Huw and Liz

Got up late today, didn’t have any inconsiderate twats knocking the door at 7.40 am, had copious amounts of coffee and watched the highlights of yesterday’s defeat of the old enemy, in truth I watched it live yesterday but it’s always worth watching a second or third time. You may have gathered that I am a Cricket fanatic, it’s one of my great passions in life together with good beer, great wine, fabulous food and playing guitar, so beating the Ozzies ranks right up there.
Having a lazy morning with my son to boot.
Went down to Tesco (yes I do some shopping there but not anything edible) to pick up some coffee, tesco’s own brand French Blend which is at the price some of the best you can get (it’s been reduced over the last week to £2.09 per packet). I then toddled down to the Peli to pick up Millie and bring her home for the afternoon, she just loves sitting in the garden doing nothing. Anyway Joe told me we’d been invited over to Huw and Liz’s for coffee so off we went (Millie came too). Huw and I are on the same wave length, if he started a blog it would have to be called The Really Angry Cook. Huw thinks very much as I do about cooking, no expense spared, we are very different in our approach to cooking, he likes to do more modernistic cooking, you know drizzling and that kind of thing but he’s very good at it, I on the other hand am more in the classic French and Italian mode which I’m good at, the important thing is we both put our hearts and souls into it.
Huw also makes good coffee, he like me wouldn’t contemplate using instant crap.
Have you noticed that when a Springer drinks from a bowl they seem to get every surface within a metre radius soaking wet, other breeds don’t seem to do this, well Millie isn’t any other breed. I apologised and offered to mop the floor, Liz wouldn’t hear of it and got on her hands and knees, I think she was muttering something. Well we had a chat about this and that, Huw, being a overly keen angler told me about the flounder he caught by the eye and how he hooked their dog Ori in the leg (yes the dogfish jokes surfaced), it tasted fantastic, the flounder that is.
When we got home, it’s only around the corner I put the remainder of last night’s Chilli in containers and into the freezer.
I’ve taken out my last duck from last seasons crop in readiness for tomorrows lunch, I think oranges are in order. There ain’t anything like a wild duck with an orange sauce.
Well would you believe it the toilet seat in the downstairs loo has broken, now this is the most hideous monstrosity and was there when we bought the house and I’ve been meaning to change it since we moved in 5 years ago, now it’s finally broken, RIP toilet seat I think my bum is going to miss you.

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The Chilli King strikes again

It’s been an odd sort of day, it started with a knock on the door at 7.40am, It was the loft insulation guys who were supposed to be arriving at 11.00 am, I was only on my third cup of coffee, what do these people expect, I mean only my third cup of coffee and I don’t mean that brown instant shit that seems to be what the great unwashed drink (I mean do they really think coffee is as tasteless as that) I haven’t drunk instant coffee for at least 30 years. I was enjoying some French blend made in a pot as it should be, anyway I let them in as it was let them in or organise another day and frankly I couldn’t be arsed. I went back to several more cups of nectar.
I’d decided to make Chilli for dinner as my son Joe had intimated that as it was Friday the pub was on the agenda. Now you may think that you can make Chilli well you can’t, this is the best Chilli in the world, don’t just take my word for it ask anyone. Dice two onions and gently fry them in a tablespoon of oil until golden, add a half kilo of best mince (I do mean best mince, you don’t want that stuff that’s full of fat and water, the best Tesco can do is 5 percent fat but this is still full of water so you end up boiling the mince instead of frying it) add 3 teaspoons of Chilli powder, half a teaspoon of smoked Paprika and a bay leaf and brown the mince on a high heat, this will intensify the flavour.

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As you can see when the mince is browned there shouldn’t be any fat visible in the bottom of the pan. Next add a teaspoon of salt, loads of black pepper and two tins of chopped tomatoes, simmer very gently for an hour but keep an eye on it and stir frequently.

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Add two tins of drained red kidney beans, stir and continue simmering for another half hour.

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We had this when we got back from the Peli, what happened there is best kept secret but I’m sure you can use your imagination.

Millie, Nick and eggs

Went over to Cowbridge to drop my linen suit into the cleaners and then went down to the Pelican in her Piety to take Millie out for a run. I had to call over to see a pal of mine named Nick, I had to return some empty egg cartons and hopefully buy some more eggs. Nick lives in Castle-upon-alun, one of the most magical places in the Vale of Glamorgan. This area is truly beautiful and as rural as it gets, it really is worth a visit for a picnic one sunny day. I digress, back to Nick. Nick has chickens and sells the eggs for peanuts, £1 for half a dozen fresh free range eggs and all sold from his front gate on an honesty basis (you don’t get much of that these days) obviously only when the hens are laying so you have to grab them when the going is good.
He is a really nice chap always running the children to riding lessons etc, anyway all the money he makes from the eggs goes to the children’s holiday fund, nice eh. We had a bit of a chin wag but he had to cut it short as he was trying to find one of his Rhode Island Reds which had done a runner, I offered the services of Millie but thought better of it when I remembered her eating a pheasant she pegged last season, I wished him well and told him I’d have to owe him the pound as I didn’t have any change, he said that’s okay I’ll have to owe you an egg because that box only has 5 in it, seemed sort of fair really. I took Millie for a nice walk down the valley and then went back to the Peli. Steve the landlord, one of my best mates (its good having a landlord as one of you best mates), was sitting out side with his obligatory pint of Carling so I decided to join him for one. Steve is one of my shooting buddies and a bloody good shot, a great laugh and all round good egg (should have said that about Nick). We discussed some shooting we are hoping to do next season and discussed my son’s up coming birthday dinner at the pub (the food is great). I then put Millie in her run and fed her that special meal I prepared yesterday from the bone meat, she didn’t even say goodbye.
Forgot to mention that I further reduced the stock by about a litre as the taste wasn’t as concentrated as I normally like, well did that, added some salt and pepper (don’t be afraid of using lots) and hey bingo it was spot on. I ended up with 4litres, all in the freezer now.

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Will speak again soon.

Brown beef stock

Today started with some guy knocking my door wanting me to donate £3 a month for a cat refuge, I asked him if he felt it was more deserving than Save the Children, he seemed to think that cats needed looking after as it wasn’t their fault that they had been abandoned. Now I might be wrong in this but if there’s anything in this world that doesn’t need looking after its a cat. I told the guy that if another cat digs up my fennel plants to shit in the hole I’m going to get an air rifle, he didn’t see the funny side of this.
Anyway with the front door finally slammed in his face I started cooking a batch of beef stock. The beef bones I picked up yesterday (Tuesday) from Blackmore’s, by the way they only cost £3 (Ironic), were taken from the fridge for a photo call, there’s a lot of meat on these bones so they’ll make a good rich stock. I smeared these with tomato purée and popped them into a hot oven for an hour.

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I then chopped up two onions, two carrots and two sticks of celery and made a bouquet garni of bay, thyme and parsley, you’ll notice that there’s a larger bunch of parsley this is because bay and thyme are very much stronger and parsley is more delicate and can be lost, hence the large amount, it balances out nicely

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The sun came out at this point so I sat in the garden with a small cigar until the bones had cooked, I took them out and let them cool for 5 minutes.

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I put the bones, chopped veg, bouquet garni, black pepper corns and salt (not to much at this stage as the liqueur will be reduced and concentrated) into my large 10 litre pot and filled it with H2O, popped it on to the stove and brought it up to the boil for 5 minutes and then simmered it gently for 4 hours.

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One of the most important processes for getting a good stock is the skimming off of all the fat that rises to the surface, it cannot be stressed enough that this is absolutely vital. Take a look at the photos and you will see how much will be removed. After 4 hours remove the bones, veg and bouquet garni with a slotted spoon (don’t worry about getting everything as we will be straining it off later) and reduce the remaining liqueur over the next 2 hours by half. This should leave approximately 4 to 5 litres of stock.

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While the stock is reducing get all the meat off the bones and put it into a container(s) and pour over the skimmed fat, this will make a nice dinner for my lovely gundog Millie (more about her another time).

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I’ll let this cool over night, strain it, adjust the seasoning and store in the freezer for later treats.

Well that’s about it for today, I’ll be turning some of this stock into a Fons Brun or brown sauce which can be turned into a number of fine sauces, but that’s for another time and day.

Hope you enjoy this, like I said in my ‘About’ page real cooking ain’t quick but the results are well worth waiting for.

Out and about

I went into Cardiff today as I had a hair appointment with the three times world champion Tino Constantino, he has been a good friend of mine for about 35 years and he really knows how to cut and style hair. He’s a great bloke to just have a chin wag with if you can get a word in edgewise. He is also a very good cook and makes nice coffee.
Anyway while I was in town I decided to drop into see Garry Blackmore of K Blackmore Butchers in the Central Market, he is a very knowledgeable guy when it comes to meat and is one of my principle suppliers. I have used up all of my brown stock and need to make another batch for the freezer. Garry chopped up a backbone with loads of meat on it which I’ll use tomorrow for making a stock, more on that tomorrow. I also bought some of Garry’s own cured bacon, mmmmmmm!

Welcome to the home of real cooking

Checked out the garden today, everything seems to be growing well; my herb garden is especially looking good, I had a problem two weeks ago with my parsley, it seemed to be dying but it’s perked up and now doing well. A tip for you all, don’t buy bay leaves, ask around, you probably know someone who has one in their garden and would be willing to let you harvest some. The bay you buy in packets is generally quite old, there is nothing like fresh bay or bay you have dried and stored yourself, at least you’ll know how old it is.