I really love food with a story, a nice surprise find, local characters, and simple wonderful flavours. The beautiful prawns above were happened upon by chance, a fleeting meeting in a fishmongers tucked away in a bucket topped with damp newspaper.
The fisherman lifted the paper to reveal the most beautiful pink and orange flecked Ladram Bay prawns that he had caught and cooked in seawater on the beach. He offered me one to try, and it was the most sweet and succulent prawn I’ve tasted, so I had to have some more really to take home, popping each out of their shells, the only way they could be improved is to be enjoyed while sat on a beach.
I found out the kindly fisherman has a shop on the beach at Ladram Bay….this one I need to investigate.
Street Food has finally hit Devon in a big way, there’s a new Street Food Market that has been growing in a quiet square bang in the middle of the city. People stop in their tracks as they smell varied exotic aromas from around the world, from fine dining….Seared Brixham scallops and Spanish chorizo, to delicate Sushi made from the best ingredients from Dorset. Spiced meats, paellas, fragrant Caribbean food, Tacos, and pulled pork. There’s even a van serving stunningly good coffee. I had a chat with the organiser Karen who mentioned there will be more to come, wood fired pizza and game, it looks like street food in Exeter is on it’s way up.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes at the Guildhall Market Square in Exeter, there will be lots of further events throughout the year.
BBQ season is kicking in, and the smell and taste of good home cooked BBQ food gets seriously addictive. I love to give it a local twist, and pork shoulder braised in cider is truly a wonderful match, the only thing I could do was to smoke it with some chunks of apple wood pruned from the apple trees in my garden. The pork was a wonderful shoulder from Pitmans Farm.
My recipe is over on the Food Magazine blogs, some great blogs on their site, including this one for Cider Braised Pulled Pork.
Have a great BBQ season.
Burnt Ends, doesn’t sound particularly appealing really, but for BBQ enthusiasts in the know, they are a real delicacy that is usually reserved for the hard working chef, washed down with a cold beer. They usually consist of the ends of beef brisket that have seen bit too much heat, and brisket cooked properly can take 18 hours. This is a lot quicker way of getting that fix, and will take 5 hours to cook.
Beef short ribs have the same bags of flavour that brisket has, but have a bit more fat and cook quicker. I used a bought BBQ rub on mine for ease, rubbed a good handful into the short ribs, and then cooked for 4 hours on the BBQ at 140degC, with the lid on of course, with a chunk of apple wood that I’d pruned from one of my trees. At this point there was a wonderful bark on the outside of the meat.
The succulent smoky meat pulled easily off the bone, and I cut it into chunks about an inch think. I popped the meat into an oven tray, along with half a bottle of Jeremiah Weed Sour Mash Brew, and popped back to smoke in the BBQ for another hour.
Served with a jar of Sour Mash Brew and a pile of homemade slaw, the juices from the meat dribbling down my chin, this was a messy but gorgeously meaty feast.
Nice name for a cocktail? I’ve been having a play with different combinations of alcohol and other unusual things, and I wondered, what would happen if I topped a shot of Buffalo Trace Bourbon up with Beetroot juice, and before you recoil aghast, just try it. Beetroot juice is supposed to give super human stamina to those who imbibe, so this will surely make you feel like you can take on the world.
The earthy sweetness of the beetroot juice works in harmony with the vanilla flavours in the bourbon, to create something truly special.
Warning though it will probably make your wee turn pink……..
Dear readers, I thank you for listening to my meat fuelled ramblings, since I have been eating meat again these last few years, I have made a part of the pact to myself that I would try to understand meat more, and learn how to get the best out of the different variety of cuts that are available from a good butcher. And in understanding the cuts, learning how best to cook them.
Skirt is a much undervalued cut of steak from the ribcage area called the plate and is a fraction of the price of the more usual cuts, and usually destined for mince or pies. It’s very lean, packed with flavour, and if treated right melt in the mouth tender. If you like you steaks cooked past medium, then I’m afraid this isn’t the cut for you as it needs to be cooked ideally rare to medium rare otherwise it will toughen right up.
To get the best flavour, go for a dry aged outdoor reared steak, you’ll need to remove the tough outer membrane, which peels away with your fingers, or ask your butcher to do this for you. This wonderful steak was dry aged Aberdeen Angus from Andrew Gordon Butchers.
Heat a griddle pan to screaming hot, it should be smoking. Season up the steaks with coarse sea salt and crushed black pepper. Cook the steaks for 2 minutes each side, and leave to rest on a warm plate, drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil.
I served mine simply with some toasted sourdough with a little olive oil and salt and pepper, and a plain rocket salad.
Cut the steak against the grain, you should be able to see the lines of the grain easily in this steak. The deep beefy flavour is truly something to behold.
A kind friend bought over some regional food from his province in Tuscany as he is so proud of his local food and wanted me to try some. The salsiccia (sausage) was handmade, and the polenta was golden and was a ray of sunshine. I asked my friend if these two would work well together, and he said absolutely. So I wanted to cook up an authentic meal with what he had kindly shared with me.
I made up the polenta, by adding 125g of polenta to 500ml of boiling water with a pinch of salt, the polenta started to thicken up quickly, and I cooked it for 20 minutes, I like it with still a little texture in the grains. I added a good grind of black pepper, a couple of tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil, and a few sprigs of thyme.
I cooked the sausages on a griddle pan until cooked through and browned on the outside, I served the sausages and polenta on a platter with a chunk of toasted sourdough and some wild rocket. The flavours of the sausage were subtle but with a good hit of garlic, were very meaty and went perfectly with the creamy polenta.
This is just the kind of rustic Italian food I dream about, hearty, full of flavour and totally satisfying.