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Whim whams

"This kind of thing is more a delicious mouthful at the end of a meal, than a pudding." Jane Grigson

It's not the end of a meal - I'm not eating today anyway - but it is the end of the day and I've left it a bit late to do anything involving much trawling of the net, so here are a few whim whams - a small kind of trifle.

It dates back to Regency times and seems to be Scottish in origin. And it can't be much easier:

"It was simply made: you just soaked some sponge fingers in sweet wine, poured some whipped cream over them, and decorated it if you had a mind with almonds, angelica, etc." Oxford Reference

The picture above is a recipe from Lavender and Lovage and includes raspberries because the writer had just acquired a whole lot of Scottish raspberries. The one at right is from chef Mark Robinson, cousin of the writers of the Secret Linen website. It's a bit classier as Mejdool dates are involved but it's really not that complicated.

"it was something knocked up on a whim but with the surprise of some wham (in the absence of alcohol simply play Careless Whisper on your smart speaker)." Mark Robinson

Alcohol it would seem is essential and of the recipes that I glimpsed here and there, the type of alcohol used seemed to be entirely up to the maker. Perhaps I should give you Jane Grigson's, probably very authentic version to finish off this little segment:

"1 boudoir biscuit (sponge finger biscuits); 1 tablespoon muscatel dessert wine or sweet sherry; 2 tablespoons double cream; 1/2 teaspoon chopped roasted hazelnuts; 2 small leaves cut from angelica.

Break the biscuit in four and place the pieces in a small custard cup. Pour over the wine and leave it to soak in. Whip the cream and pile it on top. Decorate discreetly with the nuts and angelica - candied citrus or orange peel can be used instead of angelica, but avoid glacé cherries which would be out of style."

I couldn't resist including it because of the glacé cherry comment. It's a sort of cheat's trifle and very appropriate for modern times.

Fermented bits of pineapple make a delicious drink called Tepache apparently. All those bits you cut off the pineapple, including the spiky top, which generally get thrown into the compost or the green bin, can, instead be put into a large wide-mouthed jar (after washing) together with 250g of raw cane sugar - well the closest you can get to that. In my case that would be muscovado. You can also add a cinnamon stick if you like. Cover with 3 litres of water weight it all down and cover the jar with a clean cloth. Leave to ferment for 3-5 days until cloudy and effervescent. You should stir it every now and then, and if any white mould appears skim it off. Taste it to see when it's ready, strain and drink. I think some suggested mixing with a dash of beer or lime. It's Mexican from long, long ago. Not for me I think, but it's supposed to be good for you. Well it's fermented.

How to create a vacuum seal for your frozen food

I got this little trick from Alice Zaslavsky in her book The Joy of Better Cooking. I suspect she may have got it from J. Kenji López-Alt who got it from Dave Arnold. Anyway here are his instructions the J. Kenji ... instructions:

"To do it, you start by placing your food inside a zipper-lock bag, then seal the bag, leaving just the last inch or so of the seal open. Next, you lower the bag into a pot or a tub of water. As the bag gets lowered, water pressure will push air out of the bag through the small opening you left. Just before the bag gets completely submerged, seal off that opening and pull the whole bag out of the tub."

Alice Zaslavsky adds: "Some people even suck the very last vestiges of air of the bag with a straw."

Sandwich presses are grills too

I'm not sure where I came across this little tip now. Maybe The Guardian, maybe Alice Zaslavsky. Anyway apparently you can use a sandwich press to grill vegetables as well. All you do is toss your sliced vegetables - or things like asparagus as shown here - in a little oil, arrange them in your sandwich press and grill for a few minutes. Hey presto.

Now I grilled some vegetables the other day on my Le Creuset griddle which did a wonderful job except for leaking oil somehow and also causing a large amount of smoke. Alas we don't have a sandwich press. Maybe it's time. I confess I do like toasted sandwiches - especially with cheese and tomato.

This one is from Nigel Slater. Not a combination that would automatically spring to mind, but I was intrigued, even though I don't like smoked cheese. But, as he says, you can do it with cheddar too. And I do love sauerkraut. What an unusual idea. You strain the sauerkraut and mix it all together with a few things, fry and serve with a sour cream sauce. Mind you I'm probably unlikely to do this, although then again there is a half-opened jar of sauerkraut in the fridge, so why not? You could serve it with bacon, or ham or sausage couldn't you if you weren't in a vegetarian mood? One of those weird things that might actually work.

This is just a recipe that caught my eye in The Guardian's newsletter this week. It comes from Rosie Birkett, whoever she is. Fundamentally it's a quiche, the main ingredient of which is all those little bits of cheese you've got lurking in the fridge. Which is a good 'use up leftovers' idea, but it was the other things that went into it that really ticked the box for me - Worcestershire sauce, cornichons, pickled onions, tarragon and a tiny bit of nutmeg - not to mention the usual suspects - onions and celery. This might be my next Friday night quiche. Not sure about the kale and garlic crouton salad and burnt butter potatoes though. It's all there in the same article.


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