Day Two of Being Manly with Food

Today has been a good day.

The sun is shining, my cold is receding into more of a sniffle, and I have spent most of the day recipe testing.

I am still testing Manly Food by Simon Cave.

The rest of the day involved Jason buying me some amazing boots as my anniversary present. I succumbed to the lure of the Doc Martens Triumph 1460 boots in purple with a floral interior and black silk ribbon laces.  You can see them here.

They are things of beauty.

We also had friends round for dinner, which was good, as I had spent most of the day cooking things, and was able to provide a heaving table. A positive cornucopia.

It is a good job I chose boots and not a tight fitting vest as my anniversary present, because I would have split the seams by now with the amount of food I have poked into my face over the last two days.  Thankfully my feet are the last bit of me to get fat, and the boots are loud enough to distract attention away from my swelling gut.

Let’s talk about the food.

I started the day with the marinade for jerk chicken.  It was simple to make, and smelled heavenly.  You marinade the chicken for four hours.  The author suggests you blacken the chicken first on a barbecue before putting it in the oven.  I could not be bothered and threw the chicken pieces in the oven on a bed of leeks and mushrooms, drizzled with olive oil and roasted the crap out of them for half an hour.  They tasted lovely.

I served it with wild rice, peas, and lots of fresh salad.

While the chicken was marinading, Tallulah and I made the chocolate brownies from the very small dessert section of the book.  I suspect the dessert section is very small because there isn’t a lot of call for meat in desserts and the author is out of his comfort zone.

The chocolate brownies were very, very simple. I was surprised by how easy it was. I have issues with getting my brownies to cook evenly as a rule. I have abandoned Nigella on the topic, as I only got hers to work once in the history of ever. Since then I have been a devotee of Nigel Slater. I still prefer Nigel’s, but these are easy to make, particularly if you’re being helped by small children.  There are very few ingredients and the preparation time is short. They cooked properly, in the time the author said they would, and were nicely gooey to eat, despite having neither extra chocolate chunks, nor nuts in them.

I moved on from there to attempting salted caramel fudge.  I love fudge, particularly with sea salt in, but I have never made it before.

It was a spectacular ball ache to make, not because it was complex, but because it requires a great deal of manual labour. Thirty minutes of mixing while waiting for the mixture to get to 115 degrees, and then ten minutes mixing off  the heat, continuously.  I am now more sympathetic as to the outrageous price of hand made fudge. It’s all the man hours that go into it.

Not only that, but you then have to wait six hours for it to set in the fridge.  So you can’t even have instant fudge gratification.

The fudge is lovely. It tastes like fudge and looks like fudge and everyone except me is mad keen on it.  I like it, but it’s too chewy for me, and not crumbly enough. I need to work out how to get it crumbly.  Answers in the comments box please.

Also, don’t attempt it without a sugar thermometer.

For lunch we had Huevos Rancheros, which the author calls Ranch Style Eggs.  This is another one of those recipes where you need to know that if you don’t search for it under ‘R’ in the index, you’re scuppered.

Huevos Rancheros is basically a spicy tomato sauce served with fried eggs and soft tortillas.

It isn’t a particularly special recipe for huevos rancheros to be honest, but it is straightforward and reliable and produces a dish which tastes and looks exactly like it should with very little effort at all.  He suggests serving it with refried beans.

I hate refried beans so I took a tin of black beans, and cooked them up with chicken stock and pepperoni pieces and we had that with it instead.

Everyone liked it, so it’s another recipe I can add to my store of staples to whip out when I can’t think what everyone will eat without fighting and arguing. I have always liked huevos rancheros, but I’ve never tried it on the others until now, knowing that they would shudder in horror. This year has seen a spectacular jump forward in what they will tolerate and I’m glad I gave it a go.

Again, all four things we tried were delicious and fairly easy to make. Everyone ate everything that was put in front of them and there were no complaints at all, which I expected with the desserts, but not with the savoury food.  It’s all good so far.


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