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How to Flip Food in a Pan Like a Chef

I always feel a little guilty when I post one of these
technique videos, which is kind of strange since I get just as many “wishes”
for this type of demo, as I do for straight recipes. People seem to like
them, and I’ll get lots of comments asking for more of the same, but there’s
just something about not being able to take a bite out of the final product
that leaves me slightly unsatisfied.


Of course, I could have eaten some more cheese balls at the
end, but you know what I’m saying. Anyway, lack of proper money shot
notwithstanding, I hope this “cheesy” trick helps you master this very basic
and desirable kitchen skill.

By the way, this is about much more than just looking cool.
Depending on the recipe, flipping the food around without having to use a spoon
or spatula can be a big advantage. It’s faster, more effective, and yes, it looks
super cool too. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Recipe Rifle: a digital original

Last year, in secret, I spent an awfully long time trying to get someone to publish Recipe Rifle as a book, but in the end failed.

It was a perfectly ghastly experience, looking back. At the time it seemed sort of fun, a respite from the tedious task of administering to a small baby. But in actual fact it was just disappointment after disappointment, I existed in a horrid limbo. Hopes up, hopes dashed. Eventually, total disaster, angry words and a general collapse. I wasn’t really surprised: dancing in front of a weary, malfunctioning publishing industry, chronically unable to sell myself, I often said things in meetings like “You know, the way things are at the moment, I probably wouldn’t take this book on if I were you.”

And, worse, these publishing people would say to me: “Why would someone buy this book? I mean, why would they pick it up in Waterstones?” By the third time I heard this I would want, powerfully, to claw their eyes out, kick them in the stomach and scream “You tell me you fucking idiot! That’s your job not mine! Jesus fucking Christ, no wonder the whole damn thing is collapsing round your ears if you’re asking me why someone would buy a freaking book. I’m going home.

But I did not do that.

Instead I cut all ties to that miserable year, sulked in my tent for a while, then sought out instead The Friday Project, a publishing house that specialises in bringing blogs to a wider audience. And when I say that, I mean that they make it possible for otherwise unpublishable authors (that’s me) to sell their work, without it being considered “vanity” (i.e. “mad”) publishing.

The bloke who runs The Friday Project, Scott, is terrific. He doesn’t ask me who will buy my book. He doesn’t ask me, looking worried, how I think I am going to turn the blog into a “story”. He just said “Put together whatever you think is best and maybe some people will buy it if they like it.”

“Will you make it really cheap?” I asked, anxiously. “I mean, like, 50p so it’s crazy not to buy it, like a vest top from H&M??”

“Not that cheap,” he said. “But not expensive either.”

The catch is that you will only be able to buy it online and read it on your iPad or Kindle or other e-reader, (unless it becomes a freak hit and the cost of printing the book becomes negligable). A “digital original”, they call it, with graceful euphemism. and I don’t get an advance, I am only paid for what I sell. But frankly with my shitty attitude that’s a good thing. Give me money and I won’t do anything. Give me a deadline and the possibility of money and I will work. A bit.

SO – my readers, my lovely, lovely readers who have been with me through thick and thin, through marriage, births, ups and downs (no deaths – yet) do you have a favourite post that you think I ought to definitely include? One that you can recall made you laugh? Are there any that were really bad – have I had a dodgy patch? Am I boring when I bang on about a certain thing?

Tell me! Tell me, tell me. I have to file my first draft in October.

BE HONEST.

Ham with Red Eye Gravy – Something From Nothing is Something

In this age of cutting back on fat whenever and wherever we
can (and by “we” I mean “you”), we forget that throughout most of history, this
was the complete opposite. Fat was a concentrated, powerful fuel that literally
kept people going, and this red eye gravy is a little taste of those times.

The challenge in tough times is to make those greasy pan
drippings more palatable, more interesting, and more delicious. It’s not like
families struggling through the depression had pots of demiglace reducing on
the stove, or bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon sitting around to deglaze their
cast iron skillets – heck, they probably didn’t even have a decent Merlot. So
they used what they had; like a splash of leftover coffee.

Is this a recipe that would have been developed based solely
on how awesome it tastes? Probably not, but that’s not to say it isn’t still
very tasty. It is. The way the bitter coffee marries with the sweet, smoky fat
is far from unpleasant, and infinitely better than simply pouring the pan
drippings over your food.

By the way, the name apparently comes from the fact that
when the sauce is poured in a bowl and brought to the table, the fat and coffee
separate, it takes on the appearance of a big, reddish eye. Of course there’s
another legend about how General Andrew Jackson told a hung-over cook to make a
gravy for his ham that was as red as his bloodshot eyes.

I’m pretty sure whoever made up that story also had very red
eyes, but not from whiskey. Anyway, like I said in the video, I did this as
more of a culinary experiment than a “you have to try this” recipe, but
regardless, I think it’s an interesting dish, and one I’d be interested in
hearing about if you do try. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 portions:
1/2 cup of chopped fatty ham scraps
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 thick slices of ham
1 tsp flour
about 2/3 cup black coffee
black pepper and cayenne to taste