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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fish set up on Friday.

These photos were taken when the display was mostly done (a few tickets missing) and it wasn't being ravaged by eager customers.

The process is filling the display space with fresh ice and packing it down so it doesn't melt and the smoked region is covered in finoplas (like cling film) to prevent cross contamination. The trays for raw and cooked have to be kept separate buried to their rims in ice and various rules have to be followed in the displaying of the raw fish and prevention of ice burn on the salmon, tuna and swordfish. The whole fish have to have a light covering of ice and the live mussels and oysters are ice cooled from within the pots. All the fish and shellfish products are date checked daily to assure ultimate freshness and quality. Each product arrives with a caught date and a sell by date on the box or plastic tub. We make a strict daily record of  the dates and fish in a product book. It is a good reference point not only for the fishmongers but sometimes to assure customers who are always asking if the fish is fresh. There are many other checks and health and safety rules to follow throughout the working day.

As the serving day comes to a close we make sure all the reductions are done and that the fish counter is stripped of the days ice and scrubbed down and the remaining fish stored away in the fish fridge.

Phil Lowe

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Latest news from a busy writer

Apologies for the small lapse in foodie offerings on this blog in the last week or so. I have been very busy doing overtime at work and trying to keep up with my theatre promotions and reviews on East Midlands It is a lot of unpaid hard work but definitely worth it.

Also for those of you who like the funny side of things that I write I have been re-vamping my comedy blog (new magazine style template and lots of new amusing content). I've been creating and developing more and more comedy ideas and getting very inspired by that. Do have a look and a laugh and feel free to comment. I have also created a Twitter page for the comedy blog so for those on Twitter please check me out at @60pluscomedy and follow me if you are so inclined.

I will be back with more food related blog posts very soon. I have lots of ideas but not always the time to implement them! Off to work now!

Phil Lowe

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Great saving on the Hairy Bikers Chicken and Egg book! Available from 8th September!


'Full to the brim with new ideas, family favourites and modern classics, this is the ultimate collection of fantastic chicken and egg recipes ...Si King and Dave Myers love chicken. They also love eggs. In this, their biggest and best cookbook yet, the Hairy Bikers celebrate these most humble yet versatile of ingredients. What comes first? It's up to you. There are chicken soups and salads, eggy specials, an ultimate roasts section, smoky grills and hearty pies, everyday pasta and rice suppers, sensational spiced dishes and lots of ideas for making a little chicken go a long way. And to finish, there are irresistible puddings and cakes to peck at! Travelling the world (UK, France, Morocco, Israel and USA) to discover the very best chicken and egg recipes, Si and Dave have done it again. Chicken and Egg is a magnificent celebration of good food.'

I have had an excited look at the book today and would like to share how top quality the book is and the contents. Si and Dave say it is a  'sensational savoury celebration of our favourite bird with show-stopping puds, desserts and cakes made with the humble egg.' They are not wrong.

Contents (364 pages of lovely grub)

Soup and salads
Savoury Eggs
Roasts and Bakes
Pies and Puddings
Casseroles and Braises
Fried, Grilled and Barbequed
Chicken with Carbs
Spicy Chicken
Minced and Chopped Chicken
Sweet Eggs
Basics of Eggs and Chicken

Available NOW from 8th September 2016.                                                              

Here it is! Available to order at a great price of £14.30 (RRP £22.00) my fave cookery personalities Dave and Si aka the Hairy Bikers latest book Chicken and Egg! For those that enjoyed the first cracking episode of the latest 'Biker's' culinary adventure last night - 8pm BBC2 Tuesday 6th August there are loads of chicken and egg based world-wide recipes to enjoy experimenting with including a totally delicious looking chicken liver salad! Finger licking good!

I can't wait until next week's programme when the guys are in my beloved France! Cock a doodle ooh la la!

Cluck on the Amazon 'shop now' link or the book image below above to get your discounted copy.

Phil Lowe

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The French eat burgers? Mais d'accord!! But of course! Just like us.

Written to help celebrate National Burger Day 25th August 2016.

The French obsession with Le Burger. By Phil Lowe.

On August 1st 2016 the American burger franchise Five Guys opened its flagship French burger restaurant at 42 Court St. Emilion (Bercy Village) in the 12th Arrondisement of Paris. By 2017 they are planning to open their second Parisian branch at the Gare du Nord. Compared to its competition Five Guys are high end offering menus from fifteen to twenty euros. Oh la la! Customers can even make their burgers bespoke. According to their promotions Five Guys offers simplicity with pretty décor, and the burger meat is fresh top quality product and definitely not from frozen. USA President Barack Obama once claimed that Five Guys make the best burgers in the USA. Could we soon be hearing they are the best in France?

Hang on une second. Surely the nation that prizes quality food doesn't scoff the same amount of burgers as in the USA or UK do they? Well, apparently they are rather partial to le burger these days. In fact in 2015 the French wolfed down around 1.19 billion burgers and burgers have become a feature of even the most renowned eateries. To think that once upon a culinary time the humble hamburger would have been considered malbouffe which means rubbish food.

Of this blog subject – the love of burgers in France - I read a recent article in The Telegraph online today which said 'For the guardians of French gastronomy, the prospect of being served something as unsophisticated as a slab of mincemeat with a bap and slice of cheese would long have been considered sacrilegious.' These days however, the report claims that the tables have turned. The Telegraph continues (sic) 'In a culinary revolution, three quarters of French restaurants now sell hamburgers and 80% of these say it has become their top-selling dish, according to a new study...' Further on the Telegraph report also claims that the average time spent on eating a lunchtime meal in France has dropped from an hour and 20 minutes in 1975 to less than half an hour today.

Burger fact: The French website for Burger King states that in 2014 they created a special burger for a Gay Pride day. The name? Le Proud Whopper!

Before looking into all this for a blogpost on National Burger Day (25th August) I had never heard of Five Guys nor the fast food chain Quick. Quick was originally a Belgian chain of hamburger fast food restaurants and founded in 1971 by entrepreneur Baron François Vaxelaire. They have over 400 restaurants all over Europe. They are similar in theme to Burger King and looking at their online ( French language menus for burgers there appears to be a lot of English styling to the names of the dishes. Here are some examples Méga Giant, Long Fish burger, Cheeseburger, Suprême Chicken Barbecue Bacon, Giant, Quick 'n Toast, Burger sauce à la vache qui rit, Giant Max, Long Bacon, Suprême ClassiQ. Yes that is the spelling on the website – ClassiQ. Académie Française alert!!!! They missed out a u and a e!

The buns (pictured above) for the Quick Dark Vador burgers are dyed not burnt to a blackened crisp and the Star Wars promo launch was apparently very popular. Saying that, it would feel very odd to me to eating bread this colour. A bit like contemplating eating blue food.

So, we have our Quick hamburger therefore what can we have as accompagnements then? Aaah, food with silly names like Funny Carotte & Kiri, Funny Tomate. If we want to go all adulte then we can order La Petite Salade or Frites Plus ou moins salés: à vous de décider" (you put your own salt on if you decide to) or Frites Rustiques. Should you feel very hungry indeed and want a full salad with your burger meal then they offer three salads La Gourmande, La Savoureuse or something totally irresistible such as the aptly named, L'irresistible.

Over to another burger business in France – Big Fernand – who call themselves a French burger bistro. On their menus they also say “Being French we want you to be able to enjoy your meat however you want it, be it blue, rare, medium-rare, medium or well done. And we'll even try not to judge you if you opt for well done. They go on to warn that the Food Standards Agency warn that 'undercooked' meat may increase the risk of food-borne illness in some.

I had a lick of their menu look at their menu. The burger meals did sound a lot more appetising than the Quick menu. Just a personal choice. And so at Big Fernand the selection of burgers are:

Le Big Fernand (dry aged beef) with Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun dried tomatoes, flat parsley and a home made cocktail sauce.

Le Bartholomé (dry aged beef) with Raclette cheese, smoked streaky bacon, caramelised onions, chives, barbecue sauce.

Le Philibert (seasoned chicken burger) Tomme de Savoie cheese, grilled peppers, tarragon, home made mayo.

Le Victor (veal) Fourme d'Ambert blue cheese, caramelised onions, coriander, home made mayo.

L'Alphonse (lamb) Tomme de Savoie cheese, grilled aubergine, coriander, home made mayo.

Le Lucien (veggie) Portabello mushroom, Tomme de Savoie cheese, sun dried tomatoes, caramelised onions, chives and home made mayo.

The sides are fries or a salad of lamb's lettuce, sun dried tomatoes and chives. On top of all this you can also compose your own burger from all their ingredients!

Finally, if you happen to understand French you can follow two hip French guys called Dirty et Richie and their videos on Youtube. They appear to be going to lots of French hamburger joints in Paris and filming themselves eating burgers and commenting on the experience. They call the videos La recherche du meilleur hamburger de Paris. Each place they visit is named and hash tagged with a number comme ça #13.

Whatever you happen to be doing on National Burger Day (25th August) enjoy Les Burgers! Even if they are English. Lol.

Phil Lowe

Twitter: @PhilLowe7


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Making Parmesan and Olive Biscuits from a recipe in Simplissime and practically burning them.

I think I may have just slightly over cooked them but I gave biscuit making a go yesterday. Most of the ingredients I had in the house anyway -excepting the butter. Using 20 de-stoned black olives (chopped), 100g of soft butter, 150g of grated parmesan and 100g of plain flour I mixed them all up in a glass bowl, rolled the mix into little sausage shapes and left them to set in the fridge for an hour. I found the whole mixing thing worked best if I melted the butter.

And, oh yes, I had to buy a roll of baking paper too. After they had cooled and set I squished the shapes into something resembling a rustic biscuit. Then I popped them into the pre-heated oven for 15 minutes as directed by Simplissime. The oven was set on 180 degrees (gas mark six) as also recommended. After fifteen minutes I had a look and they didn't look that done so I added another ten minutes until they were a crispy brown. This was my downfall I think and, although they were nice, (and I did rather pig out on them) they did repeat on me a lot that evening. Next time I will try the recipe for the correct cooking time.

Meanwhile Mr Harris the cat showed me his three clothes peg balancing act. I was very impressed and told him so. He smiled and knocked them over in a de-constructivist cat magician manner.

If you want to order a copy of the fabulous Simplissime book do use the Amazon link at the top of the page. The tag line about it being 'The Easiest French Cookbook In The World' by
François Mallet is spot on. I love it. The shop retail price is £20 but you can find some cheaper options through my Amazon link. That's where I got mine from. I cooked another creamy potato based dish from the book the other day. Do check it out ICI.

Phil Lowe

See too my comedy blog and if you like it do follow and share my content. Ta.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

"You mentioned a 'hand of pork' what is this? I didn't know pigs have hands."

Ah yes from the title enquiry I appreciate butchery terms do have some odd names outside of the business. A hand of pork is from the slightly leaner area just below the fatty shoulder where the hock (chunky bit before the actual trotter) is. A lot of English butchers sell it at around £3-5 a kilo so it is a really good buy. Although pork is generally one of the cheaper types of meat to buy I would still contest that this particular cut is an utter winner in the taste stakes. The minor downside is that you may possibly be required to purchase the whole joint but is only going to cost you around £9 max minus the hock. Much cheaper than the leg joint and in my opinion much tastier and less dry at the final part of the cooking. Stew up some cooking apples and add a small amount of cinnamon or nutmeg to taste. Brown sugar also helps accentuate the sweetness of the apples too.

Any road up, buying the pork on the bone is generally cheaper and with a bit of skill and a sharp knife it isn't that difficult to take the bone out. Even if you make a real bad job of it (without cutting yourself) you will be proud of your inner butcher. Stringing it up requires slightly more patience.

A hand of pork fresh from the local butcher.

Hand of pork boned and rolled and accompanied by voyeur cooking apples.

Some whole spices added. Half a dozen cloves, star anise and a piece of Cinnamon bark.

After three hours in the oven gas mark 7. 210 degrees C. Smells fab.

Roast hand of pork. Gratin Dauphinois and home made Bramley apples sauce.

If you love French recipes the best book on the market is definitely this one. It is the best selling French cookbook in the word and now in English. This is where I got my inspiration for my accompanying Gratin Dauphinois.

Simplissime. The Easiest French Cookbook in The World? I think it is! I love it!

As an aside, thank you to all my lovely readers who have been using the Amazon banner link at the top of this blog. Your purchases big or small are appreciated by me and the little bits of commission I receive help to fund my cooking so that I can share some nice European cooking ideas with you.

Now to Simplissime by Jean- François Mallet. I had heard about this book and the appeal for me was in its very simplicity. I love cooking as you know, but often expensive ingredients or complex recipes put me off. This is now the best selling cook book in France and it is so easy and simply laid out it encourages you to give things a go. And it is now in English! It has over 180 French recipes and I tried one out just a few days ago. It was the Gratin Dauphinois, a creamy cheesy potato bake. It was totally delicious. Next stop page eight Parmesan and olive biscuits! All I need is some butter and I already have everything I need!

To order Simplissime (English translation) click the shop now link above.
Normal retail price £20                       

I cooked the Gratin Dauphinois as an accompaniment to a rather over large boned and rolled pork hand that I purchased from my local butcher. More about this in another blogpost.

Nice easy to understand layout.

The cooked hand of pork.

Cooked Gratin Dauphinois

Roast hand of pork, gratin dauphinois and home made apple sauce

This was one of the most delicious meals I have made in a long time and well worth having the oven on on a hot day for three hours for the pork! The gratin took only an hour to cook. Easy. As Jean- François Mallet author of Simplissime says in his introduction; " Combining simple flavours and ingredients makes it perfectly possible to cook nice little dishes or even large meals without spending hours doing so. Have a great time in the kitchen enjoying the results."