Climb every mountain

whisk

Climb every mountain…

If one felt so inclined (or capable) the area surrounding St Remy de Provence is perfect for getting on a bike and busting up some crazily steep hills and mountains. Numerous cyclists of all ages get up early to miss the blazing sun and test their endurance to reach the tops. My week was spent in a state of perseverance, determination and effort… on the tennis court.

Though of course my main focus was the food.

2015-08-23_0009

Cooking here is always a pleasure and ideas come easily due to the mass of perfect produce available. There are few places I have been that can match the abundance of tasty fruits and vegetables. The peaches are always juicy and for lack of a better description ‘ peachy’, the cherries are shiny and sweet, the figs fleshy and perfect, the Provençal Rosé is famous for good reason and the olive oil is so good you sometimes need nothing else to finish a simple salad.

2015-08-23_0003

Having been here at various times of year I am always impressed with how seasonal the shops and markets are and noted how that one day the boxes of tumbling cherries suddenly stopped appearing. Season over. The sadness was only eased by the appearance of the next ingredient coming in – the most extraordinary green figs.

2015-08-23_0002

The working day started early with the bread run to the local bolangerie. It wasn’t the closest of the bakeries but my alliances had to change when we noted that the croissants at our local now lacked that flaky butteryness our morning cafes demanded. Our new bakery of choice was clearly the towns favourite as there was always an impressive queue of people by 7:30 , 95% of whom were French. There was then the food shop dash where I have started to play ‘spot the private chef’ as there seemed to be a collection of us down there (if you ever want to play look out for extensive shopping lists, speedy trolley manoeuvres, skills at catching the fishmongers eyes at 50 yards and speed packing). Lunch was long and chatty then siestas and swims were had before the evening amusements began.

2015-08-23_0007

With long warm evenings (I promise I’m not trying to rub it in for those of you back in Blighty where I understand you have had an abundance of wet stuff fall from the sky) dinners were served later in the evenings. This was also due to the fact that the clients and chef were battling it out on the tennis court. An improved performance was hoped by all from last year and rumour had it that one of us had taken time off work just to get in extra practice.

2015-08-23_0005

Culinary highlights of the week included a fig, honey and mascarpone tart and this postcard recipe of grilled aubergine and tomato salad with anchovy and lime dressing.

2015-08-23_0008

This Week

I’m driving: A Nissan Note – zippier than expected but easily bullied by the Mistrals.

Tennis game victories: 1

Tennis game defeats: too ashamed to say.

Every home should have: a collection French grey table linen

We are drinking: Angelina and Brads Rosé

Espressos drunk: 124 (not all be me but I had my fair share).

Skin tone: has turned from blanched almond to lightly toasted.

Mountains climbed: 0 (unless you count success in getting children to eat new vegetables).

2015-08-23_0011

 

Grilled tomato, aubergine and olive salad with anchovy and lime dressing

This has been my favourite new salad this summer, the anchovy should be very subtle and only add base notes rather than dominate the flavours. It is a perfect BBQ salad.

Serves 4 as a side

3 aubergines

4 large tomatoes

1 salted anchovy, rinsed, deboned and finely chopped

1 lime

2 tsp sherry vinegar

4 tbs pitted green olives

3 tbs olive oil

20g coriander finely chopped (stalks and leaves)

1- 3 dried chillies, crushed (depending on how hot you like it)

2015-08-23_0004

Light the BBQ, when the coals are grey with ash grill the whole aubergines on all sides until soft (this will take about 10 minutes and the outside will look a bit burnt and the inside will be soft). Place in a colander over a bowl to cool and drain.

Grill the whole tomatoes till just blacked all over.

In a large bowl whisk the anchovy with the zest and juice of the lime, the sherry vinegar and olive oil. Add the coriander and olives. Season with salt, pepper and the dried chilli.

Peel the skin from the aubergines and tomatoes and roughly chop (adding any tomato juice in to the dressing). Mix into the dressing and leave to mingle for at least 20 mins

Serve at room temperature as part of your BBQ spread.

  2015-08-23_0006

 Bags packed and my adieux said I am now heading west to Gascony …

2015-08-23_0001

Comments { 0 }

Recipe | Romesco sauce

whisk

Nobody expected the Spanish exhibition…

I double read the last minute email from my client, just in case I had misread it,

“ By the way, did we mention we are off to Ibiza? Have sorted your flights, hope that’s fine.”

‘Super fine! I thought, who doesn’t like an unexpected trip to Spain?

2015-08-16_0004

For those not in the know or who have preconceived ideas about Ibiza let me tell you it is an island packed full of beautiful beaches, amazing restaurants, swarms of super yachts, prides of cool people and of course a club or two.

2015-08-16_0006

If you have ever bought an item of clothing, got it back home and then thought OMG what have I done, I’m never going to wear that!? (but then kept it lurking in your wardrobe, just in case), fear not, I have the solution.Take it for a spin in Ibiza because there, pretty much anything goes.

Ibiza has to be one of the best places for people watching. Day or night the streets, bars, clubs and cafes are filled with an extraordinary mix of beautiful, wild, daring, ostentatious,  cool, those trying to be cool and those who really don’t care sort of people.

Sequins, string gold bikini (no top just the bottom) birthday suits, lace, glitter, tight pants, non existent skirts, dresses that stop mid buttock can all be successfully pulled off here, so to speak, by the guys as well as girls.

2015-08-16_0005

My weeks work started pretty much straight off the plane when I was handed over the reins of the BBQ at the villa we were renting for the week (that is how chilled people get here as generally I have to pry the males off the spot next to the coals).

2015-08-16_0010

There were long lazy breakfasts of fresh fruit, yogurts and various patisserie, followed by long lazy lunches often consisting of grilled fish, summer salads, fruit granitas and Ibiza Rosé then finally the day was rounded of by long lazy late dinners starting with various tapas and ending in cigars. All very idyllic.

2015-08-16_0009

Early on in the week I managed to pretty much scour the entire island and check out which markets, specialist food shops and areas were best for provisions. Unromantically their Mercado supermarket came out on top as it had a good butchers, excellent fishmongers and vegetable supplies. Though strangely totally lacked in other areas like fresh milk and vanilla pods, but all was forgiven as there were sardines a plenty.  Though this did mean that shopping meant ping ponging myself around the island to get the best of everything and as everyone here is so super chilled even when driving/ shopping  / queueing , it  always took rather longer than expected.

2015-08-16_0002

I totally enjoyed my week focusing on Spanish food and it was a delight to be able to easily get hold of their delicious cured hams like the Jamón Ibérico , use the super tasty local sun drenched figs and watermelon and be a bit more liberal than usual with my sprinkles of paprika.

2015-08-16_0007

For this weeks postcard recipe I am going to share with you an excellent sauce to have as part of your Spanish repertoire, Romesco.

This week

Every villa should have: a view of the Mediterranean

I’m listening to: Ibiza chill out in the am and trance in the pm

We are drinking: Ibiza Rosé

Super yacht spotting is the new train spotting

We learnt : It is not cool to eat dinner before 9:30pm

 

 Romesco Sauce

This toasted nut with tomato, paprika and nora pepper sauce is great to have in your repertoire. It works well with grilled red meats, white fish, and vegetables.

2015-08-16_0003  

Serves 6 as a sauce

3 nora peppers (specialist Spanish store will stock these, they are dried so you can buy in bulk and use as needed).

1 head of garlic

150g roasted and peeled hazelnuts

1- 2 tbs sherry vinegar

3 tbs olive oil

 

Tomato sauce

2 tbs olive oil

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

400g tinned tomatoes

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika

 

Soak the nora peppers in just boiled water for 30 mins (they will bob to the surface so place a saucer on top to fully immerse them.

 

Make the tomato sauce by gently frying the 2 cloves of garlic in the olive oil, when they start to colour add the tinned tomatoes and then the paprika, season with salt and pepper and cook for 15 mins or until thickened,

 

Pre heat oven too 180 °c , slice the garlic head in half horizontally and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tbs olive oil. Place on a dish and roast for 10 – 15 mins or until soft and lightly golden.

 

In a food processor blitz the nuts so there are still a few small chunks but most of it is a course meal texture. Place in a bowl. Don’t wash the food processor bowl.

 

Drain the nora peppers, keeping the water, and split open. Remove the seeds and green top. Roughly chop then place in food processor and start to blitz, add the tomato sauce, vinegar, olive oil and garlic and blitz till smooth.

 

Add the tomato/nora mix to the ground hazelnuts and stir – the sauce should be a little loose so add a couple of tbs of the nora water until you have a slightly loose constituency. Check for seasoning (you may feel you want to add a little extra paprika or vinegar to give it more of a kick).

 Serve at room temperature with grilled fish, meat or vegetables.

2015-08-16_0001

Next stop, Marseille …

 

 

 

Comments { 0 }

Recipe | Pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream with pistachio praline

whisk

Cooking for numbers

The party had already started when I arrived at the villa in Provence and so the first days of my week were spent in top gear getting up to speed with the shopping and cooking for the 23 guests. Apparently, akin to a duckling, above the surface I was calm, collected and easily floating but underneath I was paddling like hell!

2015-08-08_0001

I know that for some shopping for a group of 16 people and above can seem extraordinary and there is a small voice in me that occasionally goes:

“Philippa are you really going to use THAT much milk / fish / cheese” ?

Luckily I always ignore it as the answer always turns out to be ‘YES’!

There are a few tricks and rules I set myself when I am doing jobs like this and may be useful for you to bare in mind if you ever find yourself cooking for what seems a biljillion ( I have it on excellent authority from a top financial that this is indeed a number) people.

2015-08-08_0003

Try and shop for at least two days at a time.

Yes the fridges and store cupboards will be crammed but shopping for this many can take at least an hour plus travel time and there generally isn’t time to do it everyday.

When buying fruit buy half of it unripe and half ready to eat. This works particularly well in hot climates where it ripens quickly. We had bowls of fruit out on the tables for guests to help themselves and went through about 4 kilos of the delicious local Provencal cherries, apricots and peaches a day!

2015-08-08_0011

When menu planning, always have a back up plan.

Generally when catering for this many there will always be a few who cant eat certain foods weather its allergies/ intolerances / religious reasons or simple dislikes. Chicken and salmon or white fish are obvious easy non controversial standbys and I always make sure I have a good cheese that can be used into salads and a section of interesting vegetables and some good grains or pulses if I need to go vegan.

2015-08-08_0006

Get ahead when you can.

If there is a lull (!?) use your time to make a few puddings as its great to have a few up your sleeve and easier to make if you have the kitchen in dessert mode. Ice creams and sorbets obviously keep well and desserts like tiramisu and summer pudding not only keep well but also improve after a day or two.

Though of course the simplest solution to all this is to hire a private chef!

The villa was in full swing all week and with breakfasts, lunches, tea time treats, kids tea and adult suppers keeping me occupied the week has flown by. I have managed to shave 3 minutes off my table laying times and now know the butcher the baker and the cashiers of the local shops all by name.

2015-08-08_0008

I did learn this week that tomatoes really should never be stored in the fridge, as not only are they extremely sensitive to the slightest bit of cold but also the volatiles that produce the aromas are destroyed so you end up with a less tasty and more watery tomato. They are particularly amazing at this time of year in Provence so have been treated with the ultimate respect.

2015-08-08_0004

Menu wise I have been totally enjoying the impressive produce that is so easy to come by locally and as an outside kitchen with a charcoal BBQ has been built in my honour, I have been making the most of that. Temperatures have been dallying around the mid 30 ° ’s so various ice creams and sorbets have been making appearances and for this postcard recipe I wanted to share with you one of the ice creams I made.

2015-08-08_0010

On a recent visit to a very good ice cream parlour in St David’s (Wales) I realised that I go through the same process and emotions in choosing ice cream as when I’m in a cocktail bar deciding on drinks and I’m not talking about getting over excited and having one too many. No, it’s the attraction of trying something new then regretting it. Yes the quadruple chocolate marshmallow, ginger fluff with popping candy and dehydrated hibiscus flower ice cream may sound interesting but it will never beat a simple pistachio or mint (without the choc chips) in the same way a perfect dry martini can not be ousted by some over engineered cocktail with a ridiculous name.

With this is mind I will share with you my pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream that is a classic in my repertoire.

 This week:

Table places laid : 1 biljillion

Apricots consumed : 235

Olive oil used : 7 litres (no I was not bathing in it but down here it’s my butter)

Every home should have: French linen

Times surprised by Lizards: 7

 

Pistachio, mint and vodka ice cream with pistachio praline

Makes 12 scoops

 800 ml double cream

200 ml whole milk

1 vanilla pod

4 – 6 tsp pistachio extract

small handful of powerful mint

 10 egg yolks

100 g sugar

 good splash of vodka

 Pistachio praline

 200g caster sugar

splash of cold water

175 g bright green pistachios

  2015-08-08_0007

To make the ice cream base

Swill out a large heavy based pan with water (this is said to help stop the cream from sticking to the sides) and add the cream, milk, mint and vanilla.

Bring to a boil then turn off and leave to infuse while you separate the eggs.

Put the yolks in a large bowl (you can freeze the egg white for use at a later date) and add the 100g caster sugar. Whisk till pale (a couple of minutes).

 Strain the hot cream into the yolks, whisking immediately once combined, then pour back into the heavy based pan.

 Place the pan back on a low heat and cook till thickened. You will need to stir constantly and I have found a heat proof spatula best for this.

 Once thickened add the pistachio extract and vodka and stir (you want to be able to just taste the vodka but if you add too much the ice cream will not freeze that well) then pour into a wide dish to cool.

 Once cool you can use an ice cream machine to churn it or semi freeze ( which takes about 3 hours) then blitz in a food processor then return to the freezer – it should be ready after another 4 hours.

2015-08-08_0009

To make the praline coating

Line a wide tray or dish with baking paper

In a heavy based pan melt the 200 g of caster sugar with a splash of water.

The sugar will melt then start turning to caramel (its best not to stir but only give the pan an occasional jiggle) . Once darkened add the pistachios, stir and pour onto the tray.

When cool and hard blitz in a food processor – you want it mostly in small dusty bits with a few larger lumps.

To serve make balls of the ice cream and roll in the blitzed pistachio praline. Serve in chilled bowls.

2015-08-08_0002

Bags are now packed and I’m en-route to the next gig in …Ibiza

 

Comments { 0 }

Recipe |Dragons blood sauce

whisk

How to cook your dragon.

My coastal Boston to coastal Wales transition came as some what of a shock. Jet lag muddled with rain and chilly British waters was not a cocktail I was necessarily ready for. However once I had been persuaded that the best way to overcome the jet lag was indeed these chilly choppy waters I soon found myself happily immersed into my new surroundings.

2015-08-02_0003

The area, besides being tremendously scenic with wild ponies, wild flowers and the occasional wild wave is also home to some rather delicious potatoes. The Pembrokeshire Early Potato , harvested in  May, is protected by geographical origin, similar to Champagne orParma Ham. They have been farmed here since the 1700s and it is said the spray from the sea is what makes them taste extra special. We were lucky enough to have a field of their later crop right next to the house, some of which may or may not have made its way into my cooking pot.

2015-08-02_0009

With all this potato talk and my location being in Wales you may think I am missing a trick with a leek and potato style recipe for my postcard however what really caught my attention was the dragons. Local shops seemed to be selling dragon mustard, dragon jam, dragon bread and dragon cheese, which was all very impressive I thought considering I had trouble even getting hold of a local mackerel, let alone dragon.

2015-08-02_0004

Legend has it that many blue moons ago the red dragon was fighting an invading white dragon and the shrieks from the battle were so terrible they caused death and destruction to the living. To deal with this dragon problem the king was advised to dig a pit, fill it with mead and lay a cloth on top. The dragons, as suspected, came along, drank the mead and fell asleep. The king wrapped the dragons in the cloth and buried them at Snowdonia.

2015-08-02_0010

Some years later a new king tried to build a castle in the very spot where the dragons lay buried but every night unknown forces demolished any progress. The king is advised, to solve this problem, he needs to seek out a boy with no natural father and kill him. When they find such a boy and the young lad hears of his fate he tells the king the story of the two dragons. The king is persuaded to excavate the hill, release the dragons who can then finish their fight. The red dragon is eventually triumphant, and the boy, who we all know as Merlin, explains that the red dragon represents the Welsh who refused to yield to the Saxons.   For some the red dragon also marks the coming of king Arthur.

2015-08-02_0002

For this postcard recipe I give you Red Dragon sauce, although, as they seem to be constantly out of season these days I have substituted beetroot for dragon.

2015-08-02_0008

This week

Wet suits ARE my new LBD ( but literally for this week only)

Sandy sandwiches consumed : 0

Crabs caught :0

Every home should have: a fairy princess body board

Pembrokeshire potatoes scrumped : xxx

 

Dragons blood sauce

This sauce is great served with fish or meat and delicious with Pembrokeshire potatoes

2015-08-02_0007

4 small /medium red beetroots

2 tbs horseradish sauce

2 tbs Dijon mustard

3 tbs crème friache

1 tbs olive oil.

2015-08-02_0006  

Boil the beetroots in slightly salted water till cooked, then peel.

Blitz in a food processor till smooth then add the mustard, horseradish, crème fraiche and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Blitz again and check the seasoning. Serve at room temperature with grilled chicken fish or some fine Pembrokeshire potatoes. 

  2015-08-02_0001

 Next Stop…Provence.

 

 

Comments { 0 }

Recipe |Brioche

whisk

Gone Fishing.

This week, in order not to feel I was mindlessly cooking and gobbling lobster after lobster I have taken the time to learn a little more about this delicious crustacean.

2015-07-26_0004

Theoretically, a lobster can live forever. They have an enzyme called telomerase, which prevents the DNA from becoming damaged as it replicates – for us mere humans it is the shortening of the DNA strands that is thought to age us. What can however pluck the lobsters from their mortal coil are disease and various predators, including me.

2015-07-26_0014

In order to grow a lobster has to molt its shell. In the first year they do this about 40 times, the second year about four times, the third and forth years about two or three times and in the forth to sixth years about once a year. Once they reach age 7, which is roughly when they will be big enough to be eaten they usually molt once every two or three years. For Maine lobster it is about now in the year that they decide to do this.

2015-07-26_0006

The lobster sheds its shell then puffs itself up with water to stretch the new softer shell that was underneath until that too hardens. For eating purposes I think it is best to avoid these softer shell lobsters as although easier to get the meat out it can be quite watery and the yield much lower, particularly in the claws.   On a side note, a lobster who has lost one claw is called a cull and for the poor things that have lost both they are called a pistol.

2015-07-26_0012

When catching lobsters in your own pots there are strict rules about what you can keep and what you must release. Size is important. It must be between 3 ¼ inches and 5 inches from the extreme rear of the eye socket to the end of the carapace – which is the head section of the shell. You are forbidden to take a female if she is baring eggs or if she has a notch in her tail. The fishing area around Main have introduced a system where if you find a female that produces eggs but otherwise would have been ok to take, you put a notch in its tale to the right of the middle flipper. This will be noticeable for a couple of years and stop others from taking the egg producing lobster even if it doesn’t have any at the time of catch.

2015-07-26_0011

From a chefs and diners perspective it is amazing to cook and eat so many lobsters in a short time span and totally get to grip with cooking times and preferred methods of preparation. I have given you a few recipes and methods below after this postcard recipe for when you next want to indulge in a lobster fix.

2015-07-26_0010

Besides the luxury of having an endless supply of lobster and getting the chance to cook it in every which way, my highlight of the week was …catching my first fish.

I will try not to embellish the story and let writers’ creativity move it too far from the truth but it was far more exciting than predicted.

2015-07-26_0005

Our early morning start (by 5:30 am we had our backs to the shore) was soon followed by a lecture, but not in boat safety or tips on how to cast. No. I had once again made the mistake of joshing with a fisherman that I couldn’t quite see what would be fun about fishing that and that I suspected  a fishing boat was basically  a floating ‘man shed’.  Luckily the lecture was short and took mostly the form of just you just wait and see. I think this was due to the fact neither of us had had our morning coffee fix.

2015-07-26_0013

Traveling at a certain number of knots over a certain distance of nautical miles ( ok I clearly didn’t listen properly to that bit) we eventually stopped the boat and prepared to fish. Our aim was to catch some mackerel to use as bait to catch some striped bass – large silvery fleshsy white fish that are rather popular around the US of A’s East coast.

2015-07-26_0008

To catch the mackerel you dangle a line into the water dotted with bright lures and consistently sharply pull it up and then let it sink so it catches the mackerel’s eye.   I did this for about 10 minutes to no effect thinking well at least it was kind of a work out but then found myself gradually becoming transfixed by the waves, the sound of the water and continual motion of my surroundings.   I still hadn’t caught anything after 15 minutes but curiously noticed my involuntary reluctance at handing over the line.   My fishing partner caught one in about 5 minutes, which made me even more determined to take back the line and get one.

I shorty did and then riding on the high caught another two at once. Total pro I know !

2015-07-26_0007

The mackerel were kept alive and hooked up to a bigger rod, which we floated out to sea to try and lure a striped bass on to. I could tell you how within the first 10 minutes we both caught impressive three feet fish and which would have fed the North End of Boston but I would be lying. We watched the lines bob up and down for about an hour then as there were no takers packed up and went home. Anticlimactic? Not in the slightest, there is something incredible about being out on the sea early in the morning; very peaceful yet demanding and I can at least feel myself getting hooked.

2015-07-26_0010

The lobsters are now partying as my bags are packed and I am heading to Logan airport to hop back across the pond.   For this postcard recipe I give you the brioche recipe I used for making that East Coast traditional sensation: lobster sandwich.

2015-07-26_0003

This week;

Lobsters dispatched: 23

Mackerel caught: 3

The Field Magazine: have published my article on top shooting salads and recipes for what to do with this season’s grouse.

Top wine drunk: a delicious Peter Michael chardonnay from California

Brioche

 Definitely not one of my quicker recipes but I admit I am kind of obsessed with making it now I have mastered the perfect sugar / butter ratio in the mix.

 The Sponge

80
ml warm whole milk (100 F approx.)

12 g dry active yeast

1
large free range /organic egg

500g plain white flour

The Dough

100g caster sugar

5g fine sea salt

4
large free range / organic eggs, lightly beaten

350g plain flour 

180g cold salted butter plus 2 tbs. approx. extra for greasing

 

The glaze

1 egg

1 tbs. whole milk

 I used an electric mixer fitted with a kneading attachment but you can make it

by hand if you don’t mind getting sticky and messy.

Also it was pleasantly hot in the States, so if making it somewhere cooler your

resting and rising times may be longer.

2015-07-26_0009

Method

The sponge

Put the milk, yeast, egg and 250g of the flour in the mixers bowl, turn on to a

low speed and mix for a couple of minutes (you can do this stage by hand or with

a wooden spoon if it looks like it will be easier ).

Once mixed remove the bowl from the machine and sprinkle over the other 250g

of flour.

Leave at room temperature for 1 hour, it should be at least doubled in size and

the coating of flour cracked.

The Dough

 

Grate the butter with a cheese grater on the large side then leave out to soften.

Once ready add the sugar, salt, eggs, and 200g of the flour to the sponge.

Place the dough back in the machine with the dough hook and turn on to a low

Let it come together then add the rest of the flour.

Turn up to a medium speed and mix for 10 mins.

The machine may need stopping and the dough pushing back into place as it can

wrap itself up the dough hook.

After mixing add the butter in three stages over a couple of minutes it should

incorporate itself into the dough but again you may need to turn off the machine

and give it a helping hand.

The dough should be shiny, and feel quite moist in comparison to a basic bread dough.

 

Place the dough in a large buttered bowl and leave to rise at room temperature for 2 – 3 hours – it should double in size.

 

After this rise knock the dough back, form into a ball in the buttered bowl. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 6 hours.

By then it should have risen again and is now ready for its final rising and baking.

 

Shape the dough into loaves – you can make a regular loaf or make 6 balls placed side by side in two rows depending what you want.   It will be just over double in size when baked so choose the appropriate pan/ tin.

 

Leave at room temperature, covered loosely with some buttered cling film for two hours till doubled in size.

 

Pre heat the oven to 190°C place a baking rack near the bottom of the oven and a baking sheet at the top (this will help the loaf not take on too much color).

 

Mix the egg and milk for the glaze together.

 

When risen and ready brush the loaf with the glaze and bake for 30 mins. On the bottom rack.

 

Once cooked leave to cool for 5 mins then remove from tin.

 

Delicious warm/ cold / as is /toasted and especially good when used for a lobster sandwich.

  2015-07-26_0001

Lobster methods,

Do NOT over cook your lobster – it becomes rubbery.

DO keep the shells it makes the most amazing stock

 

To boil a lobster;

Fill a large pot with water, bring to the boil and then add a good dash of fine sea salt.

Add your live lobster then place on the lid. Cook in small batches so the water comes quickly back to the boil.

A 1 ½ lb lobster needs to cook only for 10 mins, It will have turned a lovely shade of red and the meat will still be moist. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving as it will carry on cooking and be perfect.

 

 

Smoking

This is my favourite way to prepare and eat them.

Plunge them live into boiling water for 3 – 4 mins – you just want to kill them.

Pre heat your smoker to 200F

Cut up the top of the lobster tail with a pair of scissors and put some cracks in the claws.

Stuff with a few spoonful’s of butter studded with chilli and coriander or garlic and parsley.

Lay some foil on the racks in the smoker and place your butter-stuffed lobsters in there. Add some wood chips to the coals (I like using apple wood for this task as it is mild enough not to mask the flavour but still adds that smoky wonder.)

Smoke for 40 mins. Serve with any buttery lobster juice caught on the foil poured back over the lobster.

 

Stock

The shell contains an amazing amount of flavour and should never be just chucked away. Place them in a large pot filed with cold water and bring to a boil, turn down and simmer for 40 mins then strain.

Reduce this to get your intense lobster stock. NOTE if you boil the stock with the shells in for too long it becomes bitter.

 

To BBQ ; get your BBQ to a high to medium heat and make sure the grills are clean. Prepare a flavoured butter such as chilli and lime or garlic and parsley.

Crack the live lobster in half by cutting down through the shell head first then along the tail – they do not feel pain in the same way we do so try not to feel bad while it gives you the evil eye.

Remove the claws and place them on the BBQ for 4 – 5 mins then place the split tail on flesh side down and cook for 3 mins each side. It will go translucent each side.

 

 

 

Next stop

 

Marloes, Wales…

Comments { 0 }

Recipe | Chocolate Chip Cookies

whisk

Food fit for a …

You don’t walk in Washington DC, you power strut. Well that was my conclusion after the first couple of hours there. In all my travels I have never seen so many dashing three-piece suits, secret service police (helpfully labelled with ‘secret service’ on their jacket) and impressive museums, galleries and exhibitions. I admit my reason for power strutting was usually to make my next restaurant booking but it was fun to join in with the vibe.

2015-07-23_0004

The city has been home to 43 different presidents (although Obama is the 44th president, Grover Cleveland was elected on non consecutive terms so is counted twice). In-between running the free world, working on international relations and dealing with political scandal, they of course all had to eat and being president generally means you get to indulge in your peculiarities and preferences.

I can not tell a lie but George Washington, the first of them did not cut down his fathers cherry tree as was popularly believed, he did however love a cherry pie.

2015-07-23_0007

Thomas Jefferson was what we would call today a ‘foodie’. When he travelled he wrote intricate notes and would bring back pieces of kit like waffle irons from Amsterdam and have staff bring him back what was then exotic ingredients such as Parmesan from Italy and figs from Marseilles. He would also keep charts of what was in season and no doubt if instagram had existed would have been snapping his daily dinner.

2015-07-23_0002

Abraham Lincoln according to records held outrageously elaborate banquets although himself was a very plain and disinterested eater but had a soft spot for apples and large quantities of coffee.

2015-07-23_0014

Physicians had to be called in and the staff trained in studying Woodrow Wilson’s diet as there was great worry at his lack of weight. He did however love home made strawberry ice cream and charlotte rousse BUT bizarrely was also keen on having two raw eggs in grapefruit juice for breakfast, an idea I wont be trying on any clients soon.

2015-07-23_0005

Calvin Coolidge was adamant chickens were only tasty if they lived next to the kitchen door, so had them directly outside the backdoor of the White House. The meat had a rather unusual fragrant quality which was eventually explained by realising the coup had been placed directly where Teddy Roosevelt’s had had his mint garden.

2015-07-23_0012

Herbert Hoover and his wife were very lavish and never worried about food costs or seasonality just providing it was the best. He was keen on lobster so would have loved my recent dinners in Boston!

Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor were rather rebellious and were noted for serving hot dogs to our HRH for lunch on one visit. This is pretty cool but what I love even more is that they were so fond of doughnuts they even had them for breakfast. Not partially healthy but if you cant have what you want when you are president – when can you?

2015-07-23_0015

Harry Truman and wife were not fussy and staff noted very affable when it came to dining but she was keen to up the standards of cooking so bought in some new top chefs into the kitchens.

At the time Julia Child was hitting the screens, JFK was in power and America was embracing French cuisine. It is not clear if the man himself was keen in this trend but we do know he always wanted soup for lunch and inevitably had to be reminded to eat at dinnertime as was so engrossed in his work.

2015-07-23_0013

Nixon got the USA obsessed with Meatloaf (the food not the band) as his wife would make it once a month for the family. Peeked with curiosity the public were keen to have the recipe for themselves and so the office printed a stash of thousands to hand out on official White House paper.

George Herbert Walker Bush hated broccoli and was bold enough to publically admit this, much to the outrage of broccoli farmers who then sent 10 tons of the stuff to DC (this was then used to feed the needy).

2015-07-23_0006

In more recent times we have had Bill Clinton who is allergic to milk and chocolate but loves fast food, George W Bush who is not practically interested in food but has a soft spot for pretzels.

Then there is president Barack Obama who is said to be keen on burgers, hot dogs and generally American style food. He did once answer when asked what was his favourite food say broccoli but it is not clear how true this is. . Michelle Obama is heavily involved in the campaign to reduce obesity in children and has planted a vegetable garden at the white house, which I hope is nowhere near the helipad.

2015-07-23_0010

And the next president? Well we shall have to wait and see but I would be greatly surprised if they didn’t enjoy this postcard recipe of these very American chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies

For me a cookie should have a crunch on the outside and be chewy in the

Middle, this recipe when cooked right gives you exactly that. You can use

different flavoured chocolate like, chilli, orange or mint depending on your

 225 g room temperature salted butter


200 g granulated sugar


220 g soft brown sugar


2 large free range eggs


10 ml vanilla extract


375 g plain flour


5 g bicarbonate of soda


10 ml hot water

2 tbs cocoa powder


300 g chocolate cut into small pieces

 

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F /175 °C degrees

Beat the butters and sugar till smooth.

Add the eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the bicarb and hot water then add to the batter.

Add the flour and coco powder and briefly mix in.

Finally add the chocolate chips

 Line a baking tray with baking parchment then drop large spoonful’s onto

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are just browned.

2015-07-23_0001

Next postcard is from back in Boston…

Comments { 0 }

Recipe |Beer Can Chicken

whisk

 So, what came first?

Well in this case it would definitely be the egg as the chicken would be rather half – cut and not much good for anything.

 

2015-07-15_0001 (This bird is also called Philippa, though she has her wings clipped). 

I must say I have had a rather informative week, perhaps due to the learned Harvard air that spreads its way through the Boston area.

2015-07-15_0002

Firstly Hydrangeas  – those big blousy blue/pink / white flowers, that seem to flourish here on the East Coast and make seriously impressive flower displays.  They are however prone to wilting if you don’t treat them correctly.  Here is what I learnt to help make them last:

2015-07-15_0003

Cut the fresh flowers and place the stems immediately into water – take a water filled vase (doesn’t have to be your Ming one) or bucket into the garden with you.

Cut to the length you want for your vase display.

Immerse the bottom of the stems in 3 inches of just boiled water for 30 secs then place in display vase half filled with room temperature water.

This really does work and as I heard quoted by one guest  “makes them look like they are on steroids! “.

My second revelation is about eggs.

2015-07-15_0007 The centre picture is of grilled eggplant with smoked tomato, chilli, sherry vinegar, anchovy and coriander dressing  – my new favourite side. 

We have many major differences from the North Americans: they say To-may-to, we say Tomato, we order oysters and they order ‘ersters’, they keep their eggs in the fridge and we… well don’t.

This is because we have different ways of dealing with Salmonella, the bacteria that can cause food poising.  Salmonella can occur inside and outside the egg.  Back in the UK we mostly vaccinate the chickens against it so anything stamped with a red lion should not have it.  We also have now banned battery farming so the eggs are generally laid in a cleaner environment and are at less risk from contamination.

2015-07-15_0011

In the States they do not vaccinate against Salmonella and all eggs are washed before being packed and sold.  Washing the egg unfortunately removes the natural protective coating, which helps keep oxygen and water levels steady inside and helps keep bacteria out.  Having removed this layer they need to keep the eggs in the fridge to help slow down the growth of any harmful bacteria.  Some suppliers do try and recoat them with a layer of oil and a spritz of chlorine but it is generally thought that they should be kept cold.

High horse bit  – None of this should cause alarm but it should be a huge reminder about the importance of buying well  – knowing where your food comes from and the importance of knowing what processes it goes through before reaching your table.  What you should be worried about is Molasses.

2015-07-15_0008

Well that’s if you were a Bostoanian dweller back in January 1919 when a huge tank holding 2.3 million gallons of it burst.  Waves of the liquid as high as 7.6 meters swept through Boston’s North End ,  21 people came to a sticky end and 150 were injured as well as it knocking down houses and causing serious damage to the railroad.  It was, as you can imagine, a rather awkward mess to clean up as volunteers and workers couldn’t help but spread the molasses over the city on their shoes, hands and clothes as they tried to clean it up.

Finally this week, having spent much time cooking outside I found out tomatoes and avocadoes work really well and are totally delicious when BBQ’ed .

2015-07-15_0013

 This week

Lobsters dispatched: 21

Presents received form fisherman: 8 sea snails (I confess I’ve had more endearing gifts, but they caused amusement)

New tricks learnt: 3

I’m reading: Poems by H.W. Longfellow

Every home should have: lobster traps

 

 

Beer Can Chicken

 If you are going to slow cook or smoke chicken you need to brine it first to help keep it moist.  I had read from others that although they had achieved good results from making ‘beer can chicken’ there were many comments that  they  couldn’t taste the beer.    So I thought , as I was going down the boozy route  I would slosh some beer into the brine too.  It totally worked. 

I served my chicken with flat breads and a grilled avocado salad with a coriander and chilli salsa., totally delicious, especially served with some chilled local Ipswich Pale Ale.

2015-07-15_0005  

Ingredients

You will need:

 A BBQ with a lid or a smoker

A thermometer

 

1 chicken weighing roughly 1 kilo  / 2 lb

 

Brine

330ml water

225 g fine sea salt

150g Brown sugar

4 tbs molasses

10 bay leaves

2 tbs peppercorns

355 ml beer

1 x 355ml can of beer

2015-07-15_0009  

Method

Bring the water to the boil in a large pan, once boiled take off the heat and add the rest of the brine  ingredients apart from the beer. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolved then add the beer.

 

Leave to cool then immerse the chicken in the brine.

Place in the fridge for 7   – 15 hours ( no more or the chicken becomes slightly too salty).

2015-07-15_0006  

Light your smoker or BBQ and heat to 230 F  / 110 °C  (If using a BBQ put the coals to one side of the dish).

Open a can of beer ( I used a tin opener and carefully removed the lid), drink half then place the can on a rack above the heat.  (If using the BBQ place the can on the other side to the coals )

Sit the chicken on top of the beer can (try not to laugh) and close the lid.

2015-07-15_0010

Cook for 3  – 4 hours , keeping the internal temperature at about 230 F / 110 °C.

Add more coals and adjust the vents as needed  (opening them increases the temperature and closing them lowers the temperature.) 

2015-07-15_0004

Once cooked , the internal meat temperature should be 170 F  / 76° C,  leave to rest for 20 mins then carve and serve.

  2015-07-15_0012

Next stop,

Washington DC, so lobsters you can sleep safe…for a few days.

 

 

Comments { 0 }

Recipe | Smoked prawn with avocado crostini

whisk

Prawn on the Fourth of July

If you think the British are obsessed by the weather you should talk to a Bostonian. Throughout the year they get it all from heavy snow, storms and high winds to bright blue skies and sunshine. I guess  as lots of people are boat and or fish orientated it’s natural the weather will be of constant interest.

2015-07-08_0008

‘People say that if you don’t love America, then get the h**l out, well I love America!’ (Tom Cruise and Philippa Davis)

I arrived to dark skies, rain and in need of a jumper. I could have stayed in Blighty for this, I thought, but with everyone cheerful the sun would come out tomorrow, I settled into my new home for the next few weeks.   The next day… oh boy did the sun come out and then set with the most theatrical display.

2015-07-08_0005

The first big party we held was July 4th celebrations; we had 35 adults and about a dozen kids coming. I decided to tone down my English accent for the day, though I did sneak in a very English dessert of Eton mess into the menu. For mains, as its all about lobster here, we decided on roasting 37 of them and smoking 20 lb of baby back (pork) ribs. It was truly a veritable feast!

2015-07-08_0007

The party was a wild success with kids and adults all tucking into the sweet buttery crustaceans and getting messy with the ribs. Desserts were practically all demolished (haha!) and at around 10 the fireworks of Boston and the surrounding towns started popping up into the sky. To go with this, the amazing Boston Pops orchestra broadcasts live with a program including the Indiana Jones theme tune, the 1812 and of course Stars and Stripes. We thought the party might wind down post fire works but there was a sudden second wind and the left over ribs got raided from the fridge and were totally scoffed.

2015-07-08_0003

With the ribs taken care of the only thing I still had to deal with was the left over lobster. Last time I got my hand on this many I made enough stock to fill a bathtub, though frankly it wasn’t totally to my liking. This year, having picked off the last of the lobster meat with some help from half a team of Ivy League Football players ;) I gathered my buckets of shells and had another go. The trick is to bring the stock to a boil with the shells in, cook for 30 – 40 mins, strain it and then reduce the stock down. If you leave the shells in too long the stock goes very bitter. The stock was/ is delicious (I have 20 litres to use up) so I am planning lots of lobster flavoured soups, bisques, paellas and risottos. That or a fishy bath.

2015-07-08_0002

On a none food note I watched my first cherry stone spitting competition and putting it politely I couldn’t quite believe the diversity of peoples ability. As soon as I got home I grabbed a bowl of cherries and headed to the bottom of the garden to try it for myself, turns out, I have a new skill.

2015-07-08_0009

This week

Lobsters massacred: 52

‘Have a nice days’ I have been wished : 31

Cherry stone distance personally spat : 5.5m

I’m reading: The Lobster, Guillaume Lecasble

4am texts from my least/most favourite sister who keeps forgetting I’m in a different time zone: 5

 

 

Smoked prawn with avocado and chilli crostini.

 Its hard not to get obsessed about smoking, the results are delicious but there is something primal and wildly rewarding in the skill it takes to get it right. From making ones own salt rubs and bbq sauces to taming the heat and perfecting the amount of smoke.

So for this postcard recipe I will share with you one of my new favourite foods to smoke – prawns.

  2015-07-08_0006

We served this as an ‘appetiser’ on July 4th.

You will need a smoker, lump wood charcoal, and wood chips like apple and hickory.

 

Makes 20 crostini

20 large raw peeled prawns

2 tbs olive oil

200g butter melted

 

Rub

4 tsp fine sea salt

3 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper

 

Avocado

2 ripe avocados

1 small clove garlic

2 tbs olive oil

2 tsp chopped green chilli

juice from 1 lime

2 tbs. chopped coriander

 

To serve

1 loaf ciabatta

Extra sprigs of coriander

Squeeze of extra lime juice.

 

Mix the prawns with the olive oil

Mix the rub ingredients together then toss through the prawns with 2 tbs olive oil, leave for 30 mins.

 

Meanwhile light your smoker and get it to reach 200 °F

 

Once at temperature, lay a large piece of foil shiny side down, tip on the prawns (discarding any juice that may come out of them) then pour over the melted butter. Add your chips to the coals and close the lid. Smoke for 30 – 40 mins , they should be cooked and smokey.

  2015-07-08_0004

You can eat then warm or leave them to cool.

 

To make the avocado spread,

Peel and de-stone the avocado and roughly chop, add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.

 

To serve toast the ciabatta, smear with the avocado mix and top with a smoked prawn. Squeeze over a little extra lime and garnish with a leaf of coriander

  2015-07-08_0001

Next week, unfortunately for the lobsters, I’m sticking around…

Comments { 0 }

Recipe | Slow cooked lamb in whisky with saffron and bay potatoes

whisk

Far from the Madding Crowd…

Well actually it was the complete opposite as last week went a bit like this…

Sorry? Philippa who??
My Edinburgh chef friends might have wished they said when they got the call.
“I need to you to come and help on a job… You will? Lovely! Meet me Sunday at 09:11 under the clock at Waverley station. Bring raincoats, sun cream, and midge spray. Oh and get plenty of rest…”

Our mission was to cook feast after feast for a large group of young revellers having a 4 day party in the Highlands. Our train journey up was spent checking through lists and finalising our battle plan. We needed to leap into action as soon as we had arrived in order to stay on top of our task. I had spent the week before tapping furiously at a calculator working out how much food to order and giving the execution orders on various beasts from a local farm. The on-site front of house team and organisers were primed and ready for our arrival.

The first evening was spent serving a supper for 20 and prepping for the next day: a BBQ for 50, afternoon tea for 90 and dinner for 100. The BBQ was to take place out in the wilds, so there was carful packing, double checking lists and lots of prep. It was a late (but jolly) night and we only briefly came unstuck after midnight when I gave each of us a flavoured jelly to make and we all had to do the relevant conversions. It turned into one of those mind boggling maths exam questions along the lines of: If Jenny had 2 pints of sloe gin that she wanted to set into jelly at a 45 % stronger ratio than Peter but could only use gelatine sheets that were 67 % the normal size what would her recipe be? The situation soon turned into every chef for themselves and we all made our part of the 100 jelly boat armada and filled our eclectic mix of jelly moulds.
2015-06-28_0008

Day 2 started early with final prep and packing for the BBQ for 50 (after we had all individually made casual but hasty bee-lines to the fridge to check each of our jellies had set). They all had, so we fully turned our attention to the mission of heading out into the wilds to become free-range chefs and cook the BBQ.

 

2015-06-28_0007

Fuelled by the fresh air nothing could stop us getting ready for the arrival of the guests. Not the deep fast flowing river we had to cross, not the hills we had to climb or the rain we had to battle against when trying to light the coals. At 1 o’clock we had the first set of vegetable kebabs nicely charring over the coals, the venison burgers were ready to grill and the jugs of Pimms were all set to pour. The guests arrived just as the sun passed the yardarm, a sound system of moderately load music was switched on and the eating began.

Day 2 part 2 started and ended in tidying up lunch and setting out an afternoon tea of smoked salmon blini, venison sausage rolls and 90 rice crispy cakes (only 10 of which made it back). The chefs then dashed back over moor, mountain and river to the kitchen to finish off prep for that nights dinner for 100.

The menu read as follows:

Slow cooked lamb in Whisky with salsa verde
Baked wild salmon with lemon butter
Cyprus potatoes cooked in white wine and saffron
Puy lentils with asparagus, broad beans and peas.
Green salad with garlic chilli broccoli

Dessert
Jelly and Ice cream table
Salted caramel ice cream
Chocolate ice cream
Pineapple and rum sorbet
100 jelly boats, sloe gin and raspberry, lime and ginger and elderflower
Eton mess

The diner was to take place in a beautiful teepee tent with a makeshift (but nifty) kitchen attached. It was only a short drive away from our base camp and conventional kitchen we so we did as much prep and cooking as we could before loading up the trusty Landover (again) and heading over. The stunningly dressed guests all spilled into the marquee pretty much on time and the next set of feasting began.

2015-06-28_0004

As soon as dinner was over the music got pumped up and some serious dancing began. Us chefs headed back to start the next task of making a 2 am sustenance pizza drop. We returned to the party around 1am and it wasn’t long before we had several visitors storming the kitchen drawn by the smell of our slow cooked tomato sauce and the first wafts of melting mozzarella .
Pizza !!! The word had got out and we had to hold off the baying dance floor until we had our first few trays ready.

2015-06-28_0005
Having satisfied the crowd we left them to it while we headed back to base to catch a few hours kip before the big breakfast.
Day 3 … With the buoyancy of youth the revellers where bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for breakfast by 11am. Sausages, crispy bacon, fried eggs and home made baked beans were gratefully wolfed down back in the teepee tent that had magically been whipped back into shape by the  morning fairies and although the dress code of the crowd had somewhat changed, spirits were still high.

2015-06-28_0003

Day 3 part 2 was to be Curry Night for 30 so once breakfast had been polished off we headed back to the kitchen so we could delve into the spice racks to make our Thai prawn curries, chicken kormas, Bombay potatoes and saffron rice.

2015-06-28_0010
Every one was ready for a relatively early night however they still managed to summon the energy and enthusiasm to enjoy the desserts of chocolate and praline torte, ice cream and the spare text-book wobbly jelly.

Day 4, the grande finale was a brunch. Platters of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and brown toast and stacks of American style blueberry and banana pancakes with jugs of warmed maple syrup and double cream.

Then that was that, party over.

2015-06-28_0002

This Week:

Alcohol cooked with: 6 bottles white, 2 bottles red, 3 bottles whisky, 3 bottles fino, 1 bottle sloe gin, ¼ brandy.
Every home should have: a river crossing.
Clothes are out, glitter paint is in.
Sleeping : is not an option
Its all about : 2 am pizza sessions.

Slow cooked lamb in whisky and rosemary with potatoes cooked in saffron, bay and white.

Assuming you probably wont want this recipe for 100 I have scaled down the portions. It is however great for a large gathering as is great to make in advance, easy to serve to a crowd and most importantly is super delicious. As it is a rich dish it works well served with an an acidic side salad (dressed with balsamic or sherry vinegar dressing) and works perfectly with a salsa verde. When slow cooking food with alcohol I often add an extra splash in just before serving to lift the flavour and give it a final punch.
2015-06-28_0006
Serves 6 – 10
1 large lamb shoulder
3 tbs. olive oil
4 red onions
1 head garlic
40g rosemary
40g thyme
400ml bottle whisky
½ bottle white wine

Pre heat the oven to 200°C.
1)Season the lamb with salt and pepper and rub all over with about 3 tbs. olive oil.
2)Peel and chop the onions and garlic into thin slices and lay in a big roasting dish.
3)Take the rosemary and thyme off the stalks and put ¼ of it aside.
Finely chop the other ¾ and scatter over the onions.
4)Lay the lamb on top and roast in the oven for 20mins, (it should start to be turning golden).
5)Remove from the oven, pour on all the wine, 1 pint water and 300 ml whisky.
Cover with baking paper then seal the dish with foil.
Turn the oven down to 160° and cook for 3 -4 hours or until the lamb easily shreds off the bone.
6)Once cooked remove the paper and foil and leave to cool slightly.
Once cool enough to handle shred the lamb in chunks discarding the bones. Add the rest of the whisky and check the seasoning.
It is now ready to be served or can be cooled and refrigerated for another day.
To serve finely chop the remaining herbs and sprinkle on top serve with the saffron potatoes, a vinegary salad and salsa verde.

Potatoes cooked in saffron, white wine and bay.
These potatoes are very pretty and make a great side dish as are so delicious and keep their heat really well, which is perfect for serving a crowd.

Serves 10
400ml olive oil
3 white onions, peeled and diced into 2 cm squares
10 gloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half
6 green peppers (I used a mix of green, red and yellow) deseeded and cut into 2 cm squares
15 bay leaves
2 kilo potatoes ( Cyprus are fantastic as have lots of flavour and hold their shape but otherwise other waxy varieties will work)
½ bottle white wine

1 heaped teaspoon of saffron mixed with 200ml just boiled water left to infuse for at least 10 mins

1)Wash and ¼ cut the potatoes lengthways.
2)Pour the oil into a big pan and add the onions, peppers, garlic and bay.
Sauté for 10 – 15 minutes until starting to soften.
3)Add the chopped potatoes and white wine.
Season with salt and pepper then cook on a low heat with a lid on, gently stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked through ( about 20 – 30 mins).
4)Once cooked stir through the saffron water and check the seasoning.

2015-06-28_0001

Next time ….

Well with the job successfully accomplished the A team can now part their ways; I’m packing my summer suitcase and heading to the East Coast, State side.

Comments { 0 }

Recipe |Scones

whisk

Appointment with Devon

 This week I’m using my ‘little grey cells’ with my trusted chef friend from Devon to solve a West Country problem, but first….

  It is once again the foodie world equivalent of the Oscars (though probably involving shorter heels and less double-sided sticky tape) and voting will soon close for the annual Observer Food monthly awards.

I would be delighted if you would like to nominate Philippa Davis postcard recipes into their ‘Best Food Blog’ category.

Nominations can be made by following this link   

http://www.theguardian.com/observer-food-monthly-awards/ng-interactive/2015/apr/09/observer-food-monthly-awards-2015-voting-form

Voting closes 30th June.

A huge thanks and appreciation for you support,

Philippa x

 

And now….

 Having successfully painted the Emerald Isle red, I moved on to give the West Country a turn.  Steaming through the rural landscapes I arrived in Devon with pearls and twinsets at the ready, home to Agatha Christie and supposedly cream teas.

2015-06-18_0001

 On the wild off-chance that you are unsure of what a cream tea might consist of, by my standards its scones (freshly baked unless you want raised eyebrows), clotted cream, strawberry jam and naturally lashings of tea.  Our problem was which should be applied to the scone first, the cream or the jam ? So with Poirot and Hastings like dedication, we set about our task.

  2015-06-18_0006

For something so charming as a cream tea there is actually a dark undercurrent of controversy. There have been bickering’s, petitions and strong words exchanged as to where it originates from and so who can actually lay claim to being the true home of this afternoon treat. We did a bit of research and with Devon and Cornwall being the main contenders (and my affections lying in Dorset) I’m not going to get too concerned and am going with it’s ‘a West Country thing’.

  2015-06-18_0005

Scones themselves most likely originate from Ireland so no points to either county there. Clotted cream was most likely bought over from what’s now Lebanon and Syria to Cornwall in approximately 500BC by the Phoenicians who where in search of tin.  The recipe was given in part exchange for the metal (an excellent trade I think) and so again neither county edges into the lead.

  2015-06-18_0008

Moving onto the practical side we both made a batch of scones. ‘Hastings’ with her heirloom Devon secret list of ingredients that produced a super rise and me with my recipe that although I am unsure of its origins has faithfully helped me produce over18,000 of the little fluffy light morsels over the last 6 years (I’m not exaggerating and got my Ph.D. maths friend to check my figures).

2015-06-18_0007  

  Luckily for our friendship it was not the best scone recipe which was in dispute. The real contention we were focusing on was  how to assemble the scone once made.

In Devon they like to slather the scone with cream then top with jam but in Cornwall they insist on doing it the other way round.

We diligently tried both and after much tasting, considerations, note making and debate I concluded….who cares!? As long as its piled high with both it’s totally delicious.

  2015-06-18_0004

 My Devon friend tried to be a little more opinionated and swayed to her county ways of doing things but I did notice whilst my back was turned ‘the incredible theft’ happened and the Cornish style one disappeared with only a scattering of crumbs remaining.

 I will happily leave you to dictate how you assemble your scone but for this postcard I give you my scone recipe.

 This Week

I would love: you to vote for Philippa Davis postcard recipes as the Best Food Blog in the Observer Food monthly VOTE 

Every good West Country home should have: clotted cream and strawberry jam at the ready.

Scones eaten: too embarrassed to say.

Mysteries solved: 0 (I know, Agatha would have been disappointed).

Modes of transport :Sea Tractors, boats, trains, Flybe flights and a nanny wagon.

 

Scones

Scones should be eaten on the day of making which should not be a problem as they generally disappear within minutes…

  2015-06-18_0003

(Make approx 6)

8 oz Self raising flour plus a little extra for rolling)

1 tsp. baking powder

2 oz caster sugar

2 oz cold butter

110ml cold milk plus 1 tbs.

 

To serve clotted cream (Rhodas from Cornwall is my favorite), strawberry jam and loose leaf tea in a cup and saucer.

 

Pre heat the oven to 190° C

In a bowl briefly whisk the flour with the baking powder and sugar.

Grate in the butter using the large side of a grater.

Mix in using our fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Pour in the milk and bring together into a ball (you can add a splash more milk if needs but DO NOT over handle the dough).

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the scone to 2 cm thick.

Cut them out and place them on a baking sheet so almost touching and lightly brush with milk.

Bake for 10 mins or until risen and slightly golden

Once cooked leave to cool for a couple of minutes then split open horizontally and slather with clotted cream and strawberry jam in which ever order you see fit.

2015-06-18_0002

 Tips

To help your scones give an even rise;

1)   Dip your cutter in between each scone into a little bowl of flour, this prevents sticking and gives a more even rise.

2)   Do not twist your cutter, plunge straight down and up – this again helps with an even rise.

3)   The scones seem to form a better shape if once cut you turn them upside down on the baking tray before cooking.

4)   Cut your scones close together to get the most out of your dough without having to re roll and over handle it.

 

 

Next I’m heading off to cook for a 4 day party extravaganza for 100 revellers….

 

Comments { 0 }
css.php