The Cook's Toolkit

The Cook's Toolkit
The Cook's Toolkit by Clever Pumpkin.


The romance is over: Edward & Bella twenty years on. My short story Daylight is now available as a free download.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Italian Special

Italian Special

This is one of those incredibly simple, incredibly good recipes. Its 'proper' name is Italian Beef Noodle Bake, but in my family we always called it Italian Special.  I've been eating this since I was a kid, so it's officially an antique.  Last night when I was making it, I got to thinking about how things have changed.  The first time my mother made chicken cacciatore, she had a devil of a time finding a supermarket that stocked canned tomatoes.  Back then, the more a recipe claimed to be Genuine Chinese Style Chicken or Authentic Chinese Style, the more likely it was to call for something like Vegemite.  And spice equalled salt.  Want more genuine?  Add more salt.  Want more authentic?  Yep.  More salt. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Baked potatoes stuffed with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream

It’s hump day, and that means you deserve comfort food!  These baked stuffed potatoes with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream are richly flavoured and so satisfying – try them once and you’ll be hooked.  Although very little effort is required, it does take about an hour of baking to prepare the potatoes, but this step can be completed in advance, and the potatoes refrigerated overnight for an express mid-week meal.  As potato sizes vary, ingredient quantities are approximate.  It’s important to taste the mixture before stuffing the potato to make sure it’s to your taste.

Baked potatoes stuffed with pancetta, parmesan and sour cream
Ingredients (per spud)

1 Desiree potato – the biggest you can lay your hot little hands on (usually around 300grams)
3 spring onions (scallions) bulb end only (around 10cm), sliced
3 slices pancetta, chopped
3 tablespoons (60ml) freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (aged parmesan) cheese
1 tablespoon crème fraiche or sour cream

Anytime Salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan croutons

Clever Pumpkin's (to die for) Anytime Salad with toasted walnuts and parmesan croutons

Ingredients (serves 2):

80g mixed, washed salad leaves

Heaped ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons (40ml) good, salad quality olive oil
1 tablespoon (20ml) tarragon vinegar
1 French/Dutch shallot, finely diced, or the bulb (10cm) of a spring onion/scallion sliced
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted

30g Turkish Bread (or other gutsy bread) crusts removed, cut into even sized cubes
1 ½ tablespoons (30ml) grated parmesan
2 teaspoons (10ml) olive oil

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Trip Advisor copyright rip-off

Recently while browsing restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor I came face to face with one of my own photographs, used without my consent or knowledge, to promote a local restaurant – presumably without the restaurant’s consent or knowledge also; given that it was a photograph of lasagne and the restaurant was Indian.  The caption read “management photograph” and attributed the source as “Photocrawler,” which seems, as far as I can tell, to be some sort of scraping program Trip Advisor is using to thieve photographs.

Among the reasons one may report a photograph on Trip Advisor, copyright infringement does not number; additionally, Trip Advisor “requires” that reports of copyright infringement come from copyright owners as opposed to other sources; in other words, Trip Advisor neither welcomes or facilitates reports of copyright infringement, and that in itself speaks volumes.