Thursday, 29 December 2011

Turkey, gammon and leek pie

There are few things more satisfying than a properly made pie, requiring the basic but core skills of meat cookery, pastry and sauce making to produce something homely yet impressive.

This is an great way to use up Christmas leftovers but is excellent any time of the year-just substitute chicken for the turkey meat. I usually remove the legs of the turkey and just roast the crown. I confit the legs in goose fat in a slow cooker and make stock from the remaining turkey carcass which comes in particularly handy for this recipe.

The mix of roast breast meat and rich confit leg works very well and the stock is perfect for the veloute sauce. If you're cooking a gammon especially for this recipe, you can use the cooking liquor to make the veloute instead, otherwise a stock cube will also do just fine.

(serves 4-6)

500g cooked turkey meat, diced
200g cooked gammon, diced

For the pastry
300g plain flour
150g butter, cut into small chunks
1 egg yolk
water to bind
pinch of salt

For the poached leek
1 large leek
25g butter
250ml turkey or chicken stock to cover
salt and pepper

For the tarragon veloute
50g butter
35g plain flour
500ml turkey or chicken stock or gammon poaching liquor
100ml cream
1 dssp chopped tarragon
salt and pepper

Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 tbsp milk whisked together

1. In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the egg yolk and enough water to bind into a dough. Work lightly with the dough but make sure its well combined, otherwise it will crumble when you try to roll it out. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for at least 30 minutes.
2. Trim the leek by cutting off the green leaves and removing the first layer of skin. Slice into 1cm rounds and soak in cold water for 20 minutes to remove any dirt.
3. Melt the butter in pan and add the drained leeks in one layer. Cover with stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover the leeks with a butter paper or cartouche and poach until tender. Drain, retaining the cooking liquid and set aside.
4. Make the veloute by melting the butter in a pan and stirring in the flour. Cook for a minute or two, stirring continuously. Add the stock a ladle at a time, stirring all the time. Bring to the boil , reduce the heat and add the cream. Simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes. Add the tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the turkey, gammon and leeks to the veloute and stir well to combine and set aside.
6. Butter a deep sided 22cm pie tin.
7. Remove the rested pastry from the fridge and set aside one third. Roll out the remaining two thirds on a well floured work surface to a 3mm thickness. Line the pie tin with the rolled pastry, trimming the edges with the back of a knife. Egg wash the lip of the pie base
8. Pour the filling into the pie and place a pie funnel in the centre. Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the pie. Using a fork, press the the two layers of pastry together, trimming the excess with the back of a knife.
9. Cut a small X in the centre of the top of the pie to allow the funnel to protrude and egg wash the top of the pie. Bake in the oven at 180ºC for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Serve with boiled new potatoes and green beans, both tossed in the reserved leek cooking liquor.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Rye and beer bread

I developed this recipe after interviewing butcher George McCartney about his hand made corned beef which was named Supreme Champion in this year's Guild of Fine Food Awards.

He was kind enough to ship me some over from his shop on the outskirts of Belfast, mentioning that his favourite way to eat the beef was with homemade rye bread. Its such a delicious, special and painstakingly made product that I thought the very least I could do to honour it would be to make some rye bread of my own to go with it.

Barry Hawthorne of the Isle of Skye Baking Co. had also be kind enough to send me off with a parting gift of some ales from the Isle of Skye Brewery when I visited him earlier this year and it seemed the ideal opportunity to put one bottle of it to good use. The results were spectacular even if I do say so myself. I hope when you try making this bread that you agree. Just make sure you’ve got some of that corned beef to enjoy with it (list of stockists here ).

Rye and beer bread
(Makes two loaves)


500ml Isle of Skye Brewery Hebridean Gold porridge oat and malt ale or beer of your choice
200ml water
20g fresh yeast/10g dried active yeast
500g rye flour
250g wholegrain seeded flour
250g strong white flour
20g lard
10g sea salt
10g smoked sea salt
10g caster sugar

1. Heat the ale and water in a microwave for 30 secs or until tepid. Alternatively heat gently in a pan.
2. Measure the remaining ingredients into the bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer. Afix the dough hook attachment and mix at the lowest setting to combine.
3. Slowly pour in the liquid and mix for 5 minutes on the lowest setting. Turn the machine off and scrape down the hook with a flexible spatula. Mix for a further 5 minutes or until the dough has come together and looks bouncy and alive.
4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently but firmly into a ball. Set aside in the cleaned bowl, covered, in warm draft-free place for an hour or until doubled in size.
5. Knock back the dough, divide into two and form into a loaf shape. Cover and allow to rise again for an hour or until nearly doubled in size.
6. Bake in a hot oven (about 200 to 220°C for a fan oven or 240°C for a normal oven) until nicely coloured. Cool fully on a rack before slicing and serving with McCartney’s of Moira’s corned beef.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The return of Clock DVA

This is primarily a food blog, but this post has nothing to do with food - we all need a break from our obsessions once in a while. The reason for this temporary detour is the return to performance and hopefully recording of Clock DVA. You can read more about them here and there's a recent interview with founder and former member of an early incarnation of The Human League Adi Newton here.

If you can find them, buy Thirst, Advantage and Buried Dreams - three of the greatest alternative/experimental records made by a British group in the last 30 years. Although the highly polished, melodic and slightly over produced Advantage flirted with the mainstream, they are a severely under-appreciated outfit. Clock DVA is rarely if ever heard on radio and I don't think they've ever been on TV in the UK, although Newton was interviewed for The Beat is the Law documentary about the Sheffield music scene. They are never going to be everyone's cup of tea, but they deserve to be better known.

Here's one of my all time favourite DVA tracks, Velvet Realm from Buried Dreams:

And here's the performance recently uploaded to youtube that features the first new DVA material for over 15 years, and it sounds cracking:

Monday, 15 August 2011

Recipe: crushed and roasted potatoes

I created this recipe by accident and as far as I know it's original. A few weeks ago, I overcooked the potatoes for the Sunday roast without realising it. I drained them and following the sainted Delia Smith method, shook the pan as I usually do in order to rough up the edges of the spuds which creates the lovely crispy finish that Delia's roasties are famous for.

When I took the lid off I realised my mistake; about half the potatoes were reduced to chunks too small to roast. Rather than waste them, I piled them into a poaching ring to create fat discs of potato and roasted them along with the surviving potatoes. The result was a revelation - they were beautifully crisp, better in fact than the traditional roasties and had a very pleasing texture, somewhere between a roast potato and a hash brown. I've since made them for the family instead of roast potatoes to great approval.

This simple recipe could be embellished with the addition of parsley, rosemary or thyme and garlic mixed into the potato before it's moulded, but I think it works fine as it is.

(serves 4)
800g main crop potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
800ml cold water
8g salt
50g lard or fat or oil of your choice

Pre-heat your oven to 180C. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Rinse well, then cover with the cold water and bring to the boil. Add the salt and simmer for 5-7 minutes until par-boiled. Meanwhile, heat the lard in a roasting tin in the oven.

Drain then crush the potatoes using the back of a spoon. You want a chunky mixture and not mash. Spoon the potato into a 9cm by 3cm poaching ring, pressing down gently to compoact the potato so that it holds its shape. Repeat three times so that you have four discs.

Place the discs in the roasting tin and baste with the hot oil. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway to ensure even cooking. Serve with roast meat and all the trimmings.

Vote for this recipe at

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Rojano's in the Square

On the square with chef Paul Ainsworth

Paul Ainsworth is probably best known for his wildly over the top 'Trip to the Fairground' dessert he created for the BBC's Great British menu series this year. You can try it for your self at Ainsworth's smart No 6 restaurant in Padstow if you've got the odd £21 burning a hole in your pocket. As that feeds two, and the prices on the rest of the menu are hardly greedy, you can't begrudge the chef cashing in just a little bit on his telly fame.

However, if you're after a more relaxed, affordable and family friendly experience, then his new venture, Rojano's on the Square just around the corner from No 6 might better fit the bill. Ainsworth has taken over a Padstow institution that's been around for three decades and bought it bang up to date. The smart, modern interior is decked out with black and white Rome-themed photos and Warhol-style screen prints of Lambrettas.

The menu is somewhat in the tradition of Jamie's Italian-olives are 'the best', tomato bread is 'really garlicky' and fries with garlic and parsley are 'funky'- but Ainsworth beats Oliver at his own game. Presentation, quality of ingredients and portion size are all a notch above the famous high street chain. But that's as it should be - this is a one off after all, although the price point is very close. Service is utterly charming and attentive.

Nearly everything delights, with only some lower quality pitted black olives on a 'rustico sottile' ultra thin pizza and an overly-large and less than thrilling accompaniment of peppers, chorizo and potato with some beautifully cooked fillets of lemon sole falling short of the mark.

An antipasto of parma ham, salami milano, spianata calabrese, bresáola, salami napoli, baked cheese, porcini relish, pickles, olives and rosemary toasts sounds expensive at £20 but would easily satisfy four as a starter or two as a light lunch.

Ainsworth has filled a gap in the Padstow market for high quality, casual Italian dining with the sort of easy style that could happily translate to the high steet; the first floor 'grazing bar' is a nice on-trend metropolitan touch. Watch out Jamie?

Calamari, garlic mayo (in the bucket) sweet chilli tomato salad

Mozzarella arancini with Arrabiata sauce


Capricossa pizza - ultra thin crispy base but what's with the cheap pitted olives?

Linguini al gamberi e rucola

Burger Italiano

Rock fries with truffle and parmesan

Fish of the day - lemon sole with potatoes, chorizo and peppers

Gelatio mostro

White chocolate pannacotta, berry compote and honeycomb

Rojano's in the Square
9 Mill Square
01841 532 796;

Monday, 25 July 2011

Food Writing Workshop with Andy Lynes at the Brighton and Hove Food and Wine Festival 10 September 2011

So You Want To Be A Food Writer?

Interest in food has never been higher and the opportunities to write about food in print or on the net have never been greater. Professional food, drink and travel journalist and veteran food blogger Andy Lynes shares his insider knowledge in a three hour interactive workshop that covers the practicalities of how to break into the field and get commissions as well as how to develop ideas and research, structure and write food and drink features, news and reviews.

The workshop will also look at recipe writing, food related travel writing, restaurant reviewing, food blogging, how to get a book deal and food and drink copywriting opportunities. There'll be an interactive task or two and a Q&A session – in fact all the tools and information you need to try your hand at the business.

Two sessions on Saturday 10 September 2011:
either 10.00am-1.00pm or 2.00pm-5.00pm
The Learning Centre
Jubilee Library
Jubilee Street

To book email or call 07838 299589. £50 per person, including handouts and light refreshments.

About Andy Lynes
Andy Lynes is a Glenfiddich Award nominated freelance writer specialising in food, drink and travel. He developed and taught the Food Media and Creative writing module of Brighton University's MA in Culinary Arts and has appeared as a guest speaker on both the Leith's School of Food and Wine and London City University’s Food Writing courses. He is the former editor the Metro newspaper's Good Taste food and drink pages (published every Tuesday) and the paper's regular guest restaurant reviewer.

He contributes the Food Miles column, food and drink themed travel features and hotel reviews to the Independent on Sunday and for three years wrote the paper's Food of the Week column. He is a regular contributor to Food Arts magazine in America and his work has appeared in Jamie magazine, olive magazine, The Times, Sainsbury's magazine, Waitrose Food Illustrated, Restaurant magazine and Caterer and Hotelkeeper. He is the author and editor of Britain's Finest Restaurants (

Andy appeared as a judge on five episodes of the Channel 4 series Iron Chef UK ( and has appeared as a food pundit on the BBC's Breakfast news programme and UK Food TV. He is a former committee member of the Guild of Food Writers and edited the Guild’s magazine Savour.

He was a founding affiliate of The eGullet Society for the Culinary Arts and Letters ( where his many managerial duties included Dean of The eGullet Culinary Institute, contributing editor of The Daily Gullet and host of the UK forums. In the late 90's, he launched, one of the first food blogs in the UK. In 1997, Andy reached the semi-finals of BBC TV’s Masterchef competition and in 2000, was the only British competitor ever to participate in the prestigious Trophee des amateurs gourmands held in Lyon.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Recipe: roast Mediterranean courgette and pepper stew

This is basically ratatouille without the aubergine, and there's no aubergine because there wasn't any in the fridge when I was decideding what to cook on Saturday night. So this is a true store cupboard/leftovers recipe. I served it with plain roast leg of lamb and some boiled new potatoes dresed with a little extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, but it would work with just about any roast meat or fish. You could try reheating it gently in the oven with an egg or two cracked in the middle for lunch too.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 courgettes, roughly diced
1 medium Spanish onion, roughly diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 red peppers, diced
1 tbsp tomato purée
20 cherry tomatoes, quartered
50ml reduced chicken stock or stock cube
salt and pepper
20 basil leaves, torn

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the courgettes until they take on some colour. Set aside. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and sweat the onion until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the chilli and peppers and cook until softened. Add the tomato purée and cook over a medium high heat for a minute or two until the colour deepens. Add the cherry tomatoes and chicken stock (if you are using a stock cube, add 50ml of water at this point) and stir well. Add the reserved courgettes, season with salt and pepper and cook gently for 30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in the basil leaves at the last minute.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Recipe: carrots slow poached in cider and rapeseed oil

This recipe was inspired by chef Charlie Lakin of The Marquis in Kent, who told me that he always throws in some whole carrots to a braise and serves them as hot pot carrots on his menu. He also adds a fat such as beef dripping to his braising liquids so that the meat is almost confited. I've taken both ideas and applied the spirit of them to this side dish with delicious results. If you don't have a slow cooker then just cook the carrots over a very low heat on the hob or even in your oven, but check for doneness after an hour or so.

500g Chantenay carrots, trimmed and peeled
500ml Healey's Classic Oak Matured Cyder or other cider of your choice
150ml Rapeseed oil or olive oil
50ml reduced chicken stock (or use good quality stock cube)
1 bay leaf
5 peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, left whole but crushed
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 tsp chopped flat leaf parsley

Place all the ingredients apart from the parsley in a slow cooker and cook for about 8 hours or overnight. Remove the carrots from the cooking liquor. Strain the liquor into a pan and reduce by half to two thirds. Add the reserved carrots to the pan and gently reheat in the sauce. Serve, sprinkled with chopped parsley with any roast meat.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Eight hundred words: writing for the Metro

Between March 2010 and February 2011, I was the acting editor of the Metro newspaper's weekly Good Taste food and drink pages. The paper has a national circulation of over a million copies and a claimed daily readership of 3.5million. I was given complete freedom over what I chose to wriote about with no editorial interference whatsoever, and a budget to commission writers when I saw fit. In short, it was the dream job for a UK food writer.

During my stint, I produced over 50 double page spreads - at one point writing three in a week - and commissioned half a dozen more, all while scheduling, commissioning and editing the paper's daily 60 Second interview slot. After six years freelancing with variable success, it was an incredible luxury to have both a regular outlet for my work and a reliable, steady income.

The Good Taste word count is around 1500, split between two to three box outs, a one-liner 'top fact' above the headline and 800 words for the main feature. While at times I found that to be a frustratingly small number, the discipline of hitting the target week after week proved hugely beneficial to my writing and hopefully to the readers too.

I realised that in order to say what I wanted in the space available I had to make every word count, although I admit that I may well not have achieved that ambition a hundred per cent of the time. My aim was to produce entertaining, informative but above all useful articles. At the back of my mind was the question 'once someone has finished reading this, what can they do with the information?'. The academic, arcane and 'interesting' fell naturally by the wayside in favour of ingredient, technique or issue led pieces with a topical or seasonal hook, with the odd celeb or personality-led feature thrown in for good measure.

If I interviewed a chef (and I often did), it mostly wasn't because I wanted to know about them or their restaurants, I wanted their expertise on a particular area of cookery, be that vegetables or shellfish or specific seasonal ingredients. So a reader didn't just learn that there are many more varieties of tomato than they were previously aware of, but also what their characteristics were and how best to prepare them. Although that inevitably meant highlighting some artisan producers and often focusing on regional and seasonal food, that was not the central concern. The goal was to help the reader find new or improved flavours to enjoy.

Apart from a few exceptions such as a Christmas/New Year feature on trends in Champagne production and consumption, the articles often centred around one interviewee. The relatively short length of the pieces seemed to suit a single voice rather than a multitude which could seem cacophonous in such a tight space, and I was able to get into what I felt was a sufficient depth of detail for the given subject rather than have lots of passing comments.

It made sense on a practical level too. With the 60 Seconds daily deadline and scheduling taking up a surprising amount of time, I needed to use my time as efficiently as possible in order to meet the Good Taste deadline, write the additional material for the page and be planning and arranging future pages. I favoured face to face interviews as they allowed me to observe dishes being prepared and really get into the fine detail of the subject. I'd often spend a whole morning or afternoon with a chef gathering information. But the idea was not to overload the page with too much information; taking the time to see and talk through a process end to end enabled me to uncover the most pertinent and useful facts that otherwise may have got glossed over in a shorter phone interview.

I did allow myself indulgences however. I couldn't resist the opportunity to interview long time hero Marco Pierre White, even if it did mean playing phone tag with him and allowing him a shameless plug for the portable BBQ he'd put his name to. I did manage to prise a few cooking tips out of him though. I also jumped at the chance to meet Alain Ducasse even though the fact that he was launching a new book only emerged once I was actually in Paris. The interview was justified by a topical hook after all, but more by luck than design. My interview with Heston Blumenthal was another one that had no real practical value beyond informing readers about the most high profile UK restaurant opening since Ramsay opened up shop in Royal Hospital Road a decade earlier.

Despite the paper's broad readership, I aimed the pages squarely at food lovers. While I was careful to make everything crystal clear to the general reader, I chose subjects that interested me and that I knew would attract those similarly obsessed with food and drink. For the most part I avoided trends – I'm proud to say that I never wrote a word about whoopie pies for example but did cover the Sustainable Restaurant Association which I felt had a little more substance– concentrating on things that I felt would really improve readers gastronomic lives in the long term rather than short lived foodie fads. Yes, there was a touch of 'molecular mixology' but with a focus on flavour combinations and ideas for ingredients for making cocktails at home rather than just adding to the hype.

Having the job for a year allowed me to see through all four seasons, write my asparagus and oyster articles, my Fathers Day and festive features with the advantage of not having to figure out how I'd avoid repeating myself the next time around. But that would be a very small price and I'd be more than willing to pay it to say once again that I had Good Taste.