Wings and honkers

Why do some people think its necessary to honk their car horn when they see someone they know, it’s something I’ve never understood, there you are driving through town when you see a friend or relation and you feel compelled to honk your horn until they notice you. Are they saying look at me I’ve got a car or are they trying to affirm that they have a friend, it beats me. Maybe they have inferiority complexes ( if I don’t honk my horn they’ll never know I saw them), what the f*** does it matter, you have to be a really sad git to need it or do it, unfortunately there are some really sad gits around here.
Right enough of that, chicken wings are really cheap to buy, most butchers sell them for next to nothing as they usually throw them away. Now I am going to give you one of my secret recipes, it’s for Cajun spices. I got this recipe from a real New Orleans chef, here it is:

1 table spoon garlic powder(granules or salt can be used)
1 table spoon onion powder ( ditto)
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix this lot together and store in a jar, I generally mix up twice as much. This is the real deal if your going to cook Cajun.
Right back to the wings, put 1 tablespoon of spice, 1 tablespoon of plain flour and half a teaspoon of smoked paprika into a mixing bowl big enough to take your wings, add the wings, cover the bowl with cling film and give it a good shake to coat the wings thoroughly.

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leave for an hour and then put them in a roasting pan and dress with oil, pop into a medium to low oven for 50 mins, turning once.

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Take them out, this is where it gets good, poor over the wings a good quality Canadian Maple Syrup (don’t use anything else) and pop back into the oven for 20 mins, eat with your fingers and enjoy.

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Chicken stock, shotgun stock and an Alfa Romeo

I made some chicken stock yesterday using the carcasses of the two chickens we had on Sunday, dump the whole lot into a large pot ( mine is about 6 litres), cut an onion into 8 segments, roughly cut up two sticks of celery and add to the pot; make up a huge bunch of herbs ( parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary and two bay leaves) and pop into the pot, chop up one mushroom, add about 12 black pepper corns and a teaspoon of rock salt and fill with 5 litres of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until only about 1 1/2 litres are left, skim the surface really well and strain, adjust the seasoning and store.

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Joe and I decided it was time to have a BBQ, the weather is good so why not eat alfresco. I decided to have those sirloins that Eamon gave me, well done mate they were fantastic.

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I took one of my shotgun stocks up to a Gunsmith called Gerald, I needed to get it extended by 22 mm, anyway on the way back only a mile from Gerald’s house there’s a set of traffic lights where I turn left, as I approached I thought some inconsiderate bastard had lit a garden fire as you couldn’t see anything but smoke, as I turned left a red Alfa Romeo saloon came into view through the smoke ( he was sitting at the lights), I realised the smoke was coming from his car, in fact the front of his car was on fire. He was sat totally oblivious of this fact, I pointed at the front of his car and shouted ” your cars on fire mate” , he waved back and said something like “how are you butt” thinking I knew him. How can anybody be in a car and not know that it’s on fire, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. What a dopey sod. But let’s face it he must have something missing in the first place to buy an Alfa Romeo.

The two E’s, two Poles, a summer dinner and Rosemary

Ed came over on Friday evening just for a coffee and a chinwag, we mainly discussed our up coming Grouse day in mid August and the effect the weather has had on farming in general. Eamon came over on Saturday afternoon to give me some sirloin steaks he picked up in Usk and guess what he remembered to bring the lard. We also had a chat about the up coming Grouse day and our worries that Ed might not be able to come if there’s to much to do on the farm. It would be a great pity if he can’t make it.
On Sunday Joe’s other half and her sister came down for dinner. I had decided to cook Chicken in Tarragon, Legume de Provence with some new boiled potatoes.
Here we go, I prefer to use two small chickens rather than one big one as the flavour seems to penetrate the flesh better.
Crush 4 cloves of garlic (notice the size of the cloves of garlic), chop up a good bunch of tarragon and rind one lemon, mix this with 50g of unsalted butter and plenty of black pepper. Meanwhile insert into the chickens a quarter of a lemon and a sprig or two of tarragon, then coat each chicken with the butter mixture.

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Pop this into a medium to hot oven for about 50 mins, remove, turn the chickens over add a spoon of olive oil over each chicken and baste, cover and pop it back into the oven for another 50 mins basting occasionally.

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Remove from the oven and pour over a glass of Cognac and flame, when the flames have died pour over 150 ml of double cream, mix with the pan juices, cover and pop back into the oven for 15 mins.

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Remove from the oven, take the chickens out and put them onto a serving dish, heat the pan juices for a minute to thicken and pour into a sauce boat, serve immediately.

The Legume de Provence is a really easy dish, cut two red onions into large segments, cut up two red and two yellow peppers into large pieces and pop the lot into a shallow pan, sprinkle liberally with Herbe de Provence, black pepper, rock salt and olive oil, cover and whack it into a medium oven for an hour, remove the cover and pop it back into the oven for 15 mins to blacken the edges, serve immediately.

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Oh, nearly forgot, I did boiled new potatoes as well.
Can’t have a blog without a bit of a rant; I effin hate it when people don’t scrape or peel potatoes, listen to me, they taste like lumps of dirt with the skin on, I think it’s just laziness.

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I’ve got a bit of a problem with my Rosemary bush, parts of it have died off while the remainder seems okay, I’ve cut out the dead or dying bits a bit at a time but I feel it’s days are numbered, anyone got any ideas?

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Cheese, wine and Demi Glacé

Fixed Ed’s door this afternoon, why is it when you buy supposedly the exact same parts for something they never quite fit, I had to do quite a lot of adjusting but I won.
Eamon came over this evening to watch me make a Demi Glacé (brown sauce), we had some cheese and wine to help things along.

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Okay let’s start, chop up 2 onions, 2 small carrots, 2 small sticks of celery and 2/3 rashers of smoked or dry cured bacon (I got the latter from Blackmore’s), you need to dice all of these finely, put them in a preheated casserole dish (big enough for 2 litres) with 50 grams of unsalted butter and gently sauté until transparent.

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Add 2 tablespoons of plain flour and stir in, now you need to stand over the next bit as you’ll need to keep stirring with a metal spoon (to scrape the bottom of the pan), this part of the process will take some time as the slower you do it the better, when the mixture turns a nice russet brown it’s ready for the next bit.

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Make up a bouquet garni, I use a large sprig of parsley, a small sprig of thyme, a small sprig of rosemary and 2 bay leaves.

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Add approx 2 litres of Fonds brun (brown stock, the stuff I made a week or so ago), the bouquet garni, the peelings of 2/3 mushrooms and a good squirt of tomatoe purée.

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Bring the pot up to a gentle simmer and reduce by approx half, this will take a while and will need to be stirred occasionally, keep a close eye on it.

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Right, remove the bouquet garni and season lightly. Sieve the sauce with spoon into another pot, you should have about a litre of the most delicious sauce. I would recommend storing this in about 250 ml portions in the freezer.

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This sauce can be used to make any number of sauces, reheat a portion, add a glass of Cognac or Madeira and have it with a rare fillet steak, you won’t believe how good it is.
We were on our second bottle of wine at this stage, guess what, Eamon forgot the lard again, oh well.
Don’t buy garlic from supermarkets; they are always small. When a recipe asks for a clove of garlic think about the size of one clove from a supermarket compared to the ones I get from my green grocer.
Which one do you think is the one to use?

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Part time locksmith and tea

Cleaned the house today and my god did it need it, got that off my chest, right you may recall that my mate Ed had to break into his own house on the weekend because he’d lost his keys, well when we were out on Saturday I stupidly said (drink does that) I’d take a look at it for him so I went over this afternoon, boy had he done a job on the door (with a flower pot of all things or so Eamon tells me, the mental images that creates will keep me going for days) anyway I took the locking mechanism out which is really hard on a plastic door and found that he had completely mangled the lock so the whole lot needs replacing, my job for tomorrow. So off I went to walk Millie, when we got back to the Peli I decided to have a pint (just one as I was driving) anyway as I was talking to Steve I remembered that I needed some tea, I know what you’re thinking tea in a pub, let me explain, Steve started serving tea and coffee a while back and Steve being Steve only serves the best, he sourced the tea from a company called ‘All about tea’ who import directly from the growers, the tea is superb and I buy it off him. Why does anyone use tea bags, have you ever opened one up, they are full of dust (probably swept up off the floor, it certainly tastes like it). When people come to my house they always comment on how nice my tea is, well that’s because I use tea and good stuff at that, it doesn’t cost that much more and you get something you’ll enjoy. Right enough ranting, if you check out All about tea on line you’ll be disappointed as their website is under construction but there are others, all you have to do is look, stop putting that box of powder in the basket next time you are in the supermarket.

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Eamon is coming over Wednesday evening as I’m making some Brown sauce (Demi glacé) with the stock I made a week or so ago, watch this space because Demi glacé is a taste experience you don’t want to miss, it forms the basis for loads of sauces and will impress your friends no end.

A grand day out

I took Millie out for a nice walk over at Castle-upon-alun, I parked the truck in the usual place and took Millie off to one of her favourite walks. When I got back Nick (I told you about him previously) was waiting for me with an egg (I paid him his pound by the way) so we were all square. Had a nice chat with Nick and his wife about dogs (they have a beautiful black Lab) and was just about to leave when I saw Ed and Eamon pass by so I followed them down to the farm. Ed was in a bad way from the night before, he’d lost his keys and had to break into his own house, we had a chat and decided that a pint was in order so we ended up at the Peli. Eamon talked Steve into coming with us to Cowbridge for a pint or two (it didn’t take to much persuasion), so off we went. We had a pint in the Vale (one of the best pubs in the Vale of Glamorgan) and then trolled down to Arboureal a bar/restaurant which is fairly new and is owned by Eamon’s brother-in-law (or some family member or other). They serve really nice food which is a bit different to the norm, try it for yourself some time. Anyway to cut a long story short Ed, Eamon and myself (Steve left earlier as he had a busy night in the Pub) rounded off the day with a very nice Chinese at the Riverside (I think that’s what it’s called) and a taxi home.
Nick messaged me later to say that he had found the miscreant chicken but she has stopped laying, one for the pot I think.

Taxis and sunshine

Well here I am in Poland, let me start by saying that I have always wondered why the Polish RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain scored so highly against the Germans and why so few survived, well now I know, Polish Taxi drivers obviously come from the same stock, having scant regard for their own safety or for anyone else for that matter, especially their passengers. It’s all clear now.
The food here is extremely varied, you get the impression that they’ve got their inspiration from pictures in magazines, it all looks very pretty (I think the premiss of ‘the first bite is with the eye’ is the idea but the bloke who had the idea was obviously very short sighted) the problem is that everything is so highly flavoured you can’t actually taste the food, everything competes with everything else.
Polish traditional dishes are very heavy (lots of dumplings) but are very tasty but it’s the last thing you want when it’s 35 degrees and 70 percent humidity. Anyway I did find a very nice restaurant in the Old Town in Warsaw where they served extremely nice salads and a good selection of fine French wines, the service was good too.

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I went over to Bialystok (should have a dash through the l) a smaller city east of Warsaw and on to a village about an hours drive (this would probably have taken me about two hours, but this is Poland) further east on the edge of the great forest, anyway I met a chap called Alexie who is an expert on edible fungii and took me out into the forest to find some Chanterelle mushrooms which are currently in season. Its strange how you can make yourself understood when I can’t speak a word of Polish and he couldn’t speak a word of English, two blokes waving their hands about in the middle of a wood, well we sort of understood. Now I should point out that I have always been interested in edible fungii but have never had the bottle to go and pick them as it only takes one miss-identification to kill you, please do not try this yourself as there are species that look very similar to the edible ones that will do you harm and even the edible ones need to be prepared in the correct way, Chanterelles for instance have to be boiled to remove some toxins before they are cooked. The ones we picked were in a pine forest and took some finding at first but once you get your eye in they seem to be everywhere.

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There were signs of wild boar everywhere but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any unfortunately.
We cooked the Chanterelles (after boiling) in butter with some shallots and they tasted fantastic, I think they would go nicely with some garlic, parsley and cream to make a tasty pasta sauce.
A funny thing I noticed when I went back to Warsaw was when I was in the lift going up to the apartment where I was staying, the lift manufacturer was named Schindler (Schindlers lift ?), whatever.

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Lard and wild duck

Went down the Peli lunchtime to see a very good pal and pick up Millie. The pal in question is an absolute shooting fanatic, Eamon is one of the funniest and nicest people you can ever wish to meet. I seem to be blessed with some very good friends. Eamon had promised me a pound of home prepared lard, he specifically asked me to meet him for a pint or two down the Peli so he could let me have it, guess what, he forgot it, never mind it was great to see him anyway. There were a few other pals there, Ed, Steve and Kelvyn, all shooting pals, you can guess the topic of conversation. Doesn’t it annoy you when you’ve been asked to respond to some thing urgently, which you do and then get ignored. This has happened this week end, I’m trying to book a days shooting in Hampshire, the shoot owner told me at the beginning of the week that he had 3 guns (Eamon, Ed and me) available on a certain day, asked me to respond quickly, which I did only to be left waiting for the last couple of days without a reply. Never mind onwards and upwards.
I am listening to Joe play guitar as I write this, the new amp sounds very tone full. His playing never ceases to amaze me, I am so lucky, nobody gets to hear his real playing talent.
Right then, back to business, I’ve promised Eamon some of the Fons Brun I make this week so he’s going to pop in for coffee later in the week and we’ll do a swap.
As I said yesterday we are having duck for dinner (late lunch, do you have lunch late on Sundays, it seem to be the norm for us, let me know).
Put a quarter of an orange and a good sprig of thyme inside the duck and brown off all over in 50g of unsalted butter.

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Dice a small carrot and onion and thickly slice half the orange and put around the duck, swish it around a bit and add a few sprigs of thyme, put a couple of rashers of bacon over the breast (I like smoked or dry cured best as it adds to the overall depth of flavour) season well with rock salt and black pepper.

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Put the pan in the oven on a medium to high heat for twenty minutes.

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Cover, reduce to a low heat and leave for two and a half hours, flame the duck with a glass of Grand Marnier, remove the duck and pop it back in the oven while you make the sauce.

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Put the pan on the hob over a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, add the juice of an orange and 200 to 250 ml of good brown stock (I used some game stock that I had reduced to a thicker consistency) simmer this for a while, remove the solids and continue to simmer until it reduces and thickens (you can mix a dessert spoon of plain flour with some cold water to a creamy consistency and add this to the sauce to thicken it up). Well that’s about it, Bon a petit

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