1. Can Scotch Eggs Make One Difference?

    Great British Chefs guest blogger Food Urchin aka Danny Kingston was invited to cook along with Simon Rimmer from Something for the Weekend.  It was all about Scotch eggs and ethical food. Intrigued?  Discover what happened & why Bono wasn’t involved.


    by Food Urchin aka Danny Kingston - photos by Getty Images

    Should Duncan Goose, founder of the pioneering One Brand range of everyday products, ever see fit to make me marketing director for his meritorious and laudable company, my first pitch would go along these lines:

    Duncan, I’ve got one word for you. And that is Bono. If you really want to spread the word behind the One Brand, he really has got to be your man. After all, Bono is well known for his compassion and his drive to bring humanitarian causes to the forefront. He would be great. And plus, there’s the song ‘One’. It’s a perfect fit. I am thinking a reworking of the original. I am thinking of a new ad campaign. Bono walks down the high street. In one hand he holds One Clever Loaf, in the other he holds One Good Egg. And he sings. “One Loaf. One Egg. Sisters. Brothers. We’ve got to carry each other.” I tell you, it will be amazing. If we can get Bono on board that is.”

     

    And I would imagine that Duncan, sitting there in a baggy pale blue jumper, would probably take this idea on board for a second or two before simply replying:

    Why do we need that megalomaniac when we’ve got Simon Rimmer?


    And he would have a point. Because when I met both Duncan and Simon at a recent bloggers’ breakfast to hear the story behind the One Brand and to learn about recipes that have been developed to highlight the products available, it was clear that blast and fireworks, U2 style, were unnecessary. Instead, through warmth and good humour, they conveyed a message that was plain and simple, let’s try and change the world one step at a time and with a ‘like for like’ proposition, where 100% of the profits are used to fund various schemes across Africa. Buy one box of eggs and one family will benefit from a community egg farming project. Buy one loaf of bread and that will help fund one start-up bakery initiative. Buy one bottle of water and one person will be able to drink. A very simple and worthwhile premise, I am sure you’ll agree.

    So after a preamble, travelling around the world with Duncan on his motorbike and some teasing instruction from Simon Rimmer as he ran through the recipes he created (“What flower does vanilla come from?” silence “Pah! And you all call yourselves foodies!”), we all settled down to the business of making some Scotch eggs. Because everyone loves a Scotch egg and I have to say the red pepper chutney that accompanied it was absolutely delicious, a great nod there from Mr Rimmer. You can find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

    Having been to a fair few of these bloggers events before, proceedings can wane somewhat where suddenly you find yourself standing around thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” But the people behind One Brand fostered an open environment and great spirit of bonhomie, with strangers chatting across the table. All of which was helped by the approachability of Simon Rimmer and his willingness to discuss food issues, Manchester and male pattern baldness. Refreshing in comparison some of the sour faced celeb chefs I’ve met in the past, who grimace false smiles with eyes focused on the clock. With that in mind, I would like to congratulate Duncan and the team for the work they are doing, I’ve got a feeling that there are more good things to come.

    And thank God they haven’t thought about approaching Bono.

    Yet. 

     

    Chorizo Scotch Eggs with Pepper Chutney

    Ingredients 

    • 6 hard boiled One Good Eggs – cooked 6 mins max
    • 175g sausage meat
    • 75g finely diced/blended chorizo
    • tbs chopped parsley
    • tbs finely chopped chives
    • Plenty of salt and white pepper
    • 75g breadcrumbs
    • 75g polenta
    • Vegetable oil to deep fry
    • Pepper chutney – 1 red onion, sliced
    • 4 red peppers, finely sliced
    • Clove sliced garlic
    • 8 gherkins, chopped
    • tbs capers
    • 100g demarera
    • 100ml red wine vinegar
    • 1 finely chopped birds eye chilli

    Method 

    1. Mix the sausage meat, chorizo, herb, chives and plenty of seasoning
    2. Divide into 16, press flat, then flour each egg, then egg wash and wrap the meat around.
    3. Deep fry at 180c for 4 mins, turning regularly
    4. CHUTNEY – fry onion, garlic, chilli for 3-4 mins to soften
    5. Add peppers, cook 2 mins
    6. Add sugar and vinegar, boil 10mins, take off heat, add capers, gherkins, season and cool. Serve with Scotch Eggs and a little pretty salad garnish

    The One Brand is a range of everyday essential products which are sold via major retailers across the UK and internationally, to fund humanitarian aid projects across rural communities in Africa.

    Blog post for Great British Chefs by Food Urchin

    When you’re shopping for food, would you select food that was going to a good cause over food that wasn’t?  Does the price make a difference?  
    Do you think supermarkets should do more to stock ethical food?    We’re discussing these questions over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.

  2. A seat at TV Chef Simon Rimmer’s Restaurant by Foodographic

    TV chefs have been in the news a lot recently.  We see their faces all the time, but how often do we get to eat their food?  Great British Chefs were delighted when Deanna Thomas from Foodographic went to Earle restaurant  run by Simon Rimmer (from BBC2’s weekly show Something for the Weekend).  Can a chef who admits to having no formal training, yet is watched by millions every week, produce a meal to wow our blogger?  Let’s find out 

    Photography by Deanna Thomas

    In quiet moments of pontification, I like to reflect on the definition of success. Is success to do with being a celebrity, having money, a happy family life or a business empire? Obviously it’s a transient thing – over an average lifespan, you’ll win some, and you’ll lose some. So how would your average celebrity chef measure success?

    Television appearances pay well and a high media profile translates inevitably to restaurant bookings, but if a celebrity chef spends too much time on the telly and not in his own kitchen, it could end up being counterproductive.

    I went to visit Simon Rimmer’s restaurant ‘Earle’ in the affluent Cheshire suburb of Hale. Simon has also co-owned the successful ‘Greens’ vegetarian restaurant in Didsbury near Manchester for over 20 years, and regularly splits his time between stints at both kitchens, various television appearances and live demo’s at food festivals up and down the country. His recipes can be seen in many popular middle band magazines and he also has a few cookbooks to his name. This is not bad going for someone who admits to having had no formal training.

    Apart from hard work, the answer to the definition of success is to achieve some kind of balance so it’s essential to have a strong team behind you and to not overcomplicate things. Earle’s ‘modern brasserie’ menu is unfussy, unpretentious and many ingredients come from local suppliers they’ve developed a good relationship with over the past few years.

    My starter of venison Carpaccio lay on punchy Asian inspired coleslaw complimented by a quenelle of earthy mushroom duxelle. Flavours and textures combined well, but I had to ignore the totally unnecessary pot of dressing that tasted like some kind of industrial cleaning fluid.

     ‘Slow roast pork belly, apple compote, caramelised baby onions & roasted garlic puree’ (£9.25) was a straight forward, reasonably executed dish with crispy crackling that compared visually to a happy pig gambolling through an Autumnal forest (well it did after a few glasses of wine.)

    Another friend ordered minced fish balls, rustic pepper & tomato sauce with parmesan shavings (£6.50). The portion was very generous and she thought the sauce was a little over-sweet for her taste but I’m a fan of the humble fish ball so ‘helped’ her to polish off the lot.

    My main course of pheasant with honeyed parsnips and roast potatoes came from the seasonal specials menu. Like the other dishes it lacked any finesse and wasn’t pretty but it was hearty, seasonal and satisfying.

    Another main course was pan-fried fillet of sea bass, with creamed butter beans, lemon & thyme crust, braised kale, white wine & caper sauce (£17.50) Again, a simple idea using complimentary flavours and textures with slightly clumsy presentation and no real desire to think outside the box.

    Desserts continued to reflect this is the form of classic treacle tart, a lemon crème brulee and a Bailey’s cheesecake with a shot of warm butterscotch sauce. No attempt at nodding towards seasonal or local winter puddings and all decorated with the same old-fashioned mixed berry garnish. Every course tasted like Sunday lunch would at a friend’s house whose mum’s not bad at cooking.

    My friends, who would happily admit to not being particular foodies, really did enjoy their meal though. They chose this venue mostly for the convivial atmosphere, and definitely did not want to be intimidated by an edgy cooking style.

    Service was slow, as the place was full of large pre-Christmas parties but we, like most of the guests, were easily mollified by ordering another bottle from the safe mid-priced wine list.

    Rimmer comes across as an affable bloke both on television and in person. He wandered around the tables after service in an approachable manner, happy to chat about footie or share a joke with customers. His easy going appeal translates across his menu which also offers a section of ‘Earle classics’ such as fish pie, burgers, gammon, fish and chips - all hearty fayre at £10.95.

    This is a chef who hasn’t burnt himself out under the weight of continually striving for awards and accolades. He’s run two busy restaurants for a number of years, maintains a happy family life and a continual media presence. So, regarding the definition of a successful chef? Who knows, maybe meriting a continuous ‘B plus’ can trump a bright but short-lived Michelin star.

    Review of Earle for Great British Chefs by Deanna Thomas 

    Which TV chef’s food would you most like to try?   We’re discussing this over on Great British Chefs Facebook Page.