Venison Pie from Mettricks

Pies aren’t generally my thing. The thought of unidentifiable bits and bobs floating around in pastry-ecased liquid doesn’t really float my gravy boat. But I couldn’t resist trying this venison pie from my local butchers.
Having been assured they only contained venison (nothing unidentified) I gave them the taste test for lunch accommpanied by some red cabbage and apple.
The pastry was truly melting and held together well in the oven without being at all soggy. Soggy bottoms are not what’s wanted on a Sunday after all.
I was surprised to find no gravy – just a solid heart of meat – so even though they’re small in stature, these pies pack a punch.
As I had a day off today, I’ve also been messing around with the technology again so the hearty lunch also got an Utterz. Hear it here.

Dog and Partridge @ Flouch

cheeseoats.jpgGetting food while on the move is certainly not a new idea. Many of us return from France, and other parts of Europe, extolling the virtues of the “little places” along the way or get enthusiastic about the cult movie appeal of America’s roadhouses. But it seems we often overlook the fantastic heritage of watering holes here on our doorstep.
Providing sustenance for travellers is why the Dog and Partridge, seemingly completely in the middle of no-where, half-way along the Woodhead Pass as it winds its way through Derbyshire, was built in the first place.
Situated on the old medieval salt way route, this isolated inn, with a history that can be traced back to the Elizabethan period, was originally a farmhouse and alehouse, supplying shelter and refreshment to travellers crossing the hostile moors of the Pennines.
Originally known as Border Hill House and owned by the Gothard family, the inn became known as the Dog and Partridge upon the receipt of its first licence in 1740.
Since that time it has been under the ownership of many prominent landowning families such as the Payne’s of Frickley Hall, the Bosville’s of Gunthwaite Hall and the Pilkington’s of Chevet Hall who still own the surrounding grouse moors to this day.
Today the Dog and Partridge is a family run inn and hotel, still offering food and shelter to those travelling across the still hostile if dramatic moors or venturing out for walking, helicopter flights or any other manor of leisure time pursuits.
We took shelter from a flurry of hail to sit beside the open fires and sample some lunch recently. And we weren’t alone. A packed dining room was obviously putting the waiting staff under pressure but we found a table and set to the menu.
Lots of traditional dishes, fish and chips, gammon and eggs but also some specials on offer. I sampled the deep-fried goats cheese(£4.95) which was unusually rolled in oats rather than breadcrumbs. De-constructed it would have been an oatcake with goats cheese – plea sent but quite substantial for a starter.
The game terrine(£4.95) was a more unusual affair – rich tasting with its real ale and onion marmalade accompaniment. Starters out of the way we settled to enjoy a drink. Sadly there’s only one variety of wine available by the glass (Blossom Hill) but beer drinkers will find more choice and the Bradfield brewer Farmer’s Blond proved to be refreshing and light.
The wait turned out to be rather longer than expected with kitchen pressures leaving some disgruntled diners getting fidgety but finally they arrived.
The special griddled steak(£15.95) which had been requested as medium came out rather well done after the long wait but he was consoled with a portion of chunky “proper” chips and a separate dish of pepper sauce which was flavourful without being fiery.

My salmon on a bed of sweet potato and parsnip puree(£11.95) was also over-cooked – an understandable problem given the length of time it took to arrive. The menu had promised a sweet saffron sauce but what arrived on the plate looked like custard, was the texture of custard and, whatever my head kept telling my mouth, tasted like custard.

While the hail beat down and the wind whistled round, we were glad of the cosy environment and some sustenance to get us on our journey back to Manchester but as far as dining out goes, the Dog and Partridge’s location means it’s unlikely to be a destination venue. But if you’re passing……………..
Dog and Partridge Inn, Bord Hill, Flouch. S36 4HH. 01226 763173.
More pictures at the Flickr group.

Seeking some truth on fast food calories

If you’re looking to lose weight, then the land of the large (perhaps that should be lard) may have something to offer at last.
A nutrition book called “Eat This, Not That!” has become one of the hottest selling guides in US book stores.
The diminutive volume is reportedly filled with pictures of what not to eat and photos of better substitutes. It compares food choices at favorite restaurants, supermarkets and holiday items – only trouble is that a lot of the products mentioned are US versions so it’s hard to tell whether it translates.
Comparisons are often surprising with something as calories laden as a Starbucks Black Forest Ham, Egg and Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich faring better than the chain’s Bran Muffin with Nuts.
The American author’s from MEN’s health have also been looking at proposed legislation to require US chain restaurants to list the nutritional content of their menus.
They say: “One of the true issues behind obesity is the fact that many chains—which provide one-third of all restaurant meals, according to the New York Department of Health—obfuscate the fat and calorie counts of their menu items, and fight any attempt to shed light on what, exactly, is going on between their buns and inside their taco shells.
Space in the market for a UK version of this research and book me thinks!

Pink fish? What did you cook for Easter?

People in the know (our Style journos) claim pink is very fashionable right now but I’m not sure whether this is what they had in mind.
These rather vibrant coloured fish fillets were created by own fair hand (with a little help from Patak’s) for a dinner party this weekend. They were intended to be my own baked take on tandoori fish.
I was a little taken aback by the depth of the colour. So taken aback that I shared the experience on a newly found mobile-to-web site Utterz. Hear the results here.
The creation, which did fade slightly during the cooking process, was just a small part of the whole meal which can bee seen in glorious technicolour on the Flickr group.
What did you cook over the Bank Holiday? Were you in the pink? Share your pictures at the Flickr Life through Food group or drop me a line below.

Lemongrass, ginger and coconut cake

A light and lovely cake which is perfect for Easter. When it’s baked, warm diluted Bottlegreen lemongrass and ginger cordial is spooned over to give it a fragrant flavour – then it’s iced and decorated with lemon zest and stem ginger.
Serves 8
What you need
175g (6oz) butter (at room temperature), plus extra for greasing
175g (6oz) caster sugar
3 large eggs
175g (6oz) self-raising flour
50g (2oz) desiccated coconut
6 tbsp Bottlegreen Lemongrass & Ginger cordial
50g (2oz) icing sugar
50g (2oz) stem ginger in syrup, drained and thinly sliced
Fine strips of lemon zest
What you do
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan oven 160°C, Gas Mark 4. Butter a 1.2 lire (2 pint) capacity non-stick ring cake tin or a 20cm (8 inch) round cake tin.
2 Using a hand-held electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy – this will take about 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition.
3 Fold in the flour using a large metal spoon. Do this very lightly, without beating, to keep the air in the mixture. Add the coconut, then gently stir in 2 tbsp of the Bottlegreen Lemongrass & Ginger cordial.
4 Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, levelling the surface. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the cake is risen and golden. Test with a fine skewer pierced into the centre of the cake to check that it is done – the skewer should come out clean. Bake for a little longer, if necessary.
5 Cool the cake for a few minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack. Dilute the remaining cordial with 4 tbsp just-boiled water. Spoon this slowly and evenly over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak in. Leave the cake to cool completely.
6 To decorate, mix the icing sugar with a little cold water to make a thin icing. Drizzle this over the cake. Arrange the sliced ginger on top with the lemon rind, then serve.

Salt ‘n’ Pepper @ Castlefield

How often is too often? Once in a meal? Twice? Three times a maybe? Being bombarded with requests for drinks orders can be just plain annoying and in Salt ‘n Pepper I’ve found a new winner in the hassle for drinks contest which seems to go on in so many Manchester restaurants.
This heady mantle was previously held by the Little Yang Sing where, not content with repeated offers of top ups, the waitresses have the fastest wine pouring trigger fingers in the western world and dive onto the table with liquid zeal at any unguarded moments.
We actually lost count of the number of approaches – definitely at least a dozen during a two course meal. It felt like every mouthful came with the possibility of more beer.
Our discovery of the expansive world of Castlefield’s Salt ‘n’ Pepper came this weekend.
After finding Lava up for sale we noticed the plush looking “continental” restaurant which has been in situ near the ever popular Akbar’s for the past five months.
A mostly glass building, it looks like a typical trendy city centre eaterie with its chill out music and stylish décor and it was an assumption on my part, that for “continental ” I’ve always read “European”.
How wrong I am. Here the word is used to describe food from all continents. The menu covers all bases – there’s Pakistani dishes, Chinese, European, Mexican and American (I don’t think I’ve missed anyone out).
Cheesy fries sit alongside lobster thermador alongside daal alongside fajitas. Weird. There’s no other word for it.
(It struck me that fellow food blogger Around the world in 80 dinners should make a visit – he could tick a few off here!)
I decided to play safe with a selection from the Indian sub-continent. Char-grilled spiced lamb chops (which proved to be both succulent and flavoursome) to start, followed by a saag paneer cooked in a handi from the Pakistani section.
The spinach and cheese dish was wonderfully flavoured, as was the chopped cucumber salad, even if it was a little too salty for my taste – a situation the waiting staff were very concerned to put right.
Himself couldn’t resist the Cajun spiced prawns, which again were succulent and well flavoured as well as a peppered steak but was slightly taken aback when it came served with mashed potato and chips. There can be too much of a spud thing!
Price was OK too with the two courses and ONE DRINK each coming to £36.
Plus: Family friendly atmosphere – even on a Saturday night.
Minus: A menu that’s just too random.
Value: Good for this area of the city. Easy to find a man course for under £10.
There’s more pictures of this, and other foodie delights, at the Flickr group which is waiting for your plate to arrive!

Lava up for sale

I strolled along to Castlefield looking for some ‘hot rocks’ action on Saturday night only to be faced with this for sale sign.
I’ve no idea what’s behind it – the phone number was also out – but needless to say there was nothing much going on at Lava.
Shame because I used to like popping in there when I lived in Castlefield even it it was mainly for a hangover breakfast.
It had a relaxed atmosphere, something different to the city centre poseries.
But it’s taken me so long to get around to going there for an evening meal that it looks like the opportunity to cook my own food on volcanic rocks has passed.
If anyone knows more about the cafe bar’s current situation, please drop me a line.

If music’s the food of love, what’s chippy tea?

Comedy records aren’t much of a hit for me but I thought I’d allow this one a showing on the food blog for four reasons;
1. It’s local (ish)
2. The band is named after a dish.
3. It has food in the song title and throughout.
and, 4. During a long drive yesterday evening it cheered me up when it was played on the Chris Evans’ Show .
So chippy tea by the Lancashire Hotpots it is!

If anyone can find any other tunes which meet this foodie criteria, let me know. I struggled to come up with a few which may have food mentioned in either the title or the song (Brown Sugar, Hot Chocolate, Savoy Truffle) but couldn’t think of any more. Then again I’m rubbish at pub quizes too.
These guys did better and have a list of food-related titles, but not titles and bands together.
Could the Hotpots have a USP?
Probably not. The Guardian claims there’s another song title/band food link with : Ice Cream for Crow by Captain Beefheart (Virgin 1982).
But who’s ever heard that?

Hot Cross Bun and Apricot Butter Pudding

hot cross pudding 1.JPG
Looking for something different for Easter? This take on traditional bread and butter pudding looks interesting. Sweet and spicy buns and apricots combined with creamy yogurt and milk.
Serves 4-6
What you need
4 hot cross buns
50g (2oz) Yeo Valley organic butter
125g (4½oz) dried apricots, chopped
50g (2oz) soft brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
275ml (10floz) Yeo Valley Organic Wholemilk
200g (7oz) Yeo Valley Organic Greek Yogurt

What you do

Preheat the oven 180ºC, gas mark 4.
Slice the buns vertically into thick slices and butter one side of each slice.
Grease an ovenproof dish with a little butter and arrange the bread slices on the base, overlapping slightly. Scatter over the apricots.
Place the eggs, milk, yogurt and sugar in a bowl and whisk to mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture over the bread and apricots.
Place the dish in a large roasting tin. Fill the tin half way up with boiling water. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the custard is just set. Remove from the oven. Serve with Yeo Valley Greek Yogurt or Yeo Valley Crème fraiche.
Nutritional Information
Per serving: calories 342kcal, carbohydrates 40.1g, total sugars 28.3g, protein 9.6g total fats 17.2g, saturated fat 8.9g, fibre 1.9g, sodium 0.14g, calcium 184mg
Per 100g calories 196kcal, carbohydrates 22.9g, total sugars16.2g, protein 5.5g, total fats 9.8g, saturated fat 5.1g, fibre 1.1g, sodium 0.081g, calcium 105mg