Dinner of Kings

Dinner of Kings: Thanksgiving Formal

Formal Hall at Kings carries an aura of mystery, partly because it happens once a week, partly because it sells out online within 2 minutes and partly because it is incredibly difficult to get a ticket if you are at any other college. You would think for the most expensive formal in Cambridge (£15 without wine) that it would be absolutely mind blowing. But I have to say often Kings is a bit more pomp and circumstance than actually substantial. They have the mindset of a michelin chef with foam here and jelly there, but often they mismatch the flavours, ignoring the basics and focussing on showy presentation, forget about the textures or fail to pay attention to vegetarians and allergies. For example I was sitting next to my friend one time who is a vegetarian and allergic to nuts. Whilst we were given a fancy looking pigeon salad with hazelnuts, popcorn, pigeon breast and leg, raisins and dressing, he was given a large slab of goats cheese (no bread) a few salad leaves and some popcorn. In fact goats cheese is a pretty standard kings fare, but you would have thought for a college that prides itself so much in its culinary prowess that it refuses to lower costs for students because it would be “changing the nature of the event”, might be able to think of something interesting to do to goats cheese other than serve it as a huge raw slab. 

However often Kings often steps up to the plate (my halfway hall dish of pigeon pastille was particularly tasty) so I entered this ‘ Thanksgiving Superformal’ with high expectations. Besides I sometimes secretly wish I was American because Thanksgiving seems like such a good excuse for a huge meal a couple of weeks before Christmas. Plus it is rather exciting going to Kings formal, because it only happens once a week, everyone dresses up )some even in black tie) and it definitely feels like a big event rather than just a meal. 

Kings hall was certainly meant for these sort of events and getting to eat in a hall that resembles Hogwarts more than any other college hall is almost worth paying the extra money for. (The price you pay for this ambiance however is that the mood lighting sometimes means you can’t see what you’re eating, so if the photos are a bit fuzzy I apologise). They certainly hadn’t stinted on the decorations. There were American flags everywhere, hats, turkey pictures, napkins, hats and american flag boppers which entertained us while we waited for the fellows to enter. Included in the price of formal was a cocktail. It looked good, but I don’t think anyone knew what on earth was in it. On my table there were rumours of champagne, rum, whisky, cranberry, orange….I’m pretty sure not all of them were in it. U4 who was sitting next to me protested it was to sour and promptly added two large spoonfuls of sugar to his. 
 

The starter looked pretty interesting with a twist on the classic thanksgiving pumpkin pie in savoury form with minced up cranberries, I was impressed with the garnish and the cranberries with toasted pumpkin seeds were the thing that lifted the dish from an okay rather un-flavoursome mushy tart to a rather tasty dish. While the filling for the tart could have been made better, the pastry was crisp and the whole dish had a wholesome feel to it, not sure it was worth the extra £2 for super hall….. On the bright side I could have had assorted textures of vegetables which my gluten free friend, Stornoway, got as a substitute. They had made a bit of effort, cutting up the beetroot into odd shapes and pureeing some of the veg, but that was literally all it was, no protein or anything…. One thing Kings has got up on the other colleges is their bread and butter. Not only is the bread soft (and occasionally warm), but also they shape the butter into lovely little flower shapes, which are so much better than those awful, hard little wrapped cubes of butter most places will give you.


For the main we were presented with a roast chicken breast, garnished with a sweet potato ‘fritter’ (which tasted and looked surprisingly like a dumpling), collard greens (essentially cabbage) a little jug full of sauce and a chargrilled piece of corn. My main gripe with this dish was the corn. For a place that wants to maintain a strict formal atmosphere, Kings really shouldn’t have given us a piece of food you can only eat by picking up with your fingers and unattractively munching on, getting food all over your face. The malt (male-alto) opposite me decided to to compare it to finding David Cameron in Kings bar, not suited to its surroundings. It could have done with a ton of butter, or really anything to lift it from just being a piece of corn. The chicken breast was cooked really well though. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I find that a kitchen has managed to mass produce well cooked meat and this chicken was succulent and flavoursome and tasted even better with the gravy (plus I always find it incredibly satisfying when I get to pour things myself, and I love mini sauce jugs). The collard greens were pretty boring to be honest but the sweet potato fritter (whilst having the odd texture of a thick mashed potato cake ) was actually really tasty even if the texture didn’t really add much. It was sweet and salty and bursting with sweet potato. I was very pleased that this time kings didn’t overcomplicate this by adding too many unnecessary foams/popcorn/jelly. In fact the only hint to Kings nouveau cuisine approach to formal was a little smudge of sweet potato puree which was likewise really tasty, sweet and salty. I thought that this was a reasonable portion (Kings formal can occasionally leave you feeling hungry). I think Kings are finally starting to get the message that students want simpler, tastier and bigger amounts of food. 

After a little light Acappella entertainment (another perk of super hall, I presume this is where my extra £2 goes), we were brought the dessert. I honestly had no idea what key lime pie was before, and Im not necessarily sure I know what it is now. As far as I can tell from Kings, it is a cheesecake with a faintly lime flavoured cream. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t appear to have put lime zest in any of it, which might have made it taste more limey. It was delicious, but it wasn’t key lime pie. In order to add a nouveau cuisine twist, we were treated to a really good, thick dark chocolate ganache but a disappointing ‘chocolate soil’ (another favourite of Kings) was just bitter to the point of tasting like a burnt crunch, it probably would have been better to have extra biscuity base for crunch. The imagination again appeared to have run out for Stornoway. The gluten free offering was textures of fruit (balancing out textures of vegetables from earlier), again they had cut them up into interesting shapes, but it seemed a shame that whilst they were paying the same amount, those with allergies weren’t given a dessert with similar substance. 



 

On the whole Kings did seem to have toned down the pointless foams and jellies, the portion sizes were satisfying and the overall impression was of a tasty, filling meal. However they did fall short a few times on flavour and execution. I’m still not sure that they couldn’t do more with the money they have (the price we pay is subsidised by college). Nevertheless I’m still excited for Christmas formal next week.




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A Kosher Feast

A Kosher Feast

Last friday my close harmony (think Glee) group was asked to sing at (and therefore eat) the Shabbat (friday night) meal. This Jewish society join together every friday to eat a meal, cooked by other students to celebrate Shabbat. I managed to grab a place next to a college friend who was a Jew so she talked me through the traditional aspects of the meal (the less traditional I was able to figure out for myself.

This may happen every week and we may have been eating off plastic plates and and serving ourselves but the standard of the food was exceedingly high and the whole thing felt like a celebratory feast. Before we started my friend outlined the Kosher laws for me so I could understand what we might be eating.

1. No Pork whatsoever (or for that matter camel or swan) or anything cooked in pig fat
2. No dairy and meat together , so no butter even to cook veg in etc
3. No shellfish
4. Wine has to be Kosher

So we definitely wouldn’t be having spaghetti carbonara or Pork with cider cream

It started well with a glass of kosher wine and some delicious soft warm knotted bread (apparently a traditional bread called Challah) which we ate dipped in either a tomato salsa or a wonderful tangy homemade houmous sprinkled with paprika. It was so good I had to try and stop myself filling up to much on it as I had been warned there was another 3 courses to come.
                             
The next course was brought out in huge bowls for each table to serve themselves and was a chicken broth with huge chunks of chicken and vegetables (you can tell that this is the sort of traditional soup that could be best known as ‘grandmas chicken soup). We were told to sprinkle in these odd looking little yellow pieces into our soup which I don’t think are traditionally Jewish but were certainly delicious, soaking up the soup but retaining their crisp like crunch, like a sort of extra crunchy mini crouton. I was very impressed how they catered for veggies as well (my neighbour was a veggie). I tried her soup (a parsnip soup) and despite the fact it had the texture and look of apple sauce, it tasted pretty good (although the soup chip things couldn’t be added to this soup, it was too thick,their loss). I didn’t eat all my soup, but then I’m not the greatest fan of broth and I didn’t want to fill up too much on just water.

It was a good thing I didn’t fill up because dish after dish piled out of the kitchen and were handed round, they certainly hadn’t under catered! The first dish to come was some of the most addictive couscous I have ever tried. It had little squares of veg, juicy raisins and the couscous itself was flavoursome presumably without the addition of butter. I couldn’t stop eating it. After this came out some really tender chicken drumsticks and thighs dripping with a sweet honey soy glaze. By this time I was getting quite full, but out came beef pieces, which I only nibbled the edge of but enough to know it was well cooked and dripping in sauce and the potatoes (again I couldn’t manage more than one) were soooo crunchy and fluffy – if slightly greasy –  (I think I can guess their secret…..fat), possibly some of the best potatoes i’ve eaten in a while, Cauis college take note.

Luckily we had a little break before dessert. Unfortunately I had to sing, slightly regretting the skin tight dress and the food baby I had gained in the past hour and a half. But after a good half hour of singing and jumping around I was ready for dessert. Dessert was more of a milling about affair and less traditional than the rest of the meal (where the student influence took over). There were starbursts, vodka, malibu and an exceedingly good chocolate cake (again homemade). They must have known that after such a wonderful home cooked meal students would need to balance it out the wholesomeness with copious amounts of alcohol and sugar.

All in all I find it amazing that they manage to produce a home cooked meal that any family matriarch would be proud of for so many people. The atmosphere felt rather like the sunday lunch equivalent I had when growing up with my family and the food was exceedingly well cooked. I know I’m not Jewish but please invite me back again.

Formal – Cauis

Formal – Caius – Oh dear God!
(I’m joking a little there were a few great moments – and it is cheaper than Kings, possibly better student food)

Caius college, Cambridge is not famed for its food (despite what master chef would have us believe). One memorable occasion at Caius (my first experience of the so called ‘formal’ hall – more like informal -) was at, what I presume, was an annual Caribbean hall. Except instead of giving us a unique and informative experience of a cuisine the majority of the hall would be unfamiliar with, we ended up with banana chips as the side dish for the main (breakfast food) and a boozy ice cream, which felt a little bit like they had just doused vanilla and raisins with as much alcohol they could to hide the bland taste. Another colourful experience was where I feeling clever at duping the system by opting for vegetarian (known the meat option would inevitably be overcooked) I was rather disappointed when I was presented with a plate of pasta and tomato sauce, which would have been alright, except my friend across the table was tucking into chicken, bacon and (you guessed it) pasta and tomato sauce, effectively saying vegetarians are worth half the meat eater…….

However this time I walked in with an open mind, after all they had been featured on the master chef final….It was filling

Caius covers all the basics and on the initial menu read it sounds incredibly exciting:

Coronation Chicken Salad

Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potato and cabbage

Yoghurt and Granola

Delicious right?

I would love to know how Caius manage to:*
– make the bread look so good, yet feel so stale?
– serve the roast potatoes both burnt and soggy
– leave most things devoid of flavour
 * disclaimer – my opinion and probably better for a student budget and tastebuds anyway

I sat at a table with several seasoned Caius hall veterans as Caius students are forced to have a certain number of these sit down meals per term. They knew the form, whether to go for soup or salad, when to turn your nose up at dessert and wait for the muller rice and when really desperate, you can always cover your meal with the huge mound of ketchup/mayonnaise/salad cream sachets in the middle of the table at every formal. We started with a coronation chicken salad which was actually alright. Despite the slightly limp presentation and lettuce leaves it had some juicy sultanas and the sauce was tangy and thick. However this was slightly let down by the stale bread and pitiful amount of butter, I was hungry coming to this formal from a busy day.
                                                   
The main was brought promptly (Caius tend to bring things possibly a little too promptly, you feel quite rushed…but at least it means you can get on with your evenings for us busy students) along with dishes laden with potatoes and cabbage which I appreciate because I often wish I had more of a certain thing on a dish. This was slightly let down by the fact the side dishes weren’t inspiring. The cabbage was just cabbage, I can’t fault it except cabbage on its own is never going to be anyones favourite dish and I think everyone would have appreciated salt, butter or in fact anything on that cabbage to make it taste a little less like textured water. The roast potatoes were soggy, yet burnt, although maybe they were trying to evoke the nostalgia of school food pre Jamie Oliver (kids of the 90s), I almost enjoyed them just for old times’ sake.

The highlight of the main course was the yorkshire pudding. They had done rather well. It was crispy on top without being burnt and the bottom was soggy in the gravy, but not tough. However it would have been improved even more if we’d been given more gravy, the yorkshire itself was bland (as it should be) and the lack of gravy in which to dip it was lamentable. The beef itself was very very chewy. I’m sure they were trying to cater to everyone’s taste (I understand there are people out there who don’t like to have their steak practically blue) and that it is hard when you’re mass catering to cook anything well but I think you should at least be able to have a conversation while trying to make your way through your meal. The best method for dealing with the main course was a ton of salt, it almost disguised the dodgy textures and definitely made it taste of something.
                                          
I really liked the dessert. It may have been leftover brunch, I don’t know (my friend next to me commented that she was sure they had just put Pret’s brunch pot into a bowl). But despite the fact the majority of our group agreed a stodgy pud would have been more suited to the weather, it was tasty and well balanced. The yoghurt was tangy, the cherry coulis was sweet and chunky with fruit and the granola was crunchy with toasted flaked almonds. It may not have been the formal food, but I would have happily eaten that brunch pot any day.

Caius hall is certainly an experience, it just strikes me that the concept of formal hall is pointless if you’re just going to serve cafeteria style food. On the other hand keep making the yoghurt pots and maybe patent the unique take on the roast potato, I’m almost certain no-one has made it quite the same way before.

Give it a Bit of Welly – A view from the other side

Give it a Bit of Welly – A view from the other side
So this week we’ve left the bubble that is Cambridge and moved into an equally self contained place, Oxford. 

Guest Post from an Oxford Student

This year our beautiful fourteenth century hall has been replaced by a tent on the front lawn and so I have taken to cooking for myself. Having done the basic student stuff I moved on to do a twelve hour pork belly a fortnight ago which (though it ended up being more like nine and a half hours) was a resounding success. Unfortunately, my friends are the ambitious sort and so I need to keep on throwing more complex and impressive things at them to maintain the illusion of culinary competence. This week it was time to have a go at Venison Wellington. The benefit of this is that it’s basically the same as I did a fortnight ago but with a different centrepiece: the veg and Yorkshire pudding is now well practiced.
 
The covered market in Oxford is the only place to buy meat. It’s almost always cheaper than Tescos, invariably better quality and you get a chat and a smile with the person behind the counter rather than a computer to whose sole task, selling you stuff, it seems completely ill suited. The butchers I tend to go to is Meat Master whose owner, Matthew, seems keen on rowdy youths like me experiencing interesting meat. This time round he offered me camel and kangaroo. I think I’ll sample them at a later date and report back.
He got hold of a kilo of venison loin off the bone for me at only £22. There was another piece he said might be a bit nicer for £28, but I was working to a budget of £5 a head. That slab of meat procured, I had a quick nip round Tescos picking up carrots, parsnips, spuds, broccoli, mushrooms, pate, Parma ham, chestnuts and a large onion. I must confess at this point that I also bought puff pastry. I’ve made it before and it just wasn’t worth the effort. It all came to about £12.
 
I scurried back down holywell street and into the kitchen of a college owned house where some friends of mine live.
Having rubbed the meat with olive oil, I browned it on each side in a frying pan on a medium flame and set it aside.
I turned the oven on to 200oC. That bit I could do.
Next I chopped up a packet mushrooms and onion into manageable sizes and blended them a little without any liquid so that the would be very finely chopped rather than a paste. These were thrown into the frying pan with a bit more oil until the onion was soft. To this I added the remains of a decanter of port I had kicking around (as one does) until it was reduced.
While it was simmering away, aided by the odd prod of a wooden spoon here and there, I laid out about two feet of cling film and laid out the Parma ham so that rind overlapped the meat of the slice beneath it. Onto this I spread the mushroom, onion and port mix.
Returning to the now cooled venison slab, I covered its top side with the pack of pork liver pâté and rolled this, pâté side down onto the middle of the mushroom and onion.
I have the hand eye coordination of a stupid slug so the next bit proved trickier for me than for a person of normal intellectual abilities. I had to lift the cling film on either side of the venison and wrap it around the meat. Simple as it sounds, it’s just quite fiddly once you factor in the effects of gravity upon Parma ham.
However, that done, I got on with rolling out pastry into a large enough rectangle that that could form the outside layer around the Parma ham. Being a student kitchen, this was done with a mug rather than a rolling pin. Normal people should use a rolling pin. I imagine it takes much less time. The meat parcel was duly unwrapped from its Clingfilm and rolled into the centre of the pastry. This was then wrapped around it, sealing the edges with a dab of egg wash. I spread the remainder of the egg wash over the top and sides of the pastry.
Next came peeling and slicing of veg. I tried to get it so that they were all roughly the same chip shape and size. I let them simmer in a pan for five minutes before draining and dousing them liberally with olive oil. For a bit of interest, I sprinkled with dried mixed herbs. Before being shoved in the oven for an hour and a quarter alongside the Wellington. One of the friends who ate has a real aversion to bloody meat or I would have put it in for only about an hour.
The chestnuts didn’t work out quite as well as I would have hoped and I’m not really sure what the trick with them is. I cut a cross in the skin of each and baked them at 200oC for an hour. Any clues on how to do them better much appreciated.
The Yorkshire Pudding is just pancake mix in an ovenproof bowl but that worked out nicely. The gravy was easy enough, just onions, red wine, beef stock cube,
It seemed to go down well. I would have preferred the meat a bit bloodier and I’m not really sure what wasn’t right about the chestnuts, but my friends ate it all and enjoyed it. One of their number had a Chateau Fonplégade 2003 tucked away somewhere and that seemed to go nicely with it. 
 

Suggestions for the next time I cook…?
Venison Wellington
·      Put a large frying pan on medium heat. Rub venison in olive oil and seal on all sides.
·      Heat butter in the pan and wait till it’s foaming. Fry the onions in the pan till they’re soft. Throw in blended mushrooms for six minutes then add the port. Leave to cool once it’s reduced.
·      Lay out clingfilm on a table and overlap proscuitto. Spread the cooled mushroom and onion mix over it.
·      Cover the venison with påté and lay it in the centre of the ham and mushroom. Lift the sides of the clingfilm around the meat so that it is wrapped in the layer of mushroom and ham.
·      Roll out the pastry so that it’s large enough to wrap around the meat.
·      Gingerly remove the cling film and place the venison package in the centre of the pastry and brush the venison parcel with egg wash. Wrap the pastry around the meat.
·      Cook at 200OC
Roast Vegetables
·      Peel and slice vegetables
·      Simmer for 5 minutes
·      Put in a roasting tin and lightly cover with olive oil.
·      Sprinkle with salt and mixed herbs.
·      Roast for 30-35 minutes. Turn over half way through.

Ultimate Brunch 2 – Sweet Treat

Ultimate Brunch 2 – Sweet Treat

I’m not going to claim that I will ever be able to recreate the likes of coco pops or frosted shreddies so I’m not going to even attempt cereals (a big shout out to the amazing american cereal Reese’s Pieces, how you can even call that cereal when they are basically peanut butter cups is brilliant). However my idea of brunch includes the sweet course. The Healthy – fruit salad, yoghurt with compote and berries and porridge with raisins. The Ugly – Waffles, pancakes, croissants, muffins, I’ve heard some places even do doughnuts (or cronuts for those that like a trend). The Hair of the Dog – mimosa, bellini. bloody mary and just plain champagne (I admit college doesn’t offer this but maybe they’ll take the hint…. Here is my pick of the best.

The Healthy
Pimped up Fruit Salad If you will insist upon having a fruit salad for brunch, try mixing fruits such as blueberries, bananas, strawberries, oranges, pineapple, melon, raspberries, pomegranate segments and then make a basil syrup by melting equal parts sugar and water in a pan with basil leaves and boiling for 2-3mins till thickened and then cooling and pouring over.
Yoghurt and compote I’m not really going to tell you how to make this but just get good natural yoghurt and top with thick compote, honey and assorted dried fruit, grated chocolate and nuts.

The Ugly
Waffles So these are almost impossible to make without a waffle iron (or at a stretch a toast maker) but of you have either of these it is worth it. Serve with any of the following combinations – chocolate, banana and cream, strawberries and basil syrup, blueberries and maple syrup or crispy bacon for an interesting taste.
1. Mix 250g plain flour, 1tbsp baking powder, 2tbsp caster sugar, 450ml milk, 1tsp salt, 2 eggs and 2tbsp oil in a bowl. At this point you could also add cinnamon, vanilla extract or cocoa for flavour.
2. Wipe oil all over the waffle iron, cook until golden brown (shouldn’t take too long)
Pancakes I am either of the opinion that pancakes should be incredibly thin and smothered in lemon and sugar (heat on the sugar)or studded with chocolate chips or blueberries and drizzled with maple syrup. For brunch’s sake, this is a recipe for thick american pancakes.
1. Take 135g plain flour. 1tbsp baking powder and 1tsp salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 2tbsp caster sugar, make a hole in the centre and crack 1 egg into the middle. Whisk together, gradually adding 2tbsp melted butter and 1tsp vanilla extract. Fold in either fresh blueberries or chocolate chips
2. Melt a knob of butter in a pan. When melted add a dollop of mixture into the pan and cook on each side for 1-2mins until golden on each side.
Muffins Muffins are something I only ever have at christmas or on birthdays so therefore these are raspberry and white chocolate (muffins definitely aren’t healthy)
1. Combine 375g plain flour, 4tsp baking powder, 1tsp salt, 1tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg.
2. Whisk 2 eggs with 200g light brown sugar till fluffy. Add 240ml milk, 120ml oil and 2tsp vanilla extract. Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, then add 120g white chocolate chopped and 200g fresh raspberries.  (Fold gently to try and keep raspberries whole)
3. Line muffin moulds with circles of baking parchment. Fill each of the moulds 3/4 full. Bake for 25mins at 180oC until the tops are golden. Serve right away.
Croissants
There are two ways to make croissants, the easy and the hard way, wither way I’m afraid they won’t be as good as ones from any French boulangerie/patisserie. In both cases I’ve filled mine, but they can both be made plain.
The Easy
1 egg
1 tbsp water
1 sheet puff pastry
150g dark chocolate chips

1. Cut the puff pastry sheet in half vertically. Then in half horizontally and in half again. Cut each of these 8 pieces diagonally in half and sprinkle each piece with chocolate chips.
2. Roll up from the bottom of the triangle upwards to create a crescent shape. Paint each with 1 egg beaten with water.
3. Bake at 180oC till golden brown (about 20-25mins)

The Tricky but Traditional
These are in homage for my dad, who will eat custard in anything for breakfast (but only on holiday)
I can’t take credit for the recipe for croissant because I’ve only made this once and haven’t tweaked anything so here is the one I used.
http://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/classic-french-croissant-recipe/
For the filling (creme patisserie, also useful for eclairs and profiteroles)
1. Whisk together 4 egg yolks, 4 tbsp caster sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl, until fluffy. Add 2tbsp flour and 1tbsp cornflour.
2. Heat about 250ml milk in a pan till just warm.
3. Pour milk over the eggs and whisk.
4. Return the whole lot to the pan, stirring until thickened. Leave to cool. The mixture should be quite thick at this point.
5. Fill a piping bag and squirt into the base of the just cooked croissant.

The Hair of the Dog
Mimosa
A brunch favourite. but also very easy (not to be confused with bucks fizz, it is more alcoholic)
1 part orange juice, 3 parts champagne (or in the students case prosecco/cava). If you are feeling fancy you could garnish the glass with a spiral of orange
Bellini
This can be made in a lot of varieties (raspberries, passion fruit) but the traditional is peach.
Peel two peaches and blitz in a food processor. Add 4 tbsp peach liqueur. Spoon 2tsp of the mixture into a champagne glass and top with champagne. Garnish the glass with a raspberry
Bloody Mary
I had a really good bloody mary which had PORT in it, now I don’t think that port is necessarily a good idea in the morning (it gives you the worst hangover after you have it in the evening, god knows what happens in the morning) but I think a bloody mary should be a little bit more than vodka, tomato juice and Worcester sauce.
Mix 1 part vodka with 3 parts tomato juice with a squeeze of lemon juice, 1tsp Worcester sauce, 2tsp (celery) salt, 1tsp fresh grated horseradish, 1 tsp black pepper. Garnish with a strip of celery. If you want to go all out, I rather like the idea of making ice cubes using celery juice, but that might require a bit more effort.
Champagne
I would never turn down champagne

The Ultimate Brunch part 1

The Ultimate Brunch part 1

The weekend approaches and all I can think about is the prospect of Saturday morning brunch. Not the party which inevitable leads to you craving a carb laden proper fry up, but the brunch itself! I usually go for the university offering which while perfectly adequate is lacking in the way that mass produced food always does, overcooked and under seasoned, at least ours are better than some…. To their credit they do provide several things which elevate brunch to a better level; smoked salmon (so expensive but sometimes worth it), yoghurt bar with toppings (including banana chips which in case you don’t know are delicious fried banana pieces posing as health food) and waffles (brunch should always be a three course meal, well if you’re insisting on it being breakfast and lunch…..) While it’s all very nice, here are some recipes for when you want to recreate the experience (and pimp it up) at home

Eggs
Boiled I Hope I don’t have to tell anyone how to boil an egg (it’s one of the things I really can’t do), look it up elsewhere but serve with marmite slathered hot buttered toast soldier strips
Fried Again not my favourite but if you’re going to eat them you might as well cook them properly. You could be boring and just fry it, or you could take the Roald Dahl approach and fry it in the centre if a piece of fried bread.
1. Simply cut a hole with a glass or cutter out of the middle of your piece of bread,
2. Put a teaspoon of oil and a teaspoon of salted butter and heat, fry the bread until golden on both sides flipping halfway (couple of mins on each side should do it
3. Add a little more oil to the pan and crack your egg into the centre, season with salt and pepper.
 4. Cook for a minute on each side and serve

Scrambled Now we’re talking! I’ve tried many methods of cooking eggs over the years and this is by far my favourite. I’ve used fill here as my herb of choice because I like mine with smoked salmon but with bacon you might want to try thyme or rosemary and for veggie maybe serve with layer of wilted spinach?
1. Crack 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk together with a splash of milk, pinch of salt and pepper and a tbsp of finely chopped dill, whisk till thick and creamy
2. Heat a deep frying pan to medium heat, melting a large knob of butter
3. Pour in the eggs and reduce the heat
4. Cook whilst stirring till the mixture resembles scrambled eggs, ideally on the runny side because they will continue cooking when you take them off the heat.

Eggs Benedict I’ll cover another time

Meat 
Bacon I know that everyone likes their bacon differently, but this is a personal favourite of mine with a possible nod to American diner big breakfast.
1. Get some thin streaky bacon (I like mine unsmoked and crispy ) line the grill pan (saves cleaning loads of grease from it) with foil.
2. Paint the bacon with maple syrup and grill turning till thin and crispy on both sides
Sausages Should always be fat and preferably grilled
Black Pudding I’ve been rather put off black pudding by the dry offering at college but I did once use it to stuff a pork tenderloin and that was delicious. I’d advise getting the good stuff from butchers and cooking it inside the sausage meat for an unusual spin ( I’ll get back to you when I’ve tried this)
Smoked salmon If there’s some going please !

Veg (in the loosest sense of the word)
Baked beans Always 
Fried bread see above
Tomatoes these are always hard to make exciting, particularly of barely cooked…. The best way I’ve ate them for breakfast is cherry ones, roasted, scattered with salt, pepper for about 8-10mins at 200oC
Mushrooms Fried with garlic, there is no other way. Sometimes I like to add onions as well
1. Take 250g button mushrooms, melt butter in a pan then add 2cloves garlic, chopped finely
2. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper
3. Gently fry till the mushrooms begin to brown a little (salt is very important here, makes the mushrooms sweat helping them cook 😉

Hash browns Trickier,  but making them yourself is very self satisfying! The English equivalent is of course bubble and squeak but I like to think of that as solely christmassy. I’m assuming you don’t have any roasted potatoes you failed to eat for Sunday lunch or jacket potatoes lying around, but if you do, all the better to use up leftovers.
1. Boil potatoes adding salt and sage leaves to the water and a knob of butter, skins and all till soft. Drain and leave to cool and dry out.
2. When dry, chop into pieces, add salt and pepper.
3. Heat a large knob of butter in a pan and add a finely sliced onion, cook over a low heat until soft. Leave to cool then mix into the potato.
4. Heat either more butter or for extra goodness bacon fat, and bring to a medium heat. Add the potato and onion mix pushing down to make a cake.
4. Cook for 10-15mins till brown on the bottom, remove from the pan, add more butter (well this was never going to be a healthy recipe) and cook on the other side for a further 10mins, cut into wedges and serve .

Waffles, muffins, pancakes, cinnamon buns and other sweet stuff to follow in part 2

Coast?

Coast

Anyone who knows Cambridge will inevitably remember Tatties and for those of you who don’t know Cambridge think of it as your go to hangover breakfast, weekend panini and chips or for those who live opposite, coffee break. It’s a Cambridge institution (at least if you’re a hungover student) so it didn’t go down too well when a more expensive fish and chip shop restaurant opened there this year    (Despite the fact there is still a Tatties 3mins walk away it’s the principle). Having said that, despite being as far from the sea as seemingly possible, Cambridge needs a good fish and chip place, we have so many kebab/burger/Chinese/Italian/gastropub places I think this might be the one obvious thing we are missing. So this weekend I took full advantage of the parents coming up to get them to take me for a nice lunch (after all what are parents for but making sure you’re not just living off pot noodle – on second thoughts, as if!). Coast started out well. We sat downstairs and the waiters were so desperate to take our drinks order and bring us our drinks we hardly had time to think. Ironically they then got the message rather too well and didn’t come and get our food order for another 20mins meaning we’d finished our drinks before we ordered. However this did give me time to peruse the extended menu. The first thing that struck me was that the breakfasts looked incredibly exciting (watch this space) all smoked salmon scrambled eggs etc and for about the same price as old Tatties. The main menu was equally enticing with a wide range of fish mains (fish pie, seafood tagliatelle) as well as the option to choose your own fish for fish and chips, fish cakes or grilled, all satisfyingly coming with chips. There were salads (typically overpriced) and a small number of meat and veg courses (although why you would come to a fish restaurant I have no idea). Admittedly it is a little out of student budget (Bills or Browns prices ) but it is possible to get a decent Portion of fish and chips for under £10 and they even do takeaway.

When they finally took our order they were very efficient about bringing our food out. Since the parents were paying and we were all dashing around too much that evening to think about eating, I suggested we have two courses each (also so I could try more). I may have mentioned in my San Francisco blog post how much I love crab, and I really do . I was a little sceptical of the fact fresh crab tastes the best and Cambridge is do far from the coast line….. But I was pleasantly surprised.   
The crab mayonnaise was salty and with a kick, not overly creamy and very heavy on the crab meat which is always better. The crab mayonnaise came in two huge quenelles and a hunk of bread on the plate which made me extremely happy, I always hate when you order something like this and end up with about 5 slices of bread with a teaspoon of crab on the side, the filling should always be more than the bread, not visa versa. It came with a well dressed salad and garnish of caviar which at first seemed superfluous but in fact lifted the dish, I was a very happy customer.

My dad got incredibly excited by his prawn and avocado salad because of its edible flowers and caviar, however it was concluded that my dish was better value for money as his dish was smaller, less filling and the caviar was an unnecessary addition as were the flowers. My mother’s was a lot of fun. She had piri piri prawns that came dripping in a very tasty (and messy) sauce and required a lot of work, a finger bowl and 4 napkins, but it came in a cute fake newspaper wrapping and was a good starter for anyone who likes playing with food and wants something slightly lighter but still with a burst of flavour.

Mains arrived almost as soon as our starters were picked up and they did not disappoint. You can see why the prices are higher than you expect, the portions were huge and extremely satisfying. (For real value for money go for the fish burger, only a tenner and about the size of a small dog) my mother and I went for the more expensive grilled mackeral with mash and ratatouille, while my father went for the lemon plaice, grilled with chips. Again I think we picked a winner. 

The mackeral was fiddly (it was a whole fish) but it had been butterflied and main bones removed, with a mass of charred rosemary and thyme on top. The fish was a little under seasoned (I took the lemon out of my water and spritzed this on top which lifted it) and the edge was over cooked but this just meant the centre was perfectly cooked so I could see why. It was served with a chunky pseudo-ratatouille which went very nicely with the fish but could have been a little more saucy.  The best thing about the dish though was the mash. I don’t know what they did to it ( although I suspect they cooked it a little after it had been mashed with lots of butter) but it was possibly the best mash I’ve ever tasted. It was very thick and smooth with a faint garlicky hint, it was so good I finished off my mum’s! My dad’s was also apparently well cooked and the huge mound if chips were very good, very chippy like. I tried one and they tasted so much like the takeaway chips we used to get while on holiday in Brighton, thick, chunky and slightly squashed, very impressed.

I am not easily defeated by food (see midsummer house) but after that I certainly couldn’t manage a pudding (shame I would have liked to have seen if they were any good) and was full for most of the day after meaning it didn’t matter I didn’t eat supper till 10.30. In this sense Coast is very good for filling up while your parents are here so you don’t need to spend so much on food at other times.

All in all I was quite impressed with this restaurant. Not for anyone on a diet (I’m pretty sure the salads wouldn’t be worth the extortionate price) but otherwise the portion size proves what you get for your money and the food straddles the line between homely comfort food and that extra restaurant lift. Not everyday but good for a reasonably priced treat. However I’m pretty sure it will never become as beloved as Tatties.

Midsummer heaven (21st birthday present)

Midsummer Heaven
( photos all at the bottom of the page due to technical-I-broke-my-computer difficulties)

So the moment I had been waiting for for about 3months finally arrived last Saturday. Unlike most things which you get yourself hyped up for but then end up finding bitterly anti-climatic and occasionally lying in bed in a drunken mess wondering exactly why you decided to do what you did last night, lunch at midsummer house lived up to the hype. As a foodie you would probably expect my lasting memory of the day to be solely the food, but while the food was phenomenal ( more on that later) the best thing about midsummer house was how well we were treated by the front of house staff, flawlessly neither stuck up and pretentious or overly chummy, but friendly, informative and made you feel right at home. In fact the whole feel of midsummer house was that of a home, the layout if the restaurant reminding me strongly of some of my friends houses growing up, it really wasn’t very big and while the decor was classy and stylish , the way that the bathroom and lounge were upstairs and the kitchen at the back with the front room with a bay window where we were eating, it would perfectly suit a standard 2.5 children middle class family in size.
As you approach the house it looks rather quirky, a random what should be semi detached house on the edge of a field with the back drop of a river and university boat clubs, but I think this just adds to the charm of the place, plus in the summer i’m sure the views are stunning.

Having waited outside and photographed every angle for about 20mins for the family to finally rock up I was eagerly anticipating the inside. I was not disappointed , not only were we immediately welcomed into our table with a lovely view of the common but we were immediately relieved of our coats, given very handy bag hooks on our luxurious chairs and  offered a glass of champagne. The staff didn’t hurry us but let us take copious photos to celebrate the occasion (I’m not sure we needed the same photo on every iPhone of the family but….) and the sommelier even cheekily slipped into a few putting us all at ease. Canapés were swiftly brought over as we were left to peruse our menu with the waiter happy to put up with my bad French pronunciation of the wines on the menu (turns out he was French…) and to answer my questions of how exactly they made each canapé and why he thought the lime jelly worked with Creme fraiche so well.

Canapés
Bloody Mary foam with celery pieces and celery sorbet 
Two thin slices of potato deep grief to create a puffed up pouch, filled with creme fraiche and topped with chives and lime jelly
A pinwheel of bacon and cheese (in afraid I can’t remember this one so well, but U8 assured me it tasted a little like a cheese twist)


The best thing about this dish was the fact the parents agreed to buy me both a syringe and siphon to make foam after tasting these dishes and declaring them amazing. The texture of the foam was silky and light with a real spicy kick with was cut through by the almost sweet and vibrant celery sorbet which even the great celery hater himself enjoyed! The potato disc was my favourite though, mostly because the crunchy outside gave way to the most surprising almost liquid sour cream hit with the chives and lime as a subtle background flavour – my sister out it well, a sort of posh Pringle, cleverly evoking childhood tastes.

Course 1
Pumpkin velouté, a la greque mushrooms, Parmesan gnocchi 

Kurt angerer, gurner veltliner, Austria 2012

We ordered the market menu , mid-price with flight of wines but you could very easily have a reasonable lunch here 3 courses for the same price as a fairly average meal at Browns if not cheaper!
This course was another triumph for the siphon (mum – if we buy you one will you make this for Christmas dinner?) The only slight disappointment was the lack of crunch, perhaps a Parmesan crisp would have added to the texture as the mushroom pieces and gnocchi, while not filling and bursting with flavour were a little monotonous and blending into one where a salty snap might have lifted the dish. With this we were given a lovely wine, not overly sweet but definitely sweeter than the very dry wine we got next, it balanced the soup nicely. ( I apologise if this is wrong but I’m still learning about wine, but I do know it was a big improvement on sainsburys basics or college Chardonnay )

Course 2
Confit salmon, crayfish, garden apple, sauce vouvray


I will love any well cooked piece of salmon you put in front if me and am a firm believer of curing, slow baking and pan frying but confit is definitely my favourite. For those of you that don’t know, confit is where the meat or fish is slow cooked in medium hot oil for a longer time than you would cook it most ways for a really rich, melting in the mouth taste (although admittedly it’s not the healthiest way…). With this salmon was little individually shelled pieces of langoustine (how you get the inside out so delicately I have no idea) as well as pools of sharp apple purée and a gorgeous salty ,what must have been, sauce vouvray which I shamelessly admit to licking off the plate it was so good! To finish the dish were texturally interesting crispy salmon skin (definitely one up on yo sushi) and salmon pieces wrapped in the thinnest piece of apple I’ve ever seen, a sort of apple spring roll. With this we were offered some lovely homemade bread, not particularly special but just what you need, if it had been too complex it would have detracted from the menu, plus my mum was really impressed with the butter in the shape of bee hives….. No one can say they were stingy with the bread either, when you finished they would immediately offer you a second, warm slice. ( I had to stop after the second fearing I wouldn’t have space for the remaining courses)

Course 3
Beetroot cooked on open coals sheep curd and horseradish 

Chateau Rives-Blanques, Chardonnay-Chenin, France 2012


Midsummer house isn’t famed for its theatricality, it’s more about great tasting seasonal produce (think more Manoir than fat duck ) but it still managed to keep it tongue on cheek with this next course, almost as soon as our wine (the slightly drier white I talked about earlier) had been poured, a what looked like a portable barbecue complete with a large green done was wheeled in. Aptly named the big green egg we were swiftly informed by the chef ( a real kitchen chef and all – what a relief) how the Beetroot she was expertly carving had been cooked for 2days (I think ) over open coals for a smoky flavour to off set the sweetness of the Beetroot. Funnily enough, while impressive, it wasn’t the yellow Beetroot, candied Beetroot, barbecues beetroot, lush Beetroot purée or the fact that my dad was actually eating all this Beetroot having almost declared himself allergic to it at the start of the meal, it was the soft coats curd. It was like a more flavoursome ricotta and offset the acidity and sweetness of Beetroot – I might have eaten my sisters sheep curd too…

Course 4
Slow roasted monkfish, bay leaf, mushroom and onion infusion

Luigi Bosca, Pinot Noir, Argentina, 2011

I had been enlightened earlier of how amazing this dish was before I came by U8 who declared this her favourite dish and it did not disappoint. I think the dishes got better through the lunch. This fish was introduced by way of an apparent coffee service ( I hope your not going to do this with our
cafetiere was the die hard coffee addict my mother’a comment). The waiter explained that he was using the cafetieres to create a mushroom broth infusion to pour over the monkfish. It came with crunchy onion slivers, so thin you could hardly compare them to the hulking batter laden rings you get from the kebab van (although that is my post-club guilty treat on occasion). Every time I have monkfish I’m surprised by how wonderfully meaty it is for a fish, like eating a pork fillet, lighter than a steak but not half hearted and thin like a plaice. This was accompanied by the most lovely red wine, rather like the monkfish it wasn’t as full bodied as the next red, more delicate but was red nonetheless and carried more weight than the white.
 
Course 5
Slow roasted loin of venison, braised neck, Brussels sprouts, pancetta and quince

Lammershoek, South Africa, 2010

After returning from the incredibly decadent bathrooms ( fancy hand towels) and having my seat pushed in behind me as I sat down, and my napkin laid over my lap, I felt incredibly pampered (although admittedly the first time the waiter tried to push in my chair I got a little confused ending in an awkward tussle but we sorted it in the end). The next course felt like Christmas, except what you would have for Christmas dinner if you didn’t feel the need to push your stomach to the limits on Christmas Day . I am a big fan of two things on this dish, the recent re-occurance of venison on dishes, and Brussels sprouts. I know most people are not fans of this seasonal vegetable but I assure you when each leaf is individually peeled for you and served with melt in the mouth venison, a thick red wine jus and a shaving of chocolate it can make even the most anti-sprout protestor enjoy it (exhibit A – my father who appears to be really fussy from this post, he’s not that bad). Having said that the highlight of this dish were the pools of sweet and sharp quince purée and the most succulent braised neck, sharp and salty and soft mmmmmm in fact the only disappointment was that the dark chocolate was masked by these flavours, perhaps a little more would have rendered it not entirely superfluous to the  dish, but baring in mind this was the first day of serving this dish for them it was otherwise exquisite. Even the red meat phobe to my left (my sister had a bad experience with a steak in France) really enjoyed this dish.

Course 6
 Lemon posset, blueberries, lemon Espuma

The keen eyed among you will start to notice a theme, Daniel Clifford seems to be making good use of his siphon. Not that I’m complaining – not only does it gives dishes the most interesting dimension, but I’m also now going to be able to recreate dishes thanks to the persuasiveness of midsummer house foams (note to kings college GOOD use of foams in dishes ). This was almost my favourite dish excepting the second pudding (is it that obvious I have a sweet tooth). Having newly discovered lemon meringue pie (I know 30 years too late) the sweet lemon curd like base was off set by a sharp layer of crushed frozen blueberries and blueberry coulis (who would have thought that the blueberries rather than the lemon was the sour part). Finally the whole dish is finished with a silky lemon foam and tiny pieces of blueberry meringue. Nothing was overly sweet and this proved the perfect palate cleanser before a return to Christmassy flavours for dessert.

Course 7
Roasted chestnuts, caramel, chestnut frangipane

Tenute Marchese Antinori, Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico, 2008

I don’t know why but it has never occurred to me to mix chocolate and chestnut. Chestnut and sprouts, chestnut and cheese even chestnut and caramel but never with chocolate. Oh how wrong I was. This was the best dish. A crumbly salty base, topped with a silky cold chocolate mousse (so much more than an ice cream) with soft chestnuts, frangipane and drizzled with caramel, scattered with hazelnuts. The lost amazing mixture if flavours and textures, each strong enough to hold their own against the other. You’re probably wondering how on earth we managed to fit all this in but trust me when the food is this good – it’s worth it. Wash this down nicely with vin santo (if you have never tried cantuccini biscotti dipped in vin santo stop reading and go try it now) and it was the perfect dessert

Not that we were finished at this point, there was still soft doughnuts with lemon dipping sauce, so good we ate them before I could get a picture. Then ended the meal with complimentary champagne which the sommelier helpfully put in front of us despite the fact my mum and sister had left saying – aah well just two glasses each for you then.


Even that wasn’t the end of it. We were then taken on a tour if the kitchens by our lovely waiter who first took us to the wine cellar and prep kitchen. I kid you not, I held a Dom Perignon 1985. The more I see of life the more I realise I’m going to have to marry for money ! Then round to the main kitchen where I meet the head chef Dan. After that glass of champagne I brazenly recall my experience at Le Manoir, he says we if you don’t ask you don’t get and offers me a work experience slot at midsummer ( turns out he worked at Le Manoir too – watch this space) Finally we end with the pastry kitchen (obviously my faveourite place) where I get to try the new fig and chocolate dessert as well. And on that sugar and career high, I had to come all the way back down to earth, with an opera.

Fudge salted caramel brownies (ie orgasm in a tin)

Fudge salted caramel brownies (ie orgasm in a tin)

So I am writing this from my iPhone because my computer didn’t survive the weekend that needs 3 blog posts to replicate. I am strongly in need of an early night, liver detox and green veg but it was definitely worth it. This first post is solely for the cast of the magic flute many of whom have asked for the recipe and how I make them so gooey despite the fact they had to sort of be eaten with a spoon out of the tin ( although I strongly recommend anyone not in the magic flute to try making these too) I for one credit them with helping me get through the get out which lasted till 2.30am, not helped by my apparent hangover from lunch (see the next blog post on midsummer house). I also should admit that the success of these brownies wasn’t necessarily down to my skill at cooking, but partly due to the fact I over-bought in terms of chocolate and under-bought in terms of eggs, so the result was a fudgy gooiness which nevertheless proved pretty popular amongst the singers (although of course only after the show – they would never eat chocolate before singing……maybe) also I apologise there is no picture of these…they were eaten before I remembered to take one, it’s alright though because they were more tasty than pretty anyway

300g caster sugar
250ml double cream
2tsp salt (sea salt)
Knob of butter
600g dark chocolate (sainsburys basics is fine)
350g butter
6 eggs
300g caster sugar
Vanilla extract
1tsp salt
250g flour

1. Melt the sugar over a medium heat without stirring till it turns an amber colour WATCH it is easy to burn. Take off the heat and add the cream and salt mixing vigourously then stir in the butter, leave to come to room temperature.
2. Meanwhile melt the butter and chocolate till smooth, add the salt and leave to cool to room temp
3. Beat in the eggs one by one, then the sugar, add a tsp of vanilla then stir in the flour
4. Pour half into a lined rectangular deep tin. Top with caramel and then the remaining brownie mix
5. Bake in the oven at 180oC for 25-30mins
6. Meanwhile wash up, it will take a while

Recreating American treats

Recreating American treats

Some of you may have read my earlier blog post about San Francisco – foodie heaven! Of course as soon as I got home I was desperate to recreate some of the dishes I had tasted. Luckily the foodie neighbours were coming to dinner, although I’m not sure they were necessarily expecting such modern cuisine (despite the fact they came with us on the trip, they were mostly eating the provided school food with the boys) with my standard dinner party fare being french classic with a twist. However it seemed to go down rather well and I for one can’t get enough of the pecan pie and the candied bacon is addictive (i ate a lot in the kitchen).

Pappardelle with green garlic cream, sweet roasted parsnips and a poached egg
This is inspired by the dish we got given in Boulette’s larder in San Francisco. The extra dish we got given on top of what we ordered, a parmesan cream with candied parsnip, it just made sense to recreate it as a pasta dish

Pappardelle for 4 (depends how hungry you are…)
Butter
Minced green garlic
(you could also add minced shallots but as you know – my father won’t eat onions)
165ml heavy cream
4 parsnips
couple of sprigs of thyme
5tbsp brown sugar (soft)
4 eggs
Spinach

1. Chop the parsnips into thin strips, toss in olive oil, sugar, thyme, salt and pepper and a little white wine vinegar, make sure they are evenly coated. Put in the oven at 200oC for 35mins. 
2. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and drop in the pappardelle, for dried pasta it should take 8 minutes.
3. Meanwhile bring another pot of salted water to the boil for the eggs, you may need to do this one at a time. Either use an egg poacher (handy) OR add a little vinegar to the water and swirl as you break the egg in to keep its shape. The egg should take 2-3mins to cook for a soft centre. One of the options you could do is cook the pasta and sauce first and keep it warm while you then cook the eggs in order to keep the eggs warm to put them straight on the pasta (this is probably a better option)
4. For the sauce, melt butter in a pan, then add the garlic, salt and pepper. cook till soft. Then add the cream and cook for another minute. Stir in the parsnips. 
5. Drain the pasta reserving 2tbsp of cooking water (the starch in the water helps the sauce bind to the pasta). Add the water and pasta to the sauce and stir over the heat for about a minute.
6. Stir through the spinach and put on the plates with the poached egg on top.
Pecan Pie with candied bacon and bourbon whiskey ice cream
This was inspired by the amazing pecan pie I had in one market …. So america, so decadent, soooo tasty. I like taking shortcuts sometimes (pastry from a packet is so simple and always perfect, also I have no ice cream maker) so I apologise if this dessert just seems too simple to be so delicious.

(makes 6)
1 packet shortcrust pastry

  • 230g dark muscovado
  • 400g golden syrup 
  • tablespoons dark rum
  • 65g softened unsalted butter
  • large eggs
  • teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cups broken pecan nuts

vanilla ice cream
boubon whisky

1. Whizz vanilla ice cream in a food processor with a shot of whisky, work quickly and don’t let it get too liquid. Return immediately to the freezer (it will be softer than regular ice cream but I needed a quick fix cheat)
2. Roll out the dough and use it to line 6 mini pie tins. Chill
3. Combine sugar, rum, syrup and butter in a pan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, boil for 1min then set aside to cool to lukewarm (important)
4. Beat the eggs, then combine with the syrup with vanilla, salt and nuts. 
5. Pour into the prepared cases and bake at 180oC for 40-50mins until set but with a slight wobble in the centre. 
6. Meanwhile cover your grill with foil and lay strips of bacon on it, season both sides of the bacon with dark brown sugar. Grill until crispy turning halfway through cooking and then chop into little pieces.
7. Serve the pies straight from the oven with a sprinkling of bacon pieces and a scoop of bourbon ice cream – heavenly.