AUGUST 2021 CHALLENGE - BRITISH COOKERY

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Oh, Mike… I thought I opened the rules quite wide, and your logic is something I never considered. Blanc is one of my personal heroes. I’ll have to do some soul searching, though…

😂
You do what you gotta do Bud - I'm perfectly OK with it. You should make this sometime.

A lot of French chefs migrated to Britain and trained quite a few of Britain's best Michelin Star chefs. Without the Roux Brothers, Blanc, and a host of others that have injected real skill and flavor into what once was a bland cuisine.
 
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I know that some here have criticised British food culture and mentioned that French chefs like the Roux Brothers were needed to bring much needed technique to revive British cuisine, which is true to a point, but which also unfairly discounts the tremendous strengths of British food culture... Namely its farmers, fishers, and wonderful nature products and ingredients. In the lands of Aberdeen Angus beef, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Jersey Butter, and Highland Smoked Salmon, sometimes simplicity is best!

Which brings me to my simple weeknight offering tonight:
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Peat-Smoked Scottish Salmon and Red Onion Creme Fraiche Foam, with Fresh Dill and Capers, on Jersey Butter Browned Toast Points.

Paired with 10-year old Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Skye.
 
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I know that some here have criticised British food culture and mentioned that French chefs like the Roux Brothers were needed to bring much needed technique to revive British cuisine, which is true to a point, but which also unfairly discounts the tremendous strengths of British food culture... Namely its farmers, fishers, and wonderful nature products and ingredients. In the lands of Aberdeen Angus beef, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Jersey Butter, and Highland Smoked Salmon, sometimes simplicity is best!

Which brings me to my simple weeknight offering tonight:
View attachment 70764
Peat-Smoked Scottish Salmon and Red Onion Creme Fraiche Foam, with Fresh Dill and Capers, on Jersey Butter Browned Toast Points.

Paired with 10-year old Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Skye.
That is everything I love! My dad's from the Western Isles, this is the good stuff! brings back memories of my childhood.
 
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That is everything I love! My dad's from the Western Isles, this is the good stuff! brings back memories of my childhood.
Thanks! The Peat-Smoked Scottish Salmon is actually a President's Choice product from Loblaws, so if you want a little trip down memory lane you can probably get some in Vancouver. They also have a double oak smoked version as well, but I'm partial to the peat version personally.

As much as I love Norwegian Smoked Salmon, Ian Fleming writes some pretty astute observations for the most iconic fictional British foodie, one James Bond, in his novel "Moonraker":
Bond helped himself to another slice of smoked salmon from the silver dish beside him. It had the delicate glutinous texture only achieved by Highland curers – very different from the desiccated products of Scandinavia. He rolled a wafer-thin slice of brown bread-and-butter into a cylinder and contemplated it thoughtfully.

For those interested in my entries this month, this quote is also a bit of a teaser for my final submission.
 
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Nice. CatManDoo88 CatManDoo88 with his smoked salmon and whisky, like my cucumber butty and gin and tonic, are such simple representations of the culture. Simple, but tasty.

I have another dish in the works I hope to get in before the deadline, shepard's pie.

And of course, to be a shepard's pie and not a cottage pie one needs mutton or lamb. There used to be a local grocery chain that very often had mutton in the meat department, but they have closed their doors. So I got this 5 pound boneless lag of lamb.

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Mashed up some garlic and kosher salt in the mortar, added some olive oil, rubbed it over the roast. Prepared the roasting pan with slices of onion, sprigs of thyme and rosemary out of the garden.

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Into a 350F oven for about an hour.

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Came out a little more done than I wanted, but close enough.

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That slab in the center made a nice dinner, I didn't take any more pictures. But I have leftover roast lamb, the foundation for the shepard's pie, appearing soon.

mjb.
 
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Well I made the shepard's pie. Tasty. But am out of town, not sure if I can get the pictures onto this laptop tp post the writeup.

mjb.
 
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Well, folks, here it is... the last day of August. Since I'm in USA West Coast time zone there's still a few hours left for submissions.

If I remember how time zones work, it's already September 1 in some parts of the world, but Sept 1 hasn't happened yet in Great Britain. So I'm keeping this open until September 1 00:00 GMT (or UTC if you prefer that designation).

So I'm setting my alarm clock for 1700 (5 PM) my time and will conclude this month's challenge then.

My most sincere thanks to all who have participated; I can't tell you how enjoyable it was to host this month's challenge!
 
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Thank goodness for push notifications! I thought we had a bit more time, did not realize the cutoff was GMT!

So here is my final entry, "Dinner at Blades", simple English cookery for Britain's most famous fictional gastronome, Cmdr. James Bond 007:
Dinner at Blades.jpg
Pan seared Ontario Lamb Chops, Butter Glazed Parsley New Potatoes and Minty Sweet Peas, with Fresh Asparagus and Bearnaise Sauce. Paired with a Bottle of Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne.

From "Moonraker" by Ian Fleming, Chapter 5 Dinner at Blades:
‘Well,’ said M. ‘...Peas and new potatoes... What about you, James?’

[Bond] pointed down the menu. ‘Lamb cutlets. The same vegetables as you, as it’s May. Asparagus with Bearnaise sauce sounds wonderful. And perhaps a slice of pineapple.’ He sat back and pushed the menu away...

"... I believe I would like to drink champagne this evening."


The recipes and techniques used were quite simple and straightforward. The dinner ate by Bond at M's private club, Blades, in London was considered by Bond and food-interested critics as a perfect encapsulation of no nonsense fine English cookery using their local ingredients to the max and not "hiding poor quality meat behind heavy wine sauces" (Bond's words as written by Fleming, not mine!).

The chops were seasoned simply with salt and pepper, pan seared, and basted with butter. The local sweet peas were blanched, shocked in an ice bath, and then glazed with butter, sugar, and chopped fresh mint from our garden. The local new potatoes were boiled in water seasoned with garlic, thyme sprigs, a bay leaf, and peppercorns, and then tossed in butter and fresh parsley. The butter used throughout was from a local Ontario producer using only grassfed Jersey cows. The asparagus was sadly not local, but still quite nice. The Bearnaise was made using fresh tarragon and chervil from my wife's herb garden and Kenji Lopez-Alt's "foolproof" method using an immersion blender rather than on the stove.

I substituted the standard Moet&Chandon for the much more expensive Dom Perignon drank by Bond as both are from the same Champagne house and have the same core house style.
 
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Okay, I think I have this sorted.

The Players

So a couple of slices were hacked off that roast lamb, about a pound and a half.

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And for the mash, some russets and an English cheddar. The onion, garlic, frozen peas go in with the mince.

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The Process

First off the potatoes get prepped and into the pot, along with a couple peeled cloves of garlic.

the lamb cubes get pulsed in the food processor until a nice mince is formed.

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Onion and garlic chopped. A couple slices of salt pork get rendered down in the pot. Onions sweated, garlic goes in, mince in.

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Added some chicken stock, salt, pepper and a couple tablespoons of HP sauce. Meanwhile potates are done, mashed with butter and grated cheese.

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Mince is done, into the baking dish. Mash is carefully spread on top, along with a bit more cheese. Into the oven.

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Smells nice!

The Product

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A proper supper! Very tasty, good lamb flavor, mash was just right. And there will be leftovers when my wife and I get back home tomorrow.

mjb.
 

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That is everything I love! My dad's from the Western Isles, this is the good stuff! brings back memories of my childhood.
I know that some here have criticised British food culture and mentioned that French chefs like the Roux Brothers were needed to bring much needed technique to revive British cuisine, which is true to a point, but which also unfairly discounts the tremendous strengths of British food culture... Namely its farmers, fishers, and wonderful nature products and ingredients. In the lands of Aberdeen Angus beef, West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, Jersey Butter, and Highland Smoked Salmon, sometimes simplicity is best!

Which brings me to my simple weeknight offering tonight:
View attachment 70764
Peat-Smoked Scottish Salmon and Red Onion Creme Fraiche Foam, with Fresh Dill and Capers, on Jersey Butter Browned Toast Points.

Paired with 10-year old Talisker Single Malt Scotch Whisky from the Isle of Skye.
I believe the bad press on british food is manyfold; Our supermarkets sell ready-made dinners, which make some people, especially the young, lazy about cooking from scratch. Also take-out food has become really popular over recent years. Chinese, curries, burger outlets, etc, all advertising like mad to sell their food at cheap prices. Cooking good tasty meals at home has become a pain, and has declined
rapidly. I believe it may come back with some persuasion from tv cooking programs. Agreed?
 
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So many nice entries! I had grand plans, but the poo went in the rotating blades mid-month, and I haven't quite gotten clear yet. Looking forward to the next challenge!
 
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Well… that’s all, Folks. It’s midnight GMT and we are now officially in September. So, the August 2021 challenge, British Cookery, is officially concluded.

I know how passionate I am on this topic, and had some trepidation about making it the theme, but quickly it was confirmed that I’m not alone and that there is considerable merit to British cookery. That has been clearly demonstrated!

Thanks to all who participated; the entries, each one of them, is memorable for a variety of reasons. In all cases the theme was well represented, and the cookery was stupendous. I especially enjoyed the breadth of entries – everything from simple delights, pub grub to posh versions of family meals, and several entries representing the unique offerings in the colonies.

And then there were the shocking and utterly unforgettable entries, well… one extremely shocking entry: Harpua’s toast sandwich. How odd and simple, yet how yummy. What wonderful creativity that is and something that should be institutionalized in the annals of British cookery!

Judging these challenges is, especially for me, exceedingly difficult. I wish there was a standardized scoring system and I’ll be honest with you that my “scoring system” is a combination of (1) how well the theme is represented, (2) how much I wish I could taste it myself, and (3) the amount I dribble (drool) on the keyboard. In this case, it really came down to the final criterion since all entries were equal on the first two criteria.

I am pleased to declare CatManDoo88 CatManDoo88 as the host next month’s challenge. Congratulations!
 
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