Borough Market

So before returning home to England for the summer, I have been reading a lot about charcuterie trends and particularly those British charcuterie companies using British meat and locally techniques. I came across a company called Cannon & Cannon (www.cannonandcannon.com, @cannonandcannon) that use British meat to make cured and dried meats. They also run a ‘meat school’ that runs classes on sausage making, bacon curing etc. I was very sad to learn however that the school does not run courses during the summer holidays.

The more I delved into these companies, the more I realised that charcuterie in Britain is returning to our tables and with quite an impact. I was desperate to taste some of their exciting products.

So, one of the first stops once we returned to England was Borough Market (boroughmarket.org.uk, @boroughmarket), “As London’s oldest food market, it has been serving the people of Southwark for 1,000 years, and that extraordinary heritage is an important part of its appeal.”. The market describes itself as “First and foremost a source of genuinely exceptional produce. Many of the Market’s stallholders are themselves producers: the farmer who reared the animal, the fisherman who caught the fish, the baker who baked the bread. Other traders have built their reputations on seeking out small-scale artisan producers and bringing their wares to Borough” (boroughmarket.org.uk)

As you can imagine I was very excited when we first headed over there. It was a whirlwind experience, having never been before. The market traders sell cheese, meat, fish and produce from around the world, some of interesting and curious description – particularly the ostrich burger and crocodile steaks. It has kept its historic image, which adds to the whole experience. We arrived around 10am which gave us the chance to walk around before it became uncomfortably busy.

I really enjoyed wandering around the different stalls and finding out about the origin of the produce and the stories behind the products. Some stalls I recognised from reading about them before hand and from my Twitter explorations, others were nice surprises.

Here are a couple of the photos I took, more to follow shortly.

Food stall at Borough Market
Food stall at Borough Market
Borough Market
Borough Market
Cider stall at Borough Market
Cider stall at Borough Market

Early on in our visit, we came across the Cannon & Cannon stall. I was very excited to taste a variety of their different dried sausages and particularly the less common flavours and meats including duck and venison. As you can see from the photo below we bought a selection of sausages and I couldn’t wait to get home and try them out. We ate them with cheese and bread, and also added them to some cooked dishes. The flavours were delicious and were great on their own and in other foods. We also found a stall selling the freshest and most delicious buffalo mozzarella that arrives from Italy on a regular basis. That was one of our favourite purchases and one you will see in another post soon.

I did return to Borough Market before the end of the summer and definitely will do again in the future. It was a fun trip all round.

Dried sausages from Cannon & Cannon British charcuterie.
Dried sausages from Cannon & Cannon British charcuterie.

Breakfast Pizza

Flying through Hong Kong airport always gets me excited about the prospect of having Pizza Express. It makes a great change from the usual food in Chinese airports. The best bit is that no matter what time of day you can still get a pizza. My new favourite is their breakfast pizza. We flew through Hong Kong on our way from Manila to Qingdao after a weeks diving in the Philippines.

The pizza is made from their usual great pizza dough with tomato sauce, pancetta, cheese, cherry tomatoes and rocket with a lovely, runny egg baked into the middle. This is a great way to revive yourself after a long flight and to prepare for the next one!

Breakfast Pizza

St Patricks Day Cakes

For St Patricks Day this year I wanted to make some cakes. Here are my Irish cupcakes. They were not a huge success but the Baileys in the icing made up for anything the cakes were lacking. I liked practising my piping and think they at least look quite good.

They were Guinness cupcakes with Baileys buttercream frosting.

Irish Cupcakes Irish Cupcakes

Homemade Pizza

We have developed a sort of tradition now of eating healthily during the week and saving ourselves for a naughtier / bigger meal on the weekends. These meals have become known as our weekend ‘feasts’. I think this idea came from when I was younger and we would have bigger meals on the weekend, particularly those that involved my dad cooking, my sister and I always enjoyed choosing our special Saturday night dinner.

We have had many recently feasts since its beginnings including pulled pork, BBQ ribs, roasts and the ultimate feast ‘a massive curry’ (John’s words). We realised though that we had not cooked pizza at home before, or at least not proper homemade pizzas anyway. So John set me the task of creating pizzas that were weekend feast worthy. I think I lived up to the challenge.

I used the bread machine to make the dough which was really easy. I added a spicy pesto we have found here and tomato paste for the sauce. Then for the toppings we had one pizza with salami and one with ham and pineapple. Unfortunately we cannot buy proper, real mozzarella balls here but can get a good alternative in the form of pre-grated mozzarella. A quick sprinkle of chilli to keep John satisfied and they were ready to stick in the oven.

Here are the final pizzas looking good and hot from the oven:

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Ham and Pineapple Pizza
Salami Pizza
Salami Pizza

Making ghee at home

I love cooking curries and try to get as authentic a flavour as I can, well when cooking British Indian food anyway. I have been on the look out for ghee for a while and found it very expensive to buy here in China. I had heard of people making their own but it always seemed quite difficult. 

One day, much to the despair of my husband, I thought I would give it a go. He has a phrase that always seems to come out at these moments of determination ‘why make things if you can buy them’. Well, I like to find out if I can make it myself and if it tastes as good. I also like to know what is in my food. The latter can sometimes be more important living away from home. 

I found a couple of good food blogs that gave a good description of the process and set off. The process involved boiling or simmering butter until it separated and left the clarified butter underneath. You need to scoop out and sieve the froth and curds that rise to the top. After which you should have a lovely clear caramel coloured liquid. It did actually work and I was quite happy with the final result. I think the butter was left a little too long in the pan and it has started to colour and caramelise, it has a lovely nutty sweet smell to it now though. 

I have since, used the ghee in many Indian dishes and it seems to work quite well. I’m sure I could improve on the process but for the cost of a couple of bars of butter I think it has done the job.

  

  

Cooking at home

It’s not just eating food overseas that I love, I also love cooking food at home too. I have had a few chances to try new things this week and I am quite happy with the results. 

Last weekend, as with many weekends, I made a few different curries for dinner. According to my husband, my curries have got better and better and he now gets very excited to try them. I love collecting spices from the different places we travel to and seeing how they are used. It has been interesting see how familiar spices from different countries have slight differences in taste. We had a rather intimidating visit to the wholesale spice market in Colombo while visiting Sri Lanka at Christmas. They were clearly not set up for tourists buying small quantities and as a result I came away with much bigger bags of spices than I had planned on. The black peppercorns we bought were very fresh and have a very strong, spicy aroma and taste. They are distinctive when added to dishes back home.

So, using lots of these new spices I cooked a curry feast back home. I made tikka masala, John’s favourite, and a lamb pasanda which I have made previously but this version tasted completely different. I also made a lamb kofta curry from The Hairy Bikers Meat Feasts book. I have not made a curry like this before but it was delicious. The lamb meatballs give the curry a really nice flavour and texture. 

Here is a photo of the final results…with me looking exactly like I had spent the afternoon in the kitchen.

  
A few days after the curry feast, I made another recipe from The Hairy Bikers Meat Feast cookbook. We were trying to think of a dinner that would be a good way to celebrate my grandma’s passing. We decided it had to be something with an Irish element and in the end went for a Guinness and steak pie. I have never made a meat pie before on my own, or at least not quite like this so I was excited for the challenge. 

I slow cooked the beef in the stout along with mushrooms, carrots and onions. I added herbs and seasoning also. The pie filling then spent the afternoon slowly cooking away. When it came to the pastry, I made it from scratch, which was a bit more difficult than anticipated. In the end though I managed to line, fill and top two quite presentable pies. One went in the oven and one in the freezer. Here is the pie ready to be eaten.

  
Lastly, I took on another challenge this weekend. John chooses our Saturday night feasts and he requested pizzas. He insisted that it was about time I added a pizza to my repetoire. We bought the best ingredients we could find for our pizza toppings, which in China is not always the easiest. After much looking we could not find anchovies, which was a shame but we settled on pesto and salami and ham and pineapple. 

I made the bases in the bread machine with yeast that seemed to have a life of its own. The dough had risen so much by the time it had finished that it overflowed the pan. I rolled it out and added the toppings. We had originally planned on thin crust pizzas  dough was so risen that they became deeper based pizzas. Once cooked they were actually pretty tasty, I surprised myself. Here they are… 

  

  
   

Stuffed tenderloin roast

While looking for something different for our roast dinner one Sunday,  I came across this recipe in the Hairy Bikers new Meat Feast cook book. I changed the stuffing slightly as we had a pack of sage and onion stuffing from England. 

To make the roast, I laid out the streaky bacon on a large sheet of cling film. I had to bash the pork tenderloins to flatten them out. I then laid them over the bacon on the cling film. The stuffing then lies over the pork.

Having never made something like this before, it took a bit of coordination to roll the bacon, pork and stuffing. I was quite proud of the final product.

The final wrapped pork.
  
It went in the oven after sitting in the fridge for a bit. It took an hour or so to roast and the final product is below. 

It was very delicious and I had a very happy husband. 

 

Bacon and Salmon

This post is not so much about food travels as bringing food from England to me. I make sausages quite easily here but we have missed bacon, proper English bacon. While I was home in the summer, I bought some bacon cure and have just tested it out.

It is quite easy to use. All you have to do is coat the bacon in the cure rub, wrap it tight in cling film and place in the fridge for approximately 5 days. After this I smoked the bacon to cook it. It was quite a success, the cure does not have the perfect flavour but it definitely worked.

While curing the bacon, I also bought some salmon to cure to make gravlax and with the intention of hot smoking one piece. I cure the salmon with lemon juice, sugar, salt and dill. The salmon needed to be wrapped tight and placed in the fridge with weights on top to help the brine do its job.

Once complete I sliced one piece and we ate it as gravlax and the other I hot smoked. I personally preferred the hot smoked salmon as the curing had given it a delicious flavour and I found the gravlax a little too salty.

I think I would try it again with a little more citrus and less salt and sugar. We are down to our last few slices of bacon so I would be interested in trying that again and seeing how the flavour could be improved.

Here are some photos of my attempts at curing and smoking.

Hot smoking the salmon in the wok
Hot smoking the salmon in the wok
Hot Smoked Salmon
Hot Smoked Salmon
The Finished Bacon and Gravlax
The Finished Bacon and Gravlax

Som Tam – Papaya Salad

It has been a while since I posted anything on here. Our summer was a bit crazy and although we ate some amazing food back in Britain, not much of it was that interesting or different. We seemed to eat more curries than we had days and we spent lots of time cooking and eating foods we missed from home.

This post thought is actually from our trip to Thailand back at Christmas this year. At the end of our honeymoon trip to Borneo, Malaysia and Thailand we spent a few days in Bangkok. I have a couple of absolute favourites when I am in Thailand. One of which is Som Tam or papaya salad (ส้มตำ). This salad is a street food favourite, with stalls on many street corners. They are easy to spot with the distinctive large wooden mortar.

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We visited a street restaurant we have eaten at previously and shared som tam, I also ordered noodle soup and John had a fried meat dish called Pad Kra Pow (minced meat fried with chilli and thai basil).

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I took this opportunity to watch the vendor making the som tam closely and I also took the following photos.

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When making som tam they add garlic, chilli, fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice to the mortar. Peanuts are also added at this point. They add a nice texture and flavour to the salad. All these ingredients are  crushed first using the pestle and then the fresh green papaya is added. The ingredients are all mixed together to ensure the papaya is covered in the sauce.

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The salad is usually served with sticky rice and grilled chicken. This used to be a staple dinner for me when I lived in Bangkok. It brings back great memories.

Stone Bowl Bibimbap

So my quest to make my Korean food more authentic continues with my purchase of traditional stone bowls for bibimbap. I originally wanted to buy these just as a present for my parents for when we travel home next week, but I had to get us two also. I have shared photos of our Korean food with my parents – BBQ, bibimbap, kimchi etc and they were interested to try it themselves. There are still only a few Korean restaurants in England so they want to have a go at cooking it themselves.

Anyway, I tried out the stone bowls last night. I heated them on the hob and added the rice. It sizzled away for a few minutes. I probably could have left them a bit longer but didn’t want to burn the rice the first time. I added all the vegetables and beef as normal and finally the gochujung sauce. 

I have to say the crunchy bits of rice from the bottom of the hot, sizzling bowl did add a great new texture to the dish. It was no more effort than normal so I think I would use the bowls again for bibimbap. And to be honest, I quite like he bit of theatre it adds!

Here are the photos: