Friday, 27 May 2016

The Pig Dig

There was a series on last year called ‘Chef’s Table’, I’m sure some of you have been watching it but if you’ve not watched it - WATCH IT! As it happens tonight unveiled the second series which I’m very excited about and after reading this you should all be going home and watching avidly. The last series featured 6 inspirational chefs and their stories. They all inspired me in different ways but the one that left a lasting impression was the story of Francis Mallmann who [abbreviated bio] after much acclaim in Paris went back to his roots and started cooking in his own native way in Patagonia cooking outside by fire - he uses pits to cook animals overnight and throws breads directly on coals. Basically the most manly way of cooking humanly possible! This obviously made my ears perk up and my saliva glands work overtime and so I decided that I should try it out. Cooking how we used to cook food thousands of years ago is no easy feat.

One cold night last halloween we embarked on a pit roast of half a pig in a friends garden in Arsenal, London. The results were truely incredible, so much so that we’ve done it again since and plan to do a few more as events in and around London. If you fancy running an event with us I’d be very interested to hear from you but this post wasn’t about selling myself so I’ll stop there. The pork was the juiciest I have ever eaten (no moisture is lost whatsoever in the cooking process as the pork is starved of oxygen) and the combination we eventually came up with of pork, tarragon and blood orange in a toasted brioche bun is D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S!

So in a very abbreviated step by step here we go:

  • Get a pig / half a pig / piece of pig
  • Dig a pit 1 foot wider on all sides than your pig (or piece of pig) and about 5 foot deep. This is by far the worst bit about the entire cooking process as it’s back breaking work. Be sure to get a few of you ready to dig and have a digging party before the event.
  • Light a fire
  • Keep fire going until you have 3 feet of red hot embers (this will take at least a few hours)
  • Season your pig. We seasoned with salt, thyme, rosemary and garlic.
  • Wrap the pig in tin foil
  • Wrap this in hessian sacks
  • Wrap this in chicken wire
  • Throw on embers
  • Cover with a lid (we used a piece of corrugated iron)
  • Cover with soil to seal all air gaps
  • Leave for as long as you think it needs (we did half a pig for 18 hours and a large pork shoulder for 11 hours, both were delicious)
  • Eat with mates and lagers and music, in a ideal situation on a glorious summers day!

To serve -

Toast a brioche bun and then pile on the meat, extra salt and pepper if needed, a good amount of tarragon and a few blood orange segments. Heaven.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Pasta perfection is my new Mecca!

When I was at University I wasn’t actually into pasta that much, the pasta and pesto staple diet of many students wasn’t part of my repertoire. I’m not really sure why I was like that, I probably thought I’d be being a bit lazy so instead favoured a more complicated alternative. Fast forward 10 years and now I have fallen in love with a good bowl of humble pasta. I’ve been trying to perfect all the old classics that I feel an old Italian Grandmother would pass down to her children, keeping it simple but all about the fresh ingredients. It literally has become a bit of an obsession, one of my cupboards is just full of different types of pasta! It’s ridiculous 

I recently shot a pasta called ‘Pastificio Di Martino' for Pulp Magazine (Click here for picture1and picture 2) and starting divulging into the history of it. With over 100 years of manufacturing experience and pasta still being dried on special racks in the street it really is an incredible pasta and a tastes delicious. Pasta might be quick to make but the same amount of time and passion has gone into it as any other classic dish! The Pastificio pasta didn’t last long in my kitchen but it helped me to perfect some recipes that I’m going to share with you

I can’t call these recipes my own but they’re definitely worth trying to perfect, they’re both heavily based on recipes from ‘The Geometry of Pasta’ which is well worth a read and will help you on road to pasta perfection. 

Cacio e Pepe (Cheese and pepper) is a delicious simple pasta and Spaghetti alla Vongole (Spaghetti and clams) done right is near perfection.  These are both perfect for a summer dinner in the garden sipping a glass of fresh Vinho Verde. If there’s two pieces of advise I’d give you it’s to spend a bit more money on the pasta (don’t buy 79p pasta as it’ll always taste like 79p pasta) and also add a good amount of salt to the cooking liquid (12g salt per litre) as pasta is made un-seasoned.


Ingredients (for 2 people) - 

  • 200g Bucatini pasta
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 100g grated Pecorino Romano 
  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Reserved pasta water

Method - 

  • Boil the pasta until just before cooked
  • In a separate frying pan heat the olive oil and add half the pepper
  • After a few seconds add 4 tbsp reserved pasta water
  • Add the pasta and sauté for a few seconds until there is no loose water
  • Take the pan off the heat and add the cheese. Keep turning the pasta until the cheese is mixed through and melting into the pasta
  • Serve with the remaining pepper

This pasta is so delicious and fresh and all the flavours should marry together perfectly. The liquid that comes out of the clams when cooking adds a taste of the sea which is so fresh it’s addictive. If you’re ever trying to impress someone with a pasta dish this is the one to do it with!


Ingredients -

  • 200g Spaghetti
  • 6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500g Clams
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • Chilli flakes / 1 dried chilli chopped into flakes
  • 1 handful chopped Parsley
  • 4 tbsp White Wine

Method -

  • Put the pasta on to cook
  • While the pasta is cooking heat a wide frying pan over a high heat
  • When smoking hot add the oil and then quickly add the garlic, chilli and clams
  • Fry for a few moments (20 seconds, until the garlic starts to colour) and then add the parsley and the wine
  • When the majority of the clams have opened add the drained pasta and cook together until the rest of the clams have opened. The sauce should be half oil, half water
  • Serve immediately

Friday, 13 May 2016

Do you like Pina Coladas? Or getting caught in the rain?

Forget about the rain but hopefully this will change your mind about the cocktail! I recently went on a 3 week trip around Cuba and whilst the food wasn’t as incredible as I thought it was going to be the cocktails were great. We travelled from East to West, North to South and feel like a saw a good amount of the country to comment on its current state. I think a lot of negative opinions are being said about what’s currently happening to Cuba, but from speaking with the locals I feel that it’s only going to help them, they’re looking forward to seeing change and with it is only going to come positives. There is already loads of work going on in Havana, installing new drainage systems, making better roads and I feel that it’s very single minded to say that it’s going to destroy the country. I’m sure it will keep its cultural heritage and I’m definitely sure those old American cars will not be replaced. Aside from the politics of the country it's such a beautiful country and is the nearest to paradise I've ever been!

I used to be a bar tender and cocktail shaker (I’d love to say mixologist but don’t think I was inventive enough) so I have a huge love for good drinks and spirits. As we arrived into Havana on the first night the first thing we did was to throw down our bags at our ‘Casa Particular’ and then head out for a drink…or two…. “Dos cerveza y dos mojitos por favor?” Without realising that the cocktails are about double strength things quickly became blurry from there!

After a week or so sampling all the drinks I realised that I actually have a new found love for Pina Coladas. I know what you’re thinking, however, if it’s made properly it is actually a great drink and perfect for an on-the-beach post-swim pick me up so without further ado here’s my recipe for Pina Coladas. After trying this recipe you’ll change your mind about the frowned upon classic. “Do you like Pina Coladas?” I sure do! (Please enjoy while singing along, responsibly…obviously…)


This recipe is different to a lot you’ll find on the internet, in Cuba I found the drink was way more creamy and less pineapple-y. In my opinion it’s this overly sweet pineapple-y drink that people don’t like and so give this a go and you’ll be sure to love it!

Ingredients - 

50ml white rum
50ml coconut cream
25ml Pineapple Juice
2 teaspoons sugar syrup

Method - 

  • Along with a handful of ice throw all the ingredients in a blender and blend well
  • Serve with a slice of pineapple and as many cocktails add ons as you can get your hands on (I was a bit gutted I couldn’t find those little monkeys that hang off your glass!)