1001 Kitchen Tips #45 - How do I stop mince burning to the bottom of the pan?

Saturday, February 28, 2009
I was asked this today (Saturday's cooking day in Blogsville), so here's an answer......

Mince, onions, peppers - you name it, you turn your back for a moment and there it is burning to the bottom of the pan. Add a ladle of stock, water or wine. This cools it down immediately, and the liquid then boils so stops it burning. This is useful when sweating onions for risotto for example and they start to brown slightly - add a drop of white wine to stop them colouring and let it reduce before adding your risotto rice.

If it's a bad, thick encrusted burning however, if you do this you will incorporate the burnt flavour all through your food, and that's the last thing you want. So the answer is to cut your losses and swap pans - lift out what mince/ onions etc you can save and put it in a new pan and start again.

Another good tip, as I mention on the lamb and apricot post is not to thicken anything that is going to sit in the pan, or go into the oven for a couple of hours, like minced lamb for shepherds pie, or shin of beef for beef and ale pie. Thicken it after cooking and it doesn't burn on to your pan/ dish for 3 or 4 hours - much easier to clean. When the meat is cooked, drain the sauce through a colander into a saucepan, and put the meat to one side. Then thicken the sauce with beurre manie or cornflour, and drop the meat back in.

Related posts:

1001 Kitchen Tips

P.S. Kitchen tip #44 - how to make the best roast parsnips - is in draft form at the moment - keep a lookout.......


Assiette of desserts

Friday, February 27, 2009
Our collection of 5 mini desserts has quickly become popular. I know the kitchens of the various cottages at Upper Court probably better than my own kitchen at home and this latest line-up was served earlier at the Courtyard Cottage for the same guests as last Sunday.

Each time we serve it, it is slightly different depending on what guests choose. This one consisted of:

Mini crème brulee in Japanese spoon
Shotglass of orange sorbet - see recipe
Glazed lemon tartlets - see physalis tip here
Mini chocolate éclairs - for chocolate topping see here
Raspberry shortbread (with crème patisserie piped in the middle) - for shortbread recipe see here (without the hazelnuts).

Related posts:

Previous assiette desserts we have served
What does 'assiette' mean? Assiette of desserts 12 July 2008


Flipping hell - tomorrow's pancake day!

Monday, February 23, 2009
A call from the local radio station just reminded me that it's pancake day tomorrow aka Shrove Tuesday. There's a couple of recipes and other info from last years entry here: http://www.thecotswoldfoodyear.com/2008/02/pancakes-join-race.html that I posted when I went in to the studio.

How long does pancake mix last in the fridge?

3 days at the most. After that the flour starts to turn black. If it's started turning after 2 days you can lift the top blackened layer off the top and use the mix below.

See also:

Chocolate pancakes
Traditional pancake recipe
Delia style Irish pancakes tried and tested


Sunday lunch in the Cotswolds

Sunday, February 22, 2009
In comaprison to last Sunday's whole roast lamb, this Sunday was a much smaller intimate affair - a rib of beef from Home Farm for 5. I cooked and served it just 2 or 3 miles away from the farm at Upper Court - you don't get much more local than that. As always yorkshire puddings were cooked in the house once I got there, and I found the gas grill extremely useful for crisping up both the rosemary roast potatoes and the parsnip nut roast.
After 15 minutes of resting after the beef was cooked, the juices which had run off were poured into the accompanying gravy - that's where the flavour is.

Related Posts

Delivery Sunday lunch - 6 hour shoulder of lamb

Previous Sunday lunch posts
Using a probe to tell when you're roast is cooked
1001 Kitchen tips # 41 - Top tips for yorkshire puddings
1001 Kitchen tips # 6 - Rosemary roast potatoes

Sunday lunch menu

Sunday lunch delivered with simple instructions or cooked and served in your home by chef and waiting staff in Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Cirencester, Evesham, Gloucestershire, Worcestsershire and accross the Cotswolds.

Also see spring/ summer lunch served near Stratford on Avon by clicking on the photo left or right.

1001 Kitchen tips # 43 - How do I stop a skin forming on my sauce as it cools down?

Thursday, February 19, 2009
Place a sheet of greaseproof paper on top

A skin will form on top of any high-protein cooling liquid - white sauce, casserole, gravies, sauces etc. I use a greasproof cartouche laid on top of the hot sauce while it cools as above.

If I leave it in my blast chiller too long while I'm busy, the tin or bowl sometimes gets far too cold and the paper sticks to the side, and if you try to remove it, it sticks to the side and tears. If this happens you just put your tray (as long as it's metal of course) on the gas quickly just to heat up the sides to release the paper, or if you're feeling flash - get the blow torch out to do the same thing. Yes - that's another use for the blow torch at the back of your kitchen cupboard......

If there's a lot of sauce left on the sheet of greaseproof once the sauce is cold, run your pastry scraper along and put it back in with the rest.

Greaseproof or baking parchment?

As pointed out here greasproof and baking parchment are normally interchangable. Baking parchment is slightly thicker - and food doesn't stick to it, hence it's use in baking. I use baking mats (they're life saving) for this purpose, so have greasproof for other purposes - like wrapping cheese & dropping on top of chilling sauces.....

Can I use cling film?

Check on your box of cling film to see if you can use it against directly against hot food. As Trig notes in the comments below (thanks for that), some cling films leech toxic compounds into hot food, especially those with high fat contents - this is another reason for using greaseproof.

Greaseproof paper placed on sauce to prevent skin forming is called?


Making a round cartouche

See what Everyday Chef does - it doesn't get easier than that!

Related posts:

1001 kitchen tips


Shepherds pie & mashed potato recipe

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Also a special request to go with the grilled chicken, roast vegetables and new potatoes last Thursday as their key wedding guests arrived in the Cotswolds.

Minced lamb from Home Farm.

Edit 23/2/9

After so many requests - people outside the UK are not always used to this english classic, sadly - I am adding a recipe.


What is the history of shepherds pie?
Cottage pie or shepherds pie - which is which or are they the same thing?

Like bread and butter pudding, bubble and squeak, queen of puddings, even pancakes, cottage pie was originally a dish made from left overs when potatoes had become the staple food (potatoes in the UK is the staple equivalent to rice in the far east).
In days gone by on Sunday you dressed in your Sunday best, went to church in the morning and had your Sunday roast in the afternoon. On Monday you had the roast cold, Tuesday it was minced into rissoles or cottage pie, and Wednesday it was made into soup. Thursday was cabbage broth made from the bones and Friday was Fish Friday.
Life moves on however, and with today's more affluent eating habits, shepherds pie or cottage is most often made specially, so we use raw minced meat, rather than the left over cooked roast. And 'cottage' pie has come to mean a pie made from beef mince, and 'shepherds' pie that made from minced lamb, or mutton.
Also these days they are minced lamb or beef with potato, rather than potato with minced lamb or beef.

How long does mince for shepherds pie/ cottage pie/ bolognaise take to cook?

There's no shortcut to quality. Some people say they cook it in 20 minutes. It will be cooked through, but it won't be tender. Put it on low heat for a minimum 2 hours - or use a slow cooker (crockpot in the US) for 8 hours, and you get a much better texture.

How to make shepherds pie

Onion - one per 4 people
Carrot - one per 4 people
Garlic - one or two cloves per 4 people - depends how much you like garlic......
Minced lamb or beef - work on 150 - 200 grams per person. You can also make your own with lamb trimmings - see more info here. Alternatively you can use diced meat, or a combination as shown here: http://dinnerdiary.org/2009/01/17/shepherds-pie/
Red wine
Lamb stock - if you get your lamb from the butcher or farmshop ask them for the bones to make stock with. Or use lamb bones from your Sunday roast.
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh rosemary - if you don't have any in your garden you probably know someone that does.
Grated cheese

Mashed potato

Potatoes - desiree, estima or king edwards are my favourites.
Cream or olive oil

Heat a little oil in a large pan and add your minced lamb or beef. Allow to brown on the bottom then stir around to break it up, allow to brown again. Keep stirring till it's broken up into individual grains. Then add onions, garlic and carrots. Stir in and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Then add the rosemary, worcestershire, red wine and lamb stock till the meat is more than covered. Bring to the boil, then turn down to simmer for a good 2 hours, or 3 if you have time. As it cooks the liquid will reduce. If it gets too dry add more stock. Thicken with cornflour just before you're ready to finish - doing this at the end means it's not burning to bottom of the pan for 2 hours - so the pan's easier to clean.
This can be cooked the day before you want to eat it - in that case you can chill it overnight in the fridge, then next day the fat will have risen to the top and solidified and you can take it off the top.

Mashed potato recipe

Someone asked me for my best mashed potato recipe at new year. Up to that point I had never thought of adding one......

Potato - Boil potatoes for 20 - 25 minutes. The best way - for a richer taste - is in a combination of milk and water. Drain them into a colander and leave them in the colander over the empty pan to steam for 10 minutes or so. This will give you drier mash. Push potatoes through potato ricer, then season with salt & pepper. Add olive oil for the healthy option, or cream and melted butter for the luxurious version. Grain mustard is also nice. When you mix cooked potato the starch changes - mix too much and you end up with wallpaper paste texture (this is why you must never use the food proccessor to make mash potato). So add your additions - cream, butter, seasoning etc. and then mix as little as possible.
Why not try a combination of potato and parnsip or potato and celariac or use sweet potato instead. Also if you have homemade chicken stock you can reduce a bit of this till it's very thick and syruppy and add some of this to the potato - that is real seasoning.

Making the pie

Spoon mince into oven-to-table dish. Either pipe mash potato on top of the mince with a piping bag (if doing this it's easier when the mash is warm - if fridge cold it's very hard to work with) or spoon on and run a fork over the top to make a furrowed pattern. Sprinkle a little cheese on top.


If mince is cold - heat the pie in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes depending on size of dish. If mince and potato are both still hot just flash under the grill for 5 - 10 minutes to brown the top.


Can I make the mash potato the day before?

Absolutely! Home cooking is about making your day easier so you have more time to spend with your friends/ family rather than spending all the time in the kitchen.
So make the mash the day before. Let it cool and refrigerate overnight. To re-heat - put in large base pan - the larger the base of the pan the quicker it will heat up, which also reduces the chance of it sticking to the pan. Alternatively heat in microwave. Or put in a deep oven tray/ pyrex bowl and cover with foil/ a lid and re-heat in oven c. 25 - 30 mins.

Related posts:

Shepherds pie with diced lamb and colcannon topping
1001 Kitchen tips # 17 - make your own minced lamb
Lamb and apricot casserole
Irish stew
Beef and Cotswold Way ale pie

Seared scallops with jerusalem artichoke puree and champagne sauce

Parsnip puree? Done that.
Pea puree? Done that
Asparagus and tiger prawns? Done that, and it's not asparagus season yet.
Celariac puree? Did that once last year as a special request, but there was roast celariac with the main course.

When I was looking for something to go with scallops for this year's Valentine's Day menu, I remembered I had really neglected Jerusalem artichokes this season, and the season was just about to end. You can't miss something like this. I had to try really hard to find these ones:

They really are vegetable royalty - there's just nothing else like them. If you haven't tried them before don't be confused with globe artichokes - the taste and textures are quite a long way apart - but both are wonderful.

Jerusalem artichokes always remind me of pink fur potatoes, which incidentally, if you are thinking of growing anything you should grow these because they are so hard to find in shops, and when you do are astronomical in price.

I used the same cooking method as my fondant potatoes in chicken stock and butter. By the time the liquid is reduced they are soft - if not, you add a little more liquid and let that reduce again. The syruppy gloop of the chicken stock and butter is added to the puree - that's where the flavour is. If you want to roast them, you can pop them in the oven instead at this point to finish.

Champagne sauce

Related posts:

Individual fillet of beef en croute (beef wellington) and seabass for Valentine's Day

Beef en croute
Last year I was asked to make beef wellington for a special birthday meal which they wanted to cook and serve themselves. 4 out of the 6 guests were vegetarian, so it seemed most sensible to make just 2 individual beef wellingtons (aka beef en croute). Such was the glowing response the Monday after that I had had it in mind to prepare again - it does make the perfect english dish for a celebration. And what better day to celebrate than St. Valentine's Day?Fillet steaks are cut from the centre of the fillet so they are small in diameter, but thick in depth. I seal these on the bar grill - so you get the grilled taste on the outside, but the inside is left raw - that cooks when you put the finished beef en croute in the oven.

For the duxelle mushroom I use Oakfield organic portobello mushrooms. Because of the water content in mushrooms, these are cooked for around 30 - 45 minutes on a low heat to reduce as much of that water content as possible and then chilled. If this were not done that water would turn to steam while the beef en croute cooked in the oven - and that would break the pastry apart, it would burst and be ruined.
Beef is put on a disc of puff pastry, mushrooms on top. It is egg washed around the bottom to so it attaches to the lid.
Another disc is cut slightly larger than the bottom. This is place on top, crimped and trimmed. On Valentine's Day it was finished with - what else? - a pastry heart shape in the middle.

Fillet of seabass and mussell paella
If the beef en croute is one dish fit for a celebration, the other certainly has to be paella. You know how closely you are held in regard of my grandmother if you have been invited for paella. Few have - and those few are lucky I can tell you. Hidden deep in her recipe drawer is a dusty and splattered authentic recipe taken down from her spanish friends over 50 years ago who had served it for her, and she was instantly taken.

It's a recipe I'm still working on - the most important change being I use arborio rice - close to spanish rice - now rather than the long grain rice.

This particular time I had reduced chicken stock made from the bones left from the grilled chicken a couple of days before. The mussells I cooked with white wine, onion, garlic and a little cream. This liquor was also added to the cooking paella, adding a depth of flavour.

To accompany this I made some more of the salsa verde - it makes a light accompanying sauce.

Strawberry and mango cheesecake
A delivery version of the cheesecake seen last year. Strawberry coulis and candied orange zest was also provided.

Trio of chcolate desserts

The only part of the chocolate trio that was snapped during the rush that was Valentine's Day was the white chocolate sauce.

Other elements have been seen before though:
Chocolate tart with gold leaf (part of - for this trio)


Whole roast lamb

Monday, February 16, 2009

While we have done many events at Wellacres near Moreton in Marsh from dinner parties and barbecues to Sunday roasts and wedding breakfasts, this was the first time we had used the barn in the grounds to accomodate guests.

With a little brightening up, and heating it was transformed into the perfect place for an informal brunch the day after the wedding before guests travelled home.

With snow still evident in the nearby fields, it was a good job there were outdoor gas heaters on hand.

Flowers, above, by the Broadway Florist as used on Friday night were also used for the Sunday here.

The whole lamb which comes from Home Farm, Bredon's Norton is attached to the roaster, then the covers go on making it into a roasting oven.

While this was cooking it was time to put on the mulled wine (if there is anything that can warm up people it is mulled wine) and make the salads.

When cooked, the lamb is lifted up above the cooking zone, the warming plates go on, and I leave it to rest for a good 30 - 45 minutes, ensuring you have tender lamb. Just as the guests arrived for mulled wine, I dropped it back down into the roaster, and lifted the lids on to give it a flash of heat and to crisp the skin.
It was then sliced to order and served with salads:

Celariac and apple remoulade with walnuts.

Cous cous and pearl barley salad - cous cous is the moroccan accompaniment to lamb, and pearl barley also goes so well with lamb (think scotch broth or saddle of lamb with pearl barley risotto), so it seemed natural to put the two together in this salad with roasted peppers, red onions, courgettes, cumin, lemon, herbs and olive oil. The pearl barley was cooked on it's own in chicken stock for around 1 hour and when cold added to the cooked cous cous. Pearl barley salad

Potato and spring onion salad

Salad leaves with vinaigrette

Redcurrant jelly and mint jelly - essential accompaniments to lamb

Related Posts:

New potatoes in chive butter

We use charlotte potatoes. Turning a potato is one of the very first things you learn as a chef - if you're lucky. The days of large establishments - hotels and even catering companies having a team of chefs turning vegetables is gone, as they can be brought in ready done. I still prefer making my own as shown above - there's no shortcut to quality.

Normally we mix a little melted butter through, but these were left without, so guests could add vinaigrette instead - which goes nicely with the grilled chicken and roast vegetables they had requested.

Grilled chicken with roast vegetables and salsa verde

Chickens are not hardy birds. If it's too cold, too hot, too wet etc. they won't lay. This causes problems when you not just rear your own chickens but also incubate the eggs like Elizabeth Buckingham at the Small holiding in Chadbury rather than buying in live chicks like most poultry farms. When the birds don't lay for a week or two, ten weeks on you get a break in the amount the amount of chickens you have available. One example of this is Christmas 2007 when we had freezing fog every day & night for a good week - a week and a half. Their chickens stopped laying during that period, so by the middle of February (the end of the natural life cycle) there were three weeks when they didn't have chickens available.

When this happens I turn to Madgetts farm instead - such as the above - which also produce fine quality free range chicken - far beyond the quality you can get from supermarkets, and, indeed many butchers.

The chicken bones I turned into stock, which I then used as a base for the champagne sauce to accompany scallops on Valentine's Day.

Vegetables were aubergines, courgettes, peppers and parsnips (hiding under peppers), sprinkled with thyme and maldon salt.

While the aubergines and courgettes taste wonderful on the grill pan (left), the peppers and parnsips require a longer cooking time, so these were roasted in the oven.

Salsa verde - parsley, onion, garlic, capers, chilli, olive oil & salt.

As the oil settles, the colour deepens from that below.

This was a special request as part of a 3 day wedding event at Wellacres near Moreton in Marsh.

Search: Other dishes by special request

Breakfast delivery

Breakfast delivery - everything you need for breakfast. Ideal for a weekend away in the Cotswolds. This particular breakfast delivery was for guests staying at Wellacres and Oak House as part of a 4 day wedding event.

We also do traditional english breakfast with bacon and sausages from Home Farm, Oakfield organic portobello mushrooms - click here to link to the english breakfast delivery post.

Shown above:

Broadway apple juice
Apple and berry compote
Poached pears
Yogurt for both of the above
Home made almond and cranberry granola
Homemade luxury museli
Homemade Hedgerow jelly from Dove Cottage in Broadway
Clarence Court Burford Brown eggs
Homemade loaves of bread - a variety of granary, sesame & poppy seed, apricot and pinenut, pumpkin seed

Breakfast menu
Brunch menu

Related Posts

English breakfast delivery
Breakfast muffins
Brunch - top 5 flavours