Category Archives: Recipes

Recipe ideas, cheats tips and results of my more experimental concoctions

In vino veritas

 

This week I have been mostly … reading and relishing the pearls of gastronomic wisdom that are Simon Hopkinson’s cookery books.  In a matter of days I had devoured both first and second helpings of the epic Roast Chicken and Other Stories.  Both copies are now sitting resplendent with a rainbow of legal tags gloriously sticking out of almost every other page as I  mark each recipe I plan to try and recreate. 

It has also been a week of regrets, nothing too serious and hopefully ones I can remedy.  Firstly, regret at having been such an idiot for years and refusing to read recipe books without pretty photography – where was my imagination? – the essays at the start of each of Simon’s chapter conjure more of a taste and visial image than any photo could.

The reading seems to have taken over the cooking and I have so far only managed to recreate one of the masterpieces I have read about.  But the recipe, and more importantly the results were reaffirmation of my love for these books.

The name of the dish i recreated, lists nearly all of the components and all 5 would be  in my ingredient ‘premier league’:  Red kidney beans baked with chorizo, chilli, garlic and olive oil.  The dish is incredibly quick and simple – a bit of chopping and then the oven does all the work.

In my usual corner-cutting form I used tinned kidney beans where the official recipe calls for them to be dry, soaked in water overnight, boiled, drained then simmered for an hour and a half– if you have that much time on your hands then no doubt your version will be even more authentic, but I unashamedly admit to reaching for the can opener and the results were still splendid.

In an oven proof pan or casserole, cook 2 finely chopped onions with 4 cloves of chopped garlic in olive oil until they are lightly coloured, add chopped chorizo (i used about two thirds of a small ‘ring’ and cook for a further few minutes until the reddish oil from the chorizo starts to come through.  Next, stir in chilli flakes (i used a tablespoon but judge on how spicy you like your food) and sherry (50ml).  As I didn’t have any to hand I used a rather odd but again satisfactory combination of Martini Rosso and white wine to mimic the sherry.  Finally add the kidney beans and a little water (if you did prepare the beans from dry this should be the cooking water) and stir in a good handful of freshly chopped mint.

Pre oven

I have created what I am calling a ‘Pimms garden’ for the summer which is really just a terracotta pot on my balcony planted with both strawberry and mint.  I have yet to harvest the fruits of the strawberry plant, but mint on demand over summer has proved an amazingly helpful resource for jazzing up salads, peas, risottos and even puddings – I highly recommend a ‘grow your own’.  The mint is much hardier than basil or coriander which I find never last under my not-very-green-fingered care!

Back to the recipe and after seasoning, place in the oven for around an hour.  The book does not indicate an oven temperature – I winged it at 180 degrees but turned the oven down to about 150 after 30 minutes as it seemed to be cooking too quickly on the top.  When ready (all the liquid has evaporated) you are left with an incredibly rich and satisfying texture with the amazing garlic and chorizo aroma, where every ingredient seems to have melted into each other.  We enjoyed it with a salad and a small dash of sour cream.

My second regret of the week is one that has been niggling at me for some time.  Despite my passion for food and eating out, and a great love of wine, I have very little knowledge about how to best pair it with foods.  This is a disgrace for anyone of my age who considers themselves a foodie, however in my case it is doubly shameful as I grew up with the privilege of having a wine merchant and lecturer for a father. 

Rewind several years and imagine if you can an even moodier, female version of Harry Enfield’s famous Kevin the teenager. I stuffed my brattish fingers in my ears and was ‘bored’ whenever my poor dad tried to talk to us about the amazing wine we were being served or why he had chosen it for that particular dish.  My brother, who was far more sensible than me, seems to have soaked up every word and really knows his stuff, whereas I have a lot of catching up to do.  Akin to the prodigal son, I have finally seen the error of my ways and my wonderful and forgiving Dad has agreed to be my tutor.  

The final kick up the bottom that I needed to set myself on this path to enlightenment was a wonderful event I was invited to this week by the lovely people at Turning Leaf wines.  Hosted at La Cucina Caldesi cooking school on Marylebone Lane,  the event previewed some amazing recipes created by Turning Leaf winemaker Stephanie Edge and chef Esther Roling to compliment the different varieties of Turning Leaf wines by creating a recipe for each season. 

We were greeted with a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio and delicious canapés of fennel and apple salad with pan fried mackerel and lime oil.  The crispiness of the salad, zing of the lime and slight fattiness of the mackerel were indeed the perfect partners to the fresh, crisp and citrusy notes of the wine.

This was followed by Chardonnay, a grape I do not always favour, but was pleasantly surprised by the Turning Leaf Chardonnay’s creaminess.  The recipe to go with the wine was an absolutely fantastic red mullet with golden Moroccan cous cous – the salty chorizo and sweet onion in the cous cous with the incredibly light textured (despite its meaty appearance) mullet was superb and the chorizo in particular bound all the ingredients together.  We were reliably informed that the recipe had been selected as its spicy notes brought out the sweetness of the wine.

Already feeling thoroughly spoilt we went on to taste  a Pinot Noir – the nose was almost pure black cherry and the taste was equally fruity while the wine as a whole was quite light.  This was my favourite wine of the evening.  As time was limited we were not able to taste or cook every recipe, so skipped straight to the next vino in the form of Zinfandel.  Again incredibly fruity but this time I thought the nose was more blackberry or blackcurrant than cherry and the overall taste and mouth feel much stronger and richer.

The final wine we tried (luckily I strictly paced myself despite the very generous offers for top ups!) was the Cabernet Sauvignon and the highlight for me food- wise of the night – Rich red beef Carpaccio with a rye bread crumb and – wait for it – I nearly wept when it was announced – parmesan and truffle oil mayonnaise – as you can imagine – heaven on a plate!  The combination of textures with the velvety beef and crunchy crisp breadcrumbs with the sweetness of roast tomatoes and the frankly orgasmic truffle and parmesan mayo is not a dish I will forget in a hurry, and the old Cab Sav wasn’t bad either! All in all a great evening both on the night and for inspiring me to kick start my wine pairing education.

If you want to recreate the mackeral or red mullet recipes, visit http://www.turningleafwine.co.uk/Colourful-Entertaining.aspx  – the remaining recipes will be added seasonally .

With the bank holiday coming up I have visions of immersing myself in a world of cooking and more importantly eating – highlights of what I have planned include a Thai curry – my final ever attempt, a cocktail challenge and goats cheese popcorn – until next time ….

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A celebration of the humble onion*

Can you imagine a life without onions?  The very thought makes the chef in me shudder in horror. Cooking would be a nightmare, options utterly limited, dishes bland and soulless and every menu a minefield. Onions form the very core of most savoury dishes from curry to risotto and soups to stews to salads.

A wonderful friend of mine, DDG,  finds himself in the very sorry situation of living in an onion free household (he is actually very happy there apart from the onion shaped void in his culinary life). Upon hearing of his wretched fortune I promptly summoned him over to Cos I’m Towers for a much needed fix of the humble bulbs in the form of an onion themed dinner.

Cooking the onion

The onion fest commenced with a puff pastry tart with red onions caramelised in red wine and topped with goat’s cheese. Finely slice two red onions and fry until tender. When soft add 3 – 4 teaspoons of caster sugar a splash of balsamic vinegar and about 8 tablespoons of red wine and leave to bubble and simmer until the onions are caramelised, stirring often. In the meantime roll out a large sheet of puff pastry (I am afraid mine was shop bought – Jus Roll.  I refuse to believe that even the most dedicated home cooks have the time or energy to make puff pastry from scratch so am unashamed at this corner cutting!). Use a knife to trace a border of about an inch around the pastry and spread the centre of the ‘frame’ with a thin layer of Pesto (I used Sacla Wild Garlic Pesto). When the onions are ready, spread them over the pastry and pesto covering up to the borders. Cover this layer with scattered chunks of goat’s cheese and sprinkle with a few sprigs of rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil. Put in the oven for about 12 minutes at 180 degrees and it is ready to serve (it is also delicious cold if you wanted to prepare in advance).

Serve with lambs lettuce with balsamic glaze

With DDG’s hunger for onions merely teased by the tart but by no means satiated, we moved onto the main, where although onions were a feature the lamb really stole the show. I cannot recommend highly enough the three fold wonders and benefits of a shoulder cut of lamb – incredible value, ease of cooking and best of all utterly delicious (and plentiful) results. Slow cooked lamb shoulder is my dinner party classic – probably best saved for the weekend though if you don’t want to wait until midnight to eat as this recipe takes at least three hours in the oven to ensure that the lamb is utterly tender and melts in the mouth.

Place lots of garlic (I use a whole bulb or more) rosemary and some lemon halves in a roasting tray and put the lamb shoulder on top. Rub the meat with salt and pepper and ass a generous slug of oil. Place into a pre heated oven at 180 degrees. After 30 minutes, turn the heat up to about 200 degrees and leave in the oven for around 40 minutes.

Another 2 and a half hours to go!

Take the lamb out of the oven and turn it over, add more salt and pepper and another slug of olive oil, this ensure the bottom of the lamb is crispy while the top is as soft as butter, all infused with garlic and rosemary – utterly divine! Cover the lamb with foil and put back in the oven, at 180 degrees again and leave for a further 2 hours. After the cooking time let the meat sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving. In terms of carving the meat should simply fall from the one – ensure you serve a mix of the melty top and crispy bottom to ensure delighted guests who will beg you for the recipe!

Utterly delicious

But I digress – back to the onion element of the course – I served the lamb with roast Mediterranean vegetables – roughly chop lots of onion, 2 courgettes, a red and yellow pepper and toss with plenty of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. Roast in the oven, stirring every 20 minutes or so to ensure the veg is evenly cooked for about an hour until the vegetables are golden and the onion soft. This is perhaps the moment to confess that to while away the two hours the lamb spent in the oven our party decamped to the local pub and my best intentions to create a dish of oniony peasant potatoes were scuppered after a few ales, meaning that a simple mash with a few drops of truffle oil completed the vegetable accompaniments!

The roast veg

After positively filling our faces with as much lamb and veg and red wine as is humanly possible (and still having plenty of meat left over) we enjoyed a short pause before the cheese course.  This was formed of a selection of Pie D’Anglois, Gorgonzola and incredibly strong cheddar all served of course, with, a delicious onion jam!

Pudding was a miniature birthday cake  (again bought) as I had wisely forseen in my menu planning, that by that stage of the evening, even  a ‘wafer thin’ mint would have been too much to manage.

Dinner was a triumph and my pal was sent on his way with a belly full of onions and the remains of the onion jam to take home for emergencies! The left overs of the lamb were torn up and mixed with chickpeas, peppers and lemon and olive oil to create the following day’s salad lunch.

The next day's lunch

The End!

*Title courtesy of Geoff Partridge Esq

Not so slimming salads

The war against my expanding stomach continues to wage full throttle and despite receiving an obscene amount of Easter eggs and chocolates over the last few days I have hidden them all in an effort to be good before the wedding.  In the desperate hope of shedding a few pounds in the next nine weeks I have been eating and cooking lots of salads.  Were anyone to analyse the actual calorific contents of these ‘low fat’ delights I think I would be rumbled and my imaginary diet bubble well and truly burst but let’s ignore that and on to the recipes:

One of these which takes a matter of minutes but which is utterly delicious is what I call Japanese Broccoli salad.  Cut a broccoli into small florets and boil until soft/al dente/crunchy depending on what you prefer, in a pan with added salt and a splash of sesame oil.  Drain thoroughly and add a splash of soy sauce, Japanese sesame dressing and sprinkle with chilli flakes and sesame seeds – I think this may be my least fattening recipe and despite this, it is delicious!

Simple but delicious

Although just weeks away from my 30th birthday, I have a probably, rather unhealthy, need to constantly see and talk to my parents.  Having been abandoned by them over Easter I comforted myself with creating some of my mum’s recipes.  My mum is an amazing and established cook and her recipes and amazing family lunches and dinners are a key inspiration behind my own love of food and cooking.  Whenever I make this dish, people ask for the recipe as it is so moreish and perfect as a starter or a side dish: Lentil, bacon and avocado salad

Finely chop some bacon and fry in a pan, add roughly chopped shallots and garlic.  Add the lentils (any variety is fine – I used green tinned lentils) and add mustard, balsamic vinegar and seasoning and a little extra olive oil.  Cook for 3 – 5 minutes to infuse the flavours and then leave to cool.  Once cool add chopped avocado and a splash more olive oil and it is ready to serve.

My final recipe for this week has a cous cous base – you could swap any of the things I have added for your own favourites – I find cous cous so versatile and perfect for salads that are more of a main course – this is also great for packed lunches.

Add boiling water and a drop or two of chicken stock to the dry cous cous.  Allow to absorb the water for 5 minutes and then fluff up with a fork you can add a knob of butter at this stage too depending on how strictly you are following your healthy eating plan!  Meanwhile finely slice chorizo and fry until crisp.  Remove from the pan and using the chorizo fat in the pan lightly fry chopped yellow and green peppers and spring onions so they are only just cooked but still have crunch.  Add the chorizo peppers and spring onions to the cous cous as well as some cubed feta.  In a separate bowl squeeze half a lemon and mix with 2 parts olive oil and salt and pepper.  Add to the cous cous and mix all the ingredients together.  Finally sprinkle with very finely chopped mint leaves.

I actually served this as a side with chicken breasts that i coated in Tracklements Chilli Jam (which i am finding a million uses for as I adore it – also lovely mixed with Philadelphia to make a dip) and then baked in the oven for twenty minutes.  As well as another salad – spinach leaves with avocado, pine nuts and balsamic glaze dressing.

Pre oven!

Roll on week 11 when I can go back to filling my face with such delights as peanut butter ice cream and cheese, but as dieting goes all this lovely summer food makes it a lot more bearable!

P.B.B. – I declare war

With the exception of two greedy French dinners, this week I have been trying, in a most out of character attempt, to go some way towards mitigating the disaster which will henceforth be referred to as the PBB (Post Bruges Belly).  I have even gone to the extremes of asking for my morning gingerbread latte without CREAM!  I know – it truly beggars belief.  I do have a wedding dress to fit into in a matter of months so needs must!

Anyway in the spirit of this new cream free, health conscious me (don’t worry – it is just a temporary phase, and only when I remember!) I have recreated a delicious soup that I was introduced to at a superb dinner party last week.  The recipe we were served (and promptly demanded seconds of as it was so good) was from the Moro cookbook however in typical Cos I’m style, I have recreated it with some of my own twists and additions.  This soup could be served hot or cold and as the yoghurt replaces the traditional cream it can be enjoyed in great quantities with minimal guilt.

In a pan blend a paste from a little vegetable stock and a teaspoon of flour – then add around 1.5 litres of vegetable stock.  To the stock, add 2 diced potatoes, one onion and lots of garlic (up to you but I used 4 cloves) simmer this mixture for about ten minutes.  While it is cooking grate or very finely slice 4 courgettes, add to the simmering stock mix and cook for about 5 minutes. 

Then stir in a large packet of mint leaves (take the stalks off) and blend until it is almost smooth (I like to have a few chunks but you could blend until completely smooth).  Finally add Greek yoghurt and stir through.  I copied U.S. the lovely friend that introduced me to this recipe and served with some chilli flakes on the top.

Whilst I am on the health bandwagon I have come a cross a new staple – spelt.  I am constantly looking for inspiration when creating interesting side dishes – potato, rice pasta or cous cous although all versatile can become a bit depressingly repetitive.  This week I was recommended Sharpham Park Speltotto and was pleasantly surprised.  The pack is full of claims that really don’t matter to me such as organic or British or created by the founder of Mulberry!  All I care about is how it tastes, especially as I automatically doubt anything this healthy.  I tried the pumpkin and shallot risotto variety – just add cold water and boil then simmer for 15 minutes.  I have tried spelt before in salads etc but enjoyed it much more in this new risotto-style guise.

The initial taste was of tinned carrot rather than Pumpkin – it certainly tasted ‘British’, but once I got over that I started to really enjoy the dish – the texture is unusual  but appealing and it made me feel healthy just knowing it is good for me (full of iron, zinc, vitamins and minerals I am told). To satisfy the fiancés caveman- like carnivorous needs, I added chicken to his and he adored it (he would!).  If I am completely honest though I felt it only truly became delicious after adding a good dollop of butter, some parmesan shavings, black pepper and a dash of truffle oil!  Well I had to put my own stamp on it didn’t I – I am telling myself it is still healthy!

*In the spirit of honesty and the hope that publicly admitting to my complete lack of discipline will steel me in the future, I should add that since I originally wrote this post, I have had a rather calorie intensive five  course Michelin star meal and a full English this morning.  PBB – you may have won the battle but I WILL win the war!

Whoops!

Anyone for cocktails?

Saturday night was one of the best I have had in some time – what did I do?  A glorious weekend night with no plans or obligations – it was heavenly.  I spent the afternoon making my first ever lasagne completely from scratch – you do need a good spare 3 hours if you are planning to do this but the results are well worth it.  I used a classic recipe as a guide but as usual made my own additions and amendments, the most successful of which was the addition of chorizo and bacon to the beef mince.

To serve 4 greedy or 6 normal people you will need:

White sauce:

1.5 pints of milk – put in a pan with one sliced onion, 3 bay leaves  and 3 cloves – bring to a slow boil and then leave to infuse for one hour.  Then strain the milk into a separate jug.  Using the pan you boiled the milk in, melt about 50g butter and slowly add 50g of flour, forming a paste, cook this for about 2 minutes and then slowly pour the milk back in stirring continuously to avoid lumps.  Stir in salt pepper and nutmeg (I actually used ½ a teaspoon of cinnamon instead)

Meat sauce:

In a large pan fry 3 cloves of garlic one onion and a carrot (very finely chopped) until soft.  Add two finely sliced rashers of bacon and sliced chorizo (pull off the kin and chop the inside) I used about a 3 inch length –sorry I do not know how else to describe the quantity! –  of chorizo but you could add more or less according to taste.  Then add beef mince (500g) and milk, 200ml and a can of chopped tomatoes, stir until meat is starting to brown then finally add a crumbled beef stock cube, a generous squeeze of tomato puree, rosemary, oregano and thyme and half a bottle of red wine.  Leave the mixture on a low heat for one hour stirring regularly to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

When both sauces are ready take a dish and  coat the bottom with a layer of the meat mix, cover this with lasagne pasta sheets (i just used dried but i think you can get fresh).  Cover this with a layer of the béchamel or white sauce, then do another layer of meat and sprinkle with parmesan – repeat the process three times – meat, parmesan, pasta béchamel until you end up with a top layer of béchamel and a full dish.  Sprinkle this generously with grated parmesan and then place in the oven (180 degrees) for just under an hour and voila – your three hours of toil will be sumptuously rewarded – you can also feel very smug at your domestic godess-like-ness from making it  from scratch!

 Inspired by my flurry of activity in the kitchen, the fiancé decided it was time to restock the drinks cabinet.  I have been nagging him for some time to become the drinks expert to compliment my cheffery (not that i am an expert by any means).  Yesterday was the day he decided to really take this on board.  Armed with a really old-fashioned cocktail book and a newly replenished cupboard of liquors, bitters and garnishes he began mixing up a storm.

Cocktail No. 1 - The Imperial

Picking the theme of gin based as a very vague attempt to lessen the next day’s hangover, we started with an Imperial – a heady mix of gin, vermouth, Kirsh and Angustura bitters – shaken not stirred!  Cocktail hour continued with a ‘Zsa Zsa’ – Gin, Dubonnet and Angustura.  Feeling rather merry by this stage we decided it would be a good idea to postpone dinner and try yet another.  This time it was my old favourite the Negroni, given the most amazing twist with the addition of two large slices of pink grapefruit on the glass.  The mouth wateringly clean andf fresh smell of the grapefruit gave the drink the most amazing nose.

The Negroni - or Pink Bunny as it was renamed

With our sentences beginning to slur, we decided it was time for dinner – what could be better than a rich, cheesy lasagne to soak up all that mother’s ruin?  The distraction of cocktails had sadly caused my afternoon’s great work to be ever so slightly over done (i could not bear to take a photo as it did not do the masterpiece of flavour and texture that it was, justice).  I served the lasagne with home-made garlic bread (I made a melted butter with garlic, salt pepper and lots of fresh basil and poured it into part baked baguettes – I highly recommend) and a salad of lettuce, cucumber and very finely sliced spring onion with a pesto and mustard dressing.  I know dinner was delicious but if I am completely honest I cant remember much after that!  I think that next time the cocktail book of dreams comes out I will make sure we eat first!

How my lasagne would have looked if we hadnt had cocktails!

Monday night magic

Despite my recent ‘free-agent’ status (workwise – the fiance has not jilted me yet), the last four weeks have been a  whirlwind of interviews, driving lessons and wedding planning.  Now that I have time to actually breathe and think again – it is amazing how quickly time goes when you are not nine to fiving – I am determined to get back into the blog (no doubt a huge relief to any readers out there!) 

Rest assured that just because I have not been endlessly spouting details of every morsel I have been ingesting, this is no reflection on the amount I have been cooking and eating – the 16 pounds (yes – that is MORE than a stone) that I have managed to gain since Christmas is testament to this.

I am slightly overwhelmed by how much I have to post – highlights from the last month include the hare stew, a trip to Bruges (I think the obscene beer, chocolate and chip fest that this trip turned into may have been the key culprit in the expansion of the waistline), Wagyu beef and avocado tempura at Nobu Berkeley and the most heavenly recipe for Banana Tart Tatin . I hope to find the time to impart all of these tales of gluttony over the next week or two but in the meantime to get me back in the saddle, here is a delicious recipe recommendation which I  invented, cooked and consumed less than an hour ago, for an incredibly delicious yet simple Monday night dinner at home (serves two).

Roughly chop two chicken breasts, one yellow pepper, a small onion, half a chorizo ring and a clove of garlic and place in a roasting tin with a good slug of oil.  Roast for approx 25 minutes at 180 degrees, tossing throughout the cooking. The chorizo juices permeate the chicken and the vegetables creating a really rich tasty and colourful dish out of very basic ingredients. I served it with cous cous (top tip: add chicken stock to the boiling water and a knob of butter once the grains are fluffed up) and a chickpea  and beetroot salad with lots of lemon and olive oil. My only regret is that I didn’t make more – it is always so sad when the plate is empty!

Bruges' finest and my downfall!

The great pork belly conquest

(Written 16th Jan)

Once again the week has been a blur of work and interviews and catching up with friends after Christmas.  The one night I have had in the house I was so exhausted I have to shamefully confess to resorting to beans on toast for dinner.  That doesn’t however mean that I haven’t been eating like a queen on some occasions and trying lots of new things including my highlight of the week a fresh scotch egg – I can’t say it was made in my own kitchen but it was the first time I had tried one – it was absolutely delicious and I ended up ordering another round as one was just not enough.

These posts are all slightly out of order – 2 weekends ago the kitchen turned into a full on sweatshop as I cranked out recipe after recipe.  Highlights were the beetroot soup from Delicious magazine – it was tasty but if I am honest not worth the hours of preparation and having every wall and surface in the kitchen semi-permanently tinged with pink.

In order to line my stomach on the Saturday night I whizzed up a Greek style spinach pie.  It is a great way of using up left overs – simply melt butter in a pan with some garlic, add spinach, feta cheese pine nuts and a beaten egg and cook on the hob until the feta begins to melt and the ingredients blend together.  Then put the mixture in ready rolled raw puff pastry and fold over creating sort of Cornish pasty shape – then just blast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

I woke up on the Sunday morning (pork belly day) with an absolutely monstrous hang over and having had very little sleep – fortuitously I had had the presence of mind to set an alarm before passing out at 6am the night before – even in my inebriation I knew I had to start on the pork belly at 10am!  Having consulted literally hundreds of recipe books and websites for the best and simplest way to make pork belly I decided to loosely follow the version in Bill Ganger’s ‘Bill’s basics’ cookbook.

The first task was to deeply score the fat on the pork belly – as someone relatively new to cooking meat and more pertinently someone who was viciously hung-over; my queasiness meant this was slightly beyond me.  Step in one heroic fiancé who did all the unpleasant part for me.  I then rubbed the whole thing, particularly the scores with salt and placed the pork belly in a roasting tin with a couple of bay leaves, orange peel and garlic cloves as well as one centimetre of cold water.  This then went in the oven at 14o degrees C for the next three hours and I gratefully went back to bed.

After three hours I turned the heat right up to 220 and blasted the belly for 25 minutes to make the crackling crispy – the smell was fantastic.  During the last blast I rustled up a celeriac mash and red cabbage stewed with raisins and balsamic vinegar.  I then removed the pork belly from the oven, separated the crackling and pit it under the grill for one final blast and crisping and then did a quick gravy by adding white wine to the juices in the pan and reducing.  My brother who was visiting to try the experiment gave me the greatest compliment a cook in our family could ever receive by saying the crackling was even better than my mum’s (MP if you are reading this – I am sure he was just being polite – no one could beat your pork belly).  We took a quick picture and then tucked in with lots of apple sauce (shop bought – there is only so much one can chef from scratch post a serious vodka binge).

Trust me - this picture does not do justice to how delicious it was!

So another lovely tick box in the meats I can now master the cooking of.  However never one to shy away from a challenge the next task I have set myself is a jugged hare dinner party in a couple of weeks’ time (the carcass is currently in the freezer having been shot by a friend and masterfully butchered by the fiancé!)  Not only is this an entirely new meat that I have never cooked with before But I have also invited several people over for dinner to sample it – no pressure then!