Tag Archives: Passion for 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..


Valentines dessert day

15 Feb

Its Valentines day!  expectations running high , lack of romance ? Doing a meal is always the best option – for me (being a chef) , and at least this way I can have a nice long play in the kitchen. Although we agreed that we wouldn’t get each other prezies (we exchanged cards though:)) I thought it would be nice to do something special  – pop in a roast Honey & Mustard ‘mini’ Bacon Joint , with some veggies – sticky beetroot , roast rosemary potatoes , Carrot & swede puree. But a meal isn’t a meal with out a dessert! (& some Caramelised onion bread).

So I sent the lovely wife out for a bit (not sure where she went?!) , then ‘cracked on’ with making bread & the dessert.

Bread I’ll cover off another day – it was simple bread recipe , shaped into a bloomer, finished 1/2 way through proving with some pre-caramelised onions with balsamic.

The dessert: Strawberry & white chocolate Panna cotta with vanilla served with honey Tuille biscuits ,Star anise &  strawberry jelly.

ingredients needed:

makes 4 portions

300ml double cream

125gms white chocolate

60gms icing sugar

100gms caster sugar

1 vanilla pod – cut lengthways

2 small leaf gelatine ( 1 for Panna cotta , 1 for jelly)

120gms strawberries (6 single)

300mls water  

Tuille biscuit mix:

120gms plain flour         3 tbsp honey           40gms icing sugar          1 egg white                        1 teasp vanilla essence    30gms melted butter



Start your Panna cotta mix by bringing to boil the cream , split vanilla & 1/2 of the sugar , 1/2 the white chocolate together, then add the (pre-soaked) gelatine.Whisk over heat well. 

In a bowl whisk 3 of the cut strawberries , remaining icing sugar. Once blended combine with the cream & vanilla mix. Pour the Panna cotta mix into moulds or rings and chill in the fridge.

Mix all of the tuille biscuit ingredients together until a paste is formed. Using a palate knife spread the paste over a plastic template (I used a heart shape!). make sure when spreading the biscuit mix over the tray that the tray is either non stick or use a silicone mat. 

  Next focus on making the jelly – this goes on the top of the Panna cotta and a little used for the  sauce.

Place the water , star anise , caster Sugar & 1 of the strawberries (chopped) into a pan and bring to the boil. reduce by 1/3 – add 1 leaf of pre-soaked gelatine. Whisk until dissolved and clear. Remove from the heat. Once cool pour 1/2 on top of the Panna cotta – this should be no more than 10mm.Place back into the fridge to Set fully.  

Blend the last of the strawberries with 1/2 of the remaining jelly until a smooth sauce is made.  

The finishing touch – melt the remaining chocolate and spread over some grease-proof (shave some dark chocolate in over the white) then place in the freezer to set (very hard!) 

Plate up as the picture – I added some dried sugared vanilla, although the kids(watching us eating) didn’t get why we were eating sugared twigs….

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 ….




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 !! 

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.

My Chocolate souffle

8 May

I’ve been fairly busy recently so I havent had the chance to stick this dish up as promised – Chocolate souffle with Ginger snap and chocolate sauce.

I’ve been out helping needy chefs!!

So the Kids easter eggs are melted down now ! they don’t really eat that much anyway – they just sit there in the cupboard until we throw them in May sometime, so why not turn them into something a little different ( I did cheat a little and use some of  Willies 100% cacao bar – just to give the richness I needed) I’m a great fan of willies wonky chocolate 🙂

Ok make the biscuits – ginger snaps he we go!

Mix the flour, brown sugar , egg white & Honey together adding a teaspoon of ginger  – this should be blended to a paste. Place a spoon of the mix on a flat tray that has been very lightly greased with oil – Alternatively use baking mats. Bake in the oven at 185 degree celsius for 15 mins until golden and centre of the biscuits is coloured.

Winner ! – Now for the chocolate base for the souffle – melt the chocolate down in a bowl over a pan of hot water, take 1/2 the chocolate out and mix with 100g of willies cacao bar (grated) this is to give richness & a dark colour to the souffle. Bring some milk to the boil and add the chocolate to it. now whisk 1 egg yolk and a little flour together and some caster sugar. Pour the chocolate milk over the egg mix – whisk well ! no lumps please.

Now whisk up the egg white ( use a blender its easier – unless you have muscles)- full peak ,adding a little icing sugar to give the glossy italian meringue feel.

Line a ramekin with butter and a dusting of sugar – set aside. Fold the whipped egg white and a spoon full of the chocolate mix together , gently spoon the mix into the ramekin. Bake the souffle in a hot oven 200 degrees celsius for 10 mins until the top is crusty (don’t open the oven door – once the souffle is in) 

Serve as I have with the biscuit , choc sauce (whisk remaining chocolate with a little warm milk ) and the fabulous souffle.

I’ve bagged out a few variations to this souffle in the past – 1 with pecan & even 1 with Christmas pudding & chocolate. My kids do love this version the best – especially when I make some white chocolate sauce and they crack open the top of the souffle and pour in the white creamy chocolate sauce.Yum!

I’ll get a recipe added As soon as – let me know what you think!

Spring Roast lamb

12 Apr

Easters over or gone and we’ve all eaten so many chocolate eggs – that naughty wicked Bunny!!  I’ve had to start melting them down for puddings ( so the kids don’t find them!) or souffles – incidentally I have got a great chocolate souffle recipe and it is to die for – no really!! ( I’ll post my choc souffle in the week – work dependant obviously)

Anyway on with the show – Roast lamb with sticky plum jus and sweet potato fondant 

I like to use North yorkshire or Northumberland lamb best end’s rather than a rack of lamb as I can get 2-3 nice portions from it with out so much fat.  Firstly take the eye and the fat from the bone – i usually do this by running my knife along the bone (use the bone as the guide) take the eye and fat off in one go. This could be then rolled and tied  – then cut down to make noisettes. But I want to trim the fat off completely, so all I’m left with is the eye of meat.

Ok – now lay out some cling film – place the eye of meat in the centre of the cling film. Season the lamb with black pepper , sea-salt and a touch of honey.

Now pull the cling film over it and tight down (to make a sausage) – Now holding the lamb in both hands 1 hand twist forward the other twist back – tie each end in a knot ( the lamb should be like a sausage) place in chiller (overnight if pos)

Make the sauce – cut the plum in half place cut side down in a frying pan with caster sugar placed in the bottom – place the whole pan in the oven for 20 mins (at 200 degrees celsius)

make a good lamb stock from the lamb bones -1x red onion cut in half,2x garlic cloves, bay leaf, rosemary,thyme and 2x chopped  tomaotes – place all in a tray and roast for 1 hour on slow heat in the oven . After the hour take from the oven and deglaze on the stove top with some good red wine and more honey,  once the mix has reduced down to a sticky mess  – add  1 pint of water. Reduce the stock by half and strain.

Now take the roasted plums from the oven and add the lamb sauce to the hot Pan of plums ( the sauce should darken and look instantly sticky)

Roast the lamb time!!  – Take  the lamb out of the cling  film.In a hot pan add a little olive oil place the lamb in – quickly adding some salted butter (coat the lamb in the hot butter with your spoon – while turning the lamb and colouring)

Take out and rest on a chopping board before cutting into medallions.

serve with sweet potato fondant (easy to do) , the sticky plum sauce and some greens (pak choi or curly kale) and may be some baby carrots?

I’ll try to get a recipe up along with pictures before the week-end, happy eating!

Something about Pork!

21 Mar

I love pork whether it’s  roasted loin with crackling, Pan-fried fillet(tenderloin) , all those great cuts used for braised Ham hock, Pancetta ,pigs trotter.But  my favourite has top be Belly Pork! Theres something about Pork and the huge amount of great dishes that can be had from Mr Pig!!  

He’s a dish I did this week – its using Pork loin – battered down thin to make an Escallop – I’ve done this dish previously with  a Veal Escallop also.

First things first  – cut the loin into 1/2 inch slices, remove all fat. Now place the loin (2 per portion) between 2 sheets of cling film on a kitchen top or bench. Now using a mallet ( or rolling-pin will do) hit the pork until it is wafer this – be careful you don’t over do it! we want to keep it whole and not broken up.

Now make the marinade in a bowl –  add paprika , garlic(crushed) ,black pepper , lemon zest and a little juice – chopped thyme and salt. Place the pork in it, leave the Pork to marinade as long as you can (1 hr if possible). The pork can now be cooked in a hot pan with a little olive oil – The pork escallop only needs 1-2 mins max on each side. Ok pork done – brill! Next /boil some new potatoes (smaller the better) . In a frying / saute pan place some chopped garlic & chopped spring onion.  Fry the onion and garlic with a little olive oil & butter.      

   Once the Potatoes are cooked , place them in the pan with garlic & onion, season with salt & pepper. ensure nicely coated in the butter also.

Make up the salad in a large bowl – I use a mix of Soft herbs , rocket , Santini tomatoes and frizzy endive lettuce – with a little lollo rosso for good measure! Dress the salad in the bowl with balsamic & olive oil dressing .Now place the potatoes around the salad. Then place the pork on top.

Give this dish a go – if pork isn’t your thing try it with Chicken breast battered down in the same way , it is a great “bring on the summer” dish >:)

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Make-Meals Mama

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