Online Food Hygiene Certificate

Food Hygiene Certificate from The Virtual CollegeA couple of weeks ago I was offered the chance to study for an online food hygiene certicate by the Virtual College. Completion of the course and test qualifies for a level 2 (basic level) qualification and certificate.

I found the course content good, simple to understand, and to use. Whilst I already new most of the content from my past jobs and sausage making antics, it was good to sit down and draw all the loose threads together.

I have to say I was somewhat surprised by the qualifying test though; the questions had mainly common sense answers that you wouldn't need to do the course to get right. I expected far more technical questions about the different pathogens etc. I have since checked with my local Environmental Health Department, and this is common to all courses whether online or in a classroom setting, so cannot be classed as a fault.

All in all this seems like an excellent option for people who find it difficult to find time to be out of the workplace in the daytime - farmers with farm-shops, publicans etc - and it offers a low cost (it's only £25) solution to meeting the necessary legal requirements of running a food business.

...and about time too!

Smoked Roe

Finally the cod's roe has come out fine.

The roes were covered with plain salt for 8 hours, rinsed and left in the fridge overnight to dry.

They have been smoked for a total of 24 hours over 2 days with oak and a small amount of beech, resting in the fridge in-between. They have been in the fridge overnight for the smoke flavour to penetrate throughout.

I'm really pleased, not least because to buy this amount of smoked roe online would cost between £35 and a whopping £75!

...and the verdict? Well, all I can say is that thinks it that good, he says he's going to wear a top-hat when he eats it for breakfast!

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Rubbish Roe Revisited

Well it's been a funny few days. On Saturday I made the best beefburgers yet - the recipe's from a fellow member, Oddley.

I've always been a "don't use anything other than chuck steak, ground with salt and pepper" man, but he's converted me. The spices aren't discernable in the taste, but it wouldn't be as good without them.

Things were going so well, that is until the element went in the fan oven on Sunday. £50 later and it's up and running again.

However, things are looking up again. rang me yesterday lunch-time to say that the fishmonger had replaced the roe that wasn't very good, free of charge. So yesterday evening we dry salted them for 8 hours, and they're in the cold smoker as I speak.

They certainly look more promising than the last lot.

Oh, and yesterday I took an online Food Hygiene Course, but more of that later...

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Falafel and Pita Bread

I make no claims as to the authenticity of this recipe - 'cos I made it up! It's an amalgamation of a few I've seen online over the last year, or so.

300gm Dried chick peas
½ Large onion chopped
3 Cloves garlic chopped
Bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
½ tsp Chilli powder
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
½-1 teasp Bicarbonate of soda
2 teasp Ground cumin
2 teasp Ground coriander
1½ teasp Salt
Black pepper

Oil for frying

Cover the chickpeas with water - it wants to be at least a couple of inches above the level of the peas. Soak them for at least 12 hours, then drain.

Put them into a food processor and process until fine. Add the onion and garlic and process further. Add the remaining ingredients and process to mix.

Form into round ball shapes about the size of a golf-ball and put into the fridge to rest for about an hour.

Cook in deep fat at 180°C for 2 minutes until brown.

Falafel, pita bread and salsa

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Initially, I wasn't that pleased with these pretzels, thinking that the outside should be more crispy and the centre less dense, but then Hannah, my daughter who went to Berlin twice last year, told me that they are just like the ones she bought there. My judgement had been based on ignorance of what they should be like.

Next time though, I think I'll leave them to rise for a short time after shaping, before boiling them. I'll also omit the egg yolk glaze and try out different toppings: poppy seed, sesame, celery seeds etc.


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No need for any more detail or gory pictures; here's on of my latest posts over at the smoking section of the forum.

RIP Cod's Roe

It seems like the week for failures, following on from Big Dog's disaster, I've just binned 3kg of cod's roe.

No photo as after salting and smoking for over 24 hours, they looked just the same as when bought - so if you want to see what they looked like just google cod's roe!

I washed the roe's, which to be honest smelt a little like a tramp's underwear (is this normal?). They were dry salted for 6-7 hours, washed, dried overnight, and then cold smoked. After 12 hours of light smoke they looked just the same, so I upped the level of smoke (to the sort of level you'd get in a bradley) and continued. After another 12 hours or so I ran out of gas and the wretched things were still as soft and pale as when I started!

So RIP £15 of cod's roe, I'm off now to replace the tenners worth of Calor Gas I must have used.


Aw well, you can't win 'em all!

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Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Basil

In a scene reminiscent of Jesse in the Fast Show the food blogging community seems to be writing en masse about Abel and Cole's new line of free-range chickens.

It appears that we've all been 'chosen' to receive one for comment! So what's so good about it, that firstly it merits sending it out free of charge to so many people, and secondly, that they all chose to write glowing reports about it?

Well, one reason is because it's fed on an environmentally friendly soy free feed; another that it is a damn good chicken!

Environmentally friendly? Well yes, if you believe in 'the lesser of the evils' - you're saving the rain-forest - but the fact is that the chicken's still got to get from the farm in Devon to where you live!

Would I buy it? A resounding yes - that is if I couldn't get superb dry plucked free range chicken, with the tendons removed, from Mrs Tomlinson at Stoke Golding or another local supplier.

So what about the chicken? Well, I was going to do Poule au Pot, but that was too much like Jules's recipe, so I thought "a plain roast?", but Gluten Free Journey had already done that! So it's one of my old standbys - Lemon and Garlic Chicken, based on a recipe from Nigel Slater's book 'Toast'.

Chicken with Lemon and Garlic

Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, chuck it in a roasting tin with a head of garlic (crushed up a bit) and some onion segments. Squeeze over the juice from two lemons and chuck the lemons in, glug with olive oil and stuff in the oven at 180°C for ½ hour. Then chuck a glass or two of wine in along with a handful of basil leaves. Cook for 15 minutes more and serve...

...dip ya bread in!

This is even nicer done with preserved lemons. can't have wine, so I used chicken stock instead. She's going to have to go!

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