Fact of the Day: Lox

Today’s lesser known fact comes courtesy of Nikki Segnit and her “The Flavour Thesaurus”.

Although many might think that lox is just another name for smoked salmon, in fact lox is cured in brine, and is not smoked.

Lox was taken to North America with Russian and Eastern European immigrants (late 19th century) and at about the same time, cream cheese began its popularity, hence the archetypal Jewish-American classic bagel, cream cheese and lox. YUM.

Note in the picture, the additional glories of capers (a must-try with any oily fish) and the chopped egg in the background (reminiscent of scrambled egg with smoked salmon, or scone topped with smoked salmon and the perfect little poached egg).

Picture c/o Flickr User laurapagett

Stuff yer peppers

Stuffed peppers: very 70s, very veggie, very has been. But no… actually they can be good. And easy. None of this blanching business. Oh no.

It’s quite simple.

Fry up slivers of smoky bacon (2 rashers did it for me) with half a finely diced onion, and stir in a couple of handfuls of fresh breadcrumbs. Pepper. Add about 6 thick slices of lancashire/cheddar/both cheese, crumble/diced into the mixture and finally stir in a handful of parsley.

Halve a red/yellow/orange pepper and place in a reasonably tight baking dish cutside up so that you have two little bowls.

Chop up a tomato and half fill the pepper halves with the doings.

Clag on the breadcrumb mixture so that it domes over the top, pressing it down and then place in the preheated oven on 180 deg C for about 45 minutes until the peppers are soft (with the skin on they will retain their shape) and the filling is hot.

The tomato means that the meal is rather lighter than you would expect but don’t be fooled; one half was enough – both was too much!!!

Chicken Sausages… Good idea or off beak?

The leading trend for many farmers in the UK is to become involved in the creation of their own products as well as just the raw materials. This no doubt has financial and business sense behind it as I’m sure many of them would rather just farm. Selling their own meat boxes, vegetable boxes, dealing with online customers and email isn’t always compatible with walking out amongst sheep. Many like to think of themselves as businessmen above all else, and some of them certainly are.

A certain local poultry farmer, David Knipe seems to have a bit of the touch. Chicken and turkey burgers are a ‘been there, done that’ type of thing, but how often do you eat free range chicken sausages?

PreparationChicken Sausage “Cassoulet”

This is what I imagine a ‘cassoulet’ to be like. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had one on purpose.

Chop into large bitesize pieces whatever helpless, aging vegetables you have hanging around. I found peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and celery hanging around, so in they went (garlic with the skins still on).

Give them a spin in a bowl with a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and place on the bottom of a baking dish. Snuggle the sausages into the vegetables and put into the oven on 180 deg C for about 25-35 minutes.

Remove from oven and eat… with mash, or bulghar wheat or as in my case, cheesy soft polenta. The tomatoes make the dish moist and the meat juices trickle into the medley below.

And the sausages? They were surprisingly like pork sausages. I would guess they were flavoured with a pork sausage mix. There was an overcurrent of sage but it wasn’t too strong and they were extremely meaty. If you have been used to the pap which is more breadcrumb fillers and eyeballs than meat, these sausages would blow your socks off. They were a great deal more substantial than anything I have had for some time.

Classic Soul Chicken

There is much made of the idea of ‘soul food’ in various cultures around the world. One that always sticks in my mind because of the title of a certain self-help book that I never bought or read is Chicken Soup for the Soul. I think there is a stereotype of the Jewish mother fixing chicken soup to heal all ills.

When I think about it, it seems that soul food is manifested in comfort. Comfort food. Spiced lamb dishes, roast chicken, rich beef stews, they all feed the body and the soul in equal part and they give comfort.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the last meal requests of Death Row inmates. The Last Meals Project website allows this type of analysis to take place. ‘This type’ consisting of ogling each dead murderer and being amazed at the food they chose. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Their choices of food possibly represented both their state of mind and their scope of mind.

What struck me was that none of them ordered food of any value. I doubt food was the main worry on their minds. It was mainly cheap and with little nutritional value. It seemed extra poignant – with a few details it created a backdrop of hopelessness, regardless of whether the condemned prisoner deserved his or her sentence.

There is a limit of $40 on the funding for the last meal, to ‘avoid excesses’ but there was no thought to get a good steak and chips for that, or half a roast chicken and all the workings. I think I was surprised because I expected to see comfort food chosen. Maybe some of them had never eaten a steak. That’s what I mean by scope.

What would your last meal be?

Magpie’s Last Meal

Roast Garlic Chicken Pasta

1 whole chicken (preferably as free range as you can get for the best flavour and the most meat). Roast it on 200 deg C for 20 mins per 500g/1lb plus 30 mins at the end but keep an eye on it. My oven cooks it without the 30 mins.

20 mins before the end, pour a glug of EV olive oil onto a garlic bulb, wrap it in foil and pop into the chicken tray.

10 mins before the end, cook the pasta – biggish pasta, like bows (farfalle) or big shells – about 75-100g per person I think. i reckon to two large handfuls per person. Drain.

5 mins before the end, saute roughly chopped onion and bell pepper until the onion is transluscent.

When the chicken is cooked through (stick a knife in its armpit, hold it there and let the juices run over the blade. If they are at all pink, pop it back for another 10-15.), pull off as much meat as you think will balance the pasta.

Chop the chicken pieces loosely with the skin still on. Mix the lot with the pasta and throw in the warm onion and pepper. Toss everything. Add herbs if you fancy.

Pour off the juices from the chicken into a jug and add a few sploshes to the pasta mix not too much as the fats are mixed in with the stock and not separated.

Hopefully the garlic has now cooled off a little. Carefully split open each clove and remove the garlic inside. I find the tip of a dinner knife helps but burnt fingers are unavoidable.

Mush the soft garlic into the mix and serve in large dishes, Italiano stylee.

David Knipe's Free Range Corn Fed Chicken
David Knipe's Free Range Corn Fed Chicken

A Further Note: However you choose to eat your Soul Chicken, the best job you can make of it is to put it straight in the oven, a little salt dusting its skin, maybe a lemon in its nether regions and roast it on 200 deg C for 20 mins per 500g/1lb plus 30 mins.


I forgot to take the string off this one.