Saturday, 18 April 2009

Venison and wild duck sausage casserole

I totally eat venison all the time, you know...

There's a very good stall at Norwich market which provides a variety of sausages, and these caught my eye so I thought they'd be ideal for when my friend Alex came to visit. Braising them in red wine makes them very tender and the flavour of the bacon-infused gravy is great!

  • 8 venison and wild duck sausages (or just venison ones if you prefer)
  • A couple of handfuls of mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Generous handful of thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Half a bottle of red wine
  • About 800ml chicken stock
  • 6 streaky bacon rashers
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mustard mash, to serve


  1. Heat the olive oil in a casserole. Brown the sausages (in batches if necessary) for 10 minutes each, then remove them to a plate.
  2. Chop up the bacon and fry it in the pan for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, seasoning and shallots. Fry them gently until the shallots are transluscent, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan, bring it to the boil, put the sausages back in and simmer until the wine has reduced by two thirds.
  4. Pour the chicken stock in, add the mushrooms, bring it to the boil and simmer for another 20 minutes or so until the sausages are cooked through. Skim any scum off the surface with a spoon.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and serve with creamy mustard mash!

NOTE: very small amounts of juniper berries are supposed to go very nicely with venison, as is braised cabbage.

Mushroom and asparagus risotto

This just in - Tim made a vegetarian recipe! Hold the phone!

Vegetable risottos are among a few vegetable dishes that I think really work on their own rather than as a side to a main course of domesticated animal carcass. I chose asparagus because it's in season right now and mushrooms because they're awesome. This recipe will serve about 4 people.

  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 3 flat cap or porcini mushrooms
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 3 shallots
  • 300g arborio rice (or other risotto rice)
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
  • Leaves from a few thyme sprigs
  • Glass of dry white wine
  • About 600ml hot vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • A knob of butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil on a medium heat in a large saucepan.
  2. Finely chop the garlic and dice the shallots.
  3. Fry the garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds until it's fragrant, then add the butter. When the butter is foaming, add the shallots and gently fry them for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they're soft and transluscent.
  4. Add the wine to the pan, bring it to the boil and let it reduce for a few minutes, scraping the sediment off the bottom of the pan using your spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Add the rice to the pan and fry it for a couple of minutes, then add a little of the stock and seasoning.
  6. Chop up the parsley and add it to the risotto along with the thyme and a little more stock.
  7. Break the bottom of the asparagus stalks off so that you only have the green majority left (reserve the stalk ends for stocks and soups). Add a little stock and simmer.
  8. Slice the mushrooms and add them to the risotto along with a little stock. Basically, you want to keep adding the stock in small increments, letting the rice absorb it. The risotto is ready when the texture is creamy and the rice and vegetables are tender. Check the seasoning as you go along.

Welsh rarebit with cherry tomatoes

As a part Welshman, I often wonder what Wales' gifts to the world were, besides longbows and endless comedy revolving around fornication with sheep.

People who haven't had this often think of it as glorified cheese on toast. Well, it basically is, but still, it's a very nice spin on it that makes a good light lunch or snack. This recipe will serve about four people.

  • About 100g grated mature cheddar cheese (I guesstimated this so use your own judgement)
  • 2 tsps English mustard
  • 150ml milk
  • About 3 knobs of butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 4 slices of bread, preferably good, thick country stuff
  • 2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
  • Yolks from 2 eggs, beaten
  • A good handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat the grill at a medium-high temperature.
  2. Warm the milk up in the microwave.
  3. Heat the butter GENTLY in a frying pan (you don't want it to burn) and stir in the flour when it starts to bubble; this is what the French call a "roux" and it allows the flour to thicken the sauce without making it taste all pasty. After about 30 seconds, add the tomatoes to the pan and fry them for a couple of minutes, then add the egg and stir constantly.
  4. Add the milk in small increments, again stirring constantly. Add the Worcestershire Sauce and mustard while you're at it. Season it, stir in the cheese and let it get to a nice thick consistency.
  5. Toast the slices of bread on both sides until golden brown, then spoon a dollop of the cheese sauce onto each slice and put it back under the grill for a couple of minutes until the mixture is bubbling.

Some people like to put leeks in the rarebit, which would probably be nice but I didn't have any to hand at the time. If you do this, I would dice them or slice them quite finely and add them to the pan to soften for about 10 minutes before you add the flour. The leek is actually the national symbol of Wales; no wonder they got conquered.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Peanut butter cookies

You may be surprised to discover that porridge oats can be used for something other than filling cracks in walls!

I made these for my co-worker Fiona's birthday as I only know two cake recipes! This recipe will make about half the amount in the picture.

  • 100g muscovado sugar
  • 150g porridge oats
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 75g crunchy peanut butter
  • Milk to mix


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Cream together the peanut butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  3. Sieve in the flour and mix it in along with the porridge oats.
  4. Add a little milk a drop at a time and mix it all with your hands until you've formed a dough; make sure it isn't too sloppy or too dry.
  5. Line a baking tin with margarine/butter and kitchen foil. Form little squashed balls with the cookie mixture and put them in. Cook them in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until they're golden brown.

NOTE: chocolate chips go very nicely in this recipe; if you use them, you don't need quite so much sugar (75g will be fine). If you use normal butter instead of peanut butter then you can try other flavours too e.g. vanilla or ginger.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Chocolate/orange cake

Do you remember all those times in your life when you thought "orange or chocolate? Damn it, I just can't decide!"? Well, there's now no need to choose - you can combine both of them in a cake!

I made this cake for my friend Aimee's birthday today and it seemed to go down well with everyone at work!

  • 100g bar of Green and Black's "Maya Gold" orange chocolate
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 an orange
  • 225g butter or margarine
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 50g Green and Black's hot chocolate (no, I don't work for the company)
  • 4 tbsps good quality orange marmalade (preferably with peel)


  • Cream together the butter/margarine and sugar in a big mixing bowl. Squeeze the juice out of the orange into the bowl, making sure you don't drop pips into the mixture.
  • Break the eggs into a bowl and beat them thoroughly, then stir them into the mixture.
  • Sieve the flour into the bowl, add the hot chocolate powder and fold it all in.
  • Pour the mixture into two sandwich tins in roughly equal quantities. TIP: I actually find it easier NOT to line the cake tins as this makes the cake cook on all sides.
  • When the cakes are done, turn one of them upside down and spread the marmalade onto the flat surface. Place the other one on top and peel a liberal amount of the chocolate bar over the top of the cake; it should melt and form a nice layer of chocolate.
  • Leave in the fridge to cool overnight.