Friday, 25 June 2010

Chef's Nuts

No.. not those ones.Tut tut.Shame on you...If you've arrived here via some dubious google search,looking for gratuitous thrills this is not the place, so be off with you.

No folks,today a recipe,well,not so much a recipe,more of a suggestion.

We created these little plumptous beauties(sorry Nigella),as a bar snack.They are especially delicious served with cocktails.Mine's a Gin Martini made with Plymouth gin and an olive please.

Whoever was it that said "a good Martini is an olive with an alcohol rub"?Perfect metaphor.

First buy a selection of natural nuts..Pleease....I'm beginning to realise now this would be the perfect subject for Nigella ...Glances coyly at camera.

I bought mine at Waitrose.I look nothing like the other ladies shopping in their Anthropologie frocks,but what the hell,my money's as good as theirs.Or so Chef says..

For this batch we used peanuts and cashews.Almonds work really well also,it depends how solvent you are.

Next,place them in a baking tray and add:

Garlic cloves-bash them with the back of a knife to release the flavour but leave them whole(don't peel).

Fresh herbs(we used rosemary,thyme as we had them in the garden)
-use whatever you fancy,within reason, garden mint for example might not be the best idea.Woody type herbs are best,aim for a dry roasted effect.

Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place in a moderate oven for around 15-20mins

Serve either:

a.immediately when warm-with cocktails; the smell is utterly delectable.


b.parcel up into small pots and sell at the bar,they make a very classy bar snack.

Note:if you plan to eat as a snack later/sell its best to place in a sealed container for a few days,shaking regularly to allow the flavours to permeate before selling/eating.

That is, if you can wait that long...

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps

This weeks kitchen escape lead us to Hadrians Wall for a bracing walk.The Chap came too.

Hadrians Wall is a world Heritage site.The wall attracts over 1 million visitors every year, from all over the world.

In another life, I worked in PR for the National Trust and was based on the Wall for a season,hence the place is close to my heart.

There are two hostelries along the most visited stretch of the Wall between Steel Rigg and Houseteads;The Twice Brewed and The Milecastle Inn.
On past form, the Milecastle was the better bet for some post walk refreshments.
A quick glance over the menu(chalked on a board)revealed I might struggle here.I have Coeliac disease,which I know is my problem,not theirs.I prefer to think of it more as a condition than a disease, as when managed I suffer no ill effects.Management means eradicating all gluten from my diet.This isn't difficult when cooking at home, but can be more of a challenge when eating out.
Scanning most menus, I can usually identify immediately whether its going to be safe to eat.Basically, the main problem is "bought in" foods.Most contain wheat flour,or gluten in some form.The menu at the Milecastle boasted lots of different pie varieties,plus scampi,lasagne and that traditional British pub favourite Chicken Tikka Masala, experience told me this wasn't a place where the menu was cooked from scratch.
No problem,Ill just have some snacks,peanuts, crisps,and a cup of tea please,a healthy lunch.I went to take a seat in the beer garden,enjoying the view with the Chap, whilst Chef went to purchase said refreshments.

The Milecastle is in a stunning location.

Chef arrived presently with a solitary packet of plain crisps and a lager for each of us.

What no peanuts? or tea? They must have been exceptionally busy.
No, advised Chef,the only snack they sell are plain crisps and they don't serve tea, only coffee.Why not?? Any caterer knows that tea costs pence to serve and the GP margin is excellent.Much better than coffee which is also easy money.High yield for little effort.Whoever heard of a pub with no nuts? Don't they know that nuts make people thirsty=buy more drinks?

We were the only ones there.Apart from a group of three ladies drinking pints of lager during a pleasant Monday lunchtime session,empties stacked up on the table.I wondered if they were killing time before collecting their offspring from school.I'm not one to judge of course.

As the 3663 man wheeled his delivery to the back door of the pub, I dispelled all lingering thoughts that the usual snack selection were simply sold out.The three depressing boxes of Walkers plain crisps,amongst the various boxes of tinned and dry goods,enough to last until next week,said it all.

A good customer of ours, an energetic character who owns a successful wet led pub chain(applause), once gave me a very good piece of advice:

"Every person that walks through the door is an opportunity,don't just give them what they ask for, ask yourself every time,what else can I sell them?"

I couldn't help thinking that here was a place that wasn't taking advantage of the opportunities they have.Take away the unique location, the Wall and a captive audience, I wondered how they would fare.

Today, I was contacted by a call centre,gathering survey data on the current state of the pub trade in Britain.She informed me that another pub closes every 6 hours in Britain.
I'm not surprised.What do you think?


  You know what I’m unexpectedly missing in this weirdest of all runs up to Christmas? The drop ins from friends ,family, suppliers, custom...

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