Braised Short Ribs

Just about the only cut of meat I haven’t cooked was short ribs. (That’s a complete untruth, there are many, many cuts of meat I haven’t cooked yet but slow-cooked ribs is the one that I fancied most).

As we got our first frost of the winter today I thought I would celebrate by writing up this bad boy from a week or so ago.

One moment please, I’m just going outside to shoot the annoying person setting off some fireworks…

…okay he isn’t going to be doing that anymore. Back to the frost scenario. This year Autumn (or ‘fall’ as some say) has been the warmest ever (some bright spark could probably bore us to death with meteorological statistics saying it was warmer in 1934, but I don’t care, it was warm, like 25 centigrade in October warm).

And you know, things go a bit weird when the weather does funny things in Britain. Wearing t-shirts and shorts in the last week of October just looks strange. Its not right.

So when it got a bit chilly a week or so ago I headed off to the local butchers (local as in 20 minutes drive) to get me some ribs. Now the butchers are usually a jovial pair, all ‘Sir’ and ‘Lovely cut that’ and all that crap. But that day they were not in a good mood.

‘Have you got any short ribs?’

‘Well we have ribs, pork or beef?’

‘Beef’ (How was I to know to make them short they just cut them down the middle)

Can you cut them down the middle?’

‘I can cut them anyway you want (slight pause) sir’.

‘Fine, do that’.  I turned round, annoyed, and stared at some pickles, almost wanting to walk out but wanting those ribs more.

Anyway the old guy cheered up and started recommending all sorts of methods of preparation. But I wasn’t listening. I had spotted a small but very dark 42 day aged fillet steak. I chose that too, for another day…

Back home I put my plan into action. I intended marinading the ribs and then slow cooking them in wine. Lots of wine.

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Classic Banoffee Pie

One of the most searched-for recipes that leads people to Happiness Stan is ‘banana-less banoffee pie’. If you took a look at the link you can see this is not really anything to do with banoffee pie, I just like playing with words and peoples’ heads (and taste buds).

But who would look for such a thing as banana-less banoffee pie? What kind of tortured soul is even thinking about, let alone seriously considering, such a thing? Maybe they are distant relatives of the Spanish Conquistadors, who’s search for the Lost City of Gold ended as fruitlessly as their modern descendants looking for a recipe that cannot exist. Mind you the conquistadors may well have tripped over some bananas as they explored the virgin rainforests desperate for a first glimpse of Eldorado.

More likely they are conflicted. On the one hand the thought of cream, biscuit, caramel and chocolate seems like a no-brainer. However countering this is the thought of sticking bits of slimy, pale yellow fruit into an otherwise perfect creation.

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This is the Eldorado of Banoffee Pies

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Trying to make the Ratatouille from Ratatouille

Comfort food. Such a strange term. Makes me think of neurotic bulimics smearing chocolate eclairs over themselves.

The scene in Disney’s Ratatouille, where Remy the rat-chef prepares the dish for Anton Ego, the blisteringly arrogant food critic brilliantly voiced by Peter O’Toole, provides a far better insight into what comfort food is.

And along the way it shows you how to make a fantastic looking ratatouille.

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Fragrant Crispy Pork Belly with Parsnip Puree

My wife showed me some pictures my youngest sister posted on Facebook last night. She and her husband (check that; her husband – my youngest sister is married. How old am I?) treated themselves to a trip to The Fat Duck, home of the food wizard-cum-scientist Heston Blooming-utter-nutter-thal or whatever his name is.

She noted that the menu took about three hours to get through, which it should do given it’s £200-a-head. The pictures of the food items looked very familiar – and they are to many foodies of course because you see them on TV – whisky jellies, snail porridge (which looked alarmingly green – I mean like fluorescent green), various foams, foggy mist-like creations and so on.

Heston Blumenthal is an interesting character – well known over here in Blightly; elsewhere I don’t know. He is the antithesis of the better known Gordon Ramsay. Where ‘G’ is a shouty, sweary cartoon-like creation, Hessie is more menacing – shaven-headed, thick rimmed spectacles, piercing stare.

But my personal preference in the celebrity cook stakes is Tom Kerridge. A man mountain, Kerridge cooks things that I can relate to – food you can find in a gastropub. Things like bacon joints braised in maple syrup, carrots cooked in loads of salt, butter and sugar…you get the idea.

But just because it’s food that you understand, and looks like something you recognise, doesn’t make it any easier to cook. Oh no. Try pork belly.

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Pork Wellington

Just spent a day Christmas shopping. Whilst lying in bed reading the news on the (crappy) Samsung tablet (why didn’t I get an i-Pad) it suddenly dawned on me that if I didn’t get off my arse and go shopping today then I wasn’t going to get another chance. And that wouldn’t do. A lot of disappointed sproglets, and don’t even get me started on the wife’s reaction.

So I went right on in to town. Battled the hoards. The squealing brats with their uncouth parents smoking fags and swearing at each other. Sulky youths trudging around. But I did it. I purchased things for about 10 people. It is done. No more! And to celebrate I created this sumptious creation – courtesy of my favourite Hairy Bikers!

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