8 course beer tasting Social with No 8 Thorpe Road

Fabulous event hosted by No 8 Thorpe Road – The Business Rooms in Norwich on Saturday 9th May 2015.

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There will be 8 different beers, each matched with a different course for you to enjoy, so come along for a great fun filled evening. We will be trying all sorts of beer, light, dark, traditional and modern, with something for everyone, food will feature the regions best producers.

Tickets are £25 a head, and available from No 8 Thorpe Road, call to book direct  01603 473732 and please advise of any dietary requirements at time of booking.

On a Piggy Mission: 4

CHOPS! I love a pork chop, the crispy skin, the juicy meat, and then picking them up after and nibbling the meat off. I always think you can tell the quality of  a chop by just cooking it plain, perhaps a little salt and pepper. It should smell like a porky heaven, and of course not leak any scary white stuff as it cooks. (The white stuff is often just a watery solution injected into the meat to make it heavier). A good quality chop wont have this, it will the most surprising thing you eat if you’ve only had supermarket ones before.

Anyway, sometimes I do think they need a little jazzing up, after all, imagine if you never had béarnaise sauce to dunk your chips in? I have a stunning range of spice mixes and rubs courtesy of The Urban Spice Man AKA The Zaps on Twitter. He creates mouth tingling concoctions with the most unusual names. My go to spice mix of his for chops is called Liars Club. The ingredients are closely guarded secrets, but I am fairly sure this has paprika, chilli and perhaps some fennel in there too – perfect in my opinion with pork.

So, to create these spicy chops you will need:

1 tbsp Liars Club Mix

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp oil

salt and pepper
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Mix the ingredients together and rub all over the chops, let them marinade for at least an hour.

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Bake or grill or BBQ. I bake them at 180 for about 20 mins (these are quite thick)

Serve with your choice of steamed greens, chips or wedges. Or indeed like I did here on a huge pile of mashed carrot and swede. 

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On a piggy mission: 3

Well we’re steadily working our way through the pork mountain. We had roast pork on Sunday, nothing particular different or overly special about that, but we had quite a bit of leftovers, it always annoys me that I’m not more imaginative with them.

So, whilst browsing this Sichaun Cookery book by the wonderful Fuchsia Dunlop I found a recipe for twice cooked pork. I didn’t have all the ingredients so I kind of mish mashed something together from other recipes. Utterly inauthentic, but it was quick tasted good and I would definitely cook it again. The ingredients aren’t difficult to find as long as you have a Chinese supermarket near you (we have several in Norwich now, so I would think most places do these days too).

Serves 2

2 thick slices of roast pork sliced into thin strips

2 tbsp oil

2 leeks sliced on the diagonal and well washed

1 desert spoon full of Guilin chilli paste

1 tsp potato flour (cornflour would work here)

1 tsp light, and 1 tsp dark soy sauce

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp Chinese black vinegar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp water

 

Heat the oil in a wok, and add in the strips of cooked pork. when they start to turn colour, add in the chilli paste and stir well. Add in the leeks and then combine all the other ingredients into a separate bowl. Once the leeks are starting to soften, tip in the contents of the bowl, this will form a nice glossy thick sauce. Stir well and serve immediately with noodles or rice. You could stretch this for 4 people by adding a vegetable side dish.

 

On a piggy mission: 2

Ham hock and leek rough puff pie

This takes a little while, but is very tasty and actually quite simple. I was a bit worried about doing the rough puff, but it came out well and tasted good. Serves 4, but you could do it for 2 people, and have the leftovers cold for lunch.

1 gammon hock (ham being the cooked version of gammon)

300g plain flour (extra for dusting/rolling out)

150g cold butter

250ml cold water

pinch salt

2 leeks

2 tsp mustard

seasoning

milk for glazing

Soak the gammon in a pan of water for up to an hour, this removes some of the salt that it has been brined in. Refresh the water and the bring up to the boil on the hob, then reduce to a simmer. The time it takes to cook depends on the size of the hock. You want it to get to the stage of falling off the bone. There is a lot of connective tissue that you want to break down or else your ham will be chewy. Keep topping up the water, and after a couple of hours your ham will be cooked just right. Remove the hock from the cooking liquor (this makes a good jelly/stock, and you need a touch later on, so keep it), and allow to cool. Once cold enough to handle shred/cut up into bite size pieces.

Next you want to get on with the pastry, add the flour into the a large bowl, chop the cold butter into small chunks and add, making sure that each lump is well covered in flour. Add a pinch of salt, then slowly add the water, mixing with your hands until you get a fairly stiff dough. Turn it out onto a well floured surface, and roll out into a rectangle shape. Fold the pastry into thirds in on themselves. Then turn the pastry and repeat the rolling and turning 5 times (it will become harder to roll and elastic towards the end of this process, but persevere). Fold it up into a neat square and wrap in cling film. Pop in the fridge for at least half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Slice the leeks and add to a frying pan with a bit of oil or butter (what ever is your preference) and saute until soft. Add in the shredded ham and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking stock. Add in the mustard and stir well. Season (you’ll probably only need pepper, as the ham will still be a bit salty). Let it cool.
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Roll out the pastry into a large rectangle, and fill one half of the rectangle, leaving a 2cm border around the edge free. Brush the border with milk, and fold over the other half.

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Crimp the edges – I usually use a fork to press them together. Brush the whole surface with milk, or you could use a beaten egg.

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Bake in the oven for at least 30 mins, it should be a golden brown all over. Serve with steamed greens such as broccoli. 


On a piggy mission: 1

This weekend I bought half a pig, a lovely Large Black rare breed free range fella. It was rather handily divided up already, into a vast array of joints, chops, loin, tenderloin, steaks, bacon and sausages.

So, I thought I’d try and cook lots of interesting and new (to me) things, mainly to stop me getting bored of eating so much pig or cooking the same things over and again. We all have favourites after all.

So, this evening we have: Sausage Cider Casserole with Fennel, Apple and Squash

Serves 4 (or two hungry people with leftovers for the dog)

1 tbsp oil (rape seed or sunflower is fine)

6 good sausages (min 70% meat)

1 medium onion, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced

2 carrots, chopped

1/4 squash, peeled and chopped (I used butternut, but acorn or even pumpkin would work here)

1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, quartered and chopped

1 bottle of cider (I used Aspall)

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed lidded pan. Brown the sausages and then remove from the pan. You don’t need to cook them, just quickly brown them, this will caramelise the meat adding flavour but also stop that insipid ‘dead fingers’ look to a sausage casserole. Soften the onions in the pan which will have some tasty sausage fat in there now as well. Add in the rest of the veg and fruit.
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Cook for a few minutes until things start to soften.

Add the sausages back into the pan, then cover with cider.
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Season, bring to the boil on the hob, then cover with the lid and pop into the oven. Cook for an hour or so, then take out and check everything is fully cooked. You can thicken the sauce by adding some cornflour or removing the sausages and reducing the liquid on the hob (adding the sausages back in at the end).

Serve with baked potatoes, mash or whatever you have handy (rice, pasta, couscous or beans would work well here), with some steamed green veg.

Jerk Chicken

I recently bought a new BBQ, it’s a gas one, so sorry to you purists. In the recent warm weather, it’s been a saviour not having to have the oven on to cook dinner. Having tired quickly of burgers, kebabs and sausages I’ve been experimenting more with different cuts of meat and styles of cooking.

With BBQ you can cook in two main ways:

Direct – which as far as I understand it, you’re cooking over the hottest part, right on top of white hot coals (or gas flames in my case) – so ideal for quick and easy kebabs etc.

Indirect – where you’re cooking on the cooler parts of the BBQ, so you can cook slower and therefore cook thicker cuts and even roast. You can arrange the coals to one side for this, or turn the flames down on a gas BBQ.

I bought a whole chicken and jointed it myself (the first time I’ve done this, so was quite proud). Use as good a chicken as you can afford, although the marinade is strong tasting, the texture will be so much better with a bird that’s run about a bit. You’ll actually get the flavour of the meat through from the thighs and legs rather than a bland carrier.

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Wondering how to season it, I came across this recipe for jerk chicken. I changed it around a bit, basically marinading the whole jointed chicken (I had removed the skin before I read the recipe, although I think it was still very juicy without). I used one less scotch bonnet than suggested, the chicken was less in weight than the legs, and although I like a bit of hot stuff, I didn’t want my head blown off and to ruin I dish I hadn’t tried before. Anyway, my version below, not so different, but with my alternative cooking method.

1 tbsp allspice berries
1 tbsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped (use the white part and most of the green)
2 scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 whole chicken, jointed and skinned

1. Pound the allspice and the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar to a powder, then add everything to a blender. Whizz to a purée.

2. Pour the marinade into a bowl then add the chicken and massage it into the meat, making sure you get it underneath the skin.

3. The marinade was left on for 2 days in the end, although this is probably unnecessary, and I would think just overnight would be fine.

4. I heated the BBQ and adjusted the heat to around 190 degrees C. I cooked it in the metal tray for 20 mins with the lid closed, turning it half way. I then took the tray out and cooked it for the remaining 10 mins on the bars, pouring over the cooking  juices from the tray. Testing the chicken once the outside looked a good dark colour (but not burned) it was cooked right through. I served it with  salad and new potatoes – totally un-authentic, but I couldn’t be faffing around boiling rice and soaking beans.  There was enough left for a couple of lunches out of the drumsticks too.

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I thought that this kind of dish on a hot day would be perfect with a cold Jever pilsner – or Pilsner Urquell widely available, chatting on twitter Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (thanks to Colin for that one) – widely available in supermarkets – was also suggested, which would work very well too. So something ice cold and crisp if you’re going to need heat quenching, or something not quite so cold and more aromatic if you can handle the burn.

Top Tips for Norwich AGM

Well, the CAMRA AGM weekend is nearly here, I thought I might put together some of my favourite places for those from out of town. I’ve tried to put in various selections of pubs, bars, restaurants and even places that don’t sell beer – I know, shocker. Anyway, let me know if you visit any of them. They’re not in any order, but I’ve tried to categorise them so you know what you’re getting.

The Kings Head, 42 Magdalen Street. A traditional wet lead free house, no keg, lots of local beers on cask, and some interesting bottles.

The Cottage, 9 Silver Road. A free house run by Mauldons. 50 beers and ciders on for the St Georges beer festival, live music, good beer snacks and a bargain Sunday lunch.

The Vine pub on Dove Street in the city centre is a tiny little pub which features local cask, but also the most delicious Thai food in the city.

The Rose on City Road has just installed a small brewery, along with it’s sister pub The Ketts Tavern, they sell Norwich Bear beers and a large selection of bottled world beers.

The Murderers on Timber Hill shows all the sports you could think of, is a large comfortable city centre pub, has local and national beers.

There are a trio of Fat Cat pubs, including the brewery tap and canary dotted around the city, selling cask from all over the UK, the odd keg and a selection of bottles.

If Keg is your thing, then be sure to head to the Norwich Tap House for a great UK selection of keg and bottle, and some from further afield too.

 

With all this beer, you’re going to need some food. The Sir Garnet just behind the market place does great burgers and Sunday lunches, and usually has a local beer or two on as well. For something more unusual, you could do far worse than head to the Elgoods pub The Reindeer the food is delicious and decidedly different from the usual pub faire. it’s spacious and cosy at the same time. A good cask, keg and spirit selection.

 

And I think you might be in need of caffeine in the mornings when in Norwich, well, the best coffee is available at The Window on Wensum Street Open 8-3 Tues-Sat, Hayley is there to greet you, smiling and serving kick ass cups and cakes. If you’re on the other side of the city, then head to Mustard on Bridewell Alley who will also fix you a bacon butty. Although the best bargain butty has to be from Norwich Market, where you can get a cup of tea that you can stand your spoon up in as well as a large fry up.

 

Some other great things to look out for: Macarons and More new shop in the Victoria Arcade, selling delicious patisserie to take away. The perfect beer snack can be found courtesy of Brays Cottage pork pies, several pubs stock them and they can be found in the indie deli’s and café’s around the city.

Enjoy my city, and don’t forget to tell me where you did go to, and if you tried any of my suggestions.

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