Social media – for those of us who follow lots of London fooderati – was filled with photos of plates piled high with grilled meat when Blacklock opened its doors in the heart of Soho last February. Mounds of beef, lamb and pork chops cooked on a charcoal grill and served over bread that soaks up the meat juices.

Despite my best intentions, I never managed a visit last year. Starting a new job last spring – based outside of London and a pig of a commute – put a bit of a brake on my central London dining experiences. But lately I’ve been keen to make up for lost time. And meat is at the top of my list.

Blacklock, then.

The brainchild of ex-Consultant Gordon Ker who decided to swap a desk in the City for running his own restaurant, pausing to take some time working in Hawksmoor along the way, inspiration has come not only from Hawksmoor but from Joe Beef in Montreal, London’s Turkish ocakbasis and steak houses around the world.

The offering is a short menu of top quality meat cooked over charcoal, a trio of snacks to start and a few simple vegetable sides. To wash those down, a handful of surprisingly affordable cocktails, a couple of craft beers, tapped wine by the volume and a soft drink or two.

Named for its main cooking method – meat is cooked ‘on a homemade charcoal grill and seared with scorching hot vintage irons, made in the 1800s by a cast iron foundry in the Deep South called Blacklock’* – the restaurant is located in a basement in the heart of Soho; a former brothel, no less. Note that access is not great for anyone with mobility issues; I expected no lift access – common in basement-only restaurants in historical properties – but what I didn’t expect was a staircase with no handrail for the top few steps. Probably not an issue for the vast majority of customers, but difficult for me.

blacklock interior1
Image courtesy of Blacklock restaurant

Downstairs is an impressively open space with unusually high ceilings for a basement and a slightly retro, low-budget-cool decor. Much of the seating is at large tables with stools, at least one of which is communal, or at high tables with high chairs to match; both are a no-no for me – I need a backrest and I find clambering onto high chairs uncomfortable – but probably not a problem for most customers. There are some tables available with proper chairs or back-supporting banquettes, so reserve in advance to request these.

Menu - Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle
Image from Blacklock website

Skinny Chops are listed on the two-sided printed menu (all at £4 each) but Big Chops are chalked onto pillar blackboards, impossible to read from our table and staff didn’t seem eager to run through the contents for us before ordering – have a quick browse before settling in at your table.

In any case, we went for the All In option – £20 per person for 8 Skinny Chops between two – 2 beef short ribs and one each of all the rest, we were told, plus 1 each of the three Pre Chop Bites, and one Side each.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7791

At first glance (of the menu), Pre Chop Bites (£3 for the set or £1 individually) didn’t sound very exciting but actually, they were bloody marvellous! A precarious pile of pickles over sharp cheese, a draping of Dripping Ham and – my favourite – egg mayonnaise with an anchovy fillet and raw onion, all served on bite-sized Peter’s Yard crispbreads; these were perfectly balanced mouthfuls of texture and flavour. A good reminder that the supremely simple can be superb!

With these we enjoyed some of the very keenly-priced cocktails (£5 each); Spiked Lemonade and Aperol Negroni both get a thumbs up.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7795

Impatient though we were, we didn’t have to wait too long before the main event arrived. A magnificent mound of ‘Skinny Chops’ of beef, lamb and pork that looked anything but skinny to me – fat, juicy cuts of meat cooked on charcoal and served over bread that soaks up the meat juices. What was served didn’t quite match up to the menu list – we had two beef short ribs as expected, but only two of the pork cuts and four of lamb. This wasn’t a problem, but it would have been nice to be advised on ordering that one skinny chop was not available and asked for our choice of replacement.

Still, the chops were tasty and beautifully cooked. The beef short ribs were the least favourite, for both of us I think – nothing wrong with them but not a cut that’s particularly tender cooked this way, so a little chewy to eat. Pork was superbly tender, with nicely browned fat – the best bit! Lamb had the best flavour of all, and was juicy and tender. I was full after three chops, but luckily my friend has an appetite that belies her lithe body and hoovered up the other five with no hesitation at all!

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7797 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7798
Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7801 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7799

For our two included Sides we chose Beef Dripping Chips and 10 Hour Ash Roasted Sweet Potato. The restaurant also sent out Charred Courgettes, Chicory & Stilton and a green salad with parmesan. Next time I visit I’ll likely do the same and order extra; at £3 each these sides are great value (especially compared to those at fellow meat purveyor, Zelman).

The sweet potatoes were the best I’ve had for a long time, superbly soft flesh full of smoke and sweetness; very special indeed. The green salad (listed on the menu as kale and parmesan but served as rocket) was a welcome addition, refreshing against the unremitting mountain of meat. I’m not a fan of chicory but the courgettes were cooked just as I like them – with a little firmness of bite – and the flavours of charring and stilton worked well. Chips were as good as they sound and look – excellent flavour, and perfect combination of crunchy exterior and fluffy inside.

Not pictured are the sauces (£1 each) – we ordered both available – Chilli Hollandaise and Green Sauce, the former served in a sauce boat and the latter in small jam jars. Both excellent and a nice change from the usual Peppercorn and Béarnaise (even though I adore it).

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7804
Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7808 Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7809

I was full to bursting but my friend was confident she had space so we went ahead and ordered dessert (£5); there’s only one available and on the night of our visit it was a white chocolate cheesecake with rhubarb compote. Served at the table straight from a family-style dish, my friend would have happily devoured a teetering tower but the portion served was generous enough; a bit of mess dolloped into the bowl, but homely and tasty and a good way to end the meal.

I asked owner Gordon Ker to describe the Blacklock experience in a nutshell; he suggested, ‘the very best meat cooked simply over charcoal for great value in a fun setting with great hospitality.’ Based on our visit, he’s achieved his goal. Three courses (including that impressive pile of meat), 5 alcoholic drinks, a softie and 2 extra sides resulted in a very reasonable bill of £40 a head plus service and the food was certainly an enjoyable feast.

Blackfoot Restaurant Review on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7802

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Blacklock. Interior image provided by the restaurant. Info on Blacklock’s name* and sources of inspiration courtesy of top London restaurant review site, Hot Dinners.

Blacklock Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Square Meal

 

I’ve enjoyed visiting Hawksmoor, albeit only intermittently, since the days when there was just one of what later became a mini chain of five; each new property to open serving the same impeccably sourced and delicious steaks, super and inventive cocktails and tasty desserts in a wonderfully individual, beautifully furnished, welcoming setting. Owners Will Beckett and Huw Gott created a wonderful brand; a sure bet if you ever fancied a damn good steak at someone else’s table.

In 2013 they sold a majority stake (geddit?) to investors but remained involved in the business, turning their efforts to launching sibling steakhouse Foxlow, which provides a similar offering to Hawksmoor but is aimed at a more local neighbourhood clientele. There are now four Foxlow properties – in Clerkenwell, Stoke Newington, Chiswick and Balham – and certainly on the night of our visit, the newest to open was doing a roaring trade.

Although I’ve seen Foxlow referred to as a less expensive sibling to Hawksmoor, I’d say that prices for the star of the show – steak – are pretty much on a par with Hawksmoor. Starters, sides, sauces and puddings are a touch less, though, but it’s not a huge differential. The vibe is more relaxed though, not that it’s overly formal at Hawksmoor, and the location of this branch close to a tube stop makes it handy for weeknight dining even if you’re not a local.

Just as it does at Hawksmoor, the beef is from native breed cattle reared by The Ginger Pig in North Yorkshire, the meat is dry aged for 35 or 55 days, depending on the cut. Seafood is caught off the South Coast and travels directly from Brixham every morning. Chicken is slow-grown herb-fed Yorkshire Ross. Charcuterie, cheese and bread are similarly carefully sourced.

Which means that whatever you choose from the menu, you’ll be in for a treat.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7694

Burrata with Sorrel Salsa Verde (£7.5) is fresh, creamy and wonderfully matched by the citrus notes of the sorrel. A good example of allowing quality ingredients to speak for themselves.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7697

Salmon Crudo, Chilli & Ginger (£7.5) is thinly sliced and lifted perfectly by a light gingery dressing, slivers of hot chilli and a scattering of micro herbs. Delicious and disappears alarmingly quickly!

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7704

300 grams D-Rump 55 days (£18) is cooked medium rare as requested and is a truly delicious piece of meat. (D-Rump, by the way, is cut from the centre of the rump). It’s served with a small bone marrow and onions, no vegetables included, so don’t forget to order (and factor in when assessing the prices of a main meal) your choice of sides. This is as good a steak as any I’ve had in the last year or two, and beautiful smeared with a very tasty Béarnaise, generous servings of which are £1 each.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7701

We select a 250 gram Rib Eye (£21) from the board (because it’s a smaller weight than the 275 gram cut listed on the menu) and ask for it medium, to give the fat a chance to cook. It’s served rare, so we send it back. Not a bother, a new one cooked exactly as requested is back with us before too long. Never feel nervous to return a steak that is not cooked as you requested – even a good kitchen can get a steak wrong from time to time, especially a thin cut like this, and any good restaurant won’t baulk at changing it for you, as was the case here.

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7703 Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7709

Our sides are a super soft Baked Sweet Potato (£3) and lovely Buttered Anya Potatoes (£3.5).

To drink Pete enjoys a 375 ml carafe of Foxlow House Red (£8.5); it’s odd not to see any hint of what kind of wine it is, but I imagine this allows the restaurant to switch in different wines more easily, and he deems it a perfectly satisfactory easy-drinking red. I have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (£3.5) which would also make a nice after-dinner drink if you don’t have room for dessert but fancy something sweet and caffeinated!

Foxlow Balham Steak Restaurant on Kavey Eats © Kavita Favelle-7714

The desserts list is full of temptations and I lament my lack of space for the Black Forest Brownie (£6.5) but decide instead to steal a few spoons from Pete’s Bourbon Caramel Soft Serve Sundae (£5.5), especially when it arrives with unexpected candied pecans which he doesn’t like but which I am happy to devour.

Is Foxlow the perfect neighbourhood restaurant? Yes. While the interiors may not be as lavish as those of elder sibling Hawksmoor, they are comfortable and attractive. Service is friendly and enthusiastic (to everyone, not just those of us invited to review). And the food, particularly the steak, is every bit as good. Certainly I’d love to have a branch near me (though this one is within easy reach of my current workplace). That said, £90 between two for three courses and only minimal drinks, remains on the high side for an everyday meal, although that line is, of course, different for everybody. But for a little splurge on pay day, or for those little celebrations of milestones achieved, anniversaries and birthdays counted, it’s spot on.

Kavey Eats dined as guests of Foxlow Balham.

 

I love the courgette season!

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-KFavelle-6172-withtext

Many home gardeners and allotmenteers love growing courgettes as these summer squashes are easy to look after and usually give an abundant harvest. But it’s surprising how many don’t like eating them as much as they do growing them; they give most of their bounty away. Of course, I am happy to share a few gorgeous courgettes with friends – it’s a lovely feeling giving someone home grown produce picked from the plant moments before. But Pete and I love eating courgettes so it’s very much a case of finding as many ways as possible to enjoy them while they last.

We like to grow different varieties. For many years, we’ve grown yellow spherical courgettes – they taste the same as green ones but look, they’re just so beautiful! We have also grown green balls and both green and yellow varieties of the regular baton shape. I’m thinking about planting some of the pale green or white types next year.

By the way, while we use the French word courgette, the Americans took the word zucchini from Italian, which seems appropriate since courgettes were developed in Italy after the Cucurbita genus was introduced to Europe from the Americas. That said, Americans now seem to refer to yellow courgettes by the umbrella term of summer squash rather than as yellow zucchini, I’m not really sure why.

Any courgette / zucchini variety can be used for this recipe, but it’s best to choose smaller fruits rather than large ones.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6115 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6120

 

Sausage Ragu Stuffed Courgettes

Serves 3-4

Note: My photos show three halved courgettes, but we had enough leftover ragu to stuff a fourth courgette the next day. Exact portions will depend on the size of courgettes used.

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for cooking
1 small onion, diced
400 grams (1 tin) chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, finely chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
600 grams herby pork sausages, skin removed
Salt and pepper, to taste
3-4 small courgettes, halved and scooped out
125 grams (1 ball) fresh mozzarella, sliced
Fresh oregano, to garnish

Tip: Read the instructions before starting – you can prep the sausages, courgettes and mozzarella while other elements of the recipe are cooking.

Method

  • Heat a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion over a low to medium heat, to soften.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6123

  • Add the tinned tomatoes and oregano and let the tomato sauce cook. You can peel the sausages during this time.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6125 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6128

  • Add the sausages to the tomato sauce and use the edge of a wooden spoon to break them into pieces. Continue to break the sausages down, mixing them into the tomato sauce, for the first several minutes of cooking.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6131

  • Then cover the pan and leave the ragu to cook for about an hour. During this cooking time, once the sausage is cooked through you can taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6134

  • After an hour, remove the lid and turn the heat up a little to allow the sauce to reduce – this will take about 10 to 15 minutes. You want quite a dry ragu, as the courgettes will release juices as they cook. Prepare the courgettes during this time.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6145

  • To prepare the courgettes, slice them in half and carefully scoop out the seeds and pulpy flesh from the centre. Leave a nice thick layer of flesh in the skin, and take care not to pierce the skin while you’re working.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6132

  • Preheat the oven to 160° C (fan).
  • Stuff the courgettes with the ragu and pack down tightly.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6147 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6149

  • Bake the courgettes for 30 to 40 minutes until the courgettes have softened and the ragu has taken on a little colour.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6158

  • Slice the mozzarella finely and arrange over the top of each courgette half. Add a sprig of fresh oregano for decoration, if using.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6157 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6164

  • Return to the oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the mozzarella has melted and taken on a little colour.

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6165 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6166

  • Serve with your chosen side. You can see that we had some of ours with an extra dose of courgettes in the form of courgette crisps – thinly sliced, lightly floured and deep fried!

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-182205 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-192558

Looking for more delicious ideas for courgettes / zucchinis?

Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6136 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6150 Sausage-Ragu-Stuffed-Courgette-KaveyEats-(c)-KFavelle-6167

Do you have any favourite recipes for courgettes?

If so, please do share them here – we still have lots more on the plants and I’m always looking for new ways to enjoy them!

(You are welcome to include recipe links in your comments, but they may not appear straight away; comments with links are usually diverted into an approval queue to check they aren’t spam!)

 

Sometimes I fall behind in writing about cookery books I’ve accepted for review. There is always a stack of books waiting for my attention, and I often feel vaguely guilty that I have already covered books that came in more recently than books that have been waiting a while. So I was delighted when a new friend agreed to take one from the pile and write a guest review about how she got on cooking from it. She chose French Food Safari by Maeve O’Meara and Guillaume Brahimi. Over to Tara Dean and her friend Dawn.

HGB FFS COVER v03.ai FrenchFoodSafariMG-19

I met Kavey through a friend when we needed somewhere to crash for the weekend whilst we went to Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. I had heard much about Kavey, it was a delight to eventually meet both Kavey who eats and Pete who drinks. I live in Bristol and keep myself very busy. I work for an international sexual health company, run my own sports massage business and am studying for my Masters in Occupational Psychology which I will complete early next year. In my spare time I do Bikram yoga, go to the gym and spend time with my amazing friends.

Whilst at Kavey’s I raided her sweet and chocolate box, as a blogger she gets sent lots of samples and so I had a great time, we inevitably got to talking about food and blogging. Kavey had been sent a recipe book to review and was finding her time limited, I was excited and up for the challenge so she asked me to take the book, cook, eat and review. So here we are, I hope you enjoy reading about my experience.

I have a wonderful friend called Dawn who writes the dessert part of this review, we met a few years ago as we both started out our studies in Psychology. As a fellow northerner, she’s from the east I’m from the west, we both love good homely food that fills your belly and makes you feel nice and warm inside. I take my food seriously and don’t like to eat too much junk food. I am known in the office for my interesting concoctions, when I work late on a Thursday my manager stops by the kitchen specifically to inspect what I’m eating. I’ve often been asked at work if I’m vegetarian even when there is meat in the dish because I am eating something homemade which contains vegetables. People are taken aback when I start work at 8am and I have managed to cook a curry or soup for my lunch before arriving. Life’s too short to eat food that does not taste good. I pride myself in making quick, inexpensive and healthy meals. Now that’s not quite how things happen when you cook from a French cooking book. My point is I can relate to people taking food seriously.

I cooked the main and thankfully Dawn did the dessert. We both thought we had picked a fairly easy none complicated dessert for her. One of the phrases I remember from the evening was from her husband Marc when she asked him to help her with the puff pastry. His reply was ‘No. I’ve made puff pastry once’. He meant you only ever made fresh puff pastry once, learn your lesson, and then buy pre-made ready to roll forever more. Knowing that, there are far more fun and less stressful ways you can spend your Saturday afternoon.

FrenchFoodSafariMG-18

Lamb Navarin

I chose the Lamb Navarin recipe which in our terms is a French Lamb Stew. First stop was the butchers. The recipe calls for 1kg boned lamb shoulder and 1kg forequarter lamb racks, cut between every second rib. After showing my butcher the recipe book we decided it would be half the price, more meat and much easier to have 2 kg of lamb shoulder which he boned and then I could dice. This was very simple to cut and led to a much less messy eating experience and left me with more money to spend on red wine which fits into my northern values. The recipe says to use chicken stock for which it provides a recipe for – ain’t no one got time for that – or water – I compromised and used stock cubes which I do not think took any flavour away. I had never heard of Kipfler potatoes and neither had the assistant at my local greengrocers. I did a quick internet search and up popped a picture of a long nobbly potato. We ended up with Anya potatoes which hopefully did not take anything away.

I found the recipe well written and easy to follow other than wrestling with Dawn for page viewing. There is a point in the recipe which instructs you to strain the sauce through a fine sieve. I really did not see the point of this and as I was cooking in a piping hot, very heavy, cast iron casserole dish I declined to follow. The result was a beautiful navarin with succulent meat and flavoursome sauce. The celeriac puree containing almost a full pack of butter was the perfect accompaniment. As much as the guests enjoyed the navarin the puree enjoyed the most praise. One guest commented that if I made it again he would like to be on the guest list.

Along with preparation you are looking at a good 3 hours to make this meal. That is without an dessert or starter. The recipe claims this dish can serve 8 – 10 people. We had 7 people to feed, no one behaved like a piglet and overfilled their plate and we had very little in the way of leftovers. I think the writer has been overly optimistic. Unless in France they have extremely small portions to allow for the many courses you would normally expect at a dinner party, which of course is entirely possible, however as a northerner I would like my main course to feel like a main. We did serve cheese between the main and the dessert. Although I have always experienced cheese to be served after dessert the author of French Food Safari says any French person knows that the cheese is served before dessert. Not wanting to appear as amateurs we stuck to tradition.

The book itself is well presented and inviting. There are sections on cheeses, meat, and very fancy desserts which you need specialist equipment to attempt. The recipes do look very inviting and I’m looking forward to trying some more…….. maybe for the next dinner party!

FrenchFoodSafariMG-05 FrenchFoodSafariMG-11
FrenchFoodSafariMG-15 FrenchFoodSafariMG-14

Tarte Tatin by Dawn

A super friend of mine called Tara invited me to do a joint review of the new ‘French Food Safari’ and with the chitchat of good friends it was quickly decided: there would be a dinner party and it would be held in my kitchen. I offered to make dessert since this is a dish I always feel I do in a hurry when I have a dinner party. The idea of oodles of time without distraction from other dishes to prepare, felt like finally, without neglect, I was in a position to consider this dessert’s every need!

The dessert? Tarte Tatin…The perfect antidote to the autumn air. This is a dish I have enjoyed without fail on numerous occasions during my time spent living in France as a student in the 90’s. My husband is part French and always holds a certain nostalgia for this dessert since his French grandmother would often make it.

On first sight, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward. I have, on several occasions baked a Tarte Tatin so thought it near impossible that I should find myself in troubled waters. Oh how I was wrong! The recipe required me to make puff pastry. Although I have experience of making shortcrust pastry I knew straightaway that to make puff pastry you need inherent qualities such as patience, determination and time. With a flick of my hair I decided I had time on my side and should not focus on the aforementioned qualities!

Some points regarding the recipe quantities: the pastry recipe required 500ml water, 250 ml of which needed to be ice-cold. After 250ml water I found my dough to be all pasty and did not even dare to add the next vat of water. I became a little disheartened at this and wondered how on earth I could possibly inject more water into it, considering all my quantities again-had I put too little flour in? All the quantities were right so with deep breath and without further ado I made a pledge to move on and get cracking with peeling the apples. With an eye on the time and my pastry in mind, I looked forward to what I thought had to be the more straightforward part of the recipe.

After peeling, de-seeding and coring the apples I made the caramel. On the previous occasions I’ve made Tarte Tatin I have added the sugar and butter to the fruit at the time of cooking so i was a little surprised that the caramel was made separately but appreciated trying out new methods! I know that you have to e very attentive to a caramel to stop it burning so I gave it my full attention despite the knowledge my pastry was going to be crying out for affection in the fridge before long. Unfortunately what I found is that there was not enough direction in the instructions. i was starting to feel concerned about the caramel bubbling away for 8 mins with apples and then being turned up to full heat until the apples became caramelised. I was also using a cast-iron pan which does, of course, retain a lot of heat in comparison to other materials.

The apples looked golden and caramelised and picture-perfect. Time to return to the pastry again…

I started to become aware of time: with guests arriving at 8pm I was not going to have this dessert done and dusted before their arrival even though I had started at around 5:15pm. I estimated that by 8:15pm the Tarte, pastry in tow, would be ready to put in the oven. One aspect which would have really helped in making this pastry… photos. There weren’t enough photos of the various contortions this pastry required during the rolls. A picture of all four corners folded in would have been welcomed with open arms.

Three hours and 15 minutes later saw the birth of my Tarte Tatin. It looked amazing.

The taste was disappointing. Everyone agreed it tasted a little burned. A slightly burned caramel sullied the whole dish and those melt in your mouth apples were suddenly left without a plan B. The pastry was ok but nothing special, not quite what I’d expect from having toiled and troubled over it for hours… I kicked myself for not buying ready-made pastry. At least I would have had an easier time coming to terms with a burnt caramel not to mention extra time to prepare for guests.

With more handholding I could have tackled this dessert. I cook and bake a great deal with 2 small children and a husband to feed but this recipe needed a chef (as well as more photos, directions and bags of time) and that, I hasten to add, I am definitely not.

FrenchFoodSafariMG-01 FrenchFoodSafariMG-04
FrenchFoodSafariMG-09 FrenchFoodSafariMG-21
FrenchFoodSafariMG-23

 

With thanks to Tara and Dean for their review, and to Hardie Grant for review copy of French Food Safari.

 

Camilla Stephens began her culinary career developing food for (UK-based) coffee chain, the Seattle Coffee Company. When it was bought out by Starbucks, she stayed on board creating tasty treats to be sold across the chain throughout the day. Somewhere along the way, she learned to make really tasty pies. Fast forward several years to 2003 when Camilla and husband James created Higgidy, selling beautiful handmade pies – even though the business has grown phenomenally in its first decade, every single pie is still shaped and filled by hand and the product range now includes a variety of quiches too. There are more traditional recipes such as beef, stilton and ale in a shortcrust pastry case and bacon and cheddar quiche, as well as more inventive recipes like sweet potato and feta pie with pumpkin seeds.

Pete and I aren’t averse to buying ready made meals so we’ve enjoyed Higgidy products at home a number of times. The key to their success is that they really do taste home made.

So we had high hopes for Camilla’s recently-released Higgidy Cookbook, promising “100 Recipes for Pies and More”. We were not disappointed and it didn’t take long for me to bookmark a slew of recipes that appealed: chicken and chorizo with spiced paprika crumble, chinese spiced beef pies, no-nonsense steak and ale pie, giant gruyere and ham sandwich, melt-in-the-middle pesto chicken (filo parcels), hot-smoked salmon gougère (scuppered, on the first attempt, by our inability to find hot-smoked salmon in our local shops), rösti-topped chicken and pancetta pie, wintry quiche with walnutty pastry, smoked haddock frying-pan pie, cheddar ploughman tartlets, cherry tomato tarte tatin, sticky ginger and apple tarte tatin, pear and whisky tart, oaty treacle tart, chocolate snowflake tart and sticky onions!

Of course, many of these recipes are wonderfully hearty and perfect winter warmers at this this cold, dark and wet time of year.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4106 HiggidyLambHotPot-2219
Pork and apple stroganoff pie with cheddar crust; lamb hotpot

So far, Pete’s made two recipes from the book and we have been delighted with both. The hearty lamb hotpot was a classic; simple to make, tasty and warming to eat. The pork and apple stroganoff pie with cheddar crust was fantastic. Oddly enough, after making (and blogging) an apple pie with an almost identical design on top (which I made before having seen the Higgidy pie photograph) I had been chatting on twitter about trying apple pie with a cheddar crust, so finding this recipe soon afterwards was serendipitous! It didn’t disappoint.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4101 HiggidyPorkApplePie-4102

 

Higgidy Pork and Apple Stroganoff Pie with Cheddar Crust

Equipment
1 x 1.4 litre ovenproof pie dish

Ingredients
For the cheddar pastry

230 grams plain flour, plus a little extra for dusting
0.5 teaspoon salt
125 grams butter, chilled and diced
40 grams mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons ice-cold water
For the filling
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
A good knob of butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium leek, thinly slievd
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600 grams pork tenderloin, cut into 2-3 cm pieces
2 eating apples, such as Braeburn, peeled, cored and cut into small wedges
2 tablespoons plain flour
200 ml cider
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
150 ml full-fat soured cream
150 ml hot chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note: We skipped the egg-wash, so our pie didn’t have the pretty glossy appearance of Camilla’s.

Method

  • To make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a food processor. Add the chilled butter and pulse until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese, then add the ice-cold water, just enough to bring the pastry together. Shape into a round disc, wrap in clingfilm and put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat a tablespoon of oil with the butter in a large non-stick frying pan, add the onion and leek, and cook gently for 5 minutes to soften the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Spoon into your pie dish.
  • Increase the heat, add a splash more oil, then fry the pork for a couple of minutes only, just enough to brown the meat. Spoon into the pie dish.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4097

  • Keep the pan on a high heat and fry the apple pieces in the remaining fat, until lightly browned and Beginning to soften. Transfer to the pie dish. Sprinkle the flour over the top and stir well, to evenly combine.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4096 HiggidyPorkApplePie-4098

  • Pour the cider into the empty pan and bubble until reduced by half. Lower the heat, add the mustard, soured cream and stock and stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and immediately pour over the meat in the pie dish. Give it all a good stir and set aside to cook completely.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4099

  • Preheat the oven to 200 C / fan 180 C / gas mark 6. Brush the edges of the pie dish with beaten egg.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to about 3mm thick and drape it over the top of the filling. Crimp the edges to seal. Cut a steam hole in the middle.
  • Decorate the top of the pastry with your pastry trimmings (cut into apple shapes or leaves) and brush the pie all over with beaten egg.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4103

  • Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the filling is piping hot and the pastry is golden and crisp. Serve with wilted kale.

HiggidyPorkApplePie-4105 HiggidyPorkApplePie-4107

 

The Higgidy Cookbook published by Quercus, is currently available (at time of posting) on Amazon for a very bargainous £7 (RRP £16.99).

Kavey Eats was sent a review copy of the book by Higgidy.

Aug 072013
 

Guest post by Diana Chan.

Chinese Seal MINI

This evening I had dinner by myself and made a dish the way my grandmother would have done – simple, nourishing and delicious.

We are Cantonese, from the south of China.  After living many years in Europe I have observed that the Cantonese and Italians share a common approach to good food – take the best quality, freshest ingredients and do as little to them as possible. This time I made stir fried breast of duck with onion.

123StirFry-8

Stir frying is easy – the 3 things to get right are cutting, seasoning and timing.

And you don’t need a wok – unless, of course, you happen to already have one or want a reason to get one.

First, cutting.  Duck and chicken breast, skinned and boned, and pork fillet are the easiest to cut into even-sized pieces for stir frying because they come in relatively neat blocks that you can just slice across.

  • Slice your meat into large bite-sized pieces.

123StirFry- 123StirFry-1

Second, seasoning.  To make a delicious marinade for the sliced duck (or chicken, pork, etc.) you need only add 3 ingredients to the duck and mix everything together well:  two swirls of soy sauce, a little sugar and some corn flour.

  • For those who prefer more precision, I suggest you use for each 150 grams of duck 2 teaspoons soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, and a half teaspoon of corn flour.  Let the duck marinate for 10 to 15 minutes while you are busy with another part of the meal – but if you are really in a hurry, then marinate for as long as the time you have.

123StirFry-2

Soy sauce, sugar and corn flour make the perfect foundation for stir fried meat. I always use Kikkoman soy sauce – it tastes good, is naturally brewed and is widely available.  Cantonese cooks add a little sugar to enhance the flavour of savoury dishes, while other cuisines could achieve a similar effect with the sweetness of chopped onions cooked with the main ingredients.  Corn flour absorbs some of the meat juices and clings to the meat, making it feel more succulent to the bite.

Third, timing.  A meat stir fry needs the addition of a vegetable or something else to become interesting, and an onion is the best companion.  In the context of timing, an onion is the perfect stir fry vegetable:  it cooks quickly, but even for someone without any sense of timing it is difficult to really overcook.

  • While the duck is marinating, cook a sliced onion in a frying pan over medium heat with a little oil and some salt until it is translucent or becomes as coloured as you like, then put it onto a serving dish.  By this time the frying pan has become nice and hot.

123StirFry-3 123StirFry-4 123StirFry-5

  • Add a bit of oil, then the sliced duck, and immediately toss and turn the duck about in the pan until most of it has lost the raw appearance.  Use for this task a spatula, wooden spoon or any tool you are most comfortable with – for me, it is a pair of bamboo chopsticks.
  • Then return the onion to the pan and stir around the mixture over medium heat until the duck is cooked to your liking.

123StirFry-6 123StirFry-7

That’s it – done!

  • Put the mixture onto the serving dish, including any tasty bits sticking to the pan, and garnish as you like – scatter over a few sprigs of coriander, chopped parsley, or some crushed chilli flakes.

123StirFry-9

To garnish my dinner – since we had been away for a long weekend and there was nothing much in the fridge – while the onion was cooking I microwaved some frozen spinach, plopped it onto a plate and placed the duck in the middle.  I thought adding the spinach would make a better photograph, although I would have been perfectly content eating just duck and onion with some steamed rice.

A stir fry is best made with not more than about 300 grams of meat, enough to serve two people with some vegetables and rice.  Once you have mastered the basics of this stir fry with soy sauce, sugar and corn flour, you could use other vegetables and add all sorts of aromatics at various stages of cooking and other seasonings as well.  The combinations are endless.

 

With thanks to Diana Chan for her first guest post. Please leave a comment to welcome her to the world of blogging!

 

Joselito is described as the best jamón Ibérico de bellota in the world.

That’s quite a claim, isn’t it? The best. In the world.

JoselitoJamon-0469

Made in Salamanca, in the North West of Spain, by José Gómez Joselito, the current CEO of a family business founded by his great grandfather over a hundred years ago, Joselito ham is made from acorn-fed Iberian pigs and cured 100% naturally, in the traditional way. The pigs roam Joselito’s holm and cork oak forest pastures, feeding on grass and acorns. The nature of the breed, combined with their natural diet and the ability to exercise freely result in a wonderful marbling of intramuscular fat, which in turn results in jamon that is meltingly soft and intensely flavoured.

The world’s best chefs and food critics line up to sing it’s praises and include it in their menus:

  • “Joselito ham is unique, perfect. A constant inspiration to all who love the cuisine.” Ferran Adrià, chef
  • “Joselito ham is the world’s most wonderful and it is Joselito as a person.” Juan Mari Arzak, chef
  • “Joselito has perfected the curing, aging to produce the most exquisite ham.” Heston Blumenthal, chef
  • “The taste of Spain, the king of ham”. Testsuya Wakuda, chef
  • “Joselito ham is Spain’s greatest culinary treasure and one of the finest natural products of the world. Trying Joselito is a unique and unforgettable experience”. Robert Parker, writer
  • “Joselito ham is the finest of its kind.” Daniel Bouloud, chef
  • “Subtle scent that awakens our kitchen, murmurs are silenced by a unique flavour that fills the palate.” Mario and Oscar Pedro Manuel Perez, chefs
  • “Joselito, your name and ham are a jewel of Spanish cuisine.” Hilario Arbelaitz, chef
  • “A slice of Joselito Gran Reserva is like taking a walk through paradise.” Rafael Garcia Santos, food critic
  • “Joselito is undoubtedly the product that best presents the culinary culture of our country. The rigor, quality, professionalism and passion.” Quique da Costa, chef
  • “Joselito is for me the best portrait of a traditional Spanish artisan product.” Nils Henkel, chef

But, to my shame, I didn’t know any of this when I accepted a kind offer from Jamoteca to send me some Joselito samples. Their introductory email did tell me the product was the most renowned ham in Spain but, used to the hyperbole of PRs, I didn’t pay much heed to that. What came through clearly was their belief in the quality of this product and their enthusiasm for me to assess it for myself.

When the package arrived, I gazed at the beautiful fuchsia-pink of the ham, admired the creamy fat, saw how it glistened. I opened the Jamon Gran Reserva first. The aroma was wonderful, sweeter than other hams I’ve encountered. The texture was, as the oft-used cliché goes, as soft as silk and as pliable as fabric too.

JoselitoJamon-0471

One bite. That’s all it took for me to realise instantly, that this was easily the best ham I’d ever tasted in my life. I don’t have the writing skills to convey to you just how magical a combination of taste and texture this product has. Rich, intense, vivid, meltingly soft, savoury and yet sweet….

JoselitoJamon-0472

The chorizo was next, with its heady scent of smoke and paprika. Like the Jamon Gran Reserva it was simply amazing.

Only after savouring every sliver did I turn to the internet and realise what a special treat I’d been given, how renowned was the product I’d enjoyed so much, and that far better palates than mine really had deemed it the best in the world.

On other days, we enjoyed the Lomo (tenderloin) and the Paleta (shoulder) Gran Reserva and these were wonderful too.

Of course, quality such as this does not come cheap. A selection of five 100 gram packs of sliced ham, including the four I tried plus salchichón) is available from the Jamoteca website for €62 plus another €20 in delivery costs. At today’s exchange rate, that’s approximately £70. They are dispatched directly from the Guijuelo warehouse and should take 3-4 working days to arrive. If you had asked me before I’d tasted them whether I would ever spend £70 on 500 grams of ham, I’d have laughed, dismissively. Now I’ve tasted the products, I realise I actually might.

In the mean time, for those wondering what to get me for my birthday, here’s another one to add to the list!

 

Kavey Eats received review samples of Joselito products courtesy of Jamoteca.

 

I’ve never cooked beef short ribs before. I’m not sure if I’ve even eaten them before but I think I may have. Certainly I’ve seen much talk about them being a great value cut that benefits from long slow cooking such as a braise.

My beef short ribs came from The Ginger Pig, and I asked them to cut them in half, through the bone for me so that when I cut between the bones, I was left with smaller, more manageable pieces.

Trying to narrow down recipes, I found many appealing ones on the web including Barbecued Beef Ribs & Molasses Bourbon Sauce, Coffee-Marinated Bison Short Ribs (which I figured would translate well to beef ribs), Cherry Balsamic Short Ribs, Stout-Braised Short Ribs and Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs. I even contemplated adjusting this recipe for Dr Pepper Pork Ribs, but figured best to use a recipe intended for my cut of meat, at least the first time.

The recipe that called to me most strongly was this Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs by Dave Lieberman, posted on the Food Network.

Although the total cooking time is nearly 4 hours, the prep is fairly quick and easy and the ingredients list is short and simple. The original recipe calls for rice wine vinegar but as it’s only a small amount, I substituted cider vinegar which I already had in stock.

The recipe worked well, and we enjoyed it. The meat was tender and falling off the bone and the sauce was nicely balanced,. Although the beer didn’t really come through, it probably did its job of tempering the hoisin. But I’m not yet sold on beef short ribs. I think many of the recipes I’ve found could be made with ox cheeks, which I adore and are the same price per kilo or cheaper.

HoisinShortRibs-4601

 

Braised Hoisin & Beer Beef Short Ribs

Adapted from Food Network

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1.5 kilos beef short ribs, cut into approximately 10 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
10 to 12 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
340 ml mild beer
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
240 ml hoisin sauce

Method

  • Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the oil in a large heavy casserole dish with a lid. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary. Remove the ribs. If you have more than a couple of tablespoons of oil and rendered fat, pour away any excess before continuing.

HoisinShortRibs-4605

  • Lower the heat to medium and fry the garlic and ginger for 2-3 minutes.

HoisinShortRibs-4607

  • Return the ribs to the dish. Pour the beer and vinegar over them.

HoisinShortRibs-4608 HoisinShortRibs-4609

  • Once the liquid has reached a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 2.5 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C.

HoisinShortRibs-4611 HoisinShortRibs-4615

  • Pour the hoisin sauce over the ribs, transfer the dish to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the ribs from the sauce. Strain excess fat from the sauce, if necessary, and serve the sauce over the ribs.

HoisinShortRibs-4617

  • Serve with mashed potatoes and green vegetables.

HoisinShortRibs-4619

Do you have any favourite recipes for beef short ribs to share?

 

With ever rising populations and land pressure, I’m not being controversial when I state that we need to reduce the amount of meat in our diets and increase the volume of grain and vegetables we eat.

But for those of us who love eating meat, this is easier said than done.

There are two ways to do this: the first is to use smaller portions of meat in each meal, such as a 50 grams of bacon used to give flavour and texture to a pasta dish or a fresh vegetable salad with a handful of leftover roast chicken or a stroganoff with lots of mushrooms and only a little steak; the second way is to balance a couple of meat-heavy meals a week with several vegetarian ones. I tend to waiver between these, and don’t eat as many vegetarian meals as I should, which is a shame as I adore tofu and enjoy cooking our home-grown vegetables.

If you opt for the second approach then, budget permitting, it makes a lot of sense to enjoy the best quality meat you can afford – a little of the good stuff rather than a lot of the mediocre.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Alex Renton says:

Lamb is a green dream: the most gentle, ecologically, of all the farmed meats we eat. There is no animal more naturally-raised – it’s all free range and the feed just grows at their feet. Sheep don’t need water in the vast quantities cattle require and farming them is in itself a form of recycling: they graze hills and marginal land, recovering nutrients from poor grass and weeds other livestock won’t eat.

The land that will support one cow and calf can take as many as seven ewes and their lambs. And the grassy downs of modern England look as they do largely because of grazing sheep.

The lamb we produce in Britain is spectacularly good. Our climate seems well suited, both in terms of landscape and weather and the resulting meat is a delight.

A couple of months ago, I was sent a selection box of organic Welsh lamb by Graig Farm. Based in Mochdre in Montgomeryshire, the farm has been run by the Rees family since the 1940’s and has been certified as organic since 1999. Jonathan Rees is committed to producing great food “without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, growth promoting drugs, routine use of antibiotics, and the large amount of additives often used in ‘non-organic’ methods”. Their sheep and cattle graze in grass, clover and herb pastures and their pigs are able to forage in the woods. Ten years ago, they built a processing plant on site, and do all the butchery and processing themselves at the farm.

GraigFarm-4710 GraigFarm-4711

Delivery was straightforward. The meat was neatly packed in a large polystyrene box and kept nicely cooled with ice packs, however I’d have preferred more ecologically-friendly packaging options such as the British sheep-wool insulation that Paganum use.

My box contained 2 half lamb legs, 2 lamb leg steaks, 4 lamb loin chops, 1 boned & rolled lamb shoulder, 2 lamb chump chops and 1 rack of lamb, all organic, of course. This box is priced at £89.

People often dismiss spending the extra on organic with complaints that organic produce tastes no difference to non-organic. In many cases, that’s true. But there are a host of other reasons to consider organic, including the environmental impact of pesticides and fertilisers, the fact that organic farms are far friendlier to wildlife and, on a more selfish note, the vastly reduced use of additives. And farmers who can’t resort to the easy option of pumping their animals full of drugs focus much more strongly on keeping them healthy by more natural means. That added care and attention often does make itself evident in the taste. Of course, there are regulated controls on feed too, which also have an impact on the final product.

Every cut of Graig Farm lamb we’ve eaten has been absolutely superb. The meat is tender but not mushy, the flavour is sweet and rich, and there’s enough fat running through to keep the meat moist as it cooks. I really could not be happier with the quality of the meat.

For the lamb loin chops, I made a very simple marinade and then cooked the chops in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.

 

Garam Masala Marinated Lamb Loin Chops

For the marinade, I first combined 4 bay leaves, a piece of cinnamon bark about an inch wide and long, 1 brown cardamom pod and a couple of small green ones, 6 peppercorns and 3 cloves. These were powdered using a spice grinder and then mixed into approximately two cups of full fat yoghurt. I marinated the chops for a couple of hours before cooking.

Cuisinart-4827 Cuisinart-4836GaramMasalaLambLoinChops-4846

 

Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:

KAV222

The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

 

Chatting to the UK arm of US publisher Rizzoli about titles I might like to review, the pull of the pig drew me towards The Whole Hog Cookbook. Promising “chops, loin, shoulder, bacon and all that good stuff”, author Libbie Summers draws on childhood memories of her grandparents’ hog farm together with “modern sensibilities [that] lend new twists to beloved dishes”.

As the front flap declares, “the best way to honor an animal like the pig is to appreciate every part”.

The book starts with an introduction to the strengths and characteristics of various heritage breeds of pig before sharing recipes divided into chapters for loin, Boston shoulder, bacon, spare ribs, picnic shoulder, leg, offal and slices.

The names of these cuts remind you immediately that the book is an American one, though there are plenty of websites online that will help you translate the names of cuts to their UK equivalents.

That said, the recipes themselves take inspiration from all around the world, including Hangover Irish Crubeens, Spaghetti alla Carbonara (made with guanciale) and Pork Osso Buco, Serrano Ham Croquettes and Rioja Potatoes, Summers’ Aunt Setsuko’s Ham Fried Rice, Crispy Thai Pork Belly, West Indian Pork Roti, Cuban Pork Roast Someone needs to tell Summers, though, that the “scotch” in scotch eggs doesn’t mean they’re Scottish, as she’s called them!

And of course, there are many American-inspired recipes, gleaned from all across the country and adapted and refined by Summers. I’m tempted by lots of them, including Prodigal Chocolate Pig (a moist chocolate cake featuring bacon and rum), Buttery Potted Ham, Sweet Tea-Brined Pork Roast, Grilled Summer Corn Soup, her grandma Lula Mae’s Double Cola-Braised Pork Shoulder, Citrus Sugar Rubbed Ribs, Southern Peanut Soup, Savoury Mushroom and Bacon Bread Pudding…

Summers also provides a number of recipes for side dishes and condiments such as Clementine Prosecco Marmalade, Buttermilk Biscuits, Stout Mustard, Lemon Mint Mashed Potatoes, Creole Mayo, Moon Gate Bacon Jam, Lemon Thyme Custard, Applesauce, Hot Guava Dipping Sauce, Banana Chutney, Butt-Kickin’ Ketchup

I think I might leave the Hot Peppered Pickled Pig’s Feet for someone more adventurous though!

I’ve already taken inspiration from Summers’ South Cackalacky Spare Ribs recipe, though I created my own recipe for the Cackalacky sauce, I used Summers’ rib rub, on beef instead of pork. And I’d never have heard of Cackalacky if not for the book.

Intrigued by two baking recipes, the husband’s disdainfully raised eyebrows at the thought of sweet scones ruled out the Rosemary Bacon Scones (which also feature white chocolate), so I decided to make the Bacon Banana Cookies instead.

Immediately, I was confronted with the other weakness of the book (from my British point of view) – it’s use of cup measures instead of weights/ volumes.

Whilst a cup of sugar is quick and simple, a cup of peanut butter is much more of a pain.

Luckily, Summers doesn’t drive me to complete distraction and mostly lists ingredients such as fruit and vegetables more rationally with numbers of carrots or bananas, though she occasionally refers to onions by cup after peeling and dicing, which surely depends on how small I dice and gives me little guidance on how much to purchase in the first place.

I realise cups are easier for those who grew up with them, and one gets better at estimating how much to buy with experience, but it strikes me as a dreadfully inaccurate way of measuring for many ingredients and makes it difficult when purchasing unfamiliar ingredients.

BananaBaconCookies-8198 BananaBaconCookies-8908
image from the book; my cookies

Bacon Banana Cookies

Ingredients
1.5 cups all purpose flour (plain flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
0.25 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
0.25 teaspoon kosher salt (large grained salt, a little like sea salt)
0.5 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter (113 grams)
1.25 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 bananas, mashed
0.5 pound bacon, cooked crisp, chopped (225 grams)

BananaBaconCookies-8193 BananaBaconCookies-8197
BananaBaconCookies-8206 BananaBaconCookies-8208

Method

  • Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

BananaBaconCookies-8195

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, half teaspoon of the ground cinnamon and the salt.

BananaBaconCookies-8196 BananaBaconCookies-8205

  • In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together the butter and 1 cup of the sugar.
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until they are fully incorporated.

BananaBaconCookies-8209

  • Beat in the vanilla.

BananaBaconCookies-8211BananaBaconCookies-8214BananaBaconCookies-8216

  • Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture.

BananaBaconCookies-8218

  • Then stir in the mashed bananas, beating well after each addition.

BananaBaconCookies-8220

  • Fold in the bacon.
  • Stir together the remaining quarter cup sugar and the remaining cinnamon and set aside.

BananaBaconCookies-8229
BananaBaconCookies-8226 BananaBaconCookies-8224

  • Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart.

BananaBaconCookies-8231

  • Sprinkle generously with the cinnamon sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes, until slightly browned.

BananaBaconCookies-8234

  • Allow the cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Cookies will keep for 5 to 7 days.

Note: I missed the instruction to separate out some of the sugar and ground cinnamon to sprinkle onto the cookies before baking, so they were mixed into the dough along with the rest.

BananaBaconCookies-8910

So what did we think?

Pete wasn’t convinced by the flavour combination of banana and bacon – he didn’t dislike it but didn’t particular fall for it either. But I loved it! I’d probably up the amount of bacon a touch more actually, to bring it out even more.

Where we both agreed was on the texture – far more bread or cake like than what we expect from a cookie.

Worst of all, although the recipe advises that the cookies will keep for 5-7 days, after less than 24 hours in a plastic box (into which they were placed only after they had completely cooled down for a few hours) they were already a little soggy!

BananaBaconCookies-8238 BananaBaconCookies-8240

Sadly, I can’t recommend this recipe as it stands, however, I liked the flavours enough to want to find a successful version.

(I might try it as a loaf of banana bread though, as I think that would work).

If you have any advice on how to bring banana and bacon together in a cookie that has a texture more like the traditional slightly chewy centred American cookie, please let me know!


Libbie Summers’ The Whole Hog Cookbook is currently available from Amazon for £13.97 (RRP £19.95).

© 2006 - 2014 Kavita Favelle Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha