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Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Parmesan Crisps

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These are usually served as an accompaniment to either a main meal or a starter type dish or even with soups. They provide an interesting texture, definite depth of flavour and can provide means of being a vehicle for accompanying flavours also. Ill also warn you they're incredibly moreish.

You will need: (makes one large crisp)

50g grated parmesan cheese
one tiane / serving ring (heat ristsant) - egg rings will do perfectly.
Silicon mat

The doing bit:

Pretty simple. Just add the grated parmesan to the ring on a silicone mat and flatten so that the cheese is evenly spread. Grill for about 3 mins until the cheese begins to bubble / colour. Remove from heat, then allow to cool.

feel free to add a variety of seasoning, such as chilli, herbs, pepper, paprika etc depending on what you're going to serve it with. Finely chopped rosemary work brilliantly.

Slow roast tomato salsa

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This salsa is a great accompaniment to many dishes, and as a dipping sauce for the more lesuirely occasions, such as when using with nachos and similar "dipping" type dishes. Its very easy to make, and uses a sweet and spicy element to please a number of palates.

You will need:

300g cherry vine tomatoes, vine tomatoes, or plum vine tomatoes.
2 teaspoons jalapeno chillies chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced very thinly.
2 spring onions, chopped finely.
tbsp fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

The doing bit:

First cut the tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray. On each tomato half add 1 slice of garlic and a blade of rosemary, and a few drops of the red wine vinegar and a sprinlking of salt. Place the tomatoes in a warm oven 9/about 170C) for about 40 mins until they begin to shrink and caramelise slightly. remove fromt he oven and allow to cool.

IN a mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients, allowing the tomatoes to break up (dont be shy). Taste the mixture ans season accordingly. For extra sweetness add a tablespoon of honey of maple syrup.


Butternut squash & cashew nut roast

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The nut roast is probably one of the more popular vegetarian dishes, comprising mainly a loaf type of arrangement of roasted vegetables, nuts, herbs and several other ingredients. This recipe makes no exception, although the utilisation of butternut squash and cashew nuts provides a wonderful sweet element to the dish, with the mellow aromatics of garlic and sage providing a hearty warm flavour.

You will need (makes a loaf):

1 onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic choppid very finely
Olive oil to hand for saute work
2 large deseeded butternut squash, cut into 1cm cubes
225g raw cashew nuts (optionally half anf half pistachio nuts) roughly chopped
pinch nutmeg
6 leaves sage chopped finely
salt and pepper

The doing bit:

Preheat oven to 220 C and roast for about half an hour until it begins to caramelise. While this is cooking in a pan saute the onion until it begins to colour / soften, add the garlic and cook on a low - moderate heat until the garlic begins to soften. Set to one side.

Take the finished squash and all other ingredients and mix well. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, then press into a lined loaf tin. Bake for 60 minutes at roughly 200C, cover with foil for the fist 40 minutes then remove for the last 20.

Allow to cool a bit then cut into slices. Serve and devour.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Chilli Butter (as an accompaniment

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Much like our other larder items, chilli butter is one of those wonderful flavour additions that can be used in a multitude of ways.It goes phenmoenally well with fish, white meats and vegetables where neccesary for both cooking and for finishing, giving a spicy and enjoyable edge.

You will need (makes a batch of about 8-10 portions)

1 and a half red chillies, chopped very finely, seeds removed.
salt and pepper
tbsp lemon juice
1 shallot chopped very finely
tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, crushed
250g butter.

The doing bit:

Melt the butter until soft. Mix all ingredients together until they form a uniform paste. Wrap the butter in clingfilm into a sausage shape and chill until required.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Plum Sauce

Plum sauce is one of those wonderful luxurious sauces that provides brilliant mellow tones, deep flavour that complements a variety of herbs and meats and other vegetables, and works well to balance alot of strong and salty flavours. In particular as a sauce plum goes phenomenally well with duck and game. The use of our own larder items here also makes for easy assembly and construction.

You will need (per serving):

2 tbsp plum relish
200 ml chicken or game stock
sprig of rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

The doing bit:

in a saucepan heat up the plum relish gently. Add the stock and rosemary, bring the mix to the boil stirring occasionally, then simmer until reduced to required thickness. Season where appropriately.

Orange Braised Fennel

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*Part of the sizzling staffordshire menu series*

I like this as a side dish because its a good accompaniment to alot of game dishes, particularly in the poultry section of the food group such as turkey, duck, pheasant, partridge and guinea fowl etc. The citrus element works very well with  the aniseed element of fennel and provides a nice clean tone to complement game perfectly.

You will need (serves 3):

3 bulbs fennel, halved vetrically, trimmed.
tbsp olive oil
200ml orange juice
200ml chicken or vegetable stock (chicken preferred)
2 cloves of garlic chopped
salt and pepper to season

The doing bit:

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the fennel and sear each side of each half bulb until coloured. Turn over and repeat, add the orange juice, stock and garlic. Bring to the boil, then cover the pan and lower to a simmer. Cook until fennel is tender (roughly 20 minutes). Remove from liquor and serve.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Confit duck legs

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Confit duck legs are one of those dishes that's incredibly hearty, comforting, homely and generally almost impossible to refuse. Its easy to prepare and cook, and has a long shelf life when stored int he fridge (not that it would need it in my opinion). This recipe makes a batch of 10 legs, which are ideal as a main course or as a starter depending on what you want to do with it. I guarantee enjoyment.

These can be served in a multitude of ways, as a simple part of a roast meal, with salads or even with a puree where necessary. They're incredibly versatile.

You will need (makes roughly 10 servings):

10 Duck Legs
2 kilo of duck fat

For the dry marinade

500g of rock salt
4 Star anise
100g of Juniper berries
50g of cinnamon
50g of Cracked black pepper
4 Lemons zested
60g of Ginger
2 Sticks of Lemon grass

The doing bit:

Blend the star anise, berries, rock salt, cinnamon and black pepper in a food processor.

Peel and chop the ginger in to strips, and break down the lemon grass into small pieces

Place the duck legs in a plastic container, cover the legs with the salt mixture and the ginger, lemon zest and lemon grass cover with cling film and stand in a fridge for 12 - 24 hours

Wipe off the salt, place in a roasting tray; cover in melted duck fat, cover the tray with greaseproof paper, cook 2 to 2 ½ hours in a low oven (roughly 150 / 160C, until the meat is tender

Remove from the oven leave to cool in the duck fat, decant the legs into a clean container, recover the fat by passing through a sieve and placing in a cool area

To roast and crisp up place duck leg in a hot oiled pan and seal over in the oil then finish in the oven

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Pommes Boulangeres

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Boulangeres is one of those potato dishes that goes pretty well with everything, and is useful alongside hearty dishes as well and lighter ones, they go phenomenally well with meat and fish dishes and much like every potato dish they can serve well as a "vehicle" for a variety of flavours. This dish uses a rosemary herb focus, but it doesn't have to be that way it can easily be amended to suit your preference.

You will need (serves roughly 6):

1.2 kg desiree, king edward or romano potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly on a mandolin (/or carefully with a chefs knife)
2 medium onions (peeled  & sliced thinly into same porportions as the potatoes)
large handful fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
300 ml vegetable stock
150ml milk
50g butter

The doing bit:

Take the rosemary and rub in a pestle and mortar until it softens a little. If you dont have one you can do the same with a rolling pin on a hard surface. Take two thirds of the rosemary and chop finely. Take the sliced onions and the potatoes and garlic, and create a layer in a baking dish followed by a scattering of rosemary and season with a little salt and pepper. Continue layering, until your top layer has a layer of potatoes and onions that slightly overlap.

Mix the milk and stock together and pour over the potatoes into the dish. Season the top layer, then scatter the remaining rosemary over the top for decoration.On the top add the butter in small pieces until the dish is evenly covered and place in oven on the highest shelf into a preheated oven to 180C, until the top is crisp and the underneath is soft, tender and creamy.

Remove from the oven and devour.

Smoked Haddock Chowder / Gruyere gratin

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*Part of the sizzling staffordshrie menu series*

Smoked haddock chowder is one of those fish dishes that is surprisingly comforting, whist being very hearty and nutritious. Its not too dissimilar from cullen skink, a scottish dish that is virtually symmetrical to this one. This dishes uses smoked haddock (as the title suggests) but you cna use other smoked fish if you wish (smoked trout is particularly good as an alternative). If you're not a fan of smoked fish, substitute for another by all means. I'm quite amenable when it comes to mixing it up.

This dish serves well as a meal in itself, although it can be adjusted to be lighter where necessary as a starter.

You will need (serves 4):
For the chowder:
450g smoked haddock (undyed preferrably, but ultimately up to you), skin removed and cut into 4 pieces.
4 rashers smoked bacon, cut into 1cm lardons
1 large onion, finely diced
500 ml bechamel
1 baking potato peeled and cut into a small dice (roughly 1/2 cm)
1 lemon zested and juiced
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp tarragon
tbsp butter


4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 pint of milk.
Salt and pepper
4 handfuls of gruyere cheese (grated). You can use mature cheddar as an alternative

The doing bit:

Melt the butter in a large pan, add the onion and cook until the onion begins to soften.Add the bacon and cook for about 3-4 minutes, then add the potatoes and  bechamel. Heat until bubbling then reduce to a simmer. Add the lemon juice and zest, and herbs and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the haddock and cover the pan and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally then taste. Season accordingly with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture out into bowls and top with the gratin components (shown next).

For the gratin:

Add some salt and pepper to the milk in a pan, bring to a simmer then add the potatoes. When the potato slices have begun to soften take them out of the milk. You can use the milk for the chowder to make your bechamel at this stage if you prefer to do things the other way around. Add the slices to the top of the chowder and add the cheese to each one. Put bowls in a hot oven (220C) and cook until the cheese has melted and the potatoes have cooked through

Serve, and devour.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Buckwheat pancakes with smoked salmon

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*part of the sizzling staffordshire menu series*

This is an excellent breakfats dish but also serves well as a light lunch or even as a main course for supper. The buckwheat pancakes play on the confort factor but dont feel guilty, - buckwheat is particularly nutritious and gluten free.

You will need (Serves 5-6):

85g buckwheat flour
85g plain flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1.2 tbssp sea salt
1tbsp caster sugar
200ml semi skimmed milk
1 1/2 tbsp melted butter or oilive oil
2 egg whites
small amount of butter for cooking

TO serve:

10-12 slices smoked salmon
6 tbsp soured cream
3 tbsp capers (drained)
handful rocket to garnish (optional)

The doing bit:


Mix the flours, baking powder salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the milk and melted butter. Gradually mix in the flours to the oil and mix to a smooth batter. leave to rest for a few mins.

Whisk the egg whites together in a seperate bowl until they form soft peaks then fold into the pancake batter.

Melt a small amount of butter into a blini pan on a medium heat and when melted add a small ladelful of the mixture.After roughly 2 minutes (until golden brown on the underside) turn the pancake over and cook again the other side. When done remove from pan and repeat until pancake mix is turned into pancakes.

To serve:

Take a dollop of the sour cream and add it to each pancake (or 2). add the smoked salmon and a few capers to garnish and the rocket to finish.