Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Elderberry Wine

After our forage the other day, I quickly realised I didn't have enough elderberries to make the recipe from C.J.J. Berry's 'First Steps in Wine Making.' Luckily, I knew where a glut was near work, so off I popped, and 3kg+ of elderberries later, the first steps have been taken.

This is the recipe from the book, which if you haven't got, you should rush out to buy! I bought mine secondhand for 99p, a pittance I think:

1.5kg elderberries
1.5kg wine makers sugar
1 tspn citric acid
4.5 litres of water
Yeast and nutrient

Strip the berries from the stalks by using the prongs of an ordinary table fork (otherwise it is a messy and tedious business), then weigh them and crush them in a bowl. Pour on the boiling water, and let it cool to about 21c before adding yeast and acid. Leave three days, stirring daily, then strain through fine sieve on to the sugar. Pour the liquid into a dark glass bottle (in clear bottles the wine may lose its colour), but do not fill completely until first vigorous ferment has subsided, plugging the neck with cotton wool. When the ferment is quieter fill to the bottom of neck, and fit an airlock. Leave until fermentation is complete - it may be longer than most - then siphon off into clean, dark bottles and keep for six months at least.

So far I have got my wine into demijohns, but they haven't started fermenting yet. I'll keep an eye on it over the next few days.

Sam x

Foragers Plum Chutney or Jam??

Not much of a decision really as we pretty much never eat jam but do eat all meat and cheese. I started with foraged apples and plums and here it goes:

1kg chopped and stoned plums
1.5kg chopped, cored and skinned apples
250g stoned and chopped ( roughly ) prunes
500g chopped ( roughly ) shallots
500g soft light brown sugar
600mls cider or white wine vinegar
2 ( or 4 as I used) tspn chilli flakes
salt to taste

For the spice bag
Piece of muslin
2 tspn mustard seeds
2 tspn whole black peppercorns
50g fresh root ginger - bruised

Place all ingredients in a large pan with spice bag ( I simply tied up my bag into a knot as my muslin was sock shaped ) and bring to the boil slowly stirring every now and again. Once bubbling turn down the heat to a kind of gentle bubble and let it cook slowly uncovered  for about 2-3 hours.

Stir now and again but don't let it turn to mush. You want to still see chunks not goo.

Pot chutney into warm sterilised jars patting mixture down to avoid air pockets. Cover top with waxed disc and lid. Put in a cool dry place for a couple of months to mature.
This should keep for a couple of years - if it lasts that long!

Hey presto - foragers chutney.

This recipe actually made 8 largish jars of various size.
Thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for this recipe. Happy Mr Debs last night. He came home to a stepford wife


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pan fried Chicken with spring greens

I cooked this recipe after seeing it on TV ( again ) from a James Martin programme,it looked easy and tasty but unfortunately we ate it before I took photo's. I think that we were quite hungry that night. Anyhow as I have no photo's I'll just post a link to the recipe

I served this with little thyme and garlic roasties and green beans.


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dulce de leche brownies

Sunday mornings are spent noodling about changing bedding, doing housework general stuff with a backdrop of Something for the Weekend on the TV. This week as with most weeks, a recipe caught my eye. These brownies looked so scrummy that I immediately leapt over to the big shop and got the stuff for them.

125g carnation caramel condensed milk
100g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate
115g butter, cubed
25g cocoa powder
3 free range eggs
200g caster sugar
140g plain flour

If you can't get hold of carnation caramel condensed milk then you can make your own dulche de leche like this, fill a saucapan with water and boil  tin of condensed mik for 4 hours. Don't let your pan run dry.After 4 hours, take tin out of the water and leave to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 175c./325f/Gas3.Grease and line a 20cm ( 8inch) square cake tin.
Place chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of bubbling water and melt together. Once melted take off the heat and whisk in the cocoa, eggs and sugar then fold in the flour.

Pour half this mixture into your tin, dot over blobs of the dulce de leche and pour over the rest of the chocolate mixture.

Place tin into the centre of your oven for about 30-35 minutes or until a skewer pushed into the centre of your cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Once cooled, cut into squares and beat family members back.

This recipe called for you to swirl the toffee mixture into the cake mix but everyone liked the sudden hit of toffee in the middle so I left it alone and just blobbed it in.

These aren't the prettiest cakes but what they lack in the looks department, they more than make up for with the overall brownie experience.


Strawberry Vodka

Made this while waiting for Sam to de-stalk his elderberries - a long boring job not helped by the fact that he has just dropped the lot on the floor.

One bottle cheap vodka
500g strawberries
200g sugar
Large air tight jar ( I use a kilner jar for this)

Sterilise jar in oven - 180c - for 10 minutes and pop in fruit, vodka and sugar. Seal, shake and leave for about 6 weeks gently shaking each day. After 6 weeks strain fruit mixture and bottle. This tastes lovely straight from the fridge.

I've made this with raspberries and it's really good, dosn't last too long though.


Morning Foragers

A rare Thursday off work presented a perfected opportunity to get out of the house and search the hedge rows for suitable wine making fruits and berries. This is an hours work:
The whole lot.

Elderberries for wine.

Apples for Tarte Tatin.

Figs for cheese.

Blackberries for... Well they were for wine, but the birds beat us to them.

And finally, plums for wine.

Now to start sterilising the demijons and fermentation buckets!

Sam x

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Simple Beef Burgers

We had a customer ask if we could arrange a BBQ for her 40th birthday. Nothing fancy, burgers, sausages and salads for 40 people.

We could have gone to the cash and carry and bought burgers but we decided to make our own:

1kg beef mince (not lean mince as you need the fat to keep the burgers moist)
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
4tbsp breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
A pinch of salt and pepper

I'm sure this recipe is from somewhere online, and they may have a different method, but this is how I did mine.
1. Combine the onion, garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, mustard, salt and pepper and mix well.
2. Take the mince from the fridge and break roughly into the mixing bowl.
3. Add the egg and mix together.
4. The quicker you do this the better, quite sure why I can't remember but I believe it has something to do with breaking down the fats if you play with it too much, which will make the burgers dry and tough when cooked.
5. I then weighed the mixture, divided by 8 and made the burgers in a large egg poaching ring.
6. Then simply get them on the BBQ.

The feedback was great from these, and I'm glad we took the time to make fresh rather buy in!

Sam x

Tartare Sauce

This is one we make in the pub so it makes 400ml +/-, but you can portion and freeze this easily enough:

400ml mayonnaise
4 free range eggs, hard boiled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed
50g capers, finely chopped
50g gherkins, finely chopped
15g dill, finely chopped
15ml white wine vinegar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
10g caster sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Once you have boiled, chopped and pressed as above, simply combine all of the ingredients and chill in the fridge, until ready to eat with home made fish and chips!

Sam x

The tastiest samosa's

Here is the recipe for - I think - the tastiest samosa's. I had tried lots from various places but they do seem to lack flavour. This is a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey that we have just tweaked a little to give us the required spice level. I have always found that the filling mixture far outweighs the pastry mix so I always double up and it makes 32.

For the Pastry
450g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons vegetable oil plus a little bit more
8 tablespoons water

For the filling
4 largish potatoes microwaved or boiled with skins on and cooled
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion peeled and finely chopped
175g frozen peas
1 tablespoon ( or so ) finely chopped ginger
3-5 ( 5 ) finely chopped green chillis
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
3 tablespoons water
salt to taste
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne
2-4 tablespoons lemon juice
Vegetable oil for frying

Place flour and salt in bowl. Add oil and rub in like pastry until sort of slighly greasy breadcrumbs. This is really quick. Slowly add water until dough comes together into a ball.
Place on a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes. You don't need to go mad with it just nice and steady until it's smooth. Pour a little oil into your hands and stroke it over the dough. place in a poly bag or clingfilm and put to one side.

Peel skins from potatoes and dice into 1/4inch dice. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large frying pan and pop in onions when hot. Stir until they start to go golden then add peas, chillis, ginger and fresh coriander.
Add water, cover and simmer until peas are cooked ( about 4 mins ).
Stir now and then and add a little more water if it becomes dry.
Add potatoes and all the spices and lemon juice. Stir gently and cook on a low heat for about 4 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
Take off heat and allow to cool.

Knead pastry again until smooth and divide into 16 balls. Roll out each ball untill small plateish size. Cut each circle in half and wet curly side with water. Fold into a triangle shape and stuff with filling -  be generous  these don't need to be mean. Seal edge with water and press closed. When all samosa's are made fry for a couple of minutes until golden brown.

Drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool. It's fair to say that at this point I just want to eat one but they are quite hot so wait for as long as you can bear before munching.

The original recipe calls for about haf the spice mixture and one chilli so we have upped the flavour with these. I guess that - as with most recipes - you have to make it your own and these are really good, So good in fact that I have to make another load this week for a charity bake.


Chocolate cornflake cakes

Well, having had a request for chocolate cornflake cakes and samosa's from Mr Deb's munchie loving work colleagues it seemed only right to oblige. Chocolate cornflake cakes are easy enough but heres the recipe anyway:

100g butter
200g mix of dark and milk chocolate
2-4 tablespoons golden syrup
150g cornflakes

Melt chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heavy bottomed pan gently. When all melty, stir in cornflakes.
Spoon into pretty cake cases and pop in fridge. Easy peasy.

Ok, I know thats only three but all the rest got eaten ( or sold - money for charity) before I remembered to take a photo!


Friday, 19 August 2011

Elderberry Wine?

Elderberries are ready.....Sam and I are ready......just need a recipe Anyone got a good one for our winemaking week next week??


Thursday, 18 August 2011

Really spicy chicken wings

This is not for the meek among us, if you like your food with a bit of a hit then this is one to try. You can of course make them milder with less aggressive use of encona.

Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry
One and a half kg chicken wings
Large splash white wine vinegar
75g butter
150mls Encona sauce

Blue cheese sauce
300mls sour cream
100g danish blue cheese
Celery sticks

Preheat oven to about 200c
Chop chicken wings in half beween wingy bit and drumstick and place on a nice big racked  oven tray lined with foil. This really helps as the wings get very sticky and a nightmare to clean up after. Place in the centre of the hot oven for about an hour until golden brown.

While these are cooking, simply chop the cheese into the sour cream, season with salt and pepper and set to one side .
In a large wok or frying pan, melt butter until bubbling, add white wine vinegar and encona and get nice and hot.

Pop in chicken wings and stir around until they are all covered ( This bit might make you cough a bit ).
This only takes 2-3 minutes, once they are all covered serve immediately with blue cheese sauce and celery

 I don't remember where we found this recipe but having looked at loads this combination seems quite popular. I just don't ever find them hot enough for me and encona is the perfect heat source for these little beauties.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

And the reason there was no cooking done today is......

 7 weeks old and ridiculously cute, Leroy has taken up most of Sam's ( and my ) day!!

Monday, 15 August 2011

Cookies gone

Me and Mr Debs took the cookies to work and put some smiles on our co-workers faces! Got an order for Cornflake cakes and Samosas....not sure that this was quite what I had anticipated but any cooking is good cooking and with my self imposed Dukan diet ( for iminent holiday purposes) getting food out of the house would seem wise.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Cookies and Alcohol

I don't know what it is about Sunday afternoons but I come over all bakey. Anyway thanks to Nigella I've rustled up about a million chocolate chip cookies.

Photographed standing proudly in front of home made toffee and raspberry vodka.



Cooking my food in a basketcase of a half finished restoration project kitchen.

If it's saturday it must be gfs

Since seeing this recipe for Galician Fish Stew on saturday kitchen a couple of years ago, I'm afraid that I have been addicted to it ever since. I think that it was originally a Rick Stein recipe but I have also seen something very similiar by Keith Floyd and since we like our food on the spicy side, we have noodled around and made it our own. Mr Debs cooks this A LOT.

Serves 2-3

1 Onion halved and finely sliced
3 Green Chillis halved and finely sliced (including seeds and pith)
Half a ring of good quality Chorizo diced
4 heaped teaspoons Paprika
4 Cloves Garlic finely sliced
1-2 Chopped Green Peppers (bite sized pieces)
A little Olive Oil for frying
12 Waxy New Potatoes sliced lengthways
6oz Raw Prawns
Couple pieces of  well seasoned White Fish ( Cod, Haddock,Coley, whatever )
Fish Stock
Glug of White Wine

Heat olive oil in a deepish roasting tin and fry onion and garlic gently until translucent. Pop in paprika and chorizo and fry for 1 minute stirring.

Add peppers and chillis and fry for 1 minute, add potatoes stir and de-glaze with white wine ( just a glass )
add enough fish stock to just cover, pop on lid and simmer until potatoes are almost cooked - about 10-15minutes.

Take off lid, lay the fish on top of the stew, cover and cook for a further 7-8 minutes.
When fish is cooked, remove from pan and keep warm. Place prawns in the stew and cook for 2 minutes.
Ladle stew into warmed dishes, place fish on the top - eat often.

Thanks Mr Debs

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Apple Tarte Tatin

So I decided, well my hangover did for me really, that I'll pass on going to car show, and instead share the Tarte Tatin recipe.

We had a glut of windfall apples in our fridge, and a bag of puff pastry that had been delivered to us by mistake. A desert recipe was needed!

I believe this is Jamie Oliver but I can't quite remember now:

5 or 6 eating apples, peeled and halved
100ml calvados (I used cooking brandy as I couldn't find any)
100g brown caster sugar (I used normal brown sugar)
1 vanilla pod
50g butter
Puff pastry

1. Preheat your oven to 190c. Place an oven safe frying pan over a medium heat and add the sugar, calvados and the split, seeded vanilla pod.
2. Once the sugar has melted and the liquid is a caramel colour, add the apple halves and butter and cook gently.
3. As the apples start to go soft, place your rolled out pastry (5-10mm) over the pan, tucking in the edges and be careful of the hot caramel.
4. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
5. The fun bit, turning your tarte tatin out of the pan. Take a large, flat dinner plate and place it over the pastry. In one quick, fluid motion, turn the pan over so that the plate is underneath and gently shake until the pan and tarte are free. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

The second time I made this I cut the apples into crescents, thinking it would look nicer. However, the apples cooked easier and so turned to mush, and when it came to turning the tarte out, the topping slid everywhere!

As for puff pastry weights, we use a puff pastry mix which needs water and then endless folding, but if I had to guess I would say 200g of shop bought would be about right.

We joke in the kitchen about this recipe, it has rustic charm, meaning mine are a bit ugly at the moment. But it tastes bloody beautiful!

Sam x

At Last, A Post From Sam

Working full time in a kitchen has kept me from posting thus far, but by some miracle I have a rare Saturday morning off work. A perfect moment to share a quick recipe.

One of the local villagers regularly brings us punnets of fruit and vegetables. Usually it's things like plums or apples and the occasional bunch of herbs. This week we were handed a box of chard. A bit like wind, I knew it was out there but have never seen it, let alone cooked it!

After a quick look around the web, we decided to put an Asian inspired meal on our specials board and cook the chard as follows:

1kg Chard, leaves and stalks finely shredded
2 large red onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Juice and zest of one orange
Salt and pepper

1. Gently fry off the onion in a large pan or wok, and add the shredded stalks. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes until the stalks start to soften.
2. Add the shredded leaves and garlic and fry for a further 2 - 3 minutes until the leaves start to wilt.
3. Take off the heat and add the juice, zest and season liberally.

We served ours with a hoi sin glazed duck breast and vegetable rice, using the chard as a bed for the sliced duck breast. Customer comments were very good, and I believe we'll sell out tonight!

As it's my first day off for about 9 days, I'm going to pop to a classic car show, but I shall try and get a post on the Tarte Tatins we made the other day, up here on Sunday.

Sam x

Friday, 12 August 2011

Not exactly a healthfood

Yummy cheesy scones..........cross trainer listening  to ccs yeah

Sam get up!!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Cheesy jalapeno scones

Decided to make some cornbread  to accompany the cassoulet but cannot find polenta anywhere - this is a small town! So cheesy scones with jalapeno's it is.

250g Self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
half a tspn salt
125g softened butter
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
75g nice strong cheddar
1 tbsp chopped jalapeno's
100mls ish milk

Mix flour,baking powder, salt mustard and rub in butter. Stir in cheese and jalapeno's, bring to a soft dough with milk. Pat gently on a floured board to about 3cm and cut into circles. Bake at 220 degrees / 425 F/ gas mark7 for about 10-12 mins. Served these with cassoulet but I think they would be nice with soup- or just buttered while warm.

Sam and Jynx trying them out !


As with everything there are a  billion recipes for cassoulet out there. I started with a Rick Stein  from his french experience) but on reflection it was a little too simple so have selected a Jamie Oliver ( ) - with a few twists - .

This one looks more interesting with a few more layers of to shop.

2 handfuls of dried porcini mushrooms
( cut up a bit )
8 or so rashers dry cured streaky bacon
olive oil ( don't be too precious here )
couple sprigs fresh rosemary
couple sprigs fresh thyme
couple bay leaves
few sprigs sage
2 onions chopped roughly
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 large carrot peeled and chopped
half a chopped celery heart
half a bottle red wine
3 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g tins cannellini or borlotti beans drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
24 chipolata or 16 fat sausages

Preheat oven to 200 degreesC/400 degreesF/Gas mark6
Put mushrooms into a bowl with 1 pint boiling water to soak until soft.
Heat a large roasting tray on the hob. Slice bacon into strips. Fry in 4 tablespoons
of olive oil until crispy and golden. Tie herbage into a bundle with string pop into
Pop in onion, carrot, garlic and celery.Drain mushrooms saving juice.
Add mushrooms to the pan and fry mixture gently for about 5 mins.
Add the red wine and simmer until liquid reduced by about half.
Add tinned toms to the pan then add porcini liquid and beans.
Bring  to boil and simmer for 15 mins.Season and pop in sausages on top.
Place in oven for about 40 mins.Remove herbs and serve.

I have made a couple of changes to this recipe, I found that the herbs were a little overwhelming, so would
add fewer of these next time, I will leave out the bread next time cos it just tasted sloppy - yuk- and I added in a couple of confit duck legs ( meat stripped of the bone and added with the sausages ) as I was going to make a more traditional recipe in the first place.
I served it with green salad and some cheesy jalapeno scones.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Welcome to our food blog.

Well, this is our new food blog, a fun diary of the ups and downs of new recipes by people only slightly obsessed by cooking. Tomorrow - having made duck confit yesterday -I'm having a go at cassoulet.