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Rice Soup with Chorizo, Pumpkin, Kale & a Poached Egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

Chicken and ham broth with rice, pumpkin, chorizo, sage and a poached egg

I don’t like telling you what to do, but on this occasion, I must. It is almost the weekend, and it is very much Autumn, so what I need you to do, is to go out and buy a couple of raw chicken carcasses (most butchers will have them, and failing that 500g chicken wings), some ham bones, if you can get them, or a ham hock. You see with these, and some veg, you can make a sublime broth which will keep you in gorgeous soups for the week, as I have done. I just needed soup and lots of it.

A home made broth is wonderful, far surpassing any commercial pretenders. Even those home made ones you see in shop fridges will not have been made with the love and care that yours can be made with at home. Love and care brings flavour, and health, and joy. I am insisting that you give this a go.

A good home made stock will have clear strong flavours, but it is gentle too, and only ever supports what you add to it, it never dominates. Shop bought stocks, especially the cubes, always do. It is an effort, but making a big batch when you have the time is very rewarding, the bulk of the work lies in waiting for it to be done.

There are many things you can do with this stock. A steaming mug of it on its own brings great pleasure and sustenance. With shredded chicken, leftover or not, some spring onions, some coriander and some chilli, you have a vigorous bright chicken soup, with a ham backbone. It also freezes well. [Read more]

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Announcing! Project: BACON. A New Book. With Your Help.

Bourbon, Bacon & Vanilla Ice Cream - so delicious and one of my recipes from Project: Bacon

Bourbon, Bacon & Vanilla Ice Cream – so delicious and one of my recipes from Project: Bacon

I have been asked many times about my next book. I have been thinking about it quite intensely for some time but never quite had the answer (until now).

I have been speaking to many authors about their experiences over the last two years. I have met some really inspiring people that have self published their own books and have produced something that is entirely theirs and that they are proud of.  And not because they have failed in the traditional route, but for them, this was a much better option, giving them more control over the output and the book that hit the shelves.

Making bacon fudge - a bacon masterclass recipe, also in Project: Bacon

Making bacon fudge – a bacon masterclass recipe, also in Project: Bacon

Once I decide to self publish, I decided not to pitch this book to a publisher at all. So it is not that I have pitched it and failed, I want to be very clear about that. Combined with the very positive & enthusing experiences that I have had with meeting brilliant self published authors, I know the people that I want to work with to produce my book.

I am quite entrepreneurial by nature, and have experience as a project manager in the publishing industry and also as an author. Writing a book is an obsession, heart and soul and agonising and fantastic all at once. The one that I want to write now is about BACON. I want it to be fabulous and tasty and fun. I am hoping that you will help me do this by supporting and investing in my Kickstarter project.

Project: BACON will include recipes that I have developed over the last three years and taught in my bacon masterclasses. Those recipes, that energy, all of that fun and deliciousness in one book, that I put together myself (with the help of that great team that I will hire). The decision was made, next question. With limited resources how do I do this? I thought that I would look to you and see if you would take the risk and invest in me from the start.

The details are laid out explicitly in my Kickstarter project. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform, that enables independents like me to get projects done. I am asking you to invest in me, and not donate money, but to buy the book in advance, invest in a masterclass, or subscribe to The Bacon Post for just £3 (which will give you 12 new great bacon recipes and weekly updates as I go). These will only be available to Bacon Post subscribers, and won’t be available on the blog.

You can buy the book up front, signed of course in print. £10 for the ebook and £20 for the hardcover print book, both include a subscription to The Bacon Post. The book sent to kickstarter supporters will be limited edition, so getting in early not only guarantees you get a book, it guarantees that you get a special one. There are also some early bird specials, if you get in there first you can get the hardcover book with The Bacon Post for £17, or you can get the ebook and The Bacon Post for £8.

Candied bacon chocolate truffles - from Project: Bacon Candied bacon chocolate truffles – from Project: Bacon[/caption]

What if it is successful and I manage to raise more than my goal of £20,000?

I can only hope, but if this happens, simply, I will hire an illustrator to make it even better, I will add more recipes as I will be able to hire kitchen support, and I will print more books, maybe we will even see it in bookshops. My print run will be small, so it will be expensive. Publishers save money by printing batches of books at once. Should there be anything left, I will professionally shoot recipe videos to go along with the book. I would love to do that and I am hoping that you would like that too.

Over to you.

I am nervous, I am worried, I am excited, I am terrified. I hope that you will support this endeavour, and join me on my crazy little journey, stretched out over the 7 months ahead.

READ MORE AND SUPPORT PROJECT: BACON ON KICKSTARTER HERE.

(shouting because that is what it is like in my head right now, possibly a bit shrieky too)

and here is the video (also on Kickstarter) – a wobbly bacon party political broadcast from me, to you – filmed on a very hot day in my back garden. We are amateurs and also I am not good with heat so please be kind :)

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Behind the Scenes at Ottolenghi and Lunch

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Sami Tamimi of Ottolenghi, cooks us lunch

Some of you are going to hate me now, but here goes.

Yesterday I went for lunch behind the scenes at Ottolenghi. The hub of all Ottolenghi activity, where recipes are developed and a lot of the restaurant items and most of the deli items are made.

Ottolenghi are proud of their sourcing, and this is evident from the food. Each bite has an intensity of flavour and freshness that isn’t delivered unless you take extreme care with your ingredients, and how they are stored. Secret places and people. Every good restaurant has these. They generally don’t share them with us.

Except Ottolenghi does now. In response to readers craving exotic ingredients from the books in order to recreate the food at home, Ottolenghi have now set up an online store, and they deliver all over the world. Ingredients, products, and wine too.

Exciting, eh? And really delicious. Date molasses, sumac, za’atar, rose petals, (proper) rose water, dukkah. Fragrant and delicious. I cook a lot with rose petals (see the rose petal butter in my book among others), dried and fresh, but the dried rose petals that we ate there, were fantastic in their fragrance. I was surprised. At once delighted that I could source them, and disappointed with the ones that I had been using before.

Yotam’s co-author and business partner, Sami, cooked us lunch. A gorgeous meal peppered with stories of Sami’s cooking with his grandmother, and stories making homemade mograbiah and pomegranate molasses in the Palestinian sun.

The food was divine, I will be digging out the recipes and recreating them at home for myself and for friends. Great wines too, an unusually complex and rich prosecco from Casa Coste Piane di Loris Follador, a spicy rich orange wine, Tenuta Grillo from Baccabianca, and a spicy soft fruity red wine, a Nerello Mascalese from Caruso & Minini.

Most of the recipes are from Ottolenghi’s books and Guardian column, and all ingredients are available online. So you can also recreate yourself at home.

Enjoy!

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Sweet potato purée with date syrup and black sesame seeds

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Labneh sprinkled with za’atar

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Dukkah

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Halibut wrapped in vine leaves, fresh from the oven

Halibut wrapped in vine leaves, grilled with dukkah and lemon and served with piccolo pepper, cherry tomato, caper, basil and chopped herb salsa

Halibut wrapped in vine leaves, grilled with dukkah and lemon and served with piccolo pepper, cherry tomato, caper, basil and chopped herb salsa

Roasted chicken with sumac, za'atar and fresh lemon

Roasted chicken with sumac, za’atar and fresh lemon

Muftoul & mograbiah salad with dried Iranian lime, celery, tomatoes & cucumber

Muftoul & mograbiah salad with dried Iranian lime, celery, tomatoes & cucumber

Rose cupcakes

Rose cupcakes

Black glutinous rice pudding, with orange blossom, pineapple, banana, rose and green pistachios. Toast with halva on the side (I was greedy!)

Black glutinous rice pudding, with orange blossom, pineapple, banana, rose and green pistachios. Toast with halva on the side (I was greedy!)

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Those rose petals

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Halva on toast – will be my new favourite breakfast although it will have to fight with the rice pudding

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Some Recipes for Summer from the Archives

How glorious is this weather? I am pink-pink-pink from some exposure yesterday, and as a result, I am sitting inside waiting for the sun to sink a little before I expose my poor skin to its naked rays.

I am thinking food and had a browse of my summer archives. Here’s some recipes you might want to try. Eat outside of course, that’s what I am planning to do. Bring on the summer picnics.

Prawn Curry

Burnt aubergine with sweet peppers and red onion

Broad beans, green garlic & mint bruschetta

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, heirloom tomato and goat’s curd

Tagliatelle with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Anchovies and Pecorino

Chargrilled peach & speck salad

Broad Bean and Prosciutto Carbonara

Crab Linguine

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Covent Garden Real Food Market Stall: the recipes

And… drumroll! Now for the recipes.

I was really excited by how many people really enjoyed the brown soda bread and cucumber pickle. I was a little nervous about how they would be received, and at 6am, sleep deprived and coffee’d up, I had a thought: what if people hate it?! Thankfully no one seemed to, in fact lots of people wanted the pickle and bread to take home, so if I do it again folks, I’ll make sure that I jar some and make some extra bread (if that’s possible!).

As I said in my previous post, both of these recipes are very straight forward but with excellent results, it’s virtually impossible to mess these up. Depending on your taste you may want to alter the sugar/vinegar ratio in the pickle, I prefer it to be a little on the tart side. Both recipes are adaptations of Ballymaloe recipes. The original Ballymaloe soda bread calls for buttermilk, however, that’s not terribly easy to find in the UK, and when available it’s expensive. I substitute whole milk, soured a little with fresh lemon juice, about a tablespoon for every 850ml. You need the sour aspect to wake up the soda. The Ballymaloe cucumber pickle calls for onion and less vinegar so that it’s a sweeter pickle, I prefer to make with just cucumber and a little more vinegar.

This is utterly perfect with smoked salmon, but if you’re vegetarian try it with a robust cheese, like a good strong cheddar or Mrs Kirkham’s. It would work a treat.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Frank Hederman you can visit his site – www.frankhederman.com.

To get your hands on some delicious Bisol Jeio (it really is delicious!), you can order some from Bibendum. I will be.

Brown Soda Bread

Ingredients:

600g wholemeal brown flour
600g plain flour
850ml whole milk soured with 1tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 230 C.
Mix the flours, salt and sieved baking soda thoroughly.
Make a well in the center, and add the milk, drawing in the dry ingredients from the outside as you add it with your hand.
Mix until sticky but not too gooey, you should be able to pick it up and shape into a round.
Wash your hands and flour them and transfer your dough to a floured board. Shape into a round. Turn over onto a floured baking tray and shape once more, tidying the edges is necessary. It should be 1 1/2 – 2 inches thick at most.
With your knife, draw a cross in the centre (as per the picture) cutting down to the bottom of the bread. The idea is that it should come apart into quarters quite quickly. Stick the knife into the centre of each quarter to let the fairies out (yes!).
Cook for 20 minutes and then turn down to 200 C. After 20 minutes, take the bread out of the oven, turn upside down and knock on it. If it sounds hollow it’s done. If it doesn’t put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, upside down, and try again. That should be enough.

Cucumber Pickle

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, sliced as finely as you can.
240 ml cider vinegar
200g sugar
1 tsp salt

Method:

Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt just until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Allow to cool.
Pour over the cucumbers and leave overnight in the fridge (or for 5 hours).
Your cucumbers are pickled!
Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Savoury Pork Belly, Savoy Cabbage & Noodle Soup

Savoury Pork Belly, Savoy Cabbage & Noodle Soup

Sometimes, the very best dishes arrive as a surprise, twisted children of the products of our store cupboard and leftovers. It’s always a pleasure when something tasty and comforting arrives as a product of these rushed confections and today’s dinner was this.

Most readers are familiar with my pork belly obsession as are my friends, who are capitalising on this now. Of course I love cooking it for them, but it’s gone to the stage where I am cooking so much, I actually have leftovers! In truth, this is mainly because I am cooking a lot more of it, as I want it for sandwiches. I adored the pork belly sandwiches at Konstam, but I am not working nearby anymore and no longer get my regular fix.

Roast Pork Belly

(I’ve really got to exercise a lot more to compensate for this regular fat influx. What to do about the arteries? I use a lot of olive oil. That’s ok? Right? No? I’ll balance it with healthy veggie dishes, promise.)

So, today, I was faced with a mountain of roast pork belly. I’d roasted it in a light chicken stock with shallots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme and rubbed fresh ground star anise and sea salt into the flesh and crackling. So, what to do? Along with the pork belly, I had some gorgeous stock. I was speaking with a friend about how much it is used in ramen recently, so I thought, why not try a noodle soup?

Full of delicious umami, that savoury sense of ours, rich in meats, mushrooms and cheese amongst others, it was the perfect counter to a Winter’s day. Very quick and very easy to make, it’s a one pot wonder. Next time I make pork belly, or roast pork, this is going to be top of my list for the leftovers.

Ingredients:

650ml chicken or pork stock
150g shredded leftover pork belly
3 spring onions shredded
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped or grated
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 leaves savoy cabbage, shredded
1 nest chinese noodles (I like shanghai noodles but any will do)
a light oil for frying like groundnut or vegetable oil
S & P

Method:

Briefly saute the ginger, garlic and chilli in the oil.

Add the stock, pork belly and noodles and cook until the noodles are almost done.

Add the cabbage and cook for a minute or so, so that it retains it’s bite and lovely bright green colour.

Add soy sauce and S & P to taste.

Serve piping hot garnished with the shredded spring onions.