Monthly Archives: June 2011

Shoreditch grind

I recently read a post by fellow food blogger Food for Think about new London expresso bar Shoreditch grind. In North Wales we are somewhat deprived of eating places, let alone cool coffee bars, so on my frequent jaunts to London I take the opportunity to indulge my yearning for a nice meal or two.

As I travelled down on the train this week, I texted a friend to arrange a lunch meet. Her text back went as follows

“Want to check out new cool coffee shop in East London

A little light bulb flickered in my head

“It isn’t called the Shoreditch Grind by any chance is it”? I replied

Two hours later we were ensconced in a pair of window seats looking out over Old Street roundabout and mulling over the menu. I admit I went with some trepidation, hoping that the glitches highlighted in the food for think post had now been ironed out.  It was after all nearly a week later.

It was still easy to tell that it was early days, I wouldn’t say the staff had reached the point of calm confidence, but they were friendly, helpful and not too stressed.

Shoreditch grind serves as another trendy addition to an area that I have seen change so much over the past 11 years (my Mum used to work for Jubilee 2000 which once had its home on Great Eastern Street; I used to visit her there from time to time). I loved its quirky, reclaimed, industrial appearance, enhanced by cool design features (spiral stairs, lights, old school type of chairs) and a soundtrack of 80’s music. One complaint was that we both found the stools pretty uncomfortable. My friend who is quite small struggled to actually stay on hers!

teapigs tea

There was a small but enticing range of food on offer. My friend and I both ordered toasted ciabatta rolls, hers with rocket, salami and mozzerella and mine with cheddar ham and piccalilli. They were a little flat afer toasting and slightly hard going on the teeth but tasted good, mine oozed with piccalilli which slightly overpowered the other flavours.

I loved the stylish little touches, from the crumpled cup style water glasses and the opportunity to help myself to endless top ups, to the counter top jars full of intriguing looking teas from ethical tea suppliers teapigs and fresh mint leaves which gave off their pungent scent at the counter as we paid for our food.

the crumpled cup style water glasses

I drank a creamy latte while my friend ordered a cappuccino to accompany her cake, which we had both chosen before our sandwiches had even arrived! We ordered a raspberry crumble muffin and a pear and lavender cake. It was rather disconcerting to have our food served in paper bags, even when we were obviously sitting in and I hope they do provide plates in the future. Having said this when we asked at the counter if they had a knife so we could cut our cakes in half to share, they were happy to cut them for us and provide plates.

Both cakes were delicious. The muffin was light, fruity and the topping crumble sweet and crispy whilst the pear and almond cake was deliciously moist, the lavender a pleasing compliment to the pear. There is always the risk that lavender can overwhelm other flavours, but the small sprinkling didn’t, its flowery essence gave a little hit every now and again.

the fruity insides of my muffin!

yummy cakes

The staff were friendly and there was no hint of discord, or any attempt to hurry us as my friend and I sat and chatted endlessly.

I really hope the Shoreditch Grind finds its feet and establishes itself. It is a welcome addition and a great antidote to the indistinct tedium of the Starbucks and Cafe Nero’s of this world. The only reason we popped into Starbucks on the way out was to use the loo. As soon as ‘the Grinds’ are up and running there will no longer be a need to even go near the place!

Shoreditch Grind can be found at;

213 Old Street, London, EC1V 9NR

020 7490 7490

 

 

 

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Observer food awards

If you read and enjoy my blog it would be fantastic if you could vote for me at the observer food awards…best food blogger category only two days left to do so!

Thank you

Denise xx

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Press and new dates for July

My Britain’s Best Dish success, supper club and the new Ogwen Produce market (of which I am part) have all been in the press this week. There was this lovely piece in the Bangor Chronicle discussing all of them. The picture was taken at the Moelyci market garden while the second, showing a number of other local producers including Rhyd y Delyn cheese producers (one of my favourites), Delyth from Cegin Brysur with her amazing cakes, two local chocolate makers (i need to get their details!!), plus Chris with his fruit and veg.

 

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Out with the old and in with the new: a seasonal solstice supper

the end of the night...this time lots of food pics, but no people!!!

Now that midsummer is upon us and half the year is already gone, its time to bid farewell to some of my favourite early produce. Asparagus, which only pays a fleeting visit, sadly finished cropping this week and it seems the strawberries at Moelyci have almost finished too. I’m sure elsewhere they will continue for a while yet but I’m glad I have used and preserved plenty. But before I start to pine for these wonderful summer treasures, it’s a happy hello to all the rest of the joys of June. Redcurrants are plentiful in the fruit fields of Moelyci and in my garden at home; elder flowers are still with us and a new batch of black currants are on their way. I have been out collecting plenty of the elder flowers this week for cordial, champagne and to use in the dessert I made for supper club.

I also paid visits to my three favourite vegetable suppliers: Pippa and John who give me my weekly veg box currently have an abundance of beetroot, tender courgettes, sweet young carrots, new potatoes, lettuce, a variety of chard, basil; Paul at Moelyci who has all that wonderful fruit in the market garden shop as well as lettuces ready for harvesting and lots of fresh parsley (something I don’t have much luck with) and Hootons farm shop, which is where I’ve got my asparagus, and now they also have broad beans too.   All those vegetables have kept me busy chutneying, and I did have a good few jars of spiced courgette and beetroot relish until I sold it all on Sunday, but that’s another story! I also finally got round to bottling all the liqueurs that have lurked in the back of my cupboard since the beginning of March (Creme de Cassis, raspberry vodka, loganberry vodka and sloe gin) as I wanted to crack open the Cassis for supper club.

Supper club was also the perfect opportunity to try out my new toy. Inspired by Dave’s smoking exploits at Derimon I ordered myself a little Cameron’s stove top smoker; they aren’t cheap at £43 a go for a small one, but my goodness it was worth it. It came with two small tubs of smoking chips (Alder and Hickory) and a big bag of oak.

my new smoker

I decided to try salmon as a  first attempt and so following the instructions, and using Alder chips as suggested, I set up the smoker. Twenty five minutes later I gently slid back the lid to reveal a lightly cooked, delicately and perfectly smoked piece of salmon. It was remarkably simple, yet pleasingly effective. Once it had cooled I gently pulled the salmon apart, tossing it with some new potatoes and salad, olive oil and a dollop of horseradish cream. This then formed part of my pick nick to take to the teens sports day on Saturday afternoon so I could test it out on friends . The unanimous verdict was that it was absolutely gorgeous!

doing its thing

perfect hot smoked salmon

There was a full house at supper club this weekend, which saw us celebrating the solstice or midsummer, a birthday dinner, an anniversary, and a welcome visit from two regulars and a new friend. It was moderately boisterous and it was nice to see people relaxed enough to come and chat in the kitchen. The menu for the evening of course celebrated the best of the season

Prosecco with Cassis (does that make it a Kir Royale, or a Prosecco Kir or just plain Kir?) with ricotta, parma ham, basil and balsamic vinegar topped bruschetta

The we said goodbye to the asparagus in style with mini asparagus and parmesan souffle tarts ( a variation on my souffle-gratin recipe) served with beetroot relish and carrots and courgette slaw

tarts ready to bakeplating tarts on the bench in the kitchen

For main it was hot smoked salmon with pan-fried new potatoes, baby broad beans, asparagus and chard and topped with horseradish cream. I collected the salmon bright and early from Mermaid seafood in Llandudno (sadly our only decent fishmongers locally) who stock a fantastic array of local and sustainable fish. The fillets were a really good size, unlike those you might get in the supermarket. I cannot  emphasise how much better it is to buy fish and meat from a specialist: It is fresher, often local and the portions are so much bigger. I don’t think there is much difference in price bu if buying on the high street is more expensive…well you certainly get more for your money!

All I did was season the salmon with salt and pepper and squeeze over some lime juice. For the horseradish cream I used a tub of creme fraiche which I seasoned with salt and pepper and a pinch of cayenne then stirred in enough horseradish to taste, but not so it is overpowering. I used English Provender horseradish which was excellent.

Ideally, if I’d had the finances, I would have bought the large smoker, but i had no idea how accommodating the small one would be. In the end I was only able to fit three salmon fillets in it at a time, so had to cook in four batches, but I gave myself plenty of time and kept the salmon warm in the bottom of the oven. It was a simple dish; but in this case less was definitely more!

The elder flowers heads were wrapped in muslin and chucked in to heat with milk and cream, to impart a delicate flowery taste to another simple, but effective dish; Elderflower pannacotta. The light creaminess complimented the sweet sharpness of a strawberry and red currant coulis and fresh berries. I think I even saw one person rubbing his finger across the plate to get every last flavourful bit of coulis.

As ever we completed the meal with local Welsh cheeses, crackers and coffee. This time we included two hard but mild goats cheeses from Y Cwt Caws, our usual smoked brie from Derimon, a blue Perl Las from Caws Cenarth in Cardigan and we were lucky enough to be asked to sample a new Brie from Rhyd y Delyn, which was delicious although needed to be slightly riper we all thought.

A few lovely comments about the night, the first from Paola (of Dr Zigs Dragon Bubbles…if you ever need seriously GIANT bubbles these are the guys to call!)

“Just had the most awesome scrummy yummy tastiest glorious omgoodnes meal EVER at Moel Faban secret supper club. And met the most wonderful people! And we Bubbled too!! This is one of those things that just must be experienced to be believed – and really should be on everyone’s bucket list”

and from Anouska whose birthday it was…

“I’ve been eating out with Non for the last ten years and she usually complains about something. This is the first time I have ever heard her say that everything was delicious”

Thanks everyone it was a great night xxx

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Sunshine in a jar (jammin part II)

sunshine in a jar

Yep, more jammin…we really have been busy all week! This time a zingy alternative to the usual lemon curd…lemon and lime curd.

If there’s anything that will make you think of warm summer sun its lemon curd. Its origins in Britain can be traced back to the 19th century, which may well be when citrus fruits started to make a regular appearance in this country. Certainly lemon meringue pie was on the menu by then and Mrs Beeton, who is usually a good benchmark, uses what looks very much like lemon curd in her lemon cheesecake recipe.

Of course it’s not surprising that us brits took to making lemon curd. If there’s one thing we do well it’s preserving and we seem to love jamming, chutneying, bottling and curing anything we can get our hands on. In the winter it is a great way to get a vitamin C hit, when there is little else fresh about.

I’ve made lots of lemon curd and sometimes just plain lime curd, but I really like the lemon and lime mixture, it has enough acidity to make the tongue tingle, but with a little tropical kick. I also experimented with St. Clements curd (orange and lemon) but one taster described it as

“a compromise”

for those that can’t take the real thing. I thought about this and I’m inclined to agree, the pleasure of lemon curd is the sweet and sharp combination; with orange it’s all sweet without the kick.

Lemon and lime curd:

Juice of 4 unwaxed organic lemons  and 4 limes(plus the finely grated rind of 4)

8 eggs

450g sugar

200g unsalted organic Welsh butter, cut into pieces

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl. Add lemon and lime juice and rind and continue to whisk until combined. Add butter. Put the bowl over a bowl of gently simmering water and heat stirring every now and again until the curd thickens. It can take up to half an hour so don’t try to rush it. Pour curd into hot sterilised jars. Lemon curd should keep for a good couple of months if stored in the fridge, but to be honest ours usually disappears within the first 2 weeks!

 

 

 

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Were jammin…and I hope you like jammin too!

I couldn’t resist adding the words of the great Bob Marley, since it was this song that kept popping into our heads as we slaved over a hot jam pot!

Life has been something of a trial this week, with various teenage shenanigans keeping us busy, and rather mentally and physically drained. The one ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy week has been the bit of pleasure gained from making and preserving all the lovely fruit we have in the garden and growing near by.  With summer now well and truly in bloom and our native summer fruits growing like mad it was time to take the initiative and make the most of it before the season passes (I can’t believe asparagus is already at an end!!)

And what a great way to lift the spirits!…a sunny days  fruit picking. It’s a great family day out, either relatively cheap, if not free and it doesn’t matter how old you are,  there is great fun to be had. Fruit picking can be anything from foraging for Bilberries on a mountain, stumbling across wild raspberries in the hedgerow or, for those city dwellers, simply taking a trip to a pick-your-own site, where you can greedily cram your baskets with as much fruit as possible (cramming half of it in your mouth along the way) and leaving with sticky red stained fingers and a load of brightly coloured summer treasures! I spend even more time picking now that I am selling produce as well.

At the moment we live on bowl after bowl of fresh strawberries, red currants and black currants, but I always keep in the back of my mind the thought that it will soon be over, so armed with that knowledge I always make sure I pick enough to make a good supply of jam, as well as sticking a few tubs in the freezer to whip out in the winter, when in need of a bit of summer cheer.

Strawberry and red currant jam:

I’ve often made red currant jelly and strawberry jam, but this combines both fruit to produce a slightly less sweet jam. I sold it at the Ogwen Agricultural show at the weekend and everyone that tasted it loved it! I guess it is a winning formula

I used just less sugar than fruit and had no problem reaching a set

1.5k strawberries (washed and hulled)

1.5k redcurrants (washed and stalks removed)

juice of 1 lemon

2.5k sugar

Put all the ingredients into a pan and slowly bring to the boil. Continue boiling fairly vigorously until a set is reached. You can tell if it’s reached a set by putting a teaspoon a saucer that has been placed in the freezer to chill. If the jam wrinkles when you drag a finger through it, it should be done. For ease I have invested in a jam thermometer, they are quite cheap and it should show you when the correct temperature has been reached. Boil at that temperature for about 10 minutes but keep checking for a set.

Once you have a set, pour the jam into clean, sterilised jars and put the lid on straight away. Leave to cool before labelling and storing. Jam should keep for up to a year (if not longer) if stored in a cool, dry, darkish place.

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Family al fresco dining and a very full tart

Wales is well known for its high rain fall, so whenever we are blessed with a little window of sunshine we take the opportunity to soak up every last ray. That means we have been eating an awful lot of dinners on the patio (now that it’s finished) and doing much more al fresco entertaining. The experience is even better in the knowledge that much of the food on our plate is there growing around us and all we have to do is nip to the bottom of the garden to pull a few lettuce and rocket leaves for our salad, or to the hen-house to collect a few eggs for a tart. I don’t know about you? but I think free food tastes so much better!

a vegetable, ricotta, feta 'pie', salad and new potatoes

So at the tail end of the half term holidays I ended up with a couple of visiting (vegetarian) teenagers, the little one, and us (and no money left having been eaten out of house and home). I needed to use as many of these free resources as possible.  A Ottolenghi inspired tart / Quiche/ call it what you will (I called it a vegetable ‘pie’ because the teen doesn’t like Quiche!!) with a couple of hearty salads did the trick!

“Did you like it”? I inquired at the end of the meal…I noticed that the teenagers had all pushed their vegetables to the side of the plate, eating just the pastry and filling…

“It was nice, but I’m not keen on vegetables said Erin. I do like the pastry bit of Quiche though” she said with a smile.

“I thought you were vegetarian?” I asked

“I am” she replied bluntly.

My teen glared at me “Was that Quiche then?” she frowned. “You told me it was pie and you know I hate Quiche. Why do you always try to trick me?” .

I looked at her plate, she’d eaten the same amount as her friend. Once again her teenager logic left me lost for words.

A very full, Ottolenghi inspired pie (tart in disguise!!):

serves 6

1 red and 1 yellow pepper, 1 eggplant (aubergine), couple of small courgettes, 2 red onions, 2 bay leaves, a hand full of thyme sprigs, leaves picked from them, a handful of washed shredded spinach, chard or even kale whatever if ready to harvest, 150g ricotta and 120g feta cheese, a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved, 3 medium to large eggs, 200ml double cream, salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees (gas mark 8). Chop peppers into 4 removing the stalk and seeds and chop the eggplant into largish chucks. Place in a roasting tin and toss in a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the chopped and washed courgettes to the tin  and toss in the oil and return to the tin to the oven. Cook for a further 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the peppers are beginning to turn brown/blackish in places. Remove from the oven and allow peppers to cool a little before removing the skin and tearing into strips.

While the vegetables are roasting finely chop the onion and cook with the bay leaves and a pinch of salt on a medium heat, in a couple of tablespoons olive oil for about 20 minutes until turning soft and just golden brown. Set to one side.

Turn the oven down to 180 degress (gas mark 4). Line a 22-24cm loose bottomed greased tart tin with pastry (shortcrust pastry recipe below) so it just hangs over the rim, then line with baking paper / parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake blind for 30 minutes after about 20 minutes remove the paper and let it bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until just turning golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Spread the base with cooked onion, roasted vegetables, herbs, shredded spinach and then scatter the cheeses and tomato halves on top. Whisk the eggs and cream together and add some salt and pepper. Pour carefully into the tart case adding a last sprinkle of thyme and then bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until cooked through and golden on top. Leave it to rest for a 10 minutes before removing from the tart tin and serving. I added a small handful of torn basil leaves to finish.

*Basic shortcrust pastry: The rule of thumb is equal parts flour to fat….so for this I used 200g Shipton Mill plain flour, a good pinch of Halen Mon sea salt, 100g Rachel’s dairy butter, 100g lard and enough cold water to bind into a dough.

Rub the fat into the flour and salt, then gradually add cold water a little at a time until the pastry just comes together into a ball. Do not over work the pastry as it will become dense. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before using.

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Hooray for a sunny, summery, supper club!

a sunny spot on the patio

 

generously donated poppies from our neighbours garden

It was a supper club first…a hot sunny evening that meant we could serve cocktails on the patio! As our guests arrived we greeted them with a sweet and summery Glayva cocktail (1 part Glayva to 3 parts lemonade, some quartered slices of orange, ice and a sprig of mint) served under the shade of cherry tree, surrounded by the heady scent of honeysuckle, mint and thyme. Our guests enjoyed the panoramic view for which we are famous and soaked in the last rays of the sun. Just being able to do this one thing put a massive smile on my face and we hadn’t’ even started serving the food yet!

I really wanted to finish the patio last summer, but due to a lack of finances it didn’t happen; this year we managed it and it really was a pleasure to offer our guests a beautiful spot to become acquainted. So while our guests sipped their  cocktails and nibbled on tiny cherry plum tomatoes, goats cheese balls with herbs and olives (from Y Cwt Caws), we put the finishing touches to the food in the kitchen.

The menu had a distinctly summery theme, although I did hedge by bets a little knowing what our Welsh weather can be like.

For starter we served the ever popular smoked mackerel pate, with beetroot and tomato salsa, horseradish cream and a home-made spelt roll. I’ve made this pate several times for supper club and it always hits the spot, but combined with a chilli infused beetroot and tomato salsa, and horseradish cream it reached new heights of pleasure, every mouthful a taste explosion of smoky, creamy, sharp and spicy and just a hint of sweet. I would share the recipe but I’m mean! I’m trying to keep it under wraps in the hope it will go into my much longed for book!!

plating the starters: smoked mackerel pate with beetroot tomato salsa, horseradish cream and a home-made spelt roll

Main course: Beef and ale pie with local new potatoes, asparagus tips and baby broad beans. It should also have had Samphire but I failed dismally in my foraging mission. I found a small amount of Golden Samphire, but not enough to make the dish….But unperturbed I will be avidly following up leads for next time!!

I adapted the pie from Linda Carters Britain’s Best Dish recipe. I used dripping instead of lard in the pastry (this is just beef fat instead of pig fat) to make a crisper crust and it worked very well. My only concern was that the meat was as flavoursome as it could be. I’m not sure if it was the particular ale I used from the Great Orme Brewery, but the filling initially tasted slightly bitter. Because of this I needed to add a little more Demerara sugar than suggested in the recipe, plus I also chucked in a couple of tablespoons of mushroom ketchup, just for the hell of it to see what it was like, and I think it worked perfectly as it added just a little more depth to what was a rich beefy flavour.

Welsh ale used in the pie

serving pie

 

Welsh beef and pale ale pie, new potatoes, asparagus tips and baby broad beans served with extra gravy

During the week I’d received an email from one of our guests, requesting something special for their friend’s birthday. We do have lots of birthdays at supper club and usually I try to do something a little special, whether it be an iced flower bowl of sorbet (see my earlier post from last year) or Gemma’s cake topped with ceiling scorching flame thrower style candles, but usually most guests don’t want the fuss. It was nice on this occasion to make a big over the top dessert/gateaux. I’d already decided to use the first strawberries of the season, well who wouldn’t? So all I did was create an enormous strawberry meringue gateaux, topped with whipped amaretto cream and a strawberry, and vodka steeped loganberry coulis. A fairly simple dessert makes for a visually stunning conclusion to a lovely meal; rich, gooey and totally OTT!!

small child, lighter, candles...what would health and safety say!!!!!

 

singing happy birthday

We still finished with the obligatory coffee and local cheese course, this included the smoked Brie I’d bought at Derimon, some mild Seriol goats cheese from Y Cwt Caws and some Snowdon dairies Caerphilly, with two types of butter: smoked Anglesey and salted Rachel’s dairy and my own sweet caramelised red onion marmalade, but I really think everyone was full enough by then!

I started the evening with a smile and finished it with an even bigger one…no, not because I’d drunk too many Glayva cocktails, just because I’d made new friends, who’d enjoyed good food and good company and left happy, and that made me happy too!

 

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The ’30 mile radius’ and a visit to Derimon smokery

All kinds of conversations spring up at supper club. As I settle down with a nice glass of wine post pudding I find myself chatting away to  my guests about all sorts of things. Obviously they ask about the origins and inspiration for the supper club but they are equally interested in my suppliers, the food on the menu and the ’30 mile radius’ ethos I try to stick to. It’s a lovely time for everyone to get to know each other and for me to explain my reasons for doing this (aside from my love of food and entertaining).Popularity for Moel Faban has certainly grown and I think it is partly to do with my support for local producers and as I explained at our last supper club, I’m keen to show local people that they can get pretty much anything they want on their own doorstep.

Ok, fair enough it takes a bit of extra time and imagination, a change in our conditioned way of thinking, to return to using seasonal, local produce. One guest talked long and heatedly about how Asda buy their chickens from Thailand claiming that “it just doesn’t make sense, surely there’s enough chickens here?”. Its true, it can be quite difficult  to find British produce in our local supermarkets and I often find myself asking assistants what they have from the UK. I wonder why that is?

I guess it’s about cost: keeping it cheap, but why does buying British mean its twice the price? I don’t think it does and I find myself quite bemused at how it can possibly be cheaper to fly things in from South Africa, or Spain or wherever than to buy produce locally or at least from UK farmers. I think we been convinced by the big supermarkets not to ask questions, to shop like automatons, not to focus on the profit they make for their shareholders and to just accept what they put on the shelves. Weve become lazy, thinking we are far too busy to go to small shops, producers and butchers etc. A few years ago I would probably have said the same thing, but then I saw the light!

These days I only buy basics in the supermarket and some things you really can’t get in this country (mostly bananas, lemons and oranges!). I also try to make some time to get to know my suppliers visiting them at their own place (and not just the produce market), to see what they are up to. Last week I took a trip to visit Dave, owner of Derimon, the only smokery on Anglesey and the one featured in ‘The Hairy Bikers Tour of Anglesey’, who was kind enough to show me around, explaining the process of smoking, before I stopped off at the shop to buy some stuff for supper club.

I arrived as he was returning from an eel fishing trip. We chatted and I watched as he unloaded his slippery cargo, tipping them into their storage tank, while another tank of large and rather angry-looking lobsters scuttled around at my side (he sells these too. I was very tempted but at £10 a pound I thought it was a bit OTT for a midweek supper).

angry lobsters

We headed into smoke house where Dave explained the process of brining, cold smoking (to preserve) and then hot smoking to cook. Without this laborious process the produce would just go off. When they began, the fires which create the smoke were all inside the main building but the heat generated made it impossible to work, so they had the inspired idea of building two outside fire boxes created which have proved very effective.

the first smoker at Derimon: the fires made the building so hot it was impossible to work

 

the outdoor fire-box with oak chippings. Smoke is fed through a pipe into the smokers inside

 

Smoking mussels

Dave smokes all kinds of stuff, from mussels and mackerel and the eels he catches to chicken, paprika, cheese and butter, in fact I’m sure he would have a go at smoking most things! Their smoked brie is a massive success at supper club, although I’ve never quite got my head round how you smoke butter!

smoked cheese

 

Mackerel

Once we finished our trip around the smoke room I headed into the shop to stock up on goodies for supper club. The building which houses the shop was the original smokery for the house, but once business expanded it was too small so they extended to the rear. These days Dave’s award-winning range of products can be found at a number of markets across the local area, in selected shops, restaurants, at Hootons farm shop and online here.

Dave in the Derimon shop. I bought smoked Welsh butter, smoked Brie, Smoked paprika and bacon.

 

the dairy has won many awards

Derimon can be found just outside City Dulas in Anglesey. It’s not easy to locate but there are signs! They are open 9.30 til 4.30 Monday to Friday and 9.30 til 5 on Saturday. For more information call 01248 410536 or email derimon_smokery@btconnect.com. The main house is also run as a bed and breakfast. The perfect place to stay when visiting Anglesey and set in stunning surroundings.

The entrance to the B&B and smokery, just beautiful!

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The famous ‘Tipsy Laird’ trifle and my Britains Best Dish experience

Tipsy Laird

Although I’ve mentioned it in passing I haven’t actually written about my experiences on this years Britain’s Best Dish. Now that I’m able to, I though I’d just let you know how it all came about.

I’d never watched the show before (I don’t watch TV at all really) so didn’t know much about it. I started doing a bit of research when in November, completely out of the blue, I received an email from Matt Tiller, an ITV researcher, asking if I had considered submitting a recipe for my dish for the new series.

I spent about a week thinking about it and discussing it with family and eventualy decided that the worst that could happen would be that they weren’t interested in me. So after some thought about what would be the perfect British dish, I sent them two recipes that I’d created myself for supper club, and that I knew had gone down well; a main course of Welsh Black beef and wild mushroom pudding with mashed potato and leeks and stir fried spring greens and my second choice recipe, the ‘Tipsy Laird’ trifle (click here for the recipe).

A week or two later I received another email inviting me to audition. I made both dishes, which I then had to try to get to Manchester in one piece. (I should have been in the Cardiff auditions but Manchester was closer). The main course looked slightly worse for wear but the trifle did very well and it was that dish that appeared to catch the eye of the producers. The day was great fun, slightly frantic and it was lovely to meet other enthusiastic cooks, a couple of whom I saw on the show later on.

I returned home to await their decision. They said they would tell us by the end of the week and when I didn’t hear anything I presumed I hadn’t been picked. On Monday morning I received the call to say I was on. I was extremely excited, didn’t know what to expect, but couldn’t wait!

Filming began on the 4th March, so off I trekked to London, expenses paid, on what turned out to be the beginning of a mini-adventure. Cooking in front of so many cameras was so nerve-wracking! My hands consistently shook, I couldn’t separate my eggs, and we had to listen to the judges discussing us!! It was a 12 hour day and by the time the results were due to be announced I was so exhausted I felt quite faint. I was over the moon when they chose me and getting the vote from Michelin starred chefs and critics meant everything to me!

A week and a half later I was back off to film the final. This time I was less nervous about the cameras and more nervous about living up to my last effort. I was more relaxed, a bit blase and then screwed up my custard in my panic…it didn’t set, I hadn’t cooked it out for long enough. I knew I’d screwed it up and thought I’d blown it. I didn’t think there was any chance I’d get chosen. When the (rather tasty himself)  Ed Baines, John Burton Race and Jilly Goolden gave me the unanimous vote again (as well as a very welcome £500) I was so keyed up I just cried! Idiot.

The national finals at Hackney Catering College brought the seven winners from all the regions together. There was more waiting round. I was tired, unwell and I’d lost my voice. Not a good start. I’d been in bed with flu for three days, only recovering sufficiently to have a small birthday celebration on Saturday, before heading off to London on the Sunday. I ate Vocalzone throat sweets all morning and they only brought my voice back enough for me to croak.

I found the experience tense and frustrating. I couldn’t talk without my throat and larynx hurting, I had John and Ed breathing down my neck the whole time watching me make my custard…which was FAR worse than the cameras and I had no sense of smell or taste. I didn’t taste my fruit, which was obviously a lot tarter than the previous two batches and even though Ed had assured me that there was nothing wrong with my custard, it was obviously not good enough for John!

My recipe barely changed throughout the programme….I left out the orange zest on the judges advice Ed asked me “what’s the zest for?”  “Err, to make it look pretty” I replied. “Fuck pretty” he said “if it’s not there for a reason, get rid of it” so I did. I replaced it with some roughly chopped candied peel. I also added another egg yolk to the custard and cut down the milk from 500ml to 400ml. I think with the benefit of hindsight I would also add a teaspoon of cornflour as well, just to increase the thickness and aid setting.

From the beginning I wondered how far I would get with a humble trifle. There isn’t much you can do to improve its appearance and all of its pleasures are hidden beneath that top layer of cream. When Sarah Kemp and Conor McClean went through I was disappointed, but not at all surprised. Their dishes looked fantastic and of course Conor went on to win it.  I had a feeling my journey was coming to an end and I was ready for it to do so. I’m proud of how well I did and of winning for Wales. When I sat and watched the final, not knowing who had won the whole thing I cried buckets again…Conor is a very talented lad at the beginning of his career and I’m glad he got the title.

Would I do it again? Well, you never know….

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