When I think back, five or so years ago, I was at my fittest I had ever been.  11% body fat, bang on my ideal weight, knew how to use every piece of gym equipment going and more importantly felt like one of those real 'gym addicts'.  The older I get the harder it becomes so I really need to crack on with it now.  I know this is a new year and is typically the time when everyone starts a diet, loses weight and wants to get fit, and I am sure that every year I have said it.  But I really need to get a move on this time.  I have publicly announced on my blog that I am going to do it!  As soon as I get my stomach flat again I will be going with Kate to her tattooist to get my   'I was 17 and had should have known better' tattoo improved.  I will also fit in my designer beachwear again!  Right, call it a new years resolution if you like, but I have stated what I am going to do and now I just need to get on with it.

So, todays post, I know, chocolate, not the best of posts for someone who is now getting fit.  But this if from Christmas and has been sitting around waiting to be posted since Christmas Eve.  A classic recipe by Delia Smith and only slightly adapted by me since I struggled to get the glucose syrup and could not be bothered to look for amaretti biscuits.  The correct recipe is here if you like.  I should really have added the rum as stated as I feel this would have made the texture of the final product better, but as long as you take it out the fridge a good hour before you want to each this torte was very nice.  Like eating soft chocolate truffles.  I hate to think how many calories per slice.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Steak Rub (and how to cook steak)

Is there anything better than a perfectly cooked steak? Tiger striped, juicy and slightly rare in the middle?   For me one of the best (and simplest) meal is a nice slab of steak served with mash potato or chunky chips.  The best sauce in the world for steak has to be bĂ©arnaise, followed second by pepper and a close third by Diane.  Peas and mushrooms, yes please.

My favourite type of steak has to be ribeye.  This steak has plenty of fat which results in loads of flavour and a very juicy cut.  Cheaper than fillet (unfortunately only just now) you get more for your money and unless you cook it for an hour its very difficult to get wrong.  Due to its high fat content many sources recommend cooking this steak to medium/medium well.  For me however my steaks must be rare.  

Nigella couldn't have put it any other way - "rare enough that a good vet could bring round".

This special rub is from chef Anne Burrell and I first came across it over a year ago and since then has been my rub of choice for all steak.  Easy to make and once you have a batch it will stay happy in the cupboard for a few months while you get through it.  Mainly consisting of salt (meat needs to be salty) and sugar (to guarantee a perfect tiger stripe crust) this rub has the smoky flavour of paprika and warming scent of garlic that infuses in to your steak within 30 minutes of rubbing.  I have never tried this rub with anything other than steak but actually it might work well on chunks of red onion, peppers and courgettes.  Anne created it for ribeye steak and she states that leaving it overnight will give your steaks an aged flavour.  I tend to get my steaks from Marks and Spencer as they surprisingly sell amazing steaks at very good prices, all aged for at least 21 days.  Simply rub in, leave for 30 minutes while the chips cook and sear in the pan.

A few notes on cooking steak.  I would always use a pan of some sort, never a grill (BBQ only exception)  You must heat the pan to as hot as you dare and not add any oil - oil the meat if you must, never the pan.  Once 'shimmering' hot place your steak, presentation side down, and LEAVE well alone.  Start a timer and cook for 4 mins.  Do not touch.  Then turn over and continue to cook for 2 minutes for rare, 3 for medium and 4 for well.  Again do not touch or you will spoil your stripes if using a griddle.  You want the steak to catch in places and slightly burn.  The high heat will sear the steak and it will naturally release itself from the pan.  Finally the most important thing to do is allow your steak to rest after its cooked.  Leave it on a wooden board or warm plate.  I leave for 5 minutes as there is normally other things I need to do while I wait (heat up sauce, dish out mash, etc).

So, if you enjoy steak as much as me why not give this rub a go?