Guest chef at the Temperance

In February and March next year I’ll be moonlighting from The Lop Eared Pig on the farm to go and cook in the heart of Chesham, in the Old Town.

This year, just as I was setting up The Lop Eared Pig, I met Peter Wright who was hugely responsible for the brilliant Buryfields Festival. He’s invited me to guest chef at the pop up Temperance Social Eating House. Bookings are already being taken, and some nights are completely booked.

The Temperance will pop up in the old Temperance Hall, now known as the Little Theatre on the Park.

The menu will be a set 3 course menu, plus an amuse bouche at £25 a head. And it’s bring your own wine, no corkage.

thelopearedpig.wordpress.com

You can book by emailing temperanceSEH@hotmail.com

Twitter @temperanceSEH

Mackerel starter

Mackerel starter

Who needs electricity anyway?

I love waiting for things. Some things deserve a wait – a slow cooked kleftiko, a properly proved sourdough bread, a great Parmigiano. They all take a while. Apparently electricity takes a long time, too. The Lop Eared Pig Cafe is still waiting for electricity.

So, this Easter, I’ll be cooking on the farm without electricity, on a barbecue. Which is fine, it’s a method I’m very happy with. I’m happy to barbecue in the snow. Or the sun, or the hailstones. Whatever this Easter brings. Whatever the weather deals up, there’s stuff happening on the farm, and good food going on.

Just email me if you’d like to reserve a table, at thelopearedpig.gmail.com.

easter barbecue-page-001 (1)

Early days

Tim’s been busy ‘repurposing’ an old tractor garage on a farm.

It’s funny how things happen. If you’ve been following, you’ll know we’ve moved to the country, and have been visiting a free range, rare breed farm in Chesham, looking at the animals and talking about the produce.

Tim and the lovely people at Hazeldene Farm have been talking, and now there’s a plan. Which is all due to happen very soon.

Tim is going to open a cafe on the farm, in the old tractor garage. He’ll be doing lunch Saturdays and Sundays, using Hazeldene Farm’s own produce, and produce from other local places.

He’ll also be able to do the dinner parties that were so popular in Isleworth, and food for the events that go on at the farm.

We’ve set up a new WordPress site for the new venture, if you could follow that would be lovely!

It’s at www.thelopearedpig.wordpress.com

A ewe on the farm

Ewe on the farm

Free range chickens in Hazeldene Farm, in the snow

Free range chickens in the snow

How to make a perfect burger. And how not to make a burger.

To make the best burger, Delia Smith says it has to be 20% fat. John Torode says 40% fat. Heston Blumenthal’s epic burger recipe has a formula of 2:1:1 of chuck, short rib and brisket.

Donna Hay put this in her burger recipe: mince, garlic, tomato paste, sauce, parsley, salt and pepper.  Jamie Oliver’s burger recipe suggests adding 12 cream crackers, parsley and an egg to minced beef.

No one suggests a dash of horse meat.

A burger with oyster sauce - surf and turf

We thought we’d try a few different ways to make a proper burger.

Tim’s a bit of a purist when it comes to burgers. Actually, he a bit of a purist concerning lots of food. So his first method contains 100% meat. Well, meat and fat. He used one lean cut, one fattier, and some fat.

three ingredients for the burger

Three ingredients, meat, meat and fat

He recently found this brilliant beast of a machine, to hand-mince the meat. A food processor could overwork the meat making it sausage-meat like.

The Beat - a hand mincing machine for burgers

The Beast in all its guises

The Beast minces the meat for the burger

The Beast does its work

After mincing the meats and fat, he laid the meat out and seasoned it. Then he fried a little sample to check the seasoning. He formed the beef into patties using an earthenware tapas dish, which produced a nice round 190g patty.

Three burger patties

Three burger patties

For the first burger he topped it simply and traditionally with a grated cheddar – Montgomery is a good strong traditional one. He browned it under the grill, before adding the bun ‘lid’.

A cheese burger with Montgomery cheddar.

A cheese burger with Montgomery cheddar.

For a second version Tim went for a ‘surf and turf’ effect, making an oyster sauce.

A burger with oyster sauce - surf and turf

Burger with oyster sauce – surf and turf

Another topping variant was bacon and celeriac slaw.

Burger with bacon and celeriac slaw

The burgers were good, but for me, I felt they were a bit dense. So we did another version, adding finely chopped onion, a couple of spoons of  breadcrumbs and an egg to bind it. The egg actually made the mixture fall apart, so we added a touch more breadcrumbs until it held together again.

Whichever way you prefer your burgers, homemade is definitely best, particularly now we have all these Unidentified Frozen Objects around.

How not to make a great burger:

Larry Goodman of ABP Food Group, which owns Silvercrest Foods, said, “DNA will pick up molecules and something in the air.” If it’s the case that horse DNA floats around in the air, why haven’t more horses been mistakenly convicted of violent crimes and ram-raiding jewellers?

Paul Walker of Iceland, who’s the spitting image of the bloke that runs the hilarious and disastrous ‘The Hotel’ on TV  (and inspires just about as much confidence) said,  “OK, you can say we haven’t been testing for horse – well, why would we? We don’t test for hedgehog either.” He clearly didn’t give a flying horse about the issue.

I’m shocked that a massive supermarket doesn’t look into who they deal with a little more carefully. A quick google shows that one of the Irish meat suppliers they use has been previously caught out for less than squeaky clean activities.  They’ve been found out using illegal growth hormones in their cattle more than once, prosecuted numerous times for polluting the environment, and fined for evading tax on several occasions.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/IFFY+LIFFEY%3B+Horse+meat+firm+has+previous+convictions.-a0315548059

Recipe for baked custard creams. Angels in the machine.

Baked custard creams

Baked Custard creams

This dish is simple and light, almost ethereal.

By happy accident Tim forgot to buy the caster sugar he needed, so he made the custard with brown sugar instead. The resulting flavour is like buttercotch. It’s like eating caramelised cumulus clouds, the custard melts in the mouth, and slips down in a flash.

This recipe makes 8 ramekins, depending on the size of your ramekins. You’ll find any spare ramekins of custard disappear mysteriously as if they never existed.

 Ingredients

500ml full fat milk

500 ml double cream

150g brown demerara sugar

6 egg yolks

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

How to make the baked custard creams

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.

Mix the milk and cream together, and the vanilla extract.

Bring the milk and cream to just under boiling, stirring with a whisk to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Mix the egg yolks with the sugar.

Pour some of the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly so that it doesn’t curdle, then pour back into the pan.

Pour through a fine sieve into ramekins.

Skim the bubbles off the top to prevent a crackled crust appearance to the top of the custards.

Make a bain-marie by finding a roasting pan big enough to contain your ramekins. Put the ramekins in and pour in boiling water up to 3/4 the height of the ramekins.

Bake for 20 minutes. Using a blow torch to burn the top of the custard adds an extra caramel flavour.