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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Barbequed English Lamb Chops with new potatoes, garlic mushrooms and a sauce Robert - Heston style

After a busy day selling meat and fish what better than to finish the day (and after a long hot bus journey home) with a glass or two of chilled white wine and some simply barbequed lamb loin chops, new potatoes in mint and mushrooms with garlic and a savoury mix plus a Heston Blumental Beef and Dijon Mustard Sauce. Beef sauce with lamb???! I know. But this Waitrose promoted fine sauce based on a Robert sauce recipe worked extremely well. Dare I say it - even better than the classical mint sauce accompaniment. Just a shame I forgot to take photos of the last stage!!!!!! Meaning with the sauce!

After you have read this post check out Heston's Ultimate Barbeque for some great ideas to try yourself.

This is the last of three blog posts where I have had the chance to be a little experimental with Heston recipes/products and all three days have made me think slightly 'out of the grill pan' in terms of taste and preparation. And great fun it has been. My new neighbour Georgina came down out communal path sniffing the delicious smoky air as the chops were cooking and said "Wow that really smells fantastic!" Enough said.

Hungry??? I was salivating by this point.

Just missing the  Heston Blumental Beef and Dijon Mustard Sauce - originally known as sauce Robert. Heston's version has been brought bang up to date with the addition of kombu for a wonderful savoury meatiness,

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Part two of a yummy Heston Blumental bbq trial

Well what a meaty day. The weather today hasn't been perfect for bbq's but in the English tradition of 'Carry and Keep the Briquettes Alight' I did just that.

The Heston Blumental meaty hazelwood smoked beefy back ribs (something I had never tried to cook before) were just sublime. As a certain French telly chef says "Melting, juuuust melting". Merci M. Raymond Blanc and your Gallic enthusiasms. I'm sure if you had tasted my attempt at 'Eston's meaty beef ribs' you would be absolument d'accord avec ca. Just another simple salad to go with it. Mostly tomatoes and finely sliced baby carrots with some greenery. Given that I had purchased so much the other day the ribs had to be frozen and it took about two hours to defrost them. I made an instinctive decision to discard all the accompanying creamy fat that was in the very aromatically perfumed bag containing the rack of short cut beef ribs. The instructions for cooking were to place the ribs on a baking tray and fat didn't seem to have any place in that. Oven fire? I think not!

After you have read this post check out Heston's Ultimate Barbeque to try out yourself.

It was suggested that the rack of beef ribs (enough for two I would say) was put on a middle tray in the centre of the oven at gas mark 5 or 190 degrees C for between 20-25 minutes. This I did and in the latter part of the cooking added the 'drizzle' for the last five minutes. Then I put them on the bbq for ten minutes more to brown off and sizzle. I could hardly contain myself! The smoke turned bluey grey and my mouth very moist. But back indoors I had to go.

I was in the middle of a theatre writing project as this was cooking and it smelt absolutely wonderful. A very rich, almost oxtail depth of aroma and colouring. Heston's beef back ribs are brined and flavoured with an aromatic Mesquite rub and smoked over hazelwood. The afore-mentioned 'drizzle' is a flavourful tangy bbq sauce. The meat for the beef ribs comes from a long established group of carefully selected British beef farmers and suppliers who share Waitroses' values commitment to delivering the highest animal welfare standards. These groups/farmers are also delivering high quality beef, expertly prepared and matured for tenderness from prime cattle with a consideration to protect the environment and promote sustainable farming.

Later in the day and much theatrical writing ( I cooked off two of Heston's Ultimate beef burgers. Heston says that "My extensive experiments had shown that the ultimate burger is made with a blend of three different cuts of beef minced in such a way that the strands of the mince lie in the same direction before slicing into burgers." He recommends you cook them between ten and fourteen minutes. In cooking them myself I did notice that they were quite bloody so needed cooking well if you are not so keen on burgers that 'moo'. Like the lamb and cucumber burgers they ended up very moist and tasty.

I did mine to accompany a Waitrose stir fry mix with a Waitrose Sweet and Fragrant Thai Stir Fry Sauce. Less boring than an a cob or two with ketchup. The stir fry sauce was delicate and creamy, perfect to go with the burgers.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

A great bbq opportunity from Waitrose and Heston Blumental. Part One.

I was recently contacted by Waitrose to ask if I would like to host a barbeque bake off event where you have some friends round for a bbq and they have fun being creative with Waitrose's Heston Blumental bbq products. Long story short I agreed as I thought I could fit one in on a Saturday or Sunday during my annual holiday. Then when I asked around some foodie friends they were all otherwise engaged or on holidays. Saying that the general feeling from them was it would be a fun event and they would be sad to miss it. So I got back to my contact at Waitrose and she was generous enough to let me go ahead on my own. They supplied me with some Waitrose vouchers, bbq tools and a back pack bbq.

The nearest big Waitrose store to me is about fifteen miles away in Newark so on Friday I got the train there (it is conveniently placed right next to the train station) and spend a jolly hour food shopping. As it happened they only stocked a small amount of Heston Blumental products so I got what I could and improvised around the rest. My little fridge has never had so much food crammed into it!

After you have read this post why not check out Heston's Ultimate Barbeque for great ideas to try out yourself.

My plan is to cook over three or four days and test out the Waitrose food products. No hardship there! I tend to like the French style of foods so my buying reflected that.

First off the mark was a meal I had on Friday night of Heston Blumental Lapsang Souchong tea smoked salmon. The packaging said "Nothing beats the smokiness of Lapsang Souchang tea which gives the salmon a complex yet delicate flavour. Lapsang Souchong is a subtly perfumed black tea. Because the leaves are traditionally smoked over pinewood fires it has a distinctive smoky taste which imparts a lovely flavour to the responsibly farmed Scottish salmon."

I decided that the smoked salmon would be nice with an omelette and I added some chopped dry roasted peanuts to the pieces of salmon and made a simple salad to add on top of the cooked omelette in presentation rather like a pizza. I also chopped up a few pitted black olives I happened to have in the fridge and mixed them with some fresh basil leaves. The cooking only took about five minutes and was perfect for summer's evening meal, light and delicate, smoky with a variety of textures in the food.

For my Saturday lunch I eagerly arranged a mouth watering melange of 'Unearthed' French Selection Platter consisting of French Pyrenees cured ham, Saucission Sec and Sausisson Sec with Herbes De Provence. The Sausisson Sec with Herbes Provence was a herb coated and dried pork salami and the Pyrenees Ham was air dried for ten months. It certainly didn't take me ten months to eat it. More like ten minutes. I love the dry and salty flavours of smoked meats and these were exceptional. Again  I accompanied the meats with a  simple salad. I could almost have been in France. The evening sun was bright in my kitchen as I put together the repast and I made the most of light and shadows to show off this food to its best. I hope it looks as delicious as it tasted.

Saturday evening I headed off to the local woods (actually part of large park) with a big ex Post Office bag and gathered wood for the bbq session I decided to do on Sunday. Two trips later I had more than enough wood! There is only me to enjoy the food so I planned to cook some Heston Blumental 'Ultimate' Pork Sausages and two lamb and cucumber burgers and to be a bit experimental with what I should eat these tasty things with. I actually found it exciting to be cajoled by Waitrose into being a bit diverse with my food combinations.

Think that I went a big mad with the wood collecting!

Sunday morning I easily put the bbq together and got the wood burning then added coals. It was a bit smoky but not too much. As I sat watching the flames and smoke with a glass of cider I felt quite the man of the woods. And a hungry man of the woods at that!

First out of the packet and on to the new bbq were the two Heston Blumental lamb and cucumber burgers. Heston says that this flavour combination was once very common in English cook books.  I must say I was salivating as they started to cook and hiss on the bbq. Even the bees feeding on the lavender bushes next to me seemed to be interested and 'dare bee' style flew through the blue smoke rising from the briquettes. This inspired to me add a spoonful of honey to the cooked burgers and a few dried lavender flowers I have in for when I cook lavender and lemon chicken. I had these beautifully tasty and moist burgers with tomatoes and baby basil leaves. Despite the fact that the burgers had been cooking about fifteen minutes the cucumber element still felt cool to the tongue.

Next on the bbq were Heston Blumental's pack of four ultimate pork sausages. Heston's recipe adds a touch of nutmeg, ginger and sherry for flavour. The pork belly and shoulder meat is double minced for a superior texture. The texture was the thing I noticed in the cooked sausage, very compact and the sherry comes through in the cooking. Very enjoyable.

I made the creative decision to do something a bit different with the sausage so I cut the sausage into chunks and mixed it up with small balls of mozzarella, tomatoes, jumbo prawns and Puy lentils. The sweetness of the prawns contrasted well with the nutty flavour of the lentils and the sausages. It was quite filling actually but still I wanted to keep on cooking on the bbq.

Finally I cooked some of Waitrose's Chorizo whirls with the intention of enjoying the sunshine, the outdoors cooking and the fun of the opportunity. I had planned on letting the cooked whirls cool off for something to snack on later today. In the end I gave them to a very grateful lady called Maria who sells the Big Issue outside the local Co-Op store. When I came out from doing a little bit of shopping her face was a picture. "Are they nice?" I said. As she finished her mouthful she exclaimed "Hmmm, delicious - gracias -  you so kind."

It was nice to give something back too. More Heston Blumental products to be featured here in the next few days.