The bresaola is dead; long live the pastrami.

We are sorry to announce that Mr Supermarket Bresaola passed away on Sunday, 26th July 2009.

He had been losing weight for quite a time, but was still extremely soft. On checking his medical records we found that whilst at his previous home, a large supermarket, he had been a user of a noxious substance known as added basting fat. This was not apparent as an outer coating on his body so the coroner has surmised that he was injecting the fat.

He was embalmed in a rub of black pepper and ground coriander seed for his journey to the after-life. As he wanted to be cremated we carried out his final wishes on Sunday 26th July at around 100°C for 3 hours with oak and beech smoke, and a couple of hours more without.

Late on Sunday evening a miracle happened in our small village; Mr Bresaola came back to life. To mark this momentous event he has decided to change his name to Mr Pastrami.

Mr Bresaola Pastrami

Good Neighbours

I'm lucky enough to live in a small village community where people are generous, whether it be with their time or goods.

I've mentioned people like and before, and in this last week alone Bob has brought me some beetroot (which he would take nothing for), and Maurice some Marsh Samphire from his visit to Norfolk. Dad brought some back a couple of weeks ago for for both Maurice and me; it's lovely and tender at this time of year and takes far less cooking than later in the season.

But the 'pièce de résistance' is this box of veg that brought last week. I'm surprised he's not been mentioned by me before as this isn't the first box of veg he's brought me. I owe him some bacon and other goodies 'big time'!

Colin's Veg

The girl's organised a barbecue as celebrated her birthday yesterday; she's XX (censored by Pauline) years old. I'd like to say that all the sausage and beefburgers were home-made, but the girls wanted the party to be a surprise, so nothing could be prepared in advance!

We managed to 'get rid' of Pauline for an hour and a half before people were due to arrive. During this time they set everything up, including two gazebos. Pretty good work.

My contribution was to make a tandoori marinade for the chicken, prepare and cook a potato salad with home-made mayo/yoghurt dressing...

Potato salad

..prepare some of Madhur Jaffrey's Sour Chickpeas...

Sour Chickpeas

... and make a Broad Bean and Pancetta Salad.

Broad Bean Salad

I have made the Chickpeas before so know they are popular, but was surprised how many people liked the broad bean salad. I was also surprised how many people commented favourably about the Cucumber Raita I had made as an after-thought; it was only peeled seeded cucumber lightly salted, in yoghurt with a pinch of sugar and a couple of pinches of powdered cumin - as Aleksandr says "Simples!"

...and blow me down, my next-door neighbour's just popped over with some surplus rhubarb.

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Busy Doing Nothing

"I'm busy doing nothing,
working the whole day through,
Trying to find lots of things not to do.
I'm busy going nowhere,
isn't it just a crime,
I'd like to be unhappy,
but I never do get the time."

So sang Bing Crosby in the film, "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". I know how he feels because although I'm up and about I've still got to "take things easy" - even though I'm raring to go!

So, just to have something to moan and go on about, here's a picture of the brisket of beef cooked on Saturday:

Brisket  of beef

She browned it in the frying pan in a little oil, then browned onion, carrot and celery in the same pan, adding water when browned. The meat was sat on top of the veg and liquid in a sealed casserole and cooked at 140°C for about 4 hours - superb.

Now to climb onto my soapbox. To all you people who are still buying your meat from the supermarket - we bought two pieces of brisket from Joseph Morris's weighing a total of 2.95kg, each piece being just over 3lb. The cost, £7.83; the same amount of brisket would have cost £14.75 at the supermarket where you pat your back pocket. At the same time I bought 4.67kg of Pork Loin costing £16.49 - £3.53 per kg. At ASDA this would have cost £34.93 - £7.48 per kg.

Joseph Morris £24.32: ASDA £49.68. It's what the kids call a 'no brainer'; meat at half the price that tastes twice as good.

On the subject of saving money, if you're planning a trip to a PYO farm, check the prices before you go. I rang around for my Dad and found that the prices of raspberries vary from £1.20 to £2.50 a pound between farms.

I won't embarrass anyone by naming names but if the customer picks the fruit and there's no dealer's or retail shop profit to add on, how come the berries are dearer than the ready picked ones in the shops?

OK, I'll give you a clue, if you want good cheap berries, start with the PYO farms at the North of my map. Oh, OK then, I rang all but Seldom Seen Farm - cheapest were Wymeswold Self Pick and Scaddows Farm, followed closely by Cattows Farm - the rest lagged sadly behind.

A map of PYO farms is here.

Other things that have 'caught my eye' over the last couple of weeks include:


Jackie Schneider in the Guardian making a very good case for the money currently being spent on 'food campaigns' being reassigned to provide free school meals for all children.

EU restrictions on wonky fruit and vegetables are being lifted. It's ludicrous that they will still remain for some produce - give the consumer the choice and chance to buy them. Talk about a nanny state!

The Telegraph has a five-minute video recipe of Xanthe Clay preparing Bruschetta of haricot beans, lemon and chilli. That's a five-minute video of someone making posh beans on toast ...and they actually pay her to do this?


'Matti' at Hedgerow products has been busy picking wild cherries - so look out for his cherry jelly.

Northfield Farm have added a new attraction - a farm walk - see all the animals and how a farm works.

...and finally, Mark at Rockingham Forest Cider has been cooking with chorizo, a new product from Ashley Herb Farm. At the moment they're only making fresh chorizo, but according to Mark, a cured version is also promised later in the year. I look forward to trying that.

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Preserves by Proxy

When you're operating from the bed, 'cos the doctor's told you that's where you've got to stay for the time being, it's difficult to write about what you've cooked; my kitchen's just too small to fit the bed in there!

That's when you invent a new cooking system: cooking by proxy, or in this case, preserving by proxy!

My only contribution to the two lots of preserves we made last Thursday was to cut the lemons and slice the rhubarb; the rest of the preparation and cooking was all Pauline's work. I guess it's just the same as Gordon Ramsay managing numerous restaurants around the world!

Preserved lemons and rhubarb chutney

The rhubarb chutney was made from this Rhubarb Chutney recipe., my adaption of this one from The Great British Kitchen website.

The preserved lemons are from Rick Stein's book "A taste of the sea".

The recipe

Boil 2 pints of water. Weigh 10 oz salt. Cut about 10 lemons (preferably unwaxed) into quarters length-ways leaving the lemon joined at the end (i.e. don't cut them right through). Sprinkle a pinch of salt into the cuts on the lemons and put into a jar. Dissolve the rest of the salt in the boiling water and allow to cool then cover the lemons with this brine. Leave for a month or so before using.

They're superb in this Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Basil recipe.

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Lonzino Drying

The Lonzino has been curing for 12 days. I've washed and dried it and put into a 90mm collagen casing. The casing was tied (badly!) and pricked to aid drying.

I'll leave it drying at 10 - 15°C in a humidity of 60 - 70% (ish) until it's lost about 40% of its weight.

The black wires in front of the Lonzino are from the humidity and temperature sensors in the fridge.

The Lonzino

Others posts about this Lonzino are:


Lonzino - Finished

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Bresaola - drying

Things are somewhat 'on hold' because I'm still languishing in the pit others call a bed. It's always this time of year when things go wrong; it's annoying as I should be out there searching for farm producers, reviewing and updating existing ones, and not least making jams and other things from the ingredients that this season supplies.

One thing I couldn't defer was the bresaola (bresaoli/bresaolas?) - they've been in the drying fridge for 4 days and 7 days respectively. They're coming along nicely; the only thing I would have like to have done is 'wash' them with some form of mould culture - either bought, or cultured from cheese mould (the outside of brie).

Bresaola drying

I've put one into a large casing and the other has been wrapped in stockinette; it'll be interesting to see the difference in the way they dry. Surprisingly, the one in the casing has lost weight more quickly so far: mind it's early days yet.

That's it for now - I'll update you on the Lonzino when I'm up next...

...time for bed said Zebedee!

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