A new favourite?

A couple months back, I picked up my first bottle of Aberlour A’bunadh.  This is a single cask single malt that is unbelievably tasty and smooth – even without knocking it back with a bit of water.  Received my fourth bottle – (I’m not drinking any of this by myself , I have been sharing :^) – this past Father’s Day, and I’m enjoying it as much as ever.
Last night, myself and a few friends visited The Bothy, and each tried a couple new whisky’s that we haven’t had before.  None of us have been a fan of peaty whisky’s since we tried a bottle of Laphraig Quarter Cask. Hideous stuff, and just too funky of a taste.  Feeling adventurous, I thought I’d give the peat & smoke a second chance, and ordered glass of Highland Park 18 y.o, and another of Jura Prophecy.  The Highland Park was a sweet glass – a touch of smoke and peat.  The sweetness was almost a shock.  The Jura Prophecy was most impressive.

Lamb Stew

Came across this recipe the other day while testing out my new Chromecast device – and watched Gennaro Contaldo in Malta make this dish on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube.
The following day I stopped in at the ACME Meat Market on 76th Ave, and they kindly fixed me up with a couple couple pounds of lamb shoulder (raised in the Tofield area), all cut up nicely into perfect stew sized chunks. (They also had some Guanciale, which I’m going to use in a couple days to make some Real Carbonara.)

Fantastic!
Fantastic!

Lamb Stew
Recipe Type: Main course
Author: Gennaro Contaldo
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 x 1kg lamb shoulder, cut into 4cm chunks
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • 5 anchovy fillets in oil
  • 1 carrot, trimmed
  • 1 stick of celery, trimmed
  • 2 medium onions, peeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • ½ a small bunch of fresh thyme
  • 250ml white wine
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I used balsamic)
  • 500g potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 200g ripe baby plum tomatoes
  • 250ml hot vegetable stock, preferably organic (optional)
  • 250g fresh peas
Instructions
  1. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  2. Place a large casserole pan over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil and the anchovies. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until melted, stirring continuously, then add the lamb and cook for a further few minutes, or until browned and sealed all over, stirring often.
  3. Meanwhile, roughly chop the carrot, celery and onions, then add to the pan and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Peel and crush the garlic with the palm of your hand and halve the chilli, then add to the pan with the thyme sprigs and wine.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and allow the liquid to boil and bubble away until reduced by half, then reduce the heat to low, add the vinegar and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, chop the potatoes into 3cm chunks. Add to the pan with the whole plum tomatoes and hot stock or water.
  7. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the stew has thickened and reduced.
  8. Stir in the peas with a good splash of water and cook for a further few minutes, then serve with a wedge of rustic bread to mop up the juices.

Just realized that I forgot to add the pepper!  Oh well, it was still very good, and I now have an excuse to make it again soon – and not forgetting the pepper!
 

Need more jars!

still have more to go!
still have more to go!

Bought 3 dozen 125ml canning jars – but still have some more spices to get into the new jars – so I think I’ll get a dozen more. The can of chalkboard paint would probably do 100 dozen!
My daughter and I had a challenging time getting some of the spice names to fit – but it was fun.  We’ll have to be careful not to rub the names off too!
One thing I’ll have to remember is to burnish the painters tape down along the label edge. I’m also going to see if I can’t source a better quality chalk – one that might allow for a little better control, and maybe add some colour! 
After painting the 4 coats of chalkboard paint on the 36 jars, I came across these DIY Chalkboard stickers at Thinkgeek.com.  These might be an even better approach!

Spice storage

The array of spices that we’ve acquired over the past while seems crazy – especially with my interest in all the different Asian dishes (Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc).  Last count, I think I had around 60 bottles (!!!) of different herbs & spices, and various blends.  I’ve been trying to come up with a better, more accessible means of storing them – and thought that small mason jars might be a good choice.  So, off to Google, and came back with this great idea!  Blackboard paint and mason jars – perfect!
Mason jars - perfect for storing spices
On another blog, the recommendation is to use a brushable blackboard paint – for better control, and less mess.  I like this – as I can do it in the house then!
I’ll have to practice my chalk writing so the jars look as good as these!
Think I might use shelves to hold all the mason jars – I think the color of the spices would be great out in the open, as well as make sure they are readily accessible.

Fixing the espresso machine

Andreja_premium Well, after 7 years of almost daily use, it appears that the pump has failed on my Andreja Premium espresso machine.
The machine uses a 52W, ULKA EAX5 vibe pump – and as it turns out, this is a fairly commonly used pump in espresso machines.  I also found prices varied wildly.  The dealer where I purchased the machine originally sells the replacement pump for $95.  I found a replacement on Ebay for $39.99.
Ulka_52WattAfter getting the new pump swapped in, the machine seemed to be working fine.  Then, this morning, it seemed to have stopped again 🙁
So, removed the casing from the machine and hooked the water supply back up, and this time I tested things out  with the cover off.  This allowed me to see the water flow.  Everything worked fine. Maybe I kinked a hose as I put the machine back together?
I carefully put everything back together – making sure no hoses were kinked, and tested the machine again – everything was 100%.  This morning, the timer kicked in and turned the machine on at 6:00 AM, and at 7:00, I pulled a double shot with no issues.  I think that the shot was up there with some of the best that I’ve done!
Something I came across, that might be useful in future, is this page describing the process of repairing the ULKA pump itself – with lots of photos and additional comments from other readers.  I still have the old pump just in case.  They certainly aren’t that complex!