Recipes: An antidote to winter and an early Christmas present

Garway Hill
Hello again to followers of this blog, and welcome to any new visitors. A couple of useful recipes for the current weather and the coming festive season…

First off, here’s a fantastic and relatively cheap winter soup that takes a somewhat dull and bland vegetable and makes it anything but. Incidentally, any overseas readers may know swede as rutabaga. Have it with thick toast or warm fresh crusty bread. Let me know what you think if you made it!

ROASTED SWEDE AND HONEY SOUP

SERVES APPROX 4

INGREDIENTS

1 swede, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 litre stock (cubes/powder are fine)
4 sprigs thyme
125ml double cream
2 tsp fresh rosemary needles, chopped

1.Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Place the swede on a roasting tin and drizzle over half the oil and the honey. Place in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Blitz in the food processor and set to one side.
2.Heat the remaining oil in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until translucent but not coloured. Add the stock and thyme, bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
3.Liquidise and pass through a sieve, add to the swede, then add the cream, check the seasoning and serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of rosemary.

And secondly, a recipe I’ve been asked for more than once. We use this lovely homemade relish on our cheeseboards in the restaurant, but it’s great with all sorts of things – if you find your own killer combination, please let us know on here! Anyway, this is where the early Christmas present bit comes in. Pretty little jars of this make a great DIY Christmas gift along with some fine cheeses from your local cheesemonger. If you’re after a recommendation, we think that this jam and Snowdonia Black Bomber Cheddar is absolute heaven.

TOMATO, GINGER AND CHILLI JAM

Makes approximately 750ml-1ltr, depending on how “jammy” you like it!

500g very ripe tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 red chillies
1 thumb-sized piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
30ml Thai fish sauce
300g golden caster sugar
100ml red wine vinegar

METHOD
1. Dice half of the tomatoes.
2. Blend the whole tomatoes in a food processor along with the garlic, chillies, ginger and fish sauce until the mixture reaches a pureé consistency.
3. Pour the mixture into a deep heavy-based pan together with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and slowly stir.
4. Once the mixture has reached boiling point, reduce to a simmer and add the remaining diced tomatoes.
5. Skim off any scum that forms with a metal spoon and cook for 30 -40 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking.
6. Pour the mixture into a warmed sterilised jar. Seal while still warm and label the jars when cold.

So there we have it! Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you soon.

Casey

Adam Real-Last-Name-Unknown*: Cook’s Books That Aren’t Cookbooks, Part 2

Welcome back! Well, this two-parter turned into a quarterly, didn’t it? Christmas followed by a period of wall-to-wall busy-ness and upheaval have conspired to leave this blog as an unchecked box on our to-do list for too long. I can only offer my apologies. Let’s get back to it – halfway through a guide to books for cooks, professional or passionately amateur.

Kitchen Confidential – Anthony Bourdain

If you were to ask the average person on the street to name a chef at the turn of the last century, chances are they would name Ainsley Harriot, Anthony Worrall-Thompson, or most probably cheeky little Jamie Oliver. And in one sense they would be right. Kinda. See, they’re not chefs. No, they’re NOT. Yes, they worked in and ran kitchens for a while, but they left that behind a long time ago. Those people are television presenters, shameless advertisers. Not chefs. Ramsay, Robuchon, Boulud, Keller, Adria, Roux A, Roux M. These were the answers a kitchen professional would more than likely give to the same question. But then, in 2000, something happened. A book was published with little fanfare by a journeyman, ex-heroin addict New Yorker chef called Anthony Bourdain. He had never held a Michelin star, never appeared on television, never flogged a line of non-stick pans bearing his silvery signature. What he had done was to toil for  25 years at the stoves of fleapit dives, private caterers, huge feed ’em & flip ’em dining juggernauts and (once) a high-end Italian project for a terrifying restaurant legend. In short, he did the job 99% of the real industry pros have to do. The publishing of his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly was a watershed moment in the cultural appreciation of what it really was to cook for a living.

Kitchen Confidential was for US. It was for the footsoldiers, the rheumy-eyed, pasty-skinned sociopaths who cook your food. We exist in a kind of photo-negative of regular folk, you see. The general population’s leisure time is our Monday morning at the office. We finish work when you go to sleep. We roll in at 11, 12 at night, the smell of beef fat, salmon skin, garlic, turmeric, on our clothes, under our nails. We are fiercely protective of the archaic, unfair conditions we work in instead of striking. Chefs like that no matter how much everything else changes, the kitchen remains unreconstructed – because it works, and because chefs like it that way.  The hours, the burns, the cuts, the failed relationships and distancing of families. You have to be a little bit out of place in the normal world to work in a kitchen.

So was this a lurid tell-all, the doors to depravity thrown open to all by an embittered and exhausted servant? Well, yes and no. It was certainly candid, Bourdain revealing some of the more wince-inducing facts about catering that many chefs happily hid during their own careers. The explanation of “Saving for well-done”, why you shouldn’t order fish on a Monday (doesn’t apply to us, I hasten to add. Thank you Moby Nicks) and the true horrors of what goes on in a fully loaded event caterers van gave a thrill of recognition to cooks and utter fascination to those on the outside. One thing, though – Bourdain was not bitter. he wasn’t angry. He was just writing what he knew, the first advice given to any writer. His opening page sums this up…

“Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the restaurant business. Hell, I’m still IN the restaurant business – a lifetime, classically trained chef who, an hour from now, will probably be roasting bones for demi-glace and butchering beef tenderloins in a cellar prep kitchen on lower Park Avenue. I’m not spilling my guts about everything I’ve seen, learned and done in my long and checkered career as dishwasher, prep drone, fry cook, grillardin, saucier, sous-chef and chef because I’m angry at the business, or because I want to horrify the dining public. I’d still LIKE to be a chef, too, when this thing comes out, as this life is the only life I really know. If I need a favour at four o’ clock in the morning, whether it’s a quick loan, a shoulder to cry on, a sleeping pill, bail money or just someone to pick me up in a car in a bad neighbourhood in the driving rain, I’m definitely NOT calling a fellow writer. I’m calling my sous-chef, or a former sous-chef, or my saucier, someone I work with or have worked with over the last twenty-plus years. No, I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly – a subculture whose centuries-old militaristic hierarchy and ethos of ‘rum, buggery and the lash’ make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos – because I find it all quite comfortable, like a nice warm bath. I can move around easily in this life. I speak the language, I know the people, I know how to behave(as opposed to real life, where I’m on shakier ground). I want the professionals who read this to enjoy it for what it is: a straight look at a life many of us have lived and breathed for most of our days and nights to the exclusion of ‘normal’ social interaction. Never having a Friday or Saturday night off, always working holidays, being busiest when the rest of the world is just getting out of work, makes for a sometimes peculiar world-view which I hope my fellow chefs will recognise. The restaurant lifers who read this may or may not like what I’m doing. But they’ll know I’m not lying.”

The book became a huge hit, and a dog eared copy has become as essential in a kitchen as Larousse and a sharpening steel. If you want a true feeling of the buzz a busy kitchen generates without needing callouses and knife skills, this is the gospel.

See you next time.

Casey – Head Chef

The Garway Moon Inn

*To find out who Adam-Real-Last-Name-Unknown is, go straight to p.235. And yes, every kitchen has had one of these people. Ask ’em.

George Orwell Is In My Kitchen: Cook’s Books That Aren’t Cookbooks, Part 1

Firstly, apologies for the lack of activity here in the last month. An exceptionally busy Christmas season is taking its toll, and we have literally not been able to grab 5 spare minutes to update the blog. We offer up the first part of this Yuletide two-parter as compensation…

We have a lot of books in the kitchen. We read for reference, we read for inspiration, we read absent-mindedly during a quick meal break. There is always something new to be learned, and we have no problem admitting that recipe books have helped us immensely. However, this article is not about recipe books. I’ll explain.

We’re an odd bunch, chefs. We often tend to be the type that doesn’t quite belong anywhere else but in a kitchen – obsessive, stubborn, self-destructive, masochistic, pick any character flaw and a chef probably displays at least one at work. I know that countless thousands of words have been submitted in praise of the hard-working “artist” that the modern chef has become – we’re trendy right now, it’s inescapable – but I’m not writing this to feed my own ego. This is really just a chance to share some great books about food and the people that prepare it for a living.

Down And Out In Paris And London – George Orwell

Orwell’s semi-fictional account of poverty as a menial worker and eventually a vagrant on the streets of the two titular cities is not the first book that springs to mind when considering classic “cook’s books”. However, in describing his experience of working as a plongeur (dishwasher), the lowest of the low in the curious but rigid hierarchy found in every professional kitchen, Orwell manages to convey the humidity, the heat and the frenzied, slippery-floored hell of endless work in the bowels of the grand Hotel X in 1933 Paris. Although written 77 years ago, there is still a hugely familiar tone in the attitude of hotel chefs/staff and their opinion of themselves…

“On my third day at the hotel the CHEF DU PERSONNEL, who had generally
spoken to me in quite a pleasant tone, called me up and said sharply:

‘Here, you, shave that moustache off at once! NOM DE DIEU, who ever
heard of a PLONGEUR with a moustache?’

I began to protest, but he cut me short. ‘A PLONGEUR with a moustache
–nonsense! Take care I don’t see you with it tomorrow.’

On the way home I asked Boris what this meant. He shrugged his
shoulders. ‘You must do what he says, MON AMI. No one in the hotel wears a
moustache, except the cooks. I should have thought you would have noticed
it. Reason? There is no reason. It is the custom.’

I saw that it was an etiquette, like not wearing a white tie with a
dinner-jacket, and shaved off my moustache. Afterwards I found out the
explanation of the custom, which is this: waiters in good hotels do not
wear moustaches, and to show their superiority they decree that PLONGEURS
shall not wear them either; and the cooks wear their moustaches to show
their contempt for the waiters.

This gives some idea of the elaborate caste system existing in a
hotel. Our staff, amounting to about a hundred and ten, had their prestige
graded as accurately as that of soldiers, and a cook or waiter was as much
above a PLONGEUR as a captain above a private. Highest of all came the
manager, who could sack anybody, even the cooks. We never saw the PATRON,
and all we knew of him was that his meals had to be prepared more carefully
than that of the customers; all the discipline of the hotel depended on the
manager. He was a conscientious man, and always on the lookout for
slackness, but we were too clever for him. A system of service bells ran
through the hotel, and the whole staff used these for signalling to one
another. A long ring and a short ring, followed by two more long rings,
meant that the manager was coming, and when we heard it we took care to
look busy.”

“In a few days I had grasped the main principles on which the hotel was
run. The thing that would astonish anyone coming for the first time into
the service quarters of a hotel would be the fearful noise and disorder
during the rush hours. It is something so different from the steady work in
a shop or a factory that it looks at first sight like mere bad management.
But it is really quite unavoidable, and for this reason. Hotel work is not
particularly hard, but by its nature it comes in rushes and cannot be
economized. You cannot, for instance, grill a steak two hours before it is
wanted; you have to wait till the last moment, by which time a mass of
other work has accumulated, and then do it all together, in frantic haste.
The result is that at mealtimes everyone is doing two men’s work, which is
impossible without noise and quarrelling. Indeed the quarrels are a
necessary part of the process, for the pace would never be kept up if
everyone did not accuse everyone else of idling. It was for this reason
that during the rush hours the whole staff raged and cursed like demons. At
those times there was scarcely a verb in the hotel except FOUTRE. A girl in
the bakery, aged sixteen, used oaths that would have defeated a cabman.
(Did not Hamlet say ‘cursing like a scullion’? No doubt Shakespeare had
watched scullions at work.) But we are not losing our heads and wasting
time; we were just stimulating one another for the effort of packing four
hours’ work into two hours.

What keeps a hotel going is the fact that the employees take a genuine
pride in their work, beastly and silly though it is. If a man idles, the
others soon find him out, and conspire against him to get him sacked.
Cooks, waiters and PLONGEURS differ greatly in outlook, but they are all
alike in being proud of their efficiency.

Undoubtedly the most workmanlike class, and the least servile, are the
cooks. They do not earn quite so much as waiters, but their prestige is
higher and their employment steadier. The cook does not look upon himself
as a servant, but as a skilled workman; he is generally called ‘UN OUVRIER’
which a waiter never is. He knows his power–knows that he alone makes or
mars a restaurant, and that if he is five minutes late everything is out of
gear. He despises the whole non-cooking staff, and makes it a point of
honour to insult everyone below the head waiter. And he takes a genuine
artistic pride in his work, which demands very great skill. It is not the
cooking that is so difficult, but the doing everything to time. Between
breakfast and luncheon the head cook at the Hotel X would receive orders
for several hundred dishes, all to be served at different times; he cooked
few of them himself, but he gave instructions about all of them and
inspected them before they were sent up. His memory was wonderful. The
vouchers were pinned on a board, but the head cook seldom looked at them;
everything was stored in his mind, and exactly to the minute, as each dish
fell due, he would call out, ‘FAITES MARCHER UNE COTELETTE DE VEAU’ (or
whatever it was) unfailingly. He was an insufferable bully, but he was also
an artist.

The PLONGEURS, again, have a different outlook. Theirs is a job which
offers no prospects, is intensely exhausting, and at the same time has not
a trace of skill or interest; the sort of job that would always be done by
women if women were strong enough. All that is required of them is to be
constantly on the run, and to put up with long hours and a stuffy
atmosphere. They have no way of escaping from this life, for they cannot
save a penny from their wages, and working from sixty to a hundred hours a
week leaves them no time to train for anything else. The best they can hope
for is to find a slightly softer job as night-watchman or lavatory
attendant.

And yet the PLONGEURS, low as they are, also have a kind of pride. It
is the pride of the drudge–the man who is equal to no matter what
quantity of work. At that level, the mere power to go on working like an ox
is about the only virtue attainable. DEBROUILLARD is what every PLONGEUR
wants to be called. A DEBROUILLARD is a man who, even when he is told to do
the impossible, will SE DEBROUILLER–get it done somehow. One of the
kitchen PLONGEURS at the Hotel X, a German, was well known as a
DEBROUILLARD. One night an English lord came to the hotel, and the waiters
were in despair, for the lord had asked for peaches, and there were none in
stock; it was late at night, and the shops would be shut. ‘Leave it to me,’
said the German. He went out, and in ten minutes he was back with four
peaches. He had gone into a neighbouring restaurant and stolen them. That
is what is meant by a DEBROUILLARD. The English lord paid for the peaches
at twenty francs each.

Thus everyone in the hotel had his sense of honour, and when the press
of work came we were all ready for a grand concerted effort to get through
it. The constant war between the different departments also made for
efficiency, for everyone clung to his own privileges and tried to stop the
others idling and pilfering.”

Blood, Bones and Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton

The subheading says it all. Pennsylvania’s Gabrielle Hamilton never intended a career as a chef. The child of a domineering and fastidious French wonder-housekeeper, Hamilton knew “how to clean up, and how to get everything comestible from an animal. We were the kids at school with the stinky, runny cheese in our lunchbags”. And yet as we in the trade know, Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef patron of the hugely respected NY restaurant Prune, and has been for 10 years. The tale of how she got there, and the story of her wilder, younger days dabbling with drugs and counter-culture to her pre-Prune experiences in the trenches of party catering company warfare are thankfully devoid of the sensationalism many memoirs fall prey to. There are two key reasons why this book stands out for me as a true chef’s companion. Firstly, she can write. She can write brilliantly, in flowing, easy but beautifully crafted prose (Hamilton graduated with an MFA in fiction writing before becoming a chef), and this makes the sheer ordinariness of her life remain hugely interesting. It is this straightforward nature that is the second defining characteristic of the book for me. Her story is the simple dream of most chefs:

A girl drifts around, unaware of who she is. She tries to be a writer, then drifts into the “we’ll employ anyone” end of the catering industry. A succession of joe-jobs and corner-cutting. Then she travels, she begins to fall in love with food and dining. Eventually, she opens the restaurant she dreamed of – no frills, serving exactly what SHE wants to EAT (there is a difference between what chefs like to serve, and what they like to eat. Promise).

Her passage about the excited thought process involved in planning what YOUR restaurant would be like hit home. We chefs all do it. It’s kind of our version of “How would you spend a Lottery win?”…

“I wanted a place with a Velvet Underground CD that made you nod your head and feel warm with recognition. I wanted the lettuce and the eggs at room temperature … I wanted the tarnished silverware and chipped wedding china from a paladar in Havana, and the canned sardines I ate in that little apartment on Twenty-Ninth Street. The marrow bones my mother made us eat as kids that I grew to crave as an adult. We would have brown butcher paper on the tables, not linen tablecloths, and when you finished your meal, the server would just pull the pen from behind her ear and scribble the bill directly on the paper like [the waitresses in France] had done. We would use jelly jars for wine glasses. There would be no foam and no ‘conceptual’ or ‘intellectual’ food; just the salty, sweet, starchy, brothy, crispy things that one craves when one is actually hungry.”

There, in just a few lines, is the vision of a generation. It’s an exact description of Prune, of course, which has inspired a thousand other chefs to follow Hamilton’s lead. Her vision is so aptly and evocatively written that it’s hard not to succumb to its rough-hewn glamour. It is truly a chef’s book, possibly only surpassed by the legendary Kitchen Confidential from fellow Manhattanite tearaway Anthony Bourdain. And THAT book is exactly where part 2 of this piece will begin.

A very happy Christmas to all our customers and readers. See you soon!

 

Casey – Head Chef

The Garway Moon Inn

Mackerel: A Love Story

Our eyes met across a gleaming steel counter. Mine, a steely blue, with a pronounced squint/boss-eye if my glasses are removed. Hers, bright, clear and sparkling, accentuating her fine skin and silvery-black tiger stripes. Then we parted. Well, actually, I parted her head from her body, slipped off two fillets and v-cut the bone-line. See what I did? I was cleverly and wittily talking about a fish all the time. (I love being the editor around here)

Seriously though, we LOVE mackerel in this kitchen.

A real mission of ours this last 12 months has been to introduce fresh, sustainable British fish to our menu, something not much adopted in land-locked Herefordshire. Bjorn, my partner in crime/sous-chef (means the same thing essentially), found the single best fish supplier I’ve ever used, and this really has been the key to growing our obsession with quality, responsibly fished…er, fish. They’re called Moby NIcks (we love a good pun, too), they’re based in Plymouth, and they deliver spankingly fresh, glorious fruits de mer to us every week. It’s become an exciting experience as a chef to be able to call through to the boats at sea to claim first dibs on whatever the crew was pulling from the ocean. I always asked for the fish to be sent whole, as I was eager to learn the full bone structure and characteristics of all these lovely creatures, many of whom I had never put a blade to or even tasted before.This probably reveals more about me than anything else, but receiving a Moby box containing a new fish I’d never used before – it felt a little like unwrapping a Christmas present. There. I’ve said it.  There were, admittedly, some misses (sand sole and grey mullet – both oddly muddy-tasting), but a heck of a lot of solid gold hits – deep breath…ling – a cracking cheap monkfish substitute, red gurnard – beautiful colour, great eating, black bream – simply one of the best British fish, I urge you to try it, and razor clams – absolutely wonderful shellfish, texture of squid, taste of oyster. We became enraptured with showcasing all this phenomenal, indigenous food. It was an accident, really.

One humble little fish in particular became a staple on the specials board, however. Unassuming, practically built skeleton-wise, and packed full of nutritional value AND flavour, mackerel became the patron saint of our fish cookery at the Moon. There are two schools (fish-based humour pt 2) of thought with mackerel. There are those who think mackerel are nothing more than cat food, a stinky, bony, squishy fishy. Hmm. The other opinion is that this is an endlessly versatile source of protein, omega-3s and antioxidants, packed with flavour and a doddle to prepare. Of course, you can guess which I endorse. But I do have a theory about the other, negative perception of mackerel. Often with intense food dislikes, context is the key. A bad experience with an ingredient, often in childhood or adolescence, can poison an individual for life, usually unfairly condemning the wonderful due to poor cookery or badly cared-for foodstuffs. Mackerel is easy to ruin. Very simply, if it’s over 24 hours old, it’s past its prime. It must, MUST be gutted and cleaned immediately after being caught. Those oversized supermarket macks with their guts intact? Look good, but they will be bitter, with soft, mashable flesh. No. You should be eating mackerel while it is still stiff with rigor, it should still basically look alive. Clear, bright, wet eyes are a clue, and shiny, tight skin with a light tang of sea air. But mackerel are sooooo booooooooony, aren’t they? Well, yes, but they are the easiest fish in the sea to prepare. Want a quick pair of fillets, or a full, butterflied, boneless whole fish?

Right. Take your mack, and starting at the tail end of the belly cavity, cut through to the end of the fish, just before the tail fin begins. Don’t push the knife right through, only go as deep as the belly cavity. Essentially, you’ve opened up the uderside of the fish like a book. Go back to the head end, and cut the head off, just past the side fins. Turn the fish upside down, so that your opened-up underside is facing up. Here’s the test of the freshness of your fish. Reach in, and gently work your fingers around and under the spinal column, working your way up or down, whichever you fancy, freeing the spine from the fish until it it held on only by the tail fin. Snap it off at the tail, and then cut the tail off. Spread out your pretty, butterfly shaped mackerel. Should look something like this…

Last part. The only remaining bones are two lines of tiny “pinbones” running through the centre of each fillet. (Yes, there is also the dorsal fin line, the thin line of bone joining your two fillets together. Either part the fillets by cutting either side of this line to make two separate fillets, or keep it. It’s perfectly edible, a nice little crunchy bit.) Anyway, to remove these pinbones, you can do one of two things. You COULD use fancy tweezers to painstakingly pluck these bones from their moorings. Or you could do as we do and indeed as the fisherman on the boats themselves do. It’s called V-cutting or bait-cutting, and it works a dream with mackerel. Very simple concept. Locate the start of the larger bones, 1/4 of the way up the tail. Cutting from this point to the top, make an angled slice (about 45 degrees) either side of the bone line, stopping before you go through the skin. You should have a thin, V-shaped wedge cut out of the mackerel flesh. Simply peel and lift this line of bones away. Voila! You just bait-cut a mackerel. Take a team point.

So now you have the ability to bone out and prepare either an entire fish or two fillets. The possibilities are now limited only by your sense of adventure. Since we began our fish quest, we have discovered so many ways to serve this awesome little guy. We have yet to fail, believe it or not. Off the top of my head, we have served (with a brief description):

Soused mackerel (wonderful in the summer, a light hot pickling or “sousing” liquid is poured over raw macks and covered. A couple of minutes simmering, then allow to cool in the liquor. We served it with cucumber strip taglietelle, and it RULED.)

Gravad “Max” (thank you Mr Hugh F-W, a marvellous adaptation of the Scandinavian gravadlax, we cured our macks in sugar, sea salt, loads of dill and a splash of brandy. It works very, very well indeed. So well that it will be one of the starlets of our Christmas menu this year. Pluuuuuug)

Grilled mackerel(with a warm potato salad spiked with horseradish and either apple or gooseberries. Yes, gooseberries. My single favourite flavour pairing for macks. Please try gooseberry and mackerel once in your life. It’s that good.)

Deep fried mackerel(nothing more than a good dusting of heavily seasoned flour, then into very hot, deep oil for, ooh, all of 25 seconds. Amazingly crispy, with a cracking oily fish aroma and flavour. We served lemon and parsley couscous and fiery harissa paste with it. Revelatory.)

Mackerel escabeche (think soused mackerel, but with a spicy olive oil marinade instead of the pickling liquid. We just served hunks of homemade bread to mop up all the good stuff. Hangover food for the fearless.)

Raw, sashimi style. (Okay, this never made it to the menu, but if you can get it as fresh as we can, you’d be mad not to try it raw, with little more than some citrus, soy or vinegar to anoint it with. So very tasty, and the flavours are so clean, it’s all a very zen-like experience. Oh God, Bjorn’s going to read that last sentence.)

I’m certain there are many more experiments and triumphs, but that’s all that spring to mind for now. We would be extremely interested to know if any of you that subscribe to this blog (tell your friends…) have been moved to give mackerel the go it deserves, or indeed if you have a favourite recipe of your own – please share it, we never stop collecting ideas in our kitchen. And it goes without saying, if you are in the vicinity of HR2 8RQ, come in and let me cook you a little tiger-striped treat.

Until next time,

Casey – Head Chef

The Garway Moon Inn

Let’s start with a recipe while the place warms up, eh?

Hello there! Very excited to be writing the first post for our shiny new blog here at The Garway Moon Inn, and what better way to ease into action than the very thing we do, day in, day out. Cooking! A recipe for the chilly autumn nights that are finally setting in, and a true British classic to boot. We are planning many varied articles for this site, the aim being to provide a new post once a week, so please, please subscribe to this blog in order to receive a notification whenever we update it. We hope you’ll enjoy our thoughts and stories on everything we do in our food-mad little public house. But never mind that, I promised you a recipe. Here it is:

GARWAY MOON SHEPHERD’S PIE

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

60ml olive oil
salt and pepper
1kg best-quality lean minced Lamb or Beef (although technically if you use beef, it becomes Cottage Pie)
2 large onions, chopped finely
2 large carrots, grated finely
4 cloves garlic, grated finely
50ml Worcestershire Sauce (Lea & Perrins is the one, I think it’s available quite widely outside of the UK now)
30g tomato puree
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
500ml red wine (Beer is a fine substitute)
600ml Chicken Stock (powdered is fine, I won’t tell anyone)
2kg Maris Piper/similar potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
100g salted butter
4 egg yolks
Cheddar cheese or similar, to grate over at the end.
METHOD

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180deg.C/gas mark 4/350 deg.

2. Heat the oil in the largest saucepan you have until hot, then season the mince and fry for 2-3 mins. Stir the onions, garlic and carrot into it. Add the Worcester sauce, tomato puree and herbs and cook for 1-2 mins, stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce (boil down) until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring back to the boil then simmer until the sauce has thickened.

3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until completely tender. Drain, then return to the pan and dry them out briefly over a low heat. Either mash or (for the best, smoothest mash) pass through a potato ricer, then beat in the egg yolks followed by the butter. Check the seasoning.

4. Spoon the mince into a large rectangular ovenproof dish(or divide it into a few dishes). Using a large spoon, layer the mash generously on top of the mince, starting round the outside then gradually working towards the middle, until covered in a smooth level layer of potato. Wipe round the edges of the dish to give a clean finish, then drag a fork in straight lines across the surface of the pie, either horizontal or vertical, to give a ridged surface. Brush on a little melted butter, then put into the oven for approx 20 mins, until golden and bubbling. If you like, add some grated cheese to the top of the pie for the last 5 mins of baking. Cut into neat squares, and lift out pie portions onto heated plates. Serve with a bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup or a bottle of Worcester Sauce. Buttered carrots are a delicious vegetable to serve alongside it. If you’re from outside the British Isles, Hum God Save The Queen to yourself as you eat it. It’s the rules.

See you next time,

Casey, Head Chef – Garway Moon Inn

Welcome to GarwayMoonKitchen – A blog all about life behind the pass in a country pub

Welcome to the kitchen of the Garway Moon Inn in Herefordshire. This blog is a window into the running of the engine-room in a busy, food-obsessed countryside pub. We might be sharing recipes, recounting anecdotes – good or (always better) bad, talking in general about food, the countryside and everything in between or even just a simple day in the life diary of what it’s like producing the food that makes you guys happy. I’m Casey, I’m Head Chef, and you’ll be meeting my team very soon.

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