Tag Archives: Food

My Rustic Pig

15 Nov

A few months ago I was given the opportunity to go into ‘partnership’ in rearing a pig. This would be exciting I thought, as most chefs dream of being farmers one day!(unless that is just me?). The pig was a weaner  , and looked after on a free range farm, where it was lovely taken care of by some fab people at – All Seasons Rare Breed Pigs. It had some happy months ahead of it and would need to grow up to 65Kgs before its final day would come. Anyway the pig eventually grew to 79Kgs and was taken off to a friendly Butcher to be portioned(detail not required!). Once the ‘Cutting list’ was agreed I got this huge box of various cuts /joint of pork dropped off (thanks Roy!)

One of the dishes that popped into my head was a belly pork dish id done in the past

Rubbed Belly pork

belly getting ready

I marinated the pork belly with bay leaf , garlic & fennel seeds – chopping them all fine , then adding 2 tbsp of tomato paste , sugar & seasoning. I rubbed this into the belly and popped it in to the fridge for a few hours.

I slow roasted it for 4 hours until the belly was soft & the skin was crispy.

belly with slaw & Mizuna  I finished the pork with some fresh Mizuna from the salad I had left under my cold frame , and made up a crunchy apple slaw to go with it.

all the left over pork I ‘forked’ down and we had the next day in a pulled meat bun Hmm..


Plentry of eggs to use..?

24 Sep

Maybe you don’t get that problem?  , an excess of eggs. Although this time of year the chucks are slowing down their egg production ,  still I seem to have an abundance at the end of each week. The father in law does help out by whipping some away on a sunday for his yorkie pudds & Margret’s fairy cakes! , but still there is only so many cupcakes I can make in the week and the kids pretty much have fallen out of love with them, as we always seem to have a cake tin overflowing with them. So this week I thought I’d woo the wife with a custard tart – no not like Paul Hollywood (from GBBoff) – but much better!

we are bored!!

we are bored!!

free range egg yolks

It is important to make a good pastry for your tart:

Sweet Paste recipe

200g Plain flour  ,100g butter, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla , 60g icing sugar

combine all together roll & refrigerate.

Custard filling recipe:

8 x egg yolks , 400ml F/Fat milk , 100ml double cream , 50g castor sugar , ground mixed spice (nutmeg , cinnamon , caraway)

Whisk the egg yolks & sugar together until thick. Heat milk & cream – then gradually pour over the egg yolk mix , whisking as you do so.

Roll out the sweet paste as think as you dare! lightly grease your tart ring! then line the ring with the pastry. Lightly bake the ring blind in a hot oven, 180 degrees should do. Don’t allow the tart to colour (10 minutes in oven max).

Pour the filling into the tart by passing through a sieve then sprinkle over the ground mixed spice, once the mix has settled.

Thick & fluffy egg yolks

Yum nearly there

Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until the centre has stopped wobbling – remove once cooked and allow to cool at room temperature.

what can I say ....

what can I say ….

Its Raining apples

17 Sep

High winds combined with a huge bumper crop of Apples prompted me to make & bake with my apples( I had so much I couldn’t see the grass on the garden) – as they had all fallen off (also hitting the neighbours car – sorry!) , I’ve got a mix of apples 1 tree out front of the house has – bitter cooking apples (they go a lovely rosy red colour) they have the taste similar to Bramley apples. The other Apples (in the back garden) are sweet Eatting apples – Cox’s pippins I recon?


Anyway I fancied making as lovely little Dutch apple tart with cinnamon , sultanas and a nice little lattice top( I know very fluffy!)



Dutch Apple Tart  

ingredients you will need:  

obviously some apples! x 6 med sized apples will do.

120g Sultana or raison

120g soft brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla essence

2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

For the pastry:

180g plain flour 

40g cornflour

100g butter(chilled)

100g castor sugar

1 egg yolk.

   Make the pastry by rubbing all dry(flour etc) with the butter , then add the egg yolk. Bring together as a paste and wrap & chill in the fridge(leave for 20 mins). 

Once chilled roll out 3/4 of the paste and place in a tart dish. Prick the bottom and put back in fridge for 10 minutes to rest.  

Peel & chop the apples(I used a mix of both). Add the vanilla 1/2 the cinnamon and the sultanas & 1/2 the soft brown sugar. 

 Place the tart in the oven to bake blind (approx 10 minutes)

 Place the apple mix into the tart case (keep some of the juice from the apples and set aside usually in the bottom of the bowl!)

Now roll out the remaining paste and cut into long strips. Secure these strips onto the outside rim of the tart with a little egg yolk & water mix.

 Now brush the reserved apple juice over the lattice , sprinkle the remaining sugar and the left over cinnamon.

 Place the tart in the oven on around 170 degree Celsius –    cook for around 20 minutes (or until the lattice is cooked and brown(ing)              


Serve this little  baby (Hot or Cold)with some Cornish clotted cream or a jug load of custard.  hmm hmm ….




Wild Camping

22 Aug

Just back from 2 weeks of camping in St Austell in Cornwall , then a few days in a little village  called Llancloudy near Ross on wyre on the border of Wales. The Weather was good and we all enjoyed being out under the stars at night..

Even though we were camping I was sure that we were going to eat like kings. A nice ‘little’ warmer was Saute chicken with bacon , baby potatoes and – you guest it finished with good old tetley bitter!!

 ingredients needed:

  4x chicken thighs & Drum sticks

  1 garlic clove (crushed)

  2 tablespoons tomato paste

  4 table spoons of sugar

  4 slices of thick smoked bacon  (chopped)

12 x peeled and washed small new potatoes

First mix the tomato paste, sugar and garlic together then rub into the thighs and drumsticks.

With a hot pan fry the chicken pieces adding the bacon 1/2 way through. Turn the chicken over ensure you brown all over (no pink chicken!).I had to use both my pans (only got two camping ones) as the chicken was a little bigger than I thought..ooops!

Once the chicken is brown add the tetley beer – this will need to reduce down

Once the beer has reduced add the new potatoes and 1 cup full of water , black pepper and salt. Simmer for around 10-15 mins or until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Serve with Crusty bread 

We managed to Buy some nice fresh crusty baguette from a local little bakery in Tintagel.

With so many places to visit – packed lunches , a rucksack and walking boots were the way forward… great fun

From St Micheal mount to the Fairy Glen near abergavennythe kids loved it….


When we were king’s in Shanghai

30 Jan

Early January I found I had (Totally out of the blue) – had to go to china – Shanghai to carry out some training with some of our china team on a new cafe opening. The training and day-to-day things were fine , we ate out a bit and saw a few sites(11 hour flight was great fun!).

A memorable place to eat was a great restaurant ( only locals – very few Europeans go there) , Du SU dong in central Shanghai.  All I can say was their ribs were great full of Schwann spices and chilli overload. We ate chicken pop pop with peanuts and chillies , some really nice sides , hot pickled crunchy( Julienne/fine batons) potato with peppers,  pulled fried chicken with fried chillies ( nice but rather hot!!) .       

We were lucky to have a guide( colleague from our China office!)  showing us the restaurants to eat in.  The people were great – really friendly and very Kind.  Westerners are seen as kings here , Chinese  people seem in general to be very happy to have us here westernising their country. Theres Starbuck’s & costa around every corner – but also some truly great little chinese bakeries and patisserie shops. As a former pastry chef I was really impressed by the quality of bakery items and amount of chinese folk having coffee and doughnuts!! odd as tea should rule here.

I thought this picture summed up me & John’s (my colleague) trip to Shanghai – this would be how we “could” have ended up  – food was great and we were treated with respect (almost treated like Kings). And after all we did fly virgin upper class too…… cheers Mr Branson  

Snow and more snow

23 Dec

Just when we thought the snow had gone ! – It’s very cold and there’s snow everywhere (well in the north-east anyway!). The kids love it as they get to throw white stuff at each other , and I get to make them a funky snowman!

We’ve just got back today from an “overnighter” in Edinburgh – It was seriously cold !! kids enjoyed it as they had a go at Ice skating and we wandered around the German market. Because it so cold I thought I’d have a go at making a nice little winter warmer – some mulled wine….

  You need:

 1x  full bottle Red wine – any strong red – i’m not fussed!

2 oranges peeled (rind , juice and orange go in)

2 x satsumas (just segments)

6x cloves

2x cinnamon sticks  , 5 tablespoons of honey

you can add a little more orange juice to make this go further or less stronger .. its your choice.

Happy festive drinking !! 


7 Nov

My recent competition entry :  Apple & ginger crumble with a Vanilla & lemon balm Panna cotta , served with Apple & cinnamon fritters.

Whats your favourite pudding? let me know

Autumn’s here

1 Nov

Leaves are falling off the trees – Autumn’s here , nearly all my apples have gone (we had an apple crumble fest!!)  but soon it’ll be christmas. At work we’ve planned a load of menus and really good dishes for christmas(starts November) and are working on summer next year ready for launch in may 2011. Us wicked chefs never stop !

I’ve had a great few weeks starting with restaurant show in earls court competing as Compass Chef of the year (see link below)http://www.therestaurantshow.co.uk/page/compass_junior_senior_chef_of_th.html demostrating deli tastings in Glasgow and bristol to my loyal follower’s , then college on friday (cert ed course)  

I thought I’d drop a couple of pictures in of dishes I’ve just done up for christmas – Egg  nog (really good taste!) , a lovely seafood platter with prawns ,crab and salmon.


Want to do have a go with a little something different over Christmas – try this dish with turkey breast , Bacon & cheese :

toasted sourdough bread (1 slice)

sliced cooked turkey breast  x 5 small slices or 120g

sliced cooked streaky bacon x 3 slices cut in half

Mature cheddar cheese(stronger the better) x 5 small slices

Cranberry sauce x 2 Tbsp

rocket salad x 20g

olive oil x 1 tbsp

Balsamic x 1 teaspoon

Dried cranberries & chopped chives to garnish


Make up the dressing with the balsamic , olive oil & chopped cranberries(dried) – dress the rocket and place in a centre of the plate, cut the hot toasted sourdough and place on the salad… drizzle with remaining dressing.

Fruits of our garden!

2 Sep

Here we are again in the garden on a bright and sunny day,there are fruits on the trees nice and ripe – I’ve got loads of bramble bushes with big black Blackberries on them, I’ve got strawberries and a tree full of apples ready to drop! Yes you’ve guessed it I’m gonna make some jam …  O Yes I am!  

I thought i’d have a go at making some jam  using some blackberries , strawberries , vanilla ,apples some sugar and water. i ‘ve made blackberry or Hedgerow jam before with good results – i wouldn’t say i’m a great jam maker – but I find its fun , the kids like it and I’m a lover of jam in the morning on my toast!


you need to make sure you have plenty of fruit around 3lb – with 2lb castor sugar and 1pt water. Add 1 vanilla pod split down the middle (remember to take this out afterwards) , I add a little pectin – 1 table-spoon will do. The pectin stops the jam setting to a thick caramel – its used for gelling foods in particular jams. 

Mix the fruit together and bring to boil.  add the vanilla & pectin .Simmer down the jam and let “tick over” for 30 mins to allow the apples to break down. Make sure you sterilize your jam jars and lids using a dishwasher I find  is the best way , allow to air cool , fill the jars while the mix is still hot to warm.

place the lids on the jam jars while still warm – seal tightly and leave at room temperature to cool. I’ve got plenty Apples left – so plenty apple crumbles for the family to sample ! Happy Jam making 🙂

Blooming great

9 Jul

The Sun is shining and the garden is blooming Great !! Life’s good!

I’ve got a good mix of veggies and herbs in the garden , I use my pond water on the plants – it works wonders (phosphorus , something or other from the fish?) I’ve got tomatoes , strawberries , carrots , beetroot,beans ,wild garlic  & a good selection of herbs, all taken care of by my little helper (Annie ) when I’m away working.  

The plants & flowers have done their thing for another year and I’ve managed to take a load of the herbs to make this really tasty herb bread.

I’m also gonna do a double whammy by making meatballs & spaghetti – I love home-made meatballs. Kids love-making them – they get their hands in , and help mould the balls(making a mess along the way)

The herb & olive oil bread is a really good accompaniment  for the meatballs.

Ok let’s get down and dirty!!  all good meatballs start with a good sauce – this is a fab sauce!

what you need for the sauce:

1 tin/can  Chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons sugar  

2 cloves of garlic (I used my wild garlic)

30mls olive oil

1 med chopped onions(rough)

4 slices od chopped smoked streaky bacon

black pepper / seasoning

100ml water

First – heat 1/2 oil in a pan – place the onions ,finely chopped garlic & bacon in the pan sweat down for 10 mins or so – now add the chopped tomatoes , sugar , seasoning and remaining oil . Now add the water and bring to the boil – simmer for 30 mins – take off heat and blend in food processor. Pour back into the pan and place on a low heat.

Meat Ball time!! Use any good quality beef mince /or Pork mince (usually 250g will give you 8 nice balls) Mix your mince with 1 egg , 1/2 chopped onion , table-spoon of Dijon mustard ,good mix (1 table-spoon) of all fresh thyme ,oregano and rosemary. Add salt & pepper , and a good(Yeh be generous) handful of grated parmesan.  once all the mix is blended (by hand) mould into small balls and fry in a little hot oil – you only need to colour , once coloured place into the simmering sauce.

Serve with a good portion of spaghetti , make the herb bread with my basic dough recipe(follow lucys bread recipe)

 and add a good handful of mixed herbs – any will do basil , parsley , sage , rosemary ,thyme etc mix with a little olive oil – rub the herb mix on top of the bread as the picture shows

Bake the bread in the oven as bread – At 19o degrees  – the bread should be cooked in 25 mins.

serve meatballs and spaghetti with a huge chunk of this really good bread …Hmmmmm yum yum!

Adventures in the UK!

Chronicles of a Texan's study abroad and internship experience in London

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Make-Meals Mama

My family is my life. Lucky for me, my kids are adventurous eaters. Lucky for them too! Support small business (caters and personal chefs!) My page: www.facebook.com/MakeMeals


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