Monday, 8 September 2014

Competition Time - Old J Spiced Rum

It’s not often I hold competitions on this ‘ere blog, in fact I think I’ve only done one before. But this one is a bit of a beauty, so I had to agree to getting involved…

Organised by Old J, this is a cooking contest with a bit of a difference as I’ll be asking you to submit recipes using either their Old J Spiced Rum or their Old J Tiki Fire. I’m currently thinking BBQ ribs and rum truffles, but I’m sure there are more exciting recipe ideas out there!

Each recipe will be posted on this blog and I’ll set up a voting system so that my readers and Twitter followers can vote for their favourite. I will then pick the winning recipe and its author will win some lovely Old J goodies.

Pretty simple, aye? Well… it all gets a little more exciting as the winning recipe from this blog will then go up against others from across the country in the final held in Manchester (your travel costs will be covered by Old J so you can attend too). Your recipe will then be prepared and judged by Debbie Halls-Evans, winner of The Taste, and Dave Marsland, aka The Drinks Enthusiast.

Then… get this… the final winner will win dinner for two at Manchester House (that’s Aiden Byrne’s swanky new (ish) place, in case you didn’t know) along with travel and accommodation.

It all sounds rather exciting doesn’t it? Well, I certainly hope you want to get involved – if one of the recipes submitted here wins in the final, I get a trip to Manchester House too!

How to enter…
  • Send your recipe (along with a full list of ingredients and a method) to, along with a picture of the finished dish by Friday 26 September 2014. 
  • Your recipe will be posted on this blog within around 48 hours of receiving your email. Please note that I will not be editing/proofreading posts. Therefore, if you want to increase your chances of winning, you may want to ensure that your recipe is clear and easy to follow.
  • Voting will close on Friday 3 October 2014. I will then choose the winning recipe and its author will be notified by email by Monday 8 October 2014.
  • All votes must be made using the poll set up on the blog. Any votes tweeted/emailed to me will not be counted. Please note that I will reserve the right to choose the winning recipe. 

Good luck!!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Starmore Boss Tasting Sessions

Last night I went to a Starmore Boss sherry tasting night at The Rutland Arms. It was brilliant.

A couple of months back I went to a Starmore Boss whisky tasting night at The Bath Hotel. It was brilliant.

(And I dont even like whisky...)

The upshot is that the Starmore Boss tasting nights are brilliant (good value, informative and fun).

Follow them on twitter for more info and get yourself to the next one.  

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Leg of Pork Slow Cooked in Vindaloo Spices

One of the best things about going to a butchers is that, even if you have no idea of what you want to cook, you're still guaranteed to walk out with something precious for dinner. And yesterday a trip to Beeches of Walkley resulted in me purchasing a small joint of boned and rolled leg of pork. At the time I had no idea how I wanted to cook it - I just knew it was less than a fiver and it would be more than sufficient for our Sunday dinner.

Later that evening, rather than trawl through my cook books, I took to Twitter for recipe ideas. And it was the chef at the Rutland Arms (@RutlandArmsChef) who came through with the most interesting idea... rub it in spices and slow cook it (overnight) with tinned tomatoes. So, at about 10pm last night, after a steady day of drinking, I, armed with a couple of 140 character tweets, started cooking our Sunday dinner (and I am actually writing this blogpost for my benefit, rather than yours, as I have a feeling I may want to try this recipe again...).

I toasted a teaspoon each of black peppercorns, dried chilli flakes, cloves and green cardamom pods (I didn't have the recommended black variety) along with a cinnamon stick in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes before grinding down to a fine powder. I then unrolled the joint of pork and rubbed the spice mix all over it before setting to one side so I could deal with the tomato side of things.

Two tins of chopped tomatoes went into the slow cooker along with a few bashed cloves of garlic (Rico suggested that I use a whole bulb but I was low on the stuff), a good slosh of red wine vinegar (I reckon it must have been around two tablespoons), a good sprinkling of salt, a little (1/4 teaspoon maybe) of sugar along with a good squeeze of tomato purée (which wasn't in accordance with Rico's instructions, but I tend to add the stuff to all tomato based dishes). Then in went the pork (with a good splash of water) and I switched the cooker on to 'Auto', which cooks at high for an hour or so, then low for the rest.

And, around 15 hours later the house smelled amazing and the tomato sauce had thickened up beautifully. Up until this point I'd had no idea how I was going to serve the dish, but seeing how thick the sauce was and how tender the meat was I decided to pull it into the sauce and serve with rice and kale (which I'd cooked in a little lemon juice).

And it was bloody gorgeous - the meat was soft and tender and the spicing was quite subtle (I had been a bit worried about the amount of chilli flakes I'd put in there). Better still, before getting stuck in with my forks to pull the meat, I'd made sure I saved half of it as I had plans of slicing it up for lunches in the week. And here it is with a rice salad of tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion, coriander and chilli. I'm already looking forward to my lunch break tomorrow...

Not bad for an impromptu, less than a fiver, purchase at the butchers is it?!

Anchorage Bar and Kitchen, Sheffield

With all the doom and gloom about the state of independents in Sheffield (the sheer lack of them - especially in the city centre), I'm extraordinarily excited about West One's newest addition - Anchorage Bar and Kitchen.

Holding itself out as an East Coast kitchen (with a Jewish deli inspired menu for casual dining), Anchorage is like no other bar/restaurant in Sheffield. With fresh oysters, rack of pig and old bay buttermilk chicken on the main menu, Anchorage is ticking a few of my boxes. The added option to scoff meats and cheeses (in Friends of Ham style) from the Jewish deli menu is the icing on the cake as I've been desperate for somewhere to go for a good slab of cheese and a pint.

However, the drinks menu, for me, is the cherry on top of that rather delicious cake. The wine has been carefully selected and I think most, if not all, of my favourite grapes are on the list. They also have the highly regarded Kung Fu Girl Riesling - one that I've been wanting to try for AGES! There are some interesting beers too - some on tap - the rest in bottles and you can expect to find the usual suspects from America (Anchor, Brooklyn, Flying Dog, Founders and Goose Island), a few Belgian and Trappist beers (a style that I don't know too much about to be honest) along with a few unusual bottles from the likes of Nøgne ø and Kiuchi Brewery.

But it's probably the cocktail section of the drinks menu that really excites me and I'm in my element with the likes of the sazerac, Aperol spritz and Manhattan on there. However, the absolute highlight has got to be the dirty martini which is served with a side of Dolcelatte cheese!! 

Of course, all this is very well and good, but reading a couple of menus doesn't really give you the full feel of a place does it? But I've been in twice now - once on the press night and once to try out the deli menu - and I can only say good things (although service was a little slow on my second trip - something that's always the case with new restaurants and something that will sort itself out).

Firstly, the place is gorgeous. Clean, light and bright, Anchorage is a far cry from the dark Fitzwilliam & West/Bar 23 that previously occupied the unit. I won't bang on about the décor too much though - just check out the pic below...

Secondly, the pairing of dirty martini with Dolcelatte cheese is as amazing as it sounds, and looks.

And finally, the deli menu is fabulous. Bresaola, Fontina and olives set me back £9.50 and they came served with pickled gherkins, focaccia and squid ink bread. All in all it was pretty filling for what was supposed to just be a quick, if luxurious, snack!

I'm hoping to go back for more soon... I need to try the full menu and get my hands on that Kung Fu Girl Riesling. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

How to Eat Well in Hillsborough

As a 'foodie' I worried about moving to Hillsborough. Where would I shop? What would I eat? Would I have to resort to shopping at the supermarket? 

But after a couple of months of living here, I'm glad to report that I've found a few decent shops, cafes and takeaways on my doorstep. It seems that Hillsborough has been doing 'local' for a long time. Sure, it's not perfect - I could do with a deli, a decent grocers and an Asian supermarket - but things could be a LOT worse.

And here's a little list of my current favourite things in Hillsborough... I'll add to it as and when I try new places...


Pearson's butchers is fab. There's plenty of good-natured and friendly banter, a nice range of produce (including a little offal and lots of lamb) and they have (in my opinion) some of the best bacon and sausages in Hillsborough. I also tend to use Pearson's when I need to order a certain cut of meat for a special meal.


Funk's pork butchers is my first choice for pies (especially pork pies) and cooked meats, but they also sell bread cakes from Turners bakery (which are lovely) and baked goods (including some rather bloody good Eccles cakes). They also have a whole range of joints and cuts of pork.

G L Stebbing

I must admit that I haven't been to the fishmongers that much over the past couple of months but we've enjoyed their salmon, mackerel and roll-mops so far.

Angels of Cuisine

This small Polish cake shop has an appealing window displays - which should mean a lot coming from me as I don't even really like cake that much. We've had a couple of takeaways from here but I'm eager to pop in for coffee and cake one day. I also gather that I need to try their bread one day... oh and they do a lot of gluten free stuff. 

John Crawshaw's

We've shopped at this butchers a few times (whilst living in town) and they've never let me down. As Pearson's has now become my main butchers, I don't use use Crawshaw's that much right now, but they have beef cheeks and venison so I'm sure I'll be popping in every now and then!

Brook Bakery

Since discovering that cheap bread gives me indigestion I've stopped buying the supermarket stuff. And although these guys aren't exactly the next Forge Bakehouse or 7 Hills Bakery, their bread is tasty and it doesn't give me indigestion, so they suit us just fine! I like their multi-seeded and granary sliced loaves.

Jolly Fryer
There are a lot of takeaways in Hillsborough, but after being spoiled by all the fantastic Chinese and Indian takeaways in town and down London Road, I'm a little bit wary about the offering around here. Having said that, the fish and chips shops are pretty ace. So far our favourite is the Jolly Fryer, but Red Rose is pretty good and you could certainly do worse than Holme Lane Fish Bar.


Beres shouldn't need any introduction - they're a Sheffield institution. Obviously their pork sandwiches are tremendous, but their pies and bread rolls are pretty damn good too.

New Barrack Tavern

I knew of the NBT before we moved to Hillsborough but it was only recently that I worked out how close it was to home - which did mean that I spent some time worrying about where my new local would be!! There's a good range of beers - keg, cask and bottled. Food is proper pub grub with burgers and pies on the menu and, all in all, it's a nice place to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Our Cow Molly
Yes, I know that OCM are based out in Dungworth, but I'm still gonna include them here coz our local milkman delivers their milk!! Yep OCM 'Super Fresh' milk lands on my doorstep (well, back windowsill actually) four times a week - meaning that I have a constant supply of the good stuff!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food - Ginger-Braised Ox Cheeks with Spiced Red Lentils

Oh my LORD! It's been a whole month since I last blogged, and that post was way overdue too! Well, the less said about my slackness, the better. I just need to sort out my blogging mojo... my apologies mean nothing if I'm not actually going to follow them up with some regular posts.

So, let me tell you about the book I've cooked from this week - Tom Kerridge's Proper Rub Food. To be fair I have actually only cooked one dish from it so far, but I seriously plan on cooking more and I've got a few dishes lined up for next week.

Ginger-Braised Ox Cheeks with Spiced Red Lentils (and watercress yogurt - which I didn't make) was easy peasy to make, required the type of ingredients that I always have knocking about at home (in fact I only needed to buy the cheeks and fresh ginger) and was bloody lovely. The only problem I had was that I followed the recipe to the letter and put the full 900ml of beef stock in with the cheeks. I thought it was too much at the time and I would have preferred a thicker sauce - so I'll be following this version of the recipe in future as it calls for only 600 mls. (However, I am thinking that I can use the leftover liquid as a base for a warming soup.)

Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food - Ginger-Braised Ox Cheeks with Spiced Red Lentils

Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food - Ginger-Braised Ox Cheeks with Spiced Red Lentils

Anyway, the cheeks were deliciously tender and nicely spiced thanks to the star anise, chilli, coriander and cumin seeds and ginger. However, the lentils were, for me, the best part of the dish and something I would do again. Of course I've made lots of spicy lentil dishes before (dahls) but this was incredibly simple in terms of the method and the ingredients used and it still tasted amazing!

As for other dishes I'm planning, there's the Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Boulangere Potatoes that I'll be making this weekend (along with the Lemon Posset with Fennel Biscotti), and the Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with Fried Egg and Cheese Sauce needs to get in my belly asap! And that's the thing with this book, there are so many truly delicious sounding recipes to choose from! But, best of all, most of them seem really approachable, affordable and easy to replicate at home. 

God bless Tom Kerridge. I praised his three course lunch menu, which is exceptional value at £19.50, when I had the joy of eating at The Hand & Flowers last July and now I have to praise him again. Yeah, ok this isn't corned beef and tinned potatoes kind of cooking, but it's refreshing to see a chef of this credibility (TWO Michelin stars) putting out a recipe book packed with doable recipes.