Tuesday, 19 April 2011


Recently on Twitter I was followed by a newcomer called @merguezman (aka David Baker) of the new company http://www.provencalspice.com/ who imports a small line of continental sausage seasonings.

After a few pleasantries had exchanged on Twitter, I volunteered to review this Merguez seasoning and blog my findings. I love this sausage, it takes me back to when I had my own Charcuterie business in France.

Very promptly a package arrived by post with a sample pack of the seasoning and unexpectedly a mug with the companies logo imprinted on the side, I know what to do with that later.

Following the recipe given to me by David, I followed it rigidly until the point where water needed to be added. Here I split the mix into two halves, 2.5kg was mixed with the recommended water and the remaining 2.5kg was mixed with virgin olive oil as I would use with my own recipe.

Using olive oil instead of water in the mix adds an extra subtle flavour, however I have to say the water mixed version that David suggests scores very highly indeed.

I score both the olive oil version and the water version an 8 out of 10. Strangely I score my own Merguez recipe 9 out of 10, but then I would, wouldn't I ?

Having filled my lamb casings with the two mixes, I decided to make some puff pastry whirls with some of the seasoned mix along with some added sweet char-grilled red peppers to see how they would stand up en-croute.

Having rolled up your pastry, chill in the fridge for a short while to firm up and then slice into whirls and bake at 180c degrees for 20 minutes or until puffed up.

After such hard work in the kitchen (not), reward yourself with a snack and a mug of coffee, I knew that mug would come in handy. In fact a crucial tool when carrying out charcuterie, don't you agree?
To summarise; I would say this Merguez seasoning does indeed stand up to what it's supposed to do, I would even go as far as saying I would purchase this seasoning, where I would use it as a base and add my own signature to it.

My Merguez Recipe:

This is a fresh sausage originating from North Africa, ususally made from just beef and mutton. I've adapted this recipe to suit the European taste by adding pork. During the shooting season I look forward to making Merguez sausage with pheasant meat as it lends itself perfectly to these spices.

3kg Beef, 3kg Mutton and 3kg Pork. 180g salt, 20g black pepper, 20g paprika, 30g hot chilli powder, 220g mild chilli powder, 40g cumin, 50g garlic, 40g star anise and 120ml olive oil.
A student of mine, a beef and sheep farmer in Scotland took this recipe and filled boar skins with the mix before hot smoking the sausage. I can now tell you he supplies a very famous airline company who use's his sausage on their first class customers.

So what are you going to do with yours? Let me know what you think if you get round to trying it.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


You know to-date I have 24 registered followers on my blog of which I am both amazed and proud that they are interested enough to follow my writings on charcuterie and other food related matters. What you don't know, is that I have hundreds if not a few thousand followers who have not-registered to my blog and they accumulate from over 72 countries. This is absolutely outstanding and yet encouraging to know that we are all interested in the same subject and a subject that brings us all closer together.

I've listed below some of those countries that follow on a regular basis.

Sweden, Netherlands, Botswana, Mauritius, United States, Australia, Indonesia, Germany, Poland, France, Switzerland, Macau, Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, Spain, Romania, Ireland, Taiwan, Lithuania, Russia, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Columbia, China, Japan, India, Singapore, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Belgium, Israel, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Pakistan, Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Austria, Hungary, Martinique, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Trinidad & Tobago, South Africa, Luxembourg, Kenya, Macedonia, Morocco, Thailand, Phillippines, Korea, Malaysia, Croatia, New Zealand, Algeria, Iceland, Dominican Republic, Antigua & Barbuda, Lebanon, Ukraine, Ghana, Cote D'lvoire, French Guiana, Serbia, Panama, Estonia........

You all know who you are, so let me say THANK YOU for following me!

Best Regards

Monday, 11 April 2011

Butchers Fair

It was this man, Ed Bedington the Editor of the Meats Trade Journal, who asked on Twitter "are you coming to the Butchers Fair?" what could I say to the man who organises such an event, I replied with such conviction "yes, of coarse" as if I attend such show's all of the time. Thankfully I had read about the show just that very day, I replied with "it's at Newbury Racecourse, isn't it Ed?" phew that was close! Actually folk's the show was incoporated with a Bakery Fair, they had joined forces and worked together to put on a great event. What a cracking venue! Not only that, but it was all FREE! Talking about free, the exibitors were all very generous in handing out their samples for you to try or take home.
The fair was held over 3 floors of one of the grandstand buildings. I think Linda Lusardi who had been booked to hand out the prize-giving, was being held upstairs in the Penthouse Suite. SUGAR, my pass was the wrong colour to get me entry, ah well, your loss Linda!!

Scobies Direct who I have used many times had travelled all the way from Glasgow to exhibit, congratulations to them for their commitment, for they were many more companies like them who were absent. Well done lad's!

As often at these type of shows, they were plenty of stands displaying their wares, this one by Dalziel caught my eye. They were many suites around this stand, but the chap in the butchers apron and who had put this display together had trained in Germany like myself. If I was handing out prizes for best display, this chap would of won! Well Done and congratulations!

I can see the Princes roast and the Pin wheels being re-named as of this month, can you? Maybe to Williams Roast & Catherines Wheel.

Upstairs on the third floor was where the judging took place of all the meat and bakery items that had been brought to the show.

I counted at least 15 judges and all of them taking it very seriously indeed, each item entered was weighed, disected, tasted, prodded and poked and then commented and scored.

I'm digressing here slightly but worth mentioning, I had travelled from Devon the day before in order to visit the show. I stayed at http://www.hareandhoundshotel.net/ a bargain at £36.50 for B&B and only 10 minutes from the racecourse. Remember to call first and ask for any special offers!

Included in the bakery section were some lovely cupcakes, (did I really just say that?) I can't believe that "I" am banging on about some bloomin fairy cakes!! Where's Jean from http://www.delightfulrepast.com/ when you need her?

Then came the bread, I adore freshly baked loaves, warm bread from the oven, sliced thickly with a melting lump of butter on top, hmmmmm

Weddings cakes seemed to take on a certain theme at this competition, can you guess what theme that might be?

Zoom in for a closer look of the fine detail on some of these wonderful exhibits.

A great debate going on here over the Hot Cross Buns, such was the debate it caught the attention of the roaming pro-photographer.

All in all, a great day out. So if you weren't there, where were you?

Monday, 4 April 2011

Easter Eggs

As we approach Easter we will have no doubt a glut of eggs from the birds and waterfowl around us, but what can we do with them all. Well we can make Gala pies as they use many eggs in their making. The French Easter pie (Pate de Paque) also uses many eggs, both these pies use hens eggs traditionally. Some of you may have Quail eggs to use, here we can make individual Easter pies easily by placing one whole quail egg in each pastry mould.

Boil for 4 minutes and cool and peel.

Place your seasoned pork filling into your moulds and make a depression with your thumb in the centre of the mix.

Now place a quail's egg into the hollow.

Cover the egg with some remaining filling and cover with a pastry lid and crimp over the edges.

Bake off in a pre-heated oven at 180c for approximately 50mins.

Allow to chill before slicing and serving.

Here my mate Paul Rebsdale, the head chef at the http://www.theoxenhamarms.co.uk/ near Dartmoor in Devon has used up his glut of duck eggs by making an ham & egg pate along with his version of an Easter pie. On that day this was my lunch, served with home baked bread along with homemade piccalilli, yum. Thank's Paul! (can I give you some positive feedback Paul? they was too much salad!) I hope this blog post gives you some inspiration to use up your glut of eggs ready for this years Easter time.