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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.

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