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

A Mixture – شكشوكة‎ or שקשוקה (Shakshouka)

I was not expecting to cook over the weekend, but the heat of Sunday evening and the lure of the kitchen got the better of me.

We have been having a clear out and re stock in the kitchen, herbs and spices from Steenbergs recently purchased have included Sumac, Za’atar, Dukkah, Turkish Oregano, Spearmint from Egypt so opening the herb and spice cupboard is like an unknown journey across the seven seas!

The boss had taken our son out on sunday, leaving me to relax in the quiet and finger through some recipe books whilst listening to some hedonistic holiday anthems. Titanium, Bom Bom and Loca People hit the walls and ceilings with vigour, whilst in my head I was in far off places, Egypt, Lebanon and Tunisia.
It was soon evening and what to eat….Shakshouka was the answer.
The word means mixture if you believe wikipedia, and mine was going to be a blend of a couple of recipes from two of my favourite chefs, you know who I am talking about.
We had some Toulouse sausages in the fridge, these were de-skinned and put into a bowl with copious quantities of Sumac, Oregano, Chilli flakes, Habanero sauce (just a few drops, hot hot hot!) mixed with a fork, and left to marinate for an hour or so.
After an hour, the meat mixture was rolled into small balls, dusted with flour and fried in olive oil for a couple of minutes to brown, then set aside on kitchen paper to drain.
Next, an onion was chopped and added to a frying pan with some olive oil and butter, cooking slowly for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I added some Salt and Pepper, Za’atar, a pinch of Sumac, chopped Garlic, fresh Coriander seeds and Cumin seeds. Quantities are according to your taste, as sometimes I find recipes need more than stated but its your chance to experiment. Remember you cannot take out but you can always add more, so taste as you go if unsure…..
I thought we did not have any peppers in the house, but remembered that I had been given a jar of roasted peppers as part of a christmas present, they came to the rescue and having been roasted and de-skinned already were absolutely perfect. Chopped into approx. 1cm pieces they were added to the pan and cooked for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes to the mixture, and a sprinkling of sugar to bring out the tomatoes sweetness and counteract the acidity. The mixture was left to simmer for about 30 minutes on a low heat, enabling the flavours to develop.
Next step was to added the pre-fried meat balls, and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes on a low heat, this ensure the meat was cooked through.
At this stage, put on the oven, and set to 160 deg (Fan oven), or 180 deg (Convection/Gas) and set aside to dishes big enough for one serving, or whatever takes your fancy.
Transfer the mixture to the two bowls, ensuring the meat balls are around the outside enabling an egg to be broken into the centre, and shrouded by the piquant tomato sauce. Then put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the eggs are set, but yoke still runny.
My version of the Shakshuka was served with some nutty bread and tasted delicious. Small balls of meat that were full of garlic and punchy spices, mellowed by a slightly sweet but flavourful sauce with the egg adding both texture and richness.  To finish I sprinkled some Parsley and Sumac over the top which you can see in the picture at the top of the page.
So there we go, another trip to the Middle East and a journey well worth taking. I am not travelling so much this week so hoping to get back in the kitchen and experiment some more.
il-hanā’ wa ash-shifā (May you have your meal with gladness and health)