Eating Paleo – beautiful ingredients, uncooked, unaltered and unsavoury

Now that I appear to be single (and the ex having become a professional yoghurt taster based on the photos), I thought it time to lose some weight.  So I’ll be trialling a few different fad diets in the hope that I can shed the couple of tens of kilos to turn back into my unattractive former self who makes people uncomfortable at parties.

Paleo dieting works on the idea that thousands of years ago, humans were buff individuals with great hair and long lifespans.  While I normally revere everything my Homeopath says, this didn’t quite ring true for me, so I approached the Paleo diet with a healthy amount of skepticism, and boy was I wrong!

Paleo is an amazing diet, and the founder of its movement Mr Magnon should be commended for bringing it to the masses.  The Paleo diet is simple – processed foods and modern cooking has ruined the nutrients in our food as well as introduced greater quantities of sugars and carbohydrates into our diet.  Only by rejecting the modern food preparations can we truly enrich our lives.

So step one on the Paleo diet: Eat all the things in the house which are non Paleo.

I don’t profess to be an expert.

Having consumed 16 hotdogs, a tin of expired corn and an inhuman quantity of soy sauce, I was prepared for my Paleo future.  I began by constructing a fire from wood and lost children that I gathered around my home and revelled in the joy of simple things in life – the fire’s warm glowing warming glow, the soothing crackle and the sweet smell of burning hair.

Hunting companions are a must for the serious Paleo-lithics (or as we’re sometimes referred – “Sir I have to ask you to accompany us to the station”).  While cats are often agile bird dogs and can flush a pheasant like no other animal, living outside of a Roald Dahl book has severely limited my apartment block’s pheasant numbers.

The choice of hunting dog is a personal one: I selected two hunting dogs to join my pack, a Rhodesian ridge back and a chihuahua, thereby providing speed, leaping power, burrow fossicking abilities and pure buddy comedy gold.  I named the ridgeback “Chester” while I named the chihuahua “Pockets”.

apple head chihuahua (1)

Long story short, Chester ate pockets.

ridgeback

Now I wouldn’t say that I was faultless, but why the RSPCA thought that covering him in mince and throwing him to Chester implied culpability, I’ll never know.

Montrose-missing-cat-poster_155142

So the cats and I went pheasant flushing, and came up empty.  We spent two full days trying to catch birds and small game, with no success.  But cats make great companions and even better tacos so I moved on.

Even our Paleo friends had weapons, and I figured I should be no different.  Keeping with the theme, I fastened a rock to the end of a long tree breach I found using some long grass and vines.  I then sharpened the rock against a larger rock and carefully tied my crude spear to the front of my Kia carnival.  By driving around my neighbourhood for less than an hour, I was able to successfully ‘hunt’ three pigeons, a wheelie bin and a Dalmatian called max.

With hunting and cooking down pat, I had mastered the Paleo lifestyle!

That was three weeks ago, and although I’ve had the occasional slip (somehow the Kia found a Kfc drive through) almost everything I’ve eaten has been dangerously unsanitary and made me violently ill (including the KFC).

But I lost ten kilos, so SUCCESS!!

Recipe – Balloutine!

As pointed out to me by one of my twitter followers (thanks again, Rachel), those who can – do, those who can’t – blog. So to prove I can cook, I thought I’d give my legion of fan a recipe, and what better cuisine than French?

A Balloutine is an elaborate French preparation that means “Farce Loaf”, which is I’m sure is a reference to its birth – invented for the first Kyoto Summit. Consisting of rolled mince and draped in a delectable ham or pastry (or perhaps both), the Balloutine is a spirited and sophisticated dish not to be attempted by the faint-hearted. With the better half still enjoying the Japanese festival, I’ve taken to cooking smaller portion sizes, so I present to you, a Balloutine for one:

Pork and Shallot Balloutine

Ingredients

250g Pork

50g Fresh Bread crumbs

1 Egg

100g Puff Pastry

2-3 Sweet Shallots (I used Onions here as I was out of Shallots)

700mL Passata

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. You can test the oven is at temperature by asking your children if it burns when they touch it.
  2. Place the Passata in a large pot on the stove on medium-low, taking care to stir frequently.
  3. Mince the pork using a number three die fitted to a bench-top mincer or a hammer drill.
  4. Chop Shallots (in my case Onions) to a fine dice.
  5. Roll the dice and shout “Yahtzee”
  6. Mix the mince, bread-crumbs, egg and dice together, working the meat to extract the proteins and improve the structure of the meat.
  7. Spread the pastry out onto your work bench, making a sausage of the mixture on the edge nearest to you.
  8. Roll the pastry over the mixture until it forms a cylinder and press gently on the join to seal.
  9. While a personal choice, I like to cook my Balloutine “En Papillote” or “In Paper” which helps to steam the Balloutine in its own juices and maintain it’s tenderness. If you don’t have the time, simply not putting in paper will achieve the same result.
  10. Place the Balloutine in the oven for an entire episode of Game of thrones, being sure to fast forward through the ads.
  11. Remove from the oven, pour the reduced passata over the top and enjoy!

sausage roll

A History of Food

As a famous food blogger, people will often approach me on the street to ask me about food:

  1. What are those little round things that come in my Chicken McNuggets box?
  2. Is lizard really meat?
  3. Have you got a dollar for some food?

But the most common question that I’m asked is if I could give a brief detailed history of food and how it’s evolved from the middle ages, trying to include anecdotes and factual references that can be checked on Wikipedia and the occasional boob shot.

Well, today I’m going to do my best!!

Prior to the middle ages, dinosaurs ruled the earth and their extinction threatened the very nature of creationism. This was a dark period of food history, with the choice of foods limited to roasted meats and dysentery.

Fast forward 1800 years and the French and Greeks introduced delicate food preparations and lemon juice respectively. (It is a little known fact that prior to the 1800s, Lemon juice did not exist outside of lemons.) It was a golden time that the Greeks have tried to preserve, with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary a staple of everything they bloody cook.

Disappointingly, a downside of the Nazis winning World War 2 was the systematic purging of the history of the 19th century – all that remains from this time are document fragments and a premise for a Back to the Future movie.

The 20th Century represents the greatest changes in cuisine of our time – with technology increasing at an ever increasing rate, so too did the food preparations and with it our food tastes. Widespread electricity, steam automation and advances in manufacturing finally allowed people to realise the Soggy Sao dream, a marked improvement on the Soggy Scone of a bygone era.

The early part of the 20th Century consisted largely of dripping, bread and a quaint foodstuff known as “Bubble and Squeak”, a hydrolysed version of bitumen. The 1950s saw the relaxation of rationing and with it, an increase in salt and butter availability, leading to the invention of salted butter sandwiches and roasted butter with salt.

boobie

My recollection the food of the 1960s is somewhat hazy, with the invention of LSD and widespread use of marijuana increasing the consumption of – I forget where I was going with this. The important thing is that I got the cream and it’s almost cleared up.

Fashion and food went hand-in-hand throughout the 70s, and its difficult to tell which led which, but the end result was the same – ugly, impractical, inedible with lots of pubic hair.

In the 80s, the microwave became an affordable technology for the home cook. Finally, households had the technology to produce hotdogs and people had a use for the war-issue microwave popcorn they’d been rationed. TV dinners, reheated leftovers and sponge puddings were just some of the products that disappointed adults and children alike.

In the 90s our cuisine followed music and became angsty, with most foods akin to Courtney Love: A sound argument for genocide. But molecular gastronomy came to the fore with foods like saffron infused smoke, mozzarella balloons and citrus-cured jealousy . It was the 2000s that embraced the molecular revolution, led by renowned chefs Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal. A quirk of fate brought these two to the culinary world, having started as magicians they began cooking when Heston had his face bitten off by a tiger during one of their Vegas shows.  God bless that Tiger!

tiger

You're welcome

Noma, the 12 time best restaurant in this blog entry winner, forged a new frontier, leading people to ‘found’ and ‘foraged’ ingredients and unique methods of cooking – live prawns, seagull and barista are just three of the more unusual ingredients to be found on the Danish menu.

So what will the future hold?

Prominent food technologist Prof Bobby McFerrin thinks that the next food fad will be an extension of the snout-to-tail experience, extending to ablutions and excretions.

Restaurant Review – Ethiopian Cuisine

Following a playful ribbing from a close friend (Hi Rachel!), I was coaxed into writing a restaurant review. With new cuisines popping up all over the country as immigrants begin to celebrate their heritage, I thought I’d share my experience of our local Ethiopian Restaurant.

Taking the opportunity to develop friends/alibis (and with the significant other at the local underground Japanese Festival or “Bukakke” as they referred to it), my dining companions were a mismatched bunch:

  • Will – the up-and-coming graduate with a charming demeanour, exemplary work ethic and a haircut I just want to coward punch
  • Karen – the payroll clerk with the nervous disposition who is either anorexic or auditioning for a role in Schindler’s list 2 – List Harder
  • Richard – the accountant that has all of the raw, animal magnetism of a pile of used tampons.

My companions aside, stepping into Geldof’s instantly transports you to the tropical surrounds of Ethiopia.   Greeted at the door by an overly emotional Sigrid Thornton, we were seated on grass mats amongst brightly decorated wall hangings, dirt floors and a pack of emaciated dogs looking to pick off the weaker members of our group.

Service was less than attentive, but Karen could communicate on the same level with our waiters by gesturing towards her mouth and slumping on the table. “I don’t like Monday’s” was playing gently in the background as the aroma of tamarind, cumin and high infant mortality wafted from the kitchen.

We ordered 3 glasses of wine and a water due to my pending parole hearing. An awkward exchange followed where we were told that as we hadn’t booked ahead, water would be unavailable. (The little girl who walks 12 miles to the well each day had already left). So I opted for the Goat Surine that was offered as an alternative and hoped for the best.

Food choices were somewhat limited, and in the keeping with the spirit of the night, we flaunted our wealth (as white people do in such circumstances) and ordered everything on the menu. As if to punctuate our choice, an instrumental version of “Feed the world” began playing over the loudspeakers. How we laughed!

geldof

Karen had yet to lift her head from the table, and the circling dogs showed ever more interest in her welfare.

The drinks arrived quickly and we were delighted to have them served in the traditional Ethiopian fashion by pouring directly into our outstretched hands. When the food arrived, my low expectations were immediately dispelled: Gruel can be a difficult crowd pleaser, but when combined with corn-meal three ways (mashed, steamed and mashed then steamed), it can form an interesting blend of interment and malnourishment that reminded me of days spent in a prison camp being beaten mercilessly by Syrian guards that I never endured.

If I have any criticisms of the meal, it was this – while the constant flies are an annoyance and the circling buzzards a distraction, the incessant requests for our children to join their militia bordered on harassment. But these are minor gripes.

All-in-all, I rate the meal a 6 out of 18 stars. Not bad, but not great.

Karen was never heard from again.

Sodastream Recipes – The Road Test

So here it is – the post my fan has been waiting for- DIY Sodastream Recipes.

I’ve been a molecular mixologist for some time, ever since I first tried mixing Cherry Cola, Lime Juice, Vodka and brake fluid in a drink that the New York Times’ dubbed “My legs! Call an ambulance – I can’t feel my f*&king legs.”

Taking inspiration from the good people over at the internet (read: straight up stealing ideas and presenting them as my own), I present the following road test of DIY sodastream recipes.

Clementine and Pomegranate Soda

The recipe says to combine:

  • ½ part clementine juice
  • ½ part pomegranate juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 4 parts soda water.

Firstly, the only clementine that I know of is that of a philandering wife of a prospector. Mining’s a lot like prospecting and wives are just women so I headed down to the local high school to ask for the juice of a female minor. Once I’d made bail I decided to forego this recipe and have a glass of vodka mixed with nutella, a little drink I call “Parole Violation”.

2496-rolfharris1b

Lemon Basil Soda

By mixing:

  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 1 part basil simple syrup
  • 4 parts soda water

one can make a delightful drink that tastes like the cough drop you found at the bottom of your pocket with the hair on it. I’d rate this drink four and a half stars, but given there are over 18 stars in the known universe, this is a pretty low score. Also half a star is technically a planet.

Lavender and Lemon Soda

Combine:

  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 T Fresh Lavender
  • 1 Cup Lemon Juice.
  • 1 Litre Soda

Initially buoyed by the floral notes this drink promised, the experience quickly became unhinged when I couldn’t procure fresh lavender. Being the resourceful person I am, I quickly realised that it is only the perfume notes that define this drink and as such, a substitution could be possible.

Having recovered, a New Car smell deodorising pine tree was a poor substitute.

wholesale-paper-air-freshener

SO MANY CHOICES....

Cream Soda

When I got to this recipe, I’d had a couple more “Parole Violations” and zoned out for a bit. Basically I poured cream into the Sodastream bottle and pressed the button. On it’s own, it lacked the volume and flavour desired, but once mixed with a leftover Parole Violation, the drink took on a whole new mouthfeel and flavour profile (which are words that Webster defines as “Pertaining to, or demonstrating, the w@nkish nature of the orator”).

This is now my new favourite drink and so I named it the “Habitual Offender”. 17/18 stars.

Classic Chocolate Egg Cream

I’d rather drink man cream.

Next up:  6 more Habitual Offenders….

Soda Stream – A Road Test

Some things never go out of fashion – little black dresses, ray-bans and Polynesian fork-and-spoon wall decorations. But what is it about certain items that become fashionable, must-haves and are the pinnacle of sophistication only to be discarded to the scrap heap of life like happy pants and Olivia Newton-John? Why were Reebok pumps so popular? Who thought that Madonna could act? How much cocaine do you have to do to come up with Mr Belvedere?

Mr.-Belevedere

Does he look a little "Hey Dad"?

Occasionally amongst this scrap-heap exists a rare nugget, a diamond in a pants-suit rough that was a victim of it’s own hype, a shot for the moon that only hit the stars. I’m talking (of course) about Chumbawamba.

Also, Soda-stream is making a comeback.

In honour of the “Definitely don’t put milk in it” super-machine, we’ll road-test the various models of Soda-stream.

The Fountain Jet

The starter pack for the Soda-stream family, the Fountain Jet is able to turn garden-variety tap-water into effervescent garden-variety tap water while transforming Sparkling Mineral water into fizzier Sparkling Mineral Water.

We spent a week with the Soda-stream basic, and while we were impressed with it’s ability to fizzinate liquids, we were very disappointed with the pizza-toppings it created and mildly amused at its crossword solutions (Pffftz-blurt is not the capital of Lichtenstein, silly Soda-stream!) The lack of a factory fitted scope renders the unit only useful in close-quarter combat with the muzzle flash considerably larger than similarly sized units, a disappointing drawback given its superior stopping power.

We re-gifted this unit for my Aunt after cleaning off the blood and fingerprints.

horse

Source

Not since Jesus was inventing the light bulb (my religious education was largely held in private with the lights off) has anyone been able to turn water into wine, but with the advent of the “Source” Soda-stream, budding wine makers will be able to drink knock off mountain dew while practicing the force.

The Source represents the next evolution in the Soda-stream and has addressed the major flaw in previous versions. While other models require you to press the carbonation button up to 7 times for 2-3 seconds each (does that count as cardio?), the Source has a pre-programmed carbonation with intelligent feedback that reduces the interface time up to 300%, or 15 seconds in the old language. So if, like me, you noticed that militants had invaded your country and installed a religious order based on worshipping moths while you were making an ‘Orange Banta’ then the Source is the unit for you.

Penguin

It’s the same as the Fountain Jet, but costs $120 more and has glass bottles. This extra money seems like a frivolous expense with no real gain, but with the stolen organ market bullish at the moment, I can afford a little luxury.

Tomorrow – time to get cooking: We’ll make some ‘home-made’ Soda-stream flavours.

Asian Food – A brief History

Historians would have you believe that Asian food was created in the early 19th Century as a means of combatting diseases such as Polio and Tennis Elbow, but recent advances in Geospatial Surveying have revealed that Polio is actually a water-sport and that Asian food was largely developed as a drunken bet.

While the specifics of the drunken bet are as well defined as the abs on the The Obesus Etruscus (History BITCHES!! ), scholars agree that a rendition of Hotel California was almost certainly sung.

To demonstrate the validity of these claims, PIFB present the following:

Shrimp Paste

A staple of Thai cooking, Shrimp paste is pronounced (Waht-da-fok) in the local language. Shrimp paste is made by leaving small prawns in the sun until they resemble the physical manifestation of food poisoning. At this point they are ground into a powder using a frozen cat carved into the shape of a rolling pin. The shrimp then is mixed with herbs and seminal fluid to create a taste that is a cross between fish sauce and despair.

shrimp paste

Bangkok Shrimp Paste Factory

Century Eggs

They stick a f@#king egg, in the f@#king ground for months then eat it.

Durian

Possessing a sweet and creamy taste, Durian has the unenviable distinction of smelling precisely how dog excrement would smell if the dog had been eating Shrimp Paste. Difficult to obtain from western grocers due to its robust smell, the flavor of Durian can be replicated by combining 1 part Coconut milk to 2 parts Compost.

durian

ALSO:  Looks like balls

Birds Nest Soup

A species of bird unique to the Northern region of China, tiny birds known as Swiftlets construct their nests from their uniquely gummy saliva. Once hardened, the Swiftlets are carefully relocated with a hammer, and the nest harvested. Combined with a delicate broth of Chicken stock and exotic fungi, Birds nest soup is a delight on the palate and the reason you should always agree to an Asian wanting to “Spit in your mouth”.

Balut

Balut is an Indonesian delicacy that consists of boiling a fertilized duck egg and consuming. While the concept of eating a bird embryo may seem distasteful to some, Indonesians argue that “Honey Boo-boo exists so f@#k you, round-eye”.

So there you have it – proof positive that Asian food was largely conceived during a drunken bet, or at the very least a fever dream that didn’t end happily.

Up next – Ten things to do with Boiled Cabbage, or the location of 10 bins in your neighbourhood.

The building blocks of cooking – Starch

cdte_morceaux_both

Starch is a key ingredient in most foods and a staple dietary requirement for both the Irish and the non-Irish. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that stimulates the Hippocamping section of the brain in order to secrete the hormone Sizzlerontin – the chemical that produces the “I couldn’t possibly eat another, hey look – pudding” feeling. But it does have its side effects including weight gain and water retention, anxiety and memory loss.

But what is starch and what does it do?

Starch is a key ingredient in most foods and a staple dietary requirement for both the Irish and the non-Irish. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that stimulates the Hippocamping section of the brain in order to secrete the hormone Sizzlerontin – the chemical that produces the “I couldn’t possibly eat another, hey look – pudding” feeling. But it does have its side effects including weight gain and water retention, anxiety and memory loss.

The following foods are high in Starch and should by avoided those who are allergic to MSG (read – no one):

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Potato Rice
  • Bread
  • Potatoes and Rice
  • Rice Salad with Potatoes
  • Rice Salad
  • Potato Salad (with or without Rice)
  • Easy-Crisp Ironing spray

Historically, Starch was used as a form of currency amongst the native tribes of Sudan until they realised that this was a complete distortion of the truth and in no way based in fact. More recently, food ingredient companies have used Starches as thickeners and stabilisers in order to create edible foods out of seemingly inedible components, the most widely known being the manufacture of Beerenberg jams out of Watchtower pamphlets. You can find starch in almost everything you eat – root vegetables tend to have a high starch content, as do grains. Meats and Fish tend to be lower in Starch content while Vegetarian meat substitutes such as ‘Mock Duck’, ‘Mock Sausages’ and ‘Mock Fish’ are awful.

mock duck

(Courtesy of the Bulimia Foundation)

Starch can be synthesised by distilling flour and water in a fraction column at over 600oC and a pressure greater than or equal to lots. At this temperature and pressure, the synthesised starch becomes highly volatile and will quickly revert back to an unstable uranium isotope. It is this volatility that has frustrated North Korea in their attempts to become a world leader in Starch production and instead left them with a surplus of nuclear weapons.

Home cooks can make their own starch as follows:

Starch Recipe (Serves 4)

  • 300g Desiree Potatoes
  • 250g Store-bought Rice Salad
  • ½T Apple-Cider Vinegar
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 50g Dehydrated Spiders

Method

  1. Set fire to dehydrated spiders and shake uncontrollably.
  2. Place potatoes in particle accelerator (LHC brand or other) for one light year at high speed.
  3. Drain potatoes and place into upright blender, being sure to discard Muon particles.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and blend to fine paste.
  5. Discard

So there you have it – Starch, a building block of cooking without which we wouldn’t have meat, bread, sugar or the Twilight franchise.

Next up…we road-test “Light and Easy”. (Because we’re fat and lazy)