The Booze Brothers

>> Friday 2 September 2011

Hello, we are Billy and Michael - aka, on this occasion, The Booze Brothers. To be honest the name was a flash of alliterative inspiration, and we then we later claimed that it was our shared love of the boozes that inspired us to form the team. In actual fact we are both strictly teetotal and believe that alcohol is an evil sent to this earth to try us.

We are not drinking while writing this. Oh no. Not us.

Thanks to TikiChris for the photo

This is not Billy's first go at Nom^3, having been a 'runner-up' for the last two years and he hoped that Michael's 1337 cookery skills would up his game and draw the judges award. Unfortunately it was not to be and some other people, using 'talent' and 'skill', grabbed the prize on the day. However, that is merely a sham prize and instead we turn to you, adoring public, for a chance at the real accolade - the Audience Choice Award.

On the day itself we put together a simple but effective menu, embracing our brief of 'food that could be served to office workers for lunch' as only two hungry men who have worked in offices for the last decade can.

We raced around the market and shops, including a last minute pie dish purchase, and arrived back with moments to spare. Our definition of 'race' is different to many and might resemble 'sauntering'. We are best. On getting back to The Cookery School we arranged our ingredients and made this little video-ette to introduce our beautiful ingredients and menu,

The clock started and cooking was committed. Everything went according to the plan, mainly as the plan was minimal enough to allow almost anything we did to meet that claim. Things were chopped, things were heated in a variety of ways, Michael didn't chop any significant parts of himself off and Billy got a bit too excited by the concept of the stick blender. Ovens were too hot and too cold, and an apple was almost forgotten. In the end though there was Success and a table of food was served up:

So, in more detail, here is our menu:

Basil In The SoupWe started with a Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup - a simple combination of peeled roasted peppers (stick them in oven with a drizzle of oil until the skins blacken, then peel them off), roasted garlic (tuck it in amongst the peppers and then squeeze the gooey cloves out of their skins when you take the peppers out) and peeled tomatoes (score the skins, dunk them in hot water for a couple of minutes and then stick them in a plastic bag until the skins loosen), cooked down with a softened onion and some vegetable stock, before blending to the desired thick and smooth consistency. Oh, and basil. We added some of that too. Eventually. It's a great thing soup, both hearty and fresh, and nice either hot or cold - essential for those walking a bit to get lunch or those who forget to eat.

A Pair Of SaladsNext up was a pair of salads: firstly something described as "Uncle Billy's Awesome 'Slaw", or something similar. Shredded red and white cabbage and julienned Granny Smith dressed with a vinegar heavy mayonnaise with added tabasco for a bit of a zing. Billy usually likes to claim that it is 'a bit like sauerkraut', but as we only had a couple of hours to cook everything he couldn't do his normal 'salt the cabbage and leave it to go a bit like sauerkraut over the space of about a day' that he normally does. Even so it was rather nice - zingy and not tasting like mayonnaise (the condiment of Satan) like most coleslaw.

Salad number two was based on a pickled Thai salad, but wasn't particularly pickled due to the 2 hours thing again. Thin strips of carrot (rainbow carrots, no less) and cucumber (peeled off the sticks using a french peeler) curled around each other with a dressing of soy, fish sauce, vinegar, sugar and chopped green chilli. Crunchy, tangy, spicy and with the hint of old man's pants that only fish sauce can provide.

Summery PieFor a main course we went for the one thing that all right thinking people like - Pie. We boughtMADE OUR OWN PASTRY ENTIRELY FROM SCRATCH and lined a hastily bought pie tin (as Billy left his at home and using one of the ceramic dishes that The Cookery School had WOULD NOT DO. The 'homemade' pastry wouldn't go crispy enough on the bottom) ready to accept a 'summery' filling of chicken, ham, onion and cream. We don't care if it's summery or not, it's Billy's favourite pie and it seemed to go down well. When hot it is all runny creamy tastiness; when cold it holds together and tastes great - a versatile pie for the ages.

A quick word from Billy (winner of the Isembard Kingdom Brunel Award for Structural Integrity for one of his pork pies) on the subject of pies: A pie is a simple thing - a foodstuff constructed of pastry placed into a dish, filled with a filling of some kind and then covered with more pastry. It is not a bowl of stew with a bit of pastry balanced on top. It's not a dish of crumbled crackers with an indescribable mess of mixed sugars and pecans poured on top. It is not a piece of pastry folded in half and filled with too many potatoes and not enough of an ingredient that you like. It has pastry on all sides and is cooked in a dish. It is not a stew with a puff pastry crouton, it's not a tart, it's not a pasty - it is a pie. Thank you.

Strawberry MuffinsAnyway our menu rounded out with a foray into the world of baking with Michael's Magickal Berry Muffins… We were deliberately vague in describing the variety of muffins that would be created, on the principle that if strawberries were unavailable, we would be able to use other fruity alternatives. In the event, fresh strawberries were successfully purchased and used. The important thing with muffin-making, as opposed to making cakes, was to ensure a chunkiness to the mix before it went in the oven - leaving observable pieces of butter floating around in the mix. Also, a hefty dollop of blended and chopped strawberries went in to create a moist, flavoursome texture of wonder. The judges deemed the resulting muffins too sweet, but they clearly don't have Michael's love of syrup-fuelled cocktails!

It would not have been possible of course without the staff of The Cookery School. We suspect we are not the only people to thank them, but specifically we want to thank the staff who ran around fixing ovens, clearing benches, washing up, finding fridge space, interpreting frantically waved hands as 'a small metal dish about 3 inches deep, please' and generally making it all work. Well done you folks.

And with that we leave you. You should all go and vote for us, because we are lovely and cooked some rather tasty things that astounded even us in their tastiness. And because we are best.

Thanks to TikiChris for the photo

Billy is @cowfish and Michael is @mykreeve. They do like booze really.



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