Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Hen Party - No time to be chicken!

I know, I know, me at a hen party, at this time of year and in these clothes!

Unfortunately there was no vacancy for a male stripper at this particular event. I didn’t even think of volunteering.

The young lady and her friends had organised a day which was centred around drink, beauty treatments and more drink. All this was taking place at a house in the wilds of North Shoreham.

I arrived with some sandwiches and other bits at lunchtime (Humus and Pea Shoots is a really good combination) and then I fled to finish preparing the dinner.

Dinner was to be a hot buffet which the girls served themselves.

In the afternoon the girls had organised beauty treatments and a little drinking.

Stuffed Tomatoes
Quails Eggs
Starters were to be a selection of canapés and dips with crudités. The star amongst the canapés were the halved quails eggs on cucumber and the baby tomatoes stuffed with tuna. Apart from mayonnaise I added capers, a drop of Worcester Sauce and a touch of chilli to the tuna. These small additions lift the tuna from the mundane.

 The main course was a choice of Beef Bourguignon, Moroccan Style Meatballs  and a Vegetable Tagine, all served with new potatoes, green beans, broccoli & cous-cous.

Beef Bourguignon is a standard dish that you can find a million recipes for so I won’t re-hash it here. The main ingredients have to be a ballsy red wine and good quality meat. (Please don’t use stewing steak).
Vegetable Tagine

The Vegetable Tagine combined Mediterranean Vegetables  with a tomato sauce flavoured with Harrisa (a Moroccan Spice paste widely available)  Start by frying vegetables in oil, once sealed add the tomatoes and simmer until the vegetables are cooked al dente.

The Moroccan Style Meatballs are a variation of Koftas (sausage shaped meat patties)

Beef 750g
Sausage Meat 250g (or use top quality Pork sausages and remove skins)
Sumac (Moroccan Spice available at good food shops)

Sauce Ingredients
Onion (small) chopped
Garlic (3 cloves) chopped
1 Chilli Pepper (seeded) chopped
7508g Tomato (peeled and chopped)
2tsp Harrisa (Moroccan spice paste)
Pine kernels

Make the meatballs first, round about ping-pong ball size. Fry in Olive oil turning once. Drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
Moroccan Style Meatballs

Once you have finished cooking the meatballs, tip out most of the oil leaving the pan just lightly covered. Introduce the sauce ingredients one at a time cooking slowly. Once cooked, (20 minutes) add the meatballs and  scatter withe pine kernels and some chopped parsley, cover. Reheat gently.

Dessert was a delicious Orange, Rosewater & Pistachio Cheesecake made by friend Yoav at the Home Cakery (http://www.homecakery.co.uk) or there was a Brie served with grapes.

Great party, all the food went. Proves that the one thing you can’t give at a hen party is chicken feed!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pig in The Middle

I have done, (strange choice of word) cooked, (that’s better) loads of hog roasts, so to report on an individual event would be strange unless there was something new to report. And there is.

I have bought a new hog roaster, primarily because my old one has died and secondly because my client was insistent that the hog had to be roasted over charcoal.

With little time to go before the event, using the tinternet I found a company called Roti Grill (http://www.rotigrill.com/) who make roasters and barbecues. With only a couple of weeks to go before the event I rang them up to discuss ordering a machine. They were on holiday put rang me up from some sun drenched spot (hog roaster business must be good) promising delivery two days before my event on their return. I also spoke to their daughter who they had left in England in a freezing house chained to a computer with only stagnant water and a mouldy crust for sustenance. (The last bit might not be entirely true).

The machine arrived in due time with satisfying clear instructions. The whole machine is properly engineered  Parts fitted together with no problem and the larger bits went together with a satisfying “thunk” that you usually only get from doors on expensive cars.  The owners were really helpful answering my dumb question. No call centre – thankfully.

So I bought charcoal as advised only slightly more than advised (anyone want to buy four 12kg sacks of charcoal).

The Roti Grill system is well thought out so spiking the pig was relatively easy and the clamps were easy to insert and screw tight. I only wish that a 70kg pig wasn’t quite as heavy. My young assistant, Connor,  ended up under the pig when he was trying to lift it. I put it down to teenage enthusiasm rather than perversion.

The pig took just about seven hours to cook. I rubbed the pig with oil and salt and scored the skin with a Stanley knife . In the last hour of cooking I basted the hog with a simple baste of water, honey and brown sugar. This caramelised on the skin and made the crackling divine. The smoke from the natural lumpwood charcoal made the meat taste delicious and because of the cooking method we had more crackling than we could cope with.

Cooking over charcoal is no more trouble than gas and the result is so much better. (Apart from singed leg hair)
Woody, Connor & Pig (the pig is the one lying down)

I also made a chilli/apple sauce which was simple to make and a great success. We served the hog with rolls made by a local artisan baker, (http://www.thehomecakery.co.uk/), jacket potatoes and a variety of salads.

The hog was the centre point of the evening but we did also have delicious cannapés made by friend Jacqui (http://www.cooking-in.com/). Jacqui’s food is always delicious and always beautiful. Jacqui gave us: Springs’ smoked salmon and cream cheese mousse on brioche ‘rounds’ with a cucumber twist Spicy honey glazed sausages,(sourced from Perretts Farm shop Ditchling), Rare roast beef in mini Yorkshire puddings with horseradish, Mini Welsh rarebit bites, Home-made prawn spring rolls with ginger, chilli, garlic and fresh coriander. Most of this was served warm.

We also provided the dessert which was a delicious tasting and stunning looking chocolate cake dressed with fresh fruit made by Karen (http://www.nice-slice.com/) I made a red berry coulis to accompany the cake.

The final course was a cheese board accompanied by homemade pickles and chutneys, grapes and celery. I left the guests to the cheese board at midnight when the party was still going.