The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Christmas Breakfast 2012

Deep fried poached eggs on toasted muffin, dry cured Cumberland bacon, fried sweetbreads, sautéed goose liver,  mushroom stalks and venison chorizo , smoked salmon and Nigel Slater’s  
Portabella mushrooms with blue cheese and walnuts
I saw Nigel Slater do this on his simple meals programme and thought this would be smashing as part of our Christmas Breakfast.  

The rest of the ingredients:

Muffins, crispy dry cured bacon, smoked salmon, pressed fried sweetbreads, Venison Chorizo, sautéed mushroom stalks, fried goose liver, deep fried poached duck egg and sauce hollandaise.
I had been luckily enough to get some fresh sweetbreads while shopping at that fantastic farm shop just off the M7 in Westmorland, this is also where the duck eggs, chorizo and bacon came from.
Tomato juice or Orange juice
Spanish Cava
Coffee or tea

Nigel’s blue cheese mushrooms

You shall need:
Large Portabella mushrooms 1 per person (skin and remove stem but keep for later, the stems not the skin, this went into the stock pot)

A nice blue cheese (we had Dorset Blue Vinney)

Handful of chopped walnuts

A good knob of butter
A sprig of thyme leaves removed.

50ml Water, salt and pepper (you may not need either)
Melt the butter in a pan and add the thyme leaves,

place the mushrooms in the butter gill side down and allow to soften over a low heat,

when they start to give off their juices (small golden pearls of juice will appear on the cup) turn
them gill side up and add the water, cover and allow to cook through.

Just let them slowly simmer, the juices will concentrate.

Just prior to serving crumble some blue vinney into the cup and when it has turned gooey, top with the walnuts and cover again.

I got about 7 glands from the butcher at the farm food shop, but this makes quite a nice starter or as part of a meal.

Handful of Fresh bread crumbs

1 egg beaten (as I was also doing the deep fried poached eggs, I used 2)


Water the sweetbreads to remove any blood,
next,gently poach them in milk, with a grating of pepper and nutmeg.

They should be firm but not hard when pressed, drain and dry on a kitchen towel.
Remove the covering membrane and any attached veins and ducts.
Place on a plate and put another plate on top, put a weight on top of this (I used a jar of Branston Pickle) and put into the fridge overnight.
Christmas morning

Remove from fridge; beat the egg(s) and season place the bread crumbs in a bowl, dip the sweetbreads in the egg and then in the bread crumbs, repeat this to get a good thick coating.

Melt some butter in a frying pan and fry these until golden brown.

Fried goose livers
Livers from the Christmas goose

Seasoned flour
Remove the outer membrane, veins and ducts from the liver, slice very thin , dust in the seasoned flour and fry very briefly at the same time and in the same pan as the sweetbreads.

Deep fried poached eggs  on toasted muffin, with dry cured bacon and sauce hollandaise
2 fresh duck eggs

Bread crumbs and beaten egg (use the same ones as you use for the sweetbreads)

A pan of neutral oil or better still use a friteuse

Poach the eggs until just set (some may think me old fashioned, but I still use the vinegar and vortex method, I have heard many discuss what way to poach a perfect egg, well I think it is all a load of bunkum, just crack the egg onto a saucer, get the water with a teaspoon of vinegar in it turning at a great rate of knots and slowly allow the egg to slide slowly into the centre of the vortex, the egg white will surround the yolk perfectly, it works every time for me, but if you have another method that works for you please feel free to use it, but I shall not.
Take them out and place in iced water to stop the cooking process, leave them there until required.

When ready to put the breakfast together heat the oil in the pan, take the egg out of the water and drain on kitchen paper, next cut the egg out into a perfect circle with the aid of a cutter
and place in the beaten egg, then the seasoned bread crumbs. Now very carefully lift the egg with the aid of a slotted spoon (it is easier to place it into one of those Chinese baskets) and lower into the hot oil, as soon as the crumbs go golden brown remove  and drain on kitchen paper.

Grill the bacon, put the mushroom stalks (split) with the chorizo into a frying pan and fry slowly. Remove and keep warm while you do the sweetbreads and liver.

Take the smoked salmon out of the packet and put onto the breakfast plate.

Split the muffins and toast, butter them and place a slice of bacon on top. Place your deep fried poached egg on top and then nap with freshly made sauce hollandaise ( I added thyme to mine.

Serve with the smoked salmon, the sweetbreads and goose liver, the mushrooms and venison chorizo and of course Nigel’s Portabella Mushrooms.

Tea or coffee

And of course as it’s Christmas, a glass of Spanish Cava (it would have been Champers but we didn’t get any on the ferry)

Merry Christmas everyone!!!!

 Bob inspecting his new shirt!
Thanks everyone!!!

Belfast, Danny Millars Lisbarnett House and picking up the goose.

We left our wonderful friends Carol and Bills and travelled up to Lancaster to visit Cathy and Tony, friends who had been in Germany, Tony had left under an early retirement package early in 2012 had found it hard to find a job, but is now about to start in Jan 2013, I am so glad, it will get him out from under poor Cathy's feet, she has enough with Jessy their 4 month old Springer Spaniel. I did manage to dent my car on their gate post. But never mind we had a smashing fish and chip supper.

Next day it was up and across to the Cairnryan to catch the ferry to Belfast having an overnight with Roy and Patricia, Linda's Brother and SiL, they live in a wind swept part of Galloway, but ever so pretty, it is a part of Scotland that I need to explore more, so be warned! P.S. Patricia the stew was fantastic and I mean that.

Friday morning dawned as we boarded the Stena Lines fast ferry from Cainryan to Belfast, the winds had died down over night and it was a very smooth crossing much to Linda's relief. We parked up in Belfast and took ourselves off to George Market, I fell in love with these markets a few years ago and now no visit to Belfast is complete without a visit, so it has to be a Friday or Saturday. We also popped into the Continental market around the City Hall (a magnificent building), it was ok, but coming from Germany, it leaves one a little under-awed.

We next set off for lunch, we had booked into Danny Millar's new culinary venture, the gastro-pub and restaurant near Comber, Lisbarnett House. (it is actually in Lisbane).

It is a pretty white washed building with ample car parking to the side, not forgetting this was the last Friday before Christmas the car park was full but we managed to squeeze in to what I think was the last slot. Lisbarnett House is split into 3 parts, a small bar,

then to the front a restaurant (only serving evening meals) and the gastro restaurant, this is part original and part new build, we sat in the original front part, very cosy. The larger part is open and is perfect with plenty of space for larger parties (it was full to bursting with people doing their Christmas lunch thing). It had been a good idea of Linda's to book, because otherwise it would have been no room at the Inn!

 We were shown to our table beside the fire (not alight) and adjacent to the window. Asked if we wanted a drink (it was water as I was driving), the menu was produced and also directed to the blackboard with the days specials. The menu was a nice selection of traditional Irish plates and festive foods (I have eaten at Danny's Barloo house twice and know how much he likes to use Irish and if possible local produce).

Linda chose the Portavogie scampi and chips, I chose the Kilkeel sole fillets coated in panko crumbs. All the food was wonderfully cooked, I enjoyed the crispy panko crust, well seasoned and the fish still moist. The portion is more than ample (a good Irish trait), the scampi served retro in a basket hung with a pot of tartar sauce and a very nice coleslaw salad, this was also the accompaniment to my fish, the coleslaw had a nice fruity note and what I think was cranberries in it.

All in all a very tasty meal in pleasant surroundings. If asked I would say that I prefer the Balloo house, but that is just my personal choice (but then this is my blog).

We left and retraced our wheel prints back to Comber and then around the East side of Strangford Lough (Ards peninsular) to pick up our Christmas goose (ordered from Germany) at Marlfield Farm, we have had a goose 3 times from here and we return for one reason and one reason only, they are truly fantastic!

We then travelled down the Ards peninsular to get the ferry from Portaferry to Strangford.

The Portaferry lifeboat house

Across the Lough to Strangford leaving the viking gatepost behind


It was by this time getting dark and as we reached Downpatrick, the navigator with an Aussie voice decided to take us a across country via Castlewellan and Hill Town. A heavy fog had settled itself over this mountainous part of County Down, it is a not too populous part of Northern Ireland and those that were out and about in this miserable weather all seemed to be strung out like a glow worm behind me. (fools following a fool). We turned south and towards Kilkeel at last dropping below the mist, though it would may be have been better if we couldn't see the road. We at last arrived at Linda's Dads, but if you ever want to get stuck up a mountain, just follow me!

Le Champignon Sauvage a small revue

The Champignon Sauvage

Along with Linda I was visiting friends in Pershore, Carol our friend and fellow foodie from the food board had asked if we fancied a lunch at a very good restaurant, I never need asking twice, she had been before so knew what to expect. The fourth member of our little group was Ruth a friend of Carols another foodie with a palate for good food.

We visited another friends art workshop and then onto a gallery in which she shows her works, very nice and well done Gill.

We then walked a short way looking into a couple of bric-a-brac shops, we then made our way to the Le Champignon Sauvage, unfortunately a little too early, we arrived just after 12 noting that the actual opening time was 12:30, we perused the menu and it got the juices salivating before we even crossed the thresh hold. CLANK, the door opened and in we went, coats taken and asked if we would like a drink before being seated at our table, I was driving so it was water for me and glass of champers for the lasses.
We next got a little amuse bouche, consisting of a dark rye cracker, with goats cheese, beetroot cubes and pea leaves. Alongside was a walnut biscuit filled with a blue goats cream cheese. Very tasty, very tasty indeed.

We got shown to our table, and the girls ordered a bottle of Rose and a water for me, then another amuse bouche arrived, this was a butter nut and sweet potato panna cotta, with a bacon foam topping. Boy did that taste good, a rich creamy yellow savoury panna cotta topped with an intensive bacon foam, it was truly a first for me and one I am sure to try and replicate.

Next came the ordering, choices, choices, choices, it all looked ever so tasty and interesting, but the starter and main selected, the ladies all ordered seared scallops and I ordered the pressed pigs cheeks, the girls said that the scallops were perfect, very well cooked, juicy and soft.

The bread basket appeared; I chose the wonderful fresh still warm crispy roll of interesting shape, the others a light bacon and shallot brioche ( I had a one later)

My pressed pigs cheek terrine with foraged greens, a light smoked old spot ham and radish, very tasty indeed and still with a residual firmness, the accompanying puree and sauce a perfect foil for the rich pork.

Ruth chose the partridge for her mains. She said it was very tasty and perfectly cooked.

The choice for both Linda and Carol, the Cinderford lamb with cockles. (very interesting combination, that really worked). Cooked to perfection still perfectly pink, served on a bed of the most perfectly smooth creamy mash, Carol said it was true perfection, I agree as I had also the same with my main.

And now I arrive at my selection “The Halibut”.

The braised halibut with a red wine sauce, accompanied by Jerusalem artichoke puree and baby glob artichokes, woodland mushrooms and a creamy mash.

The thick, moist tranche of halibut, napped with a wonderful red wine sauce, unusual, but interesting and ever so tasty, there was also some Swiss chard stems that finished off the plate, both in the aesthetics and adding just a hint of bitterness. All the food perfectly cooked, so exquisite and well-rounded ,that it was true bliss.

We all passed on the dessert, with the exception of Ruth, who Carol said had to be the sacrificial lamb and try the plum dessert in the aid to literary investigation (she is writing a book on plums).

I thought I would try a selection from the cheese board, I asked to see the cheeses and out came a folding trestle and with great aplomb topped by the cheese board this was in fact a wicker basket tray bursting at the seams with cheeses of every shape, hue and taste. I counted (afterwards from the photograph) and it contained no less than 25 unctuous bodies of loveliness. I was spoiled for choice, but under the expert direction of “The French Cheese Queen” made a selection of eight, I was honestly only going to have four, but was egged on into gluttony by my dear companions, though in all reality didn’t need a lot of egging. Perfectly conditioned cheeses, honed to perfection oozing taste, it was sublime.


My (our, Carols) selection was:
Notice the intense thoughtfulness of a true expert lass who knows what she is talking about!

Cerniy Ash

Vacherin mont de’or


St. Eadeurgha



Oxford Isis

Bleu de Causse

The plate of cheeses came accompanied with a selection of crisp breads, sliced walnut and fruit loaf and a poppy seed roll.
Perfect, absolutely perfect. In a moment of weakness I did succumb to pressure and give up a small taste of the Bleu de Causse, an action that I immediately regretted, if it is a sharing plate, then I will willingly share, if it isn’t then it is for me. I did not mind them helping in the choice, but I am quite able to do the tasting all by myself, thank you very kindly Carol.

The plate cleaned, we (the ladies) ordered coffees and Petits Fours, well the selection was a wonder to behold, pure decadence, chocolate’s, pastries, jellies, truffles, slices a fantastic plate (I only tasted the citrus jelly, this was so intense in flavour, the depth of  citrusy zing just going on and on, the taste increasing into a crescendo of wonderful bliss. As I am diabetic sweetmeats and chocolate do not turn me on, therefore I left the rest for the ladies to devour, a feat which they accomplished (almost, there were a few crumbs left).

It was a wonderful, eating experience, with wonderful company, the service was prompt courteous and correct, though the reception could have been a little warmer, the area to have pre-dinner drinks is nice but somewhat small, if more than two parties wished to use it, it would be rather cramped. I found the clean lines of the furniture very pleasing to the eye and the wall art very well thought out and selected.

At a cost of 60 pounds per head for lunch, including Champaign, wine, cheese for me and petit fours for the ladies, well worth it, it gets great big thumbs up from me; I have paid more for a less worthy meal. Every part of it well thought out, perfectly executed and tasted sublime.

David Everitt-Matthius stand up and take a bow, your restaurant is well worth its 2 stars (and more). He is an expert in foraged food, this shows in his menus and I enjoyed it immensely what was cooked and presented to me was first class and I know my companions with the discerning plates are also of the same opinion. Well done and thank you for a smashing afternoon.

A game evening (Kikuklu Christmas dinner 2012)

It was to be our Christmas dinner and the only day that suited all was December 8th, I had managed to get all of my game together, as we, Linda and I where hosting, we had the main course to do. Being as we are in the middle of the huntsmans most fruitful time of the year it was game 3 ways. I had a nice brace of cock pheasants, a couple of hares and a full roebuck saddle (shot by my shooting mate Alan). 
First thing is to get the game in front of the guns, this was done at the annual shoot over the airfield (this only happens once a year because it is an active airfield and can only take place when no movements are taking place), there had been no shoot in 2011 due to various reasons but we expected a good bag.

 It was decided that the mains would be:

Roast Roebuck with a chocolate game sauce
Whole saddle of roe buck
Back speck (the green back fat from a piece of pork)
Game Spices Seasoning
Red wine (Cotes de Rhône )
Root vegetables diced (Suppengrün)
1 onion diced
50g of speck
Chocolate (85%)

Clean off any still attached skin, gristle  and remove the silver skin, I also removed the fillets for another meal. Half the saddle using only the thicker section. Slice the saddle along the back bone almost to the ribs. Rub all over with game spices and salt and pepper,  wrap in cling film overnight in a cool place. When ready to cook, chop a bunch of Suppengrün along with an onion and some streaky bacon (Durchwachsen Speck) add to the base of a roasting tin, just cover with a 50/50% red wine, game stock mixture. Slice the green back fat into slices and cover the saddle with this, place on top of the  vegetables, cover with foil and place in a pre-heated oven (180°C) and roast for  1 hour (max) keep checking, it should be moist and juicy. Remove from oven and keep warm, strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan, reduce by half, add a good knob of butter and 3 squares of the dark bitter chocolate, it should be rich and glossy. Carve the saddle through but keep on the rib-cage. Place on a serving platter, surround with the filled poached pears, peaches and confite onions.

Braised hare in a red wine sauce
A good sized hare cut into pieces (as this is going to be braised over several hours the age is irrelevant)
Red wine (Cotes de Rhône)
Speck (air cured belly)
Suppengrün (leek, carrot, celeriac and parsley)
Bouquets’ garni (consisting of rosemary, thyme, sage, bay and marjoram)
Onion (small dice)
Garlic (crushed and chopped)
Stock (I made fresh by roasting marrow bones, and boiling together with chicken carcasses and the game parings)
2 slices of Lemon zest
50ml Port
Game spices (my own game spice mix)

Clean and prepare the hare (remove as much shot and broken bones as possible along with the silver skin and any discoloured flesh)place in a red wine marinade along with a tablespoon of game spices overnight. Next day, fry along with the root vegetables, onion, garlic and speck, brown the hare pieces in the pan,

add some stock until the hare is just covered, pour in the Port and bury the bouquet gari and add the lemon skin, turn down the heat and slowly braise the hare pieces until tender and the meat is falling off the bones. Keep warm until ready to serve( I placed in a cast iron casserole and on the lowest heat setting on the hob).

 Pot roast pheasant on Riesling sauerkraut

2 dressed pheasants
150g smoked bacon rashers (thick cut)
Forced meat stuffing

Pick the pheasants over to remove any shot, feathers etc. singe all over with a blow torch to get rid of the wispy down. Wash well inside and out, chop the livers, hearts, add to a packet of sage and onion stuffing mix along with an onion softened in a little butter, add a handful of soft bread crumbs.

Remove the skin from a good chunky meat sausage and mix well and season with salt and pepper. Wash and dry the pheasants inside and out, fill the cavity with the stuffing and truss. Cover with the bacon, put a good handful of chopped onions in the base of a heavy based casserole, cover with vegetable stock and place in a low heat oven (do it at the same time as the you are roasting the saddle of roe).

Using sauerkraut from a tin, jar or fresh from the barrel, add some grapes, cloves, juniper berries, pimento berries and pepper and slowly cook in Riesling on top of the stove along with the pheasant cooking liquid. You will have removed the pheasants from the cooking liquid to keep warm, from the liquid.

Place in a serving dish and top with the stuffed roast pheasants, cover and keep warm until read to serve.

Riesling poached pears with a chutney filling.

Poach the pear halves in a pan of Riesling flavoured with a winter spiced tea, allow to cool in the liquid overnight, then drain and fill with my own home made green tomato and apple chutney

Peach halves with a spiced peach, plum and ginger filling

I used a good quality jar of Italian peaches halves and a spicy compote that I had made last year.

Confite baby onions

Skin the onions, melt a good knob of butter in a saucepan, and sauté until just coloured, then ladle in stock and poach over a low heat, the stock will be absorbed by the onions and turn into a fantastic glossy coating

Hairy bikers spiced red cabbage
Shred the red cabbage, sauté a large onion until with star aniseed and a cinnamon stick in neutral oil, add the shredded cabbage and allow to soften over a very low heat,add a grated apple, stirring every now and again, when soft add a table spoon of redcurrant jelly.

Sautéed Brussels sprouts with chestnuts, shallots and speck
Par-boil the sprouts, place in iced water until required. Soften, the diced shallots and fry the speck in butter, add the sprouts and sauté, add the chestnuts and heat through, season and give it a good grating of nutmeg.

Servietten Knödeln (bread dumplings)
Half a loaf of white bread (with crusts on) steep in 150ml warm milk, soften a medium onion in oil and add to the bread and allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. Chop up 20 green olives, pluck the green leaves from a bunch of parsley, and stir into the bread mixture, add 1 whole egg mix, pour out onto a large sheet of well-buttered aluminium foil, roll into a large sausage shape twisting the ends to compress. Poach in boiling water for 30 minutes, remove from the water, allow to rest for a while, release from the foil and slice into 10mm thick slices. Fry these golden brown in olive oil (or butter)

Cheesy baked potato, celeriac, and turnip (swede) mash
Dice the potatoes, celeriac and turnip into equal sized pieces, boil until soft in salted water, drain and dry (put back into the hot pan and allow any remaining water to steam off), add a large knob of butter and mash until smooth, do not add any salt at this time as you are now adding the two salty cheeses (50g each of Parmesan and a hard Swiss mountain cheese). Add a good dollop of crème frais and only now taste and adjust the seasoning if required. Put into an oven proof dish and criss-cross with a fork to make a nice pattern. Bake in a hot oven until a gold crust forms.

Wild mushroom ragout.
Clean and halve a selection of mushrooms (in this case I used brown caps, white button, krauter settlings, and frozen cepes, allow to defrost, drain and dry on kitchen paper). Sauté a chopped shallot with diced juniper cured ham in a little olive oil, add the mushrooms and fry until they start to give off their liquid, season (salt & pepper)add 100ml of Rama crème frais (a vegetable cream substitute), keep warm until ready to serve.

But before we got to the mains our dear friend Kalle had prepared a very nice entrée, consisting of a beetroot crisp, with cream goat’s cheese quenelles done 4 ways, curry, chives, paprika and natural.


The main course was followed by a very nice palate cleaning dessert of orange, grapefruit and pomegranate, Very refreshing.

Then came Carolyn’s Christmas pud, flamed with brandy and served with brandy butter and crème frais flavoured with Prosecco and brandy.

Quite a fitting end to a Christmas dinner. Well not quite the end, we did continue for a while longer drinking fine brandy and wines.
We did have a very nice evening