Finally safely harboured in Fleetwood marina near Blackpool for the winter. Don't ask me about Liverpool. Just don't.
Blackpool in mid (or early) winter is a bleak place, though probably no less tacky than it would be in summer.
The famous tower still dominates the landscape and would probably be great to visit if it wasn't so freakishly expensive,
and their shoreline tram system is very efficient for getting in and out, particularly since it runs right out to the marina.
Plus they run fabulous old heritage trams along the central section which are great entertainment.
At this time of year you can also still find remnants of the celebrated annual Blackpool illuminations. That you just missed.
Anything related to Doctor Who clearly being the best.
It's obvious that the seafront has been heavily invested in recent times and is littered with uplifting sculptures and quirky landscaping
though I can't help wondering if that money could not have been better spent on infrastructure or the local architecture
which is mostly still quite brutalist and feels very run-down (Coral Island excepted).
Mind you, I did discover there
the best advent calendar in the world
from Thorntons - with a delicious individual continental truffle for each day of Advent.
So it's not all doom and gloom.
It's the true meaning of Christmas folks - yumsk!
I spent a few days onboard practicing making Christmas tuiles
and using up more of my boat's barley supplies (see below),
but then decamped to my brother's place in Bradford for the rest of the Christmas period.
Handy for a helping hand with making up our Christmas red onion marmalade
from the kiddies and getting all the Christmas baking done in a real oven. Sheer luxury.
I also felt the need to get a hair cut. First one of the year! Brrrrrr.
Barley with Peas and Mushrooms
I've been struggling to get through the surprising amount of barley I've accumulated on my boat.
Here's something I did with a cup of it. Like most barley dishes a little goes a long way.
Also, I've noticed that overcooked barley starts to take on an oddly bitter edge, so serve as soon as the grains have softened.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- a dozen button mushrooms, quartered
- two handfuls of pea pods, podded
- half an onion, quartered and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced
- 1 cup pearl barley
- 500ml stock
Melt two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and sweat the mushrooms until they begin to lose water, add the podded peas and set aside.
Heat another tablespoon of butter and sweat the onions, then add the garlic, cook until they are on the edge of colouring.
Add the barley, cover with stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the stock is absorbed.
Add the mushrooms.
Dress with a little extra butter and stir through.
Savoy Cabbage with Truffled Cheese
I was inspired to try making this by King's Lynn's Market Bistro
, a true jewel of a restaurant.
Run by the place is
Richard and Lucy Golding's bistro is small but their food is remarkably thorough - well worth a visit if you're sailing by :)
If you're lucky enough to have some truffled cheese, you should use it to make this dish.
If not you can finely grate some truffle into ordinary cheese.
Or if, like me, you have some good truffle oil on hand you can use that, but don't skimp on it, in quality or quantity - it completely makes the dish!
Forget the truffle flavoured
oil you'll find at your Local Fucking Supermarket™, which contains no truffle.
It's chemically flavoured with such ersatz organosulfur compounds as 2,4-dithiapentane.
If you don't want to make your own truffle oil (or truffle your own cheese)
you could try Truffle Hunter's White Truffle Oil
which does at least have the benefit of containing some
actual truffle. And tastes pretty authentic too.
- ½ a savoy cabbage.
- 300g cheese, grated
- 1-2 tablespoons truffle oil
Halve the cabbage and cut out the stalky parts. Discard the other half.
Blanche for 1-2 minutes then drain.
Put into an ovenproof dish and slide under the grill until the outer leaves begin to char.
Drizzle with truffle oil, cover with the grated cheese and drizzle with a little more truffle oil.
Return to the grill until the cheese is nicely melted and beginning to brown at the edges.
Chorizo, Cabbage, Beans and Barley Stew
Another step in the process of cleansing my boat of barley. Hurrah!
- olive oil
- 2 tsps mixed peppercorns and allspice, ground
- 2 leeks, green parts sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
- a few inches of chorizo
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 green pepper, seeded, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsps tomato purée
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 cups of ale/beer
- ½ cup barley
- 1 can kidney beans, drained
- ½ savoy cabbage, shredded
- 1 teaspoon brined green peppercorns or capers
- 1 tsp salt
Slice the leeks into rounds, wash and drain if necessary, fry gently in a generous amount of olive oil until they begin to collapse.
Add a couple of teaspoons of crushed mixed peppercorns and allspice.
Peel the carrots, halve or quarter and slice. Add to the pan and fry a little.
Remove the chorizo skin, halve or quarter and slice. Add to the pan.
Peel and slice the garlic cloves. Add to the pan.
Add the tomato purée and fry gently to remove any bitterness.
Add the beer, barley, drained kidney beans, de-seeded and roughly chopped green pepper, bay leaves, a teaspoon of salt and bring to a simmer.
Add the shredded savoy cabbage and cook until the barley softens and the cabbage is cooked.
Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Chorizo and Dolcelatte
pasta meat main
An ideal one-pot boat dish.
- 4 oz pasta
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2" chorizo, peeled, diced
- 1 sun-dried tomato, chopped
- 1 hunk dolcelatte, crumbled
- 1 tsp capers or green peppercorns in brine
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
Boil the pasta until al dente in a small saucepan, drain and set aside.
Return the pan to the hob and heat a tablespoon of the sun-dried tomato oil then sweat the sliced garlic and chopped chorizo.
Add the capers or green peppercorns , sund-dried tomatoes, dolcelatte, and sour cream.
Stir, warming until the dolcelatte begins to melt into the sauce.
Remove from the heat, stir in the mayonnaise and the pasta.
Beans with Chocolate and Truffle Oil
veg vegan side
Bloody hell, you find quite a few recipes for white beans with truffle oil,
but it actually
like I might have invented this.
- 1 cup dried beans
- pinch of salt
- a generous grating of 100% cacao chocolate
- a splash of truffle oil
- couple of tbsps crème fraîche
Soak the beans overnight. Drain.
Cover with stock , add salt to taste,
bring to the boil and simmer covered for half to one hour until the beans are soft, then uncover and boil until they are almost dry.
Crush roughly using a potato masher, mix in the grated bitter chocolate,
stir through a drizzle of quality truffle oil and serve with a spoon of sour cream.
Stuffed Flank Steak
You might use large thin slices of skirt for this recipe (skirt is actually cut from the cow's diaphragm muscle).
Have your butcher thinly slice your flank steak from his giant hunk of flank. I'm a great fan of doing my meat cutting myself,
but unless you have a hefty steak to cut into it's very difficult to get sufficiently even and thin slices for yourself.
If your butcher doesn't have a hunk of flank find yourself another butcher.
The original Chunky Chef
recipe slices up the rolled steak log into short segments
(having first strategically tied loops of string around the log), then secures each of these pinwheels
with a soaked cocktail stick.
She then sears these rolls for 2-3 minutes top and bottom in a cast-iron griddle before roasting them at 350°F for about 10 minutes.
She also uses a mixture of parsley, sage and basil, which sounds quite weird to me.
- 1 large, thin, flank steak about ⅓lb
- half a dozen cloves of garlic
- half an onion or a few shallots
- olive oil
- a bunch of parsley or other herbs
- slices of prosciutto
- salt & pepper
Using a small blender or stick blender,
purée the onion (or shallot), garlic and parsley with enough olive oil to lubricate.
Season with salt and pepper.
Place the steak in between two larger pieces of cling film and bash the hell out of it with a mallet or a rolling pin.
Leaving a border at the edges, generously smear the steak with the onion purée
(save any leftovers for your minty mung beans
Cover the herb mixture with overlapping paper-thin slices of prosciutto .
Cover the ham with overlapping, thin, slices of provolone or other melty cheese .
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6, heat an oiled oven tray one with at least a small lip .
Roll up the steak into a log, arranged so that the meat grain will run along the length of the log.
Tie the roll up with loops of string, if it doesn't look as if it will hold together as it is ,
season the outside and dress with a little olive oil, lay on the oven tray seam-side down and roast for about 30 minutes until nicely browned and cooked through.
Leave to rest tented in tin foil for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving with a balsamic glaze
veg vegan sauce
Makes about a cup
- 2 cups balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup brown sugar or honey
- 1 tbsp butter
Bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil, stir until the sugar dissolves (adjust the sugar to (careful!) taste),
and simmer until the glaze thickens and is reduced by about half.
Stir in a tablespoon of butter too, if you like.
Drizzle over your meat of choice. Or salmon. Or blue cheese. It goes well with blue cheese, like a rich gastrique.
Or vegetables - it would probably go with vegetables too.
Minty Mung Beans
veg vegan side
- mung beans
- shallots or onions
- olive oil
- fresh mint or mint concentrate
Cover the mung beans, bring them to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes until soft. No need to soak.
Blend the chopped shallot (or onion), garlic and parsley with enough olive oil to make a paste.
Boil off any excess water, stir in the shallot mixture and cook a little more.
Stir in the mint or mint concentrate and serve.
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