Archive | America

Recipe | Cherry Pie

Make America Bake Again

To start with a completely different subject ….

I would love you to come and watch my cookery demo at the Game Fair at 12 pm on Saturday 29th July. I will be sharing some delicious ideas on what to do with game along with cookery writer Tim Maddams. The Game Fair is at Hatfield House (just 20 min by train from London Kings Cross) and is a fantastic day out for anyone interested in the countryside, shooting, fishing , horses, dogs, falconry and of course food !

Meanwhile back in the USA….

“I’m having a little trouble with my tackle” chortled the fisherman…

He had been quietly fiddling with it for at least ten minutes without the desired effect and being British I wasn’t sure what was the polite thing to do. Do I offer to help or is it one of those things you just leave them to until you see their rod waving high in the air ready for action?

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Recipe | Pumpkin pie

A pumpkin pie is for life…not just thanksgiving.

Defra and the City of London Pollution control team, are currently analysing some mysterious anomalies in their data for the end of November. With readings off the charts and new territories reached on the Decibel scale I hear they are truly puzzled.
Well… I will fess up. It was us!
Thanksgiving celebrations, west London area, a bajillion children and a lot of excited American ex pats celebrating their grand federal holiday. It was my first one and I loved it!

For those of you who have never celebrated thanksgiving think levels of Christmas preparation, planning and excitement just without the carols and presents.


Thanksgiving is generally thought to have come about from the 102 Pilgrims who set sail on the Mayflower back in 1620. It was a very harsh first winter so most of them stayed on their ship. About half of them died and those that survived were understandably not in great shape. When they finally all came ashore come spring time they were met by local Native Indians who taught and helped them grow, hunt and gather food in order to survive in their new environment .

The pilgrims celebrated their first successful harvest in November 1621 and invited some of the local Indians which many consider the first of thanksgiving. Over the years the tradition of giving thanks around harvest time spread to other areas but it wasn’t until 1863, during the civil war, that President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving would take place on the last Thursday each November. For a while the date was moved forward a week, this was done during the great depression in 1939 by Roosevelt to help boost sales but as so many objected in 1941 a bill was signed placing it on the forth Thursday of November where it remains set to this day.


( above are the welcoming margarita clementine cocktails)

Over time it is not just the date that has changed but the menu as well.

Turkey meat was unlikely to have been part of the earlier Thanksgiving suppers, although they would have been some wild ones living around the Plymouth area where the pilgrims landed. It is likely they eventually got incorporated into the feast, as they were large enough to feed a crowd plus could be spared as they don’t lay lots of eggs (unlike chickens) or produce other useful produce like milk.


Although I wouldn’t place Turkey at the top of my favourites list I was amused by the idea that every year in the States it has become custom for the president to pardon one.
From thousands of birds around 80 are randomly selected from the National Turkey federation. They are fed a quick fattening diet of grains and soybeans so they can look the part if they go on to be the ‘chosen one’. The 80 turkeys are put into celebrity turkey training camp and exposed to flashing camera lights, loud noises and given exposure to large crowds. Twenty finalists are then chosen to live on and are closely monitored to see which are the best behaved, most good-looking and largest. Eventually two ‘chosen’ ones will be named by The White House and then finally one will go on to be Americas next top turkey and the ‘pardoned’ one.


The tradition of giving turkeys to Presidents had been going on for many years but it was only since Reagan that they started being pardoned and not until 1998 in George HW Bush time that the tradition really set in. Once the razzmatazz of being spared is over the turkey will live out the rest of its days either in a petting zoo (in which case I cant help but feel the turkey may have preferred to get the chop rather than deal with being manhandled by hundreds of visitors a day), or on a farm probably in Virginia or even go to Disney land where it becomes the honorary marshal of the Thanksgiving day parade. I kid you not. One should note however as the turkey is encouraged to become in what human terms we call obese it doesn’t live that long anyway.

2016-11-30_0001 The thanksgiving meal I cooked for happened in two sittings. First came the bajillion children and then the adults. My morning was spent weight lifting huge turkeys from lidgates to the house , roasting and peeling mountains of chestnuts and sceptically making the star of this postcard recipe a, Pumpkin Pie.

Before you pumpkin pie fans raise your eyebrows at my scepticism (or you pumpkin pie non converts click away) let me explain. I am of the opinion if a certain dish was that good or that well loved it would appear more than just once a year, the British obsession with turkey at Christmas being my prime example.


Pumpkin pie has never really been adopted by us Brits and from what I can tell only really gets attention the other side of the pond around thanksgiving. Well this has got to change ! Pumpkin pie it turns out is totally delicious and should be eaten for life (ok when is season) and not just for Thanksgiving .


When the job was done and as I was saying my good byes we discussed what fun it was and I expressed how much I enjoyed cooking for my first Thanksgiving.
“Great” my clients said …
“Next year we will get you a baseball cap to cook in “! they yelled as I headed out the door
“ but perhaps maybe some ear plugs too ” I muttered as I headed down the street on to my next job …

So for this postcard recipe I give you… Pumpkin Pie.

This week

I love : Pumpkin pie
Every home should have : Alexa
Favourite pumpkin trivia : In 1705 the Connecticut town of Colchester famously postponed its Thanksgiving for a week because there wasn’t enough molasses available to make pumpkin pie.
Turkeys spared : 1 ( by Obama not me)

Pumpkin pie

You may wonder why I use squash when the title suggests I should be using pumpkin, basically squash is much less watery,  tastes better and close enough so allowed in.You may also wonder why there is no photo… basically  it got eaten before it could be papped !

Serves 8
You will need a 28 cm pie dish

For the pastry
250g plain flour plus extra for rolling
1 tbs icing sugar
1 x orange, zest only
50g cream cheese
100g butter, chilled
1 – 2 tbs iced water

1 medium butternut squash
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tbs demerera sugar
200ml maple syrup
4 tbsp brandy 
4 medium eggs, beaten
150ml evaporated milk

To make the pastry ,
In a food processor blitz the flour with the icing sugar and orange zest.
Grate in the butter and add the cream cheese in small spoonful’s. Pulse a few times.
Add the egg yolk and ½ tbs iced water and blitz. Stop as soon as the pastry starts to form into a dough (you may need to add a little more water.
Lightly flour a piece of baking paper and roll out the dough to line  your pie dish. Press well into the edges and reline with the sheet of baking paper.
Pre heat the oven to 200 °C
Leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins then pour in baking beans and cook for 15mins , then remove the paper and beans and cook for a further 10( it should be lightly golden).
Leave to cool.

Reduce the oven to 175 °C.
Peel, deseed and chunk the squash into 1inch pieces. Toss with the cinnamon, ginger and the sugar.
Roast on a flat tray for 40mins or until soft.
Place in a food processor (scraping in a any spice bits from the tray) and blitz to smooth.
Place a clean thin tea towel or muslin cloth in a colander set over a bowl or pot and scoop in the squash puree. Leave to drain for 1 hour then weigh out 300g. You don’t need the remainder for this dessert so I popped mine into a celeriac and squash gratin but could go into a soup cet.).

Place the weighed puree into a bowl and hand whisk in the syrup, brandy, eggs and evaporated milk, you are just doing this to mix rather than to add volume or air into the mix.
Taste to see if it needs extra spices then pour into the pastry and bake for 40 mins – 1 hour or until set.
Leave to cool then serve in slices with whipped cream and plenty of American cheer.

Next Stop… Pheasant weekend shoot in Perthshire


Recipe | Grilled corn, fig and tomato salad with maple syrup and cheese dressing


Corn in the USA

I was excited to be whisked northwards from JFK airport, New York to the Hamptons, Long Island, famous for The Great Gatsby, Maria Carey, Billy crystal, Blue Oyster cult, Donna Karen, Billy Joel, Jackie Kennedy , Steve Madden, beautiful beaches and golden corn.


The USA produced in 2015 $49 billions worth of corn harvested from 88 million acres of land. That’s a lot.


Whilst doing my usual scouting trip around the local farms, markets and shops I found a roadside stall that belonged to the adjoining farm that boasted of its “world famous corn”. I think it would be practically impossible to start saying where the best corn was grown but what really matters when buying and eating it is how fresh is it is. Once picked that delicious sweetness starts turning into starch so time is of the essence!


Health wise corn has lots of antioxidants and vitamins and contains soluble and insoluble fibre. The insoluble fibre is good at helping the good bacteria in our gut.


When not eating corn or discussing politics we managed to slip in a fair few sugar highs with cookies, brownies ( it will always remain a mystery as to what happened to that second box ) shortbreads and ice creams nicely balanced with some simply grilled delicious local fish, fresh juices and salads.


For this postcard recipe I would like to share one of the corn salads we made, grilling the corn adds a delicious element and putting it in a salad helps stop the urge to smother the blackened sweet juicy corn in butter although thats probably the best way to eat it.


This week

Times Ive been told to ‘ Have a nice day’ : A LOT, luckily I generally was otherwise it would have been really annoying.

Corn cooked: 48

Dogs in crazy costumes seen: 2 ( check out my instgram @ phollowphilippa)

I’m reading : Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel , a Mexican emotional food feast.

Every home should have : bicycles

We are on : a sugar high


Grilled corn, fig and tomato salad with maple syrup and cheese dressing.

Serves 4

4 ripe figs cut in quarters

2 corn

300g tomatoes ( which ever are best )

150g leaves

100g roughly chopped almonds


juice from half a lemon

1 tbs maple syrup

100g grated cheese – I used comte but you could use blue, cheddar or goat

1 tbs mayonnaise

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil


To make the dressing

Sprinkle some salt and pepper in a bowl

Whisk in the lemon juice then in this order the syrup, cheese, mayo and finally the olive oil.


Blanch the corn for about 8 minutes in a large pot of boiling non salted water, you want the corn to be just cooked.

Drain then grill for about five minutes on a medium heat so most of the outside has taken on some colour.

Leave to cool slightly then slice off the kernels

To assemble the salad, toss the figs, leaves, tomatoes , almonds and corn in the dressing and pile onto a plate.


Next Stop… Utah.


Recipe |Brioche


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 !


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.


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.


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


 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

ml warm whole milk 

9 g dry active yeast

large free range /organic egg

500g plain white flour

The Dough

100g caster sugar

5g fine sea salt

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.



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.


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.




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.



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…


Recipe | Chocolate Chip Cookies


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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).


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.


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.


Next postcard is from back in Boston…


Recipe |Beer Can Chicken


 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.


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:


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.


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.


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 .


 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.



You will need:

 A BBQ with a lid or a smoker

A thermometer


1 chicken weighing roughly 1 kilo  / 2 lb



330ml water

180g  fine sea salt

150g Brown sugar

4 tbs molasses

10 bay leaves

2 tbs peppercorns

1 x 355ml can of beer

1 x 355ml can of beer



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 second can of 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).


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.


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.) 


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


Next stop,

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




Recipe | Smoked prawn with avocado crostini


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.


‘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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



4 tsp fine sea salt

3 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp cayenne pepper



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.


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


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


Recipe | Lobster linguine with courgettes, cream and chopped rocket


A little lobster…

Debating on what should be my final postcard from Boston for this summer I dithered greatly.

Blogging as I had originally planned about night fishing is a terrible idea as below explains.


Maybe I should have thought it through a little better? I had visited Harvard a few days prior to this and had even been told,

“Hey lady, you’re pretty smart”

As I helped some small guy with thick rimmed glasses, no doubt a mathematical genius, who had turned himself crimson frantically trying to go through a ‘push’ door that said pull.

I felt rather smug with myself until I almost made a complete hash of working out the ticketing system for the T line (the Boston tube system) to get back into town.


So with night fishing out of the running for this post I hoped you would enjoy another lobster recipe. It is incredibly cheap here ($4.99 /£2.94 a lb in some places) and I even heard that it wasn’t that long ago that servants in houses would have it written into their contracts that they would refuse to eat lobster any more than once a week!


Nutritionally lobster meat is rich in Zinc and omega 3 fatty acids (good for improving brain functionality) low in fat and high in protein. Before coming here I confess I was always rather nonchalant about lobster, often finding it lacked flavour and its texture wasn’t always that desirable, but now I admit I am truly smitten.


For those of you who drooled over the smoked ribs and chicken from the last post, then had to get yourself a smoker, next time you fire it up throw a few lobsters in there – incredible! The meat turns out wildly tender and outrageously juicy and with a short(ish) smoking time, roughly 40 minutes, the meat has the perfect balance of smokiness without masking the lobster flavour. I have given some tips on how to do this at the end.


So for my final recipe from Boston I will give you a dish we made for when we had some left over lobster from a party the night before. Lobster linguine with courgettes, cream and chopped rocket. What made it particularly good was cooking the pasta in a stock made from the shells, which added huge amounts of flavour and helped not to waste a drop of flavour from the crustacean we should all love (unless you have a shellfish allergy then your emotions will probably be somewhat different) the Lobster.


My month in numbers

Lobsters slaughtered -72

Clams Killed – 11 kilos

Intellectuals rescued from baffling doors – 1


Next stop … The Great Dorset Chilli Festival


Lobster spaghetti with courgette, cream and chopped rocket

Serves 4


Meat from 2 x small *cooked lobsters roughly chopped ( 240g approx )   – although you can use less, as a little lobster can go a long way as you will get lots of flavour from the stock. Keep the shells for the stock.

200g linguini

2 small courgettes finely sliced into strands ( I used 1 yellow and 1 green )

a pinch of fried red chilli

100ml double cream

1 teaspoon chopped dill

100g rocket, roughly chopped

1 small pinch of dried red chilli

zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 litres of lobster stock **



Bring the lobster stock to the boil then taste, it needs to be salty to cook the pasta, season accordingly. 

Cook the lingue as per instructions till al dente

Add the strands of courgettes into the stock with the lingueni and cook for 1 more minute then strain.

Immediately return to the pasta and courgettes to the saucepan then add the cream, chilli, chopped rocket and lemon, check for seasoning then serve.

To cook a whole lobster –

*When I cooked a 1 ½ lb lobster I bought a large pan of salty water to the boil flavoured with a cup of dry white wine, a few parsley stalks and 1 teaspoon of peppercorns added the live lobster and cooked it for 7 minutes. Fished it out till cool then extracted the meat.

**I recommend popping the lobster shells, a few peppercorns, a few stalks of parsley and a medium tomato chopped in half into a saucepan with 4 litres of cold water, bringing it to a boil then turning it down to simmer for 30 minutes before straining (if you leave it for too long the stock tastes bitter).



How to smoke a lobster

Bring the smoker to 240 F.

Kill the lobster by splitting its head.

Once dead put some cracks in the claws to help the smoke penetrate and cut along the top off the tail. Slip 2 teaspoons of salted butter into the tail and smoke for 40 minutes or until cooked.   You can put a skewer up through the length of the lobster to stop it from curling up with the heat. Keep an eye on the thermometer it needs to stay around 240. I tried apple and hickory but preferred the hickory, as with the short smoking time the apple wood was just a little too subtle.



(picture above is the strained shells from the lobster stock ) 










Recipe | Hickory Smoked Baby Back Pork Ribs


Smoke gets in your eyes…

You might want to get your credit cards out now as you are all going to want one. Or better still start rummaging round the tool shed so you can build your own even though;

Parents will advise you against it.

It’s seriously addictive.

It goes really well with a few beers (Ipswich Ale the choice here in Boston)

When over indulgence occurs you don’t feel great the next day – even if it seemed a good idea at the time

I am of course wittering on about that fun process of striking a match and lighting up…. to produce some woody smoke to flavour and slowly cook hunks of food.


My first attempt at smoking pork ribs  over here was, ok. They were a little too lean to start and I don’t think I had quite become master (mistress) of the coals and wood chips so misjudged the heat and timing. Even though the results were not perfect it was an enjoyable experience. The second attempt however was the stuff food fetish dreams are made of and I can honestly say I am truly hooked. Feel free to drool over my second attempt at ribs pictured below…


With a great gathering due to happen at the house I thought it was a perfect opportunity to do some more smoking and with my obsessive nature I decided to smoke as much as I could. Chicken, beef ribs, more pork ribs, sadly we didn’t catch any lobsters that day but they are SO next for this treatment. Smoking food to cook it is a long process and although most websites recommend breaking open a 6 pack whilst you wait I thought I would have a forage round the garden for some flowers for the house – far more lady like.


I am going to have a go at making my own smoker (regardless of the fact I don’t really have anywhere to put it – yet)! The contraption I am playing with in Boston is a hot smoker which cooks and flavours the food, but back in the day when I was cooking at Mudchute London City Farm in the Docklands we built a cold smoker. These are used to flavour rather than cook food. The other chefs and I went overboard and experimented with everything. Some worked, some didn’t. Here are some of my notes form the time:

 Butter… delicious




The point is however, as I keep telling client’s children, ‘you don’t know until you try’ (although strawberries probably was a stupid idea).



For this postcard recipe I will give you my spice rub, bbq sauce recipe and some tips on smoking meat.

Next adventure will hopefully be night fishing for striped bass ….



Spice Rub and BBQ sauce with tips on how to Smoke meat

Depending on what type, cut and size of meat you choose to smoke it can take up to 10 hours so plan ahead.

You will need;


Rub mix (recipe below)

BBQ sauce (recipe below)

A hot smoker

Charcoal for heat

Wood chips for smoke

A lot of patience

For any first timers;

A domestic hot smoker will be a container that can hold heat/ smoke and food. It will generally have;

A fire pit at the bottom that you use to heat the smoker and to throw the wood chips on to create lots of lovely smoke

A dish for water to help keep everything moist

1 or more racks to put the meat / food on

Vents to control the temperature

A thermometer


The Heat

We used charcoal for the heat.

I found the best temperature was keeping the smoker at 220 F/105 °C for the duration of smoking.

Adjust the vents as necessary to maintain the temperature – closing the vents to suffocate the fire to drop the temperature and vice versa to heat things up.

Check the temperature about every half hour and add more charcoal as necessary.

Wood chips

These get thrown on top of the coals to produce the tasty smoke, depending on their size and how quickly they burn throw on every ½ -1 hour at about a handful at a time.

We experimented with hickory, apple and cherry – all delicious and sadly my smoke palate is not trained enough yet to ‘name that wood chip’ but I am working on it. If foraging for your own wood chips use a hard wood like oak, beech or a fruit wood like cherry/apple. Do not use any conifers like pine/spruce/fir.

Also you obviously don’t want to be putting on any wood that has been chemically treated.

I soaked my wood for 30 minutes each time before throwing it onto the fire but there is a big school of thought that this is a pointless activity.

Smoking the Meat


Pork ribs

These have a very thin membrane that needs to be pulled off (found on the bone side) otherwise the smoke does not penetrate as well and it’s not great to eat. Slip a small sharp knife into the membrane at one end to help start with the peel.

At least 1 hour before smoking sprinkle then massage the rub onto the ribs, about 1 tbs each side of the ribs should be perfect.

Spice Rub

This is enough for 4 big racks of pork ribs

3 tbs fine sea salt

2 tbs dark brown sugar

2 tbs sweet smoked paprika

1 tsp mustard powder

1 tsp chili flakes

Mix everything in bowl and keep it in a jar for as and when it is needed.

BBQ sauce

This will make enough for 3 racks of ribs

100g streaky smoked bacon cut into small pieces

1 small white onion finely diced

2 peeled and finely chopped cloves of garlic

2 tbs olive oil

250ml ketchup

150 ml white wine or cider vinegar

200g soft brown sugar

50ml Worcestershire sauce

50ml whisky/ bourbon

3 tbs dark molasses

1 tsp salt

2 tsp smoked sweet paprika

1 tsp mustard powder

Fry the bacon, onion and garlic in a saucepan with the oil till sweet and translucent ( about 10 mins)

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 mins.

Cool then cover till ready to use

This will keep for 1 month in the fridge.


When you are ready to cook/smoke the ribs;

Heat the smoker to 220F (105 C) and place the ribs (pre rubbed with the spice mix) on the grill

Check the grill every ½ hour to see if the temperature is around 220F (105C)

There is no need to turn or move them.

Practice makes it easier to tell when the meat is done but you should be able to bend the meat and the smoky surface should crack.

Or you should just about be able to wiggle the bones.

It is NOT like cooking pork belly where you can easily remove the bones when it is done

It should take between 3 – 4 hours if cooking at 220F but it will vary.

When it is cooked brush it with bbq marinade and cook it for another 15 – 25 minutes.

Serve with piles of napkins.


Beef Ribs

These don’t need any membrane removed as it helps keep its shape. I just sprinkled mine with some fine sea salt as didn’t want everything to taste the same.

Heat the smoker to 220 F/105°Cand lay the ribs on bone side down

Leave for 5 – 6 hours until cooked

You can pick a bit of the meat to see if it is cooked

Or if using a thermometer the middle of the meat should be about 190 F (88° C).

Whole Chicken

To keep the chicken succulent you need to soak it in brine.


Mix 5 liters of cold water with 250g light brown sugar and 250g fine sea salt.

Immerse the whole chicken for at least 3 hours and up to 10 (keep somewhere cool in the fridge).

When ready to smoke remove from the chicken from the brine, give it a quick wash and pat dry with some kitchen paper.

I rubbed mine with 1 tbs sweet paprika all over which helps to add a textbook smoked colour to the finished bird.

Stuff with a chopped apple or pear and some sprigs of herbs like parsley,sage and / or rosemary.

Heat the smoker to 220F/105 °CPut the chicken on and cook for between 2 – 3 hours or until cooked through. The meat will look pinker than a regular roast chicken but the juices should run clear when tested in between the leg and body.

Smoked chicken, beef ribs and baby back ribs washed down with a few Ipswich pale ales, now thats the end to a perfect day…



Recipe|Lobster Bisque


The Lobster

Swapping the tempestuous Arthur for a leisurely ride on Charles made for a pleasant change of pace. The fireworks didn’t come ‘till later that night but were utterly delightful when they did.


Back at base we decided to have a big party in which 30 lobsters got thrown into pots. Their beautiful cooked shades of red and pink never fail to delight me. Having feasted on platefuls of lobster with drawn butter ( melted) and then the next day on a lobster tagliatelle with cream and dill, then the next day on lobster rolls using sweet brioche buns and crunchy celery eventually we were just left with the shells. Not wanting to waste an ounce of their deliciousness we made lobster stock by the bucket loads. As you can imagine 30 lobster shells practically produces enough stock to fill a swimming pool. The eau d’ lobster that consumed the kitchen for that day while the simmering, reducing and cooling went on will not be a fragrance that will catch on but it was a reminder how much flavour there is to be used and that the shells should never just be chucked.


Hard to beat the excitement of having over 40 lb of lobster to eat I have to mention that we even caught some of them ourselves. It has taken me 30 years to get my sea legs and even now they can be a little shaky at times however nothing was going to stop me from going out on the water to pull up dinner from the traps. The season around here is just beginning and a lot of the lobsters have just moulted so their shells are fairly soft. However their claws are still in fine fettle.



Lobsters generally have to be over 7 years old before they are big enough to legally eat, every single one has to be carefully measured (or they may get you with their claws)! It is also illegal in these waters for a non-commercial lobster fisherman to take out a female with eggs or if she is particularly large. You can sex the lobster by looking at its swimmerets on the underside of the tale. The females are generally wider apart to leave room for the eggs and the last set closest to the head are soft rather than the males which are stereotypically hard.


On our first day checking our traps the excitement was high. Even though every single one we pulled out of the water was empty, it was still a thrill to heave it into the boat. We did catch a piece of seaweed though. The next day our bounty was much more impressive, 2 pieces of seaweed, 3 small crabs, 2 small mackerel which I made into civiche and…… 3 lobsters !!!



Locals assured me the best way to eat lobster was simply boiled or steamed and served with drawn butter to dip the fleshy chunks into and a few bottles of Ipswich Ale to drink. We followed their advice to the letter and it was a taste sensation along with the roast baby beetroot and goats cheese salad, some home made ‘slaw and of course a potato salad. To finish an American flag pavlova!



Having devoured practically all the flesh we were left with a mound of shells which got thrown into the stockpot.


For this weeks postcard I give you the recipe for a lobster bisque which we made from the stock.


Lobster Bisque

Serves 6 as a starter


3 lobster shells

a few stalks of parsley

1 tbs black peppercorns

2 large tomatoes

1 white onion peeled and finely chopped

1 clove of garlic

1 glass of dry white wine

1 pinch of saffron

200 ml single cream


To serve

6 tsp finely chopped cooked lobster meat

2 tsp finely chopped parsley or chives

Melba toasts



Put all the lobster shells in a big pot and fill with coldwater so it covers the shells add the parsley stalks , peppercorns and 1 of the tomatoes chopped in half.

Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for 20 – 30 mins.

If you cook it for too long the stock can become bitter.

After it has simmered for 20 -30 mins strain into another pot, discarding the shells, then put the liquid into another pot and put back on the heat to reduce by about half – you need 1 litre to make the soup.

While this liquid is reducing, briefly add the other whole tomato for about 10 seconds then remove and peel off and discard the skin and roughly chop up the flesh.

In another pan sauté the onion and garlic till sweet and soft (about 10 mins) then add the stock and the peeled tomato and saffron. Bring to the boil then take off the heat.

Blitz until really smooth, add the cream and check for seasoning.

To serve add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped lobster meat into the bottom of the bowl and pour on the hot soup, this should warm up the lobster meat enough.

Sprinkle with the finely chopped parsley and serve with some melba toasts.


Note: I find this soup quite rich so I just like a small bowl










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