Saturday, 29 January 2011

Great British Bake-Off

warning... this is a mega-long post... but I make no apologies... go make a cuppa and come back!...

mini victoria sponge lamington with flaked almond coating

... so about 2 months ago the wonderful Edd Kimber alerted us all to the fact that the BBC are now looking for contestants for The Great British Bake-Off 2011 and he suggested that we apply... and with my ongoing plan for world domination, the fool that I am, applied... and have now been invited to round one of auditions, which takes place next Friday in London...

... they have asked us to create one sweet and one savoury dish and as you can imagine I have been racking my brains thinking of what to bake... I want to showcase my traditional and local passion but also show them a bit of flair for something different...

... and after much debate I have decided to go for a leek and cote hill blue cheese tart (based on the Delia caramelised onion tart I made a couple of weeks ago)... and either 

beetroot and chocolate cake Lamingtons or Mini Victoria Sponge Lamingtons... 

... hopefully I'll wow them at the auditions with these creations... amazingly they will tell us on Friday if we've made it through and then either go immediately into a screen test... or be sent home... (blimey!)

so i'm rehearsing this weekend in Belleau Kitchen and will then make these again on Thursday in mum's kitchen... (god bless her... I don't think she realises quite how messy these Lamingtons are going to be!)

... let's start with the tart (ooh err!)

leek and cote hill blue cheese tart with a Lincolnshire Poacher cheese crust

for the pastry
2 oz self-raising flour
2 oz wholewheat flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2oz margarine or butter
1 1/2 oz Lincolnshire Poacher cheese - grated
cold water to mix

for the filling
1 onion 

- chopped fairly small
3 medium leeks - chopped fairly small
a wedge of Lincolnshie Cote Hill Blue Cheese - cut into chunks
2 oz butter
2 eggs, beaten
4fl oz double cream
1 tablespoon grated Lincolshire Poacher cheese
s and p

- pre heat the oven to 180 and grease an 8inch fluted flan tin

- first make the pastry by sifting the flours, mustard and salt into a bowl, then rub the fat in till it resembles breadcrumbs.  Finally bring it together with a small amount of cold water.  Once it forms a dough wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins

- melt the butter in a large heavy pan and add the onion then saute gently until they soften, then add the leeks and let them soften till translucent... stir them regularly though to avoid burning.

- roll the pastry out really thinly and line the fluted tin, prick with a fork and then bake in the oven for 15 mins.  Brush with a small amount of the beaten egg and then back into the oven for another 5 mins

- spread the leek and onions over the bottom of the base of the tart, add the mixed cream and egg mixture and sprinkle the top with the chunks of blue cheese, then some grated cheese.

- bake for 30 mins until golden and risen

... and now onto the Lamingtons

beetroot and chocolate cake and vanilla sponge mini square and round Lamingtons... 

... first you make your cake... i've searched high and low for a good beetroot chocolate cake and think I found one on Choclette's lovely blog... (we'll soon find out... and it gives me someone to blame!)

beetroot and chocolate cake

250g plain chocolate broken up
3 large free range eggs
200g light muscovado sugar
100ml sunflower oil
1tsp vanilla extract
100g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
1/2 tsp baking powder
50g ground almonds
250g raw beetroot (finely grated)

- melt the chocolate (i did it in a microwave but a double boiler is the traditional way)

- whisk together the egg, sugar and oil until smooth and creamy, stir in the vanilla extract then fold in the flour, bicarb, baking powder and ground almonds

- grate the raw beetroot, squeeze out the liquid and fold it into the cake mix along with the cooled melted chocolate

- pour the mixture into you cake tin (I used a 20cm square tin) and bake on 170 for 50 mins - 1hr.

- cool COMPLETELY on a wire rack

... this cake will make my mini square Lamingtons

mini beetroot and chocolate cake Lamingtons with cream-cheese frosting

mini victoria sponge Lamingtons with flaked almond coating

victoria sponge Lamington with raspberry jam centre

this is positively the lightest sponge i've ever made!

240g butter
240g caster sugar
240g self raising flour
3 large eggs (separated)
2 tsp vanilla extract

- cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then fold in the vanilla and the egg yolks

- whisk the egg whites till soft peaks and gently fold into the mixture

- pour into a 20cm round cake tin and bake in oven for roughly 25 mins

- cool COMPLETELY on a wire rack

- cut open and spread raspberry jam in the centre

for the icing and coating
450g full fat cream cheese
115g butter
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g icing sugar
5ml vanilla extract
desiccated coconut or flaked almond

- next you build your Lamingtons... it's a case of coating each cube in the frosting and then rolling them in the coconut or flaked almonds... a complete mess will be a guarantee but it's well worth it!... it also means I can enter Mr. P's Delicious Delicious Delicious challenge again!

mini beetroot and chocolate cake Lamingtons with cream-cheese frosting


as you can imagine this has taken most of the day to complete and i'm thoroughly exhausted... I also baked a challah today as i'm hosting the Fresh From the Oven challenge this month... I think I need a cup of tea myself!.... phew!

eat and of course enjoy!

Friday, 28 January 2011

chopped liver for Andreas

... we all have good friends who seemed to have slipped through the net don't we...?

... I'm not talking about casual acquaintances or people we've picked up along the way and then dropped off again... I'm talking about those old school friends to whom you promised sincerely that you'd always be friends, no matter what...

it can't just be me... and it's no-ones fault... life just gets in the way... we grow up, move away, get married, have kids... life changes us...

... but always in the back of our minds those friends are still there... the memories... the stupid fun times... the sad times... those times we got completely stoned and listed to Dark Side of the Moon... too many times...! (I make no apologies... I'm a 40 year old man after all, with very few regrets!)

... Andreas is one of those friends... we were at school together... we quite literally went through life and death with each other... and I think we laughed together more than I've ever laughed with anyone... but for some stupidly unknown reason we haven't spoken in about 15 years... amazingly enough I see his sister on a regular basis... anyway, the point is that I was listening to BBC Radio 4 in the car the other day and the newsreader was interviewing someone about carbon off-setting... and that someone was Andreas!... just hearing his voice sent me back so fast I nearly crashed the car...

... anyway, I reached out, we're planning to see each other in a couple of weeks... which is lovely...

...lovely because I love him but more importantly because he loves my mum's chopped liver...!

so for his eyes only (look away everyone else...) here it is, in all it's glory...

Angela's Chopped Liver

This recipe is embarrassingly easy but oy vey is it good!

400g chicken livers
1 onion coarsely chopped
3 large eggs

- sauté the onions till soft

- add the chicken livers and sauté till properly cooked. They will still be pink inside but not rare.

- meanwhile hard boil the eggs

- put the livers and onions into food processor ( or if you want to be really traditional then turn it through a hand mincer) and mix on pulse. You don't want pate. So take it easy.

- then grate in the eggs and mix

- season to taste.

refrigerate and then when cold, serve it on the traditional Challah Bread or Matzo crackers... or if you're lazy like me, just slather it onto any old bread and scoff it...and good lord you'll be in Friday night heaven...

eat and of course, enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Kashmiri Chicken with Lentils and Green Beans

.... another mid-week chicken thigh treat from Belleau Kitchen...

.... I've adapted this dish from the marvelous Anjum Anand New Indian cook book... it's one of those wonderful books that not only looks good, filled with stunning and tempting pictures but recipes that are very simple and aren't too daunting to put together on a cold weeknight... and again something you could half cook in the morning and finish off after work...

... about 6 months ago I realised that if I was to be taking this blogging lark seriously then my spice cupboard was in dire need of an overhaul... so off I went and pretty much stocked up with every spice available, so that at the merest whim I can pull a much loved 'curry' out of the bag without cursing some forgotten ingredient... I occasionally forget to restock the odd thing but I have enough now not to freak out about it... and adapt... which is why this isn't quite verbatim from the book... but scrummy just the same!

Kashmiri Chicken with Lentils and Green Beans

6 chicken thighs (or a pack of veggie sausages)
1 onion - chopped
1 small leek - chopped
1 chunk of ginger - finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic - whole
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon of red chilli powder or paprika (for colour rather than taste)
5 cardamon pods
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of green beans
a handful of lentils
1 small glass of white wine

- in a heavy pan saute the onions, leeks and garlic in oil till tender

- throw in the spices and let them brown and explode with flavour (about 6 mins)

- pour over the tomatoes, then fill the tin with hot water and add this to the pan along with a glass of wine

- add the green beans and let it simmer for 5 mins

... at this point I took about a third of it away to use as stock for a veggie sausage version... aren't I lovely?

veggie sausage version

- add the chicken thighs (or chopped sausages) and place the lid on and let it simmer for an hour.  The stock should reduce by half.

- add the lentils, top up with water if you need to and let it simmer again on a very very low heat for another 45 mins.

- finally remove the lid and place it in a hot hot oven for 20 mins until it goes golden and thickens up into a glorious, unctuous stew...

eat and of course, enjoy!

...last chance to enter my Lincolnshire Hamper giveaway, I will be announcing the lucky winner at the end of the week!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

the broken promise

... my kitchen has exploded with desiccated coconut and icing sugar... it's an utter mess...!

... so I made a promise to myself and The Viking that I would not bake a loaf or a cake before the end if January... both our middle age spreads are spreading and we have reputations to uphold... it's not easy looking this fabulous at 40 you know!

... but there are bloggers challenges to be made and deadlines to meet so I'm afraid a promise is about to be broken...

... with Mr P. pushing his re-invented Lamingtons plus Chele and Choclette and their left-over January challenge I have a lot to do ... so in an effort to achieve and partake I am combining 2 challenges in one.

I present to you dear reader the 'we should cocoa re-inventing the Lamington' double whammy, dont eat it, give it to the neighbours, 2 in 1 challenge... phew!

Giant Carrot Cake Chocolate Lamingtons

the plan this Christmas was to make Delia's Ultimate Carrot Cake instead of Christmas Cake but with me winning Kavey's lovely Forman and Field Christmas Pud and our friends bringing a home made Christmas Cake as a gift I didnt realy need to make it, even though the ingredients were bought...

... so the carrot cake ingredients fall perfectly into the 'we should cocoa' challenge for using left-over or unused ingredients...

... and if I turn them into Lamingtons I have a genius combination!

... so first you make your cake

200g grated carrots
175g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs
5 fl oz sunflower oil
175g wholemeal self raising flour
3 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon bicarb
grated zest of 1 orange
110g sultanas
50g desiccated coconut
25g pecan nuts
50g ground almonds
2 heaped tablespoons of cocoa powder (this is optional to bring it in-line with the 'we should cocoa' challenge... and a damn fine addition it is too!)

for the syrup glaze
juice of 1 small orange
1 table lemon juice
3 oz dark brown soft sugar
tablespoon orange liquor (optional)

for the icing and coating
450g full fat cream cheese
115g butter
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g icing sugar
5ml vanilla extract
50g desiccated coconut

... as far as I can tell, the Lamington is a square layered sponge cake covered in some kind of icing which in turn is covered in desiccated coconut... the cake can be any cake which you make as a cake first and then cut into cubes... the idea is to be creative...

- first place the chopped pecans onto a baking tray and bake in a medium oven for 8 mins till nice and toasty

- whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together in a bowl with an electric hand whisk for about 2-3 minutes, check there's no sugar left un-disolved.

- sift the flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, bicarb and mixed spice into the bowl and gently stir it all together, followed by the rest of the cake ingredients

- divide the mixture evenly into 2 prepared 8inch x 4cm deep sponge tins and bake for 30 mins on 170 till risen and dark gold.

- when the cakes come out of the oven, prick them all over and drizzle them with the syrup glaze which you have simply mixed together into a jug, let the syrup soak through the cakes and once cool remove them from the tins and set aside.

- make the classic cream-cheese icing by beating it all together with an electric whisk ( I made one with cocoa powder added and one plain)

...and now comes the messy part

- build the cake by placing 1/3 of the icing onto the top of one half of the cake, smooth it out and place the other cake on top

- cut the cake into small cubes ( i think I may have made mine rather larger than they should be!)

- smother each cube in the icing, then roll each covered cube in coconut... totally messy but TOTALLY glorious!

eat and of course, enjoy!

and just to keep you all gagging for more... coming soon: belleau kitchen's first bloggers challenge, 'random recipes'... i'll reveal all next week...

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Pernod Chicken

... a little mid-week Belleau Kitchen relief to lift the spirit...

... and before you bang on about me using chicken thighs AGAIN... they are cheap, packed with flavour and I am trying to present a different recipe every time...

It's funny how tastes change over the years isn't it?  I used to loath anything even vaguely resembling aniseed or liquorish but now, although i'm still not a huge fan of the confectionary itself I love aniseed flavour in cooking ...fennel anise ...chicory ... and most of all the deep heady aroma of Pernod! ... this dish is good without it but it's seriously spectacular with it and turns an ordinarily suburban dish into something a little bit inner-city.... naughty!

... oh and this dish may seem a bit laborious but actually its really simple and it's well worth it ... plus you can always do one bit in the morning before work and finish it off in the evening when you get home... that's what i did anyway...

Pernod Chicken

6 chicken thighs (oh how I love my chicken thighs)
1 onion - roughly chopped
1 carrot - roughly chopped
1 small leek - roughly chopped
a few button mushrooms
4 garlic cloves (whole with skin on... who can be bothered?)
2 glasses of white wine
half a pint of water
a splash of Pernod

If you're doing this in the morning let's make this really easy shall we and prep everything up front so we're ready to go... and to make this extra easy you need to use one of those pans you can transfer from stove top to oven... it saves time and effort (always the best combo in my book!)

- heat up a large pan on the stove, add some oil and brown the chicken thighs till golden, remove from the pan and set aside

- saute the rest of the veg in the chicken juices and oil till brown and sticky, add some fresh herbs of choice then return the chicken to the pan add the wine and Pernod and enough water to barely cover the chicken, cover the pan with its lid and then simmer for an hour - don't forget to turn off the hob when you leave the house for work.

- when you come home turn the oven on to it's highest, take the lid off the pan and place it into the oven for 30 mins till the chicken is golden and the stock has reduced to an incredible unctuous gravy... you will not regret making this dish... I promise!

eat and of course, enjoy!

... and don't forget to enter into my Lincolnshire hamper giveaway!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

food and me part 2 - Delia is God

... and whilst life continues... it's been nearly a 8 months since I wrote my first food and me post, so thought it was high time to continue the story...

...Nigella may be a 'domestic goddess' but as far as I am concerned, if you're stuck for a recipe, or you just need to know how to make a certain dish... perfectly, then there are three words - a mantra, if you will, that will save you every time...'DELIA IS GOD...' go on, repeat it a few times... now, see how comfortable it feels as it rolls around your tongue...

Her 'Compete Cookery Course' is the bible on my shelf of extensive cook books. Time and time again, when I tire of Nigel, or grow wearisome of Gordon, or become annoyed with Jamie, hers is the cookbook I  turn to.  It simply has everything in it and an answer for everything and if you follow it, to the letter, you cannot go wrong.

Leaving home to go to University was such a great time for me as it meant I could cook and experiment in my own kitchen and I think Delia made it easy for me to impress.  My flatmates will tell you of the fun times we had in various kitchens, cooking up a storm of risottos, lasagnes, pies and roasts... with Delia as my guide I would bake and fry and griddle... they called me Domelia in homage to my heroine!

My scones are her scones.

I was good (and still am thank you) at making soups... all kinds of soups.  It's funny because people seem to be so easily impressed by a bowl of soup and really they're so easy to make.  Anyway, they were a staple in our student household for years.

It didn't always go well though... i think the word 'experiment' pretty much sums up a lot of the cooking...

...I was trying to impress a friend once with my culinary skills and wanted to cook a rich duck dish that i'd read about... only thing was that my friend was on the brink of turning vegetarian, and anything he could associate with a cute cartoon character was not going to Daffy was definitely off the list! as you'll know, duck is really rich and fatty... all essential to the cooking process and also makes it good to cook with sweet, fruity flavours as they cut through the the recipe i'd found for duck with red grapes sounded perfect but I had to substitute the duck for plain old chicken and for the life of me I couldn't find red grapes and had to go with green...the bland, pale, listless, taste-free nightmare I presented to him did not impress and it was only after that he told me he didn't care much for 'mains and pudding' on the same plate!  The fact that he's still my best friend is testament to the fact that my cooking has clearly improved... or my 'experiments' have stopped.

a birthday present from my a hand written recipe for sushi rice

It was around this time that I found myself attending a 'cooking for cash' course at The Westmintser University.  It was a 8 week course, teaching us how to prepare food for catering or entertaining.  We were taught how to budget for parties, what to buy and then how to cook it.  It was quite a basic course but so interesting and I did learn some techniques that I would never have picked up if I had not attended.  I learnt how to make sushi... which was a godsend for me (and my flatmates) who got to eat whatever we'd cooked that evening.  I think I probably made sushi once a week for about 5 years after that, which was quite impressive not only for party guests but for my waist-line too!  As you can see from the photo above, i even wrote the recipe down on the inside cover of my much beloved Delia's Complete Cookery Course!

Other than her scones and shortbread recipe, one of my favourite Delia dishes is her Thick Onion Tart.. so simple, a classic really, but here it is for you.

Thick Onion Tart

for the pastry
2 oz self-raising flour
2 oz wholewheat flour
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2oz margarine or butter
1 1/2 oz cheddar cheese - grated
cold water to mix

for the filling
1 1/2lb onions - chopped fairly small
2 oz butter
2 eggs, beaten
4fl oz double cream
1 tblspn grated cheddar cheese
s and p

- pre heat the oven to 180 and grease an 8inch fluted flan tin

- first make the pastry by sifting the flours, mustard and salt into a bowl, then rub the fat in till it resembles breadcrumbs.  Finally bring it together with a small amount of cold water.  Once it forms a dough wrap it in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 mins

- melt the butter in a large heavy pan and add the onions then saute gently for 30 minutes until they have caramelised and gone a dark mahogany brown... stir them regularly though to avoid burning.

- roll the pastry out really thinly and line the fluted tin, prick with a fork and then bake in the oven for 15 mins.  Brush with a small amount of the beaten egg and then back into the oven for another 5 mins

- spread the onions over the bottom of the base of the tart, add the mixed cream and egg mixture and sprinkle the top with some grated cheese.

- bake for 30 mins until golden and risen

perfect!... but it is Delia after all.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Friday, 14 January 2011

mid-life crisis with cheese

... I think I may have had a bit of a mid-life crisis breakdown... it wasn't pretty and I sure as hell wouldn't wish it upon anyone ...and you may think it strange that I should write about it here but for some reason I find that simply writing about stuff really helps... and one of the reasons for writing a blog (other than my love of food) was to express myself in a way I enjoy and find truly therapeutic...

... although at the same time I also feel under pressure to blog and take part in the on-line community, which can also get me down a bit... so I apologise if i've not been my usual sparkly self...

... the whole thing has come upon me like a creeping dread... like that awful, back-to-school, Sunday evening feeling... but it's everyday... all day... and I can't help feeling 'something scary this way comes'... and it's not nice... and a heck of a lot more than just the January blues, which I tend to get every Boxing Day...

...I suppose I feel I need to take a big leap in order to kick start my life... break away from the mundane and regular and do SOMETHING... and don't get me wrong, I have plans... great plans... it's all just a little bit cloudy at the moment...

... in the meantime I still have to eat and I do love being in the kitchen so this is what we're eating tonight...

Melitzana Parmigiana

This makes a great carb-free alternative to lasagna and can be served as a dish on it's own or be used as a very nice side dish for roast pork... a couple of notes before we start... Parmesan is not a vegetarian cheese, so if you're cooking this for a vegetarian substitute it for a strong cheddar or other similar cheese with a bit of tickle... you shouldn't have to salt your aubergine, most modern aubergine are bred to be less bitter and therefore the salting process is defunct, however, if you feel the urge to salt then cut the aubergine into slices and layer them in a dish with a little sea salt crushed in between each layer... this will draw out the bitter juices and you simply pat them down with a kitchen cloth before using...

2 aubergine
2 eggs (beaten)
a plate full of seasoned plan flour
4 medium onions - very finely chopped
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
4 garlic cloves - crushed
4 large balls of mozzarella
a block of parmigiana reggiano  or a veggie alternative
fresh basil and rosemary
3 bay leaves
a splash of white wine
a splash of balsamic vinegar

- first you want to make your tomato sauce... it's worth doing this well in advance (i would say minimum 3 hours for full effect but if you can make it the day before them even better)

- gently saute the onions and garlic for about 30mins till they are just turning gold (add a dash of sugar)

- add the tinned toms, the wine and the balsamic vinegar and the herbs and let it simmer gently for as long as possible (3 hours) stirring occasionally.  It should reduce down into a sticky tomato puree... simply stunning for any Italian recipe

- slice the aubergine into rounds, dip into the egg, then the seasoned flour and in a heavy pan, fry gently till soft and golden on both sides (if you're really on a health kick, leave out the flour and egg and simply fry till golden...)

- begin to layer the aubergine into an oven-proof dish, followed by some of the sauce and then some torn pieces of mozzarella... you should get be able to do 3 layers using 1 and a half balls of mozzarella each layer... complete each layer with a generous grating of Parmesan and some torn basil before you move onto the next

- bake in the oven till golden - roughly 30 Min's

eat and of course, enjoy!

Thursday, 6 January 2011

oranges and lemongrass

... is there anything more evocative of far-away summers than the exotic smell of lemongrass? I simply love it ...but rarely use it... not sure what thats all about... perhaps I like treating myself to the taste and if I have it too much it wont seem so special...?

I guess this dish is my version of 'flipping the bird' to all those holiday adverts currently on TV... my house fills with the tantalising sunshine-smell of oranges and lemongrass and I can dream about sinking my toes into hot sand... aaahhhh...

... plus this dish is extra-frugal, which is perfect for the first week of Jan when we all need to be hunting around the back of the fridge rather than hunting the bargains at Waitrose... (yeah... who am I kidding?) ... oh and yes it's good old chicken-thigh time again!

... i've used oranges, lemongrass and I even found an old jar of Mexican Orange Blossom honey, which I didn't even know was back there... I love the fact that there's so much orange colour going on in this dish, you almost have to wear sunglasses to look into the oven!

... the wine will soak up all the juices and make an incredible fruity sauce to serve poured over rice or mash with the chicken... the lemongrass will give the sauce a kick that cuts through the sweet honey...

... might just help me mentally prepare for returning to London next week to do some actual work...

orange and lemongrass roasted chicken thighs

8 chicken thighs (these come in a pack in most supermarkets and are super-cheap)
1 orange - quartered
1 stick of lemongrass roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 medium onion - quartered
1 celery - roughly chopped
1 carrot - roughly chopped
2 teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons cold-pressed rapeseed oil (olive oil will do I suppose)
1 glass of white wine (any old wine, I had a glass-full left over from NYE believe it or not!)

- chop all the veg and place in the bottom of a shallow roasting dish and season (leave the garlic whole... don't even bother to peel)

- mix the honey and oil in a bowl and turn the chicken thighs in the glorious sticky liquid

- place the thighs on top of the veg, poor over the wine, season and bake in a hot oven for 1 and a half hours until golden and crispy... turn the chicken every half hour to stop from going too black.

eat and of course, enjoy!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Shilling's New Years Day Ham

... so here it comes... twenty-eleven... two-thousand-and-eleven.. two-oh-one-one... however you say it, here it comes, relentless in it's stubborn way of trampling all over your tired and alcohol-fuelled brain and delicate, 'why am I such a failure?' emotions...

...'oh yes' you promise yourself, this year will be a better year, you will lose weight, you will spend less and save more... you will finally get round to changing the light-bulb in the oven hood extractor...

... or... to HELL with all that crap... be good and kind to others... treat all living things with the respect you'd wish upon yourself and eat lovely things that make you happy...

... it's now Sunday and we've just come out of a four day alcohol-fuelled fugg into a brighter, better world... somehow we managed to spend most of our waking hours playing a board-games marathon in between eating copious amounts of cake and chocolates whilst drinking our way through most of the Northern hemisphere's supply of grain and grape based intoxins... all whilst nursing a dearest friend through heartache... which is why this ham is dedicated to her... I know it's an unusual dedication, but it was sweet and delicious, just like her...

Honey and Mustard Glazed Ham

... so ever since ordering my ham a couple of weeks ago i've been scouring through my books and the internet for a suitable glazed ham recipe... i've never cooked one before and always thought they looked so festive, so I wanted to give it a try... most of the recipes are pretty much the same... soak, boil, glaze then bake... it's all about what you boil it in and what you glaze it with that makes the difference.  I wanted to boil it in either cider or ginger beer a la Nigella's coca-cola boiled ham but everytime I went to the supermarket I forgot to pick up the fizz... so it was just water this time... anyway here's what I did and it was totally moist and tender whilst amazingly having that 'slow-cooked' taste and texture too...

for the boil
a ham (I think it's called a horseshoe gammon)
cold water
1 medium onion
1 large carrot
1 star anise
a teaspoon of fennel seeds

for the glaze
whole-grain mustard

- place the ham in a very large pan and cover with cold water and leave to soak over-night... this isn't always needed nowadays as the preparation method for butchers has changed over the years... but the soaking draws out any excess salt... I soaked my ham anyway as I thought it wouldn't hurt and in fact i'm sure it added to the moistness and fabulous texture... and it's hardly like hard work...

- the next day, tip the water out and put fresh cold water in with the quartered onion, roughly chopped carrot and the spices... the star anise and fennel seeds add a wonderful warm but subtle aniseed taste to the flesh but also make the house smell amazing and less like your boiling a ham...

- bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour per kilo

- once this process is finished, remove the ham from the pot (keep the liquid to make a tasty gravy) and let it cool slightly before removing the top layer of rind.  Score the remaining fat and smother it in your honey and mustard mix... many people place cloves in each diamond shape on the flesh but I honestly think the cloves totally overpower the ham flavour and i'm not mad about them anyway... of course this is your choice.

- bake in the oven for 40 - 50 mins until the honey glaze turns dark golden, if not a little black... keep your eye on it though because you don't want it to totally char... I removed it from the oven after 30 mins, covered it in foil and left it whilst I made my mash then poured on some of the boiling juice before placing it back into the oven for a further 30 mins... god it was good!

eat and of course enjoy!



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