Rebel Chicken Pie

Fill the pastry caseMonday's is always flamin' leftovers - what a pain!

This week I was going to do a topical post about pancakes stuffed with chicken and ham, coated with sauce and baked, but after reading about new government proposals to limit meat pies to having a top crust only, I felt I had to give the rebel in me free rein and make a double crust pie - young people nowadays have it too easy - you can be a rebel nowadays just by sniffing a pukka pie!

This chicken and mushroom pie uses shortcrust pastry:

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Savoury Biscuits

84 pence for a packet of water biscuits; they're having a laugh! I couldn't believe it when I looked in the supermarket - 84 pence! After all they're only flour, oil, salt and water!

Now, I've made water biscuits before and it's really too hard for me to roll them out thinly enough. Had I thought I could have made them and rolled them out using my pasta machine.

Anyway, here's my recipe for a basic biscuit for cheese, pâté, or any other of those little bits of food that posh people serve.


125gm Plain flour
25gm Olive, other oil, or butter
½tsp Baking powder
Pinch of salt
Water to mix


Mix the oil with the flour salt and baking powder, or if using butter, rub it in. Add water and mix to a stiff dough, then leave it to rest in a plastic bag on the work surface for 20 minutes or so. Roll out on a lightly floured surface as thinly as possible; you can incorporate any topping you like; black pepper, paprika, ground cumin, herbs, seeds etc whilst rolling the dough. Cut squares or circles out of it. Prick each one with a fork a couple of times, unless that is, you want them to puff up. Bake at 200°C for about 10 minutes.

Savoury Biscuits

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Broccoli - A Cuckoo in the Nest?

CauliflowerIt appears that a promotion by the UK cauliflower growers, to try and regain the third of their market that has been lost in the last decade, has ruffled the feathers of Italian 'broccoli' growers.

Now let's get something straight here - the bright green stuff from Italy, sold at a ridiculously high price for a few ounces, isn't broccoli. It's calabrese. When and where someone decided to change its name, who knows? My (conspiracy) theory is that is was to try and confuse people into believing that this boring non-entity of a vegetable is akin to its aristocratic relative, British grown sprouting broccoli, and by doing so, gain some form of kudos.

I hate to say it, but they seem to have succeeded. But why? Is it that the impostor doesn't come with the baggage of being part of that soggy mass of veg served by our grandparents, or because it needs hardly any preparation? Maybe it's because some pseudo scientific 'expert' decided that it's a super-food? Who knows? It makes you wonder whether if cauliflower was sold as a few pieces at a time, wrapped in cling film, and at double the price, its sales would be higher. Heaven forbid that the modern housewife has to cut the thing up!

Let's cast of the image that cauliflower can only be served plain or in a cheese sauce. Don't over-cook it, leave it al dente, and it's superb. Follow the Indian lead; they use it in a variety of dishes including pakoras, aloo gobi, or the indo-chinese gobi manchurian. You could of course follow the advice of Harry Phibbs in The Guardian instead:

Another awfully modern thing to do is not to cook the cauliflower at all but break it up into little flowers and offer them to your guests alongside dips.

I love the fact that this is 'awfully modern'. I ate this at the Tewkesbury Hotel and Country Club in the late '70s, and have served it regularly ever since! I'll have to stop now; I wouldn't want anyone to think me 'awfully modern'!

It's British grown and available all year; let's restore the cauliflower to its rightful position, it deserves it.

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It could only be in England - part 2

You know you're in England when...

A worker from a security firm fits a tracking device to an offenders false leg - The Yorkshire Post.

What a plonker!

Pork Liver Pâté

Pork Liver Pate There's only so many faggots a man can take (I hope no-one in the US is reading this!). So what's different that you can do with the masses of pork liver from your half pig? Liver Pâté is the obvious one, but it's taken me ages to find a recipe that isn't just too... well just too 'livery'.

This recipe, a slight amendment of the one from 'Charcuterie' by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn, is the best so far. The one I formulated myself was too strong in the liver department, and bitter. In my notes I wrote, "add breadcrumbs/rusk, add milk product", that's exactly what this recipe does. Some parts of the method are my additions.

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It could only be in England!

You know you're in England when...

A 59 year old man using a walking frame is refused service when trying to buy cigarettes in TESCO, because he has no proof of age! - The Daily Mail.

People are that lazy that John West are introducing a tin of tuna that doesn't need draining - The Telegraph.

A pub turns away two marines on leave from Afghanistan, as their only proof of age is their military ID cards that they've used successfully all over the rest of the world. - The Daily Express.

Where foreign meat can be labelled British, and it's legal! - The Telegraph.


Where it takes celebrity endorsement to get people to buy British Pork from British producers - The Telegraph.

Makes you proud, doesn't it?

Hot Dog Sausages - The recipe

Hot DogsWhen I wrote about my first attempt to make hot dog sausages I posted the link to the original recipe that I adapted. It's by Big Guy at the forum. I've just realised that some of the ingredients he mentions aren't available in the UK. Here's my anglicised version.

See also my Hot Dog Tutorial

This recipe has cure #1 in it, a chemical that needs treating with great respect, the recipe may seem to have unnecessarily accurate measurements, the reason for this is that it allows me to maintain a consistency between 'batches', also because of the conversion from spoon & cup measurements, and in the case of cure #1 it is necessary to ensure a safe product. Digital scales to weigh to a tenth (or even a hundredth) of a gram are usually available for a tenner or so on ebay.


1000gm Fatty Pork (Pork belly's good)
1000gm Beef
72gm Milk Powder
210gm Iced Water
2.5gm Garlic Powder
5gm Onion Powder
11gm Supaphos (optional)
19.8gm Salt
5.7gm White pepper
5.7gm Smoked Paprika
1gm Mace
3.5gm Mustard powder
1.8gm Ground coriander
0.5gm Marjoram
4.4gm Cure #1

Supaphos is a phosphate cutter used to retain water in the sausage. It can be obtained from Personally, I choose not to use it.

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Butcher's Faggots

Traditional Butcher's FaggotsI've posted before about making faggots, but they were the type you buy in gravy from the shops. This recipe is for the more traditional faggot that you get from a good butcher's shop. I know most people reheat them and serve with gray; I like them sliced up in thick slices and fried.

The recipe is from one posted by 'Somerset Lad' on the River Cottage Forum, but is typical of this type. In the original the meat is cooked in liquid before being ground and mixed. This adaption by Debbie who posts on River Cottage and runs Hidden Valley Pigs, omits the pre-cooking stage.


2lb Pig's Fry - Lungs, Liver, Heart (I used just Liver and Heart)
1lb Fat Pork (belly's good)
8oz Fresh Breadcrumbs
1 desertsp each of Dried Sage and Parsley (I used fresh parsley)
Salt and Pepper (about 3 level tsp salt and 1¼ level tsp pepper)
Caul Fat if you can get it


Mince the meats then mix in the dry ingredients.
Leave to stand for about an hour - it will firm up.
Shape into the size faggots you want (about 9 is good), wet hands help to do this, put in a dish and fill it about a third of the way up the faggots with stock or water. Cook in a 190°C oven (170°C fan) for about 40 minutes. Cover with foil if the tops are getting too brown

If using caul, soak it in tepid water for about an hour, then wrap a piece around each faggot before cooking.

Faggots freeze well.

I altered the recipe slightly, increasing the fatty pork as, whilst I like faggots, I don't like them too 'livery'. I also increased the amounts to fit the weight of liver I had. Unfortunately, I made an error in calculating the breadcrumbs, so mine were a bit firmer than they probably should have been. For the next lot I will correct this and also add some onion - but all in all, and after a side-by-side comparison with a renowned local butcher's faggot, I was very pleased with them.

See below in the comments for my amended recipe

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