The Shelf Life


America’s (the world’s?) best hot dog

I could start this post by moaning about how it’s impossible to get a decent hot dog in Australia, but even if anyone was listening no-one would do anything about it so I won’t bother. Anyway, just to make me insanely jealous & hungry (not necessarily in that order), the Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine teamed up with the guys from Serious Eats to choose America’s best hot dog from 64 candidates. Oh, what a onerous task. The winner? The thing of beauty pictured above (photo from Slashfood) is the “Depression-style” dog from Gene & Jude’s of Chicago, Illinois. This dog is topped with yellow American mustard, onion, sweet relish, hot “sport” peppers (small hot green peppers packed in vinegar) and french fries. The history of this hot dog stretches back to 1946, and Ketchup is strictly not allowed. Read more about Gene & Jude’s winning dog and the…

Fast Foods of the World: McDonald’s Prosperity Burger

It’s late Friday night and Chinese New Year is upon us, so what fast food snack would we indulge in but a McDonald’s Malaysia Prosperity Burger, featuring a beef or chicken patty with black pepper sauce and crunchy onions. Introduced in 1994, these burgers are made available every year for a limited time over the New Year period, and apparently they’re quite tasty but relatively expensive. Feeling doubly prosperous? – go for a double patty (but not one of each it seems…)  You can get some free Post-It notes while you’re at it. The Orange Dream McFlurry sounds right up my street – I’m one of those odd people who likes to mix citrus and dairy. This photo of the real thing doesn’t do much for my appetite, however…maybe I’ll just go to bed instead.

Insane recipe test: Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

My kids aren’t very adventurous with food, but a good choc-chip cookie always goes down well. I’ve tried quite a few different recipes in search for the ultimate one (my personal favourite is the one in Nigella’s new “Kitchen” book, with this one coming a close second) but when this one came my way via Twitter the other day I knew I had to give it a go. It is, with out a shadow of a doubt, the most insane thing I’ve ever cooked. The recipe I used came from “Buns in My Oven”, which credits it as coming from Jenny at “Picky Palate”.  Note to Jenny: you’re completely mad, and a danger to yourself and others. Here’s  the recipe with a couple of metric conversions thrown in for those of us who measure in a sensible fashion (but not worrying about changing cup or spoon measurements): 225g butter, softened…

Dodgy dessert: turbo apple tart

I’ve been wanting to give this a go for a while, and tonight was the night. The aim here: to make a very quick & simple apple tart, and as little mess as possible. First I took a sheet of frozen puff pastry and cut it into pieces. I placed the tart bases (and some long strips of pastry just for the hell of it) onto some baking paper and covered the tart bases with apricot jam. I then cored and sliced a few apples, not bothering to peel them in the interests of speed. I arranged the apples on the pastry in a rather haphazard fashion and drowned with icing sugar before popping into the oven at 180c for about 20 minutes. Side note: I’ve decided not to bother trying to make my desserts look nice any more, and I’m just going to stick to the baking which I…

Fast Foods of the World: Walkers Crisps “Clash of the Comics”

I moved to Australia from England at the age of 8 – nearly 30 years ago – but one thing I never stopped missing is English crisps. Not only are Australian crisps texturally dull, we don’t get much variety in terms of flavours – salted, cheese & onion, salt & vinegar, “chicken”, barbecue – does anyone actually know what a barbecue tastes like? – and variants thereof. As I’ve mentioned here before, Australia’s relatively small population means that we don’t get as great a variety of consumer goods as some countries. Over the years the importing of English crisps (and other essentials, such as Marmite and Pot Noodle) has become more common. To this day, specialty English food shops lay in wait with bare shelves until the containers arrive and carry stock for as long as it takes for those in the know to get there and strip the place…

Top Chef All-Stars, Episode 7

Ah, all of our old favourites doing the same old challenges we love, all over again. This week – Restaurant Wars. Marcel pisses everyone off. Blais reminisces about working at McDonald’s. Fabio wears a snappy jacket. I can’t put my finger on why, but I’m not enjoying this season as much as I thought I would. At least we have Anthony Bourdain telling it how it really is. For a weekly Top Chef roundup, you can’t go past comedian Max Silvestri’s roundup of each episode on Eater National. Great stuff. You can also see some more Marcel bashing here, courtesy of the folks at Bravo TV.

Dinner tonight: slow barbecued pork shoulder

Out last house suffered from a small backyard with no paved area, which meant there was nowhere to put a barbecue, let alone entertain. Thankfully own new house has a large entertaining area, so one of the first things I did after we moved in was invest in a barbecue. This being my “starter” model, I was reasonably restrained (which is unusual for me) and I invested in a six burner version of the Beefmaster, the house brand of Australian franchise Barbecues Galore. I was lucky enough to score a bargain by buying a display model. Thankfully it was fully assembled, and I avoided a scene similar to this one: It’s had plenty of use over the summer, and I’m happy with it so far. One of my favourite barbecued things is pork ribs, and I’m yet to find a restaurant here that can cook them properly. More often than…