Over the years I’ve certainly grown in to a food snob. Partly. I scoffed over the Cant Believe Its Not Butter my parents plastered all over their breakfast toast – well I read the ingredients, to see what was in it, to which my mother let forth a torrent of ridicule. I was actually going to eat the stuff. And did. Just not on white sliced bread. I mean there are limits!
Personally I don’t think its that difficult, or that much more expensive, to give some consideration to what you eat – ditch the sugar-drench cereal for something more beneficial, buy decent bread with flavour rather than the cheapest ready sliced white, go for a tin of low-salt baked beans etc etc.
While I personally try to buy seasonal produce, use what pitiful bounty my allotment provides, use Fever Tree tonic in my Gin simply because it tastes better and wouldn’t be seen dead eating a Big Mac or, as a friend is wont to recommend, a KFC, I realise sometimes things have to give way in the face of convenience, cost and time. (As an aside if one more advert or cooking program proclaims that we are all so, so busy and pressured I will scream. Its bollocks.)
I seldom make my own pastry (ready-made is so good). I prefer a tin of those organic baked beans I get from Waitrose, to making my own. And Chinese takeaway simply tastes better than anything I’ve ever concocted in the kitchen. Like-wise with the Mexican inspired (Tex-Mex) products from Old El Paso. I love their tortillas and the spice mix to stir into pan-fried beef mince has surfaced many a time as friends descend post-pub.
Last week I was sent a batch of the Old El Paso products. Which was nice. Included were several products new to the market including Chili and Garlic One Pan Rice Meal for Chicken and a Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Mix.
The instructions for the casserole couldn’t have been simpler. Add 50mls of water, some chicken thigh fillets, a sliced onion, and a sliced green pepper to the dish along with the pack contents and cook for 1 hour 50 minutes before adding double cream and cooking for another 10 minutes.
The pack stated mild. You really need a bit of a kick to such dishes I feel so added a couple of home-grown chilies for extra heat. The result was delicious; those additional chilies are needed!
Greater deviation for the rice dish. Rather than adding chicken – it was going to be served with some as it was – I added a tin of drained butter beans, a sliced red pepper and a pile of frozen sweetcorn (thinking of the 5-a-day) plus (as I had ran out of normal onions) two chopped spring onions. The El Paso pack comes with the rice, serving 3-4 people plus a sachet of sauce and a separate sachet of spices. Why the two? I’m guessing so you can adjust the spice-heat, although I found the result in need of a pep-up if honest.
In my house wine is de rigueur while cooking, while eating and while entertaining. To match the creamy chicken casserole? I plumped for a South American white – GatoNegro Chardonnay 2013 about £6.99 Waitrose. Its sporting one of those “Enjoy with white meats, fish and shellfish” rear labels, but it’s a jolly little wine – ‘easy drinking’, enjoyable, a wine for sharing, a wine for food such as this or on its own. No guilt trip here.
In an attempt to retain a smattering of home-cook credentials the final addition to the meal was sliced and fried flour tortillas. Think this might be a Nigella recipe. Frying stuff is proper cooking right? Nope, still no guilt…
The Old El Paso Chili and Garlic One Pan Rice Meal kit and Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Mix were sent to me as samples.