Sunday, 27 April 2014

National Butchers Week

For National Butchers Week I was asked to cook a piece of meat from G Gibson, Butchers in Charter Place in Watford, Hertfordshire. I have had their meat before and it is fantastic quality and taste.

With so many High Street butchers closing down in favour of supermarkets we are losing an important part of our food culture.  I remember when I was young going to the local butcher, including sawdust on the floor and that unforgetable smell of meal and being given a bone for our dog in with our order.  My mother would discuss the meals she wanted to make and the butcher (Mr Beamis) would offer suggestions and tips and often throw a bit more into the wrapper after he had weighed it!

G Gibsons in Watford offers you a traditional knowledge of the butcher with a keeness to offer you hints and tips on the meat and poultry you are buying from them. The personal touch which is impossible to recreate in a supermarket environment.

For National Butchers Week I was sent a piece of pork.  When I say piece of pork I need to remind you that there are three of us to cook for at the moment and this piece would feed an army! After all it weighed just over 4kg!!

I cut off the loin and bones from the main part and cooked that when my daughter and her boys came for Mother's Day lunch.

I smeared the top with a drop of oil and a couple of tablespoons of Gran Luchito honey with chilli and put it in the oven on a lowish heat for about 3-4 hours.

The meat just fell off the bone and there was loads of meat for Sunday lunch. 

I also used the bones and the leftover meat to make a soup for Mr R's lunches!

The best thing is that I still have a very large piece of pork to roast for Easter Sunday.


Easter Sunday I cooked the remaining part of the pork.  First off I seasoned the meat with pepper and Maldon Sea Salt,

Then I mixed honey and the new Jack Daniels with Honey and basted the top of the meat and the sides.  Into the oven on a low heat for about three hours and basting from time to time with the remainder of the honey mixture.

 I turned the oven up for the last hour to crisp up the skin,

and after a total of 4 hours we had pork that fell apart and tasted divine!
If you want to try some delicious meat that tastes like it used to visit your local butcher, he will have all sorts of advice and tips for you too.
Many thanks to G Gibsons for the piece of pork.  I was not paid to write this piece and all opinions are my own.

Monday, 21 April 2014

My Little Easter Helper

I am very fond of home made soup and usually make some on Sunday for work lunches during the week.

This Easter I went to stay with my daughter, son-in-law and the two boys. Mr R was supposed to come with me but a last minute change of plan meant he had to stay home.

As soon as I arrived my grandson Boy G (4) asked me if I could make soup and could he help. Baby G wanted to stand on the stool as well but soon got bored and wandered off to play.

Boy G was very serious cutting up vegetables with his special child's knife which will cut veggies but not fingers. 


The funny thing is that Boy G doesn't really like vegetables but helping me with the cutting and stirring (I was always on hand to make sure he didn't burn himself) and turning the blender on when I had filled it with the soup made him very keen to have the finished soup.

We made some soup Friday when I arrived and again on Sunday with the bones from the Sunday lunch. A very happy boy who downed a mug of home made soup asked for more!  A great way to make sure he gets some of his 5-A-Day!


Next time we will try hiding some veggies in cake!



Thursday, 17 April 2014

Easter Cocktails from Aldi

I do like a glass of rum (or two!!) especially when I am on holiday but here is an excuse to drink some at home.  Aldi sent me a lovely hamper full of drinks and chocolate (well, it is Easter after all!) and some recipes for creating cocktails and also suggestions to enjoy some great drinks with our Easter food.

The hamper had goodies such as cider which would go perfectly with pork over the Easter holiday. Use to help deglaze the roasting tin if you are having roast pork or add to a pork and apple casserole.  The Orchard Cider is priced in store at £0.99 each.

Or a Sparkling Chardonnay wich would pair really well with a roast chicken or small roast turkey for this Spring holiday. The Sparkling Cardonnay is available in store for £6.99.

I decided to try the recipe that came with the hamper which used both the dark run and the white rum and coconut to make what I called the 'Easter Bunny'.  I got all the ingredients together and put Mr R on standby ready to taste an Easter treat.

This was a very simple concoction.  I grated some white chocolate and dark chocolate on seperate places to sprinkle on top and I also used the dark chocolate gratings to rim the glasses.

This cocktail was quite dangerous! It tasted lovely but was quite strong however went down far too quickly!

The Hopking Dark Rum costs £9.99 and the Cocobay Caribbean White Rum & Coconut Blend is £4.99 in most branches of Aldi.

There was also a bottle of Pinot Noir red wine to drink with a lovely leg of roast lamb this Easter or in fact any time.

What will you be eating and drinking this Easter? Please leave a comment below.

I received the hamper of Easter treats from Aldi but I did not receive any payment to write this post.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Eat, Drink and be MerryDown (Cider)

I was invited to attend the celebrated cooking school Foodat52 for an evening of MerryDown cider and cooking by the Celebrity Master Chef winner Ade Edmonson.  Ade is also well known for his television career with The Young Ones and Bottom - neither of them were something I watched but I had formed my own opinion about Ade and I must admit I was very wrong.  He was a genuinely friendly person and enjoyed sharing his recipe and cooking skills along with tales from his time on Master Chef with us.

I often drink cider cold over ice cubes in the summer and find it a really refreshing way to endure a hot afternoon. Fresh and refreshing MerryDown, brewed to a traditional Sussex recipe since 1946, now comes in two flavours, original apple and blackcurrent.

We were treated to some very fine Morris dancing by the MerryDown Men (notice everyone always seems to have a glass of MerryDown in their hands!)

Ade Edmonson took us through his really easy, user friendly recipe for Coq au Cidre (posh way to say Chicken in Cider).  All of the ingredients are available in most supermarkets including the most important - the MerryDown Cider.

Everything prepped and ready to get cooking.

And here is how he does it:-
Coq au cider
Ade Edmondson

"This is a take on Coq au Vin that worked even better than I expected – there’s a sort of delicious stickiness the Merrydown cider gives it (I use the medium cider) that makes it almost sweet ‘n’ sour. It’s also incredibly easy to prepare." (Ade Edmonson) 

Serves 4
4 chicken legs (complete with the thigh)
1 TSP mustard seeds
120g lardons
1 TBSP Olive oil
100g butter
3 cloves garlic –chopped
2 medium sized onions –chopped
2 sticks of celery – sliced
2 medium sized carrots – sliced
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 TBSP flour
1large bottle Merrydown medium cider
200g small chestnut mushrooms

You need a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish into which the chicken legs will fit snugly, and which is deep enough to cover the chicken legs in cider. You need a lid too, or some foil if you haven’t got one.

o   Pour a glug of oil into a heavy bottomed pan or casserole dish. Once it is hot add half the butter. Once that has melted add the lardons and fry until they are very nicely browned, then remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.
o   Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown them in the oil, butter and left over fat from the lardons, then remove them from the pan too.
o   This is the fun bit – add a heaped teaspoon of mustard seeds to the fat and put on the lid. A glass lid is the most fun, as after a couple of minutes you can watch the seeds burst and fly about all over the place. The make shift tin foil lid is fun too though, as the exploding seeds cause brilliant indentations on the underside.
o   Once the seeds have all popped (after a minute or so) add the onions, garlic and celery, and gently cook them off until the onions are translucent.
o   Add a tablespoon of flour to the pan and stir until it has been absorbed –a kind of makeshift roux.
o   Pour in a little of the cider and stir, and keep adding more, stirring each time, until the cider has absorbed the roux.
o   Now add the carrots, return the chicken and lardons to the pan and add the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaves. You need to make sure the chicken is completely covered by the cider. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer, and cover it almost entirely with the lid – almost, but not quite – you want it to reduce, but not very quickly.
o   Leave to gently simmer away for an hour, checking occasionally – if it looks like it’s drying out too much add more cider.
o   When the hour is nearly up slice the chestnut mushrooms and fry them off in the remains of the butter – you want to get them nicely browned – once they are done, add them to the pan and leave it for a further 10 minutes.

Serve with boiled potatoes to soak up that delicious sauce.

The finished dish served with boiled baby potatoes and green vegetables. Very tasty and very easy to make. A great dish for a relaxed supper with friends and much of it can be prepared and started in advance.


I was the guest of Merrydown Cider and Foodat52 and was not obliged to write a positive review.  All photos and opinions are my own.