As regular readers will know I have done a few courses with James Swift and Ruth at Trealy farm from the fantastic Meat Course which is so much more than the title suggests to ham and bacon making with Trealy Farm Charcuterie butcher John Standerwick a true master of butchery.
I have always had a love of pigs so when I was told by James that he had some pigs in sow I asked if I could have one when they were ready. I have visited the farm as they grew and listened to James stories of them digging up flowers, escaping and creating general havoc at the farm. The pigs are a cross saddleback and mangalitsa, both breeds make fantastic pork and the mangalitsa is renowned for its fantastic fat.
With the recent scandal in the meat industry and the public demanding clearer traceability for the meat what better than to have actually seen your meat in a field foraging for its natural food and to know that it has had a full and happy life. I honestly think that this is the only way forward with our demand for meat, if communities or groups of friends can find local meat producers and in effect adopt a pig, some sheep to even a cow they cut out the middle man, they move from the factory farmed imports from Europe to a sustainable and far more ethical and economical way to eat meat.
We arrived at the farm on Saturday afternoon in glorious sunshine to start our pork butchery. After a walk around the farm we or should I say that Ffion chose the pig we were going to butcher. I think that educating children as to where food really comes from is very important as you can see from the pictures she is more than happy to be around real food not plastic wrapped insipid meat in a supermarket, she is aware that meat comes from animals and is happy with this. Her method for choosing our pig with James was quite ammusing she simply wanted the one with the most nipples.
The process of breaking down a side of pork into what we recognise as cuts of meat is not that difficult, t break into what are called the primal cuts takes four basic cuts, seperate the leg, shoulder and split the loin and belly. From there you start to break it down further into chops, belly slices, bacon, hams all the trims go for sausage the head and tortters making brawn and fantastic stock.
I shall post recipes using the cuts of pork that we got from our side of pork, from roasts to stews and hopefully as it warms up bbq ribs.
For an hour or so work at a cost far less than supermarket meat we now have pork that will last a few months, we have shoulder roast. leg hams, bacon, chops and all the other fantastic pork goodies that generally the butcher keeps for himself.
If you would like further information on sourcing your own pork and even details on where you can hire a unit to butcher it just drop me message or leave a comment on here.
This follows on from the baking with kids post and the making of lemon drizzle cake.
After a quick cup of tea and cleaning up the mess made by a 4 yr old with a hand-held electric whisk and cake mix it was time to start making more mess, this time chocolate cake.
The pic to the left here is near the end of the process but it highlights what children love best in the kitchen, making mess having fun and cleaning mixing bowls especially ones with cake mix in all the better if its chocolate.
I have made literally hundreds of different chocolate cakes over the years but this is by far and away the most moist I have made.
It is also one of the simplest to make as well, all I did was weigh out the ingredients, master baker Ffion did the mixing, i should also add that she ate the majority of it as well.
1lb high quality chocolate preferably dark with at least 70% cocoa content, chopped.
500ml double cream
Pre heat oven to 170c, 150c fan assisted or gas mark 3.
Grease and line the base with greaseproof paper of a 12" cake tin or two 6-7" tins.
Weigh out all the ingredients and place into a large mixing bowl or food mixer.
Mix until all the ingredients are fully combined including the butter.
Pour into prepared tins and bake in preheated oven for about one hour until a skewer leaves the centre of the cake cleanly.
For the decoration of the cake, place the cream in a saucepan and heat until bubbling at the edges but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stand for 2-3 minutes them mix well. Whisk until smooth and silky then place in the fridge to chill.
When both the cake and the chocolate and cream mix has cool, dress the cake with the cream mix and serve.
As you can see from the picture this cake is very moist, the cake lasted less than three days, and I have already been told by the little chef that we will be making it again soon.
The weather man lied, the forecast for Saturday was showers and overcast so i made a deal with Ffion that we would do some cake making. As i said the weather man lied as the day turned out to be mainly sunny and warm, but still a pinkie deal is a pinkie deal and cake making it was. Two choices of cake were chosen Lemon Drizzle Cake and Ultimate Chocolate cake. After scouring the cupboards the only missing ingredients were vanilla extract and chocolate, no surprise there as chocolate would be found in this house even if it was in a fire proof safe. So dispatched to get the final ingredients plus some bacon as a pre baking sustenance, i thought id need it after making a deal to make two cakes.
After returning from the shop with the last of the ingredients and full of bacon sandwich and tea, we set about the task of cake baking. Ffion decided that the first cake to make was the lemon drizzle cake, so all dressed in her apron and chefs hat we set about making this delicious moist lemony cake.
Free range egss, organic unsalted butter, unwaxed lemons and the other ingredients were all collected together.
[warning]If you can not get unwaxed lemons give them a good wash first after all this is a lemon drizzle cake not a wax drizzle cake, the wax will not harm you but its far better to not have it in there at all.[/warning]
Whilst prepairing your ingredients and tools, e.g. food mixer or whisk and bowls, preheat your oven to 180c, 160c for fan assisted ovens or gas mark 4.
Beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and soft.
Add one egg at a time mixing slowly until all 4 are combined into the sugar and butter.
Sift in the flour and mix.
Add the finely grated lemon zest.
Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper, the mix here will fill a tin of roughly 8x21cm.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until when a skewer is placed in the middle of the cake it comes out clean.
Wjilst the cake is still warm mix together the lemon juice and caster sugar, prick the surface of the cake all over, and drizzle the mix over the cake. Leave the cake in the tin to cool, once cooled the cake will be easy to remove from the lined tin and the lemon will have soaked into the cake and you will have a crispy surface from the sugar.
Ffion loves cooking but like any child the favourite part is the cleaning of the bowl after. There was no let up in the cake baking though as the next was the much anticipated ultimate chocolate cake.
Some of the best recipes for getting children involved are when they get there hands in the mixing bowl and get all messy, this is fun for them just like making mud pies. I have found that they will eat far more things if they actually do the cooking with you. You can add different vegetables, herbs and spices, fish and different cuts of meat. Let them experiment let them decide what they do and don’t like never force foods on them it is a sure-fire way of them refusing, if however they get involved and learn the chances are they will try almost anything.
Fishcakes are a great way of introducing different fish into their diets. We tend to think of cod and haddock when we talk of fish cakes, as long as they are line caught and from sustainable resources then I am fine with this, but we should be using more sustainable seafood when we are cooking. There are plenty of alternatives to cod which taste as good and are generally cheaper to, just ask the fishmongers when you buy your fish. If you use Tuna PLEASE only use tuna that is pole and line caught, this method does not kill dolphins, sharks and leather back turtles to name a few.
500g Mashed potato, use a floury variety for best results. e.g. Nadine or Rooster
Handful chopped fresh parsley
Zest of one lemon, un-waxed if you are unsure wash first.
4 tbsp Plain flour
3 tbsp light olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a pan just cover the cod fillets and poach for 3-4 minutes in simmering water. The fish should just start to flake, remove from the poaching liquid remove the skin and set to one side allowing to cool.
For added flavor to your mash boil the potatoes in the poaching water from the fish, boil for about 12 minutes until tender.
Mash the potatoes until creamy add the chopped parsley and lemon zest, season to taste, Flake in the cod and mix well. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Once cooled divide the mixture into roughly 8 balls of even size and form into ovals roughly an inch thick.
Cover and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes or until you need them.
Season the flour with a pinch of salt, evenly cover each fish cake with the seasoned flour.
Heat the olive in a frying pan and cook the fish cakes for 3-4 minutes or until a crisp golden brown, you may need to cook them in batches if you only have a small pan.
Serve with wedges of lemon.
For perfect chips to serve with these check the link for what i consider the only way to make Perfect Chips.
As an alternative to cod use any other firm fleshed fish Pollack is a great substitute and is sustainable as well. Tinned tuna is great in fish cakes as well.