Lambs Kidneys with Anchovy and Rosemary Butter

After making a stock from pigs ears and feet a few weeks ago, I feel ready to face any part of the animal that crosses my path. The thought of eating charred, slightly pink in the middle kidney seems a trifle in comparison. The role of the kidneys is to filter excess water and waste products from the blood and for this reason I searched out the freshest organic kidneys in Norwich. I arrived at Harvey’s Organic Butchers just after the lamb delivery, so the kidneys couldn’t have been much fresher; the butcher brought them out still wrapped in their suet jackets, which he gave me for free to go in the freezer for dumplings.

The recipe I followed is from Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Chicken and Other Stories. I’ve read that veal kidneys are one of the best things you can eat, but I couldn’t find any; the lamb kidneys that I used were delicious anyway.


  • 50g tin of anchovies, drained of oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 225g butter, softened
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 rosemary sprig, leaves only
  • black pepper and salt
  • 2 veal kidneys, suet removed and trimmed of any excess fat and membrane (I used lambs kidneys)
  • Watercress and lemon wedges to garnish

*I halved these quantities to make enough for two.

Instructions; (paraphrased)

  1. Puree together the anchovies, lemon juice, butter, garlic, rosemary and pepper. Check for salt, pass through a sieve and refrigerate for at least four hours.
  2. Cut the kidneys into 5mm slices, season with salt, pepper and a little olive oil and sear on a very hot griddle for no more than 45 seconds-1 minute.
  3. Serve with a piece of the butter and the lemon and watercress.

*I served them with roast parsnips and a salad.

Searing hot griddle

Searing hot griddle

Roast ParsnipsNeeps and garlic pre-roasting

Lambs Kidneys with Anchovy and Rosemary Butter

Lambs Kidneys with Anchovy and Rosemary Butter

One of the benefits of working for a deli is occasionally using the wholesale discount we get from our suppliers. For £3.60 I picked up half a dozen local oysters to guzzle down as a starter; I had one au naturel, one with lemon juice and one with lemon juice and finely chopped parsley. The first is the purest way, an unadulterated shot of Davey Jones’ Locker, but my favourite was the third option as the lemon and parsley leave a lovely fresh taste in the mouth.

Oysters and kidneys, this was probably one of the most adventurous meals I have eaten. You might have noticed the lamb leg steak on the left hand side of the griddle; Annabel was not feeling quite so intrepid! Kidneys are a great source of vitamins and minerals and the tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture of fresh young lambs kidneys is a real treat. Because there is not much demand for offal nowadays, they hardly broke the bank; four for just £1.50.



Wexford Beef Bones/ Why to eat Bone Broth

The transformation

The transformation begins

I might be flagging a dead horse by going on about the obscure bits of the animal, but everyone and their mum seems to be flogging a dead horse at the minute so I’m going to go ahead and talk about bones.

Annabel and I stayed with her parents last week on their farm in County Wexford, Ireland.  I was lucky to get to help Annabel’s Dad Servaas, her uncle Jan and her cousin Kees butcher half a cow. Amongst the cuts we made were fillet and rump steaks, topside roasting joints and majestic french trimmed beef ribs. My job was to mince about 30kg of lean meat and trimmings and bag it into 500g portions for the freezer. The pile of butchered meat rose and rose and the bone bucket filled. After an hour or so the butchery was done and we had worked up an appetite!

At work

At work

Mince man

Mince man

Tonks! What are you doing in here?

Tonks! what are you doing in here?

For lunch Annabel’s mum Frederike made french onion soup from home made beef marrow bone stock. No powdered bouillon can begin to compare to the wholesome goodness of simmered bones and vegetables. The taste of sweet and savoury caramelised onion paired with this rich meaty stock was fantastic and the dish was perfected by a soggy piece of cheese on toast floating in my soup bowl.

As I ate i could feel my immune system giving me a pat on the back. Eating bone stock boosts the health of the collagen in your tendons, ligaments and the ends of your bones. It’s good for you hair, nails and skin as well; In her book Deep Nutrition, Catherine Shanahan calls it ‘a youth serum capable of rejuvenating your body; no matter what your age.’

Gravy granules stand In opposition to this newfound holy grail of mine. They epitomise the turn our food culture has taken; away from slow, traditional processes towards ease and speed. To rub salt into the wound, the slogan “Aah Bisto” taps into a widespread emotive response to a home-cooked family meal. This emotional blackmail is propagated by Premier Foods, who also bring us Hovis, Mr Kipling and Ambrosia. The sad thing is that Bisto has won the hearts of the nation; a product that is as generic in flavour as it is devoid in nutritional value, while gravy made with real stock has been forgotten. If only the nation could taste Frederike’s onion soup, they might have tasted something worth sighing over.

Bones shouldn’t be given straight to the dog or left at the butcher’s. They should be roasted and then boiled with carrot, onion, celery and a bouquet garni. When strained, the beautiful liquid makes the best and the healthiest soups, sauces and gravies known to man. If your immune system was in the driving seat rather than your stomach, I think it would throw away the meat and use the bones instead. 

Ears, Trotters and Trimmings; a Perfectly Porky Pie

My ongoing quest to find traditional British food has lead me to a 14th century pork pie recipe in Dorothy Hartley’s Food in England; 

‘Flea Pyg and cut him in pieces, season with pepper and salt, and nutmeg , and large mace and lay in your coffin good store of raisins and currans, and fill with sweet butter and close it and serve hot or cold’.

After consulting a few more recent recipes, I decided to give it a go. I made my ‘coffin’ out of hot-water pastry moulded around a jam jar. The filling is pork trimmings and smoked bacon from my local butcher. The jelly is made from trotters and ears boiled with carrot, celery, onion, peppercorns and sea salt. This concoction is boiled for three hours and then cooled overnight. The fat is skimmed off the top and it is boiled again, before being poured into the pie through a hole in the pastry lid.

Over the last few days the kitchen has filled with a catalogue of porky smells; from the foul steam pouring off a pan of simmering ears and trotters to the delightful aroma of hot-water pastry baked in a hot oven.

The famous Melton Mowbray pork pie is made using a pastry case that has been ‘raised up’ around a pie mould or jam jar, filled with seasoned pork and topped with a pastry lid. Like Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar and Jersey Royal potatoes, The Melton Mowbray pie has had a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) since 1993. Other pies make use of a band to prevent the bowing of the sides, or a pie tin with a removable bottom; some pies use minced, cured pork and different spices, but none of these pies can be called Melton Mowbray pies by European Law.

The jelly ingredients

The Jelly ingredients

Jam jar and pastry dough

Jam jar and a ball of pastry dough

The pastry raised around the jar

The pastry raised around the jar

Out comes the jar, in goes the pie filling

Out comes the jar, in goes the pie filling

The lid crimped, the foil belt fastened

The lid is crimped, the foil belt fastened

The finished pies

The finished pies

After cooling on a rack, the pies are refrigerated to allow the jelly to set. They should be eaten at room temperature with chutney or piccalilli.

I find it Ironic that many of today’s meat eaters shun cuts like offal and trotters while scoffing processed meat products by the kilo. This is an unsustainable way of eating meat. Using the whole animal is the best way to respect a creature that has been sacrificed for our tables and cooking from scratch is the only way to respect our own bodies. I have decided recently to eat less meat, and when I do to seek out the most weird and wonderful cuts on offer in my local butcher. If I’m going to dine on pigs ears I at least want the bragging rights of knowingly doing so.

The lesson we need to learn from the horse meat scandal is not to tighten up regulations and increase spot checks, but to stop eating processed meat all together.

Stop getting ripped off in the supermarkets; buy real cuts of real meat from a local butcher

Why does the man eating his dinner have blinkers on? Because the horse in his lasagne doesn’t need them any more.

In your local butchers you can see the animal from which your cut has come; your butcher has nothing to hide and he is proud of the contents of his shop. Try doing the same in the supermarket and you will have a different experience. DNA tests on hundreds of UK meat products are showing just how much the big meat processors are concealing from us – how much they are cheating us. The supermarket employees don’t have the answers, but they might send you to one of their suppliers, where if you are lucky you might get shown the room where the last suggestion of flesh is power-hosed from the animal carcasses before being swept off the floor and sent to be processed.

Ready meals

Ready meals

What real meat there is in the supermarkets has been marked up so much that we are forced to go for the cheaper, processed alternative.They have us on a leash, thinking that we are making our own decisions when really they are making them for us. buying real cuts of real meat is often cheaper in small butchers than in supermarkets. The difference is that your local butcher has to look you in the eye when he serves you whereas the CEOs of big meat processing companies can happily screw you from a safe distance and line their pockets with the proceeds.

Processed meat

Processed meat

As if our food culture wasn’t already the laughing stock of Europe before the horse meat scandal. According to Joanna Blythman we buy the most ready meals in Europe, and we eat more packets of crisps than all of the other European countries put together. We are so used to seeing an ingredients list that is longer than our attention span that we have learnt to switch off. As a nation we have regressed to the stage where we scoff down foods made from liquid pasteurised egg, maltodextrin and diglycerides of fatty acids, and even my spell check doesn’t recognise this last one! I’m ashamed to think what my ancestor would say; who died from eating a hitherto unknown poisonous berry so that future generations might learn what is food and what isn’t.

It is possible to eat well on any income by buying the cheaper cuts of meat from a local butcher and eating less meat in general. Kicking the processed meat habit is better for your health, your wallet, your community and the environment; just because supermarket shopping is easy doesn’t mean its good! Britain’s green and pleasant land produces some of the best meat in Europe, but the reality is that without the support of their communities local butchers will be a thing of the past. Then we will really see how expensive real cuts of real meat will become in the supermarkets. Without the competition, who is going to stop them?

Valentines’ recipes

The sous-chef and I have got together and decided on some recipes for Thursday, so with no more gilding of the lily, and absolutely no further ado, here is what we went for:

Artichoke Starter

This green and purple thistle is one of Annabel’s favourite things. In Rome they eat them cooked in butter, garlic and wild mint, but seeing as they are not in season I’ll pick up some preserved artichoke hearts from Amaretto, Norwich’s best delicatessen. We are going to combine them with prosciutto and griddled sourdough bread to make a simple bruschetta starter. This will go well with a glass of cold bubbly!

Tunisian fish Stew

I promised Annabel no fish heads this time, so we are compromising with a few shell-on prawns. I’m basically going to use a Boulliabase recipe that I’ve made before and integrate Tunisian spices; coriander, cumin and saffron. I’ll fry coriander, cumin and fennel seeds in hot oil, then add an onion, a finely chopped bulb of fennel, garlic, and fresh tomatoes; added just in time for their juice to prevent the spices from burning on the bottom of the pan. Into this fragrant bubbling concoction I’ll add fish stock and a good pinch of saffron – making sure the soup doesn’t heat beyond a simmer. As soon as the fennel starts to become tender I’ll add a tot of Pernod, then in go the mussels, shell-on prawns, a big handful of white fish chunks and salt and pepper to season.

Each bowl of soup will get a handful of crunchy sourdough croutons, some fresh parsley and a dollop of char-grilled red pepper and chilli rouille made with plenty of garlic and extra virgin olive oil.


I know this is a bit of a cheat, but I’m going to follow a recipe seeing as I have never done it before. The benefit of this dessert is that it can be made the day before to take the pressure off. Here it is, lifted off the Waitrose website;


  • Rice paper
  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 100g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • 100g blanched almonds
  • 200g mixed peel or candied citrus peel, chopped
  • 50g plain flour
  • 4 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 225g runny honey
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • Icing sugar, for dredging


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Lightly butter an 18cm-square loose-bottomed tin and line the base and sides with rice paper. Bake the nuts on a tray for 12-15 minutes till golden brown. Cool, then roughly chop and transfer into a bowl with the peel and sift in the flour, cocoa and spices. Turn the oven down to 150°C, gas mark 2.
  2. Put the sugar, honey, and butter in a saucepan and gently heat, stirring till dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil until it reaches the ‘soft ball’ stage (113°C-118°C on a sugar thermometer). To test this, you can also scoop some out on a spoon and drop into a jug of water: it should go into a soft ball. Stir in the nut mixture, pour into the tin and smooth the surface with an oiled potato masher. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to firm up in the tin on a cooling rack. Remove the tin, trim the paper, sieve over some icing sugar and cut into slices or cubes.

Annabel has promised to combine the roles of Sous-chef and photographer on thursday, so expect some cracking photos this time next week!


Today I decided to kill two birds with one soup; feeding my girlfriend an invigorating meal to help her as she revises for an exam, and practicing a dish that I’m thinking of suggesting to the deli where I work. Over the last few weeks my thoughts have turned to India regularly due to our cricket team currently playing a test match series out there. Perhaps thats why I had the sudden urge to make this dish; or then again it might have been the alluring prospect of hearty sizzling beef mince and warm spiced aromas filling the kitchen as I walked home from work on a freezing Norfolk night.

I followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe ‘Mighty Mulligatawny’  which can be found in ‘Jamie’s Great Britain’.  I’ve listed Jamie’s ingredients with any changes that I made alongside. The Instructions are a simplified version of those in the book.


  • 250g quality minced beef
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped (I used a white onion)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • a 3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped (I used double this)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Patak’s Madras curry paste (I used Patak’s Tikka Masala)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato puree (I used ketchup)
  • sea salt and ground pepper
  • I heaped tablespoon HP sauce
  • 1.5 litres organic beef stock (I used powdered Marigold Bouillon)
  • 1/2 a butternut squash (roughly 350g) cut into centimeter cubes
  • a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme , leaves picked
  • a couple of pinches of garam masala (I used a good teaspoon because my garam masala is not the freshest)
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • natural yoghurt to serve
  • (I also used a small bunch of flat leaved parsley)


  1. fry the beef in a big glug of olive oil on a high heat until golden brown (around 6 minutes)
  2. add the next 5 ingredients and  sauté on a medium heat for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir every 2 or 3 minutes
  3. add the puree, curry paste and HP sauce and a good pinch of salt and pepper and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring so that the bottom of the pan doesn’t stick
  4. add the stock and simmer gently for 40 minutes.
  1. take another pan and set it on a medium heat
  2. give the pan a big glug of olive oil and fry the squash with the thyme and garam masala for 10 minutes, stirring so as not to burn the bottom
  3. add a cup of rice, and using the same cup add two cups of water
  4. cook for 10 minutes with the lid on, then take off the heat and leave to steam for another 8 minutes.
  5. mix the rice and squash into the soup and serve with a dollop of yoghurt, lots of fresh coriander and some slices of chilli



Chopped ginger, garlic, onion and chilly

Chopped ginger, garlic, onion and chilli

The squash cooking with thyme and Garam Masala

The squash cooking with thyme and garam masala

Flat leaf parsley and butternut squashFlat leaf parsley and butternut squash

In tupperware ready to be transported to Annabel'sFrom the left; the soup, the rice and squash, a jar of coriander and a jar of yoghurt

I tupperwared it all up and put it in my panier to cycle over to Annabel’s. I highly recommend this soup. It tasted fantastic; a real spicy winter warmer!

Obama victory burger bonanza

In honour of Barack Obama winning the presidential election, my housemates and I decided to celebrate in true American style; by making some of the biggest burgers known to man!

For the baps;

  • 500g white bread flour
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 11/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 x 7g sachet of yeast


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor with dough hook attachment and mix for five minutes
  2. Add a little more water if needed until the dough forms into one mass
  3. Let the dough rise in the foor processor for an hour or until doubled in size
  4. Take your dough out of the food processor and split in half and in half again, then mould each of the four pieces into a ball shape
  5. Oil a baking tray and set the four balls on it, with another drizzle on top
  6. Cover in cling film and set to rise for another hour or so
  7. Bake in the oven at 200 Celsius for 30 mins

Burger bap dough

Burger baps out of the oven

I timed the baps around Liverpool playing Anzhi Makhachkala in a Europa League game. I made the dough just before kick off, formed the balls at half time, then baked them at the end of the game. It made what turned out to be a boring game into a fun experience and the timings were spot on. For flatter baps, press down on the dough balls with the palm of your hand just before putting them in the oven. I myself like big round baps so I didn’t press down too much.

For the burgers; 

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 500g beef mince
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prep your first four ingredients and put them in a large mixing bowl
  2. Add the beef mince, some salt and pepper and mix with your hands
  3. Separate the mixture into three or four patties and fry on a medium heat until cooked all the way through (ie no pink)
  4. Add cheese and place under the grill until melted if you like

This made three generous sized patties, but would have stretched to four if neccessary. I brought out the best and gave my bap a good dollop of Hellmans mayonnaise, as well as a handful of baby spinach leaves.  We had some boiled corn on the cob and grilled streaky bacon as well – elections do only happen every four years after all!

Chopped Parsley

Chopped red onion and garlic

Beef mince

Burgers cooking

Obama victory dinner

If you’re reading this Mr President, congratulations on winning the election, and thank you for inspiring us to make this feast!

Shop locally for good craic

You may as well have the craic with the self-service check out for all the banter you get out of supermarket employees. Unlike your Tesco Express worker, who has never met the CEO Philip Clarke and has no relationship with the suppliers, the shop-keepers that I spoke to today have an intimate relationship with where their food comes from.

Today I cycled around Norwich and had a poke around in five of the city’s best small food shops. I shop regularly in three of them and two of them I visited for the first time today after many recommendations. In all five the shop-keepers were happy to chat about their businesses, their customers, their suppliers and their work.

In no particular order, here are five shops that I highly recommend you visit…

St Benedicts Food Store

St Benedicts Food Store shopfront

Initially I was drawn to this shop for a fortnightly fix of Linghams chili sauce, but I soon realised that the herbs and most of the vegetables are far cheaper than the supermarkets. I recently stopped by and picked up a large courgette, an aubergine, a butternut squash, an onion the size of a football and two bunches of fresh herbs all for £3! The owner, Tom, runs a wholesale business as well, delivering to many of Norwich’s restaurants. This means that, unlike both the greengrocers on the market, you can have as much or as little fresh parsley, thyme or coriander as you like. The shop has an extensive Asian Foods section and there are rumours  that a new Mediterranean section might appear soon.

Fresh fruit and vegetables

Fresh produce in the shop window


Tom (owner)

Quinton’s Butcher

Quinton’s is my favourite butcher in Norwich, run by two of the finest gentlemen in the city. In My second and third years of University I was lucky enough to live three doors down. I frequented it for bacon, sausages, black pudding and duck eggs and Mike even let me borrow his allen keys and his wheelbarrow. As well as knowing all of the neighbours, Mike has never told me the same joke twice which is incredible seeing that he tells me two every time I go in there.


Mike (left) and Chris (right)

Dozen Artisan Baker

Dozen Artisan Baker is an award winning bakery that bakes simple, traditional bread using flour, water, yeast (or sourdough starter) and salt. Their bread and cakes are made using organic flour over a long period of time in order to craft a product that is not only tasty, but also much easier for your body to digest. This is the kind of bread that we should be eating. Bread should not return to dough when squeezed.  Bread should have character, crust and a wholesome flavour, none of which are achievable in factory made bread that is produced very quickly and pumped full of artificial additives and flour improvers. Real bread should start to go stale after three or four days and we should find this reassuring; bread that is as soft on day one as it is on day seven is against the laws of nature! If we pay an extra 40p for a loaf in an artisan bakery now and keep demanding real bread, then as the production of real bread increases, the prices will surely come down.

Bread on display behind the counter



Yeasted rolls

Amaretto Deli

Amaretto is a deli selling specialist Italian, Spanish and British produce. The shop is popular with the students at Norwich University College of the Arts and when you walk by the big shop windows you can see why; on display are home-made sandwiches, stone baked pizzas, delicious cakes and pastries and a selection of hot lasagnes, cottage pies, stuffed peppers and other savoury delights. The inside of the shop is tastefully decorated, the service impeccable, and when you can get any double-shot coffee for just £1.60 you are on to a winner.

Amaretto shopfront


Cured meats


Lunch options in the shop window

Chef Asa (left) and chef/owner Henry (right)

Italian christmas cakes

Ford-Yarham Greengrocer-Fishmonger

Steve and Pam pride themselves on their locally sourced fresh produce and the quality of their service and today both of these were spot on. They gets as much of their produce as possible directly from the farmers, which means that their fruit and vegetables have spent as little time out of the ground as possible. If you want to order rare products like monkfish or purple cauliflower, Steve is your man.


Fresh produce

Local fish and Shellfish.

Shopping locally is not just a transaction involving money and food. Shopping locally is an interaction with the community; it is an engagement in a product made or sourced by someone who more than likely appreciates your custom; and it is an investment in your health.

I truly believe that engaging with where our food comes from is vital to good health and happiness. In the UK we are fortunate to have so many good small shops on our doorsteps and supporting these local businesses is a must.


Three or four years ago, I woke my older brother with a short phone call which went along the lines of “Tom, I tried to kill the chicken, and it went wrong!”. It was my first ever attempt and two good things came out of it. The first is that the chicken ended up in the fridge soon after that phone call and the second is that it served as an example of exactly how not to kill a chicken.

The key is to make sure you dislocate the vertebrae in the bird’s neck by pulling sharply down and backwards on the head with one hand, while holding the feet in the other hand. You can feel when the dislocation occurs, and you can feel the gap in the vertebrae after the neck has been successfully stretched. The first time round, I wasn’t sure if I had successfully separated the vertebrae so just to make sure that the chicken was dead, I put it on a log and reached for the wood axe. With the bird lying petrified on the block, I lifted the weapon and steeled myself for the fatal blow. Then just as I began my swing, the cockerel jumped up and ran off; with a slightly crooked neck, but very much still alive. Having tried and failed to enlist Tom’s help, I took to the woods alone in search of the poor frightened creature. I managed to catch it again without too much fuss, and the second beheading attempt was much more Jacobin than the first.

Though I joke about my incompetence this first time, there really is nothing funny about an animal suffering before its death. As an enthusiastic meat-eater, I value the experience of overseeing an animal’s life; ensuring it is well fed and looked after. I also value the experience of killing the animal in a stress free way. The journey from chick in the woods to stew on the table is crucial to the way I think about food; as being so much more than packages bought in a supermarket.

On a visit to my parents last Easter, my girlfriend Annabel expressed an interest in helping me skin, gut and joint two cockerels that I had killed. Now this is coming from someone will only eat a whole cooked mackerel if theres a piece of bread covering its face. With my brave assistant, we started with something that looked like this:

Two cockerels

We removed the heads, the feet and the wing tips, then carefully pulled off the skin, using a knife to nick it in places.

A foot

We were left with this:

One of the skinned birds

Then comes the gruesome part. I laid the bird on its back with its feet facing me and made a cut in the skin between the underneath of the rib cage and the  anus. This allows you to reach inside and pull the guts out. The trick is to do this without cutting the large intestine thus spilling faeces into the inside of the carcass. When all of the innards have come out of the carcass, they should still be attached at the end of the intestines. I then make a v-shaped cut around the anus to allow the innards to come free.

Having completed this step, the next is to joint it. For a stew I separate it into drumsticks, thighs, wings and breast, ensuring that I cut through the soft cartilage instead of the bone. I keep the livers for the stew, but give the heart and kidneys to Bess.

The jointed birds

Nice Bess

Back in Norwich, I will have to see if I can get some cockerels from my local butcher so that I can make the cockadoodlestew. But rest assured, as soon as I get my hands on them birds I will ask Annabel to bring her camera over and put the recipe up here.