Goat Meat …

… sustainable, delicious, and a good substitute (cheaper and leaner) for lamb. So why aren’t supermarkets stocking it?

Having read a recent blog:  “Putting Goat Meat on the Menu with James Whetlor”, it had me thinking that this might make a great main dish for one of my Supper Club events. In my keenness I also purchased James’ book Goat. Don’t try to buy goat meat at your local supermarket – you won’t find it.

Goat Osso BucoHowever, James Whetlor has an online shop “Cabrito” from where you can purchase various cuts of goat meat. For the supper club meal “Kid Osso Buco”,  I opted for the leg steaks as suggested.

The “Kid” Supper Club night is scheduled for Saturday 5th October, so watch this space for a review on the dish and the feedback from my Supper Club guests!

Beef Brisket with Red Wine & Shallots

If you own an electric pressure cooker (I have a Pressure King Pro) then the following recipe will will transform a cheap brisket joint into something very special.  I love to have it with paccheri rigati pasta, but creamy mashed potato works just as well!

2 tablesp. extra virgin olive oil
1.5 kg brisket of beef, rolled and tied
12 shallots, peeled
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 x 400g tin chopped tomates
250 ml red wine
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 nutmeg, grated
Few black olives
1 teasp. dried oregano
Few sprigs fresh thyme
2 tablesp. red wine vinegar

1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker, using the “stew” function (alternatively, use a separate pan on the hob – I find this is quicker) and brown the joint all over.  Remove and set aside.
2. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and saute for around 10 minutes until beginning to soften and starting to colour.
3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the beef together with some water (about half of the tomato tin). Season with salt and pepper and cook until the sauce begins to thicken.
4. Put the beef and the sauce into the pressure cooker (if using a separate pan), clamp on the lid, making sure the valve is closed and cook for 75 minutes on “Meat”.
5. At the end of the cooking time, carefully open the valve to quick release but leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes before removing.
6. Carve or break apart and serve with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.


No Time for Sourdough?

Daunted about having to make a sourdough starter?  Sourdough isn’t hard, but it requires a lot of waiting and feeding!  Try this simple sourdough recipe (adapted from one by Peter Sidwell) – it’s a cheat’s version, but gives an almost authentic taste and texture for those of us with too little time to wait!  The recipe is not unlike an Italian “biga” or French “poolish” and gives enough starter for two loaves.  You can keep any remaining starter in the fridge (I keep mine in a kilner jar) for up to 5 days.  Bring back to room temperature at least 40 minutes before using or put in an oven at 40 degrees C for 15 mins.

10g fresh yeast (or 1 teasp. dried yeast)
300g strong white flour
2 tablesp. balsamic vinegar
300 ml water
1 teaspoon sugar17144358205_7d9eaf42ab_z

250g sour starter
120 ml water
150g strong white flour
100g rye flour
10g fresh yeast or 1 teasp dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the sour starter ingredients in a bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave for at least 12 hours to prove at room temperature (I tend to do this overnight).

For the sourdough, put 250g of the starter in a bowl to a stand mixer with a dough hook, or the jug of a Thermomix processor.  Add the two flours, salt, sugar, and the yeast diluted in the the water.  Mix together at slow speed for about 20 seconds till it starts to come together and then increase to speed 1-2 for the mixer. Mix for 6 minutes.  For the Thermomix, mix at speed 3 for 10-12 seconds until it comes together and then continue on the dough setting for 6 minutes.

Remove the dough and shape into a round.  Place in an oiled bowl, covered with a tea towel or cling film for about an hour for it to prove until doubled in size.  Remove the dough and shape or place in a proving basket for another 40 minutes.  Slash the top and place in a hot oven (220 degrees C) for approximately 30 minutes and nicely browned.

French Vanilla Doughnuts

Made a batch of these this morning, posted on Facebook, and have had a request for the recipe, so here it is:

French Vanilla Doughnuts

225 g strong bread flour
1 teasp. salt
1 x 7g packet fast action yeast
25 g caster sugar
25g softened butter
1 whole egg
80 ml water
vegetable oil for frying
vanilla sugar for dusting

Put all of the ingredients (except oil and sugar) into a Thermomix and mix for 10 seconds at speed 3, then scrape down and knead on “wheat” setting for 5 mins (alternatively, put in a mixer with a dough hook and knead at slow speed for 5 mins).  Leave to rise for up to an hour (until doubled in size).

Knock the dough back and shape into little balls, approximately 15g each (should make between 24 – 30).  Place these on a non stick tray and cover with a cloth and leave to prove for approximately 40 minutes.

Heat the vegetable oil to 180 degrees C and gently drop the doughnuts in (approximately 6 – 8 at a time).  Once browned they will automatically flip over – if not, turn so that the other side becomes a deep golden brown too.  Once nicely brown and puffed up, drain and coat in the vanilla sugar.

Great warm or cold with a nice strong coffee!

Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe

You will need 100g pasta flour plus 1 egg per person.  The quantities below serve 2 as a main course, and 4 as a starter.


200g 00 pasta flour (or strong bread flour)
2 eggs
Semolina flour flour for dusting

  1. Place the flour in a food processor with the egg and whizz until it resembles cous cous.
  2. Tip out the dough and form into a rough ball shape.  Knead briskly for about 1 minute, reform into a ball, wrap in cling film and rest for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before using (but not longer than 3 hours).
  3. Cut the dough into 2 pieces.  Dust your work surface with semolina flour, then flatten each piece of dough slightly ready to put through a pasta machine.

A Taste of Autumn – Saturday, 3rd October 2015

Saturday’s “A Taste of Autumn” was both another enjoyable and convivial evening, thanks to my lovely guests.

butternut squash ravioliWhilst the diners chit-chatted, updating old friends, or getting to know new ones, I set about getting the first course on the plates.  This was home made Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter.  I had pre-prepared the ravioli and frozen it, to be cooked within minutes in boiling water (the ravioli rise to the top when they are cooked)  and finished off with the sage butter and some thin curls of Parmesan.  The starter seemed to hit the spot and one of my lovely guests rated it as “tip top”!venison casserole

The main course was a Venison Casserole with Chestnuts, Port and Orange – it looked, smelled and tasted just like Autumn!  The venison, flavoured with port, garlic, juniper berries and thyme gave it a rich, rounded flavour and was cooked for several hours, rendering it soft, succulent and tender.  I served this with roasted purple carrots (currently available at Waitrose) and creamy potato and parsnip mash, enriched with both  butter and cream, in addition to the usual slop of milk.

Pudding was a ‘James Martin’ recipe of Spiced Plum Crumble – the plums were gently poached in a syrup of wine, cinnamon, star anise and nutmeg before being buried under a soft crumble mixture.  A choice of Vanilla Ice-cream or Vanilla Custard completed the dessert.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Butter (Nick Nairn: Cook School)

(Extracted from: Nick Nairn: Cook School)
butternut squash ravioli
Ingredients (for 4)

1 x recipe pasta dough
1 medium butternut squash
1 whole red chilli, halved and deseeded
3 whole garlic cloves, skin on
3 tablesp. olive oil
1 teasp. chopped fresh thyme
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
Semolina flour for dusting
For the Sage Butter:
150g unsalted butter
Approx. 20 fresh sage leaves
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200 deg.C or Gas Mk 6.  Using a large cook’s knife, cut the butternut squash in half lengthways.  Scoop out and discard the seeds, then peel the squash and cut the flesh into 2cm dice.  Place in a roasting tin, add the halved chilli and whole garlic cloves, pour over the oil and season well.  Toss to coat, then roast in the oven for about 30 mins, or until soft and starting to caramelise.  Take out of the oven, pop the garlic cloves out of their skins and mash the whole lot together with a fork or potato masher.  Beat in the thyme and Parmesan and allow to cool.
  2. Now unwrap the pasta dough and cut into two pieces. Work with one piece, rewrapping the other half.  Using a pasta machine, put the pasta through the machine at least twice on each setting, stopping at 2 (but including 2).
  3. Lay the length of pasta on a work surface dusted with semolina.  Using a round cutter (around 10cm) cut circles along the length of the pasta, put scant teaspoons of butternut squash filling in the middle of each round.  Dampen the edges with a little water on a pastry brush and fold over to create a semi-circle, pressing in and around the mound to exclude air as you do so.  Lay in a single layer on a clean tea towel until ready to cook – no longer than 2 hours or they turn soggy.  Repeat the process with the second ball of dough.
  4. At this point, you can freeze the ravioli in rigid plastic boxe(s) trying not to overlap the ravioli and placing parchment paper in between the layers and keep in the freezer until needed.  Otherwise, place a pan of salted water on to boil ready to cook the pasta.  Drop the ravioli into the boiling water to cook until they rise to the surface. (The ravioli can be cooked this way from frozen).
  5. For the sage butter, melt the butter in a small pan and heat gently.  Add the sage, turn up the heat and cook the butter until it turns palest brown and the sage leaves start to crisp.  Do not over brown or burn the butter or sage.  Remove from the heat and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  6. Pour the sage butter over the cooked ravioli and serve with either grated Parmesan or shavings of Parmesan on the top.

Venison Casserole

venison casseroleIngredients (for 4)

900g stewing venison cut into 3-4cm pieces
2 tablesp. olive oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, or crushed
3-4 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves; 1/2 tablesp. juniper berries, crushed
1 tablesp. plain flour
Juice of 1 orange, grated zest of 1/2 orange
250ml port
150ml beef stock
100g chestnut mushrooms, halved or quartered (depending on size) or oyster mushrooms, torn, or mixture of two
200g cooked and peeled chestnuts

  1.  Preheat the oven to 160 deg.C (Fan 150 deg.C) or Gas Mk 3.  Season the venison with black pepper.  Heat the oil in a deep, flameproof casserole dish that has a lid and brown the venison for 3-4 mins in batches.  Add a little more oil after the first couple of batches if you need to.  Once the meat is browned, set aside.
  2. Add the onions to the pan and soften on a gentle heat for 5 – 10 mins, scraping any bits that may have got stuck to the bottom on the pan.  (These bits really do add flavour to stews, so you want to scrape them off rather than give them the opportunity to burn on the base of the pan.)  If the pan feels a little dry, add a drizzle more oil and a splash of water.
  3. Once the onions have softened, add the carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves and crushed juniper berries.  Continue to cook gently for a further 10 mins.
  4. Add the flour, stirring to combine.  After a couple of minutes, add the orange juice and zest, port, stock, mushrooms and some salt and pepper.  Now return the browned venison along with any juices that may have collected in the pan.  Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and pop in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Stir in the chestnuts and return the dish to the oven.  Depending on the venison, the stew will need a further 30 mins – 1 hr to cook through and it is ready when the venison has completely tenderised.

Spiced Plum Crumble (from Jame’s Desserts by James Martin)

Ingredients (Serves 8)

15-16 Dark Plums, halved, stones removed
50g butterplum crumble
1 vanilla pod, split
1 star anise
Few gratings nutmeg
2 Cinnamon sticks
100ml red wine
3 tablesp. honey
3 tablesp. caster sugar
50 ml water
For the crumble

150g butter, softened
300g plain flour
150 g demerara sugar

  1.  Preheat over to 200 degrees C / 400 degrees F / Gas Mark 6
  2. Saute the plums with the butter in a hot frying pan for a few minutes.  Add the split vanilla pod, star anise, nutmeg, cinnamon, red wine, honey, sugar and water, then bring to the boil and simmer gently for 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. As the plums break down to a thick, syrupy texture, put them in an oven proof dish.
  4. To make the crumble, mix the butter and flour together until the mixture resemble breadcrumbs (best done in a food processor), then mix in the sugar.  Sprinkle the crumble over the plums and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with ice cream or custard.

A Taste of Malt – Supper Club, Saturday, 5th September

The commoTaste of Malt Tablen ingredient throughout all three courses for this Supper Club was a 12 year old Malt Whisky!  Diners were offered a shot of the Malt at the start of the evening, and continued to enjoy the smooth, rich taste of this Scottish Speyside Single Malt Whisky, produced by Strathisla –  Strathisla 12 Year Old Scotch Malt Whisky 70 cl – Strathisla is the oldest distillery in the Highlands of Scotland.  The three courses, together contained almost two 70cl bottles to serve 9-10 people, making it quite an expensive meal to produce, but well worth it!
The first course was Whisky and Chilli Tiger Prawns, coated with a sweet whisky and chilli glaze, baked in the oven and topped with a little finely slivered lime zest.

The main course consisted of a whole roast fillet of beef, cooked to medium rare, cut into steak medallions, dressed with a whisky, grain mustard and cream sauce and served with crispy potatoes and roasted mushrooms. Recipe here.

Dessert was an all time favourite of mine …. marmalade and whisky bread and butter pudding.  Served with fresh oranges marinated in Whisky and sugar syrup making the dessert sublime!