Type 301 - F. A. Porsche P 04 14cm Chef’s Knife

Well! You could have knocked me down with a feather! Last Friday teatime; there I am minding my own business when there's a knock at the door. Pauline answered and reappeared with a white plastic postal packet and that 'what have you bought now' look on her face. In fact, she said, "What have you bought now?" (She's very predictable!). So, I look all guilty - like you do - then my little brain clicks in and I think to myself, "Hang on a minute, I've not bought anything", so with true originality and wit I say, "Hang on a minute, I've not bought anything". Yes, we're frightfully boring in this house, but I find that being clever with Pauline is generally painful!

We opened the packet and I could hardly believe it, it contained two Chroma knives. One, a Type 301 designed by F. A. Porsche and the other, a Japanese knife by Haiku, sent for my review by Franco who owns www.sausagemaking.org and is the new UK importer of Chroma knives. I'll talk about the Haiku another time, but firstly, the Porsche. I could have been disappointed when I slid the cardboard sleeve off the neat wooden box inside it, only to find that it didn't contain the keys to a 911 GT2 RS. But, with a bit of thought, I realised that it would have been heck of a job to fit my wheelchair into the boot - hence it was great that instead it contained a Chroma, designed by F. A. Porsche, P 04 14cm Chef's knife. So if you know any 14cm chefs...

Joking aside, what a knife! It's completely different to the type I normally use, and I have to admit that it's clever to take an everyday object like a knife and make it look different; but is it a case of performance sacrificed for design?

Why so negative? Well I'll explain - I've always thought that when you see a fancy set of knives in a posh kitchen it generally indicates a lack of cooking going on! You see, most serious or professional cooks will have an eclectic mix of makes of knives that they have accumulated over the years. When they acquire more expensive knives they don't abandon those old favourites. Even in my own case - and I'm no chef, but I have Sabatier's that were bought as presents by elderly relatives when I first started cooking, 6 or 7 Henckel's 4 star knives, the odd Henckel's 5 star, and a token Global knife. Now that I can afford more expensive knives, I actually tend to buy the cheap but good knives from Victorinox, mainly because nowadays I generally only need specialist knives that will receive little use: Ham or salmon slicers, filleting knives, butcher's steak knives etc. So Franco's took a major risk sending this to me for review: he must think highly of them to risk it.

Well, It certainly looks the part:

Type 301 - F.A. Porshe Chef's Knife

It's heavy with a very wide end to the handle compared to a normal knife. My initial reaction was that it would be cumbersome to use, but they have not just come up with a 'trendy' design, they've obviously put a lot of thought and research into it. It slots so nicely into the palm of your hand; it's one of the most comfortable knives I've ever used: you feel as if you could use it all day without tiring. The blade is also deep for its length, which means that you have no fear of catching your fingers when slicing and chopping. I'd happily use this knife for jobs that I would usually choose an 8 inch (20cm) or 10 inch (25cm) blade for.

So is the blade any good? ...Is it good? ...Is it good? ...It's more than good, it's fantastic! Now, I know that even the cheapest knife will be sharp when it's new: this knife, however, is in a class of it's own. It cut through carrots, sped through spinach, zipped through zucchini, obliterated onions, sliced through salami - and p... through parsley! Seriously, it passed the squishy tomato test with flying colours: the sign of a good knife in my book.

So how do you show that it's a cut above the rest? I know. The scoring pork rind test! Even my butcher uses a craft knife for this as he says it blunts his normal knives. The Porsche knife just sliced through the rind on our Sunday Pork Loin roast like butter.

In all honesty this knife should be good; it's not cheap. But, do yourself a favour, if you're in the market for additional knife for a specific purpose, or a whole set for your new designer kitchen, bite the bullet, ignore the pain in your wallet and buy a set of these Chroma F.A Porsche 301 knives: you'll won't regret it.

Flamin' Wonderful

Ain't it bloomin' wonderful? No money to pay for the NHS or emergency services in this country, but plenty to go starting yet another war.

Lentils and spinach

It could be said that I lack a love of lentils. I guess, like most things, it's what you're brought up with that decides our preferences in later life. Now, don't get me wrong, I've cooked with lentils before, mainly in Indian recipes or added to soups and stews, and I do remember using Puy lentils for something or other but for the life of me can't remember what. However, I can't recall actually using them as the main dish of a meal before.

I decided that there must be more to them than meets the eye so thought that I'd better have a go. The sausage in the picture is really a glorified garnish and can be replaced or omitted completely for a Vegetarian, nay Vegan, meal.

I'll get the photo over and done with now; it's not very good; I think that my camera's on the blink. I've had to 'Photoshop' the image to within an inch of its life!

Lentils with sausage

200g Green lentils
1 Large carrot - diced
1 Onion - chopped
1 Stick of celery - diced
2 Cloves of garlic - chopped
Olive oil
1 Bay leaf
1 Litre water or vegetable stock
100 - 150gm spinach - washed
Chopped herbs - I used Parsley and a little thyme
Salt and black pepper
For non-vegetarians
100gms Smoked bacon or ham - in small pieces
The water/vegetable stock can be replaced with chicken stock

In a large pan fry the onion, garlic, celery carrot and bacon (if using) in a little olive oil until the onion is transparent but not browned. Add the lentils and liquid of choice along with the bay leaf and bring to the boil. Boil rapidly for about 5 minutes and then simmer it, with the lid off the pan, for a further 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Check occasionally and add more liquid if they look like drying out. By the time they are cooked there should be just a small amount of liquid left. If there's a lot, drain some off. With the back of a spoon mash a small quantity of the lentils into the liquid that's left in the pan to make a creamy sauce. Then add the spinach and herbs and mix. Cook for a further couple of minutes, season, then serve.

This would be nice as part of a vegetarian meal, served with flat-breads, or would go particularly well with Smoked Sausage.

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Chicken Galantine

The main oven on our cooker's decided to go on strike, leaving only the small top oven for cooking today's chicken. To give more room muggins here decided to bone and stuff the chicken to make life easier. Now I've boned chickens and turkeys before for buffets, it's a great way of feeding a lot of people from a small amount of meat. It's amazing how many more slices you get when there's no bones in the way. If I'm totally honest I've always found it a bit of a kerfuffle! However, while browsing on You Tube I came across this video by the great Jacques Pepin: it's a veritable master-class in the art of boning chicken - he makes it look so easy, and relatively speaking, it is. That is, if your hands work better than mine; I really don't have the strength in my left hand for this type of job anymore. If I can do it, anyone can.

Mine's nowhere near as neat as Jacque's and I'm nowhere near as tidy a worker:

The Boned Chicken

Following on from Jacque's stuffing of spinach and mushroom I'd already made a duxelle of mushrooms with spinach; that's finely chopped mushrooms, onions, garlic and shredded spinach, seasoned and fried in a little oil until all the liquid has cooked away, then left to cool. I started my stuffing with a layer of sausage-meat then slices of ham, followed by the mushroom and spinach and finally another layer of sausage-meat. Regrettably, I was so carried away I forgot to take a picture of it before I put it back together. In view of the amount of stuffing, I thought it best to sew it together rather than rely on just stringing it - so big needle and string in hand I set to! By the look of it I'm a better seamstress than cook!

Boned, sewed and tied stuffed chicken galantine

I popped it into a pre-heated 180°C oven and it's taken about an hour and twenty minutes to reach an internal temperature of 75°C.

Boned, sewed and tied stuffed chicken galantine

It's not the neatest job in the world - next time I'll form the stuffing separately and then wrap the chicken around it rather than spreading the stuffing on the chicken, This should give a neater cross section when cut. But, all-in-all I'm very pleased with it.

Boned, sewed and tied stuffed chicken galantine

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Beef Casserole

The weather seems to have turned cold again so there's nothing better than a good old beef casserole to 'warm the cockles of your heart'.

Beef Casserole

Here's one that Pauline made earlier!

Whether you add red wine etc and call it beef bourguignon, add paprika and call it goulash, use lamb and call it navarin or cook it on top of the stove and call it stew: the principles are the same and St Delia's got all the angles covered.

In which case, I'll shut up about it and do something useful instead.

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Mmm... Ham

Black ham

I just thought I'd post this picture of meat off a small piece of black ham cured using the recipe I devised last November, just to prove that the meat's not black!

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