Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Spreading The Load

Thanks to those who sent memories of children's TV programmes of the past.  Once 'watch with Mother' was finished and the children at school (their ages were close together), think the most popular programme watched after that was Blue Peter.    In those days we didn't watch much TV, only certain programmes, there were much nicer things to do (play board games, do jigsaws, play outdoors etc).

Suppose turkeys are mainly seasonal Eileen, just bred for eating around Christmas, although - as you say - minced turkey is available all year round.  Perhaps they breed a different variety for this purpose, or maybe there just isn't the call for the larger birds.  Anyone know of whole turkeys or turkey crowns/breasts/legs on sale in the summer months?

Think you will find some of my best recipes/hints/tips in the earlier postings Mary. Think it was Sept. 1966 that I first started this blog, and until recently (and the occasional day off at Christmas) it has been written daily since then.
When I (rarely) look back to find a recipe, I find myself scrolling down from the top of the month and get hooked on reading everything, it's as if it wasn't me that wrote it.  So can assure you it really is worth reading as many of the past blogs of mine that you can.
Because I had to later edit these to keep in recipes, most of the 'rambles' at that time are now missing, pity really because there were some amusing ones about all the problems that used to happen EVERY time I did a TV prog.

A welcome to Cherry Baker who sent in a short comment re a way to use kohl rabi.  I will try that. It is good to get to know (hopefully) regular readers by name.

Also a thank you to an 'unknown', who told us about the farm where Laura Ingalls Wilder used to live, this now being a museum.  Also that her family had eventually settled in De Smet (wherever that is).
I watched 'Little House...' again today as it was a continuation of yesterdays, and because there was a footie match on, decided to watch 'Highway to Heaven' as well this evening.  Also saw some of The Walton's.  How I wish life was a simple now as it seemed to be in those Walton's and Ingalls days.  Hard work yes, but people just seemed nicer to each other.

One of the problems preparing food for a buffet party is with the timing.  So, Hazel, I've looked up what it says in the M & S booklet where party food can be ordered, and it says 'all food to order (except sandwiches and sushi) can be kept for 2 days from the date you collect them.  Sandwiches and sushi should be eaten on the day of collection.

This is not to say they will be in 'freshly made' condition.  In fact Mary Berry (and also Ina Garten - the Barefoot Contessa) make their sandwiches the day before serving, place them on a tray, covered with a well wrung out damp cloth, then cover them - tray as well - with clingfilm to keep chilled in the fridge, so ready to serve at a convenient time.
It is always best to prepare as much as possible in advance - this I call 'spreading the load' - and then just put the bits together that need doing at the last minute.

Many foods keep well when chilled, so if the family are involved, then maybe some of them can prepare certain dishes to keep in their own fridges. Otherwise use a cold box that has been previously chilled (overnight) with those frozen cold-blocks (or whatever they are called).  Then remove these, place in fresh blocks and stand the food to be chilled on these before replacing the lid.
Salads etc can be kept chilled out of the fridge if they are put into cold bowls, covered with a plate or cake airer, cold blocks put on these (the cold air will drop down onto the salads), then cover with a thick towel to slow the thaw and keep in the cold.

Presumably the M & S mini-topped canapé selection would also keep overnight, although myself feel that the bases are best prepared in advance and the toppings put on as close to serving time as possible.   If the bases are spread with butter, this prevents any moisture making the bread or crispbread soggy, so these could be made in advance, covered with clingfilm and kept chilled. 
M & S canapé toppings are shown as: smoked ham with mustard and tomato; rare roast beef with horseradish and onion chutney; egg mayonnaise and watercress; smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber.  And to make you feel very smug if you make them yourself, you would have had to pay £12.50 for 24 mini canapés!!!
Their 'classic sandwich' platter has much the same fillings as the canapés, and the platter also includes mini Scotch eggs, veg.crudites and a sour cream dip.

A good addition to a buffet is pork pie, and I used to buy the really small pork pies and cut them in half, or if they are large enough, into quarters.  Just enough for a mouthful, which is all you want in a buffet. 

M & S also sell deep-filled vol-au-vents, so presumably they don't go soggy, or perhaps the pastry is brushed inside with melted butter (allowed to set) before filling.  Their pastry cases hold chicken and asparagus, bacon and mushroom, and salmon and watercress.  All appear to have some sort of thick sauce to hold the fillings together. 
My suggestion is to make the fillings in advance and then fill the pastry cases as near to serving as possible.  As long as the fillings are not too wet (the condensed soup is probably the best to use), I don't think you would have too much of a problem.

One thing to remember is that puff pastry is messy to eat - the pastry can flake when bitten into a bits drop all over the place.  If I had a choice I'd serve canapés and not bother with the vol-au-vents. 

Another suggestion would be to serve nibbles such as chicken wings or drumsticks, roasted then eaten cold.  These could be roasted in the normal way or coated with a glaze. 
A cheeseboard (could be cut up into cubes) with mini bunches of grapes, and cheese biscuits would also be a good idea.  You may have mentioned some of the above before, my mind has gone blank - it always does at this time of night (half an hour past midnight).

Had a phone call from the repair firm (for our oven), and they said they haven't got the necessary parts in stock (how do they know what they want, they don't know what caused the problem - but am assuming they do as I told them what had occurred), so they won't be coming on Saturday, and they will phone me to fix an appointment when they have got the parts.  So it could be some time before the oven is repaired.  Not that it matters much, I can still use the lower oven (if I have to).  Most of my 'supper cooking' is done on the hob.  I use the big oven mainly for baking.

Not sure what happened to the last loaf I made (baked in the small oven, and it took twice as long). I did add a very little more liquid than recommended (Paul Hollywood said we should), and maybe that was the reason it took so long.  B absolutely loved it when baked, and ate about two-thirds of the large loaf in one day!!!  He said it made wonderful toast, and showed me a slice he had cut before he toasted it. Have to say I couldn't believe the texture.  It was so open, full of holes, not big holes, the crumb looked like honeycomb, or fine mesh, just a mass of bubbles held together by a covering of gluten.  Impossible to eat as sarnies I'm sure, but could see why it would make great toast.  Anyway, B has bought himself a toasting loaf today so that I don't have to be bothered about making another loaf tomorrow, the rate he eats home-made bread it is hard work keeping up with him.  And I don't even eat any of it. 

As it is now in the wee small hours of Thursday morning and time for me to go to bed, will not ramble on.  You'll have to make do with what I've written - and none of that is very useful, although hoping some might be to Hazel.  If I can please just one reader, then maybe that can count as my good deed for the day. 

One final thing.  No more flickering lights, barely the shadow of a person not really seen.  The 'new kid on the block' is that things are now going missing.  This used to happen in the past, we would look everywhere, and then they would turn up in exactly the place they were left (that we had checked).  So please Mr Whoever you are, can you please return what B now can't find and needs urgently.  I don't mind waiting for my things that have also gone into thin air.

Although I've not been outdoors today, and the weather seemed dry but overcast, apparently it has been raining most of the day, but just that fine drizzle that is almost invisible.  Should be slightly better tomorrow.  Hope so.   Off now to my bed.   TTFN.