Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Pumpkin Puree

(I meant to do this months ago, but forget)

Here in England (outside of London, at least) buying canned pumpkin is very expensive.  I have a can I bought at Selfridge's for five pounds.  Each Fall I have a major urge to add pumpkin to various baked goods.  In order to give in to this urge and not go bankrupt, I have started to make my own puree.  Here is how you do it.

STEP ONE:  Cut up the pumpkins (obviously)

STEP TWO: Boil, steam or roast them until they are cooked and tender.


STEP THREE: Peel the pumpkin chunks.

STEP FOUR: Puree the mash.
STEP FIVE: Strain under pressure to remove excess water.

For some reason, blogspot is not letting me upload the last few pictures.  Oh well!


I started working at Paxton And Whitfield in September.  P&W was started in 1797 and is a high end food shop specialising in cheese and cheese-products; that is right, I am a cheesemonger!  I have always liked cheese and have made mozzarella, ricotta, queso fresco and paneer at home.  Long story short: I LOVE MY JOB!

Only four other people work at the shop full time and I am the only guy.  David, who is the son of one of my lecturers at the Shakespeare Institute, left a few weeks after I started to begin his cheese making business.  His blog is here www.jowettcheese.co.uk.  I am hoping to be able to visit his dairy as soon as he begins production some time in the next couple of months.

Here are a few pictures of my work.
Starting at the left and going clockwise: Brie de Meaux, Baltic, Caerphilly Gorwydd and Stinking Bishop.  Stinking Bishop is perhaps one of the prettiest cheeses I have ever seen.  This particular one has a nice pink and yellow patch on its rind.  It is a washed-rind, cow's milk cheese that is washed in perry (an alcoholic pear-based drink, like cider) made from the Stinking Bishop pear, hence the name.  However, this cheese REALLY stinks!  It smells like shit, literally.  Our shop has a strong, cheesy aroma that I no longer smell after walking in the door each Saturday, but as soon as someone unwraps this cheese I know it is out.  Rind-washed cheeses tend to be quite stinky (according to my manager the bacteria that grows on these cheeses is the same that grows on your feet) 

This is my manager patrolling the soft cheese fridge.  To give you an idea of the size of our shop, this picture shows 60-70% of the public area of the shop.

Brie de Meux (I think I am spelling that wrong).  This is our most popular selling brie; we sold ridiculous amounts over Christmas.

This one, in the back, is Geitost, a Norwegian cheese made from caramelising the whey of goat cheese for about 7 hours.  It smells, looks and taste like caramel or British fudge.  It is a love it or hate it type of thing: I am firmly in the love it section. 
I plan on adding more pictures from work soon.  P&Ws website is www.paxtonandwhitfield.co.uk

New Year's Eve, Oban Style!

I went up to Scotland with Tom for New Year's at his friend Fee's place.  It was a laid back trip which included their friend Helen, and Fee's sister and sister-in-law.  The highlight was watching The Hobbit on New Year's Day.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

On our stop in Glasgow, Tom took me to a cheesemonger's in West Glasgow.  I don't remember what it was called.  It was about the size of our shop in Stratford, but set up more like a deli.  

Driving to Oban, just past the fork in the road where you have to choose between Fort William and Oban.   For those of you who have made the journey, it is just past the Green Wellie Stop!  The really cool thing was that as soon as we turned towards Oban, the show appeared.
Just some ducks we fed on our walk in to town.
The harbour at Oban.
New Year's Eve was a house party.  Since Fee and her sister are half German, Jaeger had to consumed (God help us all!)
This is one of the only pictures from New Year's Eve (that does not involve certain people sing their own version of Gangnam Style).
On 2 January we had a great dinner/late lunch, made for us by the ladies.
I had a great time, as expected.  I love Scotland!