Sunday, September 01, 2013

Testing the smoker.

I've finally found a good supply of wood shavings. So i can start experimenting.
Time to dig out the smoke gun. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Some things are just meant to be. Haggis Truffle

Some things are just meant to be.
They are popular and well known for a reason. They offer great flavour combinations are are convenient to eat. Things like a scotch egg or a pork pie. The problem is that they get massed produced to a price point for maximum profit. They are at their best only when hand made by an artisan.
I found such an item in a multi award winning butchers in Hawick, Scotland. It makes such sense when you think of it. Truffles are the epitome of taste and luxury and so was this.
The pure genious of the "Haggis Truffle"

Haggis wrapped in sausage meat, rolled in bread crumbs then herbs and a slightly sweet flaked chilli mix.

I often find classic food combinations perfectly produced, but not often do I com across such a perfectly balanced combination like the "haggis truffle" well done.Robert Pringle Family Butcher they can be found at 77 High Street, Hawick, Roxburghshire TD9 9BL Telephone: 01450 372523

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Ciabatta with chorizo, brie and sundried tomatoes

Simple and sooooo tastey.

All done on the griddle in a couple of minutes.
The basil makes it.

1/3 loafciabatta; Sliced along the flat.
2 slicesbrie
2 halfssundried tomatoes; soaked and cjopped
2 sliceschorizo; large diameter thin cut
4 leavesbasil
1/2 wholetomato; sliced

Ciabatta with chorizo, brie and sundried tomatoes Preparation

Cut the ciabatta down the middle rather than in slices.
Griddle the top of the ciabatta first.
add the tomatoes to the griddle and loose some of the moister.
put the chorizo slices on. and let some of the oil come out.
Move the slices and put the ciabatta onto the oil to finish toasting.
Add the sundried tomatoes to the other tomatoes.
Put the brie on top of the tomatoes.
Remove the ciabatta.
Put the chorizo on.
top with the tomato cheese mix.
Put a the basil leaves on.
Top of with the ciabatta top.
Cut in two and serve.


You can use sundried tomatoes kept in oil straight up but if they are dried or vacuum packed then soak them for a few hours in warm water before using.
You will find it difficult to get a tastier sandwich.
To make it more authentically Italian you could use mozzarella but I like the brie. It melts easier and gives a better mouth feel to the sandwich

Friday, November 02, 2012

Provencale Leek and Potato Soup. (Very easy)

Have you ever heard potato soup described as "Light and Refreshing?" - No? Well read on.

I've made potato and leek many times. It's probably one soup that most people have tried from supermarket, in food establishments and possibly made at home. Because the ingredients are cheap and it's easy to make.
The problem I have with it is that if it's thin it lacks flavour and texture. If it's thick then it can be like gloopy porridge, the taste is there but the look is not very appealing.
My aim with this recipe was to create a light and flavoursome soup that looks appealing. 

One thing for sure. I wanted to eat this as soon as possible.
(From the allotment this morning)

Served with a little Greek yoghurt and a little grating of turmeric.
There was also a medium sized onion with this

Sauté The leek, onion and  celery till soft.

Chopped Bay, thyme, garlic and turmeric.
Herbs Added to the pan
Potatoes finely diced.
added to the pan and softened just a little.
Beurre mani to thicken a little. Made in the pan.
allow the flour to cook a little in the butter.
Start adding a little stock to the pan to open dissolve the Beurre mani.
One the Beurre mani is incorporated you can add the rest of the stock.
There wants to be more stock than solids.
Allow to simmer until the potato has just a little bit left to it.
Remove three quarters of the vegetables from the pan.

Liquidise (I use a stick blender) It doesn't need to be smooth.
Add back to the pan and mix.
Plenty left for a further 4 portions.


2 medium Leeks; Sliced
4 medium Potatoes; diced finely
4 sticks Celery; chopped
1 medium Onion; chopped
1 clove Garlic; chopped
2 cubes Chicken Stock; you may use any stock you choose
2 leaves Bay leaf; Finely chopped, If you can use day old fresh leaves
1 sprig Thyme; Chopped, Use dried if you don't have fresh
1 thumb / teaspoon Turmeric; Use powder if whole not available.
1 knob Butter
1 tablespoon Flour; plain flour
1 to taste Salt
1 to taste Freshly ground pepper; Use white if you wish.
1 tablespoon Olive oil; for sautéing or your preferred oil.
1 Litre Water; add to required consistency and volume


Prep the vegetable and herbs as per the ingredient list.

Add a table spoon of oil to a large sauté pan.
Combine onion, leeks, and celery in a large pan and soften.
Add the herbs and mix.
Add the potatoes and soften a little.
Add a salt and pepper. More can be added to the finished soup if required.
Make a well in the pan. 
Add the butter and flour and cook out the flour to make a Beurre mani.
At this point I add the crumbled stock cubes to the Beurre mani and combine.
Start adding water to combine with the mix and stir to combine.
Add the rest of the water. Use your judgement on the amount.
Simmer until the potatoes just have a little bite left.
Remove 3/4 of the vegetables and blend (I use a stick blender)
Add back to the pan and mix.

Serve with freshly baked croutons, a dollop of Greek yoghurt and the obligatory sprig of parsley

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mushroom Pappardelle Pasta (Cheat)

Orfy's Mushroom Pappardelle Pasta
       I had lunch out but it wasn't exactly what you call gourmet. So left with the yearning for good food but no real appetite to eat or again or spend too much more money or have a large meal, I decided to cook at home.
I wanted a pasta that would be silky smooth and hold the sauce well. The Answer - Pappardelle.
The problem Saturday afternoon in Warrington and finding Pappardelle! Yes I could of made it but I was feeling lazy. The Solution. Buy sheets of fresh lasagne pasta and cut your own.

The key with this dish is preparation and there is not a lot of that. It is very quick to cook and put together.

Pappardelle Pasta or Fresh lasagne cut into 3cm wide strips.
Portabella Mushrooms (Or mushroom of your choice)
Chopped garlic
Fresh chopped parsley
Small amount of fresh thyme
Small amount of fresh finely chopped red chilli (Seeds removed if it's an hot chilli you wan a warming effect rather than real heat)
Crushed black pepper
Salt to taste
Fresh grated Parmasen
Knob of Butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.
Heat a skillet pan and add a good glug of EVOO and then the butter I don't like the ban to get to hot because it'll make the butter burn and the garlic bitter.
Add the garlic and chilli followed by the mushrooms, parsley and thyme. These ingredients want heating and softening do not cook too harshly. Add the black pepper. Add a little salt to taste if required. I use only a tiny pinch of sea salt flakes.
Put the pasta in the pan of water for a minute or two. Just enough to heat and soften it. It will finish in the other pan. 
Add the juice of half a lemon to the mushrooms. and turn up the heat a little
Add the softened pasta to the mushroom pan (I usually add a spoonful of the pasta water at this time ) along with the grated Parmasen and toss.
let finish for a minute or so to allow the pasta to soak up the flavours
Serve in a large pasta bowl and if required garnish with more parmasen, olive oil, black pepper and parsley.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Makin' Bacon

So I've finally got started on another thing on my bucket list.
Making Bacon and other cured meats. This first batch is really just a test and a bit of a compromise. It's just cheapish pork and a saltpeter cure from the butchers. Two batches a Pancetta that will cure for around 4 weeks in total and a bacon that I'll probably do for 7 to 10 days.

Sweet Dry Cure Bacon 

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Chicken Marinated 3 ways with Roast Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous and Corn cooked in husks.

500g Boned Chicken Thighs marinated. (If large cut in half) for each marinate
Skin on and slashed. Prepare the following and leave to marinate for 4+ hours

Caribbean Marinate

1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 hot Chillies, finely chopped (More if you like it hotter)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oil (I use olive oil)
1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 brown teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt )
1 teaspoon Jamaican Pimento, ground
1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

1 bay leaf. (remove before cooking)

Tandoori Style Tikka

Soak the chicken in the juice of 1 large lemon and add the finely greated zest
A good hand full chopped corriander
2 teaspoon of your favourite blend Garam Masala
Extra Turmeric, chilli powder and cayen pepper to taste.
I add a tiny bit of red food colouring for visual appeal.
Add around 300g of yoghurt and toss.

Chilli, Lime and Corriander.

I used juice and zest of 3 small limes.
Handfull of corriander.
3 medium chillies, 2 red and 1 green
A touch of sea salt and a heaped teaspoon of cracked black pepper.
Adjust to your taste.

Cous Cous.

I soak in vegetable stock and flavour with a little butter, oil and egg plant (salted and roasted dry).

Roasted Mediterranean Vegetables 

Carrot, Courgette, Sweet potato, Bell pepper, Vine tomatoes left on the vine.
Sprinkled with sea salt, olive oil and thyme.
The courgettes need to be tossed in salt and left to release water fo an our before roasting. Wipe off the salt and pat dry.
I reserve the used oil for dressing. It gives an intense flavour and a golden colour.

The corn needs to be boiled in the husks to soften.Finnish on the fire in the wet husks. When they dry, peel back the husks but do not tke them off. All some of the kernels to char then serve to your liking maybe a little butter and cracked black pepper.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I BBQ alot. Yhe last BBQ I had was a £400 beast. Considering that it's not gas that's a lot to pay but it was worth it. but after 7 years of constant all year round use (Over use) It's worn out and needs time, effort and some money spending on it, With a heayvish heart it's been moved out of prime spot until I can find a use for it or send it the the BBQ beach party in the sky.
I've not come across a bbq that I'd be happy with, for a reasonable price and the ones I've seen at any price are a comprise on the features I want.
So the only option was to collect parts over the last 12 months. After building a mock up to finalise the format I left it until now to make sure nothing better turned up.
Total cost is one bag of sand and cement (That will also get used for other things).
So I'd put it at a cost of <3.00 The bricks have been collected from various places. The fire grate is from the old bbq. and the other bits are from old scrap ovens and appliances.
I tested the mock up several times and was never quite happy with the fires performance. It either burnt to slow and not completely or too fast and hot. The solution was quite simple make sure the fire camber was draft free apart from a feed below the grate fed by removing a half brick. Once burning well the hole is damped as require to slow the burn.
The fire starts easily, the flames heat the top griddle, the grills can be pulled out so you can cook be the side of the heat rather than directly over it. There are four grill positions and you can use two grills and the griddle at the same time. The fuel burns to dust so it should never need cleaning between uses, It's all stainless so doesn't need covering.
The only thing it missing in an ideal world is a lid so I can only grill and griddle on it. With a lid I could bake and roast. I need to inspiration for the design and parts for to happen.
It's next to the fire monkey rocket stove and I have left space for the next project. A hot and cold smoker.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Orfy's Cowboy Beans

This is my latest and best version of Cowboy beans.

I've modified the original recipe with a few additions after researching authentic recipes.
The Main addition is coffee and tomatoes.

I'm not a cook that weighs things so it's to taste or by judgement.

I used 2 packs (1kg of Pinto Beans, you can substitute for other beans if you wish)
I wanted to used smoked ham hocks but it's difficult get hold of so I got around a pound of trimmings of dried cured smoked bacon. And used two normal ham hocks.

1KG Pinto Beans
2 Smoked Ham Hocks (If plain use some smokey bacon as well)
2 Onions
1 Scotch bonnet Chilli
1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
1 Heaped teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Rounded teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon course ground black pepper
2 Tins chopped tomatoes
1 Cup fresh brewed ground coffee

I used a quick soak method to start the beans.
Then added the ham and covered with water.
The ham was not done by the time the beans had softened so I removed the ham. Strained the bean and reserved the beans for adding back in later. I trimmed the Skin and fat from the ham and returned the ham to the pot with the liquid. I fried up the bacon onion and spices. When the ham was done I pulled it apart, added the beans bacon and spice mix along with the coffee and beans then simmered for a further hour.

When this cools it does thicken and almost set but it does liquefy again when rewarmed.


Chiesa Di Dante E Beatrice (Dante's Church)

Chiesa Di Dante E Beatrice (Dante's Church)

A special place in Florence. A Church Dedicated to Love.

In Florence the are many Grand Churches, Streets and Squares.
One of the best is a little unassuming church down a little side alley. The alley is easy to miss and the church does not stand out. It is Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi also Know as The Church of Dante and Beatrice.
I still get a chill when I think of this church. The first time I entered I had to step out side because I welled up. I am not a spiritual person bet something moved inside me. It is a place to sit, relax and reflect. Maybe it is because The church is dedicated to love and the people who visit it and use it have such passion and feeling. For me it is the haunting music, the simplicity, the art and the feeling of love and calmness that I get from this space.
Because of the Attraction of Dante you do occasionally get the odd group come in but they do not stay for long because it is a tiny and unassuming church. They soon go an the peace returns.
Next to the tomb that is said to be that of Beatrice, there is a little basket that visitor leave notes for Beatrice.
Inside the church are several piece of Art. My favourites were a display of child like painting of Pinocchio. They are done in a child like manner (Maybe painted by local children). Then there is Matrimonio di Beatrice Portinari by Raffaello Sorbi.
It would be a great shame to visit Florence and not experience Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi. A place to sit in peace on your own or with the one you love.

Via S. Margerita can be found off, near the Lush shop. Also worth a look see is a very small and popular Tripe Shop, they also sell other street food and cups of Chianti at E1.50
It is off Borgo degli Albizzi.
Chiesa di Santa Margherita dei Cerchi (Church of Santa Margherita d'Antiochia)
Via S. Margerita 2 – 50122 FIRENZE

Friday, May 18, 2012

Cowboy beans.

Cowboy beans Version one.

This turned out well, It was cheap to make for the amount of portions you get from it. I aim to pick up some more beans today to do another batch. I may even use home grown chillies in it.
This is closely following a recipe found on the net.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pork pie batch #3

My latest batch of pork pies.

Still using spring form tins but hand raising the pastry up the moulds.
I release (Fold) the pastry away from the sides before filling loosely with the filling,

Notes to self:
Next time I  need to make more pastry. ( Made do with a lattice on the smaller pie and it worked well.
I added a little bread flour to the plain flour.
Used onion and carrot instead of celery
On the larger pie I experimented with spreading whole grain mustard

Jelly. (Makes enough for multiple pie batches)

2 trotters
pig bones (enough to 2/3 fill pan)
1 bouquet garni (celery, bay leaf, thyme and parsley)
12 black peppercorns
4 cloves

Add the trotters, bones and herbs
Fill pan with water,
Boil, then simmer for 3 hours.
Strain. ( I use a cotton kitchen towel)
Reduce to 2 litre of jelly.

Enough for 2 large pies
1,7kg pork shoulder after rind removed rough minced (or fine hand chopped)
250 good black pudding (Optional)
4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp dried sage
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon fine grated nutmeg
1 level teaspoon salt
2 tsp ground black pepper,

Hot water crust Pastry
1000g plain flour
350g lard
450ml boiling water
3 tsp salt

Cooked for 20 minutes at 220 then 120 minutes at 180
I covered with parchment and foil at 30 minutes to go.
Many recipes state leave to cool before filling with jelly.
I like to put some jelly in whilst warm to get the penetration.

I then put on a plate in the fridge to cool and top up as required with jelly.

Trotters (Free from your 
The rough minced pork shoulder.
If you get you butcher to do it ask him to only run it through the mincer once on a course grin
Pork bones, also free from the butchers.
Whole grain mustard on top of a quarter of the meat.
250g of black pudding on one of the pies.
Lattice work on the black pudding pie.
The finished jelly

Below is the pork pie with black pudding and lattice top.
The black pudding makes for a moister pie and the lattice makes it lighter.