All posts by Phil

Universal Cure calculator

This cure calculator can be used for measured dry cures or equilibrium brine (wet) cures.

It is designed for the experienced curer – those who will know to adjust the meat weight for any bone. Those who realise that meat takes a very long time to reach equilibrium in an eq brine.

They will also be aware of curing safely and using a sufficiently strong brine to protect the meat whilst it is curing when using a brine cure.

The input to the form is in grams rather than lb and oz. This is for purely practical purposes; for example, 2.5% of 1000gm is far easier to calculate than 2.5% of 2lbs2oz. It also uses weight for all measurements; this is because the volumes of solids are variable.

To convert US measures to grams you can use our:

US measures to grams converter

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Sausage Rolls

Having made the sausagemeat for rolls it’s a fairly simple task to make it into sausage rolls.

I prefer to use a rough puff pastry rather than a shortcrust or shop-bought puff pastry but these could also be used. I make the pastry using this quick rough puff pastry recipe.

I’ve dropped a clanger by not taking a photo of the sheet of pastry after it’s rolled out but I roll it to approx 250mm (10″) by 400mm (16 “). Square the edge off that’s nearest you. I will make 2 long rolls from this that I’ll then divide each into 4 individual sausage rolls.

For approximately 100gm rolls use 170gm of sausage meat and roll pieces to form a long sausage to lay along the nearest edge. Then, lifting the pastry, roll it to just encase the meat. At this stage dampen the next inch or so of pastry with water (I think that water is better than egg wash for this) and roll the meat/pastry roll onto this. The roll can be cut away from the sheet at this stage.

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Sausagemeat For Rolls

I love a sausage roll but blimey, you kiss a few frogs before you find a prince! Too many are absolutely dire; the sausage meat is like meat paste and what is it with that pastry that’s neither short nor puff and is similar in texture to cardboard? I guess people tolerate it because they’re relatively cheap and they’re convenient.

As sausagemeat can be made without any fancy equipment they’re a great project for making at home. I would normally mince the pork myself to make these but to illustrate my point I’m using bought pork mince for these. You could get this from your butcher, or as in this case, the local supermarket. If it’s from your butcher ask for 80/20 visible lean. From the supermarket, buy the 20% fat pork mince, not the 5% fat one.

I assembled what I needed for the sausagemeat, most of the spices in the spice dabba won’t be used on this occasion but they do add a bit of colour to the photo!

The ingredients for each kilogram of pork mince are:

280gm Water
180gm Rusk
22gm Cornflour
18gm Salt
4gm Ground white pepper
2gm Ground black pepper
1.5gm Ground nutmeg
1.5gm Ground ginger
1.5gm Ground coriander
0.5gm Ground mace
3gm Rubbed sage

To make things easier, there is a calculator at the end of this post.

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Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) and Afternoon Tea

In 2014, I wrote:

Mum and Dad celebrated their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary in 2014. As well as sending them to a local restaurant for a meal, we decided to have an afternoon tea.

For me, afternoon tea is lots of small patisserie and cake items; oh, and some token sandwiches beforehand. I’m not one for scones and cream as part of ‘afternoon tea’; they’re for other occasions when they can be enjoyed on their own. Now, we’re not ‘The Savoy’, or even ‘The Great British Bake Off’, so I choose just a small selection of simple things: individual lemon meringue pies, fruit tarts, and meringues, along with cupcakes made by my daughter Hannah. The meringue uses up the egg whites left after the yolks have been used for the pastry and lemon meringue filling. Savouries were cucumber, egg, ham, and cheese sandwiches, some even had the crusts cut off!

‘Ere, how come when it’s lemon meringue it’s a pie, but when it’s fruit, it’s a tart?

Never mind, what I do know is that with pies or tarts, it’s all about the pastry – it needs to be strong enough not to fall apart but melt-in-the-mouth when you eat it. My method may not be the proper way but it works and results in a pastry case that’s more like shortbread than pastry.

Continue reading Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) and Afternoon Tea

Chelsea Bun(ish) Recipe

Originally posted in 2008:

Now I know if I call this recipe a Chelsea Bun, someone will come along and say, “Oh, no it’s not, a Chelsea bun is made with currants, lemon zest, or whatever and glazed with the milk of a particular species of Yak, only found on one lost island in Battersea Park!” Hence the ‘ish’ in the title!

I made these a couple of weeks ago from a recipe in Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave’s Cookery Bible but wasn’t 100% happy with them. Here’s my take on the recipe, it still needs fine tweaking, but hey-ho.

Dough
450gm Strong Bread flour
55gm butter
55gm sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
2 packets easy blend yeast
200gm milk – tepid
2 eggs

Filling
55gm butter
55gm sugar – plus a bit for tops
80gm raisins – soaked in tea or booze until plump
80gm sultanas – soaked in tea or booze until plump

To finish
Apricot or another glaze.

Method
Put the fruit to soak in sweet cold black tea, or any other fine beverage of choice – brandy would be good.

Melt the butter for the dough (only just get it really soft – not frying temperature). Put all the dough ingredients in a food mixer bowl and, using the dough hook, kneed for 10 minutes – it’ll probably be very sticky!.

Shape into a ball on a well-floured surface, return to the bowl, cover, and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Mix (cream) the butter and sugar for the filling together. I may add some cinnamon to it next time.

When the dough has risen, roll it out to a rectangle about 12″ (30cm) wide by as long as you can get it, maybe 16″ (40cm) if you’re lucky.

Spread the dough with the butter/sugar mix and spread the (well drained) fruit in a layer over it leaving the last ½” (1cm) uncovered. Roll the dough up into a ‘swiss roll’ and cut into 12-16 slices.

Put oven to heat on 180°C (350°F).

Place the coils of dough, laid flat, about ¼”-½” (about 10mm) apart in a roasting tin. Leave to rise until doubled in size and all pushing against each other.

Sprinkle with sugar and cook for about 20-25 minutes (the time will vary depending on the oven). Check after 10 minutes and, if they are going very brown, cover loosely with foil.

Cool and glaze with apricot glaze or any other glaze of your choice.

Enjoy!

I fancy varying the recipe next time and using chocolate chips and pieces of pear instead of the dried fruit.

Bacon and Cheese Quiche

There you go, I’m being posh and calling it quiche! It’s really a good old bacon and cheese flan. It’s a pity that so many poor imitations of this superb rich savoury egg custard are sold by supermarkets and presented to the world on numerous buffets with cheap frozen sausage rolls and those damn miniature scotch eggs.

A good quiche is all about the quality of the ingredients, there’s few of them, so they all count. Use good dry-cured bacon (mild smoked if you like), good eggs, double cream not milk, and you won’t go far wrong. One other thing, and a very important one, is that most recipes (including Delia) will tell you to cook the quiche at too high a temperature. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again – cook the quiche at around 160°C or below; you’re making a savoury custard, not an omelette!

I was fortunate to receive Jane Grigson’s book “Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery”, for my birthday a week or so ago. You see, it’s not just me:

Bake in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes. Remember that a quiche is a savoury custard tart; it mustn’t cook too quickly or it will curdle.

I feel a bit of a fraud giving a recipe; it’s not rocket science, but here’s my take on it:

Pastry

6oz Plain Flour
3oz lard (or lard/butter mix)
about ¼ teasp salt
water

Rub the fat into the flour/salt until it resembles breadcrumbs, then add water a little at a time and mix until it forms a dough. In all honesty, I generally make a batch using 1lb flour, 8oz fat and 1 teaspoon of salt, in the food processor. Don’t add too much liquid or the pastry will be hard – about 1½ – 2 tablespoons (ish) should be about right for 6oz flour.

Use the pastry to line a loose-bottomed flan tin (approx. 7½ inch diameter) then prick the base with a fork, line it with parchment paper, fill with baking beans, or rice or dried beans, and bake it at 180°C for 15 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment and bake it for a further 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C ready for the next stage.

Filling

6 – 8oz bacon
2 – 3oz grated cheese
¾ pint double cream
3 eggs
Salt and pepper

While the pastry is cooking, remove the rind from the bacon and discard it. Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry it, then put it on a paper towel to drain and cool. Mix the eggs and cream and season. Sprinkle the bacon over the base of the pastry followed by the cheese and then fill with the egg/cream mix. I do this while the pastry case is still on the oven shelf to avoid spillage. Bake it at 160°C for 40 minutes or so until it’s set.

It can be eaten warm but according to my wife is better eaten at room temperature the following day.