Sunday, April 25, 2010

Liver & Bacon - Sustenance in style

This dish is for Nikki, love of my life, 'cos she "don't like liver".  
I know some may think: Hold on, if she "don't like liver" why are you making liver and bacon?
Well, I have found that quite often some dishes can be so traumatic when you are a kid that you never want to touch them again - your nan's sprouts at Christmas cooked to a mush, school cauliflower cheese again cooked to a mush and swimming in rancid "cheese water" - but often by cooking with care and respect, using fresh local ingredients and packing flavour in we can overcome the abuse we suffered as kids!

Lamb and pigs liver: (4min pan fried in butter & ground nut oil)
Gravy: bacon, red onion, bacon & port gravy
Two Tatties Terrine (maris piper & sweet potatoes)
Red Onion Marmalade (port, sherry vinegar & red wine)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Needless to say - she, and all the kids loved it and came back for more - phew!

Photo Blog: Rocket, Lemon & Olive amuse bouche

Inspired by a recent trip North Norfolk where we stayed at Titchwell Manor Hotel this great pre-starter served as part of head chef Eric Snaith's innovative seven course taster menu was well worth the effort involved!
Ingredients: Rocket (1 bag), Lemons (3) & Green Olives (15)

Blitz Rocket & Lemon Juice

Add Olives & Blitz


Add sugar stock to taste

Add to NOX gas canister with couple of ice cubes

Serve in flute or shot glass

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Battle for Toad Hall - The Aftermath!

Well it's been a busy few weeks in the AB household what with our decision to install Solar Thermal hot water AND Photovoltaic Solar power panels which had to be done double quick to make use of the UK government grant that is ending, a realisation that I  should really get one OU course work ended before starting the next but BOTH need the work in at the end of February and of course the dread, when you have kids, half term!

But I have FINALLY gotten round to a round up of the Battle For Toad Hall!

Firstly I'd like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to enter the first blog-challenge that I have ever set and I hope that you enjoyed doing and eating it as much as I did?

The first entry by RoastPotato "perfect toad in the hole with onion gravy" using a Heston approach featured a true gravy to die for and lovely pump toads nestled in a duvet of a hole - thank you!

meemalee's "Easy Toad in the hole" did exactly what it said on the tin and served with a good helping of Baked Beans and Mash is guaranteed to fulfil your winter desires! Sorry I could not work out how to post a photo here but head over to the blog and feast your eyes! 

57varieties entry was a tale filled with tears of happiness and sorrow - unfortunately at the time of writing the blog seems to have disappeared off the face of the interweb!!

Maison Cupcake's entry set my heart beating with her gorgeous "Valentines Dinner Heart Shaped Toad in the Hole for Two" and bought back memories of my 'O' level human biology lessons (complete with exploding pencil sharpeners - but that's another story!).

There was one last "late" entry by anyoneforseconds: "Toad In The Hole"  which is included here 'cos it looked damn fine! 

Oh, and I nearly forgot my entry using locally made paprika sausages:

I think, and hope you'd agree, that we all deserve to be "Toad of Toad Hall" and hope everyone enjoys this celebration of a great British dish!

Poot Poot!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Salmon En Croute - A dish in pictures:

The "fat" end of the Salmon that I got before Christmas to make my Gravad Lax - all the trimings are waiting in the freezer for a fish pie:
The topping: Local soft goats cheese from Wobbly Bottom Farm, Fresh Dill, Lemon Zest & Juice & Black Pepper:
Tarragon Crepe:
Bringing it together.  Puff Pastry, Herb Crepe, Parma Ham, Salmon & Goats Cheese topping:

Sealed, Decorated and egg-washed.  A piping nozzle "chimney" to let the steam out:
The Hollandaise.  Add hot lemon juice/sherry vinegar and then hot butter to seasoned egg yolk:
Baked to perfection: 
The Crepe and Parma ham seal in the moisture so the pastry crisps up:
Served with fresh and local new potatoes and broccoli from 9 Wells Watercress farm:
And enjoy with a bottle of Rose!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Toad Of Toad Hall

Here's my entry for the Toad Of Toad Hall challenge. It's not my best ever result visually - for some reason the holes are not very deep - but the taste using locally produced #bedsfood sausages from K.C.Robbins and my tailor made onion gravy was FAB!

My secret to great Toad In The Hole is to poach the sausages SLOWLY.  I sometimes poach in Cider and then use this to make the gravy - this time as I was using Spanish Paprika sausages I made a simple stock base with Bay, Celery, Onion, Peppercorns etc...

You need to place all the stuff in a big pan of cold water. And bring VERY SLOWLY to just under a simmer until cooked - time depends on how big your bangers are but about an hour.  If you put them in a pan of boiling stock or heat it too fast the bangers will pop!  I leave the links connected to minimise any loss of the filling into the water.

While were sausages are simmering you can make the batter for the hole.  I usually use Jane Grigson's "Chinese Yorkshire Pudding" as told by Nigella in How To Eat I'm sure you have your own.  My normal twist is to usually add a dollop of English mustard or mustard powder.  With respect to the Spanish nature of these sausages I added two tablespoons of La Chinata Sweet smoked Pimenton and used smoked salt.  La Chinata is great stuff and I highly recommend you get it if you see it - There are Hot and Sweet varieties get two of each and you will never regret it!

For the onion gravy I sliced two large red onions (grown locally) and fried them slowly in Red Palm & Canola Oil - I love the colour this oil give you for tomato based dishes and adding a teaspoon of La Chinata's HOT smoked Pimenton gives it a real kick!  When the onions are soft and caramelised turn up the heat for a minute or so and slosh on a good glug of sweet dark sherry followed by shot of red wine vinegar to deglaze.

Add Passata a little stock and a whole star anise - simmer gently and reduce to increase the depth of flavour and the colour.

When the sausages are cooked hook them gently out of the pan and, if needed, cut the links.  The oven needs to be very hot - I use a fan oven for mine and whack the temp up to 250C, pre heating the roasting pan(s).

My other secret ingredient is the Garlic and Thyme infused goose fat I use to Confit my Christmas Turkey legs and thighs which I take off the crown before cooking for Christmas Day and we have the Turkey Confit for New Year's Eve.  I keep this fat in the fridge and use through the year for Yorkies, Holes and Roasties.

Back to the dish!  Take the hot pan out of the oven and place on a medium heat on the hob.  Throw in a knob of fat and when it has melted and starting to smoke pour in the batter mix followed by the sausages.  I usually use about a pint of batter and six sausages to a pan.

Pop it back in the hot oven for about 25 mins until, you hope, the batter is cooked and well risen.  Take the star anise out of the gravy and serve with your choice of vegetables - we like broad beans (well some of the kids don't but the HAVE to eat them or no pudding!).  Because they were poached rather than roasted or grilled the sausages remain really moist and meaty and the gravy rich and unqtious.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Battle for Toad Hall

I've been blogging and tweeting about food for a couple of months now and entered a couple of events that I've seen mentioned on Twitter.  I've met some great tweeps and bloggers, had great fun and learnt a lot on the way!
Following a converstaion with @Browners on twitter thought it was about time for me to host an event...

The Battle For Toad Hall

This event is all about creating the ultimate version of that great British dish: Toad In The Hole with gravy.

So if you want to be crowned Toad Of Toad Hall or have never had a go at this winter warming dish please do have a go and blog about it and I'll do a comprehensive round up of all entries. 

Closing Date for entries is Sunday 31st January 2010

Here are the rules of the game:

  1. Once you have posted your Battle for Toad Hall enty on your blog, please make sure you leave a comment below with a link to your post.
  2. Please link back to this challenge on your post.
That's it - feel free to make or buy your sausages and give us the tips and tricks for perfect batter and don't forget the best ever gravy to complement your dish!