Monday, 30 May 2016

Tomato Caprese

A typical tomato caprese consists of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and olive oil. The Isle of Wight is well known for growing good tomatoes so this is my IoW version using Isle of Wight soft cheese instead of mozzarella, British cold pressed rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, and I'm adding a spot of The Garlic Farm black garlic. As this holiday is all about garlic I steeped a clove of garlic in the rapeseed oil for half an hour beforehand, just to add an extra garlic kick.


Tomatoes (the bigger the better)
Soft cheese, sliced
Basil leaves, whole
Black garlic cloves, sliced
Cold pressed rapeseed oil, 1 tbsp
Small clove of garlic, snapped in half (optional)
Sea salt (I used the black stuff)


1. Steep the garlic clove in the oil for about half an hour.
2. Slice everything up and plate up.
3. Pour the garlic oil over the salad then sprinkle over the sea salt.

Now just pick up a piece of each ingredient between your thumb and forefinger and shove the lot in your mouth. Yum!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Trio of Homemade Dips - Garlic, Guacamole and Hummus

Our first afternoon on holiday saw the Isle of Wight bathed in glorious sunshine so we immediately decided to fire up the coal barbecue. We must have had our Weber Go Anywhere portable barbecue for 10 years now and it has never let us down, and nor did it this afternoon with some simple sausages and steak from the local shop. Pre-BBQ it is customary in the Larry clan to pop open a bag of tortillas, tear into some pitta bread, chop up carrot and cucumber sticks and get dipping. Now shop bought dips are all right but you cannot beat the freshness of homemade, and as the Isle of Wight is known for growing good garlic I was keen to get stuck in with these garlicky dips.

Garlic Yoghurt Ingredients

1x Tub of Greek Yoghurt
1x Garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
1/4 Lemon, juiced
1x Tsp Greek basil
Sea salt

Garlic Yoghurt Method:

1. Mix the garlic, lemon juice and yoghurt together.
2. Top with Greek basil leaves and sea salt flakes.

Guacamole Ingredients:

3x Avocados
1x Tomato, deseeded and diced
1x Chilli, finely chopped (add more if you like it spicy)
1x Small garlic clove, crushed or grated
1x Lime, juiced
1x Handful of fresh coriander
Salt and Pepper

Guacamole Method:

1. Chop the avocados in half length-ways, pop out the stone then scoop the flesh into a bowl.
2. Pour in the juice of 1 lime.
3. Tear off the coriander leaves and set aside. Finely chop the stalks and add to the bowl.
4. Add the chilli, garlic and tomato then mix well with a fork.
5. Taste, season, top with the coriander leaves and serve.

Hummus Ingredients:

2x Garlic cloves, crushed or grated
1/2 Tin of chickpeas
4x tbsp Tahini
1x Lemon, juiced
1x tbsp Sour cream
Pinch of salt
1x tbsp Cold pressed rapeseed oil

Hummus Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the oil into a food processor. Before you exclaim "a food processor in the van!", I use this mini Kenwood. Or you can get additions to a hand blender, which equally do the job.
2. Whiz up the ingredients to a paste.
3. Serve in a bowl with that lovely British oil poured over the top.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Homemade Raised Pork Pie

Football fans the world over will be rejoicing today when Leicester City Football Club are presented with the Premier League trophy and are crowned champions of England. With odds of 5000-1 at the start of the season it has truly been an epic and historical journey, today is great day for English football. Coincidentally we are staying on a small CS site in Leicestershire so in celebration I have made a Pork Pie. The world-famous pork pie has it's home in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire so I cannot think of a more apt celebration of Leicestershire's greatness.

I cannot take the credit for this recipe as it is taken from The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Every year at Christmas my great mate Pete would make a batch of these pies and we would always look forward to sampling his creations on Pork Pie Day. Pete used to be a chef in the RAF and a lot of my inspirations to cook came from our long chats over a beer or two. Sadly Pete is no longer with us but I like to think he would be proud of my attempt at the humble Pork Pie, maybe I'll make one at Christmas.


1kg Pork shoulder, hand cut into small cubes
250g Sausage meat
250g Bacon, diced
12x Sage leaves, finely chopped
1tsp Thyme leaves, finely chopped
1tsp Salt
1tsp Black pepper
1tsp White pepper
1/2tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2tsp Mace powder
250ml Stock
2x Bottles of beer

For the pastry:
100g Lard
100g Butter
200ml Water
550g Plain flour
1tsp salt
3x Eggs, 2 for the pastry and 1 to glaze


1. In a saucepan warm the water, butter, lard and salt until it has all melted then take off the heat.
2. Put the flour and 2 beaten eggs into a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
3. Pour in the melted fatty water and mix then knead to make a warm soft dough. Cover in cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour.
4. Sit down, put your feet up, enjoy drinking a bottle of beer.
5. In your mixing bowl add all the meat, herbs and seasonings and combine well.
6. Cut off 1/4 of your pastry and leave it in the fridge then with the remaining 3/4 line a cake tin (I used a 21cm tin). Simply work the pastry with your fingers, flattening it and poking into the edges until the tin is evenly lined.
7. Its not hard this bit, put the meat into the pie.
8. Brush the edges of the pastry with a bit of egg then roll out the remaining 1/4 of pastry and lay it on top of the pie. Crimp the edges with your fingertips and cut off any excess, also cut a small hole in the centre of the lid.
9. Bake in the oven on gas mark 4 for 30 minutes then turn down to gas mark 3 for a further 75 minutes.
10. Sit down again and have another beer.
11. Remove from the oven and remove the pie from the tin. Brush the beaten egg over the top and sides and pop it back in the oven for a further 15 minutes so the glaze sets.
12. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
13. Warm your stock and gelatine in a saucepan then pour it into the small hole in the centre of the lid. Use a small funnel, turkey baster or flavour injector and slowly fill until the pie is full to the brim.
14. When cool put the pie in the fridge. Serve it cold with English mustard, it cannot be beat.