Bacon Butty

I love bacon butties. So much so that I have one nearly every weekend.

So when the people at Denhay Farms said could they send me some of their bacon to try, I was hardly going to argue.

In fact they sent me everything I needed to make a bacon butty bar the bread. Fortunately I’d just baked a loaf.



I know there will be howls of protest from some of you that its on brown bread. Tough. I like it on brown, or white.

And the bacon, very tasty though sliced a little on the thin side for me, so I just shoved an extra rasher in ;o



Talking turkey

It’s pretty much the hottest day of the year and I’m about to eat a full Christmas dinner in deepest Berkshire. Just what is going on. Especially as I’m not turkey’s number one fan. It’s okay but to date its not had a guaranteed place on my christmas table….

When I was a kid we always had roast turkey for Christmas dinner and it was good, but it never seemed as nice as the excitement it generated amongst everyone else. For me it was never quite a tasty and juicy as roast chicken. Maybe the plethora of trimmings overshadowed it …. what with tons of chipolatas wrapped in bacon, my mum’s top notch roast potatoes and my gran’s secret chestnut stuffing I’m not sure the turkey had much of a part to play. At least not for me.

So once I got to be in charge of cooking christmas dinner I varied what was on offer. If we were having turkey cooked for us elsewhere close to Christmas. I’d cook something else. If we were hosting the main event I’d stick with turkey (and still secretly wish it could be chicken we were having), if there was just the two of us well then I had free rein beef, duck, goose,chicken, pork, ham all possibly except lamb eaten over the years.

So is this turkey different? Well for a start I know a lot about where its from and how its been reared. On the basis that an animal that has lead a happy life is supposed to taste better then this has all the hallmarks of being winning. It’s also been cooked by Brenda Copas and is about to be carved by her husband ‘Old Tom’. What the Copas family don’t know about rearing, cooking and carving turkey probably isn’t worth knowing. They’ve been rearing turkeys since 1957 and still use traditional methods and breeds. All the turkeys are grown to maturity and the different breeds provide the size variation rather than many producers some of whose turkeys are slaughtered younger to provide smaller birds. Copas say that for traditional breeds its the way the turkeys are reared rather than the breed that creates the flavour.

We’ve visited the farm and met the turkeys (curiously inquisitive animals whose odd looks belie a docile nature). We’ve heard about what makes the turkeys special:

– grown to full maturity

– only raised during the traditional breading season and not year long

– raised outdoors in orchards, grass fields with maize banks for foraging

– access to shelter at all times and spend overnight in big roomy barns

– slaughtered with the highest possible welfare standards and low stress environment

– dry plucked by hand

– game hung for 10-14 days

– hand prepared and packed

Tom carves, plates are handed round and after a toast we tuck in. Its good, very good. Lots of flavour, moist, tender. The breast meat is excellent with a good balance of delicateness and proper flavour to satisfy everyone the legs are gamier and much more remisent of other birds. Some of each is a good contrast. Several people have seconds (this is getting rather like real Christmas) some of us are pretty full so save a little space for dessert.

So will I be switching to turkey every Christmas??

Wisely sheltering from the sun

That’s a really difficult one, now I know what excellent turkey tastes like and how to cook it…well its definitely much higher up my list but I’m a contrary thing and I’d probably still vary from year to year depending on who I’m cooking for. One things for sure I’d be seeking out a Copas turkey and if I was too slow and missed out (after all they do only rear about 50000 turkeys each year) then I’d be looking for something that was reared in a similar way from a farmer with high standards.

Copas Turkeys have a Great Taste Awards Two Gold Stars (2010) and having been a judge for the 2011 awards I know how high the standard is to achieve that .

Order your Copas turkey online or through one of the butchers who stock them. Be quick they sell out fast.

I was a guest of the Copas family and  Story PR.

Festive menu, part 2 (cheese terrine)

The first of the recipes from my festive menu is the cheese terrine we had as a starter with Peters Yard crispbreads and a selection of smoked and cured salmon from Forman’s.

The terrine is adapted from a recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas (the old version I’ve no idea if its in the recently published version). I particularly wanted to use a range of Lancashire cheeses but you could use any mix of cheeses you have and it would be a good way to use up what’s left of a cheese board. It makes a good starter or a light lunch dish (which is what I’ve been doing with the leftovers).

Cheese terrine

You need:

  • 275g of cottage cheese or other mild young soft cheese, I used Lancashire curd from Butlers but I think Brock Hall Farm soft goat cheese would also be brilliant.
  • 75ml mild good mayonnaise or greek yoghurt
  • sachet of gelatine powder or two leaves of sheet gelatine
  • 50g each of three hard cheeses, one of which should be a blue cheese, I used  Blacksticks Blue, Creamy and Tasty Lancashire combined (25g of each) and Goosnargh Goats all from Butlers Cheeses
  • tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs of your choice, I used flat leaf parsley
  • water and lemon juice to dissolve the gelatine
  • 150ml double cream
  • salt and pepper
  • a loaf or terrine tin 18 x 9 x 5 cm lightly oiled

Dissolve the gelatine as per the packet instructions. Blend the cottage/curd cheese with the mayonnaise/yoghurt until smooth. Cube the hard cheeses into 1/2 cm pieces. Whip the cream to the floppy stage.

Add the dissolved gelatine to  the soft cheese mixture and stir thoroughly. Add the hard cheeses, herbs, salt and pepper and mix. Then add the cream and stir through. Pour or spoon into the terrine mould. Cover with cling film and leave to set for 3 hours or more in the fridge. Turn out onto a plate and serve in slices or allow people to help themselves.

Enough for 8 as a starter.

Festive menu, part 1

I’m sure everyone has their festive menu’s already sorted. Their shopping list written, deliveries planned, meat ordered and so on. Down to the last detail. So my festive might have come to late. But if you are dithering then read on (and into the remaining parts as they appear) you might find some inspiration. And for those who have everything planned out with military precision well you might find some ideas for surpluses or things to make if you can’t get what you need for your menu on your final dash to the shops.

I cooked this menu last weekend when we had a pre christmas, Christmas dinner with my parents and my brother and sister in law. we’ll all be in different places with other bits of our families on Christmas Day so this was our festive get together complete with tree decorating, silly games, sherry and presents. and of course lots of food.

Here’s the menu:


Selection of smoked and cured salmon
Terrine of Lancashire cheeses (recipe to follow)


Slow roast shoulder of pork served with two stuffings (Chestnut Stuffing recipe to follow)
Roast root vegetables
Roast potatoes
Sprout and peas
Lashing of ‘jus’ from the meat


Sticky ginger pudding
Clementine sorbet (recipe to follow)
Jersey cream

And in the spirit of making things easy for the chef so everyone could spend time chatting rather than sweating over hot stoves lots of it was ‘cheaty’ so bought in but from top quality suppliers. And some of it was very easy to make in advance.

Here’s where I sourced things from:

Salmon: Forman & Sons London Cure smoked Salmon and 3 gravadlax cures

Lancashire cheeses for the terrine (recipe to follow): Butlers Cheeses

Crispbread: Peters Yard (of course!)

Pork shoulder : Anna’s Happy Trotters

Sticky Ginger Pudding: Cartmel Village Shop

So that’s it delicious food from good suppliers making the menu easier but still delicious. Watch out for the recipes coming soon.

Good Food Show Winter 2010 (very special competition)

I’ve been to local food festivals, I’ve been to food trade shows but I’ve never been to any of the big, big food shows like The Good Food Show. The idea of the NEC packed with good food is is slightly overwhelming.

But this year I’m going to be there. Not cruising the aisles checking the produce mind you. Oh no. I shall be a Pop-Up Pie Assistant to the wonderful Brays Cottage Pork Pies. If you are in any doubt about their wonderfulness then consider that they were one of only ten producers selected from over 70 to win a Bursary Award to enable them to have a stall at the show. And the list of people who rave about their pies is simply too long to mention…

I’m really excited about being Pop-Up Pie Assistant, I’m following in the trailblazing shoes of this list of luminaries of the Pop-Up Pie Assistant academy:

@Farctum and @Josordoni and @DrTimKinnaird and @deantoms and @enjoynorwich and @JonnyB and apparently even an MEP

…..each had their trade mark style I’m hoping mine will be a porkpie hat…

So of course naturally you want to come along and see me being pie assistant. You want to meet Sarah the driving force behind Brays Cottage. You want to sample the pies. Of course you do. Who wouldn’t.

And you’ve two ways to get there:

1. The usual way: pay your entrance fee pop along to the stall and buy a pie. We’ll be thrilled to see you.


2. The GSD special way: enter my competition to win one of 3 pairs of entrance tickets donated by the show organisers, pop along to the stall, flash your special Pie Voucher and YES YES YES you get Bray’s Cottage pie for FREE. And better still you get a special GSD/WKF limited edition for this competition only gift.

WOW. This is truly an exclusive competition. You CANNOT get this deal anywhere else.

So what do you need to do:

Leave a comment on this post telling me why you deserve to win and how will your life be changed by experiencing pork pie nirvana. I’ll pick 3 entries (pair of tickets to each winner) on some basis yet to be determined, probably the 3 that I like most and failing that by random number generator.

Get entering you have until midnight on Friday 19 November. I’ll pick the winners on Saturday 20th and mail the tickets out to you.

Small print:

1. Tickets are general admission only. Excluding Saturday. They are non transferable and cannot be exchanged for cash.

2. You must present your special Pie Voucher to claim your free pie. One pie per person. And I’ll have a cunning system in place to ensure only the winners get their mitts on the free pies so don’t bother making your own, photocopying or anything else ‘smart’.

3. The Pie Voucher is also used to collect your GSD/WKF exclusive gift.

4. I’m the judge and my decision on who wins is final.

5. You can’t enter if you are related to me, sorry.

6. Oh and I’m there Thursday and Friday but you’ll still be able to claim your pie etc if you choose to go a different day

E17, the food, the place, but mostly not the band

I just looked up E17 on wikipedia…..where it tells me that it can refer to:

Well I never and I just thought it was the postal district adjacent to mine famous for its dog track (now defunct), being the birth place of William Morris (pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement) and well all sorts of other unlikely people passing through like Ian Dury and Florence Nightingale’s dad!

But today I journeyed their not to find evidence of famous past residents but to sample its farmers market and shops. There’s a farmers market right in my own lovely high street that has now been going for a year and I love it, but its only once a month so that leaves a lot of weekends when something better than the supermarket should be the source of my food. Walthamstow farmers market is every week and despite it being a mere 2 miles from me and having been there since 2007 I’d not managed to go until today. That’s London for you, you’ll traipse to the other side of town for something you’ve heard is great but you’ll forget to check out what’s almost on your doorstep if the journey is in any way convoluted and believe me going a short distance in London is often harder than you might imagine. But spurred on by the possibility that Dallaways specialist cherry grower from the Kent/Sussex border was likely to be there off I headed, via a convoluted route of course.

First stop was to go and meet up with Lynne of A Greedy Piglet, who is Chingford way, then in her car we went back down to Walthamstow and explored the market…and the shops…and we found loads of great stuff…

On the farmers market itself we explored all the stalls…..and bought goodies from the Giggly Pig (trotters, faggots, sossies), Ted’s veg stall (radishes, patty pans, broad beans), one of the two bread stalls (100% rye loaf), Muck & Magic (Tamworth breed crackling, Red Poll mince beef, Norfolk Horn lamb mince), the herb plant stall (horseradish, french tarragon) and Alham Wood (cheeses and milk) and of course the cherries we had come for.

Then we headed for a stroll along the shops dipping in the fish shop (amazing selection of fish all looking super fresh, live crabs, salt fish) and the halal butcher (boiling chickens, cows feet, goat, mutton) to check out the produce for another day. And on into the various (green)grocery/minimarts. Walthamstow being the culturally diverse place that it is these were a mix of Turkish, Caribbean and Indian influenced shops. In all of them the staff were super helpful and rather amused at two somewhat past their first flush of youth English women exploring their shops wide-eyed like kids having a Charlie and Chocolate factory moment. After much ooo-ing and ahhh-ing we invested in dhal, pomegranate seeds, mixed aubergines, sweet peppers, puri shells, flat breads, daktyli bread, flat peaches, apricots…and I think that was it….

We struggled back to the car with out heavy bags sampling the warm flatbread as we went….then home and to work out how to fit it all in the fridge.

Please note that the items listed were our joint haul of food I did NOT buy all of this myself, though I may have bought somewhat more than half (cough)!

A chocolate super hero


Ka-boom. Wowzer. Bam. Pow. OMG.

Wonderful. Amazing. My taste buds and brain are in overload.

I’m at Paul A Young. I’m tasting chocolate. Beautiful chocolate. I’m riding on taste sensation after taste sensation. I thought I knew chocolate but I didn’t know all of this. It’s a whole new set of experiences. How to convey it all to you?

Its passion, its craftsmanship, its huge knowledge. It’s wanting to save the world from bad chocolate and show everyone the way of good chocolate. Its superhero time. Okay so as far as I know Paul doesn’t zoom about wearing a cape and mask, or his pants over his trousers, but like Desperate Dan has his cow pie, Paul has his sea salted caramel. Like Batman he has his underground cave and his estimable sidekick. Like, erm, well lets just get on with it shall we. But be certain, very certain, he’s going to try to save as many as he can from the evil of things masquerading as chocolate that are merely confectionary.

Paul takes us on a journey through chocolate. We start by tasting different chocolate bases and bars as a route the greater understanding of the bean, the terroir, the blending and the nuances of the taste and aroma. We go from raw cacao beans, through malty milk chocolate via milk chocolate some would shun as dark to a range of every increasing cocoa content choices (11 different samples in all). We end at 100% Valrhona Manjari pate. Mind blowing. Delicious, fruity, intense. Mind blowing. Oh I already said that. There’s lots of opinion in the room about which is the best moment and everybody finds out something new about their chocolate tastes. We are educated and excited about really good chocolate. We are slightly frightened by the prices of some bars but we know there’s probably no turning back, in a short time our palates have experienced the wonders to truly beautiful chocolate from some of the worlds finest makers (Amedei, Cluizel, Valhrona). And really we could stop there and go home happy. But we don’t. Oh no there is more to come.

Paul, and his business partner James, tell us about a new brand from America they are stocking (currently they are the only UK stockist). Tcho has a Silicon Valley high tech start up approach to top quality chocolate. It’s a blend of science, art and craftsmanship. They have analysed chocolate’s components and characteristic flavours and built bars to accentuate some of these. Their commitment to sourcing fairly purchased beans is admirable. Paul and James are animated and enthusiastic about the products. We sample each of the “Chocolatey”, “Fruity”, “Nutty” and “Citrus” bars and admire their rather lovely packaging. I’m somewhat underwhelmed. The chocolate is good but it doesn’t seem startling, the key characteristic comes through well in each but I think my head, heart and stomach are still with the Valrhona Manjari hit. As part of our end of evening goodie bags we each get a bar of Tcho. Mine turns out to be the “Citrus’ bar, which I good because I’ve just established a love affair with Madagascan citrusy chocolate. When I try it over the next few days I like it much more and can see why Paul is excited about the product. I guess on the night it was overwhelmed by the preceding wonderful sensory overload.

And still we aren’t finished. Its time to bring on the truffle type things. Paul doesn’t make chocolate from raw cocoa beans he takes some of the worlds finest chocolate and then blends some of his own bars and also crafts beautiful looking truffles and filled chocolates.

Now a confession. When I was a kid I recall I loved the filled chocolate selections at Christmas. Roses. Quality Street. After Eight. I’d fight anyone for the last caramel barrel. But as time has marched on I’ve become a bit a chocolate purist. I like my chocolate dark and in bars, fillings and truffles are mostly not my thing. You can’t beat a good bar of chocolate; the joy of the snap as you break off a few squares, the taste of simply the chocolate. Unadulterated pleasure. When people buy me filled chocolates, even good ones I mostly pass them on to my husband. I make exceptions for delicately flavoured bars but that’s about it. Give me a bar any day and others can fight over the filled chocolates.

So could Mr Young convince me otherwise? His chocolates are award winning. The sea salted caramel is renowned as a thing of beauty, a multi award winning one at that and his marmite truffle is reputed to be an amazing umami-lovers nirvana. So we proceed to the chocolates as opposed to the chocolate.

First the sea salted caramel. It’s domed, its very glossy. I think food porn may have been in someone’s mind when they designed it. I pop it in my mouth. It explodes in, well a sea salty caramel type way. Its sweet, very sweet. Its good. If you like caramel then this is likely to be the best you’ll ever eat. But for someone who left behind the sweet side of chocolate at age 12 there is no turning back. Its good but I’ll generously leave it to others to oooo and aaaaa over.

So to the marmite truffle. Now I’ve never knowingly eaten marmite before. Ever. No really, never ever. Its brown, its gloopy, its smells bleugh. But I’m being offered a marmite truffle in a very upmarket chocolate shop, now is not the time to do an eight-year old style tantrum. In it goes. Oh and actually it’s rather nice. Chocolatey and erm well sort of rich and savoury all at once. I’m not sure you’d know it was marmite if you hadn’t been told. This of course, any real marmite lover will inform you is the true genius of marmite, its adaptability, its umami-ness, its ability to not taste of itself. Anyway I’d eat this one again, I might even shove someone out of the way to get one. But I’d still prefer a big bar of Madagascan chocolate.

Finally on the chocolates front we have the port and Stilton truffle. This is a seasonal special for the autumn and Christmas. Paul’s quite keen on doing specials as it gives him chance to play with new flavours and push the boundaries of the regular collection. He’s not a man who wants to stick with the known and the easy. Last year he did a Stilton only version but it dried out to much so the addition of port is partly to capture that classic English combination and partly to try to make the chocolate work better. Its pretty good though the port seems to lead a little too much.

Finally we nip down to the underground den and see where the chocolates are crafted. The marble slabs, the raw cocoa butter, bag loads of Valrhona, handmade moulds. It’s tiny and brightly light. I don’t spy a batmobile but I do think I catch a glimpse of the cape and face mask, or maybe the theobromine has got to me and I’m hallucinating.

A big thank you to Paul, James and Kate for inviting me to experience the chocolates (for free) with a group of other food bloggers.

Paul A Young regularly does tutored tastings at his Camden Passage store (price £45/head).