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ultimatepotato's Profile

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I had no idea immersion blenders were so dangerous!

I was once sitting in the ER waiting room with a broken wrist, next to a man holding his hand in a bloody rag.

He'd put his hand into the lawn mower blade.

While it was running.

People have a great capacity to do stupid things even when our brains are shouting "what are you doing, you moron?"

And seeing as I'd broken my wrist horizontal bungy-jumping, and had snuck past the minimum height/weight chart, I included myself in the stupid club that day. Me and One-hand McGee, chilling out in the ER, reflecting on our life choices.

Table etiquettes in France - anything to watch out for those from New Zealand?

Advice from a fellow kiwi - please note that this is Paris-centric:

In most casual to mid-level places, you won't need to wait and be shown to a table. Walking in and asking for a table will generally just be met with a polite "of course, please take a seat", or if you want to sit outside then usually you would just sit at a table. A waiter will then come and greet you and offer a menu.

Service is relaxed. A bill is usually not presented until you ask for it, and you aren't hurried out. Lingering over a coffee or glass of wine (I'm often a solo diner in Paris and like to take my time) has never gotten me shifted along, only some friendly advice to make sure that my bag is secured.

There aren't too many strange rules, or pieces of cutlery, unless you happen to order snails or crustaceans, then you might receive tongs, crackers and special forks.

Tipping is quite normalised, but is not excessive - a few euros to round the bill up, rather than any kind of mathematic equation of food bill - tax + drinks less mark-up to the square root of 3. Service is often included - simply ask.

The stereotype of rudeness from Parisians is not something that I have witnessed with any frequency. I only know a handful of phrases in French, that I use in an attrocious accent, and usually it gets me a smile for making a lame effort and a response in perfect English. The only server who I can actually remember being rude to me was a waitress. She was simply in a bad mood because I was after a late lunch and she wanted to have a break before dinner service - this was explained to me by the nice chef who delivered my lunch when grumpy-pants flounced off. He stayed to have a glass of wine and tried (in vain) to teach me slightly better pronounciation.

Whenever in doubt, use the Kiwi card. Declaring "thank you so much for your help - I'm from the other side of the world" usually wins points and starts the inevitable conversation of what NZ is like.

Aug 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in France
1

Solo dining at the Fat Duck?

I can find reference to it on this blog post (2 years old) that says that you can't book for one: http://www.spottedbylocals.com/blog/s...

And this tripadvisor review - but also just over 2 years old:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUser...

I would still call them, but you may need to put an ad out for a dining companion.

Aug 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Would you give up cooking or eating?

I'd give up eating. Didn't have to think too long about it either!

Aug 14, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

Surar-free cake??? icing?? and no dyes??

Coconut cream - vegan, gluten free and you don't have to add sugar.

However - it's best when you use it to ice the cake right before you serve it. It is no-where near as stable as you can make buttercream.

Christmas Season in Europe

Bruges, Trier and Luxembourg City are some of the smaller places I've been close to Christmas. All beautiful.*

*The smell of glühwein/vin chaud makes everything christmassy and magical. The taste, not so much - but it does keep you warm!

Aug 12, 2014
ultimatepotato in Europe

Anyone familiar with Naked Wines?

I used them for a while in the UK after receiving a £50 voucher and had relatively good experiences - mostly I would accumulate a few months of cash in the account and buy a case for a party. I'm no wine buff, and my budget is in the cheaper range (£10 a bottle is what I'd spend in the supermaket).

My only negative - I closed my account because I moved to an apartment above a shop that had no where to drop a parcel if I wasn't in and was also located within a 5 minute walk of a Waitrose, Tesco Express, Budgens, Oddbins, Bottle Apostle and Spirited Wines branch. So....not really in the market for a delivery service without defined delivery slots. Anyway, I got a little bit fed up with the follow-up calls, especially as I told them that I was no longer able to receive deliveries.

No idea how the US outfit works for people, but I wouldn't have trouble backing the UK for people who have my kind of budget (not much) and knowledge level.

Aug 08, 2014
ultimatepotato in Wine

Worst Cooking show Buzzwords

Flavour profiles
Next level
A riff on...
Deconstructed
Fusion - that word, it doesn't mean what you think it means.

I Wish I'd Kept…

When I was 14 our family moved house (in NZ), and we did a huge clear out of things that had been hidden away in the extensive storage we had.

Out went a fondue pot, a set of saucepans and a set of casserole dishes. All still in the boxes, all barely used since my parents received them as wedding presents in 1977 (and in the stunning 70's style of bright orange and random floral and geometric patterns).

It all went to charity shops. I was about 21 when I realised that I wanted it all back. However, even if I had known that I wanted to keep them at aged 14, we wouldn't have had the room to keep them around until I moved out.

I could rectify the situation by hunting things down on ebay, in charity shops and at vintage markets, but it wouldn't really be the same. And it's crazy expensive in London now to go to "thrift" shops.

Jul 21, 2014
ultimatepotato in Cookware

OK..SO I HAVE A BAGEL...WHAT DO YOU PUT ON YOURS?

I usually have cream cheese with either prosciutto, bresaola, salami (favourite at the moment is brianza) or coppa, with some rocket or little gem lettuce.

Jul 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

What's your favorite way to cook?

I like to be alone in the kitchen with music playing and a big glass of wine. I like to start with clean surfaces (years of house sharing drove me up the wall) and clean as I go, also re-using things where I can (rinsed or washed inbetween uses) so I don't have 12 spoons and 7 small bowls and a glass jug to clean before I even get to the plates and main cooking dishes. After living on my own for 18 months, I've recently moved into a flat with a friend. She has quite the timing of wanting to get a glass of water just as I need to drain pasta, or wanting to get something from the cupboard I'm standing in front of while chopping things up. But I've known her for 12 years, and she's always done this, so it's quite easy to throw out a five minute check i.e. I'm going to need the sink in 5, so if you're thinking of water grab it now!

Much, much more manageable than some of my old flats, where people would decide that they needed to cook "right now" and just start crowding you. One old flat mate had a nasty habit of saying that my cooking was making him too hungry to wait, then he'd complain about the "meat juices" contaminating whatever he was trying to cook at the same time as me. I moved out before I snapped and took to him with a wooden spoon.

Overcooked Chicken Breasts - Help

Simmering doesn't do much for already cooked boneless/skinless breasts, as they lack the fats and connective tissue that softens in other meats. Once it's dry, it's dry.

However I'd still chop it and have it in chicken salad sandwiches, because I don't mind a good dollop of mayonaise. Add it to a soup with rice and sweetcorn, or as a pie filling, or like you said a sloppy joe. Cut it fine and surround it with plenty of liquid and other (nicer) textures.

bacon, avocados and cheese---oh my

Does it need to be hot? Is it part of a buffet spread? I'd think along the lines of small club sandwiches or mini bagels. Even pinwheels, although I know how much flak they can get on here thanks to gummy and/or dried out wraps. You can bake trays of bacon, use a soft cheese and either slice the avocado or mash with some citrus to stop the browning.

Also, just googled savoury avocado muffins, and this could be a good fit - http://www.food.com/recipe/avocado-an...

Jul 02, 2014
ultimatepotato in Home Cooking
1

Mastechef: The Professionals. Marcus takes over.

Oh yes. Chefs are the new rock stars, or something like that.

Jamie Oliver was my teenage dream, then I moved on to the moody bastards.

Jun 18, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Mastechef: The Professionals. Marcus takes over.

I'll miss Michel Roux - he was kind, even when critical, and his working relationship with Monica appeared to be warm and genuine.

I don't think Wareing is right for the show in the format used previously, but who knows how it will be edited? He has been used before to make the contestants wobbly with the fear of disappointing him, and they've commented in post interviews that he literally just appeared for the judging, said a few words about their efforts and then vanished - perhaps he'll now be protrayed as more of a mentor.

Also, I have an irrational crush on grumpy, arsehole-ish celeb chefs. I only got over my shameful fancying of Ramsay when he started to do more and more of his formulaic American shows (nothing against Americans, it was the production company that stuck so doggedly to an awful 'concept' and Ramsay who signed a contract). So yes, I find Wareing attractive. Even though I know I shouldn't.

Jun 17, 2014
ultimatepotato in U.K./Ireland

Why is making a good diet so hard?

I'm sorry - I was compiling my list based on a combination of panic items that hit the headlines.

And mildly extracting the urine.

Not meaning to propagate misinformation.

Jun 03, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics

Why is making a good diet so hard?

rice - be careful with that arsenic
broccoli - GAS! GAS! GAS!
kidney beans - lectin poisoning. Make sure they are cooked for at least 2 hours at 1000 degrees or you will immediately develop a sense of humour
spinach - don't eat it raw - you're destroying your thyroid
cauliflower - you'll stop absorbing iodine!
egg whites - SALMONELLA, OMG.
salmon - Parasitic worms!
mackerel - Mercury! You might go the way of Jeremy Piven, and forget all your lines!
chicken - pumped full of growth-boosting hormones
beef - ye gads, is CJD still around? What about foot and mouth?
turkey - dear oh dear, that turkey has the stuff that makes you sleepy

There is no perfect diet that all people can follow for optimal health. Excpet maybe a combination of breast milk and Guiness. Work out what's right for you, what fits in with your lifestyle (that's physical activity and moral and ethical considerations) and try to stick with it.

Easy apps that could be a meal?

Does the vegetarian eat cheese? Is anyone off the wheat?
Bruschetta - mozzarella, basil, olive oil, garlic, grilled eggplant, tapenade, mushroom 'pate', marinated artichokes - so pretty much your panini idea.

Mini filo tarts with spinach and ricotta filling. Mini quiches - make them in muffin tins.

Savoury scones.

Small skewers of chicken (fried tofu for the vege, or for everyone instead of chicken if you're going all vegetarian), either grilled in honey and seasame glaze or accompanied by a thick satay dipping sauce.

Summer rolls - rice paper wrappers around vermicelli, herbs and julienned vegetables.

Vegetarian sushi rolls.

Mini samosas and pakora.

Stuffed vine leaves.

Hmmm, I think I like finger food too much.

Food porn as man bait

How does the old joke go? "Turn up naked. Bring beer."

I consider myself a fairly decent cook. The men in my life seem to agree. But I don't think I've ever lured one with food before dating them, and it certainly hasn't kept them in the relationship, although I do get calls from time to time asking for the recipe of something I'd made them in the past.

Maybe I should refocus my energy on making a decent pizza and the rest will take care of itself.

Jun 02, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food

So, comfort food...

A bottle of prosecco and a delivery from a thai restaurant.

how long did it take you to get used to your new kitchen?

The last time I had to learn in a brand new kitchen was in a house my parents bought off a plan when I was 16. Used to a plain old electric cooker with four coil elements, we got a gas twin wall oven with all the whistles and a 6 burner hob. I overcooked everything for about a week.

In terms of not new, but new to me - I moved into my current flat 18 months ago and was without a working oven for 11 months, just a four burner gas hob, a toaster and a kettle. The things I can do with pastas, soups and stirfrys. it took me quite a while to get used to having a working oven again, but it was certainly better to have more equipment to use and forgetting I could use it than the time the gas was swtiched off for 10 days. Then it was a single electrical hotplate, a toaster and a kettle. Oh, the things I can do with sandwiches.

May 15, 2014
ultimatepotato in Cookware

Grocery delivery/pick up services

As far as I know Ocado originally had the delivery contract for Waitrose, and the contract expired a couple of years ago. The two are now separate and Waitrose established their own service, although Ocado do still have access to a lot of Waitrose products. They do a lot of price matching, discounts and deals, but can come out more expensive. I'd say they're below Waitrose in terms of price, and higher than ASDA and Morrisons.

Apr 25, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food

Grocery delivery/pick up services

I haven't yet had the chance to use them. Is Ocado available in their area? The number 1 reason I'd recommend Ocado for your in laws is the service on delivery - they don't dump the groceries at the door (unless you tell them that's what you want) - they will bring everything into the house to the specific room that you want. And 1 hour delivery slots are standard.

Apr 25, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food

Grocery delivery/pick up services

I use a delivery service once every 6 - 8 weeks. I live in London, so there are multple options - Tesco, Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Ocado and most recently Morrison's, plus an ever-increasing list of smaller companies delivering boxes of fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy.

Because of the level of competition, I usually get free delivery. I use it to restock my basic (and heavy) items - tins, dry goods, bottled water, cases of diet coke, loo roll, cleaning products, freezer fillers.

The benefits for me: I'm single and without a car, and my neighbourhood has multiple mini supermarkets with no variety and the highest price version of everything. Delivery means I can stock up, stick to my list and my budget, take advantage of discounts and specials and not be tempted by actually having the food in front of me.

The down-sides: I like to see and pick my own fruit, vegetables and meats. And I like to buy those in smaller quantities so I can keep it fresh, so it's not a one-stop shop for me and I do still need to go to the butcher and grocer every few days, but only for a quick trip.

Apr 25, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food

I'm sorry you don't like what I ordered, but keep your thoughts to yourself

I used to cook for my ex-boyfriend's family (long story short - his Dad was having heart trouble and his Mother and I banded together to improve his diet) and I'd put "exotic" ingredients in things, like pumpkin and seasame seeds as a garnish on a green sald. BF's brother used to crowd me while I was cooking: "I don't like that, or this, or those....". I always cut him off quickly with "then isn't it great that I was making that for Dad? You can go get a cheeseburger."

He couldn't comprehend people liking things that he didn't like, or trying new things to improve their health, but he did understand "I don't care, it's not for you".

What is your oldest cookbook?

There's a cookbook in NZ that I'd say 50% of houses have a copy of - The Edmonds Cookery Book. It's been put out by the company in some form or another since 1908. My current version is the 2008 centenary version, so the book itself is not that old, but it still has the same recipes in it as my Mother's 1955 version (plus updated 'modern' recipes).

I tend to wheel it out when I want to make treats for the office that I can say have a NZ influence (I live in London now), but I don't tend to use it as a daily reference.

So not that old in the grand scheme of things.

Apr 11, 2014
ultimatepotato in Not About Food

UK bakers - Bird's Custard powder as a sub for instant pudding mix in a cake?

Potentially, yes. However I'd be more likely to find a packet of Angel Delight.

Mar 07, 2014
ultimatepotato in Home Cooking

Shady business practice?

I automatically assume it's a tax dodge. Does it stop me eating somewhere? Not usually.

Heart healthy brunch ideas?

I go to a fortnightly Sunday brunch at a Turkish restaurant. They have the bacon and egg standards on the menu, but on Sundays they put out a buffet of dips, dolma, stuffed peppers, tabbouleh, olives, salads and a lentil soup in the winter. Packed with vegetables, whole grains and good fats.

That's now brunch to me, and if I was hosting a brunch at home I'd be tempted to recreate some of the dishes.

What Foods have You Eaten That Were Past The 'Best By' or 'Expired Date'

A lot of dairy products, because you can tell by smell if it's edible. Eggs too. Bread - because I only use it for toast, so it's kept in the fridge.

Red meat and chicken - they all tend to smell, look and feel different when they are off (in their raw state) - I'm far more cautious about eating cooked, reheated leftovers than I am about cooking "clean" smelling raw food that's over the magical date.

Fish - well, I don't like stuff that isn't fresh anyway, unless it's smoked/cured/pickled.

Pickles and condiments - once again, if nothing is growing in it, if it doesn't smell bad, I'm not throwing it away. I'll eat it eventually.

Case in point - a friend gave me a kilner jar of fancy 'artisnal' grain mustard with chilli and honey as a house warming present 14 months ago. It's been sitting on my kitchen bench ever since, with a bit used here and there - a bit in a sandwich, a spoonful in a cream sauce, a bit in a salad dressing. I like it, but it's just not the "every day" mustards that I would use.

It was this morning that I read the label - "once the seal is broken, use within a week". Oops. Oh well. Not sick.

Feb 19, 2014
ultimatepotato in General Topics