Sunday, 13 November 2011

Campaign to use real blood !

Black pudding, Morcilla, Boudin Noir, Blutwurst whatever you wish to call them, they have been part of our food heritage for thousands of years. Yet today here in the UK they are made from a dried blood powder mix, this being produced from indoor reared pigs from the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia.
OK, you may not have known, but now you do, what are you going to do about it ?
I can tell you what I do, I choose to only eat black pudding made from real blood and blood only from locally free range pigs. Also as a Judge I no longer award products using this dried blood mix.
I have friends who commercially produce black puddings for a living, they were forced into this type of production with dried blood powder during the foot & mouth era. But that is behind us now and we need to encourage them to go back to using real blood before we lose this artinsal craft.
Jay Rayner the food critic and journalist has mentioned about this food plight several times including giving it some air time on the BBC's television programme "The One Show", now when he mentions a plight like this, you know we have to listen at the very least. However it is up to us to decide wether we continue to eat these puddings with the knowledge of what goes inside them.
A campaign sounds a bit strong I know, but to encourage the chefs and food businesses to use artisan producers of black pudding, we'll list those producers who still use real blood here on this blog post.
So if you know of such a producer, then let us know to include them on this undermentioned list.
List of producers who use real blood in their black puddings are:

You know a good start up business for someone is to procure all the blood from an abottoir and sell & deliver it to individual black pudding producers.

3. (John the head butcher explains that dried blood is sometimes used when real blood is out of stock, he will happily advise you at your time of enquiry or purchase if requested.) Thank you for being so honest John.
11.  (some of the best I've ever tasted)
13. Lidl supermarket - Hazelmeade Farm (brand)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Where to buy Le Charcutier Anglais Book

Where to buy the book “Le Charcutier Anglais”.

Marc-Frederic has thought long and hard as to where he should retail his book, the larger online bookstores were the first to show an interest, some of them were dictating the terms on price and how it should be sold. Some of them had already priced it up on their websites at a price less than wholesale even without his knowing, a bit like the supermarket power.

That approach alone was enough for him to decide he would choose to go the scenic route and retail his book via the many farm shops, cookery schools, small online businesses and all other similar good foody orientated stores and places of interest we have in this country.

The pleasure of the thought that someone is browsing a copy of his book in a small shop where the shopkeeper appreciates both the book and the additional business it may bring. Also the interaction between the storekeeper and purchaser who may discuss the contents of his book rewards him with fulfilment.

If you know of such a small business that may like to stock the book, then please do let us know, hopefully we can add it to the list below.

ENGLAND                                  Lancashire                                    Norfolk                                           Norfolk                                     Somerset                                      Devon                            Devon                                         Devon                          Devon                          Devon                                  Surrey                                Gloucestershire                             Gloucestershire                                          Yorkshire                              Yorkshire                                  Yorkshire                             Shropshire
Castle Bookshop                                                  Ludlow, Shropshire                                              Sussex                                                 Hampshire                                        U.K. over 40 shops
The Kew Bookshop                                              Kew, Richmond Surrey                                    Herefordshire          Cumbria                                                     Wiltshire                        Somerset                                London                                      Oxfordshire                             Nottinghamshire

SCOTLAND            Angus

IRELAND                          Kanturk  


USA                   San Fransisco          New York

AUSTRALIA      Melbourne

CANADA                 Toronto                                 Toronto

Can I thank you for all your support and patience whilst this book has been in the making, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I've enjoyed writing it.


Friday, 21 October 2011

Le Charcutier Anglais Book

It's been 3 years in the waiting, but finally it's completed and I'm awaiting delivery as I write this, except one book made it through the post today so I could see the finished article. Oh what joy, it was like the delivery of a child as I opened the package, not that my wife agrees with that sentiment.

For years family and friends have nagged me to write a book and if they knew the pain I went through, I'm sure they may not have encouraged me to do so. You see it only took a month for me to write it to completion and that was just a few hours most evenings each week, for the information just poured easily off the top of my head. Then the pain started, photocopying and sending the manuscript to the many book publishers out there in the main stream, they took ages to respond, almost 9 months before the first one replied explaining they have a constant stream of books being delivered daily for consideration. Many publishers did not have the good manners to respond, but those that did kindly said "thanks but no thanks" which was fair enough.
Then two publishers expressed an interest, one said "we'll make it look like a Jamie Oliver book" this will get the sales, but you will have to re-write it. No disrespect to JO, but I'm no Essex Boy. Another publisher wanted me to sign a contract where I needed to get their permission if I wanted to use the recipes printed, ergh I don't think so!

We are now 12 months down the road, so I decided I'll self publish, I hired an editor and I was promised to get my book back in 3 months ready for print. Well 9 months later and £1500 the poorer I still have no edited book, my editor explained they were off to India for several months and will finish the book when they return. Again I don't think so! I took it back and finished the editing myself.

Now I had to find a professional food photographer in order that I could accompany each recipe with a picture. Ouch, have you any idea how much these guys charge? I now know this would of run into several thousand pounds to capture the moment of some of the enclosed recipes. My next move was to buy an expensive digital camera and to learn quickly myself on how to take photographs of food in production along with learning on how to be a food stylist. The book contains some pictures from professional sources but the bulk of them are what I myself managed to achieve whilst recipe testing and going about my daily routine.

We are now 2 years plus down the road and I've managed to find a book designer, they have done a fantastic job in bringing it all together, albeit slow in getting it to completion, I am delighted with the results.

Now we are almost 3 years down the road and I am approximately £16k out of pocket as a result of self publishing. I'm currently overdrawn with the bank and I owe my credit card £1200 as without this debt I could not have finished the book. I hope those of you who buy the book will appreciate the work involved by all of those who have contributed towards it. Plus you will make me very happy knowing I can reduce if not clear my debt.

I hope you will enjoy the book as it brings you together with friends and family as you share your culinary conquests. If you do like it, then please tell those who would also be interested, whether thats your local farm shop, book store or delicatessen.

Thank You

Update July 2012
Well guys I have some great news, thanks to you investing in me by purchasing my book, I have now broken even, I can't tell you what a relief it is to be out of debt expecially given this was a very self indulgent project.

The book sales continue and the proceeds are going towards a second book of which I'm currently working on, it would be nice if a publisher came forward and secure my book, however I feel I will have to dig deep into my own pocket once more.

Thank You

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Falmouth Oyster Festival

Some blogs just don't need many words !

Falmouth is the only remaining place left where the oyster is harvested by boats powered only by sail or oars

Here's Ranger from looking just a bit smug with his whopper of a Cornish Native Oyster

Ooh look ! It's that lady (Judith) from

The weather was very warm given it was mid October, well what were you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hedgehog Pies

Yes it's that time of year folks when the hedgehogs are nice and plump ready for their hibernation.

For this recipe you will need 4 fresh hedgehogs finely minced, 1 packet of readymade puff pastry, 2 small onions finely chopped and some smoked rindless streaky bacon coarsley chopped. Avoid using roadkill hedgehogs as you never know their freshness and they are only normally good for pizza toppings.

Mix all the ingredients together and season well with salt & pepper to taste.

The smoked bacon will replicate the taste of hedgehogs being baked in clay and cooked on an open roadside fire around a Vardo (gypsy horse drawn caravan). The onions along with the fat from the bacon will help keep the pie moist.

Using a 3oz ratchet ice-cream scoop, place your first ball of meat left of centre on your rolled out pastry, then with your 1oz ratchet scoop place another along side that one.

You will find hedgehogs in cattle grids, the ones where people havn't bothered to put in a small plank in the corner to act as a ladder to help them escape if they have fallen inside, also you will find them in leaf litter in gardens especially where a bonfire is likely to be lit. Don't let a good meal go to waste, check your bonfire hasn't got a plump hedgehog hibernating underneath the wood pile.

If you happen to find a starving hedgehog in a cattle grid, avoid giving it bread & milk to fatten up for your pie, the reason for this is; the enzymes in the milk will accumulate in the hedgehog's tummy where it is unable to process it through it's body system, The hedgehog will eventually die and slowly if constantly given milk, remember our aim is to fatten them and not kill them whilst they are thin.

For a good pie filling, fatten your hedgehogs on tinned cat food, cooked rice and normal household food scraps, avoid using any poisonous slug pellets in your garden, allow your hedgehog to feast on the slugs as this saves money on buying any unwanted cat food.  

Tie a few duck or goose feathers together and use as a pastry brush by applying some egg wash around the edges of your pastry to aid them to seal together. These must be feathers from a waterfowl as feathers from other birds such as pheasants for example do not have the same structure nor the waterproofing required when washing your feather pastry brush after use.

Fold over your pastry from right to left, ensuring you enclose the hedgehog mince inside.

Just aid the seal by crimping the pastry with a table fork.

Using a pizza wheel, trim any excess pastry and place to one side for later.

Having trimmed your pastry, create the eyes and nose of the hedgehog by inserting some raisins into the face area of the pie and make some indentation with a knife to make the ears.

With a pair of scissors and starting just behind the ears whilst working backwards, make small cuts into the pastry to create spikes.

Place the finished hedgehog pies into a baking tray and egg wash before baking at 180c for approximately 20 - 25mins or until golden brown.

Once baked allow to cool on a trivet or cooling rack, albeit I have to say they taste damn good warm.

If you can bare to wait until they cool down, you can enjoy them with a fresh brew of tea at around elevenses.

Just remember guys when you are next out there driving in the dark, slow down a little to avoid those fattened hedgehogs crossing the road, we don't want to spoil a good pie now, do we ?

Oh by the way! If you are wondering what I did with all those pastry off-cuts, well I unfolded the pastry so the egg wash was facing upwards and I grated some cheddar cheese over them and baked them in the oven whilst it was warming up ready to take the pies.

These cheese savouries were as enjoyable as the hedgehog pies themselves, two great savoury pastries to relish this Autumn & Winter.