Saturday, 22 November 2014

All My Favourite Foods

Summer fruit pavlova
This is a post I've been planning on putting together for a while now but never got around to it, mainly because my photo filing is a disaster and trying to find a particular photo is impossible.

So finally here it is. My favourite food photos. And incidentally nothing was sent back by the non-paying customers.

Rick Stein's frutti di mare and linguine

Minestrone soup

Hake with fennel butter, green beans, fennel and fried potatoes

Squid ink pasta with squid, prawns and samphire

Blackcurrant buns


Pork loin with apricot stuffing

White chocolate and Coole Swan cheesecake

Lamb cutlets and kale

French apple tart

Slow cooked Zwartbles lamb with Catillac pear, apple and squash

Lentil dahl

Pear in red wine with star anise, thyme, chilli and honey

Slow cooked pork shoulder

Chocolate cake

Coq au vin, cheesy potatoes, baked spinach

Apple snow 

Beef Malay with pineapple salsa

Another cheesecake (I like cheesecake)

Disclaimer: I never do disclaimers but.

All these photos are my own. Most have not been watermarked within an inch of their lives so please do not copy or reproduce without permission.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Balsamic Pickled Onions

Have to confess I have never pickled onions before but when a Twitter pal, Sian offered to send me a recipe, I decided to have a go. She had got the recipe via Twitter as well but couldn't remember from whom.

I used a mixture of banana shallots, small round shallots and small red onions but pearl onions would be perfect as well. It's adds a bit of interest to have different shapes, sizes and colours particularly if you want to give a jar as a Christmas present.

The recipe was for a 1kg of onions so as I had just over 600g I reduced it proportionately.

600g onions
200g salt

Skin the onions and put in a bowl. Use table salt and pour it over the onions. Leave overnight. This removes moisture from the onions.

Next day rinse the onions and drain them.

To make the pickle
500ml Balsamic vinegar
180g sugar
1 red chilli chopped
1 teasp black peppercorns
1 teasp allspice berries
3 bay leaves

Mix the pickle ingredients and bring to the boil and reduce by approximately half.

Put the onions into clean, sterilised jars and pour the pickle over. Allow to cool. Put lids on and leave for a few weeks. If you make them now they should be ready to enjoy with a good Cheddar for Christmas.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

How Free Range is your Turkey?

Have you ever wondered why intensive free range turkeys all seem to congregate at the door of their huge sheds? I always have. I had assumed it was because they were institutionalised and didn't want to leave the heat of the shed. But today I was over visiting a small scale, genuine free range producer and he told me.

A turkey can only recognise a thousand other turkeys. (And we think they are stupid.......) In that thousand there is a strict pecking order. If the doors of the shed open, only those closest to the door will go out because if a poor chap from the back ventures forth, he risks being bullied and pecked by those into whose territory he has entered. So if you assume there are 7000 turkeys in a shed, yes seven thousand, you can presume only a percentage of those ever get to go out.

Having reared poultry here for years, but not turkeys, I have seen the bullying that goes on when a new bird is introduced. It can take one to three weeks for a new introduction to be accepted. Hens are particularly wicked. But I have observed similar bullying in horses as well.

Small numbers of genuine free range birds who have established a pecking order and all recognise each other will knock you down to get out. When they get out, they get to eat a more varied diet (usually), they get exercise and fresh air and their meat will have a lot more flavour. In addition, they have lived their life as nature intended and haven't spent their entire existance in a few square centimetres inhaling ammonia fumes from turkey wee.

With everything you buy "buyer beware" should apply. Ask where your Christmas/Thanksgiving turkey is from. Ask what it's fed. It is best to go and visit but there are occasions you have to put your trust in your butcher or producer. A genuine producer or butcher will have no problem letting you see where the birds are reared. And a genuine person won't sell you a pig in a poke.

If you care about animal welfare or if you care about what you eat, don't be fooled by a free range label. It's become as meaningless as artisan and all the other clichés bandied about willy nilly.