It turns out it has been so long since I last wrote anything on here that I had totally forgot my password. The last 6 months have been borderline ridiculous and I have had so much on that the blog has had to take a back seat. To give you a brief idea of just how busy I have been… work has been all consuming, I have sold a house, moved out of said house, moved back in with my parents and subsequently bought and moved into a new house… which has left me precious little time to sit down and do anything, let alone pontificate about food and drink.
I am looking to right the wrongs of the recent past and get back on the proverbial horse with a hell of a lot in the pipeline to get things moving again, but first and foremost there is a looming yule like presence breaching the horizon. I can hear nothing but Michael Buble and Frank Sinatra in the shops which means one thing and one thing only… Christmas is here. Strangely though, the day that it really dawned on me just how close the big day is, I had an incredibly well timed email from literally my favourite spot in Worcester… Wayland’s Yard. If you don’t know who Wayland’s Yard are, I covered their launch heavily last year and was really impressed with their local attitude and concentration on building an amazing culture that equates to equally amazing food and wonderful coffee. Sam, the man behind the yard, has been kind enough to invite me to their Christmas Festival and Craft Market which promises to be a festive celebration with their beautifully presented coffee flowing throughout the weekend, complimented by mulled wine, mince pies, and again…their genuinely good food. If you are an existing subscriber of the blog you know how I feel about their food. so I can’t wait to get back there and get involved with the guys.
Polly from Wayland’s Yard got in touch and said:
After our first anniversary in October and some successful Yard Parties over the Summer, we thought it was time to celebrate Christmas the Wayland’s way. Everything we do is about championing local produce, business and people – that’s why our Christmas Festival is going to give over 40 local crafters/business people the platform to sell their gifts to people just in time for Christmas. Add to this local musicians, a choir, mince pies, mulled cider and our usual food offering and we think we’ve got a pretty decent recipe for a party!!
I think everybody who loves what this blog is about loves the idea of a successful local business supporting other local business to give people something unique for the festive season. So lets get down there and support them and get festive in the Yard!
If you want to attend.. clear your calendars on the 16th/17th December, WY is located at number 6 Foregate street, near the train station and the party gets started from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday.
I can’t wait! See you there for some Proper coffee… and proper food.
Roast potatoes. Something that in my opinion makes a roast dinner what it is. They are the quintessential accompaniment to a joint of Beef or a leg of lamb on a Sunday. I mean, can you imagine a Christmas dinner not having them? I genuinely cant. Such a simple idea can turn a relatively run of the mill ingredient into something that the kids argue over at the table.
They are a cornerstone of British cuisine that some people just don’t get right, leaving some underwhelmed family members craving the crunchy shell and fluffy insides that a well cooked roastie provides. Infact, I put so much emphasis on these crunchy little gems being part of a Sunday roast that I think you shouldn’t be legally be aloud to have one without them (This will be enforced when I come into power people). There’s a few do’s and don’ts to remember to get a perfect tatty. So ill give you a few below.
- Cut the potatoes and just whack them in the oven. They will take forever, not crisp up properly and be more like a baked potato. Its mainly preference here. But trust me and try my way just once. You’ll see the difference.
- Under season them. They need to be well seasoned to perk them up and take them from dud to spud.
- Use the wrong type of potato. Some just aren’t cut out for the job and need to be mashed into oblivion or used as a jacket potato and drowned in beans and cheese. (My recommended types coming up below…)
- Be impatient. Preheat your oven properly. Don’t put them in a semi warmed oven, they need to be hugged in real heat!
- Parboil. it helps crank up the fluffiness and helps use the oven time for crisping.
- Leave the skins on. They crisp up really well and adds a different level of texture to them.
- Oil the baking tray and put it in the oven. It should be screaming hot when you put the potatoes on it so be careful!
- Sprinkle a little flour on them and rough them u after boiling. Nice and fluffy does the trick and this is the way to do it.
- Use a suitable potato such as: Apache (when in season), Albert bartlet rooster, Maris piper or king Edward. New potatoes roast well and are genuinely amazing when roasted whole, however they are not suitable for this recipe.
So the recipe for my personal perfect crunchy spud. What you’ll need to feed 4:
- 4 large king Edward potatoes (cut into quarters or slightly smaller if preferred) or 300g Apache potatoes (Halved).
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- salt and pepper.
- Plain flour.
- Pre-heat your oven at 200 degrees/ 180C/ gas mark 6.
- Spread the oil on the baking tray and place in the oven. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
- Boil the potatoes for 15 minutes or until they start to slip off a skewer.
- Drain the spuds in a colander, drop them back into the pan. (Off the heat) Add a few big pinches of flour, sprinkled evenly and a big helping of salt and pepper. Around a teaspoon of each will do just fine. Put a lid on the pan or cover with the colander and give them a good shake around.
- Remove your now incredibly hot oiled tray from the oven and spread them evenly around it.
- Place tray back in the oven on the middle shelf for 35-40 minutes. Some ovens differ so keep an eye on them. Your looking for an even, golden crust on all of the edges.
- Serve straight away with a meal or just in a bowl with a jar of mayonnaise. I wont judge you.
Enjoy! Oh and one last tip – One of my favourite ways to use them is adding a big handful to a plate of left over gammon ham with a couple of eggs and some peas, it makes for a great midweek dinner. Give it a go!
Again and again I walk into my local supermarket and straight to the meat and fish section to find something to make something worth writing about. This time I saw the guinea fowl thighs, I rarely see them as they mostly just stock full birds, so I snapped them up.
I rifled through the isles to find something to go with it, I picked some thick cut bacon lardons and an onion squash. Here was the resulting recipe!
4 Guinea fowl thighs
200g bacon lardons
Dash of white wine (50ml)
1onion squash, peeled and chopped
A little oil
preheat your oven at 180\gas mark 7
Place the squash on a tray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. place in the oven.
Add 1 tablespoons of rapeseed oil to a large non stick frying pan on a medium/high heat, followed by the bacon.
Fry the bacon until it starts to brown, then add the wine. Stir the bacon and wine to lift the sediment from the bottom of the pan and simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the guinea fowl, and fry gently on each side for a few minutes until browned.
Remove everything from the pan and place in an oven proof tray, sprinkle with a little pepper, then place in the
oven for around 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes check the squash has softened in the middle. browned nicely around the edges and that the guinea foel thighs juices are running clear, then serve with your favourite green vegetables and enjoy.
The Christmas break is now a distant memory and I can honestly say it feels like the whole festive season was gone in a blink of an eye. I always find that the whole build up to Christmas far outweighs the impact of the actual event, by the time you actually get there it fizzles out like a spent candle and all that’s left from 9 weeks of build up is a bloated waistline and a new year’s resolution claiming newly found restraint. It leaves me a little deflated as the quality of the Christmas dinner and the buffet style foods that flow between the 25th through to the 1st all of a sudden seem to just fade away leaving naught but the mother of all Monday morning feelings when the majority of us return to work on the 2nd of January.
Therefore I am a believer of the Sunday roast done properly. It keeps the deflating withdrawals from the mass feasting available over Christmas and keeps you satisfied by providing something a little bit special and extravagant once a week for you and your family. Most people stick to the usual suspect’s when it comes to roasts like chicken, lamb and beef, but however great these are don’t let the trend deter you from trying something different every now and then.
Enter the star of today’s show, the duck. The bird provides succulent, dark, decadent flesh and hearty reusable fats. I adore duck as it is a real treat and not as widely used as chicken but it really, really should be. Roasted it just makes me totally content and I want to share that experience with you, so here’s my recipe for roast duck to ease your foodie withdrawal symptoms.
- 1 medium duck
- Large pinch sea salt
- 600 ml chicken stock
- 100ml white wine
- Dash of Worcester sauce
- Tbsp flour
- Pierce the skin of the duck all over. Place on a rack in the kitchen sink, and pour over 2 full kettles of boiling water. Pat it dry with kitchen towel. leave it to dry in the fridge. This will help give you crispy skin!
- Preheat the oven to 200 C, 180 C fan, 400 F, gas 6. Place the duck on a rack over a roasting tin, as it will release a lot of fat into the tin.
- Add sea salt to the skin and roast for 90 minutes. Basting every 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest.
- While the duck is resting, make the gravy. Place the roasting tin over a low flame, then stir in the flour and keep on the heat until you have a slightly thicker paste and have moved some of the sediment from the tray.
- Gradually pour in the stock and wine, stirring constantly, until you feel it thicken.
- Simmer for 2 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir, scraping any remaining bits and pieces from the bottom of the tin.
- Strain the gravy into a small saucepan, then simmer, adding the Worcester sauce and season.
- When you carve the duck, add any extra leaky juices to the gravy for an extra treat.
Simple, but beautiful! Enjoy!
As promised on the Facebook page last week, somewhat belatedly ill admit, here is my recipe for roast guinea fowl. I enjoyed this more than most of the dishes I usually cook due to the simple fact its a different experience to the norm, its a gamier and more adventurous alternative to chicken. Its something that if you haven’t tried it, you should. Mine came from Waitrose and was a grand total of £8.75. one average bird feeds 4 (2x breast, 2x legs)
So, now to the fun part. making it.
what you’ll need:
1x Guinea fowl. (No giblets)
1 sweet potato, sliced.
6-7 good size shallots
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chicken stock
red wine (for cooking)
handful of Chesnutt mushrooms
pinch sea salt.
prep) Preheat oven to 180 degrees (electic oven) 160 degrees (fan assisted) or gas mark 4
1) Lay the bird in a roasting tray. Give it a teaspoon of olive oil and spread over the guinea fowl.
2) Lay the mushrooms, sweet potato, peeled garlic cloves and shallots in the tray with the bird.
3) Add the stock evenly and distribute around 2 tablespoons of the wine, Pinch of sea salt.
4) Roast the guinea fowl for around one hour twenty minutes, or until the juices run clear.
5) Leave to rest for a few minutes and serve with your choice of veg or alternatively with a spicy rice or couscous. Drizzle with the cooking juices in the tray, its amazing. You could also turn this into a gravy with a small amount of flour/ thickening, putting it back on the heat until its at your desired thickness, ready to lay a velvety blanket over your roast.
Try it!! Phil