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Friday, 26 December 2014

The wild boar story continues...

Well, it turns out that the Feldmann family opted for a leg of lamb with aioli, red cabbage and French beans for Christmas dinner. Today I have been receiving pictures of the boar stew as the preparation and cooking progresses.

I cooked myself a whole (yes whole) stuffed shoulder of lamb which I slow roasted in the oven for three hours and served it with roast spuds, spinach and mint sauce. It was originally £22 from Tesco but it seemed that nobody wanted to pay that much for it. So I got it at a reduced cost of £5.50 last Sunday and put it in the freezer. Whilst it was cooking  I had a merry time with the sherry bottle and a few glasses of red wine. Ho Ho Ho!!!

Here are some pictures from Germany via the internet of Thorsten's wild boar stew. Later on today I hope to add a picture of them all at their table. Such are the best joys of the internet! I can almost smell it cooking!

'Wild boar has a deep hue and an intense taste. The meat is aromatic without it being overly gamey. The flavour is full bodied with a sweet but piquant edge. The hunting season takes place during the Winter months and wild boar responds well to slow cooking preferably pre-marinated in gutsy red wines making rich, powerful stews and casseroles. It's meat has a wonderfully intense flavour that is helped by the boar's diet of naturally foraged roots, herbs, acorns and mushrooms, sometimes even truffles!' Copied in part from  (1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die)


And the finished meal. Lecker!!!

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Wild boar stew for Christmas dinner

The other day my German friend Thorsten Feldmann told me that he was planning to cook a wild boar goulash for his family for Christmas dinner. His family know a hunter who is also a butcher.The way he described it sounded delicious. His family come from the Rhineland Pfalz part of Germany and so I looked up (through my tome Culinaria) what the traditions around this would be. First of all here is a picture of the boars in the wild.

Not for petting.

Traditionally the forests of the Rhineland -Palatinate are very rich in game including large herds of wild boar. Wild boar do have particularly wild manners and happily root around in meticulously tended front gardens outside of the forest and dig up despairing farmers' meadows and search out every last maize seed that has been sown! The animals can move around more or less unhindered in many places but more than 60,000 wild boar are killed each year by hunters.

They have been hunted more many thousands of years and even the fictional 'Obelix the Gaul' was obsessed with wild roast boar. A modern day version might have been the Wildschweinbraten marinated for two days previous to cooking in a mix of soup vegetables (carrots, leeks, celery stalks, and a bunch of parsley) then covered in red wine, butter and the marinade after draining and cooked until tender. When cooked the meat is kept warm and the juices thickened with bread crumbs. The joint is carved and served with the sauce and creamed potatoes and sauerkraut.

Thorsten has 3kg of wild boar meat to stew with a lot of red wine, spices, onions and garlic. The finished meal will be served with the sauce and dumplings.The boar was from close to the L543 Rheinland-Pfalz Offenbach an der Queich.

Thorsten and myself in Karlsruhe earlier this month.

I am hoping for some pictures from Thorsten of the rich boar stew and their Christmas dinner celebrations.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Out of the shit and into my food.

As I sit here waiting for Dyno-Rod to come and clear my outside drain (it is in the same situation as one who talks utter rubbish - yes very full of shit!) They are supposed to be coming between 12pm and 6pm. I am praying the earlier the better. How funny is this? I was half way through typing the word 'praying' and the phone rang. Lathan from Dyno-Rod was approaching. Two minute job. £86. Bargain! My generous landlady paid.

Dyno-Rod arrives!!

So, I have been off work for the last two days and yesterday I went into the city of Nottingham to do a little Christmas shopping and enjoy a coffee and mince pie whilst watching the frazzled shoppers stream by. The first coffee was had at Delilah delicatessen and whilst in there I made the short video seen at the top of this blog.

I had a mooch around Waterstones bookshop and bought a book on German history by Neil MacGregor. Whilst I was out another very cheap book had arrived in the post for me - Meat Around The World. £1.95 plus postage.So diverse are my interests! I also made another video for fun on and around the Nottingham Trams. Whilst in Karlsruhe recently I shot a small amount of tram footage (I intended to do a lot more) and I added this onto the footage I shot yesterday.

The Christmas Market was in full swing in the Old Market Square. I wasn't overly impressed but then I suppose I have been spoilt with a real German Christmas Market in Karlsruhe (more about this in a future blog post). The image below is myself and Emma Brown my actress in Greetings from the Trenches - a play I wrote, directed and acted in early December at the Jakobus Theatre in Karlsruhe.

Later in the day I went to the CAST restaurant at Nottingham Playhouse for another warming coffee and a couple of free mince pies. As the song goes it was "beginning to feel a lot like Christmas". All the scaffolding was gone from the front of the Playhouse building and a simple Christmas tree was sitting basking in the early evening light next to Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror.

As the day wore on I passed by some attractive food shops and their displays and looked forward to my meaty dinner of rump steak, Spanish sausages and black pudding rings from The Bury Black Pudding Company all purchased from my local butcher in Ruddington.

The day before I had treated myself to a kg of rope grown Scottish mussels purchased half price at Tesco. I love mussels and these plump beauties were stunningly good!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Rack of lamb with steamed vegetables.

I'm quite busy tonight so it was a pleasure to turn on the gas oven and bang in a rack of lamb - cooking in olive oil for and hour at gas mark 6. Some new potatoes start to boil on the stove top half way through the cooking followed by steamed asparagus and spinach. For myself I cook down a whole bag of spinach which reduces into a succulent mini heap of greenery on the plate. I love French butter with aspects of crunchy salt so I add this to the vegetables as they finish cooking with a shake of good black pepper. Overall, an hour and a bit of cooking and a chance to enjoy a glass or two of red wine whilst wrapping a few Christmas presents.

For future blogposts I have some great ideas in the pipeline for immanent posts about the Saturday market in Leiden Holland, Dutch cheese, shopping habits in The Netherlands and German butchers' shops in Southern Germany. Plus Christmas dinner in my house with a small joint of fillet steak and bay leaf! See you soon. Phil!!!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Carpaccio - a great hors d'ouvre of thinly sliced raw beef.

I have always fought shy of eating Steak Tartare although I suspect it is actually rather nice. So when I arrived in Holland a few weeks ago and I was offered a chance to eat thinly sliced raw beef - Carpaccio - I got brave and gave it a go. I was not disappointed. Although it has a wet feel in the mouth it is surprisingly tasty especially with a few capers and some rocket salad leaves.

In fact Carpaccio is often served just with a few spicy wild rocket leaves, a light drizzle of top quality extra-virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sometimes, if you are feeling wealthy you could add a few musky shavings of truffle.

I found it went well with a chilled 9% Dutch or Belgian beer. But then I would! If in Holland then the main supermarkets Albert Heijn and Hoogvliet will impress with their big selections of continental meats. I never ever thought I would say this but I was in supermarket heaven. It is very likely the Dutch butchers will provide Carpaccio too but I somehow doubt that the average British butcher will be aware of it. Hope that I am wrong.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Speck... somewhat like eating raw bacon but safer.

Years ago I visited a German penfriend in the pretty rural area around Stuttgart and one day she took me to Ulm to visit her parents. The penfriend's name was Uta and I must admit I had a bit of a crush on her at the time. This would have been in the mid 1980s and I had a stupid amount of curly hair back then plus very little confidence around similarly aged young women. Added to the pile of hormonal confusion I spoke a very limited amount of German. "Guten Tag", "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Ja Danke" to an offer of pretzels isn't really enough to get by for two weeks in Germany. Plus this woman had her own apartment!!!!! I was still living with my parents although getting to the stage where I wanted to leave home.

Uta's parents were nice friendly people who happened to own a goat. I remember this because of fond memories of the solid horns ramming me affectionately in the back of my legs when we took a trip to visit the penned up and probably very bored goat. We stayed overnight and Uta had to go away to a wedding. So, there I was, hardly speaking any German, out drinking beer in a local bar with Uta's dad. We drank a lot of beer and when we came staggering back he insisted that the best thing was to eat a lot of greasy fatty Speck and then there would be no hangover. I obliged. It was hard not to be sick as each fatty morsel slid down my throat. It came swimming to the table in a bowl of hot broth. I have never eaten it again until my recent trip to Holland.

This time it looked a lot more palatable and cut thinner and eaten on toasted bread and butter.

In fact it was so tasty I had it again with a bowl of Dutch pea soup Erwtensoep. My friend Emma told me that when the canals and lakes freeze over in the winter months lots of people go skating and little stalls appear offering the skaters a chance to warm up with a cup of Erwtensoep. There are many variations to this dish.

'Speck is an English word meaning fat or blubber attested since the early 17th Century. The word also exists in German but it normally applies to pork fat with or without some meat on it. Normal English use refers to German culinary uses particularly of the smoked or pickled pork belly. Italian Speck is a type of prosciutto or lardo. The term Speck became part of popular parlance only in the 18th Century and replaced the older term bachen from which our word bacon derives.' Edited from Wikipedia.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Smoked mackerel - a golden dish - fit for kings

Whilst on a working break in Leiden in the Netherlands I enjoyed a variety of simple foods with so little accompaniment that you had the pleasure of just concentrating on the basic textures and tastes of the item itself.

Amongst some good friends and a few gin chasers to go with the light Dutch beers I took great pleasure at being given the honour to pull apart a delicious smoked mackerel from the fish market situated on a fair proportion of the Nieuwe Rijn and the Botermarkt. The fish market has other days of existence but shows itself off to its glistening best on a busy Saturday. The market day lasts from 8am to 5pm. Even the paving slabs on which the stands are placed are fashioned so as not to retain the aroma of fish. Try telling that to the local seagulls or people enjoying a beer or other beverage in the canal side cafes.

"Is that fresh fish I can smell?"

The golden coloured smoked mackerel was purchased at this very market and cost about €4.It provided a tasty pile of smoked fish that fed three hungry men with simple bread and butter.

Mackerel's oil rich flesh lends itself to hot smoking. Generally smoked mackerel is available in Europe dyed and un-dyed and as fillets, encrusted in pepper and other toppings. Smoked mackerel woks well with a spicy relish or combined with creamed horseradish. The skin of smoked mackerel peels away very easily.

The stalls on the Nieuwe Rijn canal basin offered other smoked items such as firm and rubbery smoked eels, unctuous smoked trout, smoked oysters (good for use in beef and smoked oyster pie), smoked mussels, cold smoked kippers, halibut and  swordfish and hot smoked sprats.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Eating soused young herrings or Maatje in The Netherlands

For those that know me my absence from this blog needs no explaining. For those that don't I need to apologise for being away from my food writing since late September. I now write professionally for a variety of theatre reviewing hosts including The Big Issue and Sardines magazine for whom I also write features and interviews. Reference to or copies of this writing plus my own individual work can be found on my other blog concerning the world of theatre. This writing takes up a large proportion of my time. And I still work full time - for the moment.

Additionally I have been writing a play that I am taking to Karlsruhe in Germany in December this year. It is called Greetings From The Trenches and recently I went over to Leiden in Holland to rehearse with my fellow actor Emma Brown.

A week rehearsing in Leiden renewed my interest in markets and continental foodstuffs and ways of eating. For the first time I tried Maatje - a dish of young soused herring eaten with chopped raw white onions on plain white bread and butter. It was very enjoyable. Maatje is also Dutch for mate or buddy.

First mouthful going in.

I found a lot to be interested about in Dutch food culture and my intention is to write little and often about my experiences and new things I learn about the Dutch way of life. Daag!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Video of my delicious lamb steaks cooked on the bbq and eaten with Chinese stir fry and fresh mint.

The other night was very sunny and I just fancied some lamb steaks and thought instead of an oven cook, grill or fry I would cook them on my small bbq. Whilst I was enjoying cooking and filming and savouring the smells of the wood smoke (takes me back to my boy scout days) I was aware of the outside interference of squeaky kids arriving home from school through the village. I have done my best to remove the aural distractions. I hope that you enjoy the video and don't salivate too much.

Phil xx

Monday, 15 September 2014

Beef stir fry with sticky Hoisin sauce

I have been so busy with my theatre writing lately and my full time Tesco job combined that I have started to look at tasty things I can cook in a hurry so I have more time to devote to my play and reviews and interviews. It never seems to stop but I love it.

On that note I purchased a nice big rump steak the other day (perfect for stir fry - you could also try the slightly more expensive fillet ends) and sliced it up for two stir fries. I added one lot to the wok for five minutes, added some chopped haricot vertes for a fresh crunch for another two or three minutes, tasted for meaty juiciness and turned the heat down. Then as a final part of the stir fry I threw in half a bag of Chinese stir fry leaves followed by a single bag of Amoy straight to wok noodles and lastly added and warmed through a sachet of hoisin stir fry sauce.

A nice cold beer to go with it and I was very happy, replete, and ready to start writing again.

To give the stir fry something extra I picked some fresh mint from the garden and added a few leaves to the top. Scrummy!



Sunday, 7 September 2014

Rib eye steak, new potatoes and green beans

Is it really four weeks since I last wrote on this blog? Possibly so! I have been so busy with other paid aspects of my writing that time just flies by and ... well it just flies by.

My main concentration has been on completing a twenty page feature on plays with a connection to the First World War and other interviews with the good and the great from the world of theatre for Sardines magazine. Also I have been reviewing plays right left and centre and doing my day job too.

Have I cooked much of interest? Well, possibly not although I did attempt to make some lamb meatballs the other day in a fit of a - must cook something nice - moment. They were ok and perhaps I went a bit barmy with the chilli but they were edible and I have frozen some for future usage.

I also made a huge fish pie which was totally delicious and lasted three for four days. I would highly recommend adding single cream in the first cook of the fish mix. Plus if you can't afford or simply don't want to shell out for smoked haddock then smoked Vietnamese River Cobbler is a good substitute and a fraction of the price of the haddock.

The weather has been exceptionally nice today so I have had a bit of a cleaning blitz around the house and washed some cushion covers form the front room amongst bed linen etc..

Today I have been in the rare situation where I haven't had to attach myself to my laptop and type away my fingers. Although yesterday I could have screamed as I managed to delete an interview with the director of Pilot Theatre off my Dictaphone by accident. I was trying to be clever and attempt to make an audio clip for my theatre blog without really understanding how to do it. Ooops deleted! So I had to try and recall the basics of what was discussed. Not easy and I would have preferred to have kept the original with the fine details.

Today I have had a nice lunch of fried rib eye steak, new potatoes and green beans with horseradish sauce. Unusually no cats from next door tried to deprive me of any of it!

After lunch I took my lily white legs outside for a soak in the sun. A nice glass or two of Hereford Argentinian red wine (tempranillio/malbec) helped pass away half an hour whilst I chatted to my elderly neighbour Betty.