"Definition: If you describe a situation or a group of things or people as a mixed bag, you mean that it contains some good items, features, or people and some bad ones." Collins Dictionary
Well I hope the good or bad refers to the items themselves and not to my presentation of them. Anyway time for a few small items rather than one larger theme.
Barberries- Actually it's the barberries that inspired me to do this bits and pieces post. Because this morning after my Italian lesson and a drop off of various things to my son, I decided to check out a new store called Market Place, which is in what was a plant nursery, on the way home from Italian. So not somewhere I pass every day.
I was actually not all that impressed with the fruit and vegetables - not that amazingly more varied or fabulous looking, and definitely not cheaper, although to be fair, if you were looking for more unusual fruit and vegetables you might find them here. They also had a deli section, a trendy bakery and a grocery section in which I found - barberries. Such a coincidence I just had to buy them. Well they were not all that expensive, and, as I say, a massive coincidence since I had been talking about them only yesterday. So now I have no more excuses not to try 'proper' Persian cookery. I am going to make that chicken and spinach dish I spoke about yesterday(although that doesn't actually contain barberries) - which is why the book with the recipe was to hand to make the packet of barberries, look more attractive.
Crispy chilli oil - I wrote about crispy chilli oil some time ago so I'm not going to repeat myself here. This is just to say that last night I tried some. For Christmas my son and his ex gave me wonderful box of gourmet goodies, This was one of them. I haven't tried it before because of David's aversion to chilli. Last night however I made pizza and I always make two because he doesn't like anchovies, and I don't think you can have pizza without anchovies. So I decided to drizzle some of this crispy chilli oil over the top. Well you can't really drizzle it - there is much more of the crispy (garlic I believe) than the oil. The shop blurb says:
"Chili, crunchy garlic, shallots and more are cooked down in a blend of sesame and vegtable oil to develop a rich flavour."
And it was good - well to be honest I had been very minimal in how much I applied to my pizza, but I'm definitely going to try it again. Not very hot at all.
So I looked up the manufacturer because it was an intriguing name and I knew it wasn't the 'original' and classic one that you find in the supermarkets. And I found - another coincidence coming up - that it comes from the kitchens of a Japanese restaurant in Collingwood called Chotto Motto. Which serves rather more fun looking Japanese food than the classic kind of food that Tetusuya makes. I'm guessing that my son and ex visit it every now and then.
If you want to find out more Broadsheet has a review. I also found to my chagrin (they really shouldn't have lashed out like that) that this small jar cost $18.50 but their other major product Yuzu hot sauce is even more expensive - over $22.00 and is, moreover sold out. This one seems to be an invention of the chef - Tomoya Kawasaki.
"A game changing hot sauce from the mind of Chotto Motto head chef Tomoya Kawasaki. Yuzu Hot Sauce combines mild green chillies, yuzu pepper and the citrus kick of yuzu to create a one of a kind hot sauce."
I think I also did yuzu some time ago - it's a kind of citrus. I wonder whether they had that in the Market Place where I found the barberries this morning. Apparently it is grown here in Australia these days, so why not?
Anyway - I'm very pleased that I have at last tried the crispy chilli oil and I am very grateful to have been given it so that I do actually try it. COVID is ever so slowly making me work through the various gifted food delicacies I have been given now and then. I could be tempted by the Yuzu Hot Sauce too. But when I've finished my jar of crispy chilli oil I shall have a go with the supermarket version to see it it's any better. Now if only I could find some Aleppo peppers.
What to do with whole lemons or discarded lemon shells
This was an item in the latest Guardian newseltter, and it included a few really interesting things. The idea was to use the whole fruit in some way. I'm not going to include them all - just the ones that took my fancy - beginning with this - Portokalopita - which is a kind of orangey syrupy cake but made with torn up phyllo pastry. You can watch Georgina Hayden make it here. As simple as Claudia Roden's orange almond cake if you're getting bored of making that.
Leftover lemons when you have juiced them - two similar things here. Blanch them several times, then blend with sugar (they don't say how much) to create an “incredible floral, bitter-sweet” lemon pith sauce that pairs beautifully with shellfish, brown crab (or any fish, really) or radicchio." Or slightly more precisely "Add the same weight of water and sugar as you have leftover fruit, boil it and blend. Eaten on yoghurt for breakfast, it is simply the zest (sorry)."
Claudia Roden "cuts them into pieces (pips discarded) and nestles them between chicken thighs (which have been coated in olive oil, lemon juice, turmeric, ginger, honey, white wine and chopped garlic) on a roasting tray. She adds capers and olives, pours over the remaining oil/lemon mix (used for the chicken), and roasts." Oh - you boil the lemons first.
I think the idea of tucking spent lemon shells in between meat in some kind of tray bake is a really good one, and one that I have seen popping up here and there of late.
Rachel Roddy's Linguine with white fish and citrus
Whilst we are still on lemons I rather fancied this recipe in The Guardian newsletter, from their Italy based columnist Rachel Roddy. It is very simple and has a very few ingredients - those in the title, plus some chilli flakes - but perhaps I could use my new crispy chilli oil instead. In the article she describes how simple it is to avoid burning your garlic when you start a dish by cooking onion and garlic. The trick is
"to put the oil, garlic, chilli and zest in the pan away from the heat, away from the stove, on the other side of the room, if need be. Because, of course, it isn’t really cold, but room and hand temperature – ideal for getting things started, a pre-warm-up warm-up, if you like. Only when all the elements are ready, and you have put a pan of water on for the pasta, does the pan go on a low flame."
You then cook it slowly and then
"after a slow, cold start, it is a hot, fast finish – and a swish, which brings everything together."
So I think I'll give it a go. As long as I can find some sustainable white fish. It probably won't be until next week though - too many leftovers to use up and too many meals out.
When I saw this ad in the Woolworths Fresh Ideas magazine I thought it rang a bell. It was presented as something super gourmet and possibly new. So today I looked it up and was reminded that Thomas Dux was a series of boutique gourmet grocery stores that Woolworths developed some time ago in Sydney and Melbourne. Eventually they were all closed presumably because they were not a success, but now products bearing the name of Thomas Dux are reappearing on their shelves. So it's a Woolworths brand, that is not disclosed as a Woolworths brand - like their Macro range. Interesting. Coles does the same of course with various things, but on the whole they just brand gourmet stuff as Coles' Finest, which I actually think is cannier as it sort of lifts the brand of Coles overall. Interesting marketing though and why does the name Thomas Dux sound superior I wonder?
Anything you can do I can do better!
I've referenced the latest Woolworths magazine a bit and its theme of food waste and what to do about it. Well Coles did it too with their sustainability issue. It's hard to know of course, whether they copied the idea or whether it was just going to happen anyway. It is indeed possible that it is just another coincidence. After all it's a major theme of virtually all food related enterprises these days. Rachel Roddy briefly talked about which fish are Ok to eat. Even Shaun Micallef made a joke about it yesterday positing that Brad Banducci was making the changes that the government should be. Anyway I thought it was interesting. Neither of them really dedicated their entire issue to sustainability, but it was a theme that surfaced often throughout.
It also gave Coles a chance to promote their sustainability logo designed, of course, by an Aboriginal artist. And it is rather lovely I have to say. Again - clever marketing.
I'm gradually working my way through Woolworths' four most wasted foods, so what did Coles contribute? Well rather than having a major feature on waste, every recipe had a little box with ideas on how to reduce waste associated with that particular recipe, together with plugs on their various sustainability partnerships.
Well done to both really - it's a way of keeping the idea of waste not, want not in front of us all the time.
Just a reminder that next Saturday, March 26th between 8.30-9.30 in the evening is Earth Hour. Turn off all your lights and join with, hopefully the other millions around the world doing the same. Well I wonder if they will. If they did it would be quite a sight from outer space would it not?
It began back in 2007 in Sydney. Something that Australia did first for once, but it is now a world-wide movement.
We are actually having a dinner party - yes a dinner party on the 26th, so I think I will look into candles and things and actually take part. It's nice dining by candlelight. Romantic and besides any faults in your presentation won't be quite as glaring! A feeble gesture I know and it probably doesn't mean a lot but judging by the pre-election advertising that is going on at the moment, the government seems to be waking up to the fact that the future of the earth is an issue. I wonder if they pay any attention to it.