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.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Ultimate Mac N Cheese Challenge

    Well here it is - my original recipie Ultimate Mac N Cheese challenge entry for the competition on The Cheeselover's Blog.  Please remeber - The proof of the pudding is in the eating and enjoy it.

    Chocolate Macaroni &
    White Chocolate & Lime Cream Cheese
    with Caramelised Demerara Disc

    My children are my inspiration for this take on Macaroni Cheese.  I got a pasta roller attachment for my Kenwood Major this Christmas and the kids have been badgering me to make chocolate pasta ever since.  I was thinking about the "cheese" sauce and then had a eureka moment - Key-Lime cheese cake.  The only thing missing would be a crisp crunchy top - the best bit of a proper macaroni and cheese.  Inspiration this time from my grilled grapefruit breakfast and the caramelised demerara disc was born.

    I know this is a bit whacky and off the wall but, I hope, not too much for the competition!?  The kids really liked it, as did the grown-ups.  I think the flavours really work - you certainly don't need much!  Serves 10. 

    Chocolate Macaroni


    • 200g 00 flour
    • 50g good Fairtrade cocoa powder
    • 50g Icing Sugar 
    • 2 Free Range Eggs
    • 60ml water
    • Sieve the the powdered ingredients intio a food processor add the eggs and blitz.  The mix should resemble course breadcrumb - add extra water if too dry or flour if too wet.

    • Remove  mix from the processor and squish it together then knead for 5 mins until smooth.  Cover with Clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour or so.

    • Split the mix into 4 parts and pass through a pasta machine several times on the widest setting folding the pasta ingot in half, turning 90 degrees and stretching it before each pass.

    • Roll the pasta down to about 1mm thick (6 on my pasta roller) then lay the sheet out, trim and cut rectangles approx 15mm x 30mm (the excess can be re-rolled in with the next 1/4 batch) using a mix of cocoa power, icing sugar and flour to dust.

    • Brush a line of water at one end of the rectangle and roll the pasta round a chopstick or pencil.  Slide off onto a cooling rack and let dry a little.
    White Chocolate & Lime Cream Cheese

    • 200g Good quality White Chocolate
      I use Amedei Toscano White: 29% cocoa & real vanilla. It is nothing like the White Chocolate for kids!
    • 360ml Double Cream
    • 200g Full Fat Creamcheese (Philadelphia)
    • The Zest and Juice of a lime

    • In a double boiler melt the white chocolate with the double cream.

    • In a separate bowl whip up the creamcheese with the zest and juice of the lime.

    • Allow cream and chocolate mix to cool and then combine into the creamcheese and lime mix.

    • Set aside until ready to serve.
    Caramelised Demerara Disc


    • Demerara Sugar

    • Lay a teflon non stick sheet over a wooden chopping.

    • Using a cheffy ring or biscuit cutter create a thin circle of demerara sugar.

    • Carefully remove the cheffy ring and using a blowtorch (or under a grill) melt the sugar gently until you feel it will stick when cool.

    • Allow to cool in a dry place until ready to serve. 
    Serving Up:


    • Large pan of water
    • 1 Cup golden cater or granulated sugar
    • Mint leaf and grated white chocolate

    • Gently warm the "Cheese sauce" in a double boiler.

    • To cook the pasta add the cup of sugar to the water and bring to the boil, reduce to a gentle simmer.

    • Place prepared pasta gently in the boiling sugar solution and cook until aldente (This will depend how thick your pasta is) Scoop out with a slotted spoon.

    • On a plate spoon out a portion, spoon over the cheese and place a demerara disc on top.

    • Grate white chocolate and garnish with a mint leaf to serve.