cooking, recipes, cookery, food, gourmet cooking . . .


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There is always something happening in supermarkets - new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised so you can't find anything. Not always interesting, quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally something catches your eye, something is interesting . . .

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In search of top quality fresh food

Thinking about the supermarkets and what to write led me to start remembering back to how things used to be. I grew up in or near a small country town in Mid Wales. When I say it was small it was the biggest town in the county but the population was only about 6,500 . . . the whole county was only 50,000 so I guess it would qualify as small. Looking back to that time, around the late 50s early 60s, food shopping was a lot different and choices were often limited. But the quality was first class.

There were no supermarkets just individual shops for everything you needed like the greengrocer for all your fresh veg, the butcher, the baker and for your more general supplies there was the grocer, probably referred to as a master grocer*, a rather grand name but usually lived up to. Our master grocer certainly lived up to the name. I can still picture the double fronted shop on the High Street, now home to a well known building society, and the smell that greeted you when you walked in of cheeses, freshly ground coffee . . . just heavenly. And back then there were no Off Licenses so the grocer would often sell wine and spirits. Sherry came in big packs and you took your own bottle in to be filled.

The weekly shop was an easy job, for those that could afford the higher prices, as all you had to do was drop off your order book and everything would be boxed up and delivered straight to your home. Funny how things have come full circle with the supermarkets offering the same service via online shopping.

The grocer has of course disappeared with the advance of the supermarkets and, whilst a lot of us complain about them, supermarkets do provide us with a choice of food that was just not available a few years ago.

So where am I going with all this? Well I think the quality of the original top High Street grocers is coming back only none of us seem to realise it, either because we are too young (not me) to remember grocery shops or because they are under a different guise. It is the new breed of farm shops.

Farm shops used to be housed in small wooden sheds, have a few shelves with home-made this or that on them and large bags of potatoes and boxes of whatever veg was in season. Since then they have come a long way and they are a great source of quality food, selling fresh meat and veg as well as having fine cheese counters and good range of wines to choose from. You will find quality products throughout the range of foods.

If you have not explored the farm shops in your area make it a must as you may be missing out on some great food. I decided last month to see for myself by visiting one I had heard about (through Twitter – yes it does work) near Newmarket . . . La Hogue Farm shop.

They say an image is worth a thousand words . . .

La Hogue Farm shop
La Hogue Farm shop
La Hogue Farm shop
La Hogue Farm shop

Take advantage of your local farm shop.

If you want to know more about La Hogue Farm Shop or find out how to get there then take a look at

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote any of the products or places featured in this newsletter.


Chicken and Chorizo

Spanish chorizoSpanish chorizo is one of those cured sausages that is right at home being used as an ingredient. A Spanish sausage with a punchy flavour, fabulous colour and perfect in a number of Spanish dishes. Chorizo is of course the ideal tapa, easy and quick to make, a couple of lightly cured chorizos sliced up and placed on cocktail sticks with some Manchego cheese and marinated olives makes for tasty Spanish tapas.

Some foods just represent a marriage made in heaven with little or no effort, the humble Spanish chorizo goes very well with chicken. One easy hot Spanish tapa is chorizo slices pan fried with chicken pieces, simply drizzle some olive oil in a frying pan and let those fabulous juices from the chorizo sausage infuse with the chicken. Spanish chorizo also has the advantage of coming in various different strengths, choose a hot one or ‘picante’ version to add some heat or keep things calm with a sweet or ‘dulce’ variety.

Mildly cured chorizos are also great on the barbeque, try chicken and chorizo kebabs using rosemary sticks for the skewers and you will be in Spanish foodie heaven. Chorizo is also a flavoursome addition to chicken casseroles helping to add a spicy kick to tomato based casseroles or in chicken and herb combinations where the paprika works very well indeed. In Spain, no butchers would be complete without strings of chorizos hanging behind the counter, quietly curing and producing that wonderful aroma that can only be found in quality delicatessens. Choose your Spanish chorizo carefully, fresh and sourced directly from the Spanish butcher and your chicken dishes, tapas or kebabs will have a flavour like they have

Chorizos from Spain >>>


Remember with most recipes you do not have to be precise with the ingredients - you would go mad otherwise and it would take away half the fun. At the end of the day the recipe is only a guide and you are the artist. And why is it called 'Normandy'? Because of the French Cider which comes from Normandy - it is strongly recommended that you stick to using French Cider as it is very different to the English Cider.


French ciderIngredients:

1/2 kg Fillet of Pork
4 shallots chopped
12 medium mushrooms quartered
6 cloves garlic crushed (British supermarket garlic is small)
250 mls French Cider
500 mls Chicken Stock (fresh or from stock cube)
2oz butter
1 tbspn olive oil
125 mls double (thick) cream
Ground pepper
Sea salt

How to make:

Prepare all your ingredients before you start.

  • Slice your fillet of pork across the grain into 1/4 inch thick medallions (any fat should be trimmed off first).
  • Chop shallots and crush garlic cloves. Sauté in olive oil and butter for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add pork medallions and sauté until sealed (outside of meat no longer pink).
  • Add quartered mushrooms and sauté for a further 2 minutes on medium heat.
  • Add you cider and increase heat to reduce.
  • As it starts to thicken add chicken stock and continue with high heat until reduced to a thick, syrupy consistency.
  • Add your cream and again heat until sauce reaches the consistency you want - a creamy texture.
  • Add ground pepper and sea salt to season to your liking.

Serves 4


It got seriously hot here in the UK . . . for a couple of days! Not the weather for soup except perhaps that most famous of Spanish soups. This recipe comes from Orce Serrano Hams.

"Gazpacho Andaluz or Cold Tomato Soup is a very typical summer dish and appears in restaurants and bars from about May. It is generally eaten as a starter and is very refreshing in the heat of the afternoon."


Gazpacho soupIngredients:

4 large tomatoes
1 small cucumber peeled
1 clove of garlic
half a small onion
1 small red pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
water amount depends on desired consistency
ice cubes to serve

How to make:

  • Roughly chop the tomatoes, pepper, onion and cucumber.
  • Finely chop the garlic.
  • Place all the ingredients in a large bowl or food processor.
  • Using a hand blender or food processor, blend the ingredients together to form a thick paste.
  • Add the oil, vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
  • Blend for a second time, adding water little by little until you achieve the desired consistency.
  • Serve in tall glasses with crushed ice.

Serves 4


As the newsletter is a work in progress I have decided that the Food Calendar section is probably something that can come out as there is nothing in it which is not listed elsewhere on the internet, and no-one is sending in details of events. If you have any thoughts or comments send an email to




3oz butter
4oz lard
8oz flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 - 4 tbsps golden syrup
2 heaped tbsps fresh white breadcrumbs
Lemon zest
Splash of lemon juice


  • Sift the flour with a pinch of salt and the baking-powder.
  • Rub the butter and lard into the flour. (Be careful not to rub too much)
  • Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of water to moisten so tat it binds firmly together.
  • On a floured board roll out to a 1/4 inch thickness and then line a large pie or dinner plate and trim round the edge.
  • Mix together the syrup, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and lemon juice.
  • Fill the tart case with the mixture.
  • Roll out the trimmings and cut into strips and lay them criss-cross to create a lattice effect, pressing down at edges.
  • Press one final strip around the edge.
  • Bake in a moderately hot* oven for about 35 minutes

*Roughly 190°C or Gas Mark 5


Top 10 Garlic Cooking Tips

    1. When purchasing garlic look for bulbs that have plump, firm cloves with the papery outer sheath intact. Avoid garlic that is soft, spongy or shrivelled.

    2. Keep the bulbs in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate. Garlic needs air circulation so don't store in a plastic bag, keep it on your shelves or window sill (out of the sun).

    3. To separate the cloves from the bulb, place the bulb on a solid surface, place both hands on top and apply pressure. You will hear the crack as they start to separate.

    4. To peel a large number of cloves, drop them into a pan of boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds (known as blanching), drain and plunge into iced water, (known as refreshing), drain and the skins should just easily slip off.

    5. To peel a small amount; place the blade of a large knife on top and smack the blade with your fist, the peel is then easily removed and you will have partly crushed the clove.

    6. The smaller the garlic pieces, the stronger the flavour that is imparted into the foods.

      • if you want a nice mild flavour, lightly perfumed food, even a sweetness use whole, unbroken garlic cloves (they may even be left with the peel on)
      • if a slightly stronger nuance is required thinly slice it
      • for a fuller flavour, finely chop it (also known as minced garlic)
      • if it’s a full on, in your face, vampires won't come near taste you want then crush the bulbs to a pulp

    7. To crush the garlic with a knife, first lightly chop it, sprinkle on a big pinch of salt (which releases the garlic juices) and then by rub the flat of your knife back and forth over it.

    8. The longer you cook garlic, the less astringent it becomes and the flavour will soften. When sautéing garlic, be careful not to burn it, burnt garlic has an unpleasant bitter taste.

    9. To remove garlic odour from your hands, rinse your hands with fresh lemon juice or scrub with a bit of salt, then rinse with cool water.

    10. To freshen your breath after eating garlic, chew on a sprig of fresh parsley,


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