Showing posts from August, 2011

A look round at what it happening in the world of food drink.

What I want to do with this blog is use it to inform and tell people about what is happening in the world of restaurants food and drink . If it has some or any interest to me then I think I will post it. I do not want it to be just a list of what celebrity chef is doing what, but more than that. So having said that I will start with a celebrity chef Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall.

River cottage rising and rising, or so it would seem Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall Devon based restaurants have been voted the most sustainable in the UK by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). They was awarded 87% for River Cottage HQ at Park Farm and 84% for the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster . Hats off to Hugh who has set out a stall and stuck to it. I have been a big fan of his programs and I really support his champagne with fish at the moment so good on him.

For beer drinkers it was bad news as the average cost of a pint is now officially £3 larger between £3.08 and £2.95 and bitter between £2…

Pork and pumpkin curry

A nice dish this that you can cook in a few minuets if you sue a good cut of pork, what you do not want is any thing that has to much fat or sinew or it will become tough. I have put down here a red Thai curry past but you can use green just as well in this recipe and if you want to be totally authentic you can make your own curry paste. The thing you have to remember is that you keep every thing very rustic and you will not go far wrong. Also I have listed fish sauce or salt, if you can use the fish sauce it tastes so much better.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
750g/1½lb pork strips
1 onion
1 garlic clove
2.5cm/1in piece of fresh galangal, or ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 stick fresh lemongrass
6 tbsp red Thai curry paste
300ml/½ pint creamed coconut
350g/12oz pumpkin
1 tbsp fresh coriander
1 tbsp fresh basil
300g/10oz fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp limejuice
Fish sauce or slat to taste.

Start by crushing together as fine as you can your garlic, fennel seeds, lemongrass and your galan…

Thai green curry Paste

If you never have made your own curry paste before then I strongly suggest you give it a go. You can get one in jars that are very authentic and taste great but in the end of the day it will never be as good as something that you make your self . And if you make it is up to you, if you want more garlic use more garlic, more heat more chilli more line use more lime.

For this curry paste
3cm/1in lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1 lime, juice only
1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped,
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2.5cm/1in of galangal or root ginger
10g/½oz fresh coriander
10g/½oz Thai basil
A little oil.

Now how you grind this up is up to you but I use a small hand blender. If you want the real experience then you can use a mortar and pestle.

Chop up all the ingredients as fine as you can to start with. With the lemongrass, make sure that you remove the hard little root bit at the bottom. Then jus…

Red Thai curry paste

Another of the really great curry paste that you can make at home and once you have made this you will never go out and buy a paste ever again. I strongly recommend that for any thing like this you make your own, be it Indian, Thai or any other kind of spice blend. Once you have the basic ingredients in you can make and mix them. Also like this one you can freeze it if you want and use it at a latter date. Alternatively, keep it in the fridge for a week or so cover in oil so it does not go brown

For my version of red curry paste you will need

8 long red chillies, seeds removed
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves
2 stalks lemongrass,
10g/½oz fresh coriander
2 kaffir lime leaves
2.5cm/1in piece galangal,
2 tsp shrimp paste
Juice of one lime
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Just make sure that you have removes all the hard out side leaves from the lemongrass and the hard root bit from the base. Then chop every thing up and I put it in a hand blender and blitz i…

Drum and Monkey, Montpellier Gardens, Harrogate,

On a sunny day you can not beat having a walk around a town like Harrogate. It is a bit of a spiritual home to ma as I spent so many years in one form or another going from venue to venue working here and there as a Jobbing agency chef and waiter. As a spar town it has always been designed to be like this, form its very early days and now as a conference centre as well it just seems so right. You see its big grand hotels and smart shopping streets and with the sun in the sky it become the prefect place to window shop stop and have a coffee in it many varied cafes and just watch the world go by.

And what a selection of restaurants bars and cafes to choose from. You can get in that one town considering its size almost any kind of food for any kind of budget you can imagine. Leeds might boost to be the London of the north and Harrogate is the Kensington of the north. You have every variety of places to eat, Harrogate must be the restaurant capital of the north.

And in its centre yo…

Cumberland sausage with red wine and lentils

This is a one pot cooking all you need is a frying pan and you have a very tasty dinner. If you are going to use a Cumberland ring sausage then take some skewers and stick them threw it so it holds its self together. Also you do not have to use Cumberland sausages and good quality sausage will do.

You will need
225g/8oz lentils
450ml/1pt water or more or less to cook lentils
750g/1½lb Cumberland sausage
3tbsp oil
300ml/10floz red wine
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red onions
Some rosemary
Some sage leaves
Some thyme leaves
1 red chilli
2tbsp tomato puree
300ml/10floz beef stock
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt freshly ground black pepper to taste
Some chopped parsley to finish

Take your frying pan and put on a medium heat. Brush your sausages with some of the oil, place them in the pan, and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes turning so they cook on both sides. Once you have done this, take the sausage out and place on a plate.

Now take the rest of the oil and add that to the …

New look sauces seal Tesco deal for Wing Yip

26 August 2011

Leading Oriental grocer Wing Yip has secured listings for four of its
stir-fry sauces in Tesco following significant investment in consumer
research and new look packaging.

The four 185ml sauces; Black Bean; Kung Po; Spicy Szechuan and Chow Mein
sauce were rolled out in 300 Tesco stores in July.

Wing Yip undertook extensive research with consumer focus groups to explore
buying patterns, perceptions of the Oriental food category and attitudes
towards current product branding, before the labelling was redesigned and
the listing was secured.

Wing Yip Director, Brian Yip said: “The Wing Yip sauce range uses
traditional recipes and quality ingredients to create an authentic Chinese
taste. Consumers are thinking more about ingredients and provenance and we
are delighted to be able to offer this range to Tesco customers.

“This new look range is the result of in-depth research with target
consumers and we believe the refreshed packaging will create real stand out
in the coo…


26 August 2011

The only UK owned American style sports bar has opened its newest venue at
the Waterside, Merry Hill in the Midlands with a VIP evening. The new
opening is creating over 30 new jobs.

Bar Sport’s Head Office is based in Cannock and the Company was
established by local entrepreneur, Scott Murray. The Company has plans to
open over 8 new franchised outlets by the end of this year - with longer
term plans to open in every town and city in the UK. Next on the list is
Ipswich in September.

Bar Sport Merry Hill is owned and run by Harry Dass from Dudley who is the
former presenter of an Asian Radio station. He is a keen sportsman himself
who loves cricket, rugby and football.

Each bar is decorated throughout with authentic sports memorabilia and the
venues feature over 50 screens showing live sport all through the day and

Mr Murray said,
“We are delighted to be opening another Bar Sport right here in the
Midlands. Waterside in Brierley Hill is a perfect location for …

Cranberry chutney

This is so much nicer than just cranberry sauce. And like any thing like this that you make your self it tastes so much better. After you have made it let it stand in the jars for about three to four weeks at the very least. You need to let it stand so it gives time for all the flavours to develop.

You will need
450g/1lb cranberries fresh or frozen not
550g/1¼lb onions
450/1lb tomatoes
675g/1½lb cooking apples
3 cloves garlic
570ml/1 pint ready-spiced malt vinegar
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp salt
675g/1½lb Demerara sugar

Slice you onions, chop your tomatoes, peal and core your apples and crush you garlic. Get a preserving pan or large saucepan and add every thing in to the pan and stir it together.

Now get it on the stove and bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring from time to time, you do not want it to stick, you want this to reduce down to a thick liquid that when you pull a spoon threw it you can see the bottom of the pan for a while before it cove…

Game pie

If you are lucky like me, I do not think my wife finds this lucky, I have people from the local shoots come round with things that they have shot. Now all depending on how you feel about game and things that are shot is all a matter of personal conscience. I will not go out shooting but if the animal is dead then I will eat it. I know that that is hypocritical but that is the way it is. So having started a moral debate I will get straight in to the recipe.

You will need
675g/1½lb mixed game meat
225g/8oz venison steak cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
2tbsp oil
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
120g/4oz smoked streaky bacon
120g/4oz chestnut mushrooms
1 clove garlic
30g/1oz plain flour
1 bay leaf
1 orange, zest and juice
1tbsp redcurrant jelly
300ml/½pt chicken stock
300ml/½pt red wine
340g/12oz puff pastry
Salt and pepper to taste
Egg or milk for glazing

Now you can get game meat such as pheasant, partridge, hare and rabbit all from a good butcher. Also you can get it all cut up and ready…

Real pork pie.

I love a good pork pie, summer or winter, just a pork pie some cheese and a pickle or two and you have what I could consider one of my best meals ever. You have to get the pastry just right and the jelly as well but to me this is what I would consider a perfect British dish. For the hot water pastry on this recipe, I have used a half water half milk mix as it gives a better pastry.

For the special hot water pastry
150g/7oz lard
50ml/2fl oz milk
50ml/2fl oz water
450g/1lb plain flour
A pinch salt and ground white pepper
1 egg yolk beaten with water for glazing

For the pork jelly
900g/2lb pork bones
2 pig's trotters, if you can get them.
2 large carrots
1 onion, peeled
2 sticks celery
2 bay leaves
Some thyme
Some parsley
Some Sage
½ tbsp black peppercorns

For the filling
400g/14oz fine diced pork,
55g/2oz pork belly, minced
55g/2oz, finely diced bacon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First, make your filling, get ev…

Simple sums for a professional chefs two.

Work out yields

Now I have been asked a few times how do I work out what is what in a recipe. How do you know what you need in the recipe to make it go the right amount of people, or how do you know how much to buy to get the right amount of food to cook.

The answer is easy; all you have to do is work it out what you need to serve and what you need to make that. And to help you do this you need to know a few simple sums. And they are simple as I can remember them and work with them.

First thing that you need to know is what the yield of some thing is going to be. Now all depending on what you are doing you have three things to think of here. One it the preparation, second the cooking and thirdly the cooling.

Say for instant you have to make roast potatoes. You know that you want 100g per person , 100 people means 10kg


But if you peel the potatoes you have waste 10kg can become 8kg that makes you 20 portions short. Then when you cook them, they will lose weight as the…

Simple sums for a professional chefs one.

Working out a recipe to make what you want

Most of the time in my job I take what is a domestic recipe and turn it in to a commercial recipe that can be produced from as little a 1kg to 1000kg . Now we have computores and spread sheets to work all that out but if you do not and for the first time you are faced with this then this is what to do

To calculate how much ingredients you need if you are increasing a recipe is not as easy as it sounds. For a way of sorting this out all you have to do is follow a simple sum and you will get the right amount very time. You divide the amount of the recipe by the number that you want it to make.

This recipe below makes 8 muffins according to the book and you want to make 50 muffins so you dived the 8 by 50.


Now you take all the ingredients and divided them by 0.16 to get the amount that you need .

Makes 8 muffins.

2 eggs, beaten ÷0.16= 12.5, 12 and ½ eggs
85g caster sugar ÷0.16=531g caster sugar
240ml milk ÷0.16…

Honey fruity nut flapjacks

This flapjack is the very thing to make if you want to make your own breakfast bars. You can paly tunes with the extra ingredients you put in it from dried apples, apricots hazelnuts. As long as you stick to the basic recipe then you should have a great chewy breakfast bar or some thing good for the kid’s lunch box. Now I have used unrefined sugar in this but you can use brown sugar if you wish.

You will need.
200g/7¼oz unsalted butter
200g/7¼oz unrefined sugar
200g/7¼oz honey
400g/14¼oz porridge oats
50g/1¾oz nuts, dried fruits and nuts or none at all if you do not want any fruits and nuts
1tsp of ground ginger

Get your pan, put it on the scale, and measure in to it the honey, butter and then the sugar. By measuring your honey straight in to the pan it saves you getting all sticky. Then heat the pan until every thing has melted, on a low heat.

Now get the oats and nuts, fruit, ginger, and nuts if using any, and mix well together so that the oats soak up all the liquids. Tip t…

Chicago Rib Shack Announce New Stratford Site

17 August 2011

The Chicago Rib Shack Launch “Baby Rib Shack”

The Chicago Rib Shack are delighted to announce the arrival of “Baby Rib
Shack”, the company’s first Cafe Court venue, in the brand new
Westfield, Stratford City, alongside the magnificent Olympic Park and
overlooking the Olympic Stadium and Aquatic Park.

The site opens on September 13th and shoppers will be tempted by a stripped
down menu of popular dishes including burgers, wings, cheesecakes and of
course their famous baby back ribs alongside the brand new Chicago Style Hot
Dog. The family restaurant have a delicious choice of kids dishes too , all
served with the popular “Paint Your Own Pig” colouring competition to
keep them occupied. For a sneak preview of the site and the full menu check

Christian Arden, Director of The Chicago Rib Shack says “The Westfield
project is an incredibly exciting one for The Chicago Rib Shack. It is not
only a privilege to be associated with the Str…

Bee Keeper Stew.

I have no evidence that bee keepers actually eat this , in fact I presume that the name is just a made up name that gives it a little romantic name, better than beef and honey. It is in fact just that and nothing more but the honey in the stew gives it some kind of sweet lift. Cook the meat slowly over a couple of hours and then at the end add the honey and it is a very comforting dish.

30g/1oz plain flour
450g/1lb Stewing steak,
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
½ medium turnip, chopped
1 tbsp. honey
Some fresh thyme
550ml/1 pint beef stock
2 large potatoes, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First get you have to flour you meat. Now you want to get all the meat as dry as you can first, you do not want a lot of blood on it or all the flour will just from lumps and not coat the beef. So stick you beef in a colander for a while before you use it and it drain away. Then get you beef in a bowl and start by adding the flour an…


22 August 2011

Cennin, a new top quality restaurant opened its doors on Friday 29 July and
was a double celebration for its owners, Brian and Ffiona Thomas who were
also celebrating their birthdays. Why not try it out on your UK family
holiday on Anglsey.

Cennin, Welsh for Leeks, is the national emblem for Wales and represents
award-winning Head Chef, Aled Williams’ passion for the country and its
outstanding quality produce, a passion which is also shared by owners Brian
and Ffiona.

The opening of Cennin, in Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey, is a long-held dream
for Brian and Ffiona. With two farms in Llannerch-y-medd, Anglesey, it has
always been their desire to bring the “Farm to Town” which they did with
the opening of MooBaaOinc, a butchery and locasan (local artisan) shop late
last year and their diversification has been extended by bringing the
“Farm to the Fork” with Cafe MooBaaOinc which opened in June and now

Ffiona Thomas said; “This was probably one of the best 50th…


22 August 2011

What makes a food festival? Mountains of cheese, chocolate and charcuterie,
an explosion of chilli, a long cool beer – it’s all about sensory
extremes and subtle contrasts. Hear passionate performers, soap-box rants
and electric debate at the 2011 Abergavenny Food Festival which takes place
over the weekend of Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 September. A great UK day out
while you are in Wales.

Savour the delights of fishing at dawn or dancing at dusk (yes, there’s a
fantastic party at The Castle!). You can taste it, share it and bring it all
together in one big celebration on the Welsh borders. Box office goes live
on 15 July. View the full line-up at
Tickets for most events can also be purchased through The Borough Theatre,
Abergavenny: 01873 850805.
There’s so much on offer - from an unrivalled foodie shopping experience
to top-end masterclasses. And it’s very much a family event, with free
5-Venue stroller ticket entry to all children u…

My way rice pudding

A rice pudding should be baked in the oven to cook the rice and I do finish my in the oven or under the grill but I make my pudding in a pan. I have always found this a better, quicker and easier to wash up afterwards method. People will say what about the skin that is the best bit well this way you will get something better than the skin.

For my way rice pudding you will need
450ml/16floz full-fat milk
450ml/16floz double cream
½ vanilla pod or a few drop of vanilla essence
150g/5oz pudding rice
75g/3oz caster sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
25g/1oz butter
Some Demerara sugar
A splash of water

First, do not think rice pudding think risotto. Add a splash of water to a large sauce pan and the sugar and butter let them melt together. You do not want the sugar to caramelise so do this on a low heat. Then add the rice so that every thing gets a good coating of sugar. Now add your milk, nutmeg and your vanilla, if you are using a vanilla pod just split it and throw it in you c…

Valencian paella.

This hearty paella recipe from the northeast of Spain uses rabbit and chicken so I am told. However, you can make it with almost any thing as long as you follow the rules, a bit like risotto in Italy. Start by cooking the rice add the ingredient add the stock and let it all cook together , do not over cook the rice and use the best fresh ingredients you can get. Now I am sure that there is a lot of people who will disagree with the way I am going to tell you haw to cook this but this is what I do.

For this paella you will need,

125ml/4fl oz olive oil
200g/7oz rabbit meat, cut into bite-sized pieces
250g/9oz chicken breast fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt black pepper to taste
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
165g/5¾oz runner beans, trimmed and sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, skin and seeds removed, chopped
1 level tsp sweet paprika
1.9 litres/3¼ pints hot chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
700ml/1.25 pints Spanish paella rice,

Chorizo with red wine.

This is fast filling and tasty. Like all tapas, it is to be eaten with a good drink, like a ice cold beer and some bread. It is the sun on you face and warmth in your tummy that is so good.

You need,

For the chorizo in red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, sliced, or red onions
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
300g/1oz chorizo, cut diagonally into 2.5cm/1in chunks
2 fresh bay leaves
200ml/7fl oz red wine

This is so simple to do, get your self a frying pan. Add the oil and start to cook the shallots and garlic. Add the bay leaf and the Chorizo sausage. Let every thing warm together in the pan. The fat from the sausage will crystallize with the onions and on the pan, once this has happened you are ready to finish the dish.

Add the red wine and let it reduce deglazing the pan and making the sauce. Once the wine has almost gone take of the heat, serve straight in to a dish, and enjoy.

Squid and chorizo

This is fast a furious cooking that takes just a few minutes in the frying pan and on to the plate. The smokiness from the bacon, spice from the sage and the freshness of the squid all com together in a tasty fast food treat.

You will need

4 tbsp olive oil
459g/1lb baby squid, cleaned
450g/1lb cooking chorizo
100g / 3oz smoked bacon diced, chunky
2 onions finely chopped
1 garlic bulb
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, cut into dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ lemon, juice only
Flat leaf parsley

Now if you cannot get your squid all ready prepped and ready to go it is not difficult to clean. Just pull the tentacles away from the body remove the quill, the hard bit, from the inside and throw that away. Remove the 'ears' from either side of the squid body and remove the skin with your fingers. Cut the tentacles just below the eyes, being sure not to cut the ink sac. Be sure to remove the beak at the base of the tentacles. Then wash it under cold water and rem…

Garlic prawns with chorizo

Another tapas dish that is fast to cook good to eat and ready in the flash of a pan. The spice from the sausage the sherry and the prawns combine together to make a juicy dish that you just have to mop up with a good piece of bread.

To make this you will need,

2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
300g/11oz chorizo, cut diagonally into ½cm/¼in thick slices
pinch sea salt
8 medium-sized prawns raw, shell on
50ml/2fl oz dry sherry
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic. Once the garlic is cooking add the chorizo and cook that. All the spices from the sausage will cook in to the oil and create a rich, spicy, garlic back not to the dish.
Add the dry sherry and let that reduce a little and then throw in the prawns. Cook them until they turn pink. Take of the heat and season with salt and a good load of fresh parsley.

This is my holiday food fast fresh and full of flavour, what more do you want out of life.

Lamb Albondigas

Lamb Albondigas

Try this recipe for authentic Spanish meatballs served with crispy patatas fritas.

For the meat balls
40g/1½oz white bread crumbs
125g/4½oz thinly sliced Serrano ham, finely chopped
600g/1lb 5oz lamb mince
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1½ tsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
1½ tsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
¾ tsp hot paprika
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
olive oil to fry them in

To make the sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
150g/5oz shallots, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp crushed chillies, or less all depending how hot you want it
800g/1lb 12oz vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, chopped, or tined.
200ml/7fl oz good quality dry sherry
200ml/7fl oz chicken stock
A bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First you want your lamb mince as fine as you can get it , see if you can get the butcher to mince it twice. If not work every thing in a food processor to make it the right consistency. Basically cru…

Lamb with Romesco sauce

Now the Romesco sauce is a rather thick sauce that is thickened by either bread or ground almonds and flavoured with roasted red pepper. This is a rich and intense sauce so you need some thing rich and intense to go with it. You can add things to it like bacon or I like lamb so here we go

For the braised lamb shank you will need

8 small lamb chops
1 tbsp olive oil
1 colevs of garlic.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the romesco sauce

4 red peppers, grilled whole then peeled and seeds removed
4 tbsp blanched almonds, toasted and ground
Glass of red wine
Glass of chiken stock
Dash red wine vinegar
1 onion finly choppted
2 coves of garlic crushed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

First take the garlic rosemary and thyme and chop then all together. Use the salt and the edge of a knife to crush this or a mortar and pestle. You are looking to make a paste then add the oil and pepper and rub this al…

Sausage and bean soup

This soup, I say soup but it is more like a stew, comes from the mountains. Rich full-boded soup, which will feed you for the day it you are working out side. I do not like the term peasant food but this is rustic flavourful stuff.

To make the soup you will need,

2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions
3 garlic cloves
1 large or 2 medium carrots A stick of celery
A good sprig or two of fresh oregano leaves
3 sausages (about 400g/14oz)
A couple of pinches of crushed dried chillies
A pinch of fennel seeds
Juice and zest of one orange
A glass of dry sherry
5 or 6 decent-sized tomatoes
2 x 400g/14oz tins cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and black pepper to taste

Take your onions and garlic, add them to hot oil in a heavy based saucepan on a low heat, and cover with a lid. Once they have softened, in about 10 minutes, add your celery and carrot and let them cook for a while. Just dice the carrots and celery up roughly do not worry to much about fine diced veg.

Now add the sausage…


This is the Spanish omelette that you will find all over Spain. It is perfect hot or cold as part of a tapas selection or as a side dish of a meal.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
vegetable oil 4 large potatoes, cut into thin slices (3mm/⅛in thickness)
2 or 3 eggs
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Get your potatoes and slice them and start by boiling them . then get them in a frying pan and stat to fry them but do not let them take on any colure so on a low heat. While they are cooking add the onions to let them soften and season with salt and pepper. While this is all cooking beat the eggs with a fork in a big bowl

Take you potatoes out of the frying pan and in the egg bowl. Now mix the eggs that you have beaten with a fork and get the whole mixture bound together. Then add the whole lot back into the frying pan and cook on a low heat until the base starts to go brown.

Next is the tricky bit . Take a plat or try and cover the frying pan then turn out t…

Sherry or Jerez

Sherry or jerez is the Spanish wine from the southern region of Cádiz, and is enjoyed all over the world . Sherry has been around for many centuries. It is mentioned by the Greek as far back as the 4th century B.C.

The English have loved it for years and it has the image of old ladies how do a little sherry and gossip . or it just get stuck in a trifle . But sherry is more than that it is after all a wine and you get many kinds. Sherry can be dry right threw to sweet and all the ones in-between. So here I have pulled together a list fo the types and what they are like

Fino – This is a clear, light yellow and dry, light and fragrant.

Amontillado – It has an amber color and it a light and smooth sherry with a certain nutty bouquet

Oloroso – The colour of Oloroso sherry can range from amber to dark mahogany colour and is very fragrant.

Raya - This is part of the Oloroso group, but it is less delicate and does not have as much aroma.

Palo Cortado - This mahogany colure sherry is be…

Spanish garlic prawns

“Gambas al ajilo” you get then in most tapas bars in the selection of bits that you can have. Once again, a fast and easy thing to make that just takes a few second and test good. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 chillies deseeded, chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 onion, finely chopped
300g/10½oz raw king prawns, peeled and de-veined

You do not need to worry about how this will look, as it will just come together, prawns in a nice spicy garlic sauce. Make sure that your prawns have been properly de-veined , cut down the back and the little black pie removed and you are good to go

Heat the oil over a gentle heat and add the garlic, chillies, paprika and onion. Cook until the onion is soft, without any colour.

Add the prawns to the pan, and increase the heat slightly. Cook for 5-10 minutes or cook until the prawns have turned dark pink.

Serve with crusty bread to mop up the flavoursome juices.

Mussels and jamon with sherry

One thing here in Spain you get fresh seafood almost every ware you look and one of my favourites is mussels. This dish has the flavour of the local ham as well.

You will need,
1kg/2¼lb mussels
2 tbsp olive oil
half onion, finely chopped
2 thick or 5 thin slices jamon or prosciutto, diced
100ml/3½fl oz dry white wine
3 tbsp sherry
A good hand full of fresh chopped parsley

Scrub the mussels well, then yank out the little beards and discard them, make sure that you have no dead ones and then wash them under a tap to make sure you wash away any of the stuff you have scraped off away.

Now get a big saucepan with a lid that fits and get that on the heat. Add the oil and cook your onions. Once they are soft, add the ham and the white wine, and let this get up to the boil. Now add the mussels and then cover with the lid.

The mussels will cook in the steam from the win and create salty ham flavoured liquor in the bottom of the pan. Once all the mussels have cooked, fish them out with a s…

Sidra (Cider)

Cider production in Spain started in about 1629 when apple trees from America were introduced into Spain. There had been cider made before but only on a small scale. Also it was prohibited by Franco and apple orchards were abandoned as people looked for industrial work. Production boomed again in the eighties, and today you can drink Natural Cider directly from the big barrels, "kupelas” between January and April or May but you can get it in bottles as well.
In Spain, the production of natural "hard" ciders takes place mostly in the north: Asturias, Galicia and Basque country. The climate here is ideal for apple growing; mild, wet summers and mild winters.

How to Drink Sidra is a bit of a art from as you need to throw the cider. Now this is not as easy or as hard as you might think. There are a few rules to follow but what you get is a clean sharp drink that is very good .

You have to drink the whole bottle at one sitting it oxidizes quickly and becomes flat. You want i…

Salt cod and potato cakes

Salt cod is some thing that you cannot get in the UK that easily and I do not know why. My guess is that you have to soak it over night and was the salt out and any number of things so people do not bother with it, but you should its great. This is a simple fish cake that you can make; it takes a little planning, as you have to get your cod out and soak it over night but apart from that it is just a fish cake.

You will need,

500g/1lb 2oz salt cod, soaked overnight and rinsed thoroughly several times
500ml/17½fl oz full-fat milk
2 bay leaves
400g/14oz potatoes like King Edward or Maris Piper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste, NO SALT, you will get that from the cod
Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Olive oil

Get your salt cod and soak it over night, drain the water off this and then wash it a few time to get rid of any excess salt. Then poach it in milk with a couple of bay leaves until fully cooked. Take the fish out of the milk, remove any skin and bones flake the fish up, and l…


This drink is the one that you just associate with Spain. Like most things, there are millions of different ways of making it but this is what I do. Unlike a cocktail, you do not have a prescriptive recipe, and it is not that strong. Mind you if you put in lots of Liquor then it could be very strong. And if you sit in the sun or have spent the day on a beach then this is the sort of thing you know is going to be refreshing, hitting the right spot and easing you in to a long evening and night of walking and talking.

1 bottle full-bodied red wine
2 cups of the local orange brandy liqueur, Like Grand Marnier or Cointreau
2 cups of orange juice
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ of a orange sliced
¼ lemon
½ peach or other seasonal fruit in a big dice
1 bottle sparkling water

Cut your fruit up and put that in a big jug. Add the brandy liquor, orange juice and the red wine and give it all a good stir together. Now let this sit in the fridge till you are ready to use it. You can make it up ab…

Patatas bravas.

This is a traditional potato recipe that has numerous ways of making it and no matter who you ask they make the best. The potato should be crisp on the out side and still firm in the middle. The tomato sauce rich and full of flavour with hot pimentón.

You will need,

1 kg (2 lb) potatoes, peeled, and cut into 2cm (1in) inch cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g (1lb) good tomatoes
3 tsp Pimentón (paprika)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp tomato puree
2 or 3 tsp red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
Olive oil

Peel and cut the potatoes in to cubes.get themin a sauce pan and bring them to the boil then get them in to cold water to stop them cooking any more. Then get them in to a frying pan of hot oil and brown them so they are crisp on the out side. Do not worry about cooking them all the way through, as you will be refrying them before you finish the dish. Cook jus…

Pork Albóndigas.

This dish you see in tapas bars and in restaurants, even in can in supermarkets. It is what you call popular and if you have a good one you will see why.

For the meat balls you will need

150g (6oz) minced pork
150g (6oz) minced veal (or beef)
3 cloves garlic
50g (2oz) breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

And for the sauce

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 400g (16oz) can chopped tomatoes
3 to 4 tsp tomato puree
½ tsp cayenne pepper
125ml (4 fl oz) dry white wine
125ml (4 fl oz) chicken stock
100g (4oz) frozen peas (or fresh peas)
Ground black pepper a little salt
olive oil

First make your meat ball , try and get the minced meat as fine as you can get. Then get every thing in a bowl and with your hand work it all together and form the meatballs. Chill them for a while and then fry them on in a pan and pop in the oven to finish the cooking.

For the sauce start by frying of you…

Squid and chorizo

This is fast a furious cooking that takes just a few minutes in the frying pan and on to the plate. The smokiness from the bacon, spice from the sage and the freshness of the squid all com together in a tasty fast food treat.

You will need

4 tbsp olive oil
459g/1lb baby squid, cleaned
450g/1lb cooking chorizo
100g / 3oz smoked bacon diced, chunky
2 onions finely chopped
1 garlic bulb
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, cut into dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ lemon, juice only
Flat leaf parsley

Now if you cannot get your squid all ready prepped and ready to go it is not difficult to clean. Just pull the tentacles away from the body remove the quill, the hard bit, from the inside and throw that away. Remove the 'ears' from either side of the squid body and remove the skin with your fingers. Cut the tentacles just below the eyes, being sure not to cut the ink sac. Be sure to remove the beak at the base of the tentacles. Then wash it under cold water and rem…

A out line of Spanish Wine

If you say Spanish wine you think Rioja, or Cava at a wedding, but why. Spain has 72 recognized wine producing regions; 50 percent of all the EECs vineyards lie in Spain, they grow a wide diversity of grapes, mostly of a native origin, a lot of them I have never heard of. I think the problem is that we see just the two kinds of wine from Spain, the good stuff and the cheap local wine. And we do not look any feather than that, If is seems a little tart add some lemonade or sparkling water and you are done. What I want to do is just shine a light on what wine Spain has to off with a broad brush stroke so you can start to see that there is more than really good and really cheap.

Rioja , from the area around Logroño, is Spain's best known wine and available in most shops and restaurants around the world . Navarra and Catalunya are regions which also produces the champagne-like cava Galicia too, in the temperate northwest is producing some notable white wines .There are many kinds and…

Seafood stew

This is a hearty dish and you can make this is basically in two stages, first you make your veg broth then you cook you fish in it. It is some thing that you might find in the south of France, Spain Italy in fact any European country around the Mediterranean.

You will need,

50g/2oz shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
½ fennel bulb, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
4 tomatoes
175ml/6fl oz white wine
1 bay leaf
750ml/1¼ pints fish stock
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 or 3 potatoes sliced
400g/14oz assorted fresh fish and shellfish
100g/3½oz fine beans cut in to 3cm or 1 inch lengths
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
sprig tarragon
1 lemon, juice only

Now take your root vegetables and chop them up to a similar size so the all cook at the same time. Then get a big heavy saucepan and put that on the heat. Pop in the butter and add you onions and garlic. Now get you sliced potaoes in the pot, get them cooking with…