Archive for December, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone

I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas, and your Festive Fowl was lovely and juicy?

I was so chuffed with my turkey cooked on my new smoker. I’d planned and planned to make sure I could get it as right as I possibly could.

I missed the moment our turkey met it’s maker, I was away working at that time. However I was able to do the deed and gut the bird and prepare it for cooking which was an experience.

If you are squeamish you may want to look away now……….

I was able to get my hands on a wonderful turkey from my friends at Pitmans Farm the small holders over the road, so I knew it had a good provenience.

I kept the neck and heart for the stock for gravy. It felt good to have been able to get hands on with our Christmas meat, and knowing that i’d be feeding my family a good quality bird.

So down to the preparation. I made an injection brine with 300ml water, 2 tsps sugar, 2 tsps sea salt, and injected this strategically in the breast and legs the night before.

Then starting the smoker going at 8am, I injected 100g of melted butter into the breast, and rubbed a dry rub mix of Za’atar (an Israeli blend of hyssop and other herbs and spices) mustard powder, smoked paprika, celery powder, onion powder, and a little muscovado sugar, ground black pepper and sea salt. I rubbed this all over and then drizzled olive oil over the breast and legs, before covering the leg and wing ends with foil to stop them burning.

I popped the bird on the smoker with a bowl of water underneath with the neck and heart of the turkey, some chopped carrots, celery and onion, some bay leaves, water and a pint of home made cider (this would give me the stock for a wonderful gravy).

I smoked at around 300degF (the hottest I could get my smoker and used a mixture of apple and oak woods to smoke with. The internal temperature of the turkey rose steadily throughout the morning, taking 4 hours to reach 160degF, where I removed it from the smoker to rest, continuing to monitor the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast and saw it rise to 165degF, perfectly cooked.

This temperature ensures any nasties are destroyed and the breast meat is still moist.

After parading the whole bird around to the family, I broke the bird down into leg and breast, and carved the breast meat at the table against the grain.

Served with all the usual trimmings, goose fat potatoes, roast parsnips, lightly steamed sprouts and carrots, red cabbage, pigs in blankets, 2 sorts of stuffing, cranberry sauce, and lashings of turkey stock gravy.

The highlight was definately the turkey, which everyone really enjoyed, it was moist, slightly smokey, herby and moreish, a meal I was proud to serve for 11 hungry people.

I must say that cooking turkey in a smoker is great as it tastes unlike any turkey I’ve had before, and frees up a lot of space in the oven to allow the rest of the food to cook properly.

Merry Christmas to you all, and hope you have had a wonderful day.

A Royal Coffee for Father Christmas?

I’d just like to wish all those lovely people out there who take the time to read my ramblings a wonderful Christmas. I truly hope you have a wonderful festive period with lots of seasonal food.

My turkey and smoker are all ready to go for the morning, the veggies and gravy are all prepped. I’ve had a wonderful Christmas Eve with family, lots of yummy smoked meats, which I will be posting shortly on, and the odd tipple.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe if you are wondering what to leave for Father Christmas this evening, or better yet enjoy yourself….

Royal Coffee

A double espresso

A shot of cognac

20ml of fresh double cream

2 tsps brown sugar

Pop the sugar and the cognac into a glass  cup or an Irish coffee glass, and stir until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the double espresso and stir so the sugar is fully dissolved (the sugar makes the coffee denser and helps the ream to float). Lay a teaspoon on the surface of the coffee and gently trickle the cream on until you have a nice 1cm thick layer of cream.

My advice at this time of year would be to practice this technique over and over again to get it right, and to get merry!

Enjoy! and have a wonderful Christmas, I hope your Turkey is moist and your sprouts not too soggy.

Cheers

Marcus

Smoked turkey, bacon and leek pie.

I love a good pie! Especially one using wonderful leftovers that I had to play with. I used the leftover cherry smoked turkey I hot smoked in a previous post, along with some local bacon and leeks from my veg patch for this smokey warming pie. This can be a frugal way to use up leftover christmas turkey after the big event.

Smoked turkey, bacon and leek pie.

3 or 4 good handfulls of cooked smoked/roast turkey/chicken in 2-3cm dice.

4 rashers of bacon chopped into 2cm dice back or streaky is fine

2 leeks, sliced

1 onion coarsely chopped

A couple of handfuls of frozen peas

3 tbsps plain flour

1 litre good chicken or turkey stock

200ml milk

1 pack ready made shortcrust or puff pastry rolled to cover your pie tin

A good pinch of chopped tarragon or flat leaf parsley

Lots of freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste, be careful as the bacon adds salt.

Fry off the chopped bacon, onion and leeks in a good knob of butter until soft in a pie dish or shallow casserole dish. Meanwhile make the white sauce by melting 50g of butter in a saucepan, add the flour and allow to cook until it changes colour slightly a few minutes on low, then little by little add milk, if you add this too quickly it will go lumpy, followed by stock, add until it resembles a creamy soup. Season and set aside to cook on low stirring occasionally for 8-10 mintues.

Add the chopped turkey/chicken, the peas, and then the white sauce and allow to cool for half an hour. Pop the pastry lid on top and crimp the edges of the pastry to the side of the dish. Popa couple of holes in the middle of the pastry lid, and glaze with a little milk to give a nice shiny top.

Cook in a preheated oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 for half an hour until the pastry is lovely and golden. Serve with mash and some lightly steamed greens, we had early purple sprouting broccoli.

Kidney Bean Quesadillas

Sometimes you’ve just got to make do with what you have to hand to come up with something filling and enjoyable. I found myself in that situation, and all I could find to hand was a pack of corn tortillas. I had some storecupboard essentials, and some grated cheese, and was able to whip up a tasty treat for myself and the family.

Kidney Bean Quesadillas

1 tin of kidney beans (or pretty much any bean eg. black beans)

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chilli flakes ( I used  ancho poblano for a nice smokey taste)

1 tsp chipotle paste

2 chopped spring onions

1 clove garlic crushed with salt

2 tortillas per person

A handful of grated cheddar per person

Coriander, Sour cream, Avocado slices, Chilli sauce or Jalapeno slices to serve.

Pop the drained kidney beans in a bowl, add the spices, chilli paste and garlic, crush with a fork or blitz until still chunky.

Spread the bean mix thickly onto a tortilla, sprinkle generously with the cheese and some chilli sauce. Put the second tortilla on top. Warm a large dry frying pan to medium.

Pop the Quesdailla into the pan and cook until lightly brown on both sides, the cheese should be all molten and gooey.

Cut the quesadilla into quarters and service with some nice green salad leaves, coriander, sour cream, avocado, and chillies.

 

Chestnuts Roasting on an open fire.

This is less a recipe, more a seasonal trip down memory lane for me. I love roast chestnuts, they bring warm memories of family time together when I was growing up. My dad used to prick the chestnuts with a knife tip and then place them in the middle of a gas hob on low, so they gently crisp up, I remember the smell like warm nutty toast as they heated up and the best bits were where they burnt/caramelised a little on the edges. Then quickly while they were still hot trying to peel the outer shell and inner furry layer off, usually juggling the nut because it was so hot, and the taste, pure essence of winter night.

Now I am a grown man, and have a family of my own, I want them to experience these simple pleasures, I am fortunate enough to have a lovely woodstove that I can cook chestnuts on, one of the first things I treated myself to was a cast iron chestnut roaster, a long handled spoon with holes in that you pop the chestnuts on and then into the embers of a fire. Wait until the outer shell starts to blacken and keep tossing the chestnuts for 6 to 8 minutes until they are cooked through. Peel off the shell and furry layer, juggling if too hot, and pop into your mouth. As I said earlier, pure essence of winter night. And now I am a grown up I can enjoy with a nice glass of autumnal pinot noir, or a toasty port.

Cherry Smoked Festive Turkey

I’ve treated myself to an early Christmas present. I’ve justified myself to Santa that I needed a new smoker at least a month early so that I could practice hot smoking before the big day to get it all right, there’s no excuse for getting it wrong on Christmas day….

I decided on a well regarded water smoker a ProQ Frontier from the lovely people at Hot Smoked .

Well i’m very pleased with the outcome, the smoking was easy, keeping a constant 108deg C for a few hours, and I used a couple of handfuls of cherry wood chips  that I’d soaked for half an hour in water.

The rolled turkey breast joint was from a good local butcher, and took almost 5 hours to reach 65 degC.

The result was flavourful, moist and smokey

Hot Smoked FestiveTurkey

Brine Ingredients

2 litres hot water

150g table salt

200g caster sugar

4 tbsp honey

4 tbsp maple syrup

1 Onion sliced

4 cloves garlic sliced

6 Bay leaves

2 tbsp whole black peppercorns

4 cloves

1 orange quartered

4-5kg turkey or turkey crown or if you prefer a rolled turkey breast joint.

Smoking Rub

100g Butter

A couple of good glugs Olive Oil

Half a handful of sea salt

A load of fresh ground black pepper

A couple of cloves crushed garlic

Freshly chopped herbs, e.g. Rosemary and Thyme

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp each of onion powder and celery powder

To make the brine add all the ingredients to the hot water in a plastic bucket that will be large enough to hold your turkey. Squeeze the juice from the orange in and throw in the quarters.

Add 4 litres of cold water and allow to cool. Pop your turkey into the brine, making sure the turkey is covered in brine. If you plan on smoking using your BBQ then make sure the turkey will fit, you can even use a turkey crown if you have a small kettle BBQ. The turkey in brine needs to be kept cool for between 12- 24 hours, outside is fine in winter. Always wash your hands after handling the turkey.

Take the turkey out of the brine 6 hours before to let it come up to room temperature. Make up a rub with melted butter, olive oil, salt and pepper, lots of nice fresh herbs, rosemary and thyme, and some crushed garlic. Dry the turkey inside and out and use half the rub working it right into the skin with your fingers.

Set up your smoker or BBQ, (as long as your BBQ has a lid you can cook this), though a small kettle would only take a turkey crown or breast. The temperature should be kept to between 105 deg C and 120 deg C, make sure the charcoal is not directly underneath the turkey, but place a foil tray to catch any fat dripping down. You can use a variety of wood chunks to smoke, I like beech and apple. Make sure the wood chunks have been soaking, and put them on the coals.

Regulate the heat as required, adding extra charcoal and wood chips every hour, cook until the internal temperature reaches 65deg C, remove and rest for 20 minutes minimum.

This will give you a lovely juicy turkey, with a mouth-watering smoky taste, a far cry from the usual dry cardboard turkey we’re all so used to.

Lazy weekend Pancakes

My family love pancakes as a real treat on the weekend, and even my 8 month old daughter likes to get in on the act now, with them cut up as finger food. They are wonderful with a drizzle of maple syrup and a dollop of cream. This has to be the easiest recipe to remember as it’s one of everything. I like to ring the changes with chopped banana, blueberries or raspberries stirred into the mix. This is a thick mix and makes a fluffy thick pancake, American style.

Lazy weekend Pancakes.

1 cup self raising flour ( I like wholemeal as it’s a little bit healthier)

1 cup milk

1 egg

1 pinch baking powder

1 pinch salt

Whisk quickly  together all the ingredients in a jug or bowl to make a thick batter and leave to rest for half an hour.

Heat a frying pan on a moderate to high heat and add a knob of butter until it foams. Using a ladle pour out some of the mix in the pan, I usually aim for 6-8cm diameter pancakes, and a ladle usually does 2. Wait until large bubbles start to form on the top of the pancake and flip over to brown on both sides.

Serve in a stack with maple syrup, and any extras you desire.

Man Food

Friday night and i’m in looking after the kiddies while my lovely wife has some much deserved time out.

A few beers….and what does a red blooded males thoughts turn to…..

Scotch eggs of course, this traditional pub snack has had a lot of limelight recently, and has many new and interesting makeovers , for example the manchester egg.

But I wanted a good traditional Scotch Egg made with some nice free range eggs and good quality free range sausage meat.

Traditional Free Range Scotch Eggs.

I hard boiled the eggs for 5 minutes in boiling water, and quickly cooled them in cold water before peeling, drying on kitchen paper and rolling in flour (this helps the sausage meat stick to the egg).

Prepare a bowl with some seasoned flour, one with a beaten egg, and one with some breadcrumbs, I used Panko breadcrumbs. Roll out a disk of the sausagemeat about 12 cm wide, and place the egg in the middle, bringing the sausagemeat around to cover the egg. Then dip into the flour, followed by the egg and roll in the breadcrumbs to give a thick even coating.

Pop these into hot oil at 170 degC and cooke for 13 minutes when they should be a lovely deep brown. Take out of the oil and pop onto a piece of kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil.

Serve with some sage leaf crisps (pop sage leaves into hot oil for a minute until crisp), some salt and fresh ground black pepper, a cold beer is not optional.

Friday Fish Supper with twice cooked chips

I picked up a lovely thick tail end pollock fillet from my local fishmonger, and thought what better than a lovely friday night fish supper for the kiddies and I. Pollock is a wonderful under rated fish, very similar to the over fished cod and haddock, and really not that different when very fresh, people often say it’s a bit watery but I’d disagree. Try it, and see what you think?

Friday Fish Supper with twice cooked chips.

A nice thick piece of pollock, or other white fish.

A bowl each of seasoned flour, a beaten egg, and breadcrumbs.

A few large floury potatoes, eg. Maris Piper peeled and cut into thick chips

Par boil the thick cut cut chips in salted water for 6-8 minutes until starting to soften, but before they get too soft. Drain and allow to steam dry for 10 minutes. Heat some oil in a pan or deep fat fryer to 180 degC.

Heat a glug of neutral oil such as rapeseed oil in a large frying pan on a medium/hot heat.

Dip the fish fillet in the seasoned flour, then in the beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs, then pop into the frying pan, and cook until golden brown.

Meanwhile pop the chips into the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy. Par boiling them gives a nice fluffy inside, and frying them in hot oil gives them a lovely crunchy outside.

Season the chips, and serve the fish with a squeeze of lemon juice and a condiment of choice, mine is “tommy sauce” .

The best Carrot Cake

 

As I’ve admitted before cakes are the one area of cooking that I really really struggle with, I just find the recipes too prescriptive, and if you dare to tinker with a recipe, then you usually end up with an inedible brick at the bottom of the cake tin. So it is the one area of cooking that I don’t mess around with. Luckily I have a “friend” to help me. The wonderful River Cottage cakes book by Pam “The Jam” Corbin, and when I need a cake for an event this is the first book I reach for, and i’m not intending on tinkering with this slice of perfection.

The carrot cake recipe I have followed to the letter for 2 special occasions now and it makes for the most delicious, moist, light carrot cake. It was devoured keenly at a special friends birthday party, and was requested again for a ladies night in my wife had arranged with a group of her girlie friends, I was quite happy to lap up the praise at both occasions, so thank you Pam for helping improve my cakey reputation.

Here’s the recipe for one cake, I doubled up and made 2 and put together a “double decker”.

“Pam the Jam” Carrot Cake.

For the cake:-

125g self-raising wholemeal flour

1 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of sea salt

150g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and softened

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

150g golden caster sugar

3 eggs

75g ground almonds

250g finely grated arrot

75g sultanas or raisins

75g chopped walnuts

For the Cream Cheese topping ( I used a double amount):

100g full-fat cream cheese

25g unsalted butter, softened and cut into small pieces

150g icing sugar

finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange

 

Preheat the oven to 180 degC/Gas mark 4. Sift together the flour, mixed spice, baking  powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and orange zest to a cream, using either a wooden spoon or a hand held electric whisk. Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, adding 1 tbsp of the flour mix with each and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the remaining flour mix, followed by the ground almonds, grated carrot, dried fruit and nuts.

Spoon the mixture into a 20cm cake tin light greased and base lined with baking parchment , I split my double mix and used 2, smoothing out with the back of a spoon. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the cake is evenly coloured and springs back into shape when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.

For the cream cheese topping, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. Add the iing sugar and orange zest and beat until the mixture is very light and creamy. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so to firm up before using.

When the cake is cold, spread the cream cheese topping on top of the first cake nice and thickly, before popping the second cake on top, followed by further cream cheese topping.

Soak up the praise!

 

Jack Knight Cooks

From My Kitchen to Yours

Whisked Away Bakery

Blue sky baking

BUTTER WOULDN'T MELT

Stories from the hearth

The BBQ World of mrdodd

Making simple food great, and great food right.

UK BBQ Reviews

Independent BBQ and accessory reviews

The Munch and Tattle

A Blog About Food (Mostly BBQ and Grill): Trying everything once and telling you all about it. Good or bad! Blogging from areas around Newport and Cardiff, South Wales.

bake affairs

Bridget`s Bakery Blog

CountryWoodSmoke UK BBQ

British BBQ- All the best of UK BBQ, Cooking outdoors whatever the weather.

Country Skills for Modern Life

Some of the cool and useful food, craft and sustainability skills that your grandparents knew, but probably didn't teach you!

GourmetGloucestershireGirl

An exploration of all things foodie in Gloucestershire!

theshotgunchef.wordpress.com/

Hunting chef William Alldis shows you how to live off the land and create mouthwatering recipes for peanuts! Grow it, forage it, kill it, cook it and enjoy it.

From Alfredo's With Love

Fire in my hands - A passion for food in words, photos and recipes...

Devonium & Kitchenalia

Recipe Meanderings from Dartmoor and Culinary Cartoons

thehungrylinguists

tantalise your taste buds

The Artisan of Flavour

Cooking Italian is a craftsman’s labour, the work of an Artisan of Flavour.

wherelemonsblossom.wordpress.com/

The real Italy, as seen from the heart

Jack Knight Cooks

From My Kitchen to Yours

Whisked Away Bakery

Blue sky baking

BUTTER WOULDN'T MELT

Stories from the hearth

The BBQ World of mrdodd

Making simple food great, and great food right.

UK BBQ Reviews

Independent BBQ and accessory reviews

The Munch and Tattle

A Blog About Food (Mostly BBQ and Grill): Trying everything once and telling you all about it. Good or bad! Blogging from areas around Newport and Cardiff, South Wales.

bake affairs

Bridget`s Bakery Blog

CountryWoodSmoke UK BBQ

British BBQ- All the best of UK BBQ, Cooking outdoors whatever the weather.

Country Skills for Modern Life

Some of the cool and useful food, craft and sustainability skills that your grandparents knew, but probably didn't teach you!

GourmetGloucestershireGirl

An exploration of all things foodie in Gloucestershire!

theshotgunchef.wordpress.com/

Hunting chef William Alldis shows you how to live off the land and create mouthwatering recipes for peanuts! Grow it, forage it, kill it, cook it and enjoy it.

From Alfredo's With Love

Fire in my hands - A passion for food in words, photos and recipes...

Devonium & Kitchenalia

Recipe Meanderings from Dartmoor and Culinary Cartoons

thehungrylinguists

tantalise your taste buds

The Artisan of Flavour

Cooking Italian is a craftsman’s labour, the work of an Artisan of Flavour.

wherelemonsblossom.wordpress.com/

The real Italy, as seen from the heart