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Friday, 11 August 2017

Gone totally cooking mad over my stay at home holidays. Totally!

As well as supporting my local butcher through the occasional purchase and blog posts, I have been enjoying being at home cooking on my staycation in my village of Ruddington - with red wine always to hand. Or if not actually to hand, then, certainly very close by.

Amongst the things I have cooked are a whole chicken deboned, trussed up into joints and marinated in lemon juice and rosemary.

To do this I quartered the whole chicken then deboned the breast and leg sections. Taking the skin off the leg portions I then spread the leg flesh inside the butterflied breast pieces (leg skin removed) and tied them up with butcher's string.

The wings I cut into two on the bone pieces for a nibble type treat when cooked. I used two whole fresh lemons and a small amount of rosemary from the garden and marinated the chicken overnight.

The next day I roasted the chicken pieces in the oven for about one hour and a half. As you can see from the photo I also used the lemon rind to add texture and additional citrus flavour. I ate the chicken over the next couple of days in various salads.

I have enjoyed some Merguez sausages from the Ruddington butchers and added them to some sweet crispy salad and half a packet of Cucina Italiana Spinach & Ricotta Tortelloni (cooks in three minutes) from Sainsbury's.

The slightly blurred picture above shows the same dish with less salad (I had run out! ๐Ÿ˜€ ) and fresh on-the-vine tomatoes from my local greengrocer on the Ruddington High Street. Always like to shop local where I can, otherwise the village can become an desert of boring corporate shops with no individual style and products.

It is rare that I eat deserts or puddings but, I do like a nice crumble and I took advantage of some luscious apricots (I'm a devil aren't I!) on sale at my greengrocers and made them into a yummy crumble. I de-stoned the diddy sweet tasting apricots and chucked them gently into a bowl with a small amount of cinnamon powder and two table spoons of brown sugar. I love brown sugar - it reminds me so much of my childhood. The apricots got stewed for less than fifteen minutes until they were mi cuit.

I added some sultanas from my store cupboard and then I banged on, and very thinly spread, a bag of shop bought crumble mix. I know I know! There was just enough! Phew!

This went into the oven at gas mark six for three quarters of an hour and came out bubbling hot and flavoursome!  I let it cool before I subjected my delicate mouth to its potentially volcanic blistering heat! 

At other points during this week I went for a mindless wander around two Chinese supermarkets in Nottingham where I had no idea what was in most of the linguistically obscure packets on the shelves. I was seeking out whole spices but struggled to find what I really wanted. ๐Ÿ™

Further down the road in the bottom part of Sneinton, in Nottingham, I enjoyed a good browse around the Murat store that caters for many ethnicities food-wise. Check out their website here but try not to laugh too much at their appalling promotional video!

Their promo video
looks like it had been made by a drastically bored kid at school who had been promised a few flatbreads in payment for their 'Video artistry'. Out of focus is the main theme with 'random' as the bed upon which it so awkwardly lays.

However, the reality of its true 'inside'  is so much better than what this dreadful video purports to show. The hahal meats section looks fresh and inviting as does the fresh fruits and veg section.

There was so much foreign foodstuffs here I could have been in another world. If you like bottled gherkins and other pickled delights then stray no further! If you also like a huge selection of dried pasta, multiple herbs (dried) and enough Greek products to keep the whole of Athens happy for a year then shop at Murats!

The grumpy personality lacking staff may not win 'cheery personality of the year' awards (some very serious and uninterested ladies on the checkout) ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜’ but the produce is top class and great value.

I got some deliciously fragrant and tasty peaches (another childhood reminder of summer long days and sticky lips attracting wasps) and a bunch of crunchy peppery radishes and some roasted and salted pumpkin seeds which, it turns out, I didn't really like, but I added a few to a Dutch cheese salad with French Saucisson Sec.

The 'Expressa' pumpkin seeds have a claggy feel that overrides the initial salty - roasted appeal. I have thrown them away which feels a waste of £2.99 for 200g really. Lesson learnt.

Rather oddly today, I enjoyed a peculiar breakfast of a rhubarb crumble made by my neighbour (yummy and fragrant with a crunchy crumble texture), unctuous sliced up fresh peaches and sharp peppery radishes to eat them before they got too soft. All that fibre certainly has an effect! Too much info? 

Neighbourly cats Harris and Soufie have constantly been around to help my cooking endeavours. Thanks cats. By the way that is MY tuna! Cats! Oh never mind!

Ruddington Village Butcher introduces some new cheeses and cooked items to his business.

My local Ruddington butcher, Shane White, is justifiably proud of his latest offerings from the world of cheese. He says “Our around the world in eight sausages was such a success last week we are continuing the promotion this weekend. Also available this week are my stunning new selection of cheeses. These include:

  • Cornish yarg: A mild creamy cheese in an edible rind of nettles.
  • Charnwood smoked: Smoked cheddar cheese with paprika.
  • Innkeeper's choice: Mature cheddar with pickled onions and chives.
  • Lincolnshire poacher: No introduction needed for this delicious tangy cheese.

  • Y-Fenni: Tasty Welsh cheddar cheese with wholegrain mustard and ale.
  • Bouncing Berry: Not a pop star ๐Ÿ˜„ but a very nice Snowdonia mature cheese with cranberries.
  • Green thunder: A superb Snowdonia mature cheese with garlic and herbs.

  • Red devil: Another excellent Snowdonia cheese.

  • Red Leicester with chilli and crushed pepper. Very feisty.

Also Shane has introduced some cooked items to tempt his customers with traditional English pies and meats and some delicious chorizo slices.

His 'ready to eat' items include:  Scotch eggs, Salami, Chorizo, Finest Cheshire Oak Ham, Cheese and onion quiches, Cheese and tomato quiches, Spanish style quiche and sliced ox tongue.

I popped back in early this afternoon and Shane told me the new items were selling well and he'd had a very busy day in his butcher's shop generally.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A World of Sausages from Ruddington Butchers in Nottinghamshire.

Passing by my local butcher's shop in Ruddington yesterday I noticed the this A board advertising a range of sausages inspired by recipes from around the world.

Shane White, our friendly Ruddington butcher told me that they are all available from Thursday 3rd August. He calls the selection 'Around the world in 8 sausages.'

  • Lamb merguez: A spicy mix with cayenne pepper , garlic and harissa paste.
  • Ginger and spring onion : A taste of the orient.
  • Maple syrup: Sweet recipe from Canada.
  • Loukanika: Tasty Greek recipe with orange, leeks, thyme and garlic
  • Guinness and leek: An Irish favourite.
  • Hot Italian:Red pepper flakes, fennel, star anise and paprika make for a tasty hot sausage.
  • Spanish style: Tomatoes, red wine, peppers and garlic are just some of the ingredients in one of our most popular recipes.
  • Brazilian Linguica: A tasty recipe with parsley, red wine, smoked bacon and black pepper.

I happily purchased four links of the Loukanika sausages and cooked them with a few young leeks. They were very tasty indeed.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Exploring Porto in Portugal with German friends Lena and Sascha.

Well, how can I put this? I am not actually in Portugal right now, but through the joys of the internet I have been doing some armchair travelling with my two friends from Karlsruhe as they take a short break in Porto in Portugal. Like myself, Sascha likes to take photos and we have a similar taste in the things we photograph.

Lena tells me that, as well as enjoying a few beers and exploring the city and harbour by foot they have been to Sandeman's Port distillery and really liked the delicately flavoured Port.

Yesterday Lena ate Bolinas de Bacalau (salt cod) which she described as 'fried cod fish mixed with smashed potatoes'. I laughed at that and think now that every time I have mashed potatoes I am gonna call them 'smashed'. The Bacalau is the national favourite in Portugal. Lena enjoyed some delicious grilled sea bream with potatoes. Sticking to the fish they also had some sea bass filet again with potatoes and kale.

According to Lena, Sascha doesn't like fish so he had a pork tenderloin steak with salad, chips and mushrooms.

Happy Lena and Sascha in Porto.

They have explored down by the Riberia Rio Douro (Douro River) and Vila Nova de Gaia staying at the Hotel Carris Porto Ribeira. Previously they have enjoyed a holiday in Lisbon but this time wanted to try somewhere new. Looks like they are having a great time.

Photos by Sascha.

Updates! More food pictures sent to me this evening. This is Sascha's steak with a port wine sauce and Lena's grilled octopus.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Setting fire to the chicken on a bbq!

It was a lovely sunny day yesterday so I decided to get the BBQ out and cook some sardines that I had defrosted and de-scaled and gutted yesterday. I knew to place them on silver foil when on the BBQ otherwise the fish skin will burn and you get bits of fish stuck to the grill bars.

Once I had got the coals lit through piling up dried lavender cuttings and equally dried bits of pine tree gathered from the woods last year I got BBQ crazy and went and bought some chicken from my local butcher in the village. It didn't matter that there was only me. I wanted to cook meat and it was my fire! Out came the inner caveman or at least a Boy Scout memory or two. Ug me man! Ug my fire burning! The sardines would have to wait until last and I spatchcocked the chicken by taking out the back bone with some kitchen scissors.

Here are some pictures of the BBQ preparation. Previous to the flames there was lots of billowing grey smoke and a lot of fanning from me to get the flames going and the wood burnt down and the coals nice and hot.

Look at those embers! Just ready to cook some chicken. On with the grill rack and let's go get the chicken. I place the chicken on the bars and almost immediately the flames started and eventually, fearing my chicken to get incinerated, I remove the meat and added some silver foil before placing the chicken back on the BBQ.

The leg and thigh joints I'd bought separate from the whole chicken did get a bit burnt but were edible. The whole chicken was charred underneath on the bony bit but otherwise cooked well. I put the lid on the BBQ and left it to its own devices whilst I had a few beers.

The sardines proved a bit less food magazine perfect after cooking than I'd hoped for. Basically they fell to bits and I ended up picking the fish flesh off the bones and putting it into a bowl. Still undecided what to do with it. A few fishcakes maybe?


Monday, 3 July 2017

Cooking trout and singing a bit of Sondheim for fun.

Sometimes I do crave a bit of fish even I work with them all day long. The other day I cooked myself a nice whole trout in the oven and had it with some new potatoes. Really simple and enjoyable. I stuffed some sliced fresh lemon into the cleaned gut cavity and it gave the fish a delicate citrus note. The rosemary came from a big bush in my garden. I cooked it in olive oil. The trout was in the oven on gas mark 6 for around forty-five minutes. The mushrooms were pan fried in butter for a few minutes prior to me plating the meal up.

Soufie the neighbour's cat was most interested in the fish bones but I didn't let her touch them. I didn't want her choking.

On the same day as I cooked the fish I filmed myself having a go at singing 'Being Alive' from Stephen Sondheim's show Company. I did this because I like the show and when I was in Leiden recently my friend Emma and I were trying to remember the lyrics as we wandered back home through the virtually empty Dutch streets.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Eating mussels in Leiden Holland.

On my last night in Leiden (a Friday) Emma and I went to Oliviers so that we could enjoy some mussels. Emma's partner Ronald joined us later on. The branch of Oliviers in Leiden is an atmospheric place and I was looking forward to some delicious mussels especially after seeing a steaming pot of them passing our table on the way to some lucky diner. I guess they looked a bit like these in their picture below. Moules and frites cost twenty euros. My two white biers five euros a piece.

Emma and I chatted about how much I had enjoyed my time with them, Ronald arrived but wasn't hungry and Emma and I ordered some much anticipated mussels. Of course they take some to prepare and we continued to chat away.

This is me (of course) enjoying my Olivier mussels. Unfortunately this picture also shows me at the very beginning of eating the pot of mussels. Yes, you are right. If you look in the can it is only half full and Emma's was the same. They were delicious and big and plump but ONLY half a pot full. On the plus side the frites were hot and tasty. Not wanting to spoil the evening we ate them without complaint. Emma speaks fluent Dutch so I guess we did order the right size from the menu - and paid the right price!

The other day I made some at home from mussels purchased at Tesco for £3.05 with a bottle of white wine £5.00 and garlic and parsley another couple of pounds. Guess what? I got a full pot full and with a can of chopped tomatoes and some fried M&S piri piri king prawns it made a fab mussels meal with a small baguette to mop up the juices.

Moules faรงon Philippe,