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.

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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