Toulouse is Smokin’ – My take on a Italian, Rick Stein Sausage Dish! (Oh, and a short review of Michael Neaves Kitchen and Whiskey Bar)

WP_20150402_18_54_58_ProI was originally planning to cook a Moroccan dish, the centre stage being Merguez Sausages but when I arrived at the Ginger Pig in Marylebone they didn’t have any!

The Ginger Pig is an acclaimed butcher, they began over 20 years ago, with a near-derelict farmhouse and three Tamworth pigs, and now farm over 3,000 acres of their own pasture and North Yorkshire moorland, and work with a small network of like-minded farmers to supply their seven London butchers’ shops.

At the heart of everything they do is good animal husbandry and welfare; livestock that is looked after well in the field will simply taste better on the plate.

So looking at the options available to me and searching deep in the grey matter for a taste tingling sensation I tried to conjure up a fitting recipe for another sausage, the Toulouse, which they did have in stock. I picked a hearty smoked variety.


I’m going to go of on a tangent here for a few moments (it IS relevant). I recently discovered that someone I worked with had a sister in the world of artisan food.

Della, the owner of Fox Gourmet Foods make an amazing range of Jelly’s, Jams, Sauces and Chutneys, being artisan you won’t find them in the larger supermarkets, only in smaller Deli’s and specialist food outlets.

When I was out getting my hair cut recently, I popped into our local deli (had not ventured in there for many months), and discovered they stocked some of Della’s products, so bought a jar of Green Grape, Apple and Lemon Thyme Jelly, with a plan to try it in a recipe.

Eureka moment,  Rick Stein had published a nice looking dish in his Mediterranean Escapes Book, using Luganega Sausages from Italy that are fennel based, and braised with Potatoes and Lemon, I could do a twist on this and use the Toulouse variety and incorporate the Jelly from Fox’s to add to the flavour profile.

So, for this take on Sausages with Potatoes and Lemon you will need the following (as per the picture at the head of this post, adjust the vegetable volumes by eye/sense);

  • 3 Sausages per person (get REALLY strong flavoured ones like Toulouse if you can, it makes a big difference)
  • Waxy Potatoes such as Charlotte
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Lemon
  • 4 – 5 Shallots
  • 2 1/2 Tbls Green Grape, Apple and Lemon Thyme Jelly
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • Bunch Wild Garlic (In season at the moment)
  • Optional – 1 Bulb of Fennel, shaved on a Mandolin. (I forgot to use mine, hence optional!)
  • 1 Tsp Piment d’Espelette (available HERE)
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Parsley
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Glass White Wine (Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc are good)
  • Salt and Pepper to Season

WP_20150402_19_13_47_ProStart of by quickly browning your Sausages in some Olive Oil and set aside, you can just see them in the white bowl in the upper left of the picture. Remove from the pan and add the Shallots, (thinly sliced), and then the Garlic clove, (sliced), and soften for a few minutes.

Then add the Glass of Wine and cook vigorously to evaporate the alcohol, add the potatoes which have been sliced into approx. 1 1/2 inch chunks and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in 2 1/2 Tbls of the Fox’s jelly until melted, you can see the flavoursome Jelly just as I had added it, in the picture above.

WP_20150402_19_15_27_ProNext, sprinkle the Piment d’Espelette over the top. Piment d’Espelette literally means “pepper of Espelette” in French. It is a food product produced around the town of Espelette in Southern France, in the region known as Basque Country. This pepper is so famous that it has been given a protected designation by the European Union, ensuring that only peppers grown in the Espelette region may be labeled as “piment d’Espelette.” There are only 7 villages in the area that are permitted to produce it.

WP_20150402_19_19_47_ProFinally, add the Sausages back into the pan, along with 2 Bay Leaves. Take your Lemon and Pare (remove the outer skin), with a Peeler, leaving the white bitter pith behind and add to the pan, then cut the Lemon in half and add the Juice, squeezing through your hands to catch the pips, (or use a sieve!!).

Cover, turn the heat down, and Braise for 45 Minutes, check occasional as you don’t want the potatoes overcooked.

WP_20150402_20_05_19_ProA couple of minutes before your ready to serve, if you have managed to get some Wild Garlic Leaves, cut them in 2 c.m. lengths and add them to the pan, and finally chop the Parsley, add, and your finished.

WP_20150402_20_17_14_ProVoila, thats it —- I was obviously tired when preparing this dish as I had purchased a Fennel Bulb to slice and add some crunchy texture, but forgot it altogether. I will be doing this dish again and adjusting some of the ingredients, including adding the Fennel, Doh!

My acid test when cooking is whether the Mrs! likes it. She is honest and critical, so if she does not like something, I will know very quickly.

The verdict, bl@@dy delicious, punchy Sausages, Lemony sauce, subtle Garlic and Thyme, the jelly added both consistency and flavour so I was really chuffed, as was the Mrs who polished her whole plate with nothing left.

Please look out for the Fox Gourmet Range, they are available online from specialist Deli’s google will assist you find your local supplier.


Review – Michael Neaves Kitchen and Whiskey Bar, Edinburgh

A recent trip to Edinburgh on business and I was looking for somewhere decent to eat. Many (not all) Hotels these days have tedious menu’s using words such as ‘classic’ that really don’t inspire confidence in me wanting to even try their food.

My research found Michael Neaves Kitchen and Whiskey Bar, a restaurant that has only been open for a couple of years, but with a head chef who is only 23, yes TWENTY THREE.

The menu had an excellent, but controlled mix of Seafood, Meat and Vegetarian dishes that really made your mouth water.

File 03-04-2015 08 02 20The starter I picked was Pigeon Carpaccio, with Candied Walnuts and Beetroot Dressing, it was just AMAZING, the flavour and texture combination worked brilliantly.

File 03-04-2015 08 03 57The main course of John Dory on Bisque, with Kale was absolutely stunning, the Fish was spot on, crispy Skin, but not overcooked, the bisque, subtle and not too overpowering. I have to say it’s probably the BEST fish dish I have ever eaten (and this guy is only 23!!).

File 03-04-2015 08 03 26As for dessert, the Blueberry parfait with Pistachio crumb and Meringue was just beautiful, flavour packed, lovely textures, and went down a treat.

This was one of the best meals I have ever had (The other 2 being both in Edinburgh, Tom Kitchen and Martin Wishart, both much much older, and with a Michelin star each).

So Michael, thanks for lovely food, your staff are fantastic, service being spot on, highly recommended and if I am back in the lovely city of Edinburgh, your restaurant is on my must re-visit list.


Till next time……….L8ers

Celebrating 25 Years, Pain D’Épice, Babi kecap & Foie Gras

WP_20140824_13_22_45_Pro25 Years ago today I got married to a wonderful lady, 25 years later I am proud to say we are still together and everything is fantastic. We had planned a few days on the south coast, but cancelled at the last minute when we saw the weather forecast!! Instead, we have booked a trip to Tunisia in October, where I celebrated by 21st birthday MANY years ago!

My better half has recently had an operation and is still suffering with back pains so when I offered to book a nice place to eat, the answer I got was ‘please can YOU cook me something nice, I would prefer it’! Its a double celebration this week as it’s her birthday so I sat surrounded with cookbooks and my trusty Mac, and scoured for something nice to prepare.

WP_20140824_15_55_31_ProDavid Lebovitz is well known in the food blogging world, an accomplished Chef and writer, I recently got hold of his latest book, My Paris Kitchen. Its a brilliant piece of work and contains some really good recipes, two of which caught my eye.

As previously blogged, I spent a week in Gascony earlier this year and learned some new skills and recipes. One was preparing Foie Gras using something called Pain D’Épice, a spicy bread like cake and very tasty. The one we used was purchased, I had found a recipe to make it myself  In David’s book, you can see the end result above.

The reason I picked this was that it is also a component of Carbonnade Flamande, a delicious Beef dish from Belgium which I am cooking on our anniversary today, I will be posting the results later this week. You may wonder why I picked a dish that does not seem s0 special, a beef stew! Well our son Justin was conceived in Brussels on my 40th Birthday, and so the trip holds MANY fond memories for both of us including trying my first Carbonnade Flamande.

The big Red bag of Spice above is something quite special, Piment d’EspeletteIt has AOC status, the origins of AOC date to the year 1411, when Roquefort was regulated by a parliamentary decree. In practise this means its production, marketing and sales are tightly controlled. You CAN get it mail order from ‘The Spicery”, I ordered it Friday last week and it arrived Saturday!!!!

Piment d’Espelette is a component of preparing a particular style of Foie Gras, hence my purchase. i also plan to experiment with some Basque cooking, I have just ordered a new cookery book which focusses on this particular cuisine, more on that later.

WP_20140824_17_55_48_ProSo for the Birthday treat I turned to Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey and Babi Kecap, you can see the ingredients above, along with those for Som Tum (Green Papaya Salad), which I have described before. Both were to be served with Coconut Rice to balance and join the flavours and textures.

WP_20140824_13_48_46_ProTo Start Babi kecap you need an ‘Asian Chicken Broth’, essentially a spiced Chicken Stock. Mine was made with a whole Organic Chicken, the flavour enhancers included Star Anise, Spring Onions, loads of Garlic and Galangal and Red Kampot Pepper from Cambodia, (I had recently re-stocked my spice cupboard using Steenbergs mail order and added this to the list as something new to try). You can find the recipe at the back for Rick Steins book, its needs bringing to the boil, skimming to remove the sludge and gently simmering for 1 1/2 hours, job done!

The next stage is to fry loads of shallots until golden brown, then add more Garlic and Ginger, some pork shoulder and colour. Then add the stock and all the other ingredients including the Kecap Manis, a sweet Soy Sauce from Indonesia. After 1 1/2 hours I removed the meat to a warm covered dish, sieved the remaining sauce and hard reduced until shiny, sticky and unctuous!

WP_20140824_20_25_57_ProServed with the Som Tum salad and Coconut Rice it was absolutely stunning, well worth the effort in finding the Sweet Soy Sauce which is available mail order, (just google the name) or, from Asian Supermarkets. I got mine from See Woo in Reading who seem to have all the unusual and difficult to get ingredients including Fresh Turmeric and Green Papaya.

The missus had a great birthday, some food cooked with love, and very tasty too. Watch out for the followup later this week as I have more cooking to do.

Until next time…. L8ers……