Tuesday, 27 March 2012


I have a friend who regularly hunts deer and last week, I helped him joint his latest bag.
In return I was rewarded with a months supply of meat. A great trade I think.

From the selection of cuts, I chose 'haunch' for this weekends Bar-B-Q, the first of many.

Venison is a particularly lean meat, especially this time of year, coming out
of the winter and can easily dry up if cooked too long.

A little preparation before the cooking - I had decided to bone and roll the haunch

To help baste the meat and keep the moisture in, I wrapped some beef fat
from the local butcher, around the joint.

And then on to the barbie for an hour....ish!
We have a converted oil drum and use wood not charcoal mainly because I
have an endless supply of it but I also like the way it cooks and the smokey flavour it adds.

Use a meat thermometer with large joints.
Core temperature should be between 50-55 degrees for red meat.

Beautifully succulent with just an ever so slight game taste.

With the juices from the meat, I made a red wine and cranberry jus
and served with a fig and cashew nut cous-cous, mixed leaves and green beans. 

Perfect for a sunny Sunday afternoon

Sunday, 25 March 2012


Another cracking day in the garden and how productive we've all been!
First job of the day was to fix the bean frame that was flattened by a tree that
 came down on the veg patch last winter

Will rides the sit on mower, for the first cut of the year - it only seems like yesterday since....

.....me and Will in 2000 - how things change.

Courgettes get a watering - hope we have some rain soon!

We have a few large pots and containers near the house that we plant extra produce in.
This large tin carrier has holes drilled in the bottom and is half filled with stones and rubble for drainage.
It works well for lettuce, radishes or spring onions.

A friend gave us a few strawberry plants last summer which we planted and were amazed how quickly we got fruit and how much.  The plants have multiplied and we've now transferred some to pots.

And please to see that our young gooseberry bush has survived the winter

A little sunshine and our herbs are coming to life, how Ive missed you! 

Seeds sewn today included carrots, turnips, cabbage, spring onion,
lettuce, chard and purple sprouting broccoli

Our landing window sill is perfect for growing plug plants through spring -
more successful than the propagator we used to have.

Here we have dwarf beans, climbing beans, courgettes, cabbages and carrots.
That's our fig plant in the middle that we started growing last year.
We brought it in for the winter and it will go back out just as soon as the last frost has been and gone.
Our patio area is south facing and gets the sun all day, so the fig tree should flourish.


Being a country boy and a keen shooter, we are never short of game meats and the freezer is generally packed full with offerings.  I hate to see anything go to waste and make sure I use everything we get.
This week I made this chicken liver and pheasant pate or is it a terrine? I'm not sure of the definition but either way, it was delightful and pretty simple to make.


500gm chicken livers, 2 pheasant breasts and 2 pheasant thighs4 slices of parma ham or bacon,
 4 cloves of garlic (chopped), olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, glass of red wine

Chop the pheasant and flash fry in a pan with olive oil and two cloves of garlic just enough to lightly brown the outside (you don't have to fry but I think it adds more flavour)
Do the same with the chicken livers and the remaining garlic and put aside.
Deglaze the pan by adding the wine whilst scraping off the meaty residue (sticky bits) 
heat and stir whilst it reduces down and then add to the blender with the pheasant and chicken livers
Season with salt and pepper and whizz to a puree.

Grease the baking tin and line with the parma ham or bacon
Spoon in the pate mix
Cover with greaseproof paper and bake in a bain marie for an hour and a half at 160 degrees.
Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate, preferably overnight, before turning out.

Pate is traditionally quite high in fat, however this recipe uses very little. 
The texture is firm, smooth with no chunks and has a medium to strong flavour.
If you prefer a course pate, chop the pheasant rather than puree or lightly blend after the livers.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Dessert for Mothers day lunch last weekend was courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a pear pudding cake but instead of serving with the usual  cream or ice-cream, I decided to make a baked custard. 
A favourite of my dad's and something I hadn't made in a long time.

Dead easy to cook and not too heavy which is just what we needed
after the roast hogget lunch.

For the baked custard

6 free range egg yokes
75g caster sugar
800ml double cream (eek! How much?! Still, it was Mothers day)
2 tspn vanilla extract


Separate the egg yokes from the white into a mixing bowl.
Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract.
Warm the cream to just below a simmer and gradually whisk into the egg mix
Pour into a warm baking dish and then place into the oven in a bain marie.
Bake for 30 mins at 160 degrees or until it has a jelly like wobble to it.

 I didn't but you could add a crunch to the baked custard by giving it a brulee top
Serve it on its own or with a pudding of your choice as we did. 

Use apples or peaches in the pudding cake as an alternative if your not a fan of pears

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Mothering Sunday and we had invited mine and Marie's parents over for a family lunch.  I knew I was going to cook a Sunday roast but was deliberating on what joint of meat.  There was the usual suspects of course, pork, beef, chicken, lamb but I wanted to try something different. I remembered that many years back, I had seen the two fat ladies cooking mutton and singing its praises, so I went in search.  Since I was heading over to Ipswich for work anyway, I dropped into the butchers at the Suffolk Food Hall. Great place, have you been? Huge selection of produce and a cafe for lunch break.

They didn't have a Mutton joint big enough unfortunately but what they did have was a shoulder of hogget (lamb over one year old  and less than two) which I was more than happy to try.  

So first thing Sunday morning, I readied the meat for the oven with rosemary and garlic and cooked it for six hours at 130°C, regularly checking and renewing the herbs which together with the juices made a beautiful thick gravy.

Cooked and ready to carve, the hogget was incredibly moist and had so much flavour, more so than
young lamb and a better texture I thought.
A good choice as everyone around the table that day would agree.

Served with roast potato's, a selection of vegetables and celeriac dauphinoise which I have to say
could not have complimented the meat more.

To make the dauphinoise, or my version of it....
Slice one celeriac, a large onion and a small chilli and layer up in a casserole dish. Pour over 200ml of double cream and sprinkle chilli powder over the top.  Cook for 50 minutes at 180 degrees.

Hugh's pudding cake to finish - see the next post
(when I've written it!)

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