Why it’s important to eat Game meat

Hey there, it’s been a while hasn’t it?

My blog today is not intended to have shock value (I promise!) but to share a little something controversial: eating Game meat.

Game meat is simply meat from any animal or bird which is wild. So why don’t we really like eating it?

20141103_085811

Firstly, the taste is strong and quite distinctive. Second, I believe the supermarket culture has influenced people to think that if meat isn’t bred in a factory it isn’t “okay to eat”. Many people are poorly informed about traceability of food. Some may think it is cruel to eat deer, shoot rabbit or eat pigeon but what many of us don’t consider is how sustainable and humane culling is in comparison to the massive slaughterhouses that breed pigs, cows, chickens, etc.

More and more we are looking towards improving longevity and health, also how we can stop cruelty to animals and this is where I think Game meat is a good alternative to manufacturing meat.

Facts:

  • Game is free-range. Wild animals migrate and move about freely eating what they choose and not what they are fed.
  • Wild meat is high in nutrients and minerals that you will not find in farm bred meat. Selenium which is  present in game is good for the maintenance and restoration of skin, hair and nails. Which is why cosmetic manufacturers use it in shampoos and other products.
  • You’ll be pleased to know it is also low in fat and very lean

20141125_105000

Did you know that we run over more deer per year in the UK than we actually cull and eat? I find it sad that the majority of people would rather see an animal ran over than eaten simply because they don’t want to feel like they are eating Bambi… which is kind of understandable when you put it like that.

Should we force ourselves to enjoy meat we don’t like? No of course not, but we should think out of the box a little bit more in terms of eating sustainably.

20141125_114520

It may shock you if I told you that this squirrel has been brought in to us for larder preparation alongside a deer with it’s head on. This brings many reactions, some people will be appalled, some people may be indifferent or even curious about what it’d be like to eat.

My opinion is that there is a lot health benefits in eating wild meat. Not only that but I do care about animals and nothing makes me sick like knowing that most of my meat comes from a place where the animals never see day light or graze on fresh grass. Nothing says organic like actually getting food from it’s natural source and habitat.

 

 

 

Stalls Glorious Stalls!

I’ve set a last date for my cupcake stalls which will be mid November now. For my finale, I’ll be making cookies and a few cupcakes, this time for Christmas decorations.

You may be wondering what’s making me stop.

The facts are:

  • It’s been nice to do but somewhat not entirely profitable all the time
  • I want to go bigger and start my own business properly now, I’ve making plans to buy a cafe or a shop if money and time allows

I recognise my age and how many of you must be thinking “yeah right”, but I’m so determined now it’s unreal.

At the moment I’m doing my market research and planning. Hopefully when I’ve drawn up my full plans I can start looking for an Investment Angel or just start saving my own money towards a place… but we shall see it’s all luck from here.

Anyway, this is a throwback to Olney at the beginning of the month. Olney is a lovely little village with lots of middle class people in it, but it is SOOOOO quiet!!!

20141005_100219

 

20141005_102116

20141005_102127

20141005_102147

20141005_121142

20141005_121310

20141005_121356

20141005_121421

 

Oh pickles.

20141023_122523

College is getting good.

Our tutor set us two pieces of homework:

The first was to create a vegetarian dish, either a pithivier or galette (see my other blog) using the following:- 1 beefsteak tomato, 1 courgette, 1/2 aubergine, 1/2 butternut squash and 100g of spinach.

The second was to research a pickle or chutney of our choice.

For the first homework I did some research just to help me along. So I decided on a Provencal Pithvier, Butternut squash puree, deep fried salsify with creamed spinach and turned courgettes.

Luckily when I got in to college the next day, we were given the stores card and we pretty much raided the cupboards for a few extra ingredients so I added some shallots to the mix, yellow an red peppers. So my pithivier became a ratatouille pithvier instead. I also took some pine nuts and roasted them (I mean, nearly burnt) added it with some of my concasse to my spinach which I finished in butter and creamed with ricotta cheese, then finished with parmesan for flavour.

20141022_125210

As you can see, I forgot about the salsify, haha! What am I like?! My tutor was like “what’s that?” and I had to explain I was a bit careless… OOPS. 😉

For the second assignment I fancied messing about with fennel as it’s something I haven’t cooked with yet plus I have an aniseed craving at the minute. So I did my research and this recipe intrigued me as the writer talks about how her mother was put off but fennel after rearing a cow which grazed in a fennel field, so you can gather what the beef tasted strongly of… anyway this is her way of trying to trick her mum into liking the stuff again. Here is the link.

I love the look of fennel it kind of reminds me of a heart.

The recipe I used was fennel and orange pickle.

20141023_101205

It was curious recipe and reading it back I didn’t really follow it. Instead I boiled it for a minute or two with the rest of the ingredients just to soften the fennel and zest. The zest I peeled off whole off of the orange and sliced into julienne myself. Then so as not to waste the orange I segmented it and added it in before jarring it.

I’m not sure about this pickle yet it was very acidic but that’s the thing about pickles, they improve with time. So in 2 weeks or a week now… I’ll be trying again and hopefully it’ll have a lovely sweet licorice taste.

Then we got another bomb thrown at us, we needed to make scotch eggs to go with our pickle. I personally wanted to use black pudding and maybe some tarragon or something but we only had chorizo instead which I married with grated carrot as my rational was that carrot goes with orange.

That’s right we even made the sausage meat ourselves. I tried to use the robot coupe at first but it doesn’t quite mince up the pork sinew the way a meat grinder does.

20141023_113616

For me, I’d like to experiment with this again and try a better and more complimentary sausage meat. Chorizo is a sometimes horribly strong taste, then again I’m not a fan of smoked paprika which is what was most dominant amongst the flavours. This is what it’s all about though, discovering taste and messing about with flavour.

Something’s very fishy

Fish, fish, fish. We love fish at Northampton College.

In fact, we love fish so much that my tutor asked us to make a vichyssoise (which actually isn’t fish at all), prawn bisque (ew) and clam chowder (bigger ew). Don’t get me wrong I love fish but fish soup is not something I’d kill for.

Another foodie week

It took us 1 hour and a half to make these. The prawn bisque (middle soup) was probably the best one I made as my tutor said it was almost “classic textbook”, I was chuffed to hear that needless to say. But I asked my tutor “have you ever, out of the blue just thought ‘hm, you know what I fancy? A prawn bisque.’?” His answer was “You know what, I never have. No.”

I know I never have, in fact the smell alone whilst cooking it made me feel a little bit unsettled.

I’m sorry, as a chef I should probably be telling you about the rich fish flavour and how it’s so lovely that it’s finished off with cream. But I feel it’s also my duty not to lie or pretend about my own personal preferences.

So, I do like fish but not rammed down my throat in liquid form.

Talking of being forced to eat things. We got to have the pleasure of breaking open these fresh oysters, it’s a real pain in the backside. It’s just how it looks, you’re practically breaking and entering this mollusc because it’s clamped shut.

20141023_153834

20141023_153848

Then to top it off I got dared to eat one fresh. It wasn’t bad but it was in need of seasoning as it was like eating a salty tongue.

Fish definitely looks AND tastes better cooked. This pan fried sea bass was made by a level 2 (Tom) it comes with a fish veloute, new potatoes, tomato concasse and crispy leeks for garnish. It tasted as beautiful as it looks.

Another foodie week

This perfectly rolled Omelette by Julie-Ann and Sam contains prawns and chives. It was supposed to have smoked haddock but surprise surprise the fish delivery people messed up again.

Rolled omelette is a bit of a skill to make as it is supposed to be colourless and also slightly under cooked when you take it out of the pan.

Another foodie week

What this tutorial sadly doesn’t mention is the fact that a skilled chef should be able to cook this omelette in 20-30 seconds to a baverse state which means the egg should look “snotty” or in other words half cooked but not quite set. At that point you should roll into a ‘cigar’ shape in the pan before transferring to a plate. Also, in this tutorial she puts a lid on the omelette, instead the technique we use of rolling it straight off the pan means that the residual heat cooks the rest of the egg without overcooking it. The result is a lovely delicate omelette.

The customers were impressed and said that they loved the butter sauce we put with it. There was no butter sauce but where we had cooked using butter it had mixed with the moisture from the egg and had created a lovely sauce that oozed from the omelette. Sometimes accidents are the most beautiful things.

Read this fantastic article to get a feel for the history and how to make a “perfect omelette” it’s worthwhile.

We love Real Big Fish, no not the ska band. But we do have a habit of getting in some massive fish.

I already showed you the Salmon from the beginning of the year in skills.

Skills kitchen 16/9/14

But this is my all time favourite mess up by the guys who deliver the fish to the college. It’s kind of like when you order asparagus from Tesco home delivery and they have none in stock so they improvise by giving you something random like a bar of chocolate!

I can’t remember what it was that the college supposedly ordered in, it might have been Sea Bass or some large fish. Whatever it was, they didn’t have it in stock so they gave us Conga Eel instead?! So random. The 2 fillets were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You could feed a village.

This picture was taken from Ben’s instagram. He was in my class last year hope he doesn’t mind.

Up to our elbows in chocolate

Blogging isn’t easy to do on the road but I’m going to try because I miss it.

The last 2 weeks has mainly consisted of eating and messing my chef whites up with chocolate. As I mentioned in another blog, us level 3s are learning about petit fours so we will be making lots of our own chocolates, macaroons and doing lots of sugar boiling.

Our tutor demonstrated making moulded chocolates.

image

Hers were milk chocolate and drambuie ganashe which were nice but I couldn’t  eat a lot of. I also love that she painted gold into the mould they really look like chocolates you would buy in a gift box.

She also made white chocolate and lemon truffles which she asked me to finish off with tempered white chocolate.

image

image

Again, lemon and white chocolate isn’t exactly my cup of tea but they still look good and taste amazing.

I made my own moulded chocolates and went for Cointreau and milk chocolate.

image

I love chocolate orange and so the alcohol is a bonus I guess 😉 the little ovals on top were supposed to be an orange colour but turned out red… oh well.

image

Late last week we made own chocolate garnishes for our evening desserts. Katie’s are the blue splattered ones and mine are the light purple streaked. Making these were fairly simple, except me and chocolate have a love hate relationship as I always seem to make a huge mess with it.

image

Chocolate dipped strawberries were nice and easy to do, also mess free.

image

They also look great as petit fours on a plate. Sometimes I wish I was the customer.

Sunday Night Dinner

What happens when two chefs go out for a “few drinks”? Well a few things:

  1.  You have an awesome time!
  2.  One person always gets too drunk
  3.  The least hungover chef has to cook the next day

Can you guess who ended up being the most sober?

About an hour and a half prep time in the kitchen wasn’t anything with a little music to liven things up, yeah I like to boogie and cook 😉 I even thought I’d be fancy and turn my carrots. To be honest, I didn’t know what else to do with them as I didn’t have a peeler at my mate’s either so turning them killed two birds with one stone really.

Roast chicken calls for lovely subtle accompaniments so I shredded white cabbage, onions and leeks sweated them in butter and then simmered them until soft in milk with garlic. I did also put broccoli in there too but I didn’t want them to overcook or go brown so I added them after I put the milk in and brought it up to boil. The milk didn’t quite thicken like I wanted it to so I decided instead of wasting it, to add cubed pieces of bread to make a bread sauce which I flavoured with a touch of cinnamon (or you can use nutmeg).

My roast tatties which I’ll call “Rustic Potatoes” aren’t rustic at all, in fact it’s just my way of saying “I really can’t be asked to peel these”. Although, in my opinion the less waste you can get out of something the better, so why peel a potato when the skin is the best part nutritionally anyway?

The best method so far I’ve come across to get fluffy but crispy roast potatoes is to parboil them first for at least 10 mins and then to crisp them up in the oven on a high heat in hot fat and well salted. I recommend beef or goose dripping although they are fattening, the taste is out of this world.

And the chicken? Don’t thank me, thank ASDA. My mate picked up a chicken you can roast in a bag, it was full of water (can’t expect much else) but the chicken was lovely and moist. We should have had some gravy with this but we were hungry, so hungry! The extra mile wasn’t taken today I’m afraid 😉

Deluxe Breakfast Rarebit

This bad boy may be a little rich for your liking 😉 but if you don’t mind a bit of morning gourmet then you’ll love this. I’ve named it a deluxe rarebit after thinking that an ‘open toastie’ didn’t really fit the bill. My actual intentions were, this morning, to do an English Breakfast with your usual sausage, eggs, bacon and beans until things went ‘tits up’.

Originally I went for making a cheesy omelette with sausages and bacon in it, first of all I forgot to fry off the bacon and second of all after adding baked beans to my eggs; I found the eggs were too sloppy for an omelette. Hence the ‘rarebit’ aspect to it. This was actually made for my mum who demanded I make breakfast, so I added chilli powder to it because she likes her food hot and spicy.

Recipe (for 1):

1-2 slices of bread (I recommend seeded because it’s a lovely texture and high in fibre!)

For omelette-

2 cooked sausages

2 eggs

1/3 tin of baked beans

10-20g cheese (I used mature cheddar)

OPTIONAL- 1-2 tsps of hot chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

For topping-

2 bacon rashers

a handful of grated cheese

Method:

1. Preheat your grill or oven whichever you prefer to use

2. Fry sausages on a medium heat for 20 minutes allowing them to become golden brown all over.

3. Mix the eggs, baked beans and cheese with some seasoning.

4. When sausages are cooked, take them out of the pan onto a chopping board and cut in half

5. Put the rashers of bacon in the grill and toast your slices of bread

6. Return the sausages to pan with the egg mix and cook through until egg is set, note it may be a little juicy looking because of the tomato sauce in the beans so may appear uncooked a little.

7. Don’t forget about the bacon! When lovely and cooked (pink or near-burnt… however you like it!) Put aside just to stop it cooking any further.

8. Butter your toast and spoon on your cooked egg. Lay the bacon on top of your egg and sprinkle the cheese over it, then flash your toast under the grill just until the cheese melts.

9. Et voila, you have a deluxe rarebit. Plate it up and eat your heart out.