Uncle Kev’s sausage rolls

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Go to the recipe for sausage rolls

This is my Uncle Kev’s sausage roll recipe, and it’s fantastic for parties. Or you can even make a double or triple batch before Christmas, Thanksgiving or local festive holiday and freeze them, then heat them up in the oven for a really quick finger-food for a big group of people. Continue reading ‘Uncle Kev’s sausage rolls’

Our roast chicken recipe: hot and fast

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Go to the recipe for hot and fast roast chicken

People do fuss over a roast chicken, don’t they? Doing all sorts of things like draping bacon over the fleshiest bits to keep them moist, mucking around poking seasonings under the skin, stuffing all sorts of things inside them to add flavour, even insisting that you have to roast a chicken breast-down in the pan and then flip it over part way through cooking.

In our opinion, if you keep the cooking simple, getting a good result can be reduced to one decision: buying a decent chicken in the first place. There’s been a lot of publicity about chicken welfare lately, with the focus being on battery laying hens and intensively reared, fast-growing meat birds that can hardly stand up by themselves.

In our house we haven’t gone down the full free-range route, but have settled on buying slow-growing birds that are fed better food in more spacious barns endorsed by animal welfare authorities. In the UK the scheme is called RSPCA Freedom Foods and no doubt there are equivalents elsewhere in the world. Continue reading ‘Our roast chicken recipe: hot and fast’

Crème caramel: from one flan to another

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If you want a dessert that combines simplicity and wow factor, this has got to be it – crème caramel or flan, either vanilla or au café (the latter, “with coffee”, tends to be preferred in France).

Sure you’ve got to make caramel and custard. But neither could be easier. While a careful eye is needed to get the caramel just right, if you cut and run a bit early it will probably just mean that it’s a lighter colour.

And the custard is not your fraught stove-hovering kind, where you’ve got to heat and whisk over the burner for ages while engaging in some minor bacteriological warfare until the consistency and temperature hit their alchemy point. Nope, as far as custard goes this is really a straightforward heat-and-mix job. Continue reading ‘Crème caramel: from one flan to another’

Duck a l’orange

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Go to the recipe (duck breasts)
Go to the recipe (whole duck)

When I found whole duck on sale at our local supermarket, I got very excited. And I remembered that we had an episode up our sleeve not yet launched on the wider Crash Test Kitchen viewing public.

Friends and family were coming over for dinner this week and I had planned to do a simple roast chicken – but I had never cooked a whole duck before, and I want to have one next Christmas. So this would be the trial run.

It might be a tad retro, but duck a l’orange remains synonymous with birds that swim. A while back we did a show for the Word of Mouth blog that involved duck breasts and a recipe by Stefan Reynaud. Recipe-wise, what I’ll detail here is how we did the breasts-only version shown in the video, and how I handled the whole bird – a Gressingham duck in our case. Continue reading ‘Duck a l’orange’

Braised pork belly like Mao used to make

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Pork belly – it’s the cut of the moment, isn’t it? On the menu everywhere. Very now. And very cheap, if you buy it in the right places (look beyond the supermarkets, which have copped on to its foodie appeal and adjusted the price accordingly).

This is a recipe that we don’t do often enough. And it’s attributed to Chairman Mao himself, who always made sure he was eating well while starving the rest of the nation. Being left to starve and told to survive on revolutionary zeal alone was good enough for the masses, but let’s face it, you couldn’t lead them through the Great Leap Forward on an empty stomach! Continue reading ‘Braised pork belly like Mao used to make’

No-fuss fish pie

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While it’s nice to experiment in the kitchen and try exciting and slightly scary things like soufflé and partridge, it’s equally nice to build up a stock of really easy, favourite recipes that you can cook any day of the week. You know, the kind of recipes you don’t even a shopping list for, because the list of ingredients is in your head.

This fish pie recipe is like that for me. It’s fairly quick, easy, tasty and you can substitute different kinds of seafood or vegetables, depending on what you’ve got in the fridge or what’s available at the fishmonger (or, let’s face it, the supermarket). Continue reading ‘No-fuss fish pie’

Pad thai with two tries

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We reckon you can’t love Thai food without loving pad thai – the country’s national dish. Your average Thai cook can probably whip this up with a few swishes of the wok and flips of the, umm, wok flipper. But for us at home there are two pitfalls that are easy to, errm, fall into. As you’ll find out in this episode.

First thing is those rice noodles (and don’t ever get taken for a ride in a restaurant – unless these particular noodles are under your nose, you’re not eating pad thai). You usually buy the dried variety in a packet. They need to be soaked in warm water before going into the wok. But soaked for how long? You’ve just come to a trap for young players. Continue reading ‘Pad thai with two tries’

Partridges with bread sauce


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Autumn is game season, and in years past I’ve indulged in wild meaty delights such as pheasant and woodcock (I think it was). I’ve fantasised about getting out in the woods with my wellies and peacoat, dogs yapping along the muddy tracks while I take a few shots at the woodland foul as the beaters scare them out of the brush. But I never really thought it would happen.

And it didn’t, exactly. But this did: our friend Richard was lucky enough to be taken on a game shoot recently and, lucky for us, his kitchen was being refurbished at the time, so we ended up with two lovely, bright-eyed fresh partridges trussed up in a plastic bag to do with what we would.

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Blackberry crumble with short ramble


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Although we haven’t had a brilliant summer here in the UK, and it looks like what we did have is pretty much over for the year, we did manage to bid a sad farewell to the summer by taking a lovely walk in the Kent countryside.

I love the public footpaths here in the UK: there is a network crossing public and private property that anyone can walk along and enjoy what the countryside has to offer. We often take a day-trip down to Kent to wander across the rolling green dales, through the fields, woodlands and orchards, taking in the fresh air.

On this particular sunny Saturday our route took us through numerous apple orchards where crisp, pink apples shone on the trees and the hedges were thick with fat, juicy blackberries.

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Classic bolognese


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Spaghetti bolognese – it’s an old standby, and as such has become one of the most used and abused recipes under creation. Outside of its hometown of Bologna in Italy, bolognese has become a catch-all name for any meat-and-tomato sauce quickly slapped together and served over pasta, which is almost invariably spaghetti.

But start investigating bolognese and you’ll find out some interesting things. In traditional Bolognese cooking, ragu alla bolognese is rarely served with spaghetti (usually it goes with tagliatelle); it contains very little tomato (eschewing the pound can or two of tommies that many people dump into the saucepan); there are no herbs in it (so rack off home with your shaker of dried oregano); and one of the key ingredients is time (not the herb – the stuff in your wristwatch).

Most surprisingly of all – to me, at least – the key to a lovely rich bolognese is a goodly portion of milk.

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