Doomed Beansprouts and Flourishing Cress… finally!

It looks like the egg and cress sandwiches are far more likely than the non-growing, now foul smelling beansprouts! The mung beans were clearly far too old… growing teenage mung beans wasn’t the brightest idea. The three year old mustard seeds are a different story.

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It seems that faith and a little commonsense is the best thing afterall.

Dressed for Sunday Dinner

Sunday dinner is usually an amalgamation of all the leftovers from the weekend (from Thursday night). Tonight’s was unhot Texas Beef Chilli, Meatballs in Italian style sauce, fresh salad, cauliflower & celery slaw and quinoa again. Magpie has been making an effort with a variety of vegetable dishes and salads, the principal aim being to entice Himself to eat more vegetables and grains. Bizarrely, tonight the caulislaw was a hit (see below for ‘recipe’. No pictures because it vanished out of the bowl in the first minute it was on the table.)

A great friend asked for the salad dressing formula, so also find that below. It’s only a formula. Everyone’s tastes are different. The only way to make salad dressing is through trial and error and remembering what worked and what didn’t. Magpie tends not to remember, which leads to inconsistent success with dressings, but the formula is simple.

A bowlful of the freshest florets you have cut yourself from a head of cauliflower (i.e. not ready cut in a bag).
Half an onion/a whole small onion, sliced thinly.
A handful of parsley, scissored into the bowl, stalks ‘n’ all.
A heaped tsp mayonnaise.
A medium pinch of salt (preferably Maldons, said the food snob).
Mix all of the above very well.

Salad Dressing
Take as small a jar (with a lid) as you can find.
Fill a third of it with whichever vinegar  you have (not malt). Cider and white wine vinegar are both traditional. Balsamic is also very good; it feels really extravagant using it in a dressing.
Fill the remaining two thirds of the jar with the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil that you can afford, but leave a little room for the other ingredients.
Drop a teaspoon of made mustard into the jar. Add a pinch of salt, a pinch of dried oregano and pop the lid on tightly.
Hold it away from yourself and shake rapidly. This will emulsify it and give it body.



Lazy Magpie’s Cress Update

Magpie can’t remember which day she’s supposed to be on for the beansprouts / mustard cress experiment; she’s forgotten to take the photos; it’s 11:55pm and Himself has gone to bed and Magpie’s already made far too many trips through two noisy doors since he went.

Suffice it to say: the cress is doing better than the official results from the German farm that’s accused of sparking the E.Coli contagion.

Magpie hasn’t been able to face looking in the beansprouts bowl.

Pictures promised tomorrow.

A Lesson in Following Recipes… or, Disaster Strikes in Coffee Pudding Fiasco! is a varied food blog with a lot of different writers. It has a very American style and a good mix of people who write on it. Serious Eats is a bit more classy (has a beautiful foodporn page, too).  There are some foods and recipes on there that seem quite foreign to Magpie’s limited view and the urge to try them out grew too much this afternoon.

Alas, Magpie’s greed tends to interfere with her cooking.

The Thai Coffee Bread Pudding looks completely fabulous on the image. The imaginary mouthfeel is distinctly present at the front of the hard palate and curious to see if it would turn out, Magpie converted the quantities and halved them. (The recipe serves 8-10 people!) The temperature throughout was 160deg C which was surprising. I have been baking bread&butter pudding in too high a heat for years!

Two bread buns (oven baked, not steam – crusty bread unless a sweet one), cubed, weighed in at about 6oz. Dry them out in the 160deg C oven for about 10 mins and stick them in the baking dish you’re going to use.

Heat the required and STIPULATED quantity of coffee powder (that is, 3 tblsps) in 360ml milk (more on this later) till dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together:
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg

less than 1 teaspoon (tsp) each of cardamon and cinnamon.
120g light brown sugar

Whisk into the above mixture:
the coffee milk
200ml condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

Pour over the bread into the baking dish and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.

Paint 2oz melted butter over the top of the pudding, sprinkle it with white sugar and place in the oven for 30-40 mins. The idea is to eat it with orange zesty chantilly cream.

Unfortunately as you’ve probably guessed, Magpie thought the coffee taste wouldn’t be strong enough (having an odious view of freeze dried coffee granules), so dumped an extra 2-4 (can’t even remember, so stupid an idea it was) tablespoons of coffee into the milk.
It may not have been the £4 espresso powder stipulated, but it sure was strong. The look on Himself’s face as he consumed the first spoonfuls was the same one you’d expect accompanying a mouthful of lemons! The overload of coffee made it bitter, despite the dish’s aspirations to be a sweet, rich pudding. What a shame.

Always encouraging, Himself allocated a score of 9 out of 10 for effort and what Magpie suspected was a very generous 4/10 for ‘taste’.

It looked really lovely though.

Beansprouts and Mustard Cress Growing Day #5

While the mung beans are taking their own merry time, and Magpie has had neither stir fry nor egg and cress sandwiches so far, the mustard cress is beginning to show its green heads and they are most welcome.

The beansprouts are not without hope, however. Several have split and their little white sprouts are evident, but yet again, the camera can’t seem to see it.

Magpie assures you, they are there. Faith is all you need.

Breakfast: fast, simple, and good for you.

Now anyone with sense will tell you that eating the fruit bowl can be as sugary as devouring three handfuls of Haribo. Magpie gets her fruit and veg delivered by Parent Express (which isn’t express at all as they live 26 miles away). It is the best quality possible, bought from a market stall where the Old Bat works on a Wednesday and thrown into a box when she has five seconds to do so.

The Old Bat brought the veg on Thursday night this time, accompanied by the newest addition to the family: tiny collie sheepdog in training, Belle. Since the pup took up all the attention, Magpie didn’t notice that the strawberries were attempting to ferment until the following day. The only solution was to throw them into the food processor with a spotty banana, a nectarine and a few dollops of yoghurt.

A seedy drink in a glass it was;  but it was also most of the fruit bowl, so no solid breakfast was needed. The strawberries were Scottish, and not as sweet as last week’s but with a little additional honey, they were clean and fresh in the glass and decidedly better nutritionally, than slaked in chantilly cream.

What a difference a (good) meal makes

Low on the losses handed to the pair by meals eaten out in the last two weeks, Magpie and Himself made one last effort, vowing it to be final, should it prove to be as bad as the others.

The Station Inn at Ribblehead, about 1000m from the Ribblehead viaduct on the famous Carlisle-Settle line was the selected recipient of such pressure. Magpie had eaten the most fabulous burger about three weeks previously and was keen to repeat the experience with steak.

Despite its outward appearances, she wasn’t disappointed.

The whitebait wasn’t delivered with lemon; nor was it either crisp or salted, but it had flavour and was hot and came within 15 minutes of ordering. It wasn’t accessorised with a skin-on mayonnaise and salt and pepper was available on the table. For these simple nods to individual taste, Magpie was grateful. The tiny fish were meaty and though fishy in smell they didn’t taste of the inland fish van. They were oily and with substance.

Himself was indulged with a plain (very Yorkshire) salad which accompanied a fabulous homemade chicken liver pate and real melba toast – by which is meant that it had been toasted, then split and toasted again. Butter was handed over on asking; yes, real butter, despite its being made by Irish dairies. The butter in the pate was present, but not cloying; the brandy too, but the product didn’t taste of brandy. The eater just knew it was there.

Main courses too, were no nonsense. Nothing was there that wasn’t advertised on the menu. The onion rings were home battered; the tomato was fresh out of the oven and the steak…Oh yes, the steak was well hung beef, medium rare, erring on the rare. It was singed on the exterior and slightly bloody inside. Its juices mingled with the peppercorn sauce, well seasoned but not salty; well peppered but not hot (except for the peppercorns. It would be silly to have bland peppercorns, and there were plenty of them).

The gammon was salty but the texture was perfectly tight without broaching tough. It hadn’t been filled with water; hadn’t been overcooked. It came topped with two slighly runny fried eggs. Straightforward,  modern food. No airs, no graces and definitely no rubbish.

The atmosphere was loud and cheerful; the dining room was busy without being full and the staff were pleasant and discrete. The landlady checked on everyone and everything and didn’t miss a trick.

The Station Inn is blessed. Who needs false airs and graces (and ramekins)? The food talks.

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