Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Whole Foods - Kensington, W8

This is probably old news to a lot of you but I’ve still not been in London that long so I’ll keep it brief.  I must admit though that I've fallen somewhat in love with a shop.  Whole Foods on Kensington High Street stole my heart and then my wallet as well... 

This small chain (by American standards) only has a few outposts here in the UK and I wish I’d found out about it sooner.  The Kensington branch is just down the road from us and despite the crowds its proper foodie heaven.  It really does show you what a supermarket can be if you put a bit of thought into it.

Shopping aside I’m loving the food hall at the moment as well.  I’m not going to pretend it’s the best food in the world but it knocks the shit out of a Morrison’s fry up.  Perfect to help you refuel on a hung-over Sunday morning this definitely needs to be the first port of call before you take on the mammoth task of the weekly big shop!

The Mexican stand upstairs serves tasty food in typically American sized portions.  The Quesadilla was good but filled with some fairly tame Chilli beef but if you are looking for value for money go for the Taco!

This deep dish of a shell filled to overflowing with whatever your hung-over mind fancies falls well into the realms of Tex-Mex.  Purists probably need not apply but for a tenner between the two of us I don’t know where else you can buy so much tasty food? 

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Beef Shin and Bone Marrow in Taddy Porter - The Perfect Gravy

Northern boys love their gravy and after spending ten years up in Yorkshire I’ve grown pretty fond of it as well.  Back in my kitchen days we’d make vats of the stuff fresh every Sunday.  Beef, Lamb and Chicken to go with the roasts and my god we got through a lot of bones.

Well I say we...  I actually mean we’d watch the head chef make it, it was his job and he wouldn’t trust anyone else with it.  “My pub - My gravy” and that was the way it stood.  He never took a Sunday off, planning holidays carefully so he’d always be there when it mattered.

Despite his secretive ways I picked up the art but for some reason I’d forgotten how much difference a few bones can make.  So when I stumbled on the Bone Marrow Gravy at the Hawksmoor it was like a switch was flicked in my head.

After spending days wistfully thinking about the gorgeous brown stuff I had to get a fix.  So here’s my recipe for the perfect meat and gravy – Beef Shin and Bone Marrow cooked in Taddy Porter.

2 x Thick slices of Beef Shin with the Bone in.
2 x Additional Marrow bones.
2 x Large Onions – Sliced.
75g of Butter and a handful of flour
1 x Pint Bottle of Sam Smiths Taddy Porter – You can use any Porter really or Stout (Mackeson’s would be great in here as well)
A Splash of Beef Stock – Helpful but not essential
Salt and Pepper to season.

Get a thick bottomed pan on the heat and let it warm up for a while.  You want to colour the meat and bones in a dry pan first.  Once nicely coloured remove the meat, throw in your butter and soften your sliced onions till golden brown.  Throw in handful of flour, make a roux and make sure you scrape any sticky bits into the mix.

Cook the roux out for a minute or so and return the meat, pour in your Porter and stir till smooth add your splash of stock now if you have some.   You want to cook this on a low heat for a good couple of hours; realistically you are looking at three if possible.  The key here is that you want to cook the shin through gently but not reduce the sauce.

When the dish has cooled a little scoop the Marrow out of the bones, mix it into the Gravy if it hasn’t already escaped and shred the beef shin.  Get rid of any really gristly bits and return the meat to the pan.  If you want to gnaw on the bones at this stage before you chuck them I’d recommend it but otherwise put the pan in the fridge for tomorrow!

You absolutely must let this rest overnight, it will be so much better for it.  Everyone knows it Chips & Gravy right?  This is the only acceptable accompaniment so deal with it.  Warm up your meat and gravy and season before you serve.  This is simple food but so delicious, if you only ever cook one of my recipes make it this one!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Black and Spicy Belly Pork

The one thing you’ll ever need to know about Pork is that fat equals flavour, remember that mantra when choosing your cut and you won’t go far wrong.  This recipe really highlights all I love about pork and is best cooked with one of the cheaper cuts. This is a really easy meal for when you need that salty fat fix and you've got a little time to play with!

I’ve used Belly this time, but it’d be equally as good with some nice Bath Chaps or even a fatty bit of shoulder butterflied out.  This is pretty hard to fuck up and even if you do cook it too long you’ll still have crispy blackened skin, creamy but spicy fat and tender juicy meat!  Just maybe take the battery out of the smoke alarm though before hand...
Start by getting a pan on the heat.  Put the belly pork skin side down in about an inch of water and bring to the boil.  You want to blast the skin and fat for about five minutes just to get the cooking process going.  Whilst this is going blitz up your Green Chillies, Spring Onions, Garlic, Ginger and Coriander into a fine paste.

You want to reserve one of your Spring Onions for Garnish and some Coriander leaves for decoration if you are feeling fancy.  By now the Pork should have had enough time to get it started so take it off the heat and put it on a chopping board.  Let it cool a minute before you start handling it.
You want to deeply score the meat, fat and skin so you can increase the surface area that going to receive the fantastic paste.  If you look at the pictures you’ll see what I mean.  Rub it all in and put the Belly in a baking dish ahead of the next stage.

Fill the dish up half way with water but keep it below the skin, splash on some light soy and some honey and throw it in a hot oven.  Keep an eye on the water levels while it's cooking as this helps keep the meat moist while the skin crisps up and blackens nicely.
Depending on the size of your meat this is perfect after an hour.  If the skin isn’t crispy enough after this time just turn up the heat and give it a little longer.  The braising stock will combine with the rub and help form a fantastic salty sauce for this so make sure you don’t let this boil away! (if it gets too reduced just add a little more water)

Rest your meat for at least ten or fifteen minutes before you slice and serve.  The sauce from the dish is perfect just drizzled on top and mopped up with some flat bread.  This spicy, salty treat is one you’ll want to cook again and really is worth the ballache when you are washing up.

A Good Lump of Belly Pork, A Small Bunch of Coriander, 3 or 4 Green Chillies, 4 Spring Onions, 2 Cloves of Garlic, A Thumb of Ginger, A Good Dash of Light Soy, 1 Tbsp of Honey, Water as required.