Wednesday, December 30, 2009

#214 Meat Souffle

A quickie. I knew that we would have plenty of leftover Bradenham ham from Christmas so I knocked this one up. Follow the recipe for the cheese soufflé but use half the amount of cheese and fold about 8 ounces of chopped ham into it. Alternatively, soften a couple of ounces of onions in butter and add 8 ounces of blanched, minced sweetbreads or cooked brains if you like your offal. You might not wish to include cheese though. Make sure you add some herbs too.

#214 Meat Soufflé. The best way to use up some leftover ham, I reckon. The cheese- ham combo is a classic. The salty-sweet ham and cheese and the creamy egg were perfect. If you’ve never made a soufflé before have a go, they are not as scary as people make out. 8.5/10.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

#213 Boned Roast Sirloin

This Christmas – 2009 – was the year we did not have turkey. This was the first time ever, and I have to say it wasn’t missed (at least not by me, anyway). Instead it was roast pheasant and roast beef, not any roast beef though, but roast sirloin. Griggers says that if you cooking beef for a special occasion and you want to be sure of good beef, go for this cut. She suggests getting it from Harrods, but I didn’t go that far. Instead I went to a very good butcher’s shop in Pudsey, my home town, called Bentley’s. It’s won many an award so I thought I would mention them.

A roasting joint such as this needs little doing to it – place it in a roasting tin and season the fat with saltr and plenty of black pepper. Place in a very hot oven – turn the heat as high as possible and leave for 15 minutes, turn the oven down to 180⁰C and roast for 15 minutes a pound for rare meat. Serve with the usual horseradish etc.

FYI: I bought a meat thermometer so I could be absolutely sure of perfectly cooked meat. I did it medium, though I would have done it rare if it were just me eating it. If you have one then follow these temperatures: up to 60⁰C gives you rare beef, 60-70⁰C gives you medium and 70+⁰C gives you well-done beef.

FYI2: there is a common story about Henry VIII eating loin of beef at a banquet and thought it was so delicious that pronounced it ‘Sir Loin’. This is unfortunately a lot of nonsense, though I wish it were true. This cut of beef got its name is from the French sur loin, meaning above the loin.

#213 Boned Roast Sirloin. This was the best roast beef I’ve ever had in my life! It was as soft as butter and tasty and all the better for adding only salt and pepper. No messing about with extras here. It beat the rib of beef hands down. Absolutely gorgeous. Go cook some next time you have something special to celebrate – this is an order! 10/10

Thursday, December 24, 2009

#212 Bradenham Ham

Well here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun. Well we are here in Pudsey, Leeds because - as for most of the UK - we are having a proper white Christmas.

Hope all of you are having a good one.

The plan this year is to not have a turkey, but three different meats: ham, beef and pheasant. We all decided as a family to not do turkey, but now the time is here there are some that are having a bit of a complain. Well tough tits - you should have piped up at the time.

So the the first to report is the Bradenham ham from Dukeshill. I actually did this for Christmas Eve dinner and that's why it is being reported to you good fellows.

Bradenham ham is apparently the best of the dry cured hams - so good in fact that the Queen has it every year herself. It's quite pricey, but it is Christmas.

The story of the creation of the Bradenham cure is that the Lord of Bradenham invented it in 1781 - so it is pretty old - but his butler took umbrage saying he had invented it and nicked the recipe. What a card. Anyways, he stowed the recipe to Dukeshill and they still make it today. It is dry cured for 3 months in a briny bath of spice, molasses and cochineal of all things.

The hams can be bought whole or in halves. I went for the half ham as the whole one is absolutely huge and I had to buy a huge pan for the half one anyway. Griggers gives instructions for a whole ham so I had to go for the cooking times give by Dukeshill themselves.

Start off by soaking the ham in cold water for 2 days (Griggers reckons four, but since mine is half the size, I went with Dukeshill method. Put the ham in a large pot and cover with water. Add half a jar of mollases and half a hanful of pickling spices (double up, if a whole ham). Bring slowly to a bare simmer and then turn very low on the hob and allow to keep ticking over for 20 minutes per pound.

When done, remove tentatively from the opt and remove the black skin. Cover the sticky fat with breadcrumbs and bake in a medium oven until they go nice and brown. Allow to cool. Serve the ham sliced with nice mustard or Cumberland sauce.

#213 Bradenham Ham. Absolutely delicious; very salty and very sweet. The spices are sublime. When you eat it, your mouth waters. Alot. It may be pricey, but it is worth it. The only problem was that because I bought a half ham, some meat - rather than skin - was exposed to the water and dried out a little. However, anything behind fat or around bone was deliciously moist. If you buy one and you don't want a whole one, buy an already cooked one instead, I reckon. 8.5/10.

I have more to report over the rest of the festive period. Hope you are all having a great time and eating good food.

FYI: to make your own pickling spice mix use: 2 teaspoons each of black peppercorns, allspice berries, coriander seeds, cloves, mace as well as two dried chillies and two pieces of dried ginger.

Monday, December 21, 2009

#206 Orange Mincemeat Part 2; #211 Cumberland Rum Sauce

I have a few things up my sleeve for Christmas but for now I can only report on two things: the orange mincemeat I made last month and something to go on them (or your Christmas pud): Cumberland rum butter.

First up, the mincemeat. I have given the recipe for them already and also reported upon the Griggers way of making mince pies properly, which is how I make them now. All I have to do is give them a mark.

#206 Orange Mincemeat. Well, the orange mincemeat is ten times better than any bought stuff, the three types of booze must help. The mincemeat is not as orangey as I’d hoped, but still great. The best thing is, and it’s the same with the other recipe, is that it is not too sweet. Have a go, but the better is the Beeton. 6.5/10.

I have already made a brandy butter and it was good, but I thought I’d try this Cumberland rum butter – I had higher hopes for it as my favourite spirit is dark rum. Have a go at this, or the other brandy butter recipe, it’s very easy, just requiring some simple creaming and mixing.

Cream eight ounces of unsalted butter until pale and fluffy. Beat in six ounces of soft brown sugar, three tablespoons of rum and a good grate of nutmeg. That is it! Serve on mince pies or Christmas pudding, or even with warm oatcakes, which is how the folk of Cumberland served it, apparently.

#211 Cumberland Rum Butter. Really delicious. Not too sweet and sickly, the dark rum and dark sugar give it a bitter-sweet note. Great stuff. 7/10.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#210 Coarse Chicken Liver Pate

Hello there Grigsoners! I have had a brief hiatus from blogging of late – life has simply gotten in the way. I shall spare you the boring details. December has not been the productive month I hoped, but I did make this pâté. It was intended for the Evolution Group’s Christmas Party, but I was rather ill on the day and therefore had to eat this over several days afterwards. No mean feat seeing as it serves eight.

If you are thinking of having some pâté this Christmas, try making this one. The best thing about it is that you can make it around three days before you want to eat it. I am not going to make the glaringly obvious point that pâté is not English.

Start off by removing the gall bladders and stringy bits from 8 ounces of chicken livers. Keep aside half of the nicest looking ones and pass the rest through a mincer along with a small onion, a small clove of garlic and two rashers of streaky bacon. To the minced mixture, mix in 8 to 12 ounces of sausagemeat (the best thing to do is buy good sausages and peel them), a pinch each of thyme and oregano, some salt and some black and Cayenne peppers, plus 2 tablespoons each of sherry and brandy and a tablespoon of drained green peppercorns. When all is mixed in well, you can start putting the thing together in layers in an ovenproof pot, though you should taste the mixture first to check for seasoning (it sounds foul, but it really isn’t that bad). Start with some of the mixture, then half the reserved livers, then more mix, the rest of the livers, and a final layer of mixture. Cover with some back fat or pork skin and place in a roasting tin and pour in some boiling water. Place it in the oven for 45 minutes at 180⁰C, or until the pâté starts to come away from the edges of the pot. Once half cool, place some light weights on top and leave for two or three days before serving with toast or ‘good bread’.

#210 Coarse Chicken Liver Pâté. This was delicious and couldn’t get enough of it. I happy munched my way through the whole thing over four days. The herbs were delicate in flavour and complimented the creamy livers well. The booze made it sweet and moist, but the peppercorns made the whole thing sublime. A really delicious recipe – never buy your pâté again and have a go at this one! 8.5/10

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Food

Well December is upon us and that means that it’s Crimbo time. It also means I’m bloody freezing cos those wintry northerly winds have already started a-blowing. I don’t mind it really as long as the weather a cold and dry as opposed to cold and wet. Although the in-season list is looking pretty slim for December there’s loads to look forward to that aren’t on the list – dried fruits, preserves and chutney reign supreme at the time. I must admit I wasn’t very prepared this summer and only made some mincemeat, but never mind. After the success of the steak and oyster pudding last month, I might try some more oyster-related recipes.

Vegetables: Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot, brussels tops and sprouts, cabbages, carrots, celeriac, celery, endive, spring and winter greens, kale, leeks, onions, parsnips, potatoes, swede, turnips.

Fruit: apples, forced rhubarb.

Fungi and nuts: chestnuts.

Fish and shellfish: cod, crab, mussels, oysters, sea bass, whiting.

Game: goose, grey squirrel, grouse, hare, mallard, pheasant, rabbit, venison, woodpigeon.