24 January 2013

Under Pressure: The Winners

Well, everything must come to an end. In terms of the pressure cooker competition in association with the generous chaps at Argos, that actually came to an end a couple of weeks ago, but due to having a book to finish - writing one, that is, not reading one - I've been a little bit snowed. 

Anyway, cheers all for the entries and the reads and RTs and all that sort of stuff. I've taken a look at all the entries and all seem very good reasons to want a pressure cooker, and a copy of Catherine Phipps' rather excellent Pressure Cooker Cookbook. On that basis, and because I know several of you, I thought the fairest thing to do would be to go through the list in order, count entries followed by an "ooh, sorry, forgot my e mail address" message as one, ignore the deleted ones and then pick the results via random number generator. And so, without more ado and a quick one of these, the winners - via undoubtedly the worst photos to ever appear on this blog - are...

Which, if my calculations are correct, make the winners Kavey and Dave Ives. Congratulations both, I will be in touch via e mail. 

7 January 2013

A Wizzard Wheeze

I wish it could be Christmas every day... Not sure Roy Wood really thought that one through. In terms of the economy, nearly everywhere would be shut so we'd never get a chance to work or buy food and presents. In terms of the nation's health, we'd just spend the day consuming vast numbers of calories with no exercise aside from carving and that fairly pointless post-lunch walk we feel duty bound to do. So really, Roy, the best we could really hope for is that we wish it could be Christmas every three days... 

The beardy one has a point when it comes to some of the food though. Chestnuts, for example, should be enjoyed for as long as they're in season. These weren't roasted on an open fire but in a closed oven at about 200 degrees C for 30 minutes, as per the BBC's suggestion. They were also half price in Waitrose, because, well, there are always post-Christmas seasonal bargains to be had. 

That was also the case with this two kilo slab of ham. Before Christmas I'd decided to do a ham for the big day - bizarrely the first I've ever done - and the results were so spectacular we've decided to never buy pre-packaged ham again. Doing it yourself is tastier and, we reckon, more economic, (well, assuming you've got sugars and spices and stuff at hand) plus the stock makes great soup and / or beans. The Christmas ham was a bargain slab c/o the excellent MarkyMarket, cooked mostly in accordance with Felicity Cloake's typically sage advice over at The Guardian Word of Mouth. Mind you, having also read Tim Hayward's recipe via the same paper, I decided to reduce the number of cloves. This second version - smoked this time, and another post-Christmas Waitrose bargain - saw no orange (no reflection on Felicity's recipe, just because I forgot to buy one) and Billington's Molasses sugar instead of the more straightforward brown sugar. The results in both cases have been glorious: sticky, spicy, sweet, moist and intensely hammy. It can only be a matter of time before I'm doing this too... 

2 January 2013

Under Pressure

If there’s been a theme of the blog of late – yes, other than “intermittent posting” – it’s probably been “slow”. There’s the joys of the sous vide and dishes that take 30 hours plus. There’s the low and slow stuff as I get ready – gulp – for Grillstock 2013.

There’s a lot of truth in the notion that “all good things come to those that wait”. Hopefully that includes this post which as far as I can remember is – fanfare please – the first competition I’ve ever run on the blog. And ironically, the prize is something that can knock 70 per cent off your cooking times. It’s not , as you might suspect, a microwave. It’s a pressure cooker. Well, two to be exact.

Since getting the allotment and being “forced” to make preserves and chutneys, the benefits of the pressure cooker have popped up in several recipes. Having also finally caught up with Catherine Phipps’ excellent and justifiably acclaimed The Pressure Cooker Cookbook (Ebury Press, £18.99), we decided to break ours out of long term hibernation and it’s been a revelation. A pressure cooker is not just for Christmas (puds). It’s for life…

So, when offered the chance by Argos to give away something from their range, the decision wasn’t exactly tricky. It’s a pretty good range, to be fair: you can get cookers from Argos and pretty much everything else you need in the kitchen, right down to the cutlery. But in this instance it was hard to see beyond the life changing joys of the pressure cooker. Going that route had one other bonus as well: it meant I could give away TWO pressure cookers.

The pressure cooker in question is this one, the shiny Prestige Six Litre High Dome Pressure Cooker worth £44.99.

Also, thanks to the generous Catherine Phipps and Ebury Press, each winner will also receive a copy of Catherine's acclaimed The Pressure Cooker Cookbook to help you get the most out of your prize.

So, how to enter? I could ask “who sang Under Pressure?” or some such but that’s a bit blooming easy, so I think the easiest way is to add a comment to this post on why you’d like to win a pressure cooker – making sure, of course, that you leave an e mail address or some way of contacting you.

I probably need a few legal-y bits here, right? Shall we say a closing date of January 11th 2013? The judge’s decision is final and yes, that does mean me. Winners will be notified the week after…

Here are some T&Cs from Argos…

•             Delivery will be within 28 days of Argos receiving the winner’s address, and the competition prize may vary at the discretion of Argos

•             The prize as described will be supplied direct from Argos, and there is no cash alternative

•             This competition is open to UK residents only.

Good luck - and Happy New Year.