Highly Dangerous Comestible

                                                      Highly dangerous comestible.

To whom it may concern,

I wish to raise a formal complaint.

At Christmas 2019 I was the recipient of many magnificent gifts from my long-term and much esteemed friend, Maggie.  Amongst this treasure trove of delicacies was a container of Gentlemen’s Relish (one of my favourite comestibles).
I had investigated this precious gift on frequent previous occasions but could not discover any method of opening the receptacle.  Last night, in the midst of the Corona Crisis and without any other possible sustenance, I once again endeavoured to lay siege  to the container.
I commenced with a sharp knife and only managed to chip the exterior so desisted from fear of damage and injury to my person.  Despite its construction in very heavy duty plastic, I next tried a tin opener (several times) with no better success.  Eventually I resorted to a pair of sturdy kitchen shears.  The result was more heartening with plastic fragmentation  possible at each determined cut.  Although I’m blind and so could not see the progress, I could hear it as the pieces of plastic rebounded around the kitchen with considerable velocity.
I was eventually able to partially open the indestructible container and excavate some of the contents.  These proved satisfyingly delicious but dissatisfyingly insufficient in offsetting the considerable energy expended in gaining access and subsequently vacuuming the kitchen to recover the plastic shards.
I appreciate that this may all be part of a calorie controlled diet: namely, it takes more energy to access the food than it provides when digested.  Notwithstanding which, I raise this complaint as there were no markings on the culpable container to designate it as inaccessible for a disabled consumer or any other person of right mind!
I attach an image which may be used in evidence.
The safer alternative is to drain a tin of anchovies, add a knob of butter and the juice of half a lemon plus a good grind of black pepper.  Whiz the mix to a paste and spread on hot toast – delicious!

 

Omissions and improvisations

 

Clearing out the freezer and store cupboards brings surprises and challenges.  This week, a pack of Spanish dried ham emerged blinking into the daylight from a Christmas past.

I confess to using de-frosted bought shortcrust pastry to make the tart.  Don’t bother with the palaver of baking paper and beans when baking blind.  Simply fit the pastry to the tin, prick the bottom with a fork and cover all the pastry (edges included) with a sheet of cooking foil.  Press down firmly to both shape the pastry to the tin and provide masking from the heat.  Cook for 10-12 minutes at Gas 6/200C before removing the foil.  My tip for avoiding a soggy bottom is to paint the inside of the tart pastry with beaten egg and then return to the oven for about three minutes.  Then leave the pastry case to rest for an hour or so.  The residue of the original egg plus three others were beaten with cream to add to the tart.

That ancient ham was finely shredded to cover the pastry.  Meanwhile, six younger leeks were very finely sliced and separated into individual rings before being sweated in a little water in the microwave.  Par cooked and cooled, they topped the ham and the tart went in to the oven for half an hour, minus the eggs and cream which this over-enthusiastic blind cook had completely forgotten.  But the end product was still delicious and so much better for one’s waistline.  The languishing egg and cream mix is in the freezer in the hope it will survive for another day – no net gain on freezer space,

Peppers were charred over the gas before cooling in a plastic bag to make removing their blistered skin easier.    De-seeded and very finely sliced, the peppers were doused with vinaigrette ready to serve with the tart.  I wanted to pep up the flavour and searched for mustard seeds amongst the Indian spices.  Even though I tasted the different little round seeds, I managed to use whole coriander by mistake – and the result was even better.

The left-over peppers went into small jars, clamped with rubber seals: covered with water in a pan and gently simmered for 30 minutes.  I’m attempting bottling them for freezer-free storage in case the power goes off!  They will either be a taste of summer or pent-up botulism!  Wish me luck!