Sunday, December 23, 2007

Out with the old, In with the new....

Well, 2007 has been a great year for TGS - thanks to you all for reading our little labour of love and proving to us that us food and beer-crazed zombies number in our thousands...we are not alone!

So what has 2007 meant to us?

Well, food-wise, our visit to Greece in the summer provided us with its usual bounty of inspiration and experiences. Anyone who thinks Greek food is the poor relation of flashy Spain is mistaken. The Leyburn Festival of Food and Drink was great as usual, and the tour of The Black Sheep Brewery gets better every time we do it. Our 'Tomatoes in hanging basket to avoid the cats that plague our street' experiment worked a treat, and will be in action again this summer; and the Good Stuff Kitchen has seen an unusual amount of baking activity. 2007 certainly was the year of the pastry.

Interviewing Sean Franklin, supremo at Rooster's Brewery was great fun; Roosters are probably my favourite local brewers and I cannot recommend thier beers highly enough. The resurgence of The Fox & Newt as a brewpub was a totally unexpected and pleasant surprise - a real kick in the eye to the brewing monopolies. In the same vein, North hanging up thier Guinness pump and commiting to serving a rotating, independent stout was an inspired, ballsy move, and one that has worked - Cheers, lads. Public awareness of the importance of supporting local brewers and food suppliers seems to be on the increase, too!

The passing of Michael Jackson still reverberates around the foodwriting and brewing community - the poet laureate of Beer Writing will be missed for a long time to come. The fact that Leeds Kirkgate Market's future is still undecided is a joke, and I only hope that common sense prevails; the market is a precious part of Leed's history, let alone its culinary heritage.

I'm also in two minds about the tranformation of The Corn Exchange into a 'High Class Food Emporium'. Food Emporium, yes, High Class, no. The last thing Leeds needs is a waste of a space where the clientele are more interested in the bag the food comes in than the food itself. Go to a farmer's market or a 'real' butcher's if you want to do something different, supermarket-hounds. Again, lets hope common sense prevails. And finally, just whe we think things had levelled out for the year, there are rumours that Leifmans, brewers of the awesome Goudenband, have gone bust.

So what does 2008 hold for TGS?
TGS has recently been the lucky recipient of a shedload of Brewing Kit from a relative - Spring should see the first attempt at homebrewing for me, and I can't wait. Stay tuned to see how the disaster unfolds. Our trip to Bulgaria should be good, and I am sure the recipes that we bring back will be different to the norm. I'll be throwing the spotlight on more local and independent brewers and making everyone aware of the good work these guys and gals are doing. Recipes will come as usual, and each with a beer pairing for you to consider.

Award Time -
Ok, lets end with some honourable mentions -

Beer Blog of 2007 - Stonch; has to be. Fast becoming essential reading, this is what a beer blog should be; informative, yet none of the snobbery that can sometimes prevail;

Food Blog of 2007 - ...An Endless Banquet - perfection. AJ and Michelle constantly amaze me with thier stories and recipes - thier 'Quest for the perfect pizza' was probably my favourite post of any blog in 2007. Obsession; in a good way. Where would beer and food be without obsession?
Store of the Year - Salt's Deli remains a pleasure to visit. One of thier hampers is shown above.

Beer of The Year - hmmm, so many. Roosters remain a consistently excellent brewhouse - the YPA is fast becoming a must-drink when available. The Great Divide Brewing Company and Brewdog are two brewers whose wares I only tasted recently and really, really impressed.

The Good Stuff.
Good Food. Good Beer. Good People.

Have A Great Christmas and a very boozy New Year!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Quick Round-up

TGS-reccommended Meat Purveyors Bolton Abbey Meats are offering Xmas Hampers, filled with goodies such as Beef, Lamb and Sausages - more details to be found on Whilst on the subject of Hampers, Salt's Deli are offering thiers as usual - and packed with delicious xmas treats....more info on TGS' favourite Bar, North has a revamped website offering info on sister bars Further North and The Reliance - link on the link pages...

Chutney Time!

Christmas always means a flurry of activity in The Good Stuff kitchen - usually of the baking sort, as we always like to give home-made goodies to people for presents. This year, we decided to spend an afternoon making chutney. I could'nt beleive how easy it is. The recipe that follows is based on one that was in good old Good Food Magazine a few months back.

Sweet Apple & Tomato Chutney
2 large Onions, diced
2 large cooking apples, diced and cored
2lb Tomatoes ( I used 'vine' ones)
Dash of tabasco
3 chopped cloves of Garlic
1 tsb of Ground Cinnamon
1 tsb of Ground Coriander
Twist of black pepper.
3/4 pint of Cider Vinegar (I used Aspall's)
12 oz of Sugar

1. Skin and chop you tomatoes. Chop your onions, garlic and Apple also.
2. Pour into a large preserving pan or stock-pot, then pour over the vinegar. Also add your spices at this stage.
3. Bring to the boil, stirring. Then lower the heat and let cook for about 50 minutes. The fruit and veg should be soft, but not pulpy yet. Add the sugar and stir.
4. Increase the heat, and boil rapidly for about 20 minutes. Stir regulary or the mixture will catch. The chutney will really reduce and thicken during this stage. When you can draw your spoon across the bottom of the pan and there is a clear line before it slips back, its done.
You need to sterilise and prepare your jars next. I do this by simply washing in soapy water, as hot as you can stand, then rinsing in clean hot water. I heat the oven to about 150 degrees and dry the pots in there. Spoon your chutney into the pots whilst warm, and seal immediately!
This chutney is pulpy and sweet, and really good with lamb and all the usual strong cheeses. To vary it, you could add some chillies, or even add pears. A great condiment to have around Christmas time, with all those cold cuts around!

For more ideas regarding Chutneys, Jams and other preserves, What Geeks Eat and ...An Endless Banquet both have loads of ideas and tips. Both blogs can be found on my links section.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Chilli Squid Stew

It recently occurred to me that although I love to eat Squid, I very rarely do anything other than toss those rings in flour mixed with pepper and Paprika, and then throw them in some hot, hot oil – Greek Style, if you will. And although, on a hot summer’s day with a cold Peroni to wash them down, this does the trick, I bullied myself into doing something different with my tentacle friends. This is what I came up with – basic, yes, but very tasty. The stew simply accentuates the sweetness of the squid; this would be excellent as part o a Tapas selection.

To make two Tapas-Size portions –
6 Small or 1 Large Squid
Tomatoes –about 4 large vine-ripened ones, or about 15 'Cherry' ones
2 fresh chillies
1 large red pepper – (I used preserved ones for extra sweetness)
Good Olive Oil
2 large cloves of garlic
Salt, Pepper, and 1 tsp of Sugar
A Garlic Bread, Flatbread or Tomato bread to accompany.

1. Make a basic Tomato Sauce – Chop all of your tomatoes and add to warm olive oil. Add you peppers also. Season, including the sugar, and stir in a little tomato puree if needed. Leave to simmer for about five minutes, and then add your chopped garlic and chilli. Simmer gently for anywhere from ten minutes to an hour (I’m sure you know what you like).
2. Prepare and wash your squid. Keep the tentacles, and cut the tubes (bodies) into strips. You should get about five per Squid.
3. Once you are happy with the Sauce, and your breads are warmed nicely, throw in your chopped squid. They should need no more than seven or eight minutes – once cooked, they will be white and curled round.
4. Serve with your breads for scooping!

As you can see, this is about as simple as you can get. I washed this down with the last of the summers Rose wine, and added extra Tabasco once on the table for extra bite; or you could add as much fresh chilli as you need. The key to this is knowing what kind of basic tomato sauce you like, and perfecting it. I have left out onions, as I didn’t want too much going on here, but feel free to adapt this sauce any way you want. It’s not rocket science – it’s just good cooking.