Posts Tagged ‘vegetable’

“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note, stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received and that consequently this country is at war with Germany. … It is evil things that we will be fighting against—brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution—and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”

Neville Chamberlain – September 3rd, 1939

On September 3rd, 1939, it was announced, that Great Britain was at war with Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and life for the British was to change drastically. I am sure you are all aware of the tragedies of WWII, but I want to focus on the one part of life during wartime Britain that I have a keen interest in. Food.

During the First World War, Britain had a food crisis, in that two years into the war, we were left with only six weeks food and from therein, food had to be rationed. There was no strict plan in force, and unfortunately many measures taken towards rationing failed. During the Second World War, rationing was re-introduced just months after war was declared, in an effort to make sure that Britain had food. Infact, during the war, Britons were at their healthiest than ever, nobody ate too much fatty foods, too many carbohydrates, etc. Rationing provided everyone with a healthy, balanced diet.

Anyway, that’s enough fact regurgitating for now, I’ve got a few more blogs planned for this week, where I can share some more!

If I were to ask most people now, what they would expect ration based meals to be like, I would expect them to be suspicious of them, expecting them to be dull, and bland meals, however, I know this not to be true. Sure, life during the war was hard for everyone, but food brought people together, and when you’re limited in the kitchen, and as they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and some great dishes were made during this time of austerity!

I’m going to share with you, a three course feast, all based on rations, and to start off with, a dish that people would have enjoyed, until 1942, when onions were rationed for two years, until 1944….

Onion Soup

Ingredients :

  • 6 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 30g butter (ration per week ranged from 227g to 57g), or margerine (ration per week ranged from 340g to 113g)
  • tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1tsp sugar (ration per week ranged from 454g to 227g)
  • tbsp vinegar
  • 1 litre of beef “tea”, made from Oxo or Bovril, for authenticity
  • salt
  • pepper
  • bread (bread wasn’t rationed until after the war, but you would have been limited to “national loaf”)

Method :

  1. Place your pan on the stove, and bring to a high head, add the butter and oil.
  2. When very hot, add the thinly sliced onions and sugar, and stir for 5 minutes, until they start to take on colour.
  3. When the onions have taken on colour, reduce heat to a minimum, and leave to sweat for around 30 minutes.
  4. Return to a high heat, and then add the vinegar to the pan.
  5. Add the beef tea, and reduce to a simmer for an hour without a lid on.
  6. Adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve with some bread to dunk in.

So there is your starter for your three course, wartime feast! It’s brilliant how so few ingredients, so simple, can make something both tasty, nutritious, and on a cold night during the war, warming, which would have been a welcome treat for any air raid wardens working throughout the night, in their trusty Thermos flask!

As I said, food was something that brought people together during WWII, but one other, was music. It was important to keep morale high, and the BBC, gave big band and jazz, dance music, better slots in their radio scheduling. Also, artists like George Formby (and no, I still won’t play any Fromby numbers on my ukulele!) were played. Upbeat, jaunty music kept morale high.

The reason I’m now talking about music, is that my good friend, Lorraine “Swingaroo”, is putting on a monthly event in Preston, the “Swingaroo Vintage Dancehall“, where music from the 1920’s, to the 1950’s will be played. There will be a good mix of music, from vocal harmony groups, to big bands, to rock’n’roll, and each night begins with a dance lesson, to teach you how to do The Lindy Hop, I’ll be the one flat on his face. I’m a terrible dancer.

So yeah, this is the reason for my rationing era themed week, I want to help get you “In The Mood” for the Swingaroo Vintage Dancehall, and remember… “We’ll eat again, don’t know where, don’t know when”


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Woah, it’s been quite a whilst since my last blog, and for that I can only apologise! You may have noticed last week that there were a few guest blogs, and I hope you enjoyed them, and I did plan to return to blogging on the Friday, but unfortunately fate was determined to get me to diet somehow, and I ended up with gastroenteritis, which meant from Wednesday-Saturday I spent all day in bed, crying with pain of my kidneys trying to get rid of the nasty bug that decided to stop me eating for three whole days!!! As I said, my body was determined to get me on some kind of diet, and restore a normal sleeping pattern, and decided illness was the way forward.

Now of course, that doesn’t excuse me for no blog posts this week, but to be honest, I was still nibbling at comfort food most of this week! After being so ill, going back to food is like learning to eat again, you’re not sure what you like, so you end up sticking to bland things. However, all is better now, and on Tuesday I received a comment on my blog from a lovely researcher at ITV on my “About Punkchef” page, asking me if I would like to apply for Britain’s Best Dish! Of course I would, I was born to be a star, sweetie darlings!! I may have a face for radio, but that’s not going to stop me trying to interfere with your reception, and hopefully soon my beaming fizzog will be staring at people all across the country, so apologies in advance!

So after speaking to the people on the telephone, I had to decide what recipe I should use, should it be one I’ve already shared on the blog, the chicken and leek pie?, the mint and white chocolate mousse?, or should I do my as of yet, undocumented Chilli Con Carne? A recipe which I’ve been developing for quite some time, each time I make it I add something different, just to enhance it. “Yes!” I exclaimed, whilst sat alone in my room, to nobody, “I shall make the chilli”.

My audition is tomorrow, so please feel free to leave good luck comments. Here is the recipe, and I would like to point out, that even though it has a wide amount of spices, particularly chillies, it is not too spicy, my opinion on Chilli Con Carne, is that it’s an earthy dish first, and a spicy dish second!! The emphasis, for me, is on earthy flavours.

The Best? Chilli Con Carne

Ingredients :

  • 1kg pork mince
  • 2 cooking chorizo sausages, diced
  • 1 large spanish onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 chipotle chillies, finely chopped, or tbsp dried chipotle flakes
  • 3tbsp cumin
  • 2tbsp chilli powder
  • 1tbsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 6 slices of pickled jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 1 large fresh green chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed)
  • 1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin pinto beans
  • 200ml red wine (I suggest something Spanish or Chilean, I used a Tempranillo, but a Rioja would also work brilliantly)
  • handful fresh coriander
  • 90%+ cocoa solids, dark chocolate
  • zest of 2 limes, juice of 1 lime
  • salt
  • pepper
  • corn or vegetable oil

Method :

  1. Add the chorizo sausage to a pan, and fry in a little vegetable oil to release spices and fats in the sausage, strain and reserve chorizo.
  2. Add the onion to the flavoured oil, and sweat over a low heat, until they have reduced to half their original volume.
  3. Add the minced garlic to the onions, and the paprika, and continue to sweat for another 10 minutes.
  4. Once the onion is thoroughly cooked, add the chipotle chilli, and increase the heat, and fry off for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the cumin and chilli powder to the onions, and fry until the spice catches the back of your throat when you breath in the aromas. This is how you know the dried spices have cooked.
  6. Return the chorizo to the onion and spice mixture, followed by the fresh chilli and jalapeños, and continue to cook over a high heat.
  7. Add the pork mince, and stir until browned, then add the wine, and leave the alcohol to cook off for a few minutes.
  8. Once the wine has cooked off, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a tin of pinto beans, and stir through.
  9. Chop the coriander and stir into the chilli, check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper.
  10. Grate 2-3 pieces of high quality, high cocoa percentage, dark chocolate into the chilli and allow to melt into the chilli.
  11. Finally, add the juice of a lime, and zest of 2 limes, check for seasoning once again (as the chocolate may contain a little sugar, which you may wish to combat with a little extra salt), and leave overnight, as this allows the flavours to mature.
  12. Serve with long grain rice, perhaps with some wild rice added to it.

As I said earlier in my blog, my recipe for chilli con carne focuses on the earthy flavours of cumin, and paprika, and good wine and chocolate, and although it does have a chilli kick, it’s not the main focus of the recipe. I know a lot of people claim to have “The best recipe for chilli con carne EVER”, but for a lot of people who make this claim, it’s just a synonym for “the most needlessly spicy recipe for chilli con carne EVER, where you won’t be able to taste anything else for days as your sensitive taste buds will have been rendered useless due to obscene amounts of capsicum”… and if you think I’m talking about your chilli con carne recipe here… I probably am.

Finally, I would like to add a MASSIVE, HUUUUGE “THANK YOU!!” to the very wonderful Paul Farley, the head chef at Hero Burrito, for donating me a can of chipotle chillies for my recipe, when Morrison’s decided that now would be a great time to stop selling them, which is a ball ache for me, as chipotle is a key ingredient in my recipe, and without it I would have been up a creek without a paddle! So go to their restaurant, or order a takeaway, and mention that you heard of them through me (even if you didn’t!! lol) and tell them I say thank you, again!!!

Hero Burrito : http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=145411818243&ref=ts

Anyway, wish me luck for tomorrow!!


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I think it’s only fair that I take a break once in a while, even though this month long (almost) break wasn’t planned, I feel like I’ve earned it. It’s not as if I’ve been resting on my laurels during this break, my dad went into hospital (nothing serious, don’t worry!) so I’ve spent the past fortnight looking after him, as he had tonsils out, I was cooking, but I was cooking mush,  nothing exciting enough to blog about that. So yeah, even though I’ve enjoyed not worrying about cooking something to blog about, it’s nice to be back with a blog!

I didn’t actually expect to be back today, no. Until earlier I had no money, and no food in the house. But my dad decided to bugger off for a bit, and gave me some money to get some food, I hopped into Kirkham, and found there was a farmers and craft market in the square, and had a look around. It was pretty good, a bunch of hippy crap such as dream catchers, and joss sticks, and other crap to make people more spiritual (Ok, I’m a ruddy sceptic, get over it. But joss sticks won’t make you more spiritual, they’ll make your front room smell a bit pleasant after cooking something smelly, but that’s it)

One of the stalls was a greengrocers, a bit of a Del Boy, he bought gold for cash, heh. But on his stall he had 2 things which inspired my recipe tonight, wild garlic, and fresh beetroot! Now then, wild garlic, GET IT WHILST YOU CAN! It only has a season of about 6 weeks, and we’re currently in the 3rd week of the season! So get it whilst you can! It’s not cheap, but if you can forage it, it’s free.

So now I’ve walked the 3 mile hike up and down hills, come home, cooked my tea, and before I settle down to watch Doctor Who, I’ll share my risotto with you!

Beetroot and Wild Garlic Risotto


  • 4 raw beetroots
  • Handful (6 leaves) of wild garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 250g Risotto rice
  • Splash of white wine, or dry vermouth
  • Chicken or Vegetable stock, kept warm
  • 50g Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 5 Sprigs of Thyme
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil


  1. Finely slice the onions, and gently sweat in a mixture of butter and olive oil.
  2. Add the thyme and continue to sweat down.
  3. Peel the beetroots, and dice into small cubes. Add the diced beetroot to the pan, and continue to sweat for a further 10 minutes, stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the rice, and stir and gently fry for a few minutes with the onion and beetroot.
  5. Add a splash of white wine into the pan, at this point the kitchen will smell beautiful. I guarantee it.
  6. Turn the heat down to a low simmer, and slowly add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring constantly, adding a ladle when the stock has been absorbed.
  7. When all the stock has been added to the risotto, the rice is tender, and the beetroot slightly al denté, shred the wild garlic and stir through the risotto.
  8. Grate about 30g of the Parmesan cheese and stir into the risotto.
  9. Serve with an extra grating of Parmesan on the top.

One thing I forgot to get was Lancashire Crumbly Cheese, which is brilliant, crumbled on the top of a beetroot risotto, if slightly unconventional!

Hooray for pink food!

Hooray for pink food!



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Hello you. Yes, I’m talking to you, yeah, you with the eyebrows. No, not you Alistair Darling, but I’ll have a word with you later on… here’s a quick blog. Remember I said I was going to post three blogs this week, as a little promise to myself, well I’ve now accomplished this… and I’m going to post another blog later this evening.

I’ve just got back home from nettle picking. Hooray for spring. The reason I did this, is because I was bored. So bored. I’m ill so I can’t go see my friends, because they may catch something, but I figured a walk in the rural area in which I live should help. The idea of going nettle picking came after I asked my friend, Catherine, what I could do to pass time. She suggested I drew something. I tried to explain that I am so bad at art, that I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. I’d be expecting the artist mafia to sneak into my room whilst I was asleep, and that I would wake up next to a portrait of a horses head. No! I wasn’t having that. So nettle picking it was!

Nettles are one of the first plants you learn to recognise as a child, and as a child, I was terrified of the bastards. I once fell into a huge nettle patch. I figure that eating them is a way of revenge, and not an act of being a yoghurt-knitting hippy (even though, deep down inside… I am. I go foraging, I love using leftovers and I pounce at anything made from Elderflower!)

So here is the recipe…

Stinging Nettle Soup

(serves 4 as a starter)

Ingredients :

  • 100g hand picked nettle tops (i.e. the top 4 leaves, maybe the top 6 if it’s a very young plant)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced.
  • 1 litre of stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil

Method :

Sweat the onions in a little oil

Sweat the onions in a little oil

Whilst sweating the onions, rinse the nettle tops in cold water

Whilst sweating the onions, rinse the nettle tops in cold water

Add the nettles to the onions, and allow to wilt. Then add the stock

Add the nettles to the onions, and allow to wilt. Then add the stock

Blend, and season with salt and pepper to taste

Blend, and season with salt and pepper to taste

And there you have it. Stinging Nettle Soup!!

As this recipe involved a walk in the rural areas, it’s helped me realise that spring is definitely here. Here are three things that I saw…

  • 1 frog. I almost stood on it! Eek!
  • 2 bumble bees. I almost stood on one! Eek!
  • 3 ladybirds. I almost stood on one! Eek!

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you plan on making this soup, and you go out into some rural areas to collect nettles. Make sure you look out for all the wildlife, and that you don’t stand on anything that doesn’t really come off too well from a squishing from your size tens!!

Also, remember, if you go out nettle picking, to wear a pair of stout rubber gloves, and if you’re not sure if it’s a nettle, then just shove it in your eyes. If you’re in absolute agony, it’s probably a nettle, and therefore good for the pot.

Anyway, I’m off to do some tofu weaving now!!

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