Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Pan Fried Red Mullet with Butter and Bay

A couple of weeks ago I drove South over the river to meet Ailsa and Rob Latimer of Latimer's fish shop in Whitburn. We sat in their lovely cafĂ© over looking the sea and chatted markets and food events. I tried my best to talk while eating a giant crab sandwich and eyeing the huge fish counter. Their range of fish is amazing, beautifully fresh fish caught that morning, every shellfish I can think of and others I don't know yet, hot smoked salmon that they smoke themselves, dressed crab, huge prawns... I came home with a bag of little squid, hot smoked salmon, some really fresh langoustine, some little red mullet and a John Dory... not the prettiest of fellas, but a very tasty one...

I haven’t eaten red mullet that often I don't think, but these were my favourite of all the guys I brought home. So fresh and red and pretty. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall refers to them as the woodcock of the sea owing to the French way of eating them whole with the guts still inside, the flesh has a light almost gamey flavour to it. They are good in terms of sustainability too, they grow quickly and mature young in UK waters and are not overfished here like they are in the Mediterranean.

The red mullet were simply pan fried in some melted butter with a bay leaf and some sliced garlic inside the fish, 7 minutes on each side. The flavour that comes out of them is amazing, the butter turns a deep orangey red and they have a spice and flavour to them as if you've added paprika, totally delicious. The little John Dory was baked in the oven for 20 minutes wrapped in foil with some butter garlic and parsley, simple but again delicious.

I'm so often cooking new recipes and experimenting with things that I forget sometimes how delicious a piece of fish can be with just a salad and some bread or new potatoes, this was such a feast, for barely any effort. My usual go to when I want something quick and simple is something on toast, eggs, lemony courgettes, broad beans and bacon or a simple cheese omelette; but really a piece of grilled fish and salad is as easy as it gets and so tasty. We are very lucky to have such a wealth of fresh fish right on our doorstep.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Mr Smokerson was feeling a bit neglected I think, starved of attention for at least a few weeks, maybe longer... Poor guy. Until I spotted some baby back ribs in Waitrose that was. I've smoked some once before and it was an effort to find them; now I see them everywhere, Morrisons, Waitrose, The Grainger Market. They are small, tasty and cheap. This lot only cost £2 and there were smaller racks for less... rude not to I thought...

It was a match day, expectations were high... (not that high as we were playing Man United), but high enough to bet on Newcastle to win and get up early to light the smoker and pop some ribs in. The sun was shining, autumnal colours were dancing around the yarden, wood smoke was puffing out of Mr. Smokerson, I could smell smoky delicious ribs, I was happy, Mr. Smokerson was happy, everyone was happy...

That was until about 4 minutes into the match, but the less said about that the better, I still smelt a bit of wood smoke and hadn’t forgotten the good times entirely...

You don't necessarily need a smoker to make these as there are two methods, one for the smoker and one for the oven. I haven’t tried the oven method yet, but the smoker way is pretty damn good, so I'm guessing that is too. The recipe is from the Joe Beef book, my current obsession and inspiration for my Pop-up Feast on the 3rd November at Ouse Street Arts Club.

My ribs weighed about 350g. Mix together a teaspoon of smoked paprika, one of garlic powder, one of mustard powder and one of black pepper, and add some crushed bay leaf. Rub this mix all over the ribs, whether you are putting them into the oven or the smoker.

For the oven method put them in a tray, pour in half a bottle of beer and cook for 2½ hours at 165°C covered with foil, for the smoker method bring the smoker up to about 240°F and smoke for 4 hours, keeping the temperature between 210°F and 240°F. For me this involves lots of faffing, opening and closing of vents and messing around with probe thermometers... but actually Mr. Smokerson is pretty reliable kind of guy when you leave him to his own devises, I just like faffing around pretending I'm some kind of all American smoker guy... For a fuller explanation of how Mr. Smokerson works see my 'Experiments in Smoking part 1' post.

We added an overly large handful of apple wood chips at the same time as the meat went in, and a few more half way through just for good measure, the aim being to smoke the hell out of them. This resulted in a pretty bloody smoky rib; soft, sweet, delicious. Just all round delicious. Next time I'll make more as well as coleslaw, buns, bbq sauce... I want more already...

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Come to a Pop-up Feast in a Shipping Container!

'The Grazer's Joe Beef inspired bonfire speakeasy'
3rd November 2012 7pm - Midnight

SOLD OUT - more dates to follow

What is this?

'The Grazer's Joe Beef inspired bonfire speakeasy' a soon to be regular pop-up feast hosted by The Grazer at Ouse Street ArtsClub. A night of feasting in a totally unique space, fire, food and booze... Dress warm.

Where’s that?

Ouse Street Arts Club (click for link) is a brand new creative space within Newcastle’s vibrant Ouseburn Valley, east of the city centre and minutes from the river Tyne and Quayside.

An interventional Artist led development with xsite architecture converting 2 ISO shipping containers and landscaping surrounding ground to realise a unique and innovative social event space.

What will we eat?

A three course Joe Beef (click for link) and Bonfire night inspired feast, think table long smorgasbords full of homemade salami, pickled herrings, homemade beer cheese, gin cured salmon, pickles, chutneys and potted meats. Pulled pork, apple chips, secret recipe beans and feasting platters. Chocolate and chestnut pots, fridge walnuts and more... On booking the menu will be confirmed and sent out to you a couple of days before the event.

What will we drink?

There will be a special drink on arrival, inspired by the menu and setting. Following that this is a BYO affair. You will be sent the finalised menu prior to arrival so you can decide on your chosen tipple to bring.

How much will it set me back?

You will be given an envelope at the end of the evening. Please leave what you think your whole evenings experience has been worth; venue, food and service... How do you put a price on an evening of feasting in a shipping container, you decide... Please bring cash.

How do I book a spot?

Just email annahedworth@hotmail.com , subject line 'The Grazer's Joe Beef inspired bonfire speakeasy',  to book a place, there are 20 places available, already going fast!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Apple and Cardamom Tart and a Pop-up Feast

I'm really excited to be starting a new project, a pop-up feast, that will hopefully become a regular feature. It will be at Ouse Street Arts Club, a new artist led venue that I have been working on as part of my day job with xsite architecture, our very own venue to host all kinds of events...

The Ouse Street Arts Club (click for a link) is two converted ISO shipping containers situated in the lower Ouseburn Valley, on Ouse Street, immediately behind Hotel du Vin. We have been working hard for months, could be years, to get them ready and they are finally nearly there, painted, lined out, electricity, doors, windows, water... It's taken a long time but has come together in a perfect little space that I love going to, hopefully you will too!

My first pop-up will be a Joe Beef inspired bonfire night speakeasy type affair on Saturday November 3rd. Think smorgesbords full of Grazer made salami, pickled herrings, beer cheese, pickles, toasts, gin cured salmon; followed by pulled pork, apple chips, secret beans and a scattering of pudding pots. For more details or to book a place please email annahedworth@hotmail.com subject 'The Grazer's Joe Beef inspired bonfire pop up'.

Over in allotment land, my apple tree is laden with apples, more than ever before, I'm going to be using them as much as possible at my pop up feast for apple chips and pickles, but these were the first two fellas to be ready this year. What better way to use them than an apple tart, buttery pastry, sugar, apples, what's not to love... This is an Elizabeth David recipe for a basic apple tart that I have adapted into this spiced cardamom version, that adds perfume and spice to a traditional tart recipe.

I made my own pastry, buy it if you want, I often do, but this shortcrust is pretty simple and delicious. Mix 225g of plain flour with 120g of soft butter until it is like fine breadcrumbs, then add a beaten egg, a pinch of salt and a splash of water, about a tablespoon and bring it all together into a ball, knead it a little then leave to rest while you deal with the filling.

Finely crush the seeds of 3 cardamom pods and mix with 100g of caster sugar. Peel 2 large cooking apples, keeping the peel, and slice into thin segments. Then roll out the pastry and line a tart tin about 30cm wide. Arrange the apples in neat concentric circles and sprinkle over the cardamom sugar evenly. Then bake it in the oven at 160°C for 30 minutes.

Finally I made a glaze that you brush over the finished tart, melt 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar in a small pan with all the left over apple peel and a piece of lemon rind, until you get a sugary syrup. Use a brush to paint it over the top of the tart when it is ready and cooled.

The home made pastry is rich and buttery and warm, soft sweet apples in thick sugary syrup perfumed with deep cardamom spice. I can't think of anything better for pudding on a cold autumnal day, just add a dollop of cream...