Sunday, 21 November 2010


Think of Herrings or Kippers and few places come to mind, for me the Manx kipper is a forerunner, but that is of no surprise given I spent most of my childhood in Lancashire. The next most famous place for these Silver Darlings as they are known locally is Clovelly in north Devon.
You may of heard of this small pretty village, for it also boasts of being a village with no vehicle access, no holiday homes are allowed only full time residents, the road surface is made up of beach pebbles, donkeys are used to move materials and personal shopping around the village.

Once a year and that happened to be today, the village celebrates the herring by holding a festival, with shanty bands, local producers of great food & drink and much more.

Once you have carfully negotiated the pebble streets, you eventually reach the small harbour along with all the small stallholders and one interesting stallholder was the "Kipperman" complete with his portable smokehouse (Kipper House).

The Kipperman being Mike Smylie. A man who proudly shares information on the history of the herring and the recipes that can be applied using this silver darling.

Here you can see that Mike has his smokehouse full of Bloaters, which are being hot smoked, these being whole herring complete with guts.

Mike is not a resident of Clovelly, for he travels extensively promoting this delicacy, so if you wish to book him for your fish festival then check him out at

As you can see for yourself, Mike was having a brisk trade!

Mind you, it would please Mike more if you learnt how to smoke your own fish!

If you do visit Clovelly, then don't forget to checkout the cave behind the waterfall, which incidentally is only yards away from the lifeboat jetty, why? well it is reputed that the Wizard Merlin was born in this cave.

I'll remember this wonderful village each time I make the following;
Kipperman's Kipper Pate
4 Craster kippers (or simila quality)
3oz Butter
Juice of 2 lemons
1 Clove of garlic
Olive oil
Ground pepper
Shot of Metaxa or similar

Rough chop garlic and add to olive oil.
Blend using hand mixer.
Remove flesh from kippers and add to bowl with lemon juice, pepper, butter and Metaxa.
Blend well and chill in fridge before serving on oatcakes.

Friday, 12 November 2010


I promised you several weeks ago, more from Matthew Downing South West Chef of the Year 2010. Well here I will show you how Matthew builds up a dish using Bresaola he wet cured and air-dried himself. Those who are new to this blog, I had the privilige of mentoring Matthew earlier this year through some charcuterie recipes and techniques and whilst visiting him at his work at The Jack in the Green, near Exeter, he demonstrated to me his version of how Bresaola ought to be served.

Here Matthew has hanging some Bresaola which is maturing above some buckets that contain brine with his follow up pieces curing.

You can notice a bought in salami hanging with his meats, the reason for this is that good mould spores will inhibit bad moulds from growing. So to get started, place in your fridge one of your favourite air dried products to give you a healthy start.

Matthew here used the loin of beef for his Bresaola, when ready he thinly slices his meat and arranges on a plate so; he explained by placing clingfilm over the plate until required, the meat will remain pink for longer as air is unable to reach the meat thus not being able to darken the slices from oxidiation. You will notice the beef has a dark rim, where it highlights the red inner meat, this is achieved by using red wine in the brine.

Using pickled fruits and vegetables for a garnish will lift your dish.

Saute some baby spring onions and mushrooms.

Ensure you dry off any excess fats or oils from your mushrooms.

Remove the clingfilm from the plate, brush the Bresaola with truffle oil before dressing your dish with the sauted spring onions, caper berries and a twist of coarse sea salt.

Then add your mushrooms and any decorative flower petals you may have along with a few micro leaves of herbs and finally a quenelle of creme fraiche infused with horseradish and cracked black pepper.

If it looks anything like this dish then people with cameras will appear out of the woodwork, who was this guy?

I can tell you this dish tasted as super as it looks, a nice generous helping too!
Well done Matthew and congratulations on winning your prestigious title.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Counting Currants

On a Wild Game Day at Empire Farm recently, we tackled Sika deer, pheasant, partridge, pigeon and wild rabbit.

The day consisted of , how to prepare your game for cooking including making game sausage and game pies using hot water pastry. We started the day with the dry plucking of our assorted birds, then we skinned and butchered the sika deer, finally we skinned and butchered our wild rabbit. The one task we have some fun with is, when cleaning and preparing the rabbit, we ask the attendees to use their little finger and push out any remaining currants that maybe left in the anal tract. This always causes a sqeamish groan from the ladies and laughter from the men, to lighten this task we ask everyone to count their currants and the person with the most being the winner.
In the past the winning count as always been 6 or 7 currants, well that is until Simon, pictured above managed a count of 17, yes that is right 17 currants in that little rabbit. As you can imagine there was lots of laughter and a round of applause when the last currant popped out.
It was said on the day, so I'll repeat here "Simon, you are full of ****" ha ha.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Ham Hock & Game Terrine

Now the game season is well under way, it is time to think about what will we turn our well earned gains into. My first game dish of the season is this Ham Hock & Game Terrine served with; rocket leaves, tomato, red radish, fresh peas in the pod (to complement the pigeon in mine) and a quenelle of wholegrain mustard, or and not to forget some freshly baked crusty bread.


2 x Ham hocks
1kg x Mixed game meat
400g x Streaky bacon (optional)
200g x Forcemeat
1 x Large carrot
1 x Stalk of celery
1 x Sprig of thyme
1 x Glug of brandy
Salt & Pepper to taste


Cook the hocks in simmering water with the carrot and celery for 2 hours, then leave to cool before seperating the individual muscles.
Gently fry your mixed game meat medium rare, then flambe with the brandy, then leave to cool.
You can if you wish line your terrine with the streaky bacon, then place your meats and forcemeat inside the terrine in any order and having first seasoned it well.
Having filled your terrine, place it in a bain marie and cook at 160c for a further 1-2 hrs or until cooked. Test with a metal skewer at intervals after the first hour.
Once cooked and cooled, place in your fridge for at least 24hrs before using as this will allow the seasonings to permeate the meats.

Place a weight on top of your terrine as it cools as this will help set it firmly, by doing so it will make slicing the terrine easier.