23 December 2011

Salmon as is the fish....

I have a friend and one day we were talking of the bargains we get at the grocery store. Money is tight for everyone and I’ve never hidden the fact that I buy things all the time reduced. Its how I’ve learned to have a varied diet but also to try things I could never afford full price. So we were talking and he was hoping to find some whole salmon at one of the famous stores here in the UK. So being the ‘use everything type of person’ I asked ‘What do you do with the bones?’ To which I got this very weird look like I just spoke in a foreign tongue – ‘What do you mean? I don’t want the bones I just want the salmon fillets.’

OK, now I know I am weird but I try to use everything – I too have gotten this whole salmon and I must admit the fish monger gave me quite a stare when I said ‘Please wrap up those bones for me too.’ Hey – you paid for them why not use them?! So when I heard he didn’t ask for them much less used them I said ‘Next time you do that bring me the bones – I make a soup with it.’

Mind you we had this particular conversation ages ago but this past week my friend said ‘I’ve got something for you in the fridge – come collect it.’ Not having a clue what this could be I went and lo and behold there were the fish bones! Awwwww...so sweet!

So today I made the stock and took what fish was still clinging to the bones and added this to the stock. Now for those of you who think – you don’t get much from bones – check out this plate of salmon I got from the carcass! Yes, I will admit it took me about 20 minutes of picking through the bones to get at the meat but that was really about the most tedious thing I had to do.I then added one onion, some crushed garlic, celery and two carrots that needed using from the larder. I can quickly peel and chop the veggies and pop those into the stock – I let that simmer about 10 minutes – they aren’t done but since I’ll re-heat the stock to cook my homemade pasta noodles it will cook further.

I made some pasta noodles for it as well so now it’s really quite a substantial evening meal. I must admit I don’t like canned soup. Over here everything is puréed so that it’s nearly baby food. To me soup has have some substance to it – you actually have to chew! So all in all I spent probably an hour getting the stock ready, picking the bones out for the meat, peeling the veggies and chopping them, preparing the pasta dough and then rolling it on the pasta machine plus doing the dishes in that time. If you add the time it took to cook the pasta in the stock – you’d have to add another 5 minutes but I don’t count that as I made the pasta ahead of time and left it on the counter until dinner time (covered with some cling film and a tea towel) so that when I got home from shopping I just had to add when it was boiling.

The pasta thickens up the stock and I have never been one for a clear soup – to me that is BoRiNg! I have also used this stock to make the Greek Egg/Lemon soup as well and while not authentic to the recipe it certainly was delicious. As usual no complaints in this house!So go off and find your bones and make soup! It's about the best winter dish I can think of and warms your body as well as your soul. Enjoy!

17 December 2011

American as Apple Pie!

I understand after years of living in England where Americans get their love of apple pie from but I have to say we improved it immensely. I was quite disappointed when I first moved here to and found out that the English variety of apple pie was very tart and absolutely no spices. Imagine – the spice trade made England yet it uses so little in their foods. Most strange......

So imagine how popular my apple pies were when I made them for a friend who ran a cafe. They always sold out and what is even more amazing...I hate pie crust or did, I should say. I never was a pie person – each year I’d eat the filling but leave the crust as most I found to be horrid and bland tasting. It wasn’t until I’d been asked to make them that I said ‘I don’t make pie crust often but I’ll give it a go.’

So with that I soon learned how to make a successful and even tasty crust. But it ultimately was the filling that won people over – it seems that American Apple Pie is a big hit in England. Fancy that!

So for Thanksgiving this year since I didn’t obtain my usual pumpkin reduced (usually I get one the day after Halloween but this year wasn’t able to do that) and I thought time for a change. Usually it’s always the traditional – pumpkin or sweet potato and while those are nice – sometimes you have to shake it up. So in came the apple and of course it ran into a lemon, some zest, a bit of sugar along with some wonderful spices cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of clove; add an all-butter crust and well you have a wonderful dessert!
This is a picture of the filling and the crust that I rolled out – ready to top the lovely filling. I then brushed it with some water and sprinkled some sugar on top along with some nutmeg which I had grated for the pie but ended up having too much for the filling thought it would flavour the crust. Also I must admit when I make crust – depending on it being savoury or sweet I added a bit of vanilla sugar to the mixture – wonderful! This is the final product both before oven and after. It certainly was lovely and I made a nice custard sauce to go over it as well – something that as Americans we should have kept from the English. They certainly do know how to top their puddings! Enjoy!

11 December 2011

Fall and those lovely apples....

Every year since I’ve moved here and found this lovely orchard out in the wilds of Essex I’ve made my own apple sauce. I think the English gave us Americans our love of apples but we made it better! By this I mean if you buy an apple pie here in here in the stores you’ll find it quite bland and absolutely NO spices in it of any kind. It is simply apples – tart in taste – and little in the way of sugar. Their apple sauce is similar except no crust.

So now you can see why I love to make my own as it is so much better than just plain apple. I love to add cinnamon with some nutmeg and depending on my mood some cloves as well. Each year I end up with something different – one year less sugar due to the sugar in the apples used – as I mix it up and use whatever the orchard is selling that year.

Unfortunately, this year our car died and that means no trek out to the wilds of Essex to our apple lady (as I call her!) to fetch our tree falls (this is what naturally falls to the ground and they sell them cheaper!). Oh dear...I’m missing it more now that I type that.

Well anyway, that cannot happen this year so I’ve had to depend on what can be found cheaply in the store. Thankfully, I brought my nanny cart (this is a term from my friend Vicki – when we went out on our treks we used Nanny’s old cart to carry around our finds – hence the name nanny cart!) on this particular day in October which I found big bags of Kent apples for one pound!So ever the glutton (I have to make this last all year you know!) for punishment I got five bags – so yes, 25 huge bramley apples! I had to make two batches of said apple sauce but it was worth it and really will last me throughout the year. So in the mists of spring I’ll be enjoying a free-range pork roast with my lovely apple sauce.I usually share a jar or two with friends and I still years now after my friend who ran a cafe and sold my apple pies get asked if I’d bake them a special one. So it must be true that while the British gave us our love for apples Americans took it to new heights! Enjoy the spice of apple today!

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