Learning about food, photography, and writing. Sharing what I find.


Friday, March 25, 2011

No-Fry Zucchini Fries

Here in England, fries (aka chips) are sold under the category 'Frozen Vegetables' in the grocery store. I know this because I buy my groceries online for delivery to our flat (free delivery is great) and, in that case, one shops by clickable category instead of walkable aisle. This is all to say, as much as I love me some deep fried potatoes, their nutritional value isn't up to snuff.

So, I asked myself, "Self? What is it you like about french-fried potatoes?" The answer was simple:


When I looked a bit deeper, I also realized that I like the crunchy texture they add alongside my burger. I like dipping them in sauces. I just like.

Tonight's goal, then, was to get a zucchini:

to accomplish the task of a tater. A real veg for a fake one. If we're aiming for nutrition, I also had to give up the grease. No potato, no grease, but I can keep the rest. The result was very pleasing.

Homemade No-Fry Zucchini Fries take more time to assemble than tossing some frozen Ore-Idas onto a baking sheet, but they do not disappoint.

To get started you'll need:

3 medium zucchini (courgettes in the UK)
1 cup plain bread crumbs (I made my own for the first time! Really easy and embarrassing to admit)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs (you may get away with one, so you can start with that)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

British Food Fails & Wins

I've been meaning to start a list about my culinary realizations here in England. My fellow expats and I have been comparing notes on what they do well and what they do, um, notsowell here. All of these observations come from a severe American bias, but they are the daily frustrations of An American in Oxford.

Here are a few fails and wins for today. Please contribute your joys and frustrations! I hope that, by the end of our time here (who knows when that will be) this list may be the complete reference for those considering life in the UK (what should they stock up on at Costco before coming over? What treasures must not be missed during a stay on this island?).

British Food Fails:

Crackers (aka Savoury Biscuits). Tastelessly prepared and perpetually impractically packaged. Some American and European imports, but still no concept of how to keep them from turning to crumbs or going stale.

Half-and-Half. Well, it just doesn't exist here. We go straight from whole milk to single cream, which is like our heavy cream and goes sour very quickly . . . don't get me started on the 'tops' for dairy products (and then from there to double cream, which gets poured on desserts). It's not that these cream varieties are bad, it's that my coffee is very lonely.

Mayo. I only recently bought mayo here at all following a craving for chicken salad. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's just too much of this random buttery flavo(u)r that overtakes anything it coats (One of the favo(u)rites here is a baked potato stuffed with tuna, sweetcorn, and a blop of this mayo). Maybe American mayo is vinegar-ier?

British Food Wins:

Water. Specifically, the boiling of it. I will be bringing an electric kettle back to the US and it will have a permanent place on my countertop.

Tea. Particularly the black varieties. Full of flavo(u)r and still delicious in decaf (a very hard feat).

Candy bars. There may not be a single candy bar I don't like in this country. They do the chewy/crunchy/salty/sweet combination juuuuuust right.

That'll do for today. I have so many more stewing around in my head. What about you?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Woohoo Roo-barb!

My culinary creations lately have been dictated by the contents of this organic mini-market I mentioned in my last post. It's amazing how minimal choices produce a disproportionate level of excitement for otherwise undramatic produce. First brussel sprouts, now rhubarb. Don't get me wrong, I love them both.

For using up this tart stalk, I went simple (big surprise) but also new (to me). I've done the rhubarb compote, the rhubarb pie, the strawberry-rhubarb pie, and the raw rhubarb handed to me by a shoeless hippie who insisted it was delicious (he was right, but I only conceded after he took many bites proving it wouldn't poison me on the spot. Isn't there something about rhubarb leaves . . . ?).

Anyway, today's recipe is light and citrusy and buttery and tart all at the same time. Mmmhmm!

For this Orange Rhubarb Pastry you will need:

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 4 oranges)
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 pound rhubarb stalks
1 sheet puff pastry (God bless you if you can make your own. I bought mine this time.)
1/2 tsp. orange zest

Friday, March 4, 2011

Really? Brussel Sprouts? This is what you give me?

Don't hate. Me or the sprouts.

I live in England now and the pickin's are often slim in terms of vegetables. The adorable organic market in Oxford has more sausage, potatoes, and meat pies than anything during this season, so I picked the only green thing I could find (if you don't count the kale). That just happened to be brussel sprouts, which I just happen to love. Do I sound defensive? Well, I dare you to try this recipe and not love it. If you've ever eaten cole slaw, you'll never go back to fully grown cabbage.

Process: Simple.
Ingredients: Simple.
Helping me feel a bit of summer in March: Successful.