Tuesday, November 30, 2010

this is why you're fat

Dear readers allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite websites. www.thisiswhyyourefat.com meet reader, readers meet www.thisiswhyyourefat.com.
This fantastic site is filled with grotesque creations of what i can only assume was created by monstrously huge american whole have a palate of sugar salts and fat at their finger tips. Not to mention their ability to sculpt cheese and cheese type spreads into saturated fat laden works of art.

At the top of the page is one of my personal favourites a BBQ Pulled Pork Doughnut Sandwich. An artful collaboration of BBQ pulled pork, two glazed donuts, peach guacamole, roasted tomato salsa and something called chipotle cheddar cheese wiz. I know, it some how manages to intrigues and revolt you simultaneously. And this is one of the more gastronomic offerings available. I recently saw an mug fashioned entirely out of bacon and filled with cheese whip.

Anyway, this is a fantastic site when you are mindlessly cruising the interweb on a rainy afternoon. Somewhere there are some very brave and possibly very large individuals keeping my entertained. Come to think of it, it brings a whole new meaning to putting your body on the line.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Salted Butter Caramels

Right, so holidays have well and truly begin and that wonderful time of over indulgence and gluttony is on its way. What could be better than these beautiful little french caramels as an oh so chic addition to your festive offerings? With the help of a sugar thermometer and about half an hour of your free time, which face it you have in abundance of anyway, you can whip up these chewy sweet salty darlings.

Collect together:
3/4 cup thickened or double cream
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 and a little extra fleur de sel or sea salt flakes
1/2cup goldern or corn syrup
1cup caster sugar
60g of salted butter cubed

1 loaf pan which you have lined with foil and then sprayed

Heat up the cream, 2 tbs of butter and 1/2tsp of salt in a pan until it begins to boil and then remove from the heat. Cover and set aside.

Add the syrup and sugar to a largish pot and begin to heat gently, stirring to make sure that it melts smoothly. It also makes a really fun bubbling/ gurgling noise when you mix it, which is a bonus. At this point click your sugar thermometer onto the side of the pan so that you can see what the sugars are up to. This is not optional you will need one of these.

Cook until it reaches 155'C. Then turn off the heat and stir in the warm cream mixture, careful because it might spit.

Adding the cream mix will make the heat drop so you will need to turn it up a notch and keep cooking until it recovers to 127'C. I know that the temperatures here seem over exact but trust me they work. Sugars are sciency and temperamental and I am not willing to be a temperature maverick when these tasty caramels are on the line.

When you successfully reach 127'C hopefully with out burning you or who ever attempted to eat the caramel off the spoon. Pour the whole mix into your pre-prepared loaf tin. Note this is not a loaf tin. I have lost my loaf tin behind the draw which the tins are kept in and it appear irrecoverable. You will get thinner caramels if you use a tray like this.

Wait ten minutes. Then sprinkle the remainder of your salt flakes on top of the setting caramel. To speed up the setting process it is a good idea to pop it onto a baking tray so that the air can circulate. Allow it to cool completely before slicing it with a sharp knife and a steady hand.

I like to wrap them in wax paper like little bon bons. But this takes ages and it is a mind numbingly dull activity. However, at the time I made these it still appeared a far better offer than late night study.

They do look adorable wrapped up and make a great low priced Christmas/ sorry I ...(insert appalling "silly season" incident here) present. If you lack the patience or the fine motor skills to make bon bons then just make sure they are not all sticking to each other and don't put them in the fridge. A air tight container will see you new butter caramels through to the end of the year.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

salted caramels are coming your way

Exams and exam related study are currently distracting me from posting my adventures in caramel making. But never fear dear readers, I will be finished with my studious ways come Wednesday and you will get your sweet reward. Get it? caramels, sweet reward? I know, sometime I surprise myself. There are also some excellent picture heading your way too. So please stay tuned, and keep checking back here so that you too can indulge in a french confectioners chewy delectable brain child.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Down the Hatch

Hopefully the endless nights of gazing at laptop screens and note taking have not driven too many of you to alcoholism. But if it has, there is good news; a new vodka has arrived from mother Russia.

Sputnik, named after its sexy low earth-orbiting comrade, is really great clean grain based vodka that won't blow a student budget. As a vodka drinker I bought it on a whim purely because of its name. 1. I like rocket ships and 2.is a lot of fun to say with a fake Russian accent. But my last minute bottle shop grab turned out to be a pleasant surprised, as it is actually really good. It is pretty mild on the palate once you get over the normal ethanol kick.

A quick trip to the company's web site and you soon will be well versed in the virtues of "birch coal filtration" and "natural water", but really all you need to know is simple. Sputnik is a grain based vodka so it has a short, very mild and clean aftertaste. This is great if you want to drink it on its own or oh so delicately flavor it with some thing like elderflour, orangeblossom or cucumber.

Now, to really get the best out of vodka you need to drink it properly. That means stick it in the freezer and put all fizzy, sweet concoction back in the cupboard. Actually throw anything pink, blue or purple in the bin, your taste buds deserve so much better than that crap. I would also recommend eating something while drinking, as you will get more out of the vodka. As well as the obvious fact that it will burn your insides if your stomach is empty, which inevitably leads to a bit of a vodka vom later on in the night.

Something salty like some olives, some caper berries. If you are feeling really Russian then go grab yourself some sausage and bread or even better some caviar. The salt will really complement the slightly sweet creamy taste as well as reduce the bitter aspect of the alcohol, as salt makes bitter things sweeter (total science fact).

Once your vodka is chilled between 0-5 degrees pout it out into some tall shot glasses. The first shot I always knock straight back, you get over the kick and after burn and it sets your palate up. The second shot follow shortly after. This time, do not swallow straight away, let it sit on the back of your tongue. The heat in your mouth will warm the vodka slightly and allow the subtle flavors to really open up and your will be able to taste what it all about. Don’t hope for an epiphany or a big citrus hit, after all it is only a 30 bottle, but you will get a great creamy almost vanilla note coming through. Do this fairly quickly, you don’t have to hold it in your mouth for minutes or anything, it is not a mouth wash and you still want to have friends by the end of your vodka tasting experience. As you swallow you should notice that the taste disappears quickly and really none of it lingers much at all. At this point please take a drink of water and eat a salty snack.

Finally, please don't drink alone. After all if you do, there will be no one to show off your great new tasting technique to. Or to lavishly complement you on your great choice of sprit.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

thinking too hard makes your head explode

Right, well it is that kind of year again. The great unwashed student population have descended upon the 24hr libraries and you suddenly find yourself wishing you did the required reading and went to the lectures. It is swotvac and you are sitting at your laptop, procrastinating, watching youtube and avoiding study.

Thats fine you just need some thing truly tasty to get you right back on track. What could possibly be better in this wet rainy weather than a grilled cheese sandwich? I am here to suggest you revamp this old favourite and let yourself eat some carbs. After all you earned it with that full hour of looking at lecture slides.Grab a fry pan, some white or rye bread, a soft melty cheese, a nashi or firm pear and get ready to wow your scholarly taste buds.

Nashi and Gouda Grilled Cheese

So we all know that apple and cheddar are a winner so lift this combo with a sweeter nuttier Gouda and a crunchy juicy nashi.

1. Slice both the nashi and Gouda thinly so that you can can get plenty of layering going.

2. Then heat up your pan, the best kind is a cast iron, but just work with what is on hand. You will need it to be at a medium heat.

3. While your pan is heating up butter your chosen bread, then when hot put it butter side down on the pan.

4. Start laying. Put a layer of the Gouda down first then some nashi then some more gouda. The cheese will help to hold everything together and give you that great ozzy melt.

5. Top with the other piece of bread, butter side up. You can at this point push down gently on the whole sandwich with your spatula to help the cheese stick.

6. When the bread starts to look golden. About 5 mins. Carefully flip it, and i mean carefully as you don't want to loose all your filling.

7. Cook on the other side for another 5 mins until cheese is melted and the bread is golden.

Now take it out, slice it up and enjoy in the knowledge that even if you fail your arts degree, at least you can make a dam good toasty.