Tag Archives: 1001 foods

Good Eatin’ – Montelimar Nougat

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4783Food item: Montelimar Nougat

There are many reasons that I go to my local Lidl. Usually it’s to get another packet of fennel salami or try and find some schnitzel (they haven’t sold it for nearly a year… so I should probably mourn my loss and mourn my loss and move on with my food life).

During today’s visit I was greeted with a beautiful slab of food list nougat. Silky white and adorned with almonds. I wouldn’t normally buy nougat as a sweet of choice, but I do always enjoy eating it when it’s made available to me. Especially if it’s turrón brought in by a co-worker.

So why is Montelimar nougat singled out by the list? Mainly because one of the three main types of white nougat and, by whoever made the list, thought of as the best. Not going to disagree with this assertion since the only thing stopping me from eating the whole bar was the increased calorie count on my fitness app.

This nougat really is a far cry from whatever machine made nougat can be found in a Double Decker chocolate bar. It’s firmer, not as sticky whilst still being sticky and has more of a depth of flavour. Aside from the sugar and almonds there is also some honey and proper vanilla.

Whilst it is still sweet there is enough of a savoury flavour provided by the nuts to prevent it from becoming sickly. However, given the fact that you are basically eating pure sugar and nut fat was enough to stop me from reaching for the fourth torn off chunk. Might go back later though.

Progress: 626/751

Good Eatin’ – Fennel Pollen and Tiger Nuts

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

As I have mentioned a number of times before: I love that this food list has resulted in people giving me food-based gifts. In today’s post I finally got around to trying two gifts that I received from my husband for Christmas. Both very different items and both very much appreciated.

img_4767Food item: Fennel Pollen

If I had made a Top 10 most wanted list, I would have had fennel pollen on that list for the better part of a year. The idea of using flower pollen as a spice really piqued my interest.

When I first slid open the metal case to the fennel pollen the smell just hit me. The smell of licorice. For pollen of the fennel plant the smell and taste of the raw pollen was far more on the side of anise than of fennel (although the distinctive fennel flavour is still there). I guess it’s the sweetness of the pollen that gives the anise the leg-up in terms of flavour.

Now obviously you use this in cooking, so I figured that I would go for a pasta recipe that I found online.

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The recipe I went for was for Spaghetti With Fennel Pollen, Orange, Garlic, and Mint. The orange zest was a tad overpowering in the recipe, but I could still get that fresh hint of anise amongst the citrus.

Seeing that I own an ice cream machine I might have a go at making some fennel pollen ice cream. I can only imagine how much my husband would appreciate that.

img_4768Food item: Tiger Nuts

First things first, these are not nuts. They are more closely related to the papyrus plant than they are to almonds or hazelnuts. Still, they can be used as you would almonds as they taste fairly similar. In fact these are better than almonds since they are also rather milky as you bite into them.

The weird thing I had to get used to is that tiger nuts are chewy. Worked this out the hard way when I bit into them hard with my canines and that little bit of give REALLY hurt. I almost didn’t forgive them for that pain, but they’re so nice to chew on.

Another use of tiger nuts, rather than eating them out of hand, is to make them into a drink called horchata. The only reason I’ve heard of this is because of Vampire Weekend, but having sampled the nut I want to try this beverage for myself should I find myself in Spain.

Thanks husband for the good food presents!

Progress: 625/751

Good Eatin’ – Wattleseed Bread

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

Once again I am trying to lose weight. I say once again because I usually end up a third of the way there, get frustrated and then start all over 9 months later. It’s one of those vicious cycles that I really want to break this time around.

I mention this because it nicely ties into today’s food.

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Food item: Wattleseed

I got this tub of wattleseed from my favourite spice shop at Borough and have been wracking my brain trying to find a decent use for it. The label says that it can be used in ice cream or baked goods, so I decided to take the lid on its word and make a loaf of bread.

On it’s own the wattleseed has a taste in the region of cocoa-coffee-nut, but you would never just have it like this. Therefore I used a recipe I found online for a quick wattleseed soda bread to give this ingredient a real test.

Progress: 623/751

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List item: Bake a loaf of bread
Status: Completed

I’ve made bread a few times before, but usually quick breads instead a fully yeasted affair. This was, however my first attempt at making a soda bread. It was also the first time I tried to take a bread recipe and reduce the fat content by using 0% yogurt.

The dough was wet and hard to knead which probably didn’t help with the rise. Still, the taste of the bread made up for it being a little bit close-textured. The wattleseed really added a taste in the region of hazelnut-coffee as well as some crunch.

As you can see from the recipe – this was dead easy to make and I probably will make more of this while I still have some wattleseed knocking about the cupboards.

Good Eatin’ – Calçots and Other Spanish Things

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

Right so I am really excited about us having booked a short break to Barcelona in a few month’s time. It really got me thinking about what food I would be able to tick off during our visit (hint: I will be on the hunt for Cadi butter).

I had this in mind during a recent visit to Borough Market, so much so that I made a beeline to Brindisa – a rather excellent Spanish import store that also sells cabrales and morcilla de burgos.

img_4747Food item: Calçot

This was an unexpected find, mainly because I had no idea about the Catalan tradition of Calçotada, whereby many calçots are grilled over flames to celebrate their harvest. Now, I don’t have access to a flame grill, but I do have a regular grill and a jar of Romesco sauce… so I figured that would be good enough.

img_4748 Food items: Idiazabal and Mosciame Del Tonno

So here are the calçots after being grilled in the over for 5-6 minutes per side and then left to steam in a paper bag for 15 minutes.

This is one of the few times where I have not been too nervous about over-grilling something as some of the pictures of grilled calçots online show them to be nearly totally black. Since you done eat the other charred layer of the calçot it doesn’t really matter if you slightly overdo them.

When you look at a calçot it basically look like a little spring onion made a successful wish on a star to become a leek. The taste is a lot milder than a regular spring onion, which probably explains how so many people can actually eat these with just a bit of sauce. If anything the incredibly tender insides of the calçot were sweet and somewhat creamy.

I am someone who cannot abide the taste of raw onion and I thought these gorgeous. I hope these are still in season when we visit Barcelona.

So, what about the other foods?

First there was the Idiazabal cheese. I think I am actually eating too much cheese at the moment. One bite of this and it was obvious to me that this was made from sheep’s milk (this is not something I could differentiate between before starting the list).

I got the smoked version of this cheese (from the taste I think this was smoked using beechwood, but I have no way of proving that. There was a slight tingle in my mouth from the lactic acid content, which might also explain the oily feel of the overall cheese. The smokiness wasn’t too strong either, especially compared to the smell.

Finally there was a slab of mosciame del tonno (mojama in Spanish). This isn’t exactly cheap at over £100 per kg. Even the small bit that I got was nearly £7, which felt a bit much for what I got, which is basically a dried tuna loin.

The saltiness of this dried fish is pretty intense on it’s own. This needs to be sliced as thin as possibly in order to best enjoy it. It was also nice on some bread if sliced just a bit thicker (think: the thickness of a match). Nice, but maybe not worth seeking out again.

Progress: 622/751

Good Eatin’ – Blackstrap Molasses and Navarra Piquillo Peppers

So continues my continued efforts to clear the cupboards of all remaining list foods so that they don’t end up spoiling on me. In today’s post we have a jar that I bought with the Zampone and a bottle that I bought with the other Caribbean food.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4724Food items: Navarra Piquillo Peppers and Blackstrap Molasses

Most of the uses that I have found for blackstrap molasses are sweet, which makes sense seeing how it is made by boiling sugarcane. To be considered blackstrap this needs to be the product of a third boil which makes it more bitter and less sweet than regular molasses. The small taste I got of it from the bottle was exactly as expected: rich, dark, bitter and a small amount of sweetness.

The recipe I ended up using the molasses in was a South Carolina mustard barbecue sauce. It’s called a barbecue sauce on the recipe, but it didn’t taste like any I had ever tasted before. I like it, but the fumes of cooking mustard and cider vinegar was enough to make my eyes water.

Now what to do with barbecue sauce… how about a burger? And how about I use some of these special jarred red peppers to top the burger? Sounds like a good idea for lunch.

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I have a constant problem when it comes to cooking burgers; I make them too thick which means they end up overcooked as I try to ensure the middle is no longer raw. Today is one of the few times where I have actually managed to make a good moist burger with a good flavour (thank you bacon and celery salt).

Honestly, I didn’t taste much of the peppers because the barbecue was was pretty overpowering. On their own the peppers are a tad bitter from where they have been roasted. There is an undercurrent of moist sweetness and a bit of heat. Something that needs to be eaten with something rather than on their own.

Progress: 619/751

Good Eatin’ – Food From Friends

I am in a very privileged position with today’s post. Within the space of two days I received some new food items as gifts. The first I received from my work bestie on the day that I headed to Cardiff for two days of meetings, the second from a fantastically warm-hearted colleague of mine on the first of the two days of meetings.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die

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Food item: Cloudberry

So my work bestie got me a jar of cloudberry jam from the same place I bought the lussekatter. Since you don’t really find cloudberries in the UK this is a something that periodically goes in and out of stock.

There is no doubting that this is a different sort of taste than I have ever come across. It is sweet? Yes. Is it tart? Yes. Does that adequately describe the flavour? Not at all.

There is something else here. I am not sure how to describe it. It’s incredibly strong whatever it is (I think it’s somewhere between floral and umami… which is a wide gulf of flavour).

I’ve come to find that one is only meant to have a little bit of this jam on a dessert and not just eat a spoon from the jar. This might go a long way to explain why a spoonful of it was not as palatable as I had hoped.

I found with later experimentation that a spoonful cloudberry jam goes well in a glass of Pepsi Max. The sweetness and tartness of the jam went well with my favourite beverage.

img_4712Food item: Bara Brith

For one of the national foods of Wales this was pretty damned hard to track down. I have been searching around Cardiff  for the better part of a year and not been able to find it. It’s only because a colleague of mine mentioned it in passing that I thought to ask.

Then, lo and behold there was a brick of bara brith being given to me with instructions of how best to consume it: sliced thinly with butter. I did this when I got home from Cardiff and these instructions served me very well.

For the uninitiated, bara brith (which means ‘speckled bread’ in Welsh) is a type of tea loaf i.e. a sweet bread that contains dried fruit that has been soaked overnight in tea. The fruit within the loaf feel bloated with moisture and yet still contain the concentrated flavour you would associate with dried fruit.

When compared to the fruitcake I had last week, this baked good is far more in my wheelhouse. Makes me think I should try my hand at making some of my own.

Progress: 617/751

Good Eatin’ – Fruitcake and Gliko

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4705Food item: British Fruitcake

Okay, seeing that Christmas has just been and gone it only seemed fit to have Christmas cake as an example of British Fruitcake.

When you compare it to some of the other fruitcakes out there (of which I have only had a few) you can really count on the Brits to make a fruitcake that is dense, chock full of dried fruit and surprisingly moist (and slightly cloying).

It really is not something that you can eat a lot of. I think I speak for a lot of Brits when I say that if you eat more than a serving your stomach essentially becomes a brick.

img_4708Food item: Green Walnut Gliko

So this is my first try of a Greek spoon sweet, so-called because you would get one of these on a spoon with a cup of coffee or tea.

You can probably only have one spoon of this sweet because it’s very sweet. The syrup that the green walnuts (walnuts that are picked whilst they are immature) are preserved in is incredibly sweet and spiced with, I’m guessing, cloves and cinnamon.

Honestly, this the contents of this jar smelt like Christmas. When it comes to texture the walnuts were a bit weird. The give from the outer shell gave way to a chewy and somewhat mushy. This is something that I can imagine going well with a plain cake or as part of a cheeseboard.

Was it worth the £8 that I spent for it online? Not really. Still, at least I was able to give this a go.

Progress: 615/751

Good Eatin’ – Spaghetti alla Bottarga di Muggine

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4692Food items: Bottarga di Muggine and Aleppo Pepper

I am not going to mince words here. I was very uncertain about the bottarga. I mean when you think about it, preserved mullet roe doesn’t sound too appetising. It looks like a tongue, is hard like a softwood and smells like fish flakes. Then again if it cost £12 from an online food specialist then there must be people willing to pay for it, therefore it must be decent when used properly.

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I followed a recipe from the Food Network to make a bottarga-centric pasta dish. Since I was not too sure whether or not I would like grated preserved mullet roe I didn’t put all the bottarga as directed.

That is until I put the first forkful into mouth I added some more bottarga and a pinch more Aleppo pepper. The smell of the bottarga may be strong, but the taste is not. It is far more subtle than I would have expected. It gives a delicately seafood taste to the pasta. It’s like a less pungent version of anchovies. I mean if this had a hint of tomato this dish would have been a lot like puttanesca.

I had some of the grated buttarga leftover so I sprinkled it over some garlic bread to give it that bit of salt and umami.

That brings me onto the Aleppo pepper. For a chilli pepper it smells sweet, almost like sun-dried tomatoes. The heat that comes out of this is well balanced to the sharpness. It’s the type of chilli pepper that is perfect for sprinkling over things, like I did with my pasta and garlic bread.

Progress: 613/751

Good Eatin’ – Zampone on New Year’s Day

It’s January 1st and for whatever reason I decided that I would make a New Year’s Day lunch. My downfall was that I would have to start cooking it two hours after coming home from New Year’s Eve up in London. Oh well!

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4675Food item: Zampone Di Modena

Thanks again to the good people of Melbury and Appleton for actually selling something as obscure as this. If you want to know what zampone is then you just need to imagine a pig’s trotter that has been hollowed out, stuffed with sausagemeat and is then slow-boiled until the fat becomes jellylike.

Thankfully you can buy this pre-made and in a form that only requires a 30 minute stint in boiling water and so that is exactly what I did. The only bones that remained were some tarsal and metatarsal bones in the foot itself. Otherwise it was just a beautifully spiced coarse sausagemeat wrapped in bacon-flavoured meat jelly.

It was utterly gorgeous – even if the hub had trouble dealing with the idea that I was carving up a pig’s trotter. I only wish there had been more of it to share out. Still, it made this meal feel that extra bit special.

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Food item: Spanish Estate Olive Oil

After all the gorging that comes with Christmas I felt the need to have some form of salad with this lunch. Seeing how it’s a salad for a special dinner I decided it was time to use the bottle of single-estate Spanish extra-virgin olive oil that I found in my local Waitrose.

Having recently read Gulp by Mary Roach (where she has a chapter that talks about people doing an olive oil taste test) I have been trying to actually tell the difference between olive oils. Sounds a bit gross, right? Well with this bottle of Castillo de Canena oil might just be some of the best I have ever tasted.

It’s a bit weird to say this, but it smelled like vine tomatoes. That fresh and grassy smell that you get when you pick tomatoes straight from the plant. The hub said it reminded him of freshly-cut grass, but in a good way you understand. I am going to have so much fun finding uses for this outside of being a fancy salad dressing.

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Right, so the trotter broke in half after I cooked it (it was just that soft after being cooked). As well as the salad dressed with the Spanish olive oil and the trotter I also made some Parmesan and sage polenta as well as a big bowl of stewed green lentils. I still have enough leftover lentils to feed a family of four, but damn if this wasn’t a good meal to welcome in the new year.

Progress: 611/751

Good Eatin’ – Beurre D’Echire and Bradenham Ham

One of the things I tend to do around Christmas is pay a visit to Fortnum and Mason’s. It’s the best of the one-shot department stores in London (so much more fun to visit than Harrods). This usually culminates in a browse of the food floor to see what we can see.

Wandering around there always screws with your perception of what is decently priced (I mean, they sell lobes of foie gras there for over £70). Last year I walked off with some special raisins. This year, it was a bit more special.

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Dieimg_4646 Food item: Beurre D’Échiré

Buying this marked a real first for me: the first time that someone has ever complimented me on by butter buying. This particular person was the butter buyer for Fortnum’s (seriously, who do I need to apprentice under to become an official butter buyer for a major department store) who commented on how this was the best butter in France and the way to pronounce the name.

Now, here is the thing with Écheré butter – I did not know that butter could taste so good. I mean it was easy just to eat small pieces of it on its own for my official tasting notes. As butters go it starts of with a delicate and creamy flavour… and then it melts on your tongue. As it melts there is a flavour explosion where the taste of the salt and the full richness of the butter can be experienced.

I have read further on this butter to find out that the winter butter may not be the best Échiré butter out there. In fact, it is the spring butter (where cows are allowed to eat flowers) that might be the superior butter. So, I will be buying this again for an Easter tasting.

img_4647Food item: Bradenham Ham

One thing that stopped me from getting Bradenham Ham was that I did not know it also went by another name: Shropshire Black Ham. Bradenham is a named owned by a company for selling Shropshire Black Ham, so I just went for Shropshire Black Ham because life is too damned short.

I know it’s weird to say this, but for a ham this didn’t taste too hammy. If anything it tasted more like pork (apologies if I am not making any sense here). The thing that identified this as ham, other than the colour, was the saltiness. The salt in this ham is deeply entrenched in the ham – as in you need to properly lubricate the ham as you chew it so that you can drew out the salt content.

In order to prepare this ham it is wet-cured in a mix of spices and molasses (the latter giving the leg of ham its distinctive black colouration). I could taste the sweetness of the mollasses when I ate the ham meat closest to the outside fat. Sadly, I could not taste any distinct spices (apparently juniper is used in this mix usually).

Still, this was better than regular ham and (amazingly) not that much more expensive when you consider the increase in quality.

Progress: 609/751