Thai style seabass and pineapple & cucumber salad near Stratford on Avon

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Seabass poached in ginger wine, soy, thai fish sauce, lime, ginger, garlic, ginger
Cucumber and pineapple salad with red onion, chilli, lime, thai basil and mint

Thai style bread - used coconut milk topped up with water, some dessicated coconut, mango, coriander etc. Coconut milk seems to give it a great sheen.

Wing beans for the vegetable pad thai. Raided the Globe supermarket in Cheltenham

There were also canapes before too and a thai green curry - but no photos of those - rather busy with 4 other parties going on that night which I'd been setting up before I arrived at this one. So we were halfway through serving the canapes and I went to check the seabass which should have been nearly ready..... oven was stone cold. OK then - that's why the curry and and pad thai wasn't cooking too fast either. This is why cooking on gas is so good - when you're cooking for a large number you need everything firing up at once, but with electric ovens & hobs it often overloads the electrics. Had to search high and low, inside and out for the fuse box (first time at that house). By that time I'd found it, valuable time had been lost. But that wasn't the end of it. 10 minutes later I went back to check it again (things on hob bubbling away by this time) - oven was still stone cold. You needed to set the clock first before the oven would work. Madness. AND that wasn't the end of it either - it tripped the fuse again about 5 minutes later, but I was ready for it that time. Phew - all in a night's work.....

The game is afoot - dinner party chef in Chipping Campden, venison saddle and venison faggots

Thursday, November 18, 2010
"My family are flying in from Iceland and we wanted to try something traditionally english, especially interested in game - what can you do?"

After a lot of suggestions this is finally what we arrived at to celebrate the head of the family's 70th birthday.
Roasted saddle of venison with venison faggot and blackberries, creamed cabbage and leek, fondant potato and french beans wrapped in pancetta.

Don't caul us we'll caul you.
Finding the caul to make the faggots was actually more diffuclt than expected. As it was a rather late booking, by the time the menu was confirmed the race was on to secure ingredients. I had spoken to the Meadows at Home Farm about it, but by the time the menu had been confirmed Micky had been to the abbatoir where he could have picked up the caul. All the local butchers (even Halfords where they make their own faggots) I tried too couldn't help either, saying if I ordered it now they could get it for next Monday - that was fine, but the event was that Saturday. There was nothing for it but to try making them in pudding tins. It's not like London where you can find whatever you need somewhere in the city whenever you need it.

Then as I picked up the week's meat order from Home Farm next day, Micky said he had to go to the trade butcher in Toddington the next day and would ask there. Next morning first thing - phone call - "I got the caul fat, but I could only get a whole case..."
Wow - that is going to be a lot of faggots......

All part of the behind the scenes drama. There's more to it that just turning up for 4 hours on a Saturday night.......

We had actually been talking about making faggots for the farm shop for a couple of years, but never getting round to it. They end up with so much pigs liver that doesn't sell (much more tasty than lambs tbh, but nobody seems to want to buy it) so now it looks like now they'll be coming to a farm shop near you. If you live near Tewkesbury that is.

Faggot recipe? Something similar to this one. If you make more than you need the leftover makes a nice meatloaf. Apparently.

Beer poached prawns with warm potato salad & watercress, radish & fennel

The beer was... er... Piddle In The Hole from the nearby Wyre Piddle brewery.
Along with that was soy, thai fish sauce, ginger, garlic, parsley (normally coriander but the host was not a coriander fan) and chilli. This marinades in the afternoon and is then cooked in the marinade. We also take lime to squeeze over the top. Instantly popular since the first time I did it a couple of months ago.
They are threaded on lemon grass sticks which impart their flavour as the prawns cook.
We cook the potatoes when we get to the venue so the potato salad is still warm as it goes on to the plate.

Shotglass of mango sorbet
Glazed lemon tart
Chocolate tart
Spoon of sticky toffee pudding
Strawberry meringue roulade

Oh yes strawberry meringue. Oops. Just as I was leaving I realised it was still in the kenwood mixer - I had been busy setting up the other two parties, so just clingfilmed up the whole thing and took it with me and made the meringue at the house after rolling the venison in parma ham and getting that in the aga. Fresh is best they say.

All cooked on the aga at Meadowbank (with a little help from the fan oven too).


1001 Kitchen tips #61 - Easy way to peel onions

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Oh dear - you're in hot water now!......
Can you tell it's hot? Lens steamed up - classy pics all the way.

Soaking them in hot water though for a minute or two sets the skin so they're much easier to peel. Saves a lot of prep stress - tried and tested. See - you do learn things at college you know. For other onion tips see in the links below.

Related posts:

1001 Kitchen tips #13 - Cooked onions pronto
1001 Kitchen tips #59 - How to grill onions
Other 1001 kitchen tips

1001 Kitchen tips #60 - The secret ingredient in (vegetarian) mushroom risotto is.......

Sunday, November 07, 2010

It was OK - just needed something a bit.... more. Using vegetable stock rather than chicken or fish you lack a certain depth of favour. Had a look in the cupboards, the fridge. Then on the sideboard spotted a jar of marmite. The best discoveries are made by accident.

Lentil and bacon salad

Thursday, November 04, 2010
Served back in June (a smaller version of this one) in the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester while the other guests had blue cheese souffle.....

Strawberry and pistachio tart & clementine tart

Another blast from the past. June in fact, when the sun shone (this is a rare enough occurance in our country so is always worth noting).
English strawberries. Creme patisserie filling. You want tart case making tips? Try these. On top of the strawberries a little champagne glaze - champagne set with gelatine. There's no point doing things by half.....
Similar idea with the clementine - creme pat underneath and the segments on top. Although when I got to the house I removed the pistachio 1/2 (couldn't have both tarts with pistachio), sprinkled the top with demerara and glazed with the blow torch.