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!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mac Attack 3 - Chocolate Macarons with Green Ginger Wine Buttercream

There has been a great deal of twitterchat about macarons and I understand that they are the new Cupcake!?
So I decided to have a go myself and when I came across the MACTWEETS blog I thought - hell why not.

Now to enter the Mac Attack challenge I understand that there has to be something NEW about ones macarons.  Well these are new to me and I won't provide a recipe as such as I sort of made it up as I went along using the ingerdients I had to hand from my larder and referencing a number of different blogs and foodie sites and I'm sure every MacMaker has their own secret recipe tips and twists.  This is more of a pictorial blog of my journey through making Macs for the first time...

I had 4 eggwhites left over from the pasta that I made for dinner last night so I used these as a starting point for my macarons - Some recipes that I have seen say that whites should be left uncovered in the fridge for a week before using, therese were only 24hrs in the fridge and would have to do. them from the fridge and letting them come up to room temperature before whipping them up with a small amount of icing sugar until glossy and stiff
Into a separate bowl I seived ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder.

I then folded the dry mix into the eggwhites and added some vanilla extract.
Being a techy geeky type I used photoshop to make up sheet of 1" (25mm) circles on a 2" (50mm) grid which I printed out a couple of times and stuck together to be the size of my baking tray.
I then laid a sheet of non-stick baking parchment over the layout grid on the baking tray and used the printed circles as a template for piping the macarons out.
After piping out two tarys worth I left them on one side for 30mins while the oven heated (180 degrees C) as I understand that the formation of a skin is very important especially if ones macarons are to have good "feet"!
After baking them in the oven for 15 mins they cane out looking quite good - I think the mix may have been a bit thick as although they did seem to have grown "feet" and puffed up a bit the little "nipple" at the top did not bake out.  I transferred them to a baking tray with ease - some recipes suggest putting a bit of water on the hot tray under the baking paper to ease the macs off - this did not seem necessary with the non stick parchment I used.
While the macs were cooling I made a simple butter cream using Stones Green Ginger Wine as a flavouring - I love this stuff and of course chocolate and ginger is always a winner!
After pressing the nipple out of a half shell and piping a good blob of the buttercream on I stuck the other half on and set it out to serve.
I have to say I, and the rest of the family were very happy with the results - a really deep chocolaty almond macaron that was crisp on the outside but chewy in the middle was well balanced by the aromatic green ginger wine butter cream.  Although not a strong  ginger flavour you got the sense of ginger up through your nose as the alcohol evaporated and mingeld with the unctious chocolate!  I could have used a puree of crystaised ginger, and may do in the future, but I guess macarons are a delicate amuse bouche and will defiantly be making them again now I have got the bug and next time will work on nipple less macarons!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gravad Lax - Quick, easy and delish!

This is a quick blog for my mother in law who wanted my  Christmas Gravad Lax recipe!  It takes three or four days to mature so I usually get my fish in time to make this so we can have Scrambled Eggs and Gravald Lax on English Muffins for Christmas Day breakfast.


  • Side of Salmon, descaled and pin boned
  • 2 Tbls Smoked Salt flakes
  • Good pinch Ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbls light soft brown sugar
  • Bunch of fresh dill herb
  • Other additions you could try are Lemon zest or juniper berries - have fun & enjoy!

  • Tidy and trim the side of salmon to a size that will suit you.
    The trimmings can be frozen for use later in a fish pie.

  • Lay several sheets of cling wrap down overlapping and place the washed and dried salmon skin side down on the clingwrap.

  • In a bowl or mortar combine the salt, pepper, sugar (you can add some of the the dill chopped) and mix / bash.  Spread the salt mix over the top of the salmon and then lay on the rest of the dill over

  • Wrap the salmon in the cling wrap completely trying to exclude as much of the air as possible and then wrap again in another sheet of cling wrap.

  • Put this, in a sealed bag in a dish or in a plastic container and leave in the bottom of the fridge to mature for 3 to 4 days (The exact length of time will depend on how thick your salmon is and how firm you like it)
  • When ready remove the salmon from it's wrapping, there should be a fair amount of liquid that has been taken from the fish. Wash off the excess salt, pepper, sugar and dill mix and pat dry.

  • Slice, a thinly as possible across the grain with a very sharp knife and serve with scrambled eggs and English muffins sprinkled with chopped dill and a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • If there is any left it is still fine stored in an air tight container in the fridge up to new year.  Alternatively chunks of it are great served thrown onto fresh linguine tossed in butter and creme fraiche!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Red Deer Osso Bucco in red wine and cranberries

Red Deer Osso Bucco  in red wine & cranberry
Serves 10


  • 1200g Red Deer
  • 1 Bottle good red wine  
(I used a bottle of 2008 Saint Joseph made just from Syrah Grapes that has a dark rich fruity flavour and goes well with game)
  • 20 assorted mini onions or shallots 
(I had a basked full left over from Christmas and love these in stews - you could just as well use a couple of big red or white onions chopped coarsely)

    • Dozen closed mushrooms
    • 3 cloves garlic - chopped finely.
    • Bay Leaf
    • Sweet smoked paprika powder
    • 3/4 pt beef stock
    • Splash of red wine vinegar
    • Bay Leaf
    • Butter & Olive Oil
    • flour, salt & pepper for dusting
    • Good quality 70% chocolate
    For the Cranberry Sauce
    • 300 g cranberries
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup golden caster sugar

    • To make the cranberry sauce first wash the cranberries (and pick out any dodgy looking ones) and combine with the sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat. Simmer until the cranberries have split and it has become "jammy".
    • Peel the mini onions and fry in them in the butter in a large oven proof pan until starting to caramelise.
    • Add quartered mushrooms and the garlic and cook gently while preparing the Osso Bucco:
    • Heat a heavy pan over a medium heat with olive oil
    • 3 or 4 pieces at a time dust the Osso Bucco in flour and seasoning and fry until golden brown, transfer to the casserole pan - do this for all the Osso Bucco adding more oil as it is taken up by the meat.
    • De-glaze the pan with half the wine and add to the casserole.
    • Add the rest of the wine, stock, smoked paprika, bay, half the cranberry sauce and vinegar and bring to a simmer.
    • Check seasoning - and adjust to your taste.
    • Pop the casserole into a slow oven (or I guess a slow cooker would work just as well) and leave for at lease 4 hrs or over night.

    To serve:
    • Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.
    • As an option you can grate a quantity of good 70% chocolate intro the sauce and stir in.
    • Serve with creamy mashed celeriac and sweetheart pointy cabbage and a dollop of cranberry sauce.