Friday, 28 December 2012

Shortloin of Beef

I am not a fan of turkey, it's all well and good in a sandwich or a pie or something but as the centrepiece of the meal of the year then just no and don't play the 'it's traditional' card either, it's not. Have a goose if you want to be traditional. Personally I like to have something a little tastier and this year I was drawn to the shortloin of beef.

The shortloin, is arguably the finest part of the noble cow, the crowning glory. it consists of the spine down the centre with the Fillet on one side and the Sirloin on the other, it is superb.

To cook this I turned to the balded headed genius/nutcase himself with the recipe in his excellent book Heston at Home.

I say recipe, its barely that as there is little effort involved apart from browning the outside at the start which takes some effort depending on the size you bought, ours barely fit in the frying pan.

The meat is then slow roasted and I mean slow roasted for the best part of 6 hours at 60 degrees Celsius. yes, 60 degrees, I've had baths hotter than that.

What this does to the meat is nothing sort of magical, the outside drys up and forms a wonderful seasoned crust but the inside stays moist to the point all the juice gushes out like a waterfall when it's done (collect it and pour it straight into the gravy). The meat cuts like butter because it's been gently warmed and not been blasted with heat. This also allows precision to cook it how you like from 45C (blue) where the cow is still walking round the field to 70C (well done) where you should be eating turkey if you cook it like this. I opted for 55C which is medium rare.

Cooking this way is stressful, not due to the work load but the stress of watching a thermometer creep up degree after degree when all you want to do is get on with eating it, the last couple of degrees I don't think I took my eyes off it.

I can't imagine cooking a joint in any other way after this. Heston, I salute you.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Rice Pudding Pork

The Ghost of Christmas Past is the theme of Random Recipes at Belleau Kitchen this month. Well to be more precise it's last years recipe books that RR participants received and now have to pick from.

For me, I received two weighty tomes in the form of River Cottage Fish and River Cottage Meat. With a trusty flip of a coin River Cottage Meat won. So far so good. I had visions of lovely roasts, maybe a side of ribs when I flicked randomly through the book.

The recipe I landed on was Rice Pudding Pork....right.....

must not turn the page....will might be nice...swears violently in the direction of Belleau Cottage....sighs...accepts the inevitable...

Reading the recipe, it didn't seem too bad, no actual rice pudding involved and the recipe is based on a traditional Italian dish of braising pork in milk, fellow food blogger Clare at Feast and Glory made a version using Garlic and Rosemary which turned out very tasty by the sound of it. This version uses bay and thyme. It also uses brown sugar and nutmeg to give it hints of a rice pudding.

The recipe is fairly simple:

Rice Pudding Pork
2-2.5 Pork loin, rolled and boned.
gratings of fresh nutmeg
olive oil
50g butter
1-1.5 litres whole milk, hot
2 tsp brown sugar
3-4 bay leaves, fresh if possible
3 sprigs of thyme
zest of one lemon
salt and pepper

Season the pork with salt and pepper and grate over nutmeg.
Heat the oil in a pan and sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned.
Leave in the pan.
Melt the butter in a saucepan large enough for the pork, stir in a third of the hot milk and sugar.
Place the pork in the pan and pour over the remainder of the milk.
Add the bay, thyme and lemon a couple more gratings of nutmeg and bring to barely a simmer.
Very gently simmer for about 1 and a half to two hours.
Allow the pork to rest out of the pan and serve with the sauce and the curdles of milk from the pan.

Well that's not half bad actually, soft very slightly milky pork in a slightly too sweet sauce with hints of thyme and nutmeg. The curdles of milk are very very good, soft and creamy. If I were to do this again I would try it with garlic and rosemary as it sounds more up my street and hopefully not as sweet.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

An Adventure in Bread

I cannot recall the last time I made a loaf of bread, in fact I'm almost positive I've never made one properly before.

Sure I have made the odd pizza dough but there is no substitute for taking the time to produce a fresh loaf from combining the ingredients into a soft, slightly sticky kneading it so it is stretchy and waiting (impatiently) for it to rise and commence its quest to leave the bowl and take over the kitchen ... to watching it bake in the oven, filling the kitchen with that lovely fresh baked bread aroma and finally to eat it, still warm and soft with plenty of butter.

So I have decided to change all that and dive into the world of bread and have a look around, try out a few recipes, develop my own (currently lacking) knowledge and skills and to tell Dr Atkins etc... where they can shove their no carb diets.

To begin with I have started with the basic loaf recipes, to get into the swing of things regarding techniques, ingredients and also patience, I'll stop shouting at dough 'to get on with it' at some point.

There are many versions of this basic recipe, usually regarding techniques. Some people have no knead recipes, others like a good knead every now and again. I belong to the latter. I'm a bit of a traditionalist and like the kneading process of working the dough and stretching the gluten. I used a Paul Hollywood recipe for my first loaf which is available here and this is what happened:

Not too bad at all. I did like some of the tips that Hollywood suggests, I have heard them before but never put into practice such as using oil instead of flour on the work surface and proving bowl and the roasting tray of water in the bottom of the oven.

So happy with the first effort, I decided to adapt that recipe, sticking to the dry ingredient quantities but replacing the white flour with wholemeal flour, I also increased the liquid amount to 400ish ml due to wholemeal flour absorbing more and this is what happened:

Result, two quality loaves which I have been stuffing my face with for the past few days. I am now slightly addicted to making the stuff when I get the time and looking forward to my next bready challenge.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Coconut Milk Cake and CCC's 2nd Birthday

Sunday marked the 2nd Birthday celebration of the Clandestine Cake Club with a meeting in a Leeds hotel of 30+ bakers and their cakes.
I was fortunate to attend the very first meeting of the CCC way back  in 2010 on a cold December afternoon, I vaguely remember trying to hunt down an inflatable parrot stuck on the door indicating the location. There was only about ten of us on that day that spent a pleasant afternoon chatting and stuffing ourselves stupid with cake. Nowadays it's more a well known secret with meetings countrywide and the odd international event as well but the rules remain ever constant, only cake allowed and there is no judgement on the cakes.

 It's a rare occasion I get to visit an event nowadays there isn't many round my current neck of the woods and unless it's on a weekend I struggle to get to Yorkshire and Leeds to attend events so I was pleased this one was on a Sunday Afternoon.

The cake I decided to make was one I had been eyeing up for awhile. Dan Lepards' Coconut Milk Cake, a delicious sounding cake (if you like coconut that is) that lured me in with the stylish picture in Short and Sweet.
The cake itself  was fairly straightforward. Light and coconutty with hints of rum and lime, very 'wintery carribean' and the meringue butter cream that went with it was light and deliciously buttery, one to use again I think. I added shaved white chocolate to the cake to give it a snowy effect.

Here's to another 2 excellent cakey years and not forgetting the impending CCC cookbook......

Monday, 3 December 2012

Roast Pork Belly, Roast Potatoes, Aubergine and Carrots

Sunday Dinner, arguably our finest export. Hunks of juicy roast meats; chicken, beef, pork, lamb the choice is yours. Various veg cooked any numerous of ways ranging from the meh of boiled vegetables, why people, why? To the sublime of a roast potato with it's crisp crunchy golden exterior to its fluffy cloud like centre, drowned in a lake of gravy. delicious.

The OH was in charge of the dinner last Sunday, which she claims is her first effort at a full sunday roast. The star of the show was a huge hunk of pork belly that we picked up at the excellent Doncaster Market. We browsed through River Cottage Veg for some of our favourite veg dishes to finish off the meal.
The final menu:
                      Roast Pork Belly with Chilli, Cumin and Honey
                      Roast Onion Gravy
                      Roasted Potatoes and Aubergine from River Cottage Veg
                      Caramelised Carrots with gremolata from River Cottage Veg

I make no excuses for the picture, that is how a Sunday dinner should be served, mounds of food piled up on the plate, preferably just enough to immobilise the person for the remainder of the Sunday afternoon unless of course, somebody mentions the pub....

Monday, 26 November 2012

Creme Catalana - A Random Recipe

I haven't been to Europe much on my holidays, usually I fly west instead of east. I have, however made the odd trip to the continent and one of these trips was to the amazing city of Barcelona in the Catalan Region of Spain.
Barcelona, pickpockets and scam artists aside, is a beautiful city. It pretty much encompasses everything you want in a holiday with it's white sandy beaches, rolling hills and mountain sides, bustling city life and of course, amazing food. If you ever get the chance to visit, have a wander around The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria which is the main food market on Las Ramblas in the centre of the city. It is truly stunning, miles of fresh vegetables, seafood, patisserie, meat and charcuterie, it is a food lovers dream. Then play catch the chair with the rest of the crowds (speed and sneakiness is the key) on one of the tapas stands and eat what you have just gawped at.

So why am I wittering on about Barcelona, well as usual over in Blighty, everyone's favourite Ringmaster is orchestrating his usual Random Recipe challenge over at Belleau Kitchen. This months challenge was to pick a cookbook associated with our birthdays e.g. mine is on the 20th (May, I like whisky) so I counted to the 20th book and randomly picked a recipe. The book I picked was Ramsay's World Kitchen and I landed on the Spanish version of the classic Creme Brulee; Creme Catalana.  

4 large yolks
70g Caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour, sifted
zest of one lemon and one orange
cinnamon stick
250ml whole milk
250ml double cream

Whisk the yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy
Whisk in the cornflour and zests
Slowly pour in the milk and cream whisking continuously.
Pour the custard into a saucepan and add the cinnamon stick.
Heat gently whilst stirring continuously, when the custard can coat the back of a spoon, turn off the heat.
Pour through a fine sieve into a jug then pour into individual ramekins
allow to cool completely and chill in the fridge until needed.

Sprinkle a thin layer of demerara sugar over the top and either wave a blowtorch over the top to caramelise the sugar or preheat a grill to high, place on a tray and place under the grill until golden.

Lighter than a traditional creme brulee with a lovely citrus undertone, couldn't taste much cinnamon, might infuse the milk beforehand  next time to see if that helps.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Living over the Shop - Book Review

A bit ago I was sent a cookbook to review - Living over the Shop by Stephen Doherty. The shop referred to in the title is every cooks favourite - Lakeland, namely the flagship Windermere branch back in my home county of Cumbria.

Lakeland is an absolute bain on my life, I cannot resist wandering in and buying some random kitchen utensil/gadget/tray etc.... I have quite a few items from that shop and all of it is of excellent quality, reasonably priced and lasts an age. So I was quite pleased to find out that this book was from the restaurant at the Windermere store.
Stephen Doherty is the former 3 Michelin star chef currently running the restaurant with a background most chefs would kill for, namely working with the legendary Roux brothers at Le Gavroche.

The book
The book is split into two parts. the first part is about Stephen's life under the Roux's and afterwards running pubs before finally arriving at Lakeland. There is also an excellent bit dedicated to Cumbria's finest producers, some I already know and others I need to track down. This bit of the book might be uniteresting to some but as the Roux brothers are my idols, It was nice to get an insight from another point of view. The producers bit I enjoyed also, more books should have this, allowing people to get quality ingredients straight from the source.
The second part of the book is all about the recipes

The recipes
There are 80 recipes in total ranging from simple basic food that you would expect in a store restaurant, jacket potatoes, sausage and mash but as well as these they cater for the more adventurous; Souffle Suissesse for example, a Gavroche classic. It also consists of variety of 'basic' recipes such as various sauces, chutneys and preserves. The baking section is also well stocked with fondants, chocolate stout cake and honey and whisky creme brulee. There are a lot of recipes based around salmon in various states: rilletes, cured, roasted etc.. which could put some non salmon lovers off but as there is a lot of salmon available in the Lakes, its not that surprising.

I decided to try out a couple of recipes;
Shallot and Goats Cheese Tart Tatin
Honey Madelines

Both recipes were simple to follow, did not consist of a wide range of impossible to get ingredients and both as you see came out excellent, the honey madelines were lighter than air.

Overall a good book, an interesting behind the scenes look at Le Gavroche and Lakeland accompanying some excellent recipes that most people would have no problem making and showing off with.

The book was sent to me free of charge with the intention to review, all opinions above are my own and I was not asked to give a good review or told which recipes to cook.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

Another year passes and another OH birthday approaches which means another stylish creation of a cake is due. Usually on this most holy of days, or so she likes to think it is, the cake is delivered sneakily to a friend ready to be brought out as a surprise when she least expects it.
You may think this requires 007 levels of stealth and sneakery but the reality is far funnier, I recall one year where I turned up at her birthday meal with a cake in a bin bag (the cake was in a container before you say anything), made some flimsy excuse of what was in the bag and entered the restaurant. Oblivious to everything, the bag was passed to a friend who took it to the waiter to bring it out later to great shock and surprise.

Anyway this year provided several problems, 1. she doesn't live with those people anymore, 2. lack of a big birthday meal and 3. We were in London for her birthday weekend.

I could have made some easy to transport cake such as lemon loaf cake or something similar but where is the glamour or effort in that. So I called on my Master Pattisier skills ( I wish) to create a very easily transportable but very tasty and stylish little Chocolate and Raspberry tart.

You will need 5-6 little tiny tart tins or one big one (21cm) if not.

210g Plain flour
35g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tsp of water
1 egg white (to brush the cooked case)

Punnet of raspberries
300ml double cream
2 tbsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
50g soft butter
200g Chocolate (70% Cocoa solids)
50ml milk

Mix the flour and sugar together, add the butter.
Rub the butter into the flour gently between your fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the yolk and water and mix together.
Using your hands bring together the mix into a dough ball, don't overwork.
Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

Divide into 5-6 even pieces or leave as whole if using 1 tin.
Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, place each mound of dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top.
Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out).
Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges.
Take a square of greaseproof paper and place over the pastry, fill with lentils, baking beans, coins and blind bake for 12-15 minutes at 180C
Remove the paper and items and bake for a further 12-15 mins, keep an eye out, when it reaches a golden colour you are happy with then take it out.
Brush with egg white and place back in the oven for a minute or so.
Take out and leave to cool completely.

Slice up a few raspberries, up to you how many and arrange across the bottom of the tart.
Place the cream, sugar, salt into a saucepan and bring to boil.
The second you see bubbles take it off the heat and stir in the butter and chocolate until smooth and completely chocolaty
Stir in the milk to make it glossy.
Pour into the tart, as close to the brim as you dare.
Leave to cool and set at room temperature for 2 hours

Serve and enjoy


So with autumn in full swing and winter hurtling it way towards us, its time to bring out the thermals, to wake up and go home in darkness, to hide under duvets away from the winter chill but most importantly to get on with some autumn/winter cooking with a wide variety of stews, soups and roast meat.

This stew recipe is a childhood favourite, It's based round the classic Hungarian goulash which is a tomato stew with beef and paprika. I have added a mix of beef and pork to this dish for contrasting textures and because it's good to have a bit of variety.

I also added a scotch bonnet to the mix to give an extra kick of heat, feel free to up the amount of bonnets if you are a chilli head. Recommended amounts: 1 = nice kick of heat, 2 = fiery, 3= toasty. 4+ = you need help my friend.

My shin/shoulder came with the bone attached, you can get this removed by your butcher but personally I recommend you don't. Simply take of as much meat as you can, don't try to hard to get every little bit off, then simply sear the bones on all sides when you fry the rest of the meat. Add this to the stew and over the course of the cooking time, all the remaining meat will fall off the bone which can simply be removed. Be careful that there are no tiny pieces of bone left in the stew.

There is no need to stick to this recipe closely; throw in some mushrooms, carrots parsnips etc..., vary the meat, use different cuts such as oxtail or ox cheek, omit the chilli altogether (you wuss), the world is your proverbial shellfish.

500g Beef shin, cubed
500g Pork shoulder, cubed
4-5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 red peppers
1 tin of good quality tomatoes
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed
1 stock pot
1.5 tbsp paprika (smoked if you prefer)
1 scotch bonnet (habenero), left whole.
oil for frying


Season and fry off the meat in a frying pan or a heavy based casserole pot in oil until golden. this is easier in batches and set aside on a plate.
Fry the onion and pepper until golden and then add these plus the meat into a large casserole pan with a lid.
Add both varieties of tomatoes, paprika, garlic cloves, stock pot and scotch bonnet.
fill up with water until just covered, season well and bring to a boil. Place the lid on and place in the oven at 130-140C for a minimum of 3 hours, max about 10.
Serve with fresh coriander, sour cream and the carbohydrate of your choice - pasta, jacket spud, rice or lots of crusty bread.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tomato, Mozzerella and Basil Salad

Tomatoes are up there with my all time favourite foods. When I was a youngster I used to make myself comfortable in my Grandads greenhouse and work my way through his latest crop, there is nothing worse (for me at 5 years old anyway) than waiting for a fat little tomato to ripen. Fortunately he had a decent sized greenhouse and I had limited stomach capacity otherwise he wouldn't have any left once they did ripen, didn't stop me trying though.

Tomatoes hit their peak around June/July time and there truly is no substitute for a homegrown tomato just taken off the vine. You can tell the quality a mile of just from the smell they give off. A tomato of that quality should not be messed around with, just eat the thing, maybe sprinkle a smidge of salt, perfection.

So why am I talking about tomatoes in October? Well this year has been slightly weird. A colleague of mine recently got a decent batch last week off her plants and last weekend I was in Borough Market of good old London Town and the stand of Heirloom Tomatoes just looked too good to resist, I wish I had got a picture but some stalls get a bit moody about photography.

All of the little beauties had varying shades of colour ranging from speckled light green to blazing fire engine red, in various shapes and sizes so I got a random selection to make a simple tomato salad with. Like I said before don't mess around them.

I also picked up some stunning mozzarella, one of the creamiest I've tasted to go with it and some fresh basil to finish it off. I won't insult you with a recipe just get stuck in if you can find a late batch or wait impatiently like I do for next tomato season.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Lincolnshire Poacher Pie - A Random Tea Time Alphabake

Shall we just clear this up now, once and for all?

It's Breakfast, Dinner, Tea and Supper. Lunch doesn't exist even though I use the word myself, I blame a southern influence at Uni. Brunch even less so. If you don't get up before midday you miss breakfast and move on to dinner. Right, that's that sorted now on to the point of that little rant.

Gatecrashing the Random Recipe monthly (potential) horror show is the delightful Tea Time Treats, or is it the other way round? Either way, Dom of Belleau Kitchen and Karen/Kate of Lavender and Lovage and What Kate Baked have teamed up for a joint challenge.

This months theme is a random recipe suitable for tea time.

Tea Time, an interesting phrase that is open to many translations. Afternoon Tea perhaps with scones and tiny patisserie. A tea party; with Victoria sponges, Swiss rolls and other classic bakes?

Tea time by my definition is the godfather of the days meals. A meal requiring hearty sustenance providing a good refuelling after a hard day's work, school, college, university....well maybe not the last one but you get my drift.

I had one thought when this challenge was announced and that thought was....PIE!!!

Where to get the recipe though with my distinct lack of pie books? a random browse through good food? an Internet search? however whilst scouring my shelves there was only one option courtesy of Mr Oliver and his excellent Great Britain book.

The recipe I landed on couldn't have been more appropriate, a recipe for a hearty pie consisting of minted courgettes and some excellent local produce in the form of Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese, a superb hard cheese with a slightly nutty flavour.

As well as submitting it for the random tea time treat challenge I am also submitting it to the excellent Alphabakes hosted by Caroline at Caroline Makes and Ros at the more than occasional baker  for their 'P' themed challenge this month. 3 challenges in one, it's how I roll.

Lincolnshire Poacher Pie
500g plain flour
250g Butter
100ml water
1 tsp of salt
1 egg for glazing

2 tbsp olive oil
bunch of fresh thyme
zest of half a lemon
half a grated nutmeg
1-1.2 kg courgettes, thinly sliced
300g Lincolnshire poacher cheese, thinly sliced
small bunch of mint

Mix the flour with the salt and rub in the butter between your fingertips to create a breadcrumb texture. make a well in the centre and pour in the water.
Stir with a knife until it begins to come together then squish together to make a rough dough, try not to need knead a lot or it won't be crumbly and short.
Leave in the fridge in a bowl until the filling is made.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the thyme leaves, lemon zest and nutmeg.
Add the courgettes and cook for 25 minutes stirring occasionally, the courgettes soften and become easy to handle.
Cook for a further 20 mins on a low heat. then leave to cool for 5 mins.
Crumble in the cheese and mint and set aside to cool.

Cut the pastry into two and roll out one half to about half a cm thick and place gently into a pie dish of around 23cm diameter.
Press the pastry into the sides gently.
Add the cooled filling.
Roll out the other ball of pastry and place this one over the pie creating a lid.
Trim off the excess edges and crimp with a knife or a fork the edges to seal the pie.
Brush with beaten egg and stab a small hole in the top to allow steam to be released
Bake for about an hour until golden at 180C

Interesting one this. It provides different flavours depending on the temperature. Straight out of the oven the inside is a gooey cheesy messy loveliness with the mint providing a nice punch of flavour. When cold however the cheese and the mint seem muted but the courgettes stand out more.
The mint itself is a little weird, half a mind says it shouldn't be there, the other half says well that's actually bloody good.
Overall an excellent pie and because I've got my hands on some more courgettes I may make another. yum.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


Well it seems like the Olympic Food Challenge burned me out, blogging wise. I've had little inspiration (or money, blooming 5 week month) to make and blog stuff. So in order to get back into the swing of things I thought I would share this recipe for Ratatouille that I'm currently teaching to Year 8 in order for them to get more skillful prepping veg and give some exposure to a variety of different vegetables.

There are many versions of this classic french veggie stew, a quick shufty on Wikipedia states methods from Julia Child: Saute each veg individually and make a sauce out of the tomatoes peppers and herbs and then bake as a casserole, to Joël Robuchon: a similar method but involves simmering over a hob for a bit at the end.

Personally, all I do is saute each veg adding one after the other until all are combined with a tin of tomatoes and a mountain of  basil. Simple, healthy and tasty.

1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
1 red pepper, sliced in small strips
1 courgette, diced into small pieces
1 aubergine, diced into Small pieces
1 tin of tomatoes
1 stock cube/pot
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
100ml of water
lots of fresh basil
Salt and pepper

Fry the onion and garlic gently until turning golden brown.
Add the red pepper and fry until soft.
Add the courgette and fry until golden and soft
Add the aubergine and fry until golden and soft
Pour in the tomatoes, vinegar, water and season to taste
Leave to simmer for about 15 minutes or longer, depending on how mushy you like your veg.
Roughly chop the basil and sprinkle over.

Serve with plenty of crusty bread

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Pirags, Latvia. Olympic Food Challenge

They think it's all over.....IT IS NOW!!! *crowd goes wild with thunderous applause*

Excuse me for just one second while I alternate between Bolt's lightening pose and Farah's 'Mobot' while doing a lap of honour round my garden.

Here is the absolute final recipe from me for the Olympic Food Challenge and we are back in Europe in the country of Latvia. Latvia picked up two medals in London, one of them gold.

Browsing through recipes for Latvia, this one kept cropping up and I kept ignoring it which was just silly really because I'm essentially turning down a bacon sandwich.

Pirags are basically meat, usually bacon, mixed with chopped onion and wrapped in a bread case. They are easy to make and very tasty especially with a good dash of HP.

460g plain flour
1 packet of fast action yeast
190ml milk
60g butter
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

6 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 onion, finely chopped

Mix the flour with yeast in a bowl and set aside
Melt the butter in a pan with the milk, salt and sugar.
Pour into the flour and mix together to form a soft dough, knead for 5 minutes.
Cover and leave to rise for an hour or so.
Fry the onion with the bacon until crispy and brown, set aside.
Knock the dough back and split into two dough balls
Roll out to a 1/4inch thick and using a large cutter, cut out circles of the dough.
Roll the little circles a bit more with a rolling pin
Add a tsp of bacon and onion to the centre of the circle and fold over, seal the edges with a fork.
Place on a baking tray and brush with a little beaten egg
Bake for 15mins until golden at 170C
Serve with lots of HP sauce.

Trinidad Stewed Chicken, Trinidad & Tobago, Olympic Food Challenge

In the penultimate dish of the Olympic food challenge, we are off to the Caribbean, more specifically Trinidad and Tobago.

Known for it's carnival, steel pans and it's vibrant culture.

T&T had their most successful Olympics in London picking up their very first Gold medal, unfortunately they didnt pick up any in the Paralympics.

The dish I chose for T&T is Trinidad Stewed Chicken, after cooking this dish I had a quick google and there are many versions of this dish, wish I had done this earlier because the recipe I had was a bit useless, lacking measurements for the ingredients, so I made it up.

4 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
handful of chives
1 onion
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
zest and juice of one lime
1tsp brown sugar
4 tbsp chopped coriander
25ml dark rum

2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp dark soy sauce


Cut the chicken into bitesized pieces and add every other ingredient up to and including the rum tot he chicken in a large bowl.
Marinade for at least a few hours or overnight.
Fry the sugar gently for minute in the oil and add the contents of the bowl to the pan, fry until nicely brown.
add the ketchup, soy sauce and enough water to cover and simmer gently for about an hour.
Sprinkle over some coriander and serve

Oh this is good, rich and flavourful. jammed full of herbs and soft tender chicken. Next time I would add a bit of a kick to it perhaps a chilli or two or maybe some cayenne pepper which was all it lacked.

Plantain Gingerbread, Liberia. Olympic Food Challenge

Back to Africa for one final time for this installment of the Olympic Food Challenge.

Africa has been a mixed bag ranging from the sublime Kedjenou of the Ivory Coast to the not so good Matoke of Uganda and unfortunatly Plantain Gingerbread from Liberia.

I wanted to do something a little different so I opted for a baking task and found this recipe here for Plantain Gingerbread.

Gingerbread is one of my childhood favourites so I was hoping this would work out well. Unfortunately the result wasn't that good.

I think the recipe is off and slightly flawed. On the ingredient list 160ml of boiling water is stated but no instructions in using it are given, I added it at the end, alternating between the flour because the mixture was far too dry. The baking times are off by a mile as well the cake was done is 25 minutes instead of the stated 50.

The resulting cake was slightly chewy and not really that well flavoured, the plantains didn't offer much to the cake either just extra chewiness.

Gravad Max, Finland. Olympic Food Challenge

So from the Middle East to Africa and now back to Europe, I do like this challenge.

This stop on the world tour of Olympic Nations brings us to Finland in north Europe. they only won a few medals at the London games, none of them gold. they did a bit better in the Paralympics picking up 4 gold medals.

Looking for a recipe for this country was easy, finding ingredients for this country was not. Fresh blood cannot be taken out of abattoirs so blood pancakes were out and reindeer meat is a rare thing in this country so eating Rudolph was out as well.

What I eventually settled on was a dish that I had been planning to make for some time, Gravlax or if you are Finnish: graavilohi. This is basically salmon cured with copious amounts of dill, salt and sugar.

For such a basic recipe they are many versions of this around the Internet, so instead I went for a more trustworthy source in my River Cottage Fish book then I spotted the alternative recipe next to it for Gravad Max. This uses Mackerel fillets instead of Salmon and being more of a fan of the former I went for that instead.

Recipe is available here or buy the book, it is one of my favourites and is a highly detailed guide to all types of things swimming about in our seas and rivers.

The recipe is simplicity in itself, mix the cure, cover the fish, weigh it down, forget about it for a day or two and then eat.

I personally would recommend you get it going on Thursday/Friday night when you get home from work and come Saturday/Sunday morning you've got yourself a delicious, lazy but healthy breakfast.

I am also entering this for Herbs on Saturday, an excellent challenge hosted by Karen over at her excellent blog: Lavender and Lovage which promotes the use of fresh herbs.