Texture. It is a funny word, and one perhaps somewhat overlooked in Western cuisine? To me it seems that the word itself has texture, with the spikes of the “x” to the curves of the “e”.
I had not really thought about texture in food and how it affected my likes and dislikes, until I read Fuchsia Dunlop’s “Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper” where she explained the Chinese approach to, and appreciation of texture in food. The Chinese have many words to describe food texture; it is as much part of a good meal as the flavours, from the crunch of cartilage to the rather tasteless jellyfish or pig ears which are served purely for their texture rather than flavour.
I realise that I struggle with certain textures, I certainly like wet food and am known for asking for extra sauce or gravy, I also like crunchy food (do we feel a Harry Hill fight coming on here?). What I really do not like is slimy food, and sausage casseroles are something which I struggle with – something to do with the texture of the soft skins having been cooked in sauce. (Similarly I really really cannot abide Chinese egg drop soup – the mere thought of those slimy strands of egg floating in liquid turns my stomach.)
Similarly lots of clothes irritate me, and I am far far more comfortable with fine bed linens, cheaper cottons can feel rough to me, even if Ed does not notice as much. I cannot abide most synthetic smells, laundry detergent is one of the worse offenders, and for the majority of the time I use either eco-balls or laundry gloop made with unscented soap. I also dislike the smell of spray deodorant, Ed is banished to the bathroom to use his, and despite firmly closed doors between me and him, I can almost taste it within a few seconds of its use.
Good quality sausage meat is delicious, and by skinning your sausages a little goes a long way without seeming to be mean. Two sausages from Pipers Farm found in the depths of my freezer, did very well as the basis for two meals; in sauce for a pasta bake, and as a quick midweek supper of Sloppy Joes. Add which ever vegetables you have to hand; peppers, mushrooms, carrots and sweetcorn all work well.
Recipe: Sausage Meat Sauce for Pasta Bake or Sloppy Joes
Glug light olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 good quality pork sausages, deskinned and crumbled
1 small red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tin tomatoes
2 tbs tomato ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
In a saute pan fry the onions and garlic in the oil until soft, add the sausage meat and peppers and other vegetables (if using) and cook for a few more minutes.
Pour over the tinned tomatoes and stir in the ketchup. Season and then cover and allow to simmer, stirring from time to time until the sauce has thickened.
Use as a sauce for a pasta bake, or in a sandwich with sliced gherkins and cheese for the ultimate sausage Sloppy Joe.
Now there was a reason for my texture and fragrance preamble: With my small kitchen I am reliant on my dishwasher, I regularly say it is my favourite kitchen appliance; there is really no space to stack dirty dishes, and the draining board is too small for washing up by hand.
I was recently asked by Finish to test some of their new Quantum tablets, and to attend a bloggers’ cooking day, to chat with them about how I found their products and to be filmed and to possibly provide some sound bites for their new commercials.
Our cooking day was great fun, held at a huge location house in Putney (my new business plan is to obtain a huge mortgage, buy a large house and let it for similar events for a vast fee). I won’t talk too much about the day, I am sure it will appear on a number of other blogs, (Claire’s account is excellent). Under the guidance of Florence Knight we made and enjoyed burrata with blood oranges and a herb oil, octopus – delicious but it was a major texture problem for me (Ed is verging on phobic about octopi and would freak if I bought a massive one home to cook) , meatballs in a herby tomato sauce – these were OK but did not really excite me, and tiramisu which after the massive amount of burrata was far far too much dairy for my (admittedly slightly hungover) tummy.
Dishwasher tablets are one of those things that generally you only really think about or notice when they do not work very well, you unload the dishwasher and curse at the number of dishes that you need to rewash by hand. Having been asked to think about the new Finish Quantum tablets I paid closer attention when unloading the dishwasher, and everything did actually come out clean, including the dish for the pasta bake which ordinarily I would have had to rewash by hand to get rid of the last bits of encrusted sauce. My main observations are:
- Cheap dishwasher tablets are a waste of money
- As far as I could see the Powergel tablets really did leave my dishes drier and sparklier.
- If you have a cheap dishwasher (mine is very low end) then premium tablets make a huge different to performance
- Premium tablets are nearly always on special offer somewhere – I stock up when I seem them and usually pay no more than 12p per wash
- Given my hatred synthetic fragrances and detergents I was very impressed and surprised at the smell of the Finish Quantum Apple & Lime – fruity, natural and not at all artificial
- I’ll be buying them again
With two sausages stretching to 4 portions I am sending this sauce to this months Credit Crunch Munch, my old Frugal Friday event, skillfully named and logoed by Camilla (this month’s host) and her graphic designer husband.
And I am delighted to be able to send this to Vanesther’s new Recipes for Life event, in partnership with Swallow a Somerset charity supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. Amongst other activities Swallow run cookery courses, helping their members to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals, this month the theme is sausages, onions and tomatoes so this frugal multi purpose sauce is perfect!
Disclosure: I was paid a fee to take part in the Finish bloggers day and to be filmed and was also given several packets of Quantum dishwasher tablets. I was not required to write a positive review and ll opinions are my own.